Throughout the year we have discussed the Great Commission given to us by Jesus. We have talked about our need for having a heart to reach the lost. And a desire to witness. To share our faith. We have spent several weeks talking about evangelism inside and outside our church. This is the ministry that we all partake in. But sometimes our hearts are in the right place, and we desire to do the right thing, but we can’t. Why? There may be many reasons, but the most powerful reason that I can think of is because we are discouraged. And that is what I want to talk about today-discouragement.
“The devil, according to legend, once advertised his tools for sale at public auction. When the prospective buyers assembled, there was one oddly-shaped tool which was labeled “Not for sale.” Asked to explain why this was, the devil answered, “I can spare my other tools, but I cannot spare this one. It is the most useful implement that I have. It is called Discouragement, and with it I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible. When I get this tool into a man’s heart, the way is open to plant anything there I may desire.” As Christians we all too often fall away from doing the work that Jesus has commissioned us Christians to do. We fall away because something impedes our ability. We hallucinate limitations that don’t really exist. We think that we can’t do something because we are deceived into thinking that we can’t. This deception is the primary cause for us to become discouraged.
II. So what is discouragement?
A. According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary=to deprive of courage or confidence
a. Ex: pouring out pitcher of water (courage)
B. Define courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
a. Seek it, become entrenched in it, endure it. (our Christian walk)
1. Seek the lost
2. Disciple them
3. Live it (practice what you preach)
III. And how many types of discouragement are there?
A. As I prepared this, I thought of 5 types of discouragement.
a. Discouragement because of fear.
1. Afraid to succeed-accompanied by lack of confidence-what if attitude.
b. Discouragement because of authority.
1. Those we look up to haven’t given us permission or encouragement to go forward-despite our abilities.
c. Discouragement because of failure.
1. Past failures make us think against the possibility of future success.
d. Discouragement because of silence.
1. No one encourages you or says anything
2. The silence of others may make you blind.
i. Trey encouraging me to go to school
e. Discouragement because of misalignment.
1. Pursuing Godly ways in a worldly fashion.
IV. Discouragement for Prophets.
A. We are not the only ones who have been discouraged in our ministry.
a. Moses was discouraged in his ministry.
1. By fear (Exodus 4:1, 10)
2. By the authority of Pharaoh (Exodus 5:22)
3. By the failure of his past attempt to free the children of Israel.(Exodus 2:11-15)
4. By the misalignment.
i. Moses acting before he was called to action.
ii. The constant opposition from Pharaoh.
V. Encouragement for all ministers of Christ
A. After all the discouragement that Moses received he was still blessed by seeing the truth.
B. After all the discouragement that Moses received he was still blessed by the hand of God doing what he could not.
C. Discouragement is an hallucination, an illusion
D. Discouragement causes us to stay safe, never to venture out.
E. Discouragement causes us to forgo courage
a. Define courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
1. Seek it, become entrenched in it, endure it. (our Christian walk)
i. Seek the lost
ii. Disciple them
iii. Live it (practice what you preach)
b. As ministers of Christ we must stay the course
1. Keep on keeping on
i. 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”
2. Remain faithful
i. Isaiah 40:31 “Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; the shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
3. Encourage one another
i. Exchange fear for hope
ii. Exchange the blindness of authority for the leadership of vision
iii. Exchange past failures for future success
iv. Exchange silence for a positive word
v. Exchange misalignment with God’s word.
4. We are the individual members of the church body. If injured do we limp or do we try to heal.
VI. The Gift of the Rabbi
There was a famous monastery which had fallen on hard times. Formerly its many buildings had been filled with young monks and its big church resounded with singing but now was nearly deserted. A handful of old monks shuffled through the cloisters and praised and prayed with heavy hearts.
At the edge of the monastery woods, an old rabbi had built a little hut. He went there from time to time to pray and fast. No one ever spoke with him, but the word would be passed when he appeared, "The rabbi walks in the woods." And as long as he was there the monks felt sustained by his prayerful presence.
One day the abbot decided to visit the rabbi and to open his heart to him. As he approached the hut, the rabbi was standing in the doorway with outstretched arms in welcome. It was as though he had been waiting a long time. They embraced like long-lost brothers.
The rabbi motioned the abbot to enter. In the middle of the room was a plain wooden table with the Scripture open on it. They sat in the presence of the Book — then the rabbi began to cry, and as the abbot could not contain himself, he also began to cry. They filled the hut with the sound of their sobs. After the tears had ceased and all was quiet, the rabbi said, "You and your brothers are serving God with heavy hearts. You have come to ask a teaching of me. I will give you this teaching but you can only repeat it once. After that, no one must say it aloud again." Then the rabbi looked at the abbot and said, "The Messiah is among you." The abbot left without a word and without looking back.
The next morning he called his monks together and told them he had received a teaching from "the rabbi who walks in the woods" and this was never to be spoken again. Then he looked at each of his brothers and said, "The rabbi said that one of us is the messiah."
The monks were startled by this teaching but no one ever mentioned it again.
As time went by, the monks began to treat each other with a very special reverence. Visitors were deeply touched by their lives. People came from far and wide to be nourished by the prayer life of the monks, and young men asked about becoming part of this community. The rabbi no longer walked in the woods, but the monks who had taken his teaching to heart were still sustained by a prayerful presence.