I first read this way back in 1973 and re-read it countless times since then. It continually speaks to my heart which suggests that the teaching is profound. It contains the keys to overcoming spiritual and mental battles. Enjoy!
I COULDN'T TELL YOU ABOUT IT WHEN I DIDN'T HAVE THE VICTORY! It was bad to talk about it, then! If you talk about it when you're having a trial you just talk defeat and doubt and discouragement, and murmur and complain. You don't dare put it into words, like I did when I sang the song this morning: "Fold up, ye saints of God, there's nothing to be happy about!" It kinda shocked me and woke me up! Sometimes when you say something you shouldn't say it makes you realise how bad you're getting and scares you into stopping! I was just doing it kinda kidding but it was sorta the way I was feeling! And it was kinda nice for a while! "Poor me!" Let's have a round of "poor me's!"
YOU'RE USUALLY JUST TRYING TO GET ATTENTION AND SYMPATHY! It's 'cause you're selfish! When the Children of Israel were murmuring in the wilderness, they were trying to make Moses and the Lord sorry for them! Our pride is wounded, our ego has been a little deflated, self-confidence been a little shaken, and you begin to wonder then if the whole thing was a mistake. Maybe you were never right about anything! Maybe it was all wrong! In comes Mr. and Mrs. Doubt and all the little Doublets, and Mr. and Mrs. Devil and the little devils, and you pull up a chair and invite them to talk it over--and start agreeing with them! "Yes, that's right! You never were very much of Christian after all! How could God use you? You never have very much victory and you're not perfect so it surely couldn't be the Lord; and you're just a big mess and you might as well quit."
IT'S 'CAUSE YOU GET YOUR EYES ON YOURSELF INSTEAD OF THE LORD--INTROSPECTION INSTEAD OF HEAVEN-SPECTION! It's like confessions! You talk so much and think so much about yourself and your own faults and frailties and mistakes and sins that yourself really gets you down! The Devil can really tell you a lot of truth about yourself that's horrible, not to speak of the lies he tells you, so if you start listening to the Devil there's no end to it because you're bad enough as it is; and if you listen to him he can make you sound even worse!--Even worse than you really are, and that's pretty bad! Then you start listening to your critics and even some of your so-called friends and sometimes even members of your family can get you down by some casual little unintentional remark that the Devil exaggerates and makes a mountain out of a mole hill--something they never meant at all or you misinterpreted. You get all down and discouraged and feel like giving up! Like King David, when he said, "Someday I shall surely die at the hand of Saul!" Now you just can't make a song out of that or it would sound terrible: "Some day I shall surely die! Some day I will be defeated. Some day the Devil will get me. Some day my enemies will kill me. Maybe it's not worth it after all! God has failed me. I'm a failure--I might as well quit!"--which is exactly what the Devil wants to persuade you to do by all this barrage of doubt and self-pity!
BUT what kind of doleful dirge, sung in a mournful minor key would that be? I guess that's why you never find that in one of David's songs! "Some day I shall surely die at the hand of Saul." David evidently said it, because he's quoted as saying it in the Book of Samuel--one of those little brief outbursts prompted by the Devil, that manages to get through before we catch ourselves and realise how bad it really sounds! But he had enough sense not to make a song out of it and keep singing that tune! Instead, in the Psalms, he takes a positive approach, defying his enemies, praising God anyhow in spite of his troubles, knowing God would work it all out in the end because He always had and because He promised to!
THIS MORNING WHEN I WAS DISCOURAGED AND FELT DEFEATED AND MISTAKEN AND FRUSTRATED ABOUT SOMETHING, THE DEVIL BEGAN TO GET HIS LITTLE WEDGE IN in order to get a little truth in, to follow it with a big barrage of lies. Somebody sensed I was a little disheartened, so cheerfully began to sing,"Cheer up, ye saints of God--there's nothing to worry about--
BUT WHEN YOU'RE DISCOURAGED THE DEVIL MAKES YOU MAD AT THE TRUTH BECAUSE HE'S ABOUT TO BE DEFEATED BY IT, SO HE MAKES YOU ANGRY WHEN PEOPLE TRY TO CHEER YOU UP! He makes you mad at the very people who are trying to help you, because you can't enjoy your misery as well if they're trying to make you happy--and your defeatism looks so bad alongside their victory it makes you ashamed--so you try to cover up in a fit of fury against them, or criticise them, trying to find fault with others and with everything and even with God to excuse your own self for being such a heel.
