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Building For God - Part 7

"Discouragement: Its Origins And Its Answer"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2004 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'Nehemiah chapter 4. Now we'll take time to read from verse 1 to get the gist of what we've already been studying. Remember in our last week studying this portion of Scripture, we were looking at 'The Enemy and the Overcomer'. There were particularly three enemies: Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, and then there was a whole crowd of people that gathered together in an external sense to oppose the work of God that Nehemiah was doing. We looked really that particular week at the external opposition that often we can have when we seek to do a work for the Lord. It's par for the course, we saw that: if you want to do something for God, you've got to be prepared for external opposition.

Sometimes you get discouraged, often that discouragement doesn't come from Satan, it doesn't come from the world, but it comes from those who ought to be encouraging you...

We're looking this morning at verses 10 to 23, which really deals with internal opposition, internal opposition. Let's read from verse 1 to 23: "But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall. Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders. So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work. But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you. Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work. And it came to pass from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me. And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another. In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us. So we laboured in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared. Likewise at the same time said I unto the people, Let every one with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labour on the day. So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing", and we end our reading at verse 23.

So often in the work of the Lord, immediately following a time of blessing, the enemy comes in in a counter-attack...

The title that we have this morning is: 'Discouragement: Its Origins and Its Answer'. Charles Swindoll, the author who wrote a very good book on this book of Nehemiah called 'Hand Me Another Brick', wrote these words about discouragement - I quote: 'What a difficult disease to cure. I don't know of any thing that will take the wind out of your sails quite so quickly as discouragement. Rare is the person who can resist it'. Let me read it to you again: 'What a difficult disease to cure. I don't know of any thing that will take the wind out of your sails quite so quickly as discouragement. Rare is the person who can resist it'. Now two weeks ago we looked from verse 1 to 9 at external opposition, opposition that was from without. Now we're looking this morning at verses 10 to 23, at opposition that is from within. Now if you remember from the very beginning of this book, at first everything seemed to be going tremendously. Nehemiah had come as the cupbearer to the King, and asked the king that he would be sent to his home town of Jerusalem which was burnt down and derelict, and that he should be allowed to build it. Not only did he ask permission, but he asked for resources, and the king gladly give all that to him even though he was going to the king and making such a request under peril of death.

So Nehemiah went to Jerusalem with all the resources that he needed, and we remember that we followed Nehemiah as he prayerfully surveyed the ruins, as he thought and meditated before God about what to do - and it wasn't long until he had an army of workers all around him that had a heart and a head to work. They really wanted to work to rebuild the city of God! But so often in the work of the Lord, immediately following a time of blessing, the enemy comes in in a counter-attack. The enemy keeps coming again and again and again to discourage from the work of the Lord. Now the opposition that we looked at in the first half of this chapter was the opposition of Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem and a number of their friends, and even some of their enemies united together in opposition to the work of the Lord. But up until now they were able to keep that opposition at bay, they were able to deal with it, and facing those enemies they were overcomers - the people had a mind to work, they had a heart to pray, and we saw that they had an eye to watch - and they overcame!

But this morning we're going to see something that is even more fatal than the opposition that was external from Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem; for everyone who is engaged in the work of the Lord will face two foes - they will face an external foe, and an internal foe. Let me remind you of the words of the Psalmist David in Psalm 41, where he said this: 'Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me'. This is a tactic that Satan has often followed, even up to this very present age. Not only does he bring opposition externally from without, from the world and from our enemies religiously and spiritually, but he has a knack of bringing opposition from within. You remember he did it among the ranks of the apostles through Judas Iscariot. In Acts chapters 5 and 6 at the very beginning of the life of the early church, he used Ananias and Saphira, professing Christians, to bring contamination into the church. Then he brought complaining widows along - their complaints may have been legitimate, but yet there was internal opposition that was threatening to thwart the work of God from within.

What I'm talking about is persistently coming again and again and again with the same, if we could call it in this context, rubbish! It wears you down!

