20And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us. 21Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged. -Deuteronomy 1:20, 21 (KJV)
Faith is our greatest and most powerful tool for standing firm in the face of discouragement. If discouragement is allowed to get a foothold in our lives we run the risk of becoming bitter, detached from the fellowship of the church, and maybe even walking away from our commitment to Christ. We might also become moody, cynical, and no fun to be around. Never before I have encountered people who are more discouraged than right now. Discouragement is infiltrating churches like never before. Rather than rising up and walking in faith, people are throwing in the towel in terms of their service to Christ. If we are going through a problem we need people around us who will pray, listen, and support us during the problem. It makes no sense to cut out of our lives the very support we need when problems arise. Yet, this is what countless people have done and are continuing to do.
Moses reminded the people before they entered the Promised Land that one of their greatest enemies would be discouragement. If they became discouraged they would lose heart, courage, strength, and they might as well go back into the wilderness. Faith would move them forward. Faith will do the same for us especially in the presence of seemingly impossible odds. Going in and taking the Promised Land seemed impossible. Maybe you have faced, or are facing, problems and situations that look impossible. Without faith in God these situations become so large and overwhelming that we can easily become discouraged. During these times our courage and strength can seem to drain from us.
Faith empowers us to claim God’s promises. What had God been telling the people all along? The Lord had been reminding them that He was with them, would bless them, and fight their battles for them. Look at the end of verse 20; this is a reference to God’s promise that He would give them the land. What we are called to possess means we have to become involved in the process. We are called to rise up, trust God, seek Him, pray without ceasing, be faithful, and move toward that better place to which God is leading. In the case of Israel it was the Promised Land. We too have a Promised Land; it is called heaven. Until we get there, God calls us to overcome the obstacles to our faith and ministry.
Faith empowers us to take the right stand. God told the people through Moses in verse 21 to go up and take possession of the land. The time for wandering was over. It was time for moving forward in a very purposeful direction – one which lead to taking the Promised Land for their own. God is not calling us to wander aimlessly. Instead, God is calling us to a clear path of service and commitment to Christ. Stop wandering in the wilderness of doubt, fear, and discouragement. Start today claiming God's promises and taking hold of the abundant life in Christ to which we are called.
The other day in church we sang the hymn, "Standing on the Promises." I once heard someone say the problem with the church is we have for too long been "sitting on the premises." Let us cease sitting and start standing on those blessed promises. Moreover, having begun to stand, let us claim the power of God for our own.