Welcome To The
Battle Bow
Bible Teaching Series
Kraig Josiah Rice

A Bible Study About
Overcoming Discouragement

You can tell how strong a person is
by what it takes to discourage them


          It has been said that discouragement is one of Satan's greatest weapons against God's saved children. Sometimes there is a bitter circumstance that comes to the life of a believer when it is not a result of a sin issue. Things might be great for awhile but then you are hit with an apparent over-whelming unsolvable problem that just seems to come out of no where. You might be hit with a problem that involves (but is not limited to):

a health crisis including an injury, a surgery, medicine issues, a disease, old age issues, or possibly a life or death issue of some kind, etc.

persecution due to your Christian faith including bullies, torture, martyrdom, etc.

abandonment issues including kidnapping, betrayal, divorce, death of a loved one, etc.

emotional issues including puberty, menopause, mid-life crisis, surfacing memories from childhood, self blame, self guilt, suicide, hatred, revenge, etc.

addiction or compulsion issues including gambling, sex, drinking, drug addiction, etc.

unsaved loved ones including the predictaments that they can get themselves into, etc.

church including a minister problem, a member problem, false cult, false doctrine, false religion, women and/or money, etc.

occupational problems including job termination, burn out, being cheated in business, political problems, military problems, or boss or employee problems, etc.

money including not enough to make end's meat, making too much, loss of money in stock trading, or loss out of your control, etc.

sex including temptation, fornication, homosexuality, adultery dealing with a child molester, etc.

friends and relationships including the ones that turn bad, betray you, or lead you down the wrong pathway, etc.

family including the ones who don't share the same value system as you, etc.

bad choices including being taken advantage of, being used, etc.

God's will including being out of God's timing, or not knowing for sure where to go or what to do, etc.

violence issues including rape, spouse abuse, child abuse, and dealings with criminals, etc.

anxiety and worries including the cares of the flesh and this life, etc.

other things that the world, flesh, and devil may throw at you, etc.

          A circumstance like just one of these may cause one to become discouraged. Is there any help from God in all of this? Is there any hope? Where can I turn to when I am so discouraged? Well, don't feel so bad because the Bible gives us the answer. Here's the passage of scripture for us to now consider.

          Moses is leading 2-3 million Israelites out of Egypt into the desert per God's instructions. But then this congregation gets discouraged. The first thing that Moses does is to turn to God and God moves in a mysterious way to solve the problem. Moses is writing here for us a formula with his life. When you get discouraged you go to God first. Then expect God to eventually work in a mysterious way to solve your problem.

22 "Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the Shur Desert. They traveled in this desert for three days without water.

23 When they came to Marah, they finally found water. But the people couldn't drink it because it was bitter. (That is why the place was called Marah, which means "bitter.")

24 Then the people turned against Moses. "What are we going to drink?" they demanded.

25 So Moses cried out to the LORD for help, and the LORD showed him a branch. Moses took the branch and threw it into the water. This made the water good to drink. It was there at Marah that the LORD laid before them the following conditions to test their faithfulness to him:

26 "If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and laws, then I will not make you suffer the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you."

27 After leaving Marah, they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the springs."
(Exodus 15:22-27) (New Living Translation or NLT)

          Just why did God place this true story in His holy Word, the Bible? This true story is for you and I. There is a message in it from God. It's one of those nuggets of truth that you have to mine out of the word and that is why Bible Study is so important. A nugget is often concealed in the Old Testament but revealed in the New Testament.

          Let's examine this passage. The Children of Israel were going on along in life just fine. And you and I can go along in life just fine as well.

          But then they hit a problem. This problem came out of the blue. They weren't expecting it. They had water that they couldn't drink. It was a life and death issue for each of them. And we might have a problem hit us all of a sudden that we were not expecting. It might be one of the ones above that I just mentioned above.

          The first thing that hits these Israelites was panic and then anxiety. And the first thing that hits us is panic and then anxiety when we face our apparent over-whelming problem.

          It's always good to first inquire of the Lord as to whatever your problem is because there is no problem that He cannot solve.

          The Lord's answer was to place a vine (or branch) into the water. That would solve their problem. What does this mean? In Biblical symbolism Christ is the Vine
(John Chapter 15) and the water is the sea of humanity. It had to be a special Vine, not just any vine. Remember also that Christ was crucified on a tree (wood stock). The special Vine refers to Jesus Christ. Any other vine could refer to other religions such as Islam, Satanism, Hindu, or Buddhist. Those other vines will not work with God. Only the special Vine would work. So God is telling us that only Jesus Christ is the way that humanity must follow as He is The Way.
(John 14:6).

13 "But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree"
(Galatians 3:13). A tree, a vine, a branch- all are made of wood stock.

          God says that He was using this problem to test their faithfulness to Him. Is God saying the same thing to you and me? There are a lot of voices in the world and there are many ways that you can go. Satan will always offer you the counterfeit before God offers you the genuine. Will you go to God first with your problem?

          Doesn't God's promise to them sound a little bit non-relevant here? God says, "I am the LORD who heals you" but the Israelites were not seeking healing, rather, they were seeking water to drink. So why then why does God say this to them?

