Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Overcoming Discouragement

Jeremiah 3:21-25  "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him."

One day the devil put his tools up for sale. All his tools were displayed and priced. And WHAT a treacherous lot of implements there were: Hatred… Lust… Pride… Gossip… and so on.

Laid apart from the rest of the pile was a harmless looking tool, well-worn but priced very high.

“What’s the name of THIS tool?” someone asked. “That’s ‘Discouragement,’” answered Satan. “Why is it priced so high?” inquired the shopper. “Because it is more useful to me than all the others. With discouragement, I can pry into a man’s heart when I can’t get near him with any other tool. It’s badly worn because of how often I use it – most, you see, don’t realize discouragement belongs to ME.”

The devil’s price for discouragement was so high it never sold – and to this day it remains his most effective weapon against the Christian.

Maybe he is using that tool in YOUR life right now? Are YOU discouraged??

When I was a young Christian, I had a LOT of zeal for the Lord. So thankful for what God had done for me, I couldn’t do enough for Him. I was in His word every day, prayed every day… in the house of God every time the doors were open. I practiced tithing and sharing my faith.

Yet in spite of my zeal, I struggled. Haunted by my old life – the sins of the past… the old friends… the old desires… and the insecurity I felt because of those things. I was absolutely convinced that God would disown me every time, in a moment of weakness, I failed.  I was afraid he would TAKE BACK His precious gift of salvation.

In my mind, I was convinced that my salvation was based upon my performance. If I said a bad thing, did a bad thing, THOUGHT a bad thing, I would go to hell if I didn’t beg for forgiveness.

Have you ever struggled like that?? Guilt is something the devil uses to hinder our growth and get us preoccupied with SELF. He wants you to think that Christ’s accomplishment on the cross was insufficient to deal with your sin. He wants you to believe that God will cast you aside if you aren’t perfect.

IF the truth be told, EVERY Christian battles those thoughts.

But Jeremiah learned that God is faithful. He will not walk away from what He has started in you. Don’t let discouragement tell you that what the Lord has done has no meaning or value. When Jesus said, “IT IS FINISHED…” He meant it. Jeremiah was as low as he could get… so low that he even accused God of attacking him. But even when he wanted to quit and die, God was STILL THERE – faithfully waiting for His child to quit fighting and to rest in the loving arms of God. When Jeremiah got his eyes off Himself and focused on the goodness of God – his tears of self-pity … turned into tears of worship.

While guilt is an emotion that often holds us in discouragement, understand, I am not heaping guilt on you when I say this: Get your eyes off yourself, your circumstances, your feelings - and direct your thoughts to God's faithfulness and goodness.  Jeremiah teaches us the power of focusing our thoughts on His relentless love. This is KEY to overcoming discouragement. Your outlook will improve ... when you try the UP-look!