DISCOURAGEMENT!–HOW TO FIGHT IT!
1. Once you have received Jesus into your heart, you are “born again” as God’s new child, and you are the Lord’s FOREVER! From then on, the Bible says that your daily walk with the Lord is to be “a path that is like a shining light, that shines MORE and MORE until the perfect day!” (Proverbs 4:18) Receiving Jesus is just the BEGINNING of an entirely new and wonderful life, for “if any man be in CHRIST, he is a NEW CREATURE; old things are passed away, and all things are become NEW!” (2Corinthians 5:17).
2. Of course, like any growing child, it is inevitable that the spiritually reborn child of God will stumble and fall as he learns and grows and progresses along the path of his new life. Like any loving parent, the Lord is very merciful and understanding, and is always quick to lift us up and help us recover from our falls, forgive us for our mistakes and give us His strength to help us to continue walking His way. “For as a father has compassion on his child, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. And though we fall, the LORD will always UPHOLD us with His hand.” (Psalm 103:13; 37:24)
3. When we stumble, fall, or seem to fail, we are prone to become discouraged with ourselves and to perhaps wonder WHY the Lord would allow such things to happen. But His Word assures us that “not even one SPARROW falls to the ground, except our Heavenly Father knows it” (Matthew 10:24), and that His eye and His hands are upon us also, “for YOU are of more value than MANY sparrows!” (Luke 12:7)
4. No matter WHAT happens to you, the Bible says that “ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28) So even though such falls and failings may not SEEM very good to us at the time that we experience them, we know that the Lord has a REASON and a PURPOSE for them.–Perhaps to teach us needed lessons, to test our faith, or simply to humble us by showing us how weak and helpless we are without Him, so we will pray and draw closer to Him and depend more on HIS strength and help.
5. Even though we may not always understand the reasons WHY He sometimes allows us to fall, we must remember that He LOVES us and is always right there by our side to faithfully restore, renew, encourage and help us. God’s loving Holy Spirit is a COMFORTER, “Who comforts us in all of our trials and tribulations, a very PRESENT and CLOSE help in time of trouble.” (John 14:16; 2Corinthians 1:4; Psalm 46:1) But our spiritual enemy, the Devil, is usually also quick to rush to our side when we fall, fail or make mistakes. But unlike the Lord, Who comes to rescue and help us, the Devil comes to condemn, accuse and discourage us! The Bible tells us “NOT to be IGNORANT of the Devil’s devices” (2Corinthians 2:11), but that we are to “be WATCHFUL and be ALERT, because our enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for whom he may devour!” (1Peter 5:8)
6. One of the Devil’s favourite “devices”, or tools that he uses with Christians, is DISCOURAGEMENT! If he can’t keep you from getting SAVED and giving your life to Jesus, then he will do his best to try to DISCOURAGE you so you give up and QUIT serving the Lord or telling others about Him!–And his favourite way of trying to discourage most of us is by getting us to look at our own mistakes, sins, weakness and failures, looking at OURSELVES instead of the LORD!
7. The Bible tells us that “there is NONE RIGHTEOUS, no, not one!–For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. For the heart of man is sinful and wicked, who can know it?” (Romans 3:10,13; Jeremiah 17:9) The Lord knows that NONE of us are anywhere near perfect, and in fact, we’re all pretty much a MESS without the Lord! Even the great Apostle Paul confessed, “I know that nothing good is in me, in my own sinful self.–Oh, what a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:18,24)
8. The Bible doesn’t say that we’re to look at OURSELVES, it says we’re to “look unto JESUS, the Author and the Finisher of our faith!” (Hebrews 12:2) The Lord doesn’t say to look at all of our problems, troubles and woes either, because if we do, we shall surely sink beneath them!–Just like PETER did when Jesus called him to step out of his boat onto the sea to walk on the water!
9. It was late in the night, and Jesus came walking on the water to His disciples who were crossing the sea in their boat. The Bible says that “when the disciples saw Him walking on the water, they were terrified, and cried out in fear, ‘It’s a ghost!’ But Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I, do not be afraid!’
10. “But Peter answered, ‘Lord, if it’s really You, bid me to come to You on the water!’ And Jesus said, ‘Come!’ Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus! But when he saw the wind raging and the waves rising, he became afraid and began to sink, crying out, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him.” (Matthew 14:25-31)
11. When Peter took his eyes off the LORD and began to look down at the WAVES, he got worried and began to SINK!–And he probably would have gone under had he not gotten his eyes BACK on the Lord and cried out to Him for help!
