Despondent but Not Beaten,
Discouraged but Not Despair.
Feeling discouraged, you are not alone. As they say "I've been there, done that." Let me share with you some of the things that have brought discouragement into my life and also how the Lord has set me free from the same.
You may be discouraged because you were told you did not have the skills or qualities necessary for a work you feel you should do. It happened to me. I had accepted Christ fourteen years earlier but I was living a carnal life. Due to physical handicaps I had a learning disorder, and had not graduate from high school. I was married and had three children when I became aware the Lord wanted to use me in His service. I was told my education and background ruled me out, but I could serve in the church as an usher. Now there is nothing wrong with being an usher, as they are important, often being the first one by whom the visitor measures the spiritual temperature of the church. For a visitor observing the manner they display in greeting and serving them can be turned on or off to all that follow. Ushers have a very important role in the church, however I knew the Lord wanted to use me in a different area but where I did not know. I was feeling it was hopeless a pursuit for me, when I heard a sermon on the effects of finger pointing and circumstances. Consider:1 Cor. 1:18-31 "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that God is not looking for our abilities but our availability. For the Lord's work can only be done by the Lord Himself, all He wants is for us to be the instrument He uses to do it. Verses 26-28 said I had the qualifications, all I had to do is make myself available for His use, and that I could do, and did, and so can you. This is the known will of God for everyone in Christ.
Never let anyone discourage you from doing what the Lord put in your heart to do. There is no reason for discouragement when Jesus is living your life for you. You cannot fail when you are letting Him take you where He would go, saying what He would say, doing what He would do. Just let the Holy Spirit draw and lead you. He will be doing what He wants to be done in your place. To God be the glory. Amen! However doing this opens the door for discouragement inflicted by the religiously misguided. Being discouraged because of the way others perceive you, if so you are not alone. Consider that Jesus had the same problem! Matthew 9:9-13 "And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Consider: Chapt. 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."
Those lacking the knowledge and wisdom of God do not have spiritual perception. They bring discouragement through criticisms, making judgments by the opinions and standards of men, and not by the will and character of God. Though they have a wrong perception of you, do not get discouraged, as they are not the only one looking at you. Keep in mind God knows us better than we know ourselves. Consider: Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Indeed God knows the motives for all we say and do. Beyond that remember if you have received Christ you have also received the Holy Spirit as well. Therefore God not only knows what we say and do, but is an eye witness to it all as well. Now this is good news if we are prompted to actions with good intentions. No matter how the world sees us, or what they believe us to be, the Lord knows our heart as well as our actions and judges us accordingly. Just be what He wants you to be and do to please Him.
You cannot please all that observe you. Paul spoke of that in Titus 1:15 "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled."
As a result you may have been led to believe you are a castaway, but that is a misapplication of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Cor. 9:27 " But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." The word castaway here does not speak of excommunication, or loss use to the Lord, but to become unapproved, rejected; by implication worthless by his actions to some observers.
However the Apostle Paul did what was required to reach those around him being what Christ would be to them. Consider:1 Cor. 10:33 "Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." Paul's motives were clear but he found how he was perceived, was another matter, as it will be for all who strive to live as Christ lived. Consider: 2 Cor. 6:1-10 "We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 3Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:"
We are to make every effort to keep from being viewed as unrighteous, never the less some will view us that way. yet, we are to strive to influence others to see us as they would Christ. "Vs 4But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;"
The Apostle Paul is saying that we are to demonstrate the character of God in all these situations and circumstances of life we will be in, as a result of being in Christ. Paul says that character of Christ is to be seen in us. "Vs.6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,"
Then Paul describers the paradoxes by which we are seen either by God or the self righteous. " Vs. 8By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;"
Here we see what we are perceived to be, is in the eye of the beholder. This is especially true when you attempt to befriend the unsaved to reach them with the gospel as did the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor.9:27 Jesus had the same result Matthew 9:9-13. " I know this well as I've been there and done that: I once had a ministry in a bar, where I would look for a man sitting alone looking as if there was no hope. I would show him a tract that said boldly "What if it is true" if that one would ask "what if what's true" I said "God loves you" then draw back the tract and sit down and take out a New Testament I had previously marked and show him the gospel. Although I had not seen any accept Christ on the spot in that atmosphere, all listened attentively and asked many questions about Christ. I marked each passage shown them in answer to their questions and put my name and home and office phone numbers in it and gave it to them. One day a woman told my pastor her son saw me coming out of that bar at two or three in the morning. She wanted to know what this Deacon was doing there.. He said I know what brother Smith was doing there, but what was your son doing ? After explaining to her what I was doing she said "well" does not the Bible say we are not to give the appearance of evil? He reminded her of what Jesus did [Math. 9:9-13] and she said no more.
Yes we are to avoid all appearance of evil if we can. but not at the expense of the lost we are trying to reach. Someone is always going to be offended, the Lord for our not doing what He would do, or the Pharisee, better it not be the Lord, Amen.
