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Grace Notes

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DO N0T BE DISCOURAGED
by Philip Owen

   Are you discouraged or even in despair? Specifically, has your faith wavered because some family member or friend for whom you’ve prayed and to whom you’ve witnessed remains unmoved by the gospel? Does it appear that someone close to you or important to you is beyond hope? Take to heart the psalmist’s exhortation to himself: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence” (Psa. 42:5; see also v. 11, and 43:5). Then consider these “hopeless” cases and remember that God is “mighty to save” (Isa. 63:1).

   Are you discouraged because you have waited so long for God to work? Consider Abraham. He was seventy years old when God called him. Yes, he lived longer than we do today, but seventy years is seventy years. Has your wait been that long? And if it has, do you really believe that the term limits on God’s power is seventy years? No, my friend, it is not. Though he probably had not lived for seventy years, the thief on the cross stands as a monument to the reality that God can and does save some in the last hour of life. “My soul . . . Hope in God.”

   Are you discouraged because sin has such a stranglehold? Consider Manasseh. The catalogue of his sins is nearly without parallel. “He did evil in the sight of the Lord according to the abominations of the nations . . . . He rebuilt the high places. . . he also erected altars for the Baals and made Asherim [wooden idols], and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He built altars in the house of the Lord. . . . He made his sons pass through the fire [burned to death as sacrifices] . . . he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists” (see 2 Chron. 33:1-9). A lost cause? Beyond redemption? God first judged him so that Manasseh humbled himself, but then God redeemed him. Then consider Rahab, as a harlot, the emblem of the corruption and perversion that resulted in God’s destroying her entire city and civilization. But not only did God preserve her life and redeem her, He made her the great grandmother of David, through whose line came the Christ. And, O, He is “mighty to save.”

   Are you discouraged because Satan seems to be prevailing? Consider Mary Magdalene. Can you imagine the seemingly indomitable power Satan had over her? Yet we read that the Lord cast seven demons out of her, delivering her completely from hellish bondage (Lk. 8:2). And such was the transformation of this once demonically-controlled creature that the first appearance of the resurrected Christ was to Mary Magdalene, with a commission to go to the other brethren with the news of His resurrection. Or consider the “hopeless” case of the Gerasene demoniac named “Legion,” so named because of the hosts of demons possessing him and making him the scourge and terror of the countryside, so fully possessed by demons that when Christ cast them out, they entered a herd of 2,000 pigs who threw themselves into the sea in a fit of madness brought on by those same evil spirits that had previously possessed just one man. Being delivered, he returned to Decapolis and proclaimed Christ. O, He is “mighty to save.”

   Are you discouraged because a religious zealot is tenaciously clinging to beliefs that will not save him or actively seeks to destroy those who trust in Christ?  Consider Paul. It doesn’t get much worse than his case. Note his own testimony: “not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons . . . but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:10, 11). Beyond hope? Fodder for Satan? You know that God saved the Apostle Paul and used him in a mighty and unique ministry. “My soul . . . Hope in God.”

   It is not vain or foolish to hope in God. We have the privilege, the right, and the responsibility to do so. Continue to bring your lost loved one before the throne of grace, for, O, He is “mighty to save.”

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