Discouragement

 

Much of my daily activities are centered around the work of being a Christian counselor. Often people come to me complaining of depression. I have discovered that very often peopleís complaint of depression is nothing more than a symptom of their real problem, they are discouraged.

This past week, a Christian brother came to me asking me how I managed to keep from being discouraged in the challenges I face in the ministry. I shared with him my testimony of how the Lord called me at the age of eleven, and how over the following weeks He showed me  my primary mission in the ministry would be to the church, and how for the most part, people would not respond to, even reject what I had to say. I reminded him how it is always good to keep the ultimate victory in mind and remember that we are called to be faithful to what the Lord gives us and not measure our own success according to human terms. While everything I had to say to him was true, we parted company leaving me feeling that I had failed my friend in the moment.

Later another individual contacted me about discouragement he was experiencing in his life because some specific areas of prayer seemed to go unanswered. It was then that it dawned on me that for years I had been ministering to people concerning the discouragement and consequential depression they were experiencing on a case by case basis, but I had never systematically began to consider what the Bible has to teach on the issue. Once I realized that I had a great need and much to learn in this area, the Holy Spirit could work and begin the process of teaching me about this issue.

            As I began working on this, my father talked with me about his own areas of discouragement. He is in the hospital with a broken hip and a body that is rapidly giving up its hold on this life. It was through conversation with him that I realized how what I was seeing in the Word of God applies to peopleís lives.

 

Keynote Scripture: Is. 42:1-9 ĖThis is a Messianic Prophecy describing the Lord Jesus Christ.

the significant verse is 4- He shall not be discouraged.

The quality of the Lord Jesus Christís life was that He faced greater challenges than any mortal man would ever face and did not give place to them.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 tells us that we should not grow weary in well doing. In short, we should not be discouraged. Now if someone comes to you and tells you that they are discouraged and just worn out and you tell them that the Bible says that they are not supposed to be that way, you are likely to be helping them to be even more discouraged and even more depressed.

The Bible does tell us how to keep from being discouraged and overwhelmed with depression. It is called ďbeing conformed to the image of Christ.Ē In short, the more we are like Christ in our spiritual being, the less we will suffer from discouragement and depression in our lives.

Today we will explore the causes of discouragement I have found presented in the Bible. I think it may well be that every type of discouragement Christians routinely suffer fall under these five categories. The five categories of discouragement are:

1.      The Hardness of the Way                           (Numbers 21:4)

2.      The Difficulty of the Task                            (Nehemiah 4:10)

3.      The Prosperity of the Wicked                     (Psalm 73:2-3)

4.      The Delay in the Fulfillment of Desires         (Proverbs 13:12)

5.      Envy of the Brethren                                   (Numerous examples starting with Cain and Abel)

I am going to suggest to you as I begin to preach this sermon that we cannot fall into discouragement without violating at least two of the Ten Commandments every time we do so. The reason is the Ten Commandments fall into three categories of requirements for every man and woman.

1.      They tell us of manís duty to God

2.      They tell us of manís duty to his fellow man

3.      They tell us of manís duty to himself.

Anytime we become discouraged in our service to God, we fail both God and ourselves. Quite often we fail others as well.

 

The Hardness of the Way

And they journeyed from mount Hor by way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom, and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. Numbers 21:4

 

For the children of Israel, it was a literal journey and the hardships they had to encounter that was the discouragement. But this is not what makes the way hard for some people. Some people find they way hard because of physical infirmity. Others find the way of their lives hard for many other reasons. Sometimes the hardness of the way is mental or emotional. But whatever makes up a genuine ďhardness of wayĒ inflicts both hardship and some suffering.

            Someone once said to me, ďI donít know why a child of God has to suffer so much.Ē Well, suffering came into the world because man became a fallen creature. But in the midst of our reaping the harvest of manís fall God has remembered mercy and used suffering and hardship for a divine purpose in the believer.

            Suffering and hardship along the way can accomplish three purposes in a believerís life:

1.      God allows suffering and hardship so they can make us stronger. We used to have a saying in the kind of military unit I was in that ďwhatever does not kill me only serves to make me stronger.Ē This is not true for a soldier because suffering and hardship can serve to break the body, a thing a soldier after the flesh needs. But if the body be broken in a believer, even that can serve to make the believer stronger in the Lord. What a believer needs most is to be strong spiritually.

2.      God allows suffering and hardship so we can glorify Him in adversity. When we continue to be faithful and praise and serve God in spite of what is going on people want to know a God like that. (My friend Grace)

3.      God allows suffering and hardship as a consequence of our sins. The believer does not suffer the pangs of hell for his failure to obey. The lost person goes to hell for his or her unbelief. Christians often harvest the fruit of their disobedience in this life more than lost people because it gives them a wake up call to repent and be conformed to the image of God. Then they can have a close fellowship with the Lord.

