God’s Love and Man’s Discouragement

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee whithersoever thou goest.

May those words be of encouragement to us as we meet the difficulties of trying to follow God, that we may take courage as Joshua was also commanded.

The love of God is a love which is of a different calibre to that of earthly fathers. God is a true father, one whom we imagine we need to have, and indeed, He wants to be our Father of love. But as we realise that He is a father who wants to trains us to be like Him – holy – many a time we become discouraged. We become discouraged because sin has basically got us by the throat, and we can’t change ourselves. How does God deal with an insubordinate child that can’t even be submissive? He gave us of Himself, of Jesus Christ who touched our hearts.

We want to figure out how to deal with this element within us – because there is something that is so hard to change about me. But God loves me, and as a father pities his child, so the Father pities us, remembering that we are dust. He remembers what we are, what our frailty is.


When God first created the human race, it was because He was motivated by love. We see this when He created the planet and then Adam and Eve. He was very pleased with what He saw there; it was perfect. He was filled with comfort that He had made such a beautiful planet and such a beautiful people.

Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

There was nothing on this planet to mar the beauty and the expression of love, nothing at all. It was perfect. God could say, This is perfect. We have nature around us even today that displays God’s beautiful character. Although there is death, there is also a continual beauty to behold, something to occupy your mind with about God’s love.

Nature and revelation alike testify of God’s love. {SC 9.1}

We see in our study of prophecy what God is like; and nature also testifies of God’s love.

Our Father in heaven is the source of life, of wisdom, and of joy. Look at the wonderful and beautiful things of nature. Think of their marvelous adaptation to the needs and happiness, not only of man, but of all living creatures. {SC 9.1}

Lots of people don’t think enough about the things of nature.

The sunshine and the rain, that gladden and refresh the earth, the hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of the Creator’s love. It is God who supplies the daily needs of all His creatures. In the beautiful words of the psalmist– “The eyes of all wait upon Thee; And Thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest Thine hand, And satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:15, 16. {SC 9.1}

Life is vibrating around us. It is the life that comes from God.

“God is love” is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. {SC 10.1}

The reason why God has actually given us the Sabbath is so that we would actually stop to look as we see the opening bud, and how everything is so beautiful. As you stand upon a mountain top and look at the plains underneath, it is breathtaking, isn’t it? It affects you. God’s love is written on all that.

The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green — all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy. {SC 10.1} 

This is God’s character. He wants to make His children happy. As we permit our minds to pursue this vein of thought, we read those words:

As man came forth from the hand of his Creator, he was of lofty stature and perfect symmetry. {PP 45.3}

He was a handsome specimen.

His countenance bore the ruddy tint of health and glowed with the light of life and joy. Adam’s height was much greater than that of men who now inhabit the earth. Eve was somewhat less in stature; yet her form was noble, and full of beauty. The sinless pair wore no artificial garments; they were clothed with a covering of light and glory, such as the angels wear. So long as they lived in obedience to God, this robe of light continued to enshroud them. {PP 45.3}

Sounds like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? But we know that God’s word is true; so it is not a fairy tale, it is reality. Nature, if looked at, actually speaks to you of God. This reminds me of a story that I read of an atheist in Russia who decided that he would not permit his son to receive any impact from any religious influences. He would bring up his son in a home that was totally under his control. He had a big property of nature all around, and a beautiful building, and there he brought up his son without any reference to the Creator, none whatsoever. And after many years, when the son was about teen age, the father had been away for some time, and when he arrived back home, early in the morning he woke up and he looked, and his son was standing on the balcony on his knees, apparently praying. The father rushed out and said, Son, what are you doing?? The son said to him, Father, you have put me in a beautiful home, and I am surrounded by all the beautiful nature around me, the beautiful trees, the lovely flowers; you put me into this home, you built this house for me, and I thank you for it, but I just wanted to say thank you to the One who made all those beautiful things of nature. His father was stunned. His son had never been introduced to any Creator, but nature taught him that there was one. Nature speaks to us of God; and God’s wonderful creation has told us of His amazing love.