Now what I want you to see in this passage today is in verse 10, just those first three words: 'And Judah said'. Up to this point we have had the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, and the Arabians, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem - but now in verse 10, you could almost miss it, 'And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall'. Judah, Nehemiah's own people, were starting now to rise opposition why the rubbish should stay the way it has always been, and why there shouldn't be a building built to the glory of God. Now we're not told what Nehemiah felt like, but I imagine that he would have had a sickening sense of being let down, he must have been overwhelmed by the feeling of betrayal! There he was trying to lead the people of God, and at first they were all around him - but all of a sudden they have given in to the jibes of the enemy, and they want to down tools and give up.

How persistent Satan is, there's no doubt about that, because we read that ten times - verse 12: 'It came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you'. Ten times the people of Judah came back to the great commander Nehemiah, and said: 'No matter where you go, these people are going to follow us - you might as well give up!' - ten times! Now anyone who's in the work of the Lord will know what it is to be discouraged, and Satan loves to discourage His servants, and he loves to discourage them by these little niggly foxes that spoil the vine. What I'm talking about is persistently coming again and again and again with the same, if we could call it in this context, rubbish! It wears you down! It doesn't matter what work of God you do, sometimes you get discouraged, and often that discouragement doesn't come from Satan in the external sense, it doesn't come from the world, it doesn't come from temptation, but it comes from those who ought to be encouraging you.

One of the things that facilitated the Nazi rise to power in Germany was a propaganda that was called 'the big lie'. It was simply this: if you told a big enough lie enough times, people would start to believe it. That's exactly what happened in Nazi Germany, and later spreading across the whole of Europe. One lie they told everybody was that the Jew was many notches down from other white Caucasian human beings. People started, intelligent scientists, even theologians, started to believe the lie because it was a big one and it was told often enough. If I can make this illustration: if you're in the work of the Lord, whatever capacity you may be in it, if people come again and again and again and discourage you, eventually it rubs off.

Let me turn you to a character in the Bible who was discouraged. Acts chapter 7, one brother a couple of weeks ago reminded me of this fact, and the more I thought of it the more I wanted to include it this morning - Acts 7, which speaks of Moses in verse 23: 'And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote', and you remember murdered, 'the Egyptian: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not'. In other words, the very people that should have appreciated what Moses was doing were the very people, we will see in a moment, who threw it in his teeth. Verse 25: 'For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove', two Israelites this time, 'and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren', you're two Hebrews, 'why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust Moses away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?'. Now watch these words in verse 29: 'Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons'.

If you're in the work of the Lord, whatever capacity you may be in it, if people come again and again and again and discourage you, eventually it rubs off...

Now Moses could enter into a fight between an Egyptian and an Israelite, and he could slay the Egyptian and bury him - he saw it as being for God and his people, we're not entering into the morality of it all, we're just pointing out this fact: he was man enough to do this, and he was man enough to interrupt two of his brethren, Israelites who were fighting together - but when they threw an accusation at him, an internal source discouraging him when they should have been in reality encouraging him for what he did - what did he do? He fled! How easy it is to give in when internal discouragement comes. How easy it would be for Nehemiah to just say: 'I've had enough of this', and walk away back to Persia and be the cupbearer for the King again. There are so many people in the work of God who do this, and I can understand why they do it!

Alan Redpath, in his book on Nehemiah, said these words - and I think they're profound, so listen to them: 'What a powerful weapon is this which the enemy thrusts into our souls, this internal discouragement: when the cream of the army threatens desertion, when the prayer partners become discouraged, when the fellow missionary threatens to return home because it's too tough at the station, when those who should be sharing the burdens most deeply with the Nehemiahs of our time have no vision at all - how disheartening it is when those who should be right in the thick of the fight in real prayer warfare are men and women without any vision, without any burden. They will do the same job and carry on the same work as they have done for years, but they do not seem to be capable of real hard travail. Those who would be prayer partners think the task is too much to handle, 'We just can't do it!''.