4.      God allows suffering and hardship so that we may participate fully in the warfare of the saints.

 

The Difficulty of the Task

And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish, so that we are not able to build the wall. Nehemiah 4:10

 

One of the things that discourages people is the problem of all that needs to be done, and they find themselves all alone in getting it done. A country and western singer once expressed that kind of discouragement when he sang about being in a hospital bed with four hundred hogs nobody else cared about them going unfed but him. Every church leader knows what it is to be discouraged about needing to get things done like finding faithful Sunday School Teachers, Vacation Bible School Workers, or someone to mow the grass or take out the trash. They find plenty of people who agrees it needs to get done, as long as someone else is the one who volunteers to do it. Then you have those people who say they will do it if you cannot get someone else. That kind of attitude toward the undertaking of service to God is unworthy and people who opt for such an attitude will never give the job the attention it needs. No wonder people get discouraged.

 

There are three reasons we encounter discouragement around the hardness of the task.

1.      The strength of people has been decayed because they have not paid attention to the things important in their lives and they have spent their energy on things that are unimportant. The Bible teaches that we are first to be seeking after the Kingdom of Heaven and His (the Lordís righteousness) It is His responsibility to deal with the increase. It is ours to be faithful.

2.      There is much rubbish in peopleís lives and it has to be picked up and moved out of the way so they can serve God.

3.      We spend too much time worrying and being depressed about how far we are from the ultimate goal instead of faithfully going about doing the things that we need to do to get us there.

 

The Prosperity of the Wicked

But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.

For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Psalm 73:2-3

 

            We used to sing a great old song about this that went ďfarther along weíll no more about it; farther along weíll understand why. Why should some people live always in comfort and plenty when they are wicked and foolish. Well, we donít have to wait farther along without knowing at least part of the answer. And I will put the answer in the form of a question.

One of the questions we should ask ourselves is why we should be envious of the wicked (which is a sin in itself) when all they have got is what comes to them in this life? They are more to be pitied than to be envied when we see what the few who do prosper tried the riches in glory for.

 

Delay in the Fulfillment of Desires

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

 

            We want and need patience and we want it right now. The truth is that the value of what we want often lies in the amount of work, energy, and time we put into it. It is even true that we value the salvation of people quite often by the amount of time we spent praying and otherwise working in getting them into the faith. If young ladies understood that the value young men put on them is in direct proportion to how hard they have to work to woo and win them, they would not succumb quite so easily.

 

Envy of the Brethren

Look to yourselves that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 2John 8

 

Sermon: Discouragement- Pt 2

 

This morning I spoke on the subject of the five categories of discouragement that can come into a believerís life. These categories are:

1. The Hardness of the Way                             (Numbers 21:4)

2.      The Difficulty of the Task                            (Nehemiah 4:10)

3.      The Prosperity of the Wicked                     (Psalm 73:2-3)

4.      The Delay in the Fulfillment of Desires         (Proverbs 13:12)

5.      Envy of the Brethren                                   (Numerous examples starting with Cain and Abel)

 

I pointed out that you cannot fall into any of these kinds of discouragement without breaking the Ten Commandments, and you will usually break two or more. Tonight we need to explore some of the kinds of discouragement that can be encountered under the subject of the Envy of the Brethren:

1.      The Sacrifice Outside of Godís Plan- Genesis 4: 3-8

2.      The Conflict of Competition- Genesis 13

3.      The Envy of Position- Setting Aside the Lordís Anointed- Numbers 16

 

 

In order to understand tonightís message you need to understand that there are many ways God can cause us to prosper and experience an increase. We can increase spiritually; we can increase physically (in possessions); we can increase financially (in the ability to buy and sell and get resources to use for more increase.)

 

The Sacrifice Outside of Godís Plan

But unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect. But Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou does well shall thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. Genesis 4:5-7

 

Cain had a problem in that he wanted to give unto God what he wanted to give, and not what was demanded by a righteous God. Had he wanted to do right he could have traded with his brother for a proper sacrifice and brought it. Instead he got mad and had envy toward his brother for doing the right thing.

 

People can get envious with a broken hearted and contrite spirited man because God is using them and blessing them instead of getting into the right sacrificial mode with God. They want God to respect their  sacrifice of themselves in service, but they have never gotten into the right relationship with God where they can discover what God wants them to do.

 

 

 

The Conflict of Competition

And there was strife between the herdmen of Abramís cattle and the herdmen of Lotís cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizite dwelled then in the land. Genesis 13:7

 

This kind of envy that leads to discouragement can be performed as a group. It is the envy one brother can have for another brother or churches have for one another over their success or prosperity. And it is the competition that can result from falling into the competitive mode. The Bible says the Canaanite and the Perizite dwelled in the land. Now when they saw the actions of these two believing menís followers do you suppose they were interested in the God that they followed?

 

The Envy of Position- Setting Aside the Lordís Anointed

And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown.

And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?                                                                                                           Numbers 16: 2&3

 

The problem in Israel was that Korah, Dathan, and Abiram wanted to be in charge instead of being willing to follow the man the Lord had chosen to lead them. They thought they had a better vision and a better way. The result was they caused the destruction not only of themselves but also of their families as well as fourteen thousand seven hundred others before the matter got straight.

           

Jonsquill Ministries

P. O. Box 752

Buchanan, Georgia 30113

171001-1