We all face it and must learn to deal with it properly. Discouragement is a great tool Satan uses against Christians, and with all the pain and turmoil in the world around us, we need a lesson like this even more. Watch as Robert teaches how to avoid discouragement and what to do with it if you have it.
ROBERT >> On these Sundays we’re talking about Problems Of The Heart. The Bible says, Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life, Proverbs 4:23. You see, our problems come out of the heart. One of those problems is discouragement. What kinds of things discourage you? What kinds of discouragements do you experience? And how do you deal with discouragement?
SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> Let’s talk first this morning about what we can do before discouragements come into our life, a little preventive medicine, if you will. There’s a couple of things that will help us to face discouragement before we ever get there. And one of those things is learning how to trust in God, learning how to trust in God through his word. You might recall the words of God to Joshua long ago as Joshua came to face a great challenge.
The Lord says in Joshua 1:9,” Have I not commanded you, be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
God wanted to ensure Joshua that he was not alone, that he did not have to become discouraged, because God said I’m going to be with you. You’re going to be successful because I’ll be there with you. And of course one of my favorite passages of the Old Testament is Psalm 23. Most all of you are familiar with it, but I think it would be good for us to read it together today.Psalm 23 reminds us that our Lord is like a shepherd who loves us, who cares for us, who watches over us so we don’t ever have to become discouraged.
Psalm 23, the Bible says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
This journey on the earth, making our way towards heaven can often become very discouraging; but when we know we’re not alone, that we have a shepherd to lead us and to care for us and to provide for us, we don’t have to become discouraged. You notice here in Psalm 23 that the Psalmist was never concerned that he would be in want or in need, because the Lord was his shepherd. He knew that the Lord would provide for him like a shepherd does for the sheep, green pastures, provide the things that they needed to survive. And so God would provide him with those green pastures in life and that still water, those calm, peaceful moments of refreshment; how that his soul would be restored when all the life seemed to be sucked out of it; how that he would be there to guide him in the path that he should take.
And even in those darkest and most difficult times of life when we’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, God is there to help us through so that we don’t have to be afraid. And when we seem surrounded by many enemies, God will prepare right there in the midst of those enemies a table, a table of abundance. My cup runs over, he says. All through our life we can know the blessings, the goodness, and the mercies of God until we enter that eternal home. Yes, if we will learn to trust in God for everything, if we’ll learn to trust in him with our very life, then we won’t have to be discouraged.
There are many other psalms, but notice Psalm 31:24. “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”
Put your hope in him, and you’ll find a renewed strength within.
I love Psalm 46:1. In this passage the psalmist truly encourages our heart. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. What he’s saying is that whatever else may be going on around you, whatever the circumstances or situations that might bring discouragement to you, God’s right there. He’s a very present help in time of trouble.
Let’s turn to Isaiah 26:3. Isaiah was one of course who knew many discouraging things, but found courage from the Lord. He writes, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.”
“Set your mind upon God, set your heart upon him. Trust in him.”
In Isaiah 41:10 we find one of the most helpful passages in the Bible. Here it says,” Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
You see, when we are weak, he says I’ll strengthen you. He says when we need help, he’s there to help us. When we are ready to give it up and don’t know what to do, he’s there to support us.
Romans 8:28, the apostle Paul reminds us of this wonderful promise from God, how that,” We know all things work together for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”
God is able to bring something good out of everything.
“ Through him we are more than conquerors,” Paul went on to say in Romans 8:37.
He said in verse 31, “If God be for us, who is against us?”
It doesn’t really matter, you see. When we are with God and God is with us, we can overcome whatever it is that we might have to face. I want you to look at 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, where the apostle Paul reminds us of what a merciful and comforting God we have.
Here in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Yes, God is our comfort so that we don’t have to be discouraged. And once we’ve come to experience the comfort that God brings to our hearts, we’re able to share that with others and to help others to know the comfort of God.
Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or imagine according to the power that works in us.”
Yes, to know that no matter how great the problem or the difficulty we might be facing, whatever it is that’s bringing discouragement to our heart, that God is able, that God is able to overcome these things in our life so that we can say with the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Yes, because of Jesus I can be strong.
Hebrews 13:5-6, the Hebrew writer records the promise of God not to fail us or forsake us. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you; so we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not fear.”
What can man do to me?
We don’t have to ever become discouraged if we learn to trust in God that he will be with us, to do what Peter said in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Cast your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.”
These are just some of the many verses that teach us to trust in God. Maybe there are other verses that you know that can help you. Bring those to mind, lay them up in your heart so when that discouragement comes, you’ll be ready for it. There’s something else we can do to prepare for discouragement, and that’s learn how to pray.
I love these words of David in 1 Chronicles 16:11, because David reminds us of what it means to call upon God in prayer. He puts it like this: “Seek the Lord and His strength. Seek His face for evermore. In prayer I’m seeking the Lord. I’m seeking his person. I’m seeking his favor. I’m looking to him. I’m trusting in him.”
Look at it in Psalm 61:1-4. Here in this passage the psalmist had a relationship with God that truly brought