From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!
We all face it. We feel it. At different times and in different circumstances, we feel discouraged. Sometimes, we feel it because of a decision you make or someone else makes. Sometimes it is an invisible discouragement from the enemy of our souls. Satan tries to chip away at our joy.
You might be reading this and feeling discouraged. Maybe things you hoped for haven’t happened yet. Maybe you feel like a failure. A mess-up. Someone that can’t seem to figure things out especially when you feel like people around you have.
Everyone in the Bible faced discouragement. As a Pastor, I walk through seasons where I have to make a decision - how will I respond in the face of discouragement?
Here’s a few lessons that I’m learning. I hope they encourage you:
Be authentic with God (Psalm 55:22). Talk to God. Tell Him everything. Don’t leave anything out. He can handle it. He already knows and He can change stuff, even us! You know, it might not be the circumstances, it could be that He wants to give us a new perspective and hope within the circumstances. This is why I journal. I write out my prayers and everything and in a sense, “give it to God.” It helps me to avoid stuffing my discouragement and, instead, cast it to God.
Avoid isolation. Build relationships with others that will draw your attention to the hope that is found in God’s Word. Be vulnerable with a friend that loves Jesus and you. Not everyone has the ability to think beyond themselves to help encourage you. Be real and avoid burying the truth. Allow godly community to help you heal (James 5:16).
Live to please God above all else. You won’t make everyone happy. Remember whose you are and that you live for His glory. Remember, Jesus gives you an identity as His child. Nobody can take that away, not even stupid Satan! You aren’t your past. You aren’t your struggles. You are new in Christ. Live in this identity. Ultimately, I will take an account of my life when I stand before God.
The song, “Do it Again” has been impactful to me and my family lately. We sing it on Sundays at church and in our home and in the car.
Discouragement isn’t final!
Right now, more than any other time of my life, I see the need for followers of Jesus to show His love. It seems that people are divided on just about everything. This past Sunday, I preached on, “unstoppable love.” Here are some recap thoughts from the sermon.
We live in a world that is confused about real love.
Jesus talked about how to love people, even those who are our enemies.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you? Really, Jesus?
This was revolutionary.
This love that Jesus is talking about is agape love - an unfailing, never-ending type of love. As a follower of Jesus, I don’t choose who to love, just how. You have never met someone that you and I weren’t supposed to love.
Here are a few ways to love people like Jesus:
Realize opposition is my opportunity to love.
When we face people who oppose us, according to Jesus, it is an opportunity to show them love. Loving our enemies reveals that God is our Father.
Pray for those who hurt you (Matthew 5:44).
As Jesus was dying on the cross, He prayed for those who were torturing him, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34). Jesus prayed for his accusers!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (who was a Christian leader in Nazi Germany) in a great little book called “Life Together,” makes this point, “It’s really hard to hate somebody you pray for.”
Move beyond just loving those who love you.
As followers of Jesus, we no longer get to determine and choose who we love. Our job is to love the person in front of us.
Our love for others is the EVIDENCE of Christ in us (John 13:34-35)
The extent to which we love one another validates and communicates our faith. Our call as followers of Christ - is to be the people - who show to the world - the nature of the God we serve.
Challenge: What if we said, “Jesus, point out for me somebody who I disagree with, or somebody I just don’t like a whole lot, somebody who rubs me the wrong way, and give me a vision for what it looks like to love them this week.”
Listen to this past Sunday’s sermon below.