Man was to bear God’s image, both in outward resemblance and in character. Christ alone is “the express image” (Hebrews 1:3) of the Father; but man was formed in the likeness of God. His nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was capable of comprehending divine things. His affections were pure; his appetites and passions were under the control of reason. He was holy and happy in bearing the image of God and in perfect obedience to His will. {PP 45.2}

We have here an apparent fairy tale compared to our present situation. But the reason why it seems like a fairy tale, something beyond all human possibility, is because there was an enemy who did not like to see such beautiful harmony between God and His creatures. He came along to spoil everything. He came to put evil suggestions into the mind of Adam and Eve.

Fallen Man

After he managed to drive a wedge between their Creator and themselves, what started to transpire inside of the mind of a man who had been spoiled from such a perfect trust in His Creator? We want to understand where our perversions lead us to, and how Satan managed to pervert the mind of man. This is the effect of the wedge between the mind of a man who was in perfect harmony with God and the mind of God Himself:

Proverbs 21:2 Every way of a man [is] right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

Isn’t it true? Every man has his own opinion, and he thinks he is right and the other person is wrong. That is what has happened in the mind of fallen man. Not only does every man think that they are right in their own eyes, but:

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death. 13 Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth [is] heaviness.

You see this in the world today: young people go into their night clubs’ experiences; they are all gay and happy, but then afterwards there is heaviness. There is no satisfaction in this world today. There is a facade that people keep a good strong feature in front of each other, but underneath are the consequences of our sinful ways. We feel miserable underneath. And at the same time we will argue that our way is right. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man.” It seems that I am the one standing for what is good, especially when we grow up as young people, and we feel we can tell the parents, I know better than you. But afterwards, what I thought was right turns out to be just as bad. There is a way that seems right, but it always ends up in a multiplicity of ways of death. That is what the Bible tells us is a fact.

…after his sin, he could no longer find joy in holiness, {SC 17.2}

The holiness of God is an unpleasant sense, Yes, it would be good if I was perfect like that, but, argh, it’s unpleasant. You become scornful about the holiness of God. That is the effect that the devil has put into the mind of sinful man. We all find ourselves in this condition, to a greater or lesser degree. As human beings we are still thwarted by self-opinionated ways, and we still suffer under the consequences of them. Our purpose now is to release ourselves from all that, totally. We want to change ourselves and to recognise that, Yes, I want a better way, and God puts a beautiful suggestion before our mind’s eye, and we think, Yes, it would be good, but it’s just a fairy tale. It seems I want that, but we find a mountain of impossibility to reach for the love and the beauty that God wanted us to enjoy. Haven’t we found this? There is everything against us – a mountain of impossibility. The apostle Paul expresses it very vividly. We know the Ten Commandments are good; we know they would make the world a happier place, we know that.

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. … 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Have you found yourself in that position? I want to be a better person. I want to get along nicely with my wife, or with my husband, or with my children, or with my father, or with whomever, and we try; and then we spoil it. We ruin it against our own desire, because we are in a condition that is so difficult to get out of. As this realisation dawns upon us, we think, Wow, I wished I would never have known what should be, because I can never get there. I wanted to really deal with this today because the moment that any of us try to get out of the traps that we have forged for ourselves and that Satan has put us in through our heredity and through our parents mistreating us, etc., the desire of getting out of that is thwarted with so much impossibility that many people just give up. But we want to get answers so that we don’t give up when we find ourselves striving to get out of the mess that we are in. God is there, He loves us, and He wants to help us.