Now I'm trying to echo a cry that's perhaps in your heart today in the work that you're doing for the Lord, or maybe even in your own everyday domestic work at home, or your work at the office. Is there something that cries out from your heart: 'I can't do it any more! I'm overwhelmed! It's got too much for me!', and you just want to walk away - you just want to run away from it all! Well, Nehemiah did not have that word 'retreat' in his language. Let me share with you three things that were the source of Nehemiah's discouragement, and then quickly four things that were the secret of his encouragement - the origins and the answer to discouragement.

Here's the first source of the people's discouragement - Nehemiah 4 and verse 10: 'Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed'. Here's the first thing: their strength was depleted. Their strength - now we're talking about physical strength, so the first source of their problem was not necessarily spiritual, but it was physical. Their physical strength, the burdens that they were bearing building these walls, was depleted - they were, if we could put it in our vernacular, burnt out. They couldn't do God's work any more, not just from a spiritual perspective but from a physical one. The actual Hebrew original means 'stumbling, tottering, staggering under a load' - you can almost see them drained so much physically that they couldn't actually carry the bricks, and they were falling down under the load. Now please see this distinction that I'm about to make: they were so busy building the walls of the city to protect the city, that they forgot to build their own walls to protect themselves. Did you get that? They were exhausted physically from doing the work of the Lord.

No individual, whether they be a pastor, or a missionary, or an evangelist, or an elder, or a Sunday School teacher, or a young people's leader, no one person ought to shoulder the burden physically of all of the work of God!

In Song of Songs and chapter 1 and verse 6 we read of the Shunnamite, in chapter 8 verse 12 - I think it is - we read that her father's children were angry with her, and they sent the whole family out into the vineyard to tend it under the auspices of King Solomon. But she in particular had that responsibility in chapter 1 verse 6, and when the shepherd King stands beside her, you remember we read that she says: 'Look not upon me, for I am black' - and the blackness came from the Mediterranean sun that was beating down on her every day as she was out. She was so busy doing the work in the vineyard for her brothers and for King Solomon, that she hadn't time to look after herself - and she actually says that: 'Mine own vineyard have I not kept' - my own physical appearance I have lost.

What a lesson there is in that for us all. We're not talking now about spiritual strength, we're talking about physical strength - sometimes you can start a work of God strong, but you can't finish it because you're too tired. Now there's something we all have to remember, whatever capacity we're doing the work of the Lord in, it's this: when you get saved you don't become a superman, you're still physical flesh and blood that needs sleep, that needs food, that needs all sorts of rest and even recreation at times. But equally we have to also remember that the servants of God, individually, who we might see as called of God, they are not supermen either. No individual, whether they be a pastor, or a missionary, or an evangelist, or an elder, or a Sunday School superintendent, or a young people's leader, no one person ought to shoulder the burden physically of all of the work of God! That is why the Lord's ideal was a body, a body of people who would carry the whole strain of the work.

Now, listen to me, this is talking from experience, one cause and source of discouragement often is this: a depletion in physical strength - physical strength. You're not getting enough sleep, you're not getting - maybe this isn't applicable to me! - fed enough, you're not getting enough exercise - something as simple as all that. Remember Elijah, he had ran a supernatural run beside a chariot, and the next time we see him he's sitting under the juniper tree dejected, exhausted, depressed! What does God do? Does He give him his sermon in John chapter 17? No! He gives him a meal, and He gives him a sleep, and He tells him to have a rest. Are you discouraged today? Could it be something as simple as you're doing too much, even in the name of the Lord, but you haven't kept your own vineyard?

Secondly, their strength was depleted, but we see that their vision disappeared - verse 10: 'there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you'. Verse 11 says: 'They shall not know, neither see', the enemies were saying that, but the people were starting to believe it: that possibly they couldn't see their enemies any more, that their enemies would come up behind them, but more importantly than all that they didn't have a vision any longer for the work of God. Instead of being encouraged by what had just happened, and all the building that had already been accomplished, they only saw the huge task that was before them. They couldn't imagine it being completed, all they could see was a big mound of rubble, and a lot of army rebels coming towards them.