          When Jesus would talk to His disciples He would talk in spiritual terms and the disciples would listen and understand in human terms. It's hard for one with a finite mind to understand One with an infinite mind. Take for instance when Jesus was talking about the leaven of the Pharisees- the disciples thought that He was talking about bread. He was actually talking about the teaching of the Pharisees
(Matthew 16:6).

          So, here with Moses, God is talking about spiritual things, not human things. God is saying that He wants to heal all of humanity spiritually. He wants all of humanity to come to the cross of Christ to be healed of it's terrible adverse condition- it's sin condition. Christ is the only way- He is that special Vine. The waters of humanity without Christ are bitter. Only Christ can make the waters of humanity sweet with His presence. But God also heals emotionally and physically as well. God includes all healing here and this is reinforced by Jesus Christ who healed all sicknesses and diseases.

          How about you? Have you invited Jesus Christ to come to live inside of your heart? He is the only One who can make your life sweet regardless of the bitter circumstances that you face.

God uses setbacks
to move us forward

          But I believe that verse 26 is a multiple reference verse. What does that mean? It means that a verse of scripture can have more meanings rather than just one.

God says, "I am the LORD who heals you." The most important healing is spiritual healing and that is what God deals with first here in this passage of scripture.

God healed that bitter water. This is what God deals with second here in this passage of scripture. And He can heal the bitter water of your adverse circumstance just as easy as He healed that water.

Thirdly, God is also indicating here that He is the God who can heal your body as well. God is bigger than any physical problem that you or I have. He healed in Old Testament times, He healed when He was here on the earth in the incarnation (Jesus Christ), and He heals today in New Testament times. God has never changed.

          After the people proved their faithfulness to God what did God do? He gave them multiple blessings. First, He healed the water and made it safe to drink for them. And secondly, God worked in a mysterious way and sent them to Elim- the place of blessing. God loves to bless His children. If you turn to Him with praise and thanksgiving for the circumstances in your life, if you turn to Him in prayer and faith, then expect an answer from Him. He will not leave you or forsake you. You are important to Him and He loves you.

          Now, let's talk about the Apostle Peter. Peter (and the other disciples) spent a lot of time in Bible Study with Jesus Christ as their own personal teacher. Jesus was known as a great teacher
(Acts 1:1). There was never a greater.

          I believe that Jesus taught this Old Testament teaching of Him being that special Vine for all humanity to His disciples. He taught them that when circumstances were contrary that each of them should go to God first and foremost. I further think that Christ taught them that if they did this, then God would not fail them.

          I believe that this is where Peter got the idea to walk to Jesus in the midst of that terrible storm. It was now adverse conditions in his life and Peter was ready to test his master's teachings for truth. If it was the truth then he wanted it. If it wasn't the truth then he wanted no part of it. Peter took the story truth and acted on it literally. He literally set out to go to God first by walking on the water. (Remember that Jesus Christ is God the Son). Peter was impetuous and just that way...

Here's the Biblical account:

"...the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.

25 About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water.

26 When the disciples saw him, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost.

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. "It's all right," he said. "I am here! Don't be afraid."

28 Then Peter called to him, "Lord, if it's really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water."

29 "All right, come," Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.

30 But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord!" he shouted.

31 Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. "You don't have much faith," Jesus said. "Why did you doubt me?"

32 And when they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.

33 Then the disciples worshiped him. "You really are the Son of God!" they exclaimed."
(Matthew 14:24-33) NLT

          Now, let's examine this passage of scripture because I am going to tie it in with the first passage of scripture that we just read about in
(Exodus 15:22-27). Peter had the formula down right. When adverse circumstances hit you, then go to God first. So here was Peter in adverse circumstances- in a life and death struggle for him. He was afraid, he had panic, and he had anxiety.

          I believe that Jesus was pleased that at least one disciple of His out of twelve believed the truth of the Bible Study that He had previously taught them and was willing to act on it. Notice what Jesus did not say. He did not say, "Don't be stupid, Peter, no one can walk on water as on dry ground." By not saying this, Jesus is encouraging Peter to believe Him for the impossible- for a unique answer to prayer because God works in mysterious ways. Jesus said twice that if you have enough faith you can move a mountain
(Matthew 17:20 and 21:21). I believe that Jesus is making a point to us here also because of what He did not say to Peter. The point is that Jesus wants each of us to come to Him no matter how impossible the adverse circumstance in our life may appear.

          Jesus waited for Peter to take the first step. You see there is another principle of faith in action here. God always waits for each of us to take that first step of faith in His direction. There is an old saying that goes: if you take one step toward Jesus, He will take two steps toward you.

          Jesus gave Peter the ok to come to Him. Jesus gives you and me the ok to also come to Him because He is the Way (not only spiritually but also in your time of adverse circumstance).

          God worked in a mysterious way allowing Peter to walk on the water in response to Peter going to God first, just like God worked in a mysterious way in allowing the Vine to make the waters sweet in the desert. God will also work in a mysterious way in His own timing to solve the problem of your adverse circumstance.

