Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

*******************Baptism at Singles Retreat 147 Baptized!!! ***********************

* Sharing times in the Word and looking for growth. Let's Commune Together!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Discouragement: Part 2 - The Benefits of Discouragement?

There once was an ad placed in a Pensacola, Fla. newspaper. The front page had a large notice that told the reader to turn to the back page of the paper. When the person turned to it, they found the back sheet completely blank! Not quite, in the bottom corner in very small print was this question: Is this where you are putting God in your life?

What a great way to challenge our priorities! That is one thing discouragement does, but before we look at the benefits, I want to briefly look at several other issues that we will look at in detail in later Devos.

Remember discouragement is not a sin, but if you stay there – it will become sin

What causes us to remain until we allow sin to take control? There are two basic causes: Lack of light - ignorance of Truth and Willful decision - not willing to learn.

The foundation for both of these is a problem with faith, we either

         a. Believe a lie of Satan
         b. Do not believe a promise of God

I will look at this in detail in future Devos, but right now I want to discuss the benefits of discouragement. Yes, that sounds strange, but it is not that strange, when given some thought.

First: Discouragement can help us focus on what is really important!

Job 2:9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!”

In what has to be the greatest story of testing ever recorded, Job had everyone turn on Him, including his wife. However, he made it clear what was really important:

Job 2:10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Paul shares about the trials of life:

2 Corinthians 4:16–18  Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

What he does is point out that the discouragements of this world only help us appreciate what we will experience in eternity! I realize this won’t sell very well for many of the “big names” on TV church today, but that’s because they don’t study the Word of God, they manipulate it. Discouragement brings a light to our life about what is REALLY important.

George Sweeting puts it this way - "The Main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."

Second: Discouragement can make us dependent upon Him!

How? Paul shows us:

Romans 7:22–24 I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

The struggle against sin is so great that it brings Paul to the end of himself! But notice, the answer is there.

Romans 7:25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Even the discouragement of sickness or a weakness can be used as a benefit; Paul when speaking about his “thorn in the flesh” stated:

2 Corinthians 12:8–10 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

According to a sixteenth-century spiritual classic by St. John of the Cross titled “ The dark night of the soul.” Based on the night scenes described in the Song of Songs, the book tells how the child of God enters into deeper love and faith by experiencing temporary darkness and seeming separation from God. Discouragement is no fun…but its benefits can produce a deeper faith.

Meditation: Write down all your problems - Ask how can I turn my problems into projects? Examine your faith. Have you believed a lie of Satan, i.e. God doesn't love you; You can't handle what God has allowed; You are to dirty for God to forgive, etc.  Are there promises from God that you are ignoring?    

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Discouragement: Part 1 - Dissecting it!

Over the last month I travelled through three different countries. I met many dear brothers and sisters. Many great stories, but also quite a few asked me questions about being discouraged. Is it a sin? Why do we struggle with it? ...etc. So let’s see what we can discover about Discouragement. 

Years ago, we had a wonderful couple living next door to us. Their daughter was the same age as ours, and they played a lot together. I had been struggling with gaining weight, but had just lost about 15 pounds. I found out that my daughter had told our neighbor “that she was almost fatter than my daddy”…she was pregnant! 

If you have been discouraged, you are not strange: 

In 1866, C.H. Spurgeon stunned his five thousand listeners when from the pulpit of London's Metropolitan Tabernacle he announced, "I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever gets to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to." In 1887 when speaking about discouragement said, "Personally I have often passed through this dark valley." 

"John Henry Jowett, the pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in New York City, and later Westminster Chapel in London, wrote to a friend in 1920, `You seem to imagine I have no ups and downs but just a level and lofty stretch of spiritual attainment with unbroken joy and equanimity. By no means! I am often perfectly wretched and everything appears most murky.' 

"Martin Luther was subject to such fits of darkness that he would secret himself away for days, and his family would remove all dangerous implements from the house for fear he would harm himself. In the midst of one of these times, his wife, Katherine, entered his room dressed in mourning. Startled, Luther asked who had died. She replied that no one had, but from the way he was acting, she thought God had died!" 

Life is full of ups and downs…that is normal. It is never a sin to have valid emotions; the issue is what do we do with those emotions. 

During the Boxer Rebellion, the China Inland Mission suffered greatly; and its founder, J. Hudson Taylor, said to a friend, `I cannot read; I cannot think; I cannot even pray; but I can trust.'
Let’s define this emotion from Scripture: 

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

athumeo {ath-oo-meh'-o} - to be disheartened, dispirited, broken in spirit 

Ephesians 3:13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. 

ekkakeo {ek-kak-eh'-o} - to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted 

There are three different ranges of discouragement 

Minor: Pressures that affect our emotions 

Normal: Problems & Pressures that affect us in a way that others will notice 

2 Cor. 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 

Major: Crushing and overwhelming circumstances, which takes away all strength: Spiritual, intellectual, Physical & Emotional 

Job 7:10 He will never come to his house again; his place will know him no more. 
Job 9:21 "Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life.
Job 10:1 "I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. 

None of this is sin; It’s what you do in it that decides that. 

Mark 14:32-34 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch." 

Jesus was very depressed about what was about to happen. He was honest, yet controlled His emotions, and because of that the world can be forgiven of their sins. 

Meditation Questions: How well do you understand your emotions? What is the difference between something valid, versus something right or wrong? Is there any invalid emotion? Explain. When you feel down, what does that look like? What do you do about it? 

Next we will look at the Cause, the problem with Faith and the Benefits of discouragement.