Now we know from chapter 4 and verse 6, if you look at it, that they were halfway: 'So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work'. So they were at the halfway stage of the building of the walls, the task was half finished, and perhaps we could say that the halfway task of anything - especially the work of the Lord - is the hardest place of all, is it not? Let me give you an illustration like this: if you've ever been rambling - maybe you think I ramble every Sunday morning! - if you've ever been rambling in the sense of climbing a mountain or something like that, you will know that if you take your compass, or maybe even a map that you can't read too well, and you set off in one direction, you see on the horizon what you feel is the destination that you're going towards. You walk, and you walk, and you sweat, and you puff, and you sit down at every seat that comes along, you look at your watch - and then all of a sudden you realise that you're at the halfway point, but you haven't realised that the halfway point is the place that you originally thought was your destination, the horizon that you could only see. But when you reach there, what do you see? You see another five peaks further on to go! The equation that you make in your mind is not: 'Oh, I've halfway done', but 'Oh, I've all that to do it again!'. Isn't that it?

Not only did he encourage himself, but he also encouraged the people of God - he went a step further...

Sometimes when you're in the work of the Lord your vision can disappear when you realise that you're only halfway there, you don't particularly see all that you've done, but you see all that is yet to do. It may be the toughest point of all, and your initial enthusiasm that you had for this work of God when you started it has departed. You can see it even in your early days of conversion: when you're first saved you're on fire for God, you're wanting to do everything for God. Maybe even as you enter middle-age and old age you don't have the zeal and the enthusiasm and the zest that you used to have - but the danger is that you can lose vision.

Here's the third thing: their confidence was deflated. Their strength was depleted, their vision disappeared, and the confidence was deflated. Verse 10: they feared the enemy, they had exhausted their physical reserves, their vision had deflated, and so had their confidence now. Once we read that they had a mind to work - do you remember reading that in verse 6? The Hebrew literally says 'they had a heart to work', but their heart had been buried under all the rubble, if we could say it as we would say it: they lost their heart for the work! There motivation had gone, and in place of it was a feeling of overwhelming defeat, even fear.

Now let's look in the remainder of the time that is left at the four secrets of their encouragement. If you're here this morning and your strength is depleted, and your vision has disappeared, and your confidence has deflated - here's four things to grab hold of. In 1 Samuel 30 and verse 6 we read of David, that one city was taken over - Ziklag - by the enemy; and the army that David had, many of their children and their wives had been taken captive. All of a sudden, when the fight was starting to affect the men's families, they were going to turn on David and they were going to stone him, the Bible says. Now we read in 1 Samuel 30 and verse 6 that David was greatly distressed at this predicament, but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. What a lesson there is for us all in that. But what I want you to see is the greatness of Nehemiah here: for not only did he encourage himself, but he also encouraged the people of God - he went a step further.

Let's see how he encouraged them. First of all he gave them all a common goal, verse 13, he gave them all a common goal. When Nehemiah looked, he saw that families were broken up. One part of a family was at one side of the wall, and another was at the far end - they were broken up, and all that he could see was that the work was scattered, it was counter-productive because father and mother weren't able to give morale to one another and encouragement because they were apart. So what Nehemiah did was he reorganised the work. He teamed up people into the same families, and the same neighbours, around one common goal. Now one of the reasons why we get discouraged in the work of God is because the church of Jesus Christ, whether locally or globally, is split up. It could be said to be split up in denominationalism, and sometimes you would almost think that we're working against one another rather than working with one another. But even in a local capacity, sometimes there can be what I would have to say is competitiveness, to such an extent that all you want to have is the biggest church, the most successful programme, the best pastor in the pulpit, and all the rest - simply out of a human, carnal competitiveness.