As a servant of God and a minister, I study with a lot of people, and I am very conscious of the fact that, as I show them the true way, I am launching them out on a path that is going to be somewhat discouraging because I know what the Bible says, and I know how it is going to affect their future life, how it is even going to put them in a position of, O if only I had never found out about these things. This is the sad story. Do we want to get out of the danger zone in which we are? I’m sure we can all nod our heads and say, Yes, I do; but don’t become discouraged if things don’t work out straight away as perfectly as you expect and desire them to be. The feeling of discouragement comes over every person that is striving for excellence. Even Elijah the prophet felt it. He had such victories with God, he even brought fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice in front of all the Israelites who had been affected by heathenism, and he had gained the victory over the enemy. But now, as he came down from that mountain, he was threatened by Queen Jezebel, and he just ran for his life. Strange, you know; you can see the power of God, and yet you can lose sight of it just like that when there is a threat around you. He was running for his life, and then the angel came along and woke him up from his sleep, as he was in the wilderness, and he gave him some food to eat, some bread from heaven. Then Elijah fell asleep again. Then the angel woke him up again after a sleep, and told him to eat again. And there is Elijah crying to God and saying, Oh dear, I am no better than my fathers. Have you ever discovered that? I have found that myself. I am no better than my father either. When I discovered that I got such a terrible state of mind that I wept and wept. The father that I despised, I am exactly the same. Here was Elijah, after God had given him such victories, and he said, I want to die. I am no better than my father. Let me die here in the wilderness. God said, No, no, I have work for you to do. And after he did the work and received all the help that God gave him, Elijah was finally translated.

Not for him the descent into the dust of death, but the ascent in glory, with the convoy of celestial chariots, to the throne on high. {DA 301.1}

He went to heaven. We know that he has been resurrected.

Taking Courage

When we become overwhelmed with our weaknesses, we are to recognise the love of God in that weakness so that can take courage. Joshua would have met difficulties just like we have to meet, but what did God say to him?

Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage;

Don’t get discouraged.

Joshua 1:9 …be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee whithersoever thou goest.

He is speaking to us now in exactly the same way. God loves us and He says, Don’t be discouraged, I am with you. I am with you even in the discouraging moments. Don’t give up. Don’t say like Elijah, I want to die. Here is God speaking again – the God who spoke, and it was done, who in prophecy prophesied, and it happened:

Isaiah 41:13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. 14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, [and] ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat [them] small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. 16 Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, [and] shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel. 17 [When] the poor and needy seek water, and [there is] none, [and] their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. 19 I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, [and] the pine, and the box tree together: 20 That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.

You can see from the reading of this context that He is not talking about a literal wilderness of this planet earth becoming a productive forest. He is talking here about a people who feel weak and sinful, who have mountains of impossibility in front of them. We often say, I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. When the Hebrews were escaping Egypt they had the sea on one side and Pharaoh’s army on the other – caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Would these difficulties that come across our pathway be surmountable? If you have the mountain there, and the rock behind you, and you can’t go any other way because it’s trouble all over the place, He says, “I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.” Those mountains of impossibility, I am going to give you the means by which they will be made as chaff. The mountains will disappear; the wind will blow them away. This is what Jesus said. If you will have a faith the size of a mustard seed you will say to this mountain, Go and drop into the sea. That is what Jesus was referring to. And what is the reality of this statement (verses 15-16)? What is this sharp threshing instrument that will remove the mountains and make them like chaff? What is meant with that in practical reality? This is none other but the love of God bringing Jesus His Son into our midst.

We want to appreciate the help that God has given us when we are trying to become holy, when we want to change our life, and we can’t because the mountains of difficulty are there. We want to see what God has done in bringing Jesus to us, the practical threshing instrument that will make our mountains of difficulty as chaff. The gift of Jesus Christ has been there for one purpose – to make the obstacles to our obedience of none effect. You know what it’s like, you want to obey but there are obstacles there, and then we just give in, and we don’t succeed. But Jesus has been given for a specific purpose. What were the words to Joseph? “And thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” He is the sharp threshing instrument that is going to give us the victory over our sins. The obstacles against obedience are what Jesus came for. God knew the effect of the enemy. He knew that this would happen to us, and He made a way of escape for us.

The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, “with healing in His wings.” Malachi 4:2. {DA 22.1}

Jesus came for the one purpose of removing that dark blot upon our sense of progress.