However, we are to be careful that we do not inadvertently become a tool, yes even a vessel for Satan, by impetuous thinking that we know how to deal with a problem. Consider how easily the Apostle Peter fell into the hands of the devil, trying to do good. Matthew 16:21-23 "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
Jesus must have been disappointed by Peter's not grasping the purpose of His mission. Jesus was offended by Peters attempt to go about things his own way [later trying to defend Jesus with a sword.] however Jesus knew Peters heart. Indeed we need to be careful that we do not inadvertently become a tool, yes even a vessel for Satan by thinking we know how to deal with a problem. However we are not to be letting others discourage us from doing what Jesus would do in the same situation regardless of the critics. Be assured we will never be perceived by all that observe us, as doing what we should have done." Back to 2 Cor. 6:9 "As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things."
While I must admit at times I feel heart broken and discouraged by the way some perceive me. When I consider my Lord and His knowledge of the motives my heart and the actions I have taken, though at times were impetuous, I thank God He is the God that He is. As I dwell on the knowledge the Lord has of me and uses me in spite of myself, I am set free from that discouragement brought by others. And you can be to!
As I dwell on the knowledge the Lord has of me and how faithfully He meets my every need, I am indeed delivered from the heartbreak and discouragement brought on by those that wrongly perceive me. I remember King David who knew discouragement all too well, offers the remedy he found, Dwell on the Lord, and He will set you free from all discouragement. Consider: Psalm 42:1-43:5 "To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah.As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? 3My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? 4When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. 5Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. 6O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. 7Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. 8Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. 9I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 10As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? 11Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God". Psalm 43:1 "Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. 2For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. 4Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God. 5Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." Romans 15:4 "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
There is yet another area that Satan uses to bring discouragement into our lives. It is in the area of human relations. Have you ever been ripped off by one you have done much for, and considered your friend? I have, We have had many things taken by those we have helped at the mission and it hurts. Even when a stranger rips you off it is easy to get discouraged, until I remember what the Apostle Paul said: Those in Christ are to consider themselves dead to things in this world. 2 Cor.5:14-15 and Gal.2:20 we are to live for Him and not ourselves. The Apostle John also calls our attention to that fact. Consider: 1 John 2:15-17 "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever". If we let this be our attitude toward things of this world, then nothing belongs to us for we are dead, and the dead have no affection for the things of this world. Only then are we free from the hurt, disappointments and discouragement by people and circumstances.
I have found that this principle of considering ourselves dead also applies to our expectations of life and others. Whenever we put our confidence in others we can be let down and discouraged. I have found the the the study of Christ leaves only one way to eliminate this area of discouragement, that is to give up my rights and expectations of life and others. Should we think or feel we have a right to our expectations of life and others the Apostle John reminds us to consider Jesus. Philip. 2:5-10 " Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Jesus had every right to expect a different response from those He came for, than what He received. Consider: John 1:10-11 "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not." Paul had said let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. We are to be giving up our rights and expectations of life for others as Jesus did for us. That is exactly what the Apostle Paul did being an example for us. Philip. 2:17-18 "Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. 18For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me."
Only as we surrender our rights and expectations of life and that of others, are we truly free from hurt by discouragements, people and circumstances, in this life. Furthermore, only as we give up these things can we find the true meaning and joy in living. this life. There are no discouragements and disappointments in your purpose of living, when you are letting Christ have your life to live His life in. However to what ever extent we hold back from that we are robbing God of the life He paid for, with the life of His beloved Son.
Remember: Jesus surrendering all His rights and expectations of this life, He gained them and much more, in the life to come. Consider: Philip. 2:9 "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;"
It is somewhat like that for every one in Christ that does the same. Consider: Romans 6:8 "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: . . . Chapter 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. . . . .Vs. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." After I learned this perspective, I found it was not hard to surrender my rights and expectations of life and others.
This I know for sure, my thoughts and judgments can be wrong but His is always right including His timing. Indeed so long as I give up my rights and expectations am free from the loss of all things, and the disappointments in life. Yes and to an extent even gloried in it. At last I am truly free.
My heart goes out to those that hold back the right Jesus earned to their lives. First as their creator and second as their Saviour. For in doing so, do they not see they are robbing God of what is rightly His. Do they not see by their holding back the life Jesus paid for, they demonstrate a lack of trust in Him? If so, how can they say they love the Lord? Consider: John 14:21 "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
It is only by surrendering our will, and rights, yes our expectations of life out of love for the Lord, that He knows we truly love Him. It is then that He turns all the things that caused us to be discouraged and disappointed into opportunities and blessings. Consider: Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
My friend I still have times of discouragement but not despair, for those times do not last long, as I turn my eyes upon Jesus. There all the disappointments of life grow dim and diminish, replaced by the knowledge that as I surrender my life to Him, He is living my life as it pleases Him. That is more than sufficient for me, How about You?
When discouragements and disappointments come do not despair but look within to see where your heart is with the Lord. Look at Psalms 42 and 43 and remember Romans 8:28 If you do not find comfort and peace then read Matthew chapters 5-7 and see if you are walking with the Lord. and make any corrections that are needed. You will never be sorry!
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May your decisions bring the promise Romans 8:28 "An d we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Your friend in Christ Warren T. Smith
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