Do we have a common goal to see the work of the Lord Jesus Christ built up, to see people saved for Him? Do we have that common goal above all other desires, whatever they may be?

We read in verse 20 that Nehemiah had a rallying point for all of the army of Judah, he had a trumpeter always by his side verse 18 says, and what he was doing was: whenever there was trouble, Nehemiah would get his trumpeter to blow the trumpet, and he - Nehemiah, the commander - would rally all the troops around him for one common united goal. Listen, I think there's a lesson in this for all of us today, because the family of God - whether it be locally or globally - is broken up into various scattered parts. It is counter-productive for our rallying cry which is the Gospel, isn't it? The trumpet is our cry - woe unto me if I preach not the Gospel - but we're all split up at times preaching the Gospel and it's counter-productive when we all have one common goal - what is it? To rally round our Commander, the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, and fight His battle - it's not our battle, it's His battle!

A common goal - do we have a common goal here in the Iron Hall? Do we have a common goal to see the work of the Lord Jesus Christ built up, to see people saved for Him? Do we have that common goal above all other desires, whatever they may be? Well, that's one encouragement if it was there - if we all worked together for that common goal, I believe much of our discouragement in the work of the Lord would disappear.

Secondly, verse 14, they had a unified focus. We read: 'And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren'. It says that Nehemiah looked up. Now he looked up to survey the rubble and the rubbish and the debris that was around, but it goes on to say that he didn't just focus on the rubbish around him, but he lifted his eyes heavenward, as it were, and he encouraged the people not to focus upon the rubbish and dereliction that was around them, not to focus on the enemy, because if they did that there would be no progress at all - but to look to the Lord! How we need to look to the Lord if we're going to guard against discouragement. You see if you look to Christians? You will be discouraged. You see if you look to yourself? You will be discouraged. But if you look to the Lord, that's what David did, he encouraged himself in the Lord; that's what Nehemiah did; that's what Jehoshaphat the King encouraged the people to do in 2 Chronicles chapter 20: 'We have no might against this great company', he said, 'that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee'! Isn't that it?

I wonder in the service of the Lord that you're doing, have you taken your eyes off the Lord? Are you looking up, or are you looking at the problems all around you? It's very easy to do, and Peter saw the boisterous wind and the waves, and he began to sink because he took his eyes of the Lord - could it be that you need, today, to turn your eyes upon Jesus again? What an encouragement we get in the Lord Jesus! We could spend all morning on that - but if we had that unified focus as not only a company of God's people, but as individuals, our focus for the work is the Lord Jesus. That old hymn is right: 'O pilgrim bound for the heavenly land, never lose sight of Jesus'.

A common goal, the work of the Gospel, our great Commander. Two: a unified focus, the Lord Jesus Christ, and looking to Him, not looking to others. Thirdly: a balanced approach, verses 15 and 17. Imagine this: there were some and they wanted to do all the fighting, and then there were others and they wanted to do all the building - they were the scaredy-cats, or maybe they were the engineers. There were the bloodthirsty and there were the cowards, or maybe there were the industrious and there were the volcanoes - for want of a better phrase - those who just wanted to pick a fight. Now Nehemiah is coming to them, and he says 'There's got to be balance here, we've got to take it in turns, there's got to be a circuit. Everybody has got to take the role and the responsibility that I give them'. There has to be a balance in continuing the work of the Lord, you've got to be prepared to fight - the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other - and prepared to build as well.

You meet some Christians and all they want to do is fight - not just fight with one another, but fight for some cause...

There aren't a lot of balanced Christians about today. You meet some Christians and all they want to do is fight - not just fight with one another, but fight for some cause. They want to defend this, that, and the other - and that just seems to keep them going. Now we need people to fight for truth, there's no doubt about that, but I worry about folk when all their Christian existence seems to be is fighting or defending some cause! They're always pulling down rather than building up. Then there's people who are always working, and they never seem to get a rest for their family or for their friends, and if they aren't fighters they're workers! Fighters who are always doing something bad, workers who are always doing something good - but yet one defeats the other. Alan Redpath says: 'If Satan gets Christian people involved in controversy at the expense of capturing souls for Christ, he has secured a masterstroke. Men spend their lives in so-called defence of truth, and defence of position, and neglect the main task of building - they fight over hair-splitting matters of doctrine while souls are perishing'. We need to be very careful, especially in this fellowship, of doing just that: of being a balanced, of making things that are less important more important at the peril of those things which are all-important.

