Discouragement is powerful, deceptive and common among God's children. We should ask ourselves why it is so common. Considering who our God is and what he has done, is doing and will do for us, discouragement should never come near our door. We should be able to hear his message to Joshua as a personal reminder to us:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
I find that we often read this as "Have I not commanded you TO be strong and courageous," but we need to read it as "Have I not commanded you? SO be strong and courageous". Joshua, it is me, the Creator of all things who has told you to do these things. Because it is me you can have boldness and confidence. Because it is me who told you to do this you are operating in my authority so be strong and courageous. If you allow yourself to be terrified or discouraged you are showing the world you have no trust and confidence that I am who I say I am.
Joshua's confidence was never found in the pitiful army that was Israel but instead in the fact that the Creator of all things was with him wherever he went. This was the same confidence Moses had. When God threatened not to go with them to the Promised Land, Moses told God he may as well kill him there on the spot because it would be useless to go without God.
I think we too easily forget who our God is and who is really in charge of this world. I think we too easily forget the promises given us and who we are in Jesus. I think we too easily forget that we were told what faith is and that it is required in order to see God. I wish you could be with me this morning as I encourage my congregation with the Word of God but I want to give you a snap shot of why discouragement comes knocking on our door and what we are to do about it. In a nutshell:
The enemy loves to discourage us with doubt and fear:
- with Eve in the garden "Surely God did not say ..."
- with mighty king Saul, who hid amongst the baggage at his inauguration
- with prophet Elijah, who hid out in a cave because he was afraid and discouraged
It's more common than we realize but we have been given tools to combat this thing that threatens to suck the life out of us.
1. Remember what God has done for you:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
2. Remember we are a new creation and we are different from this world:
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5)
3. We are no longer controlled by what we were but instead by what we have become:
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9)
4. Remember that God addresses us as his children:
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)
4. We have a different perspective on this place and our lives in it. We don`t live for ourselves any more:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
5. We are never left on our own, and even when we don`t know what to say it is already being said for us:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)
And from this foundation we have powerful scripture that should rip the victory right out of the grasp of that spirit of discouragement and send him back to the pit from which he came. Here they are. Write them down. Better yet, memorize them and use them against any dark spirits that would try to trip you up:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
If you really want to give discouragement a good kick in the butt pray through the entire Romans 8 and see what the Spirit does for your spirit. Sometimes facing discouragement can be a good thing as we are reminded who our God is and who we are in him. But we have a choice in discouragement. We can stay there and die under the weight of it or we can get up and remind ourselves of the glory of our God:
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:5-6)
Choose wisely today my friend. It is not about who you are and what you are doing but instead it is all about who God is and what he is doing through you.Who has commanded you? Where is your confidence found?