"DISCOURAGEMENT" Part 1
“Hard of Hearing” towards God.
Action Point = Listen to God
“In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world.”
There is an illustration that I heard years ago about the Devil who was having a garage sale.
He had his tools up for sale and each one had a price on it.
Among his tools were such things as hatred, envy, anger, strife, jealousy, lust, gossip, dishonesty, pride, etc.
But like most garage sales, there are things that we may want to buy that are not for sale.
If you are like me, it often seems that the things that I am interested in buying are the things,
“Not for sale” (often at the back part of the garage).
The Devil had one such item in his garage sale.
It was only one, one tool that was “Not for sale”.
When asked why it was not for sale, he said that it was his most-prized possession.
He could not do without it.
It was his “go-to” tool.
It almost never failed to accomplish what he wanted.
The tool was DISCOURAGEMENT.
He said that when all of the other tools failed, he could always open the door to using them after he used the tool of DISCOURAGEMENT.
Interesting illustration isn’t it?
Even the most optimistic, perky, upbeat, joyful, content person in the world has been warn down by this tool of Discouragement.
Satan used this tool on Jesus himself.
But it would not work, because Jesus always LISTENED TO HIS FATHER.
Jesus was not “HARD OF HEARING”.
Have you noticed that when people get discouraged, they can become
“Hard of Hearing” towards God and truth.
Satan doesn’t care what you listen to as long as it is not God.
Sometimes when we are discouraged, we may be willing to listen to almost anything that shows promise of providing the needed courage to help us through whatever we are dealing with.
Satan will always tempt us with “Infomercials” advertising quick fixes and instant access to the courage needed to overcome them.
The desired result of his infomercials is always sin.
And as a great salesperson, he always urges us
We will always be tempted
NOT TO LISTEN TO GOD.
That is why I used the phrase in the title,
“Hard of Hearing”.
THE VALUE OF COURAGE
Everyone values courage.
Courage helps us through hard times.
Note that the root word of the word
Discourage is courage.
So when we are DIScouraged, there is a DIStance between us and courage.
That is why discouragement has such a negative and harmful effect on us.
It makes us feel weak.
It makes us feel like we are losing or may have already lost.
Courage is at the heart of bravery and what heroes are made of. We could call this Physical courage.
Courage is also at the heart of all genuine relationships.
We could call this Social courage.
People who risk social embarrassment or exclusion, unpopularity or rejection.
A great example of this is what I often mention
about the fear that most people have of public speaking.
To go even deeper, those who do not have a fear of public speaking may have a fear of public speaking with children - who are so unpredictable.
Because we all know that,
“Kids can say the darndest things.”
If not socially courageous, we could be very unexpectedly embarrassed by them.
There is courage at the intellectual level as well. We could call this Intellectual courage.
People who have this are willing to evaluate challenging ideas thatquestion our thinking .
It means discerning and being able to see the truth and tell the truth.
There is much need for this kind of courage today especially in social media of all kinds.
It is interesting to note that much “New” seems to end up being nothing other than social media that lacks intellectual courage.
There is also courage in the area of morals.
Let’s call this Moral courage.
This involves doing the right thing despite possible opposition, disapproval or even shaming by others.
Those who “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” are morally courageous because of their awareness of not being hypocritical.
There is a level of courage involving our emotions as well.
Our level of Emotional courage is proportional to the degree of our willingness to “open up” to others with our emotions.
This is at the risk of encountering the negative emotions of others in response to our sharing or being vulnerable.
And of course, the most important kind of courage is
It takes guts to seriously struggle with spiritual things.
I’m not talking about simply asking the million-dollar questions about; Who is God, is there a God, what is truth, what is the purpose and meaning of life and destiny, etc
We all do that from time to time.
I’m talking about seriously seeking answers.
This involves struggle, contemplation, energy, frustration, willingness to accept the fact that “faith” plays a part in our seeking all of the answers to our questions.
These are spiritual things. It takes spiritual courage to deal with them and take them seriously.
Because this is hard to do, most people don’t seriously do it.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, people do it, because spirituality is a part of life, but they don’t spend the time or energy giving attention to the importance of Spiritual Courage.
Since DISCOURAGEMENT eats away at our confidence and self-image it is important to look to and listen to the right sources to combat our discouragements.
Discouragement promotes fear:
Fear of knowing what to do,
Fear of taking action even when we do know what to do, because of fear of failure.
Discouragement tempts us to give up and retreat because of lack of resources, energy, faith and desire.
THINK OF COURAGE AS A MUSCLE
Courage is like a muscle that needs conditioning, discipline, and plenty of opportunities for practice.
It takes time to develop courage as well as combat discouragement.
One piece of negative information, (a word, or even a thought) that is discouraging, has the potential to destroy hundreds of pieces of good news, positive, encouraging and empowering things in our life.
Satan keeps that in mind every time he uses the tool of discouragement.
SOME THOUGHTS ON DISCOURAGEMENT
EVERYONE GETS DISCOURAGED
Jesus is the embodiment of courage.
The Old Testament calls him the “Lion of Judah”
Lion-hearted means courageous.
DISCOURAGEMENT IS CONTAGIOUS
Jesus is contagious.
His light shines and no one can put it out.
They can ignore it, but they can’t put it out.
“I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Even though Satan’s tool of discouragement will try, it will not win.
It will not conquer you.
DISCOURAGEMENT KEEPS US FROM BEING
EFFECTIVE FOR GOD
Jesus gets us back on track.
“It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
ONE KEY CAUSE FOR DISCOURAGEMENT IS THE TEMPORARRY LOSS OF PERSPECTIVE
The perspective of Jesus was simple,
His purpose and meaning was going to the cross.
