Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dealing With Discouragement

Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. "The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."  Deuteronomy 31:7-8

As a preacher, I share the Word of God with expectations.  Sunday, as I preached a message calling people to come through the “narrow gate” and be saved, I had expectations.  I had prayed that there would be those moved by the sermon to step out and come to Christ.  I preached to 1200 people and there was not one who came forward to pray for salvation.  My immediate reaction was a feeling of disappointment.  

Now, I know God can use the message to plant a seed that will reap a harvest in the future.  However, this was a reaping message.  When I returned to my inner study after the second service I began to feel the disappointment turn to discouragement.  That is where I pushed back against Satan’s attempt to defeat me!  I have learned that the devil's greatest tool is not envy, jealousy, hate, or greed...but Discouragement!  This is used to wedge through the armor of God.

You can see it on the faces of those who are troubled by it.  There is a sullen and almost defeated look about them.  It happens to anyone who dares to dream a dream or develop an expectation.  It is DISCOURAGEMENT...the feeling we get when things don't happen the way WE think they should.  One of the best definitions of discouragement is from devotional writer William Ward.
Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future.  It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow.  It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old.  It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God. 
Wow!  And I thought it was just a feeling!
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal:
it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

All who seek to achieve a purpose or goal will face times where it seems that their dream is never going be realized.  

Former heavy-weight boxer James (Quick) Tillis is a cowboy from Oklahoma who fought out of Chicago in the early 1980s. He still remembers his first day in the Windy City after his arrival from Tulsa. "I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under by arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down, and I looked up at the Tower and I said to myself, 'I'm going to conquer Chicago.' "When I looked down, the suitcases were gone."  Today in the Word, September 10, 1992. 

So, what do I do?  Well, I could just quit expecting anything to happen and that way I would not be disappointed.  That’s the way many have done in their lives.  But I think I will throw up my shield of faith, stop those darts from the devil and preach on knowing God will honor His Word.

Father, I pray today for all who are serving Christ and feeling a bit overwhelmed or discouraged.  May they find strength in knowing that the harvest is in your hands and continue to be faithful.
In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen 
(submitted by: Pastor Van)

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