Distracted By Discouragement?

  One of the most powerful weapons Satan has to use against us is discouragement. For it fuels doubts, fears, anger, frustrations and resentments – all of which can distract us from serving Christ at our optimum. However, we do not have to allow these entanglements to remain when we remember three primary truths:

Confirmation: We will all encounter people and problems that discourage us. Whether it be the critics in our life and/or the unfortunate circumstances we face, we can count on them trying to ruin our day. However, we can also rely on the fact that these challenges are also many times the tools God uses in our life to strengthen our faith and propel His purposes (Romans 5:3). For Moses faced critics, David faced betrayal, Joseph faced prison, Daniel faced lions and our Lord Jesus faced crucifixion. Yet, it was also during these times God was orchestrating great works. Likewise, the causes of our discouragement can be seen as confirmation that our loving Father has us exactly where He desires us to be, and we gain the benefits of being involved in His plans.

Confession: Discouragement can also set in when we fail to respond to difficulties in life the way we know we should. This leads to a spiraling scenario where we behave in ways we know we shouldn’t, feel bad about it and then get angry because we know we should be stronger than we’re acting. However, Hannah Smith in her book written in 1875 shared a powerful truth when she stated, “true humility can bear to see its own utter weakness and foolishness revealed, because it never expected anything from itself, and knows that the only hope and expectation must be in God”. This confessed realization releases us from the bondage of perfectionism (Romans 8:1). For our struggles with sin and the flesh are real, but what a gift we have knowing that because of Christ, we don’t have to beat ourselves up, or give into the lies of discouragement. 

Confidence: Once we realize our challenges and difficulties can be used by God to sand, shape and sift our faith, we are able to face them with more confidence. This is because we know God is with us, helps us and directs us – always (Hebrews 13:6). As an example, God reassures us in the Bible over 365 times, a reminder for each day of the year, not to fear. However, the power is in relying and accepting this truth and then choosing to walk in faith with great expectation.

Application: “Expect To Conquer” – Joshua 1:9
As children of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the Creator of heaven and earth, we are entrusted with powerful gifts. Yet, the enemy doesn’t want us to realize, or use these gifts. So, he rages war and deploys one of his most powerful weapons against us – discouragement. Thus, there is tremendous value in reclaiming the confidences we have through Christ and living our lives on earth expecting to conquer any distraction that comes our way. For there is no weapon forged in hell that can disrupt God’s purposes.

Scared Stiff?

  Fear, uncertainty, doubts and worry can grab hold to each of us. It calls to us and puts us in a state of panic. We become scared stiff, but is this what Christians are called to? Interestingly, we see the first disciples huddled together in fear after the crucifixion of Jesus. They were filled with despair and fear, but then Jesus stepped in among them and the first thing He said was, “Peace be with you”. He stepped in to their uncertainty to remind them and give them the assurance He gives us – peace. This peace however surpasses all understanding. For it is peace only Christ can offer:

Missing: We can sometimes feel as though our peace, purpose and power is threatened, or diminishing, especially when we allow the chaos among us to distort our priorities. However, we are called to put God first and foremost in everything (Exodus 20:3). We are to keep our eyes upon Him. Then, like Peter when he walked on water, we can overcome the turbulence around us. Have you lost your peace and purpose, or the power to keep moving forward? Remember to look to Christ and He will take your hand and set you back on track.

Seeking: When we are missing something we care deeply about, we go seeking for it. Recently, in my Bible study class, a friend shared how all the recent turmoil in America and the world was creating in her a growing fear and concern for her family’s safety, but then she opened her Book. She opened God’s word and soon discovered her peace returned, and her hope was restored. Likewise, when we seek God and His word, we too rediscover all the power, purpose and peace that seemed to go missing (Matthew 6:33).

Receiving: As followers of Christ, we have so much already given to us. Yet, as we know, the worries of this world can quickly distract us from this truth. Sometimes this happens because our time with God, His people and His word decreases and other concerns begin competing for “top-shelf” occupancy. However, when we keep our priorities in order, just as God instructed so long ago, we receive all His promises and our fears, doubts and worries soon fade in comparison to His glory (John 14:27).

Application: “Knows Our Name” – John 10:14
No one is unknown to God. Some may desire to run from Him, deny Him, reject Him and even attempt to crucify Him, but He is above all and over all. There is no place, no person and no problem greater than God. Therefore, for those who know, serve and obey Him possess great advantages. For all of us will encounter times of fear, worry and stress, but with God, we have hope and confidence knowing He will work all things for our good and His glory – and nothing can beat that!