Everything in his life led up to and pointed to it.
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God
And YOU are the beneficiary.
You benefit from his listening to God even when he was discouraged and tempted not to die on the cross.
When our focus gets misdirected away from Jesus and onto ourselves, our pity-parties, on unfairness and injustice, then we will be discouraged.
But remember that, with the help of God, we can turn the DIStance from courage that we are experiencing into just plain Godly-courage.
We can move from being DIScouraged to being ENcouraged.
From DIS-COURAGED to EN-COURAGED
DISCOURAGEMENT OFTEN COMES BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER GOD’S BLESSINGS
If that is true, then without the awareness of Satan’s preferred tool of discouragement and how we can overcome it with Jesus, this statement pretty much says that there will always be a certain amount of discouragement in our lives.
But, we already knew that didn’t we?
We have experienced much disappointment, especially in this past year of Covid-19.
Many things came to a halt and many undesired adjustments had to be made.
But Jesus has been with us through it all.
“The cloud is black before it breaks.
It overshadows before it yields a deluge of mercy.
Discouragement has now come to me as a prophet in rough clothing, a ‘John the Baptist’ heralding the nearer coming of God’s richer blessing to me.” -Charles Spurgeon, England
Notice in Exodus 6 how God shows up with ENcourgement in the midst of DIScouragement.
Look how many times he says;
“I am the Lord”
“I remember my covenant” (promises)
Notice how God said for Moses to SPEAK Courage (vss. 6, 9)
Exodus 6 God rescues his people from Slavery
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand, he will drive them out of his country.”
2 God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord.
3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself fully known to them.
4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
6 “Therefore, SAY TO [Encourage] the Israelites:
‘I am the Lord,
and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
[Note: that God is an “I am” God, but he is also an “I will” God.
Bring you out… take you as my people… bring you to a new land… Give that land to you.]
7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. THEN you will know that
I am the Lord your God,
who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession.
I am the Lord.’”
9 Moses REPORTED this [Spoke Encouragement] to the Israelites, BUT they did not listen to him
because of their DISCOURAGEMENT and harsh labor.
[Their discouragement made them HARD OF HEARING. A beautiful weather report was laid out before them by God, yet they did not respond to it positively.]
DOWN & OUT
10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 11 “Go, TELL [Tell, Speak to] Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”
12 But Moses said to the Lord, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?” [Moses is discouraged by his own people. Has that happened to you?]
IT HAS HAPPENED TO US AS WELL
The situation looked hopeless. For 400 years the Israelites were slaves on bondage. It is all that they had known. The family stories of their grandparents and their grandparents and their grandparents were much the same. The life of harsh times and slavery was all that they had known.
It was so hopeless that God had to say that He would have to force Pharaoh to let the people go.
The only force that they had witnessed was from their slave-drivers. They could not imagine a force more powerful to undo what Pharaoh had done.
They had not previously experienced God’s deliverance. They had heard about it for others namely, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but not for them.
(v.3) God said; “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself fully known to them.
Their problem had lasted for many years. They were born into the problem and just took for granted that they would die in the problem.
(v. 5). God said, “I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and
I have remembered my covenant.”
They were physically and emotionally exhausted. They were worn out.
(v. 9) “They did not listen to him because of their DISCOURAGEMENT and harsh labor.”
Have you been so discouraged that you did not hear God.
You may have come to church and just were numb.
You may have not even wanted to hear God because of the thing(s) that have made you so discouraged.
You may have then stopped coming to church altogether because, “Why?”.
Why come hear things that God may have meant for other, but you certainly thought that he did not mean for you. you think, ‘He couldn’t have, or why would things be like they are in my life?’
God hears us when we are hurting.
We may not think that he does. We may not sense or feel like he does, but he does.
There is no wall between you and God’s ears.
(v.5) “I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.”
IS CAN BE A “PAIN” PROBLEM THAT MAKES US HARD-OF-HEARING TOWARDS GOD?
We may have a “pain problem”.
The last people that hurting people want to see is a professional.
Ie. Athletes & Trainers
Sick people & Doctors
In-trouble people because of son & The Pastor (or other mature Christians)
Pain from Death, Divorce, Estrangement from another person,
IS IT A “TIMING” PROBLEM THAT MAKES US HARD-OF-HEARING TOWARDS GOD?
We are not ready to hear “Good News”.
IS IT AN “ATTITUDE” PROBLEM THAT MAKES US HARD-OF-HEARING TOEARDS GOD?
Isn’t it harder to keep a good attitude that longer a problem exists?
God chooses what we go through,
We choose how we go through it.
IS IT A “FAITH” PROBLEM THAT MAKES US HARD-OF-HEARING
Unbelief puts our circumstance between ourselves and GOD.
Faith puts God between us and our circumstances.
Faith helps us to see God first before we see the problem.
“God is God, but at different places in our journey, He reveals Himself to us in new ways. Most of these revelations come at difficult times in our lives.” -John Maxwell
OFFER YOUR PROBLEMS AND DISCOURAGEMENTS TO GOD.
HE OFFERS HIMSELF TO YOU.
“In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Lord, thank you that you are an, “I am” God.
Thank you that you are also an “I will” God.
I thank you that you ARE my God and I thank you that you WILL give me faith and courage in my discouragement.
In Jesus’ name.
“Hard of Hearing”
Thank you for your sacrifice for us.
We can know that we are forgiven by your grace through faith in your death and resurrection.
We commit to loving and serving others as you have loved and served us.
Help us to do that in Jesus’ name.
Word of Life Church
17525 W. Bell Rd.
Surprise, AZ 85374