SO I WAS TEMPTED TO GET MAD AT THE ONE WHO WAS TRYING TO CHEER ME UP, and said, "Oh yeah?" and jokingly began to sing the reverse;"Fold up ye saints of God, there's nothing to be happy about;
That far was a little funny because it was so obviously rebellious and my sin was so apparent, but the next line--when I saw what the reverse of the song was leading to--it scared me, and I didn't care to go on singing it, because I knew God wasn't wrong and He had never failed! How could I sing,"Our God has always failed, so why not murmur and doubt;
If there's anything I know, it is that God has never failed and I've always been glad I trusted Him tomorrow! So I knew that was a lie and I just couldn't possibly sing the song in reverse no matter how bad I felt because it just wasn't the truth!
LOOK WHAT A HORRIBLE LIE EVEN THAT LITTLE SONG IS, IF YOU SING IT IN REVERSE. That's the way the Devil always does: he starts out seemingly innocently and honestly enough with some minor little thing that doesn't seem to be too bad, like "Fold up ye saints of God, there's nothing to be happy about"--which is the way we sometimes feel when we get discouraged, but then it's the horrors that it leads to that begin to shake you up and wake you up and shock you into realising what a liar the Devil is and how bad a state you're getting into! Thank God for His shock treatments sometimes, when you realise what a terrible thing you're saying or doing as a result of some tiny little doubt or fear or disobedience that you started with! One of the things that shocked me was that I began to realise what a terrible example I was being to someone weaker and younger than I in the faith who was trying to lift me up and encourage me while I was trying to resist it and fight it! Even if it was half joking there was too much truth in it, and the danger of possibly dragging them down with me finally woke me up and I realised I had to get the victory just for their sake, if nothing else!
MY GRANDFATHER USED TO SAY, "IF YOU MUST GO TO HELL, AT LEAST DON'T LET SOMEBODY ELSE STUMBLE OVER YOU INTO HELL, TOO!" But this isn't possible, because if you're going to hell you're bound to drag others with you--because everybody has influence! "No man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." Your life is bound to affect others! "No man is an island!" Everybody's influencing somebody--even when you seem to be all alone! Sometimes just a word or a glance or a smile can make a big difference--how you look or sound or seem! If it's not cheerful and victorious and uplifting it's bound to hurt somebody and pull them down with you!" You're either going to pull people up to your level or drag them down to yours--one or the other! There's no in-between--no neutrals! You're going to either be hot or cold eventually!--And lukewarmness is the worst form of coldness--because it doesn't know it's cold!
THAT OLD POEM ABOUT THE HIGH ROAD AND THE LOW ROAD IS A LOT OF MALARKEY AND VERY DECEPTIVE:
"To every soul there openeth a road: To the high soul, the high road, And the low soul, the low; But the vast multitude drifts back and forth, On the misty flats between!"
The vast multitude, let me tell you, is not drifting back and forth! They're settling down to the bottom--but so gradually they don't even know it! Just a little bit of doubt, a little bit of fear, a little bit of complaint, a little bit of discouragement, can grow and grow until you're totally defeated and a terrible influence on others!
IT SEEMS INNOCENT ENOUGH AT FIRST, AND THE DEVIL TRIES TO PERSUADE YOU IT'S NOT SO BAD--BUT IT HAS A BITTER END! You go one way or the other--up or down! There's no standing still! You're either climbing and getting to the top or on top, or you're sinking and drifting downward, ever downward!--And when you start going down there's no stopping place! You never stop until you hit bottom--unless you repent and ask God to forgive you and snap out of it and chuck the whole caboodle of lies of the Devil and all your doubts and fears and discouragements and forsake all and follow Jesus and His Word and His Promises! The future is as bright as the promises of God! You gotta keep your eyes on Jesus because there's no other way to look but down--and that's the Pit--the dismal abyss of horrible nothingness.
YOU'RE GOING TO EITHER BE POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE--ONE OR THE OTHER! You can't be just a little bit of both! That's what the Devil will try to tell you: it doesn't hurt to be just a little down, a little bit sorry for yourself! After all, you deserve just to enjoy a little bit of discouragement so you can get a little bit of sympathy from others! Why not? Misery loves company! Let's make everybody else a little bit miserable, too, so we can all enjoy it! Let's make everybody else sit down a while and quit and hold our hand so we can cry on their shoulder and feel sorry for ourselves!
LISTEN, BROTHER (or sister), THE MINUTE YOU START LISTENING TO THE DEVIL YOU'RE DONE FOR, because there's no end to it! No stopping place! He'll never quit! He'll never quit until he's got you completely down at the bottom, totally and utterly out of the victory, and a terrible reproach to the Cause (of Christ) and a curse to others and everybody else around you. That's his kind of witnessing! That's the result of putting his kind of doubts and fears into words and sharing his lies with others! It has just the opposite effect of witnessing the truth of God and the truth of the Word of God! It gets others down and unhappy and discouraged and doubting and fearing and finally murmuring and complaining just like you are, when you start witnessing your doubts to others and sharing the Devil's lies with others!
