Compelling Community. Growing Disciples. Reaching Our Neighbors.

Combating Discouragement (Abridged Sermon 8/16)

There’s a made up story about Satan, the enemy of God , and the story goes that he 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”

The enemy is sneaky. If he can’t outright deceive us, he will discourage us. Discouragement can mean: a loss of passion or confidence. Discouragement is when our courage goes down. We may feel dismayed, overwhelmed, or frightened by the situations in life that we face. If the enemy can get you focus more on your problems than on God, that he has won a great victory.

The bottom line is: Discouragement disrupts God’s work, encouragement erupts it. Discouragement is like a wet-blanket to God’s purpose in your life. Encouragement is lighter-fluid.

Now literally, the people faced legal opposition and that was one component of why the work stopped. But the people were also discouraged and disobedient, which we will see in a moment.

Discouragement is a powerful tool in the hand of enemy. But encouragement is stronger. So that’s why in the beginning of Chapter 5, God sends two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, to encourage people with the truth of God’s prophetic word. This is what will turn everything around.

Discouragement disrupts God’s work, encouragement erupts it.

In this sermon, I want to look at 7 discouraging lies we often get tricked into believing and I want to combat them with the encouraging truth of God’s word so that we can do the important work that God calls us to in our day.

Lie #1: This isn’t the right time.

We may never say it out loud, but we listen to lies that keep us from passionate zeal.

  • Well I’m only a child .
  • Teenager- I will wait until I’ve had some fun or gain more experience.
  • I will wait until I meet someone, or establish a marriage, or a career.
  • I will wait until my kids are older.
  • I will wait until I establish myself financially, or my own home.
  • I will wait until the kids are out of the house, or when I retire, or when my life slows down.

The only time you have to serve God is right now. This moment. This minute. Today. This is the right time because it’s only the time you have. Even in this crisis, it’s the right time.

Now brothers and sisters, I’m not saying all our service to the Lord will be the same for every season of life, but I am saying there is no season of life where we are permitted to check out of the Lord’s service. We only have right now to give our lives to God. Don’t let the enemy discourage you and trick you into putting off God’s call. Today is the day to do God’s work.

Lie #2: I have other “needs” to take care of first.

If we take Paneled houses to mean a luxury item, I think we find a comment that applies to suburban culture: “The conflict between expenditure on luxury homes and worthy support of God’s work is still with us.”- Baldwin We live in a culture, where essentially all our needs are met. We have food, water, clothing, nice homes, cars, technology. And yet, we still find more time and money that go to luxuries rather than to God’s work. We still experience a conflict in putting our own desires before God’s.

I’ll remind you, we are stewards. Let God and his kingdom direct how you are managing your finances. Jesus says: “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

We get discouraged from our calling, when we believe the lie that God’s not going to meet our needs and that we ought to look out for ourselves first. Seek God first and he will take care of you.

Lie #3: I’m tired and I don’t feel like it.

Can I be honest? Sometimes I feel tired and I don’t feel like it. I’m human.

Sometimes we’re tired and we do need to rest. But there’s a difference between being tired and being apathetic. There’s a difference between being tired from working hard for the Lord and being tired of the Lord. There’s a difference between needing rest and needing a kick in the right direction.

There’s a lot of encouragement in Scripture to not grow weary. To not grow tired with doing the Lord’s work. What do you do when you just feel down, discouraged, and apathetic? We must turn to the spiritual weapon of prayer.

Haggai 1:14 “So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God”

God can stir your spirit in a way you can’t.

Lie #4: We can’t do it. It’s too hard.

We often get tricked into thinking our problems and our projects are bigger than our God. Haggai had a very short sermon for the people who needed to rebuild the Temple:

Haggai 1:13 “Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord.”

 

God is with you. The maker of heaven and earth. Is anything too hard for God? Is anything too big for the Lord to handle?

Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

In the midst of some type of affliction, that Paul called a thorn in his flesh, Jesus reminded Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you”

God does not remove us from difficult situations, but he does promise to be with us in them. There is real grace, there is real spiritual power available to those who would depend on the Lord to get them through it. God especially gives us his strength to see his purposes accomplished.

Lie #5: We are not where we are used to be or where we want to be.

Haggai 2:3-4 ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ 

There is a comparison to how the house of God used to look and how it looks now.

Wherever we are in life, we can often find a gap. We can compare where we are, or where our church is either with the past and how things used to be, or we can compare it to some ideal future version. The problem is we can often be totally discouraged by the gap we see. We get overwhelmed with how big the task is going to be.

Haggai doesn’t ignore the gap, he points it out, but he says be strong and work anyway. Eventually this house will be greater than the former because of God’s plan. But the gap is only closed by WORK. Hard work, every day. Day in, Day out. Heroic effort over a 1 or 2 week period. Consistency in the kingdom is king.

Lie #6: My service doesn’t really make a difference.

Haggai 2:9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

The people laying stones one upon another were part of building the Temple Christ walked in and taught in.

When you are part of God’s glorious church, you are participating in something that will be eternally glorious.

1 Cor 15: “ my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Whatever we do for the Lord will last eternally. Your possessions and earthly triumphs may fade, but what is done for God lasts forever.

Lie #7: I don’t need spiritual encouragement, community, or accountability

We may never say this, but we act like it. Without Haggi and Zechariah encouraging them, reminding them of the promises and commands of God, the people wouldn’t have succeeded.

In order to accomplish God’s purposes, the people had to be part of larger spiritual community of encouragement. Submitting themselves to prophets who spoke the word of God to them. You can try to encourage yourself with the truth, but that still may not be enough to dislodge the discouragement the enemy is using against you. We need each other

Discouragement disrupts God’s work, but encouragement erupts it.

Because of the ministry of encouragement, the people were able to finish the task.

Ezra 6:14-15 So the Jewish elders continued successfully with the building under the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia. 15 This house was completed on the third day of the month of Adar in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

The enemy wants to disrupt God’s work in your life, in our church, and in our world through discouragement. But we can oversome by God’s power with the ministry of encouragement.

Combating Each Lie:

  1. This isn’t the right time. It’s always the right time to serve God.
  2. I have other “needs” to take care of first. When I seek first God’s kingdom, all my needs will be met.
  3. I’m tired and don’t feel like it– Oh God, set me on fire in the Spirit and stir my heart.
  4. I can’t do it. It’s too hard- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  5. We are not where we are used to be or where we want to be. I will sow today and will reap a harvest if I do not give up.
  6. My service doesn’t really make a difference. – My labor for the Lord is never in vain.
  7. I don’t need spiritual encouragement, community, or accountability- Iron sharpens iron. I need others to sharpen me in my walk with God.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, you may be set on fire for God. Nothing is too hard for him. He has the power to overcome discouragement in your life. Be set free today and remember all that you do matters.

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