The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a revelation of “the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal.” Romans 16:25, R. V. It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God’s throne. From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate. {DA 22.2}

They knew that Satan would one day play havoc in the universe. They knew that. They had made him perfect. And They had made man perfect. But They knew that there was an element of resistance that could come into existence. So They had a plan, from way back before They even created, that Jesus would restore, that He would come and correct it all, and that sin would never arise in the universe after that. God showed us this love. Sin having done its terrible damage upon our life, God said, No matter how far you have fallen, no matter how weak you are, I have set into action a plan that is going to work:

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

While we were yet incapable of correcting ourselves. We can’t; but Jesus has died for us who can’t change. That is what He has done it for, so that He can be that sharp threshing instrument that can make the mountain of impossibility as chaff.

God says, I commend My love to you. You can’t change; you are totally sinful; the consequences of your actions are all up to your neck, you can’t change a thing. But I loved you, and I have given My Son to suffer with you. This is a prophecy of Jesus before it happened:

Isaiah 53:5 But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;

Every man is right in his own eyes; every man has turned to his own way;

Isaiah 53:6 …and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The terrible sins that we have no power to control were all passed on to Jesus. As for the chastisement, the punishment, God is not a vindictive person; it is cause to effect. Jesus came into the human body to actually experience the human impossibilities. This is what we are called upon to ponder. God commendeth His love towards us. While we were yet sinners, Jesus had to go through this. There is Jesus in our human body, suffering the consequences of our sins that we can’t change:

1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

While we were yet sinners Jesus had those mountains of sins, where? Exactly where we have them – in our body. That is what makes it so hard to change, because my body is riddled with all these sinful things: passions, lusts, appetites, rage. All these things are in our bodies, and Jesus received them in His body as well. There we have the sharp threshing instrument, because we will watch how Jesus conquered that. How did He conquer it? As you behold your older brother, say you are living in a very dysfunctional family, and you have done terrible sins, you have really messed up, and you should receive the punishment for what you’ve done, but you see your older brother receive the punishment for you, what does it do to you? I had an experience like that once as a child. I really teased my brother; he was older than me, and I annoyed him, and he got so angry with me that he got his trousers and hit me around the head with them. But the button hit me in the eye, and I just screamed. Next minute my father comes along and gives him a threshing. But I knew that he was getting a threshing because I had annoyed him and made him angry. I loved my brother ever afterwards in a very special way, because I was the one at fault. We are looking at Jesus here. I was at fault, and Jesus is receiving the consequences. As I behold this love, I realise that God punished His Son, not arbitrarily, but by laying upon Him, in His body, all my sins. God can do that.

Here is the life of Jesus on earth, not only at the cross, but all through His life. The experience of our sins in His body caused Him such suffering:

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

By beholding Jesus we will see how He struggled with His flesh, how He struggled with my sins in His flesh, and how He cried to God, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? He felt forsaken of God, like every sinner does. Then He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit. He gave up the ghost, He died. He died of a broken heart because the sins of us all were upon Him. He was suffering these terrible thoughts and feelings, but He did not submit to them; He conquered them. As we behold this, and as we study it, listen to His plaintive cry in Lamentations. This is to me the most touching of all the statements in the Bible, remembering that He had a heredity that He received from all who were before Him. In the same way that I have received my heredity from my father, He received His from the fathers and the fathers before Him. And who were they? People like King David, King Solomon. Just imagine the life that King Solomon lived when he was corrupted, and he had multiple wives. What an experience. All these ugly sins. King David and his life of war – in those days you didn’t use a gun from the distance, you used a sword and you cut off people’s heads; blood would be gushing everywhere. In the Bible David is called a man of blood. All these things affected Jesus’ make-up. It was passed on from father to son and to son. Jesus was a son of David. He suffered all those terrible things in His heredity. This is His cry to us all, if we would only get the benefit of His love. This is a prophecy of Jesus wishing that we would understand:

Lamentations 1:12 [Is it] nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted [me] in the day of his fierce anger. 13 From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate [and] faint all the day. 14 The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, [and] come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into [their] hands, [from whom] I am not able to rise up.