A balanced approach, fourthly - and this is perhaps the most challenging - an others-orientated occupation. First, a common goal; two, a unified focus; three, a balanced approach; and fourth, an others-orientated occupation. Nehemiah encouraged them in verses 19 to 22: 'When you see your family in need, or you see your neighbour in need, and there's an attack on the way at their piece of the wall, you all rally round and support them!'. What about that? The thing that Nehemiah was encouraging them to do was to rally round others, because God is fighting for you, you can be encouraged - you're never fighting alone, because if your neighbour's not with you God is with you! Now listen, whenever you are discouraged often what you want is the support of another Christian, you want somebody to support you. But did you ever think of it this way: what people really need when they are encouraged is not the support of another, but to be a support to another.

Some people say to me: 'You seem to be awful busy', sometimes - and you make this humorous quip: 'Well, it keeps me out of trouble', but there's a lot of truth in that, isn't there? When you're thinking about something else, or someone else, or doing something else apart from your worries and your stresses and strains, doesn't it lift the load off us to be thinking and bearing the burdens of others rather than bearing our own? We really are essentially selfish people, deep down in our hearts, and all we have to do is a diagnostic question as to whether we are others-orientated people: what are you going to do in the week that lies ahead of you to help others? What have you planned? Will your week be spent serving others, or is it wrapped up only in yourself? Could that be the reason why you're so discouraged? I would have to say that self-centred people are often discouraged because they always let themselves down, they're always looking internally and at what others are doing to them from outside.

You can easily lose your whole strength, your whole vision, and all your confidence because of the rubbish around you...

Are you overwhelmed by the task that's before you? Whether it's the work of the Lord, whether it's not, some are involved in very demanding jobs, even life-threatening jobs; some have difficult people to work with, for some the tasks seem endless - whether you're just a mother changing nappies, or a managing director moving companies; whether you're a minister of the Gospel, or a missionary on the field - you can let the work get to such an extent that you discourage yourself, and are pulled down into the mire which cannot be described, and you can easily lose your whole strength, your whole vision, and all your confidence because of the rubbish around you.

Can I encourage you to do four things? Get a common goal, like the apostle Paul, and say: 'This one thing I do, and if all else fails I'm going to do this'. Do you know what it is? It's the Gospel and it's the Lord Jesus. Get a unified focus, don't look to the Christians around you that let you down and let others down, look to the Lord Jesus who will never let you down, and who will fight for you. Get a balanced approach, don't become one of these 'issue Christians' that stands on a soapbox and won't talk about anything else but this particular thing - be balanced, and remember that there are souls that are dying! Fourthly: serve others - I think that's the greatest antidote. Forget about yourself, and serve others.

Our Father, help us not to be ignorant of Satan's devices. Help us not to be unaware of the origins of discouragement, which at times can come from very close, internally. Father, we just pray that we will always avail ourselves, by the Spirit, of those encouragements that are open to us. Let us always look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Let us rally round to His cry in the Gospel, let us unite with those who preach His word, and let us win the lost, our Father, and let us serve others and forget our own gripes and problems. Lord, we all need to be encouraging one another, and if we were none of us would need be discouraged. So help us all, our Father, to love one another, and so fulfil Thy truth in the Saviour's name, Amen.

Don't miss part 8 of the Building For God Study Series: "The Fifth Column Of God's Work"Jump To Top Of Page

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins
Preach The Word.
May 2004
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the seventh tape in his 'Building For God' series, entitled "Discouragement: Its Origins And Its Answer" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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