THAT'S WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT WHAT THE LORD SAID ABOUT OUR WORDS. WORDS ARE REAL THINGS! THEY BLESS OR THEY CURSE; THEY LIFT UP OR THEY KNOCK DOWN; THEY SAVE OR THEY DAMN! There's no in-between! You'll give an account for every idle word, "for by thy words shalt thou be justified, or by thy words shalt thou be condemned!"
SO IF YOU'RE DISCOURAGED, FRIEND, FOR GOD'S SAKE DON'T PUT IT INTO WORDS, whatever you do! Don't voice your doubts and fears! Don't tell somebody else about it! Keep it to yourself and just share it with God if necessary! Others have enough troubles of their own without you dumping on them! They may already have burdens more than they can bear! Yours may be the last straw!
WHEN THE LORD SAID, "BEAR YE ONE ANOTHER'S BURDENS," HE DIDN'T MEAN THAT KIND--a burden of doubt and anxiety and a lack of trust and faith in God! He meant to get under the load somebody else has and help them to lift it--not dump yours on top of somebody else who's already overloaded!
THAT'S THE WAY SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO SHARE--dump all the work on somebody else and then sit down and enjoy all the benefits! "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ" means to help lift, not hinder--to ease the load--somebody else's load--not your own!
AS FOR YOU, BUDDY, HE SAYS, "LET EVERY MAN BEAR HIS OWN BURDEN." You can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth you! Ask God for help--and if you really are overloaded, He'll help you! If you really need help, tell it to Jesus first of all! Seek the Lord! Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee! Just roll it over on Jesus and roll over and go to sleep--and let Him stay up all night! Don't worry about it! Let the Lord do the worrying! His shoulders are broad enough to carry any load--all the burdens all put together, including His own!
LIKE THE LITTLE GIRL SAID: "AND PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, DEAR GOD, BECAUSE IF ANYTHING HAPPENS TO YOU, WE'D ALL BE SUNK!" And that's for sure, because everyone of us is a hell of a mess and if we don't keep our eyes on the Lord and our mind on His Word we're doomed to defeat, doubt, and disillusionment, and final failure!
SOMETIMES YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE: somebody says, "Hang on!" and somebody else says, "Let go!" Well, let me tell you, if you put each in the right connotation, they're both right! Let go of those doubts and fears and discouragements and devilish burdens put there by the Enemy and hang on to the Lord! Hitch your wagon to His star and there'll be no stopping you! Weight down the wagon with all the rocks the Devil would like to pile on--and you'll sink for sure! Just roll 'em overboard and let 'em fall behind and you go on with the Lord!
MAYBE YOU THINK THE LORD CAN'T MAKE IT, HUH? Some of you seem so fearful that God isn't able that you're like the guy that was crossing the ice-frozen Ohio River on his hands and knees fearful that he was going to break through and drown, when all of a sudden he saw a double team of horses coming pulling a load of pig iron confidently over the very ice on which he was so hesitantly crawling! Let me tell you: God can take it! He can handle any load you want to give Him--both barrels! He can stand anything but your doubts and fears and lack of faith! This He cannot stomach! "For without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to Him must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
THAT'S ONE THING YOU GOTTA HAVE, BUD: YOU GOTTA HAVE SOME FAITH AND BELIEF IN GOD--OR YOU'RE SUNK! FOR WITHOUT HIM YOU CAN DO NOTHING! If you don't hold onto the Lord, you're lost! Anything and everybody and everything can get you down! In fact, almost nothing! The slightest little provocation, the slightest little exaggeration, the slightest little insinuation, the slightest little remark--and you've had it! Your skin is so thin you can't take it--the veneer so thin it's easily scratched--that nice Christian polish you have turns out to be nothing but on the surface--and all it takes is one little scratch and you can see the horrible sight underneath! Or your spiritual balance is so delicate that nobody dare touch you or it will tip you off balance one way or the other and you'll crash!
SOME PEOPLE ARE SO DELICATE THEY CAN'T STAND ANYTHING; THEY CAN'T TAKE THE SLIGHTEST PRESSURE--they collapse because they're not holding onto the Lord; they're not standing on the Word; they're not believing in His promises! They're depending on some self-righteousness of their own, some depraved greatness they think they have! And let me tell you, that kind of sanctimonious hypocrisy can't stand the shock treatments of the Devil! It shatters very easily! Then everybody's given a terrible look at all the horror within, because you didn't really hold onto the Lord and keep your eyes on Heaven!