          Peter was doing so good. But then he began to doubt God. He trusted in and believed his senses. He trusted in and believed his own depraved and sin tainted human reasoning. And what was the result of his doubt? Did his doubt help him? No. He was doing so well walking on the water but then he started to sink. Like Peter, the moment that you and I take our eyes off of Jesus, we forget about His wonderful promises, we forget about Him being bigger than the adverse circumstance in our life. The formula of
BIG GOD-little problem
reverses to
little God-BIG PROBLEM.

          Peter was afraid that he was going to drown. Are you afraid that this is the end for you? That your adverse circumstance is going to sink you? That you are finished with no hope of starting all over again? There's an old saying that goes something like this: when you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on! What did Jesus do? Jesus reached out and saved him physically. Jesus did not allow him to drown. Jesus will reach out to you also and will also save you physically, God willing, just like He did to Peter. If one of His children asks Him for a loaf of bread He will not give him a rock to eat
(Matthew 7:9).

What did Jesus say to him?
"Why did you doubt me?"
Doubt is the same as unbelief. Unbelief is a killer. It will keep us in our adverse circumstance and keep God from working a miracle on our behalf. Nevertheless, God sometimes comes to our rescue in spite of our doubt. He does this because of His grace, compassion, and kindness. Jesus rescued Peter and then what did He do?

          In spite of Peter's doubt, God worked in a mysterious way to solve the problem of an adverse circumstance in their lives at that moment. He calmed the sea instantly. God worked a miracle here turning the waters calm just like He worked a miracle in the desert in turning the waters sweet. And God can work a miracle in your life in turning your bitter water into sweet water and in calming the storm in your life.

          And what do we do with the problem of having low faith like Peter had? Why do we need greater faith? Because without faith it is impossible to please Him
(Hebrews 11:6). We need to keep our eyes firmly planted on Jesus in the midst of this adverse circumstance. Each of us needs to increase our faith. How do we do that? The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God
(Romans 10:17).

That means that we need to study the Bible more and by doing so our faith will increase. We can attend church services more frequently where we hear more of the Word of God read and proclaimed. We can read testimonies of others of what God has done for them and in so doing we will realize how big God really is. We can have others pray for us for a specific reason- that adverse circumstance in your life. Contacting as many church "prayer chains" as possible with your prayer request is valuable because there are folks there with the gift of prayer intercession to touch the hem of His garment for you with your petition.


          You might be sailing on along ok in life for awhile. If you belong to Christ you also know that you are an Ambassador for Christ living in a hostile environment. The devil rules over the evil world system. The devil is going to make sure that he sends you an adverse circumstance in your life. Or it might be a circustance that comes from the flesh or a natural disaster or what have you. This problem is seen in the storm in which the disciples found themselves. There was darkness and peril. There was panic, worry, and anxiety. It was a life and death situation for them.

          When you first look to Christ in your circumstance He is going to reassure you just like He did the disciples when He said, "It's all right. I am here! Don't be afraid."

          We can follow the example of Peter. He had God's formula down pat. The formula is: go to God first when an adverse circumstance comes into your life. Peter went to God. Peter did it literally but we can do it by faith in prayer and praise.

We must remember several things:
We must remember that God heals spiritually and physically. "I am the LORD who heals you."
We must remember to keep our eyes on Jesus.
We must remember to have faith continually in Him.
We must remember that God works in mysterious ways and that you can always expect an answer of some kind from Him in response to your faith.
We must remember to thank and praise Him for solving the problem of that adverse circumstance in our life. Share your testimony so others can also be helped. That way we can all say in praise and awe "You really are the Son of God!"
If each of us will follow God's simple plan as outlined above it is the solution to the problem of overcoming discouragement.

For further study:

          Notice how Jesus delayed in coming to them until the storm was about to kill them. He also delayed in going to the funeral of Lazarus right away as well. His timing is always perfect. He is teaching with His life and actions besides His words. He waited until Lazarus was 4 days dead in the tomb before He raised him from the dead. Why? To eliminate all doubt that Lazarus was dead so many would believe on Him.

          He came to His disciples in the above story at 0300 in the morning- three hours after midnight. It's possible that Satan had kicked up that storm in order to try to kill Jesus' disciples. Or maybe it was just natural law. Regardless of the cause, the adverse circumstance was deadly. Jesus delayed in coming to them right away. Why? Maybe He was testing their faithfulness. Maybe He was seeing if they would go to Him first. Maybe He was waiting until they got desperate and started praying to Him. Maybe He wanted the circumstances of this story to be acted out in a living sermon in the lives of these men.

          You ask, Why would He go to so much effort? Well, there had to be a good reason or He wouldn't have done it. I believe that it is because He knew that Satan would use discouragement so effectively as a main weapon against God's children. He wanted these circumstances to be acted out by His disciples so they would learn this lesson. And then after they learned this lesson to pen down this true story so we could study it and so we could learn it also.

Don't give up
even Moses was once
a basket case

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    This document presented to you by the Bread On The Waters Ministry
    of Kraig Josiah Rice

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    As of January 26, 2006