Can you see the love of God here appealing to us? Look at Jesus. Watch Him. And as you do, your sins, your guilt, is what Jesus is crying about. He says, The sins that you have committed are wreathed in that helix of the gene. It is there, written. Deoxyribonucleic acid – DNA: it is in there. As Jesus is crying, He says, Does anybody care? I did it for you. As these mountains of sins come up before us, we are watching Jesus and the threshing instrument is at work. I am going to make progress here, I am going to keep looking at Jesus, and since He conquered the flesh, so can I. This is the importance of our study.

How few have any conception of the anguish which rent the heart of the Son of God during His thirty years of life upon earth. The path from the manger to Calvary was shadowed by sorrow and grief. He was the Man of Sorrows, and endured such heartache as no human language can portray. He could have said in truth, “Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow” (Lamentations 1:12). His suffering was the deepest anguish of the soul; and what man could have sympathy with the soul anguish of the Son of the infinite God? Hating sin with a perfect hatred, He yet gathered to His soul the sins of the whole world, as He trod the path to Calvary, suffering the penalty of the transgressor. Guiltless, He bore the punishment of the guilty; innocent, yet offering Himself to bear the penalty of the transgression of the law of God. The punishment of the sins of every soul was borne by the Son of the infinite God. The guilt of every sin pressed its weight upon the divine soul of the world’s Redeemer. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. In assuming the nature of man, He placed Himself where He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, that by His stripes we might be healed. {TMK 66.2}

Do I need healing from my sins? Absolutely. As we come to know God and we want to pursue His path, we are to keep Jesus ever before us, and not to become discouraged. As we make the effort to do what God says, to not only observe but do His commandments so that we might have life and protection, the difficulty we face is what we are to be able to conquer through Jesus.

There is danger of not making Christ’s teachings a personal matter, of not receiving them as though they were addressed to us personally. {TMK 280.3}

What Jesus suffered was not just for the whole word; it was for me. As you and I meet our impossibilities, if we will take Jesus personally, we will conquer.

In His words of instruction Jesus means me. I may appropriate to myself His merits, His death, His cleansing blood, as fully as though there were not another sinner in the world for whom Christ died…. {TMK 280.3} 

If I was the only one who was going to respond to God, Jesus would have done that.

Revelation 22:17 …whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Remember the water with which He is going to make the wilderness flourish. The trees are symbolically human beings that are going to be planted. And as we decide that I am going to take Jesus as my personal Saviour, that I am going to study Him, that I am going to look at what He did for me, then I am going to find that threshing instrument; I will conquer. I am going to overcome my weaknesses because my heart is going to be uplifted and rejoicing in the midst of my battles since Jesus is right there with me, battling as He did, crying to God, Help Me! and Jesus is with me. There is nothing more powerful than to go through a difficulty in your life and knowing that you are not alone. Don’t we often feel, “I’m on my own, nobody seems to understand me”? Nobody seems to understand “me”. Well, Jesus does, because He went right through me with me at the cross.

There is then this beautiful story that as we examine God’s holiness and we keep our minds fastened on pursuing His holiness, when we become overwhelmed because we can’t reach it, then we look to Jesus and we say, Ah, it can be done. He is my example. He was made perfect by suffering. He suffered my suffering, and He became holy; so can I.

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Is that going to be impossible? As we continue to study God’s word, as for instance I continue to do a ministry with God’s word, I am going to continue to show God’s perfect way. Whatever we do, whether we eat, or drink, or whatsoever we do, we are going to be corrected by God’s word. And as God’s word tells us, This is way, walk ye in it, and we think, “I can’t! This is too hard;” the mountain will be threshed to chaff, and the wind will blow it away. The threshing instrument is Jesus, and what is the wind? The Holy Spirit. He will blow the things out of the way while we let Jesus thresh the impossibilities. Here is the wonderful answer – let us not allow ourselves to become discouraged. Every time we fail, Jesus died for that failure. When we want to rise and lift up our heads to do what is right and we need strength, there it is, I am a worm but He is more powerful than me, and He is going to help me. I am not on my own. There is one who understands the depth of my perplexity, if no one else.

May God help us to bask in this beautiful thought and take it with us in our daily practice and never give up.


Posted on 23/02/2017, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thank you Sister just what I needed 😘 love your

    Sent from my iPhone


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