12. This story provides an excellent illustration of how the Devil often tries to discourage us and get us to give up and quit, especially when we’re going through rough or stormy times, times when we really need to walk by FAITH and keep our eyes on the LORD. (2Corinthians 5:7) The Enemy comes along and tempts us to look at the circumstances and to look at the impossibilities of the situation, to look at our own faults, failings and mistakes, because he knows that if we do, we’ll surely SINK!
13. But God’s power is so much greater than the Devil’s!–All we have to do is call on the Lord for help, and the Enemy is defeated every time! So the only way the Devil can possibly defeat you is to somehow persuade you to QUIT, that you have a hopeless cause, so you might as well surrender.–“It’s no use!” he says. If he can discourage you and persuade you to give up, then you are doomed to defeat. The Bible warns, “Be not weary nor faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:3; Galatians 6:9), because if you faint in your MIND and give up the battle of the SPIRIT, your BODY will soon faint also and you’ll QUIT doing the Lord’s will!
14. So if you want to be useful to the Lord, and you want to be a blessing to others, then you need to learn how to FIGHT and OVERCOME the Devil’s discouragement! God’s Word tells us that, “When the Enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of God will raise up a standard against him!” (Isaiah 59:19) If you have stumbled and fallen, and the Enemy “comes in like a flood” to depress and discourage you, cry out to the Lord with ALL of your heart, and God WILL deliver you and give you the victory! He says, “SUBMIT yourselves to GOD, RESIST the DEVIL and he will FLEE from you!” (James 4:7)
15. So when the Devil tempts you to get down and discouraged, FIGHT! Don’t even LISTEN to him and his lies, much less surrender! RESIST him in Jesus’ name, REBUKE his doubts, fears and lies, and ask JESUS to DELIVER you!–And He WILL!
16. The Bible tells us to “put on the FULL ARMOUR of God, so that you can take your stand against the Devil’s devices!” (Ephesians 6:11)–And He gives us a whole list of the different parts of spiritual armour which we need. (See Ephesians 6:10-18) The one OFFENSIVE weapon listed in this passage is “the SWORD of the Spirit, which is the WORD OF GOD”! (Ephesians 6:17) If you take a Bible verse, a promise from God about His power, protection, forgiveness, mercy-whatever you need–and claim it in prayer, quoting it aloud to the Lord, and even quoting it to the Devil in order to resist him, you will find that “the Word of God is ALIVE and POWERFUL and sharper than ANY two-edged sword!” (Hebrews 4:12)–And that the Devil cannot take the Truth of the Word! He will turn tail and RUN!
17. And when the Devil keeps pestering and reminding you of your faults, mistakes and shortcomings, you may as well be honest and admit, “Of course I’M no good! Of course I can’t do ANYTHING right! Of course I make a hell of a lot of mistakes!–But I’d be a lot WORSE if it weren’t for GOD! My only hope is CHRIST in me, the hope of glory! (Colossians 1:27)
18. Every one of us is a mess, and if we don’t keep our eyes on the LORD and our mind on His WORD, we’re doomed to defeat, doubt, disillusionment and final failure! So FORGET about trying to be PERFECT, you never will be!–Just follow the Lord and do the best you can, knowing that it’s only JESUS Who can help you do anything good!–Forget yourself and your own problems, and think about OTHERS and THEIR needs!–Then as you get busy trying to help and make THEM happy, happiness will find YOU! “GIVE and it shall be given unto you!” (Luke 6:38)
19. And if you fall or fail, don’t let the Devil discourage you! Don’t give up! Don’t drown in your sorrows! Build a bridge out of your broken dreams and set your ships asail again, even if they’re all tattered and worn! Launch out by faith and see what God can do!
20. Don’t look down at the waves, at yourself and all of your problems!–Look UP to HEAVEN.–“Looking unto JESUS”! (Hebrews 12:2) There’s no need to dwell on your mistakes and failings, problems and troubles. God’s Word says to think on the GOOD things! “Whatever is TRUE, whatever is HONEST, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is of GOOD report, if there be any VIRTUE and if there be any PRAISE, think on THESE things!” (Philippians 4:8)
21. So when you’re tempted to get down, disheartened and discouraged, look UP! PRAISE the Lord and THANK Him for all that He has done for you! Count your BLESSINGS and fill your mind and heart, and even your voice, with positive thoughts and words of prayer and praise, quoting Scripture and singing songs to the Lord, and it will just chase the Devil and all his shades of night away! Just let the LIGHT in–the Light of God’s Word, of prayer, of praise, of serving and helping others–and the DARKNESS will FLEE of itself! Praise the Lord! God bless and keep you ENcouraged!