"ALL THROUGH LIFE, MY BROTHER, IF YOU'D BE A HAPPY SOUL, KEEP YOUR EYE UPON THE DOUGHNUT-- AND NOT UPON THE HOLE!" Keep your eyes on Heaven--not the Pit! "KEEP YOUR EYES UPON THE GOAL, AND THE VICTORY IN YOUR SOUL; ALWAYS SHOUT, NEVER DOUBT!"
When the Devil tempts you to get down and discouraged--fight! Don't even listen to him, much less surrender! Start doing something positive! Start saying something cheerful and encouraging--like the little one did with me this morning when she began to sing, "Cheer up ye saints of God" in her sweet little weak way--the best she could trying to remind me to trust the Lord!
DON'T JUST STAND THERE: DO SOMETHING--SING, SHOUT, PRAISE THE LORD, QUOTE SCRIPTURES! HIT 'IM BACK--THE DEVIL, THAT IS! SOCK IT TO HIM WITH THE WORD! That's the way Jesus did it when the Devil tempted Him and lied to Him! He just quoted the Scriptures: "It is written!" The Devil is a liar and the father of it and he knows it, and he can't take the Word! Resist the Enemy and he'll flee from you! He'll turn tail and run! Put on the helmet of Salvation, the breast-plate of Righteousness, the shield of Faith, to quench all the fiery darts of the Evil One; and girt with the Truth and shod with the Gospel of Peace, take up that white-hot sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and cut the Devil to the heart! Lay it on 'im! Sock it to 'im! Drive him away! Tell him to get behind and run--that you have no part in him and he has no part in you and he's got no business there!
GET BUSY WORKING! GO OUT WITNESSING! HELP SOMEBODY ELSE! GET SO BUSY WITH THEIR TROUBLES YOU CAN'T THINK ABOUT YOUR OWN SELF! Get so busy trying to make somebody else happy you can't help but be happy! Praise the Lord! Pray without ceasing! Confess your faults one toward another, that's true, providing the other one knows about it already!
LET'S TALK ABOUT JESUS! LET'S GET POSITIVE! LET'S TALK ABOUT THE WORD! LET'S TALK ABOUT THE NEEDS OF OTHERS! Let's talk about the good things! "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things!" Speak evil of no man--even yourself!
KEEP THE FAITH, BROTHER! PRAISE THE LORD! KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS! And get busy helping somebody that needs help--and forget your own , stupid self! Of course you're a failure! You're a hell of a mess! We all are! When we start looking at ourselves we'll really get down!
LET'S GET GOING WITH GOD! HE'S THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN MAKE IT! And He'll pull you through if you just give Him a chance and hang on to His Word and let Him hang on to you! Let Go--And Let God!
THE OLD HYMN BEGAN TO COME TO ME: "HE'LL HOLD ME FAST!" I can't hold myself! I can't help myself! Only God can help me! He's my only hope!
"NOW UNTO HIM THAT IS ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour", commit you way, your life, your mind, your thoughts your time! "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." Hallelujah! Only He can do it! Just give Him a chance! Let Go--and Let God! Keep your eyes on Jesus! Let's talk about Jesus! Let's talk about love--His Love! As you poor out--He'll pour in--and you can never outpour him!
THE OTHER DAY I WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET SOME SCUM OFF THE SURFACE OF A POT OF WATER, and every time I tried to pour it off myself it just got worse stirred up with the rest! Finally, I got the brilliant idea of sticking the pot under the faucet and turning on more water so it would cause the water level to rise in the pot and the surface to overflow, and all that junk on the top just rolled off and went down the drain!
THAT'S WHAT GOD DOES IN THE REFINING FIRES OF HIS TRIALS AND TESTINGS! He puts you under the fire, Buddy, and He brings you to a boil, so all the scum and dross comes to the top where everybody can see it! You don't have to tell them about it--they'll just watch you while you're going through it! They probably already knew it anyway! It just didn't show until God put you on the fire--but that brought it out! That's what the fire's for--to bring out the meanness in you--to show how bad and impure you really are--and then get rid of it--boil it off--let it go down the drain--get it off your chest! Get rid of it--but for God's sake don't dump it on somebody else--it may really burn them and leave a scar that will take years to heal!
DON'T TELL US HOW BAD YOU ARE! WE DON'T WANT TO KNOW! WE WANT TO THINK ABOUT JESUS! Let's talk about Jesus! Don't voice your doubts and fears and lack of faith and your crimes and sins. We don't want to hear about it! We want to hear about Jesus--keep our eyes on Jesus!
"ONLY JESUS, ONLY JESUS, ONLY HE CAN SATISFY. Every burden becomes a blessing, when I know my Lord is nigh!"
"NOW ALL THESE THINGS HAPPENED UNTO THEM FOR ENSAMPLES: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." (1Corinthians 10:11)
My name is James Arendt. I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom.
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