June 3, 2019

It’s hard to believe that June is here . . . summer is here!! Let me encourage you this summer to be faithful to God. In fact, let me suggest that you spend some extra time renewing your commitment to Him and what He has called you to do! Think about investing time in a spiritual retreat or beginning a new Bible study or looking for a mentoring relationship to build on. Find a spiritual project that you can accomplish over the summer. Don’t fall into the trap from Satan where he would encourage you to just make summer one long vacation. There is no vacation from serving the Lord until we see the gates of heaven!! Press ON!! 

I wonder today how many of you might be discouraged or feeling a little down or even on the brink of depression. It’s easy to do. It’s something I have to fight against all the time. Maybe you are down today thinking about a relationship that is not where you want it to be. Or maybe you’re tired of fighting the struggle of paying bills and never having enough money. Maybe today your issue is your health or the health of a family member and you see no answer. Maybe you’re concerned about your church or you feel like you are very far from God today. Let me be the voice of encouragement today. God sees you right where you are and He loves you. And there is something else . . . He knows what you don’t know. He can see what is coming next for you and maybe it’s amazing. He has a plan for every situation in your life. The question is, do you trust Him? Are you willing to be obedient even in the midst of the storm? And that is what discouragement is, it’s a storm in your life. And God may have allowed it there for a reason. But He has promised to walk with you through that storm.

Today I am going to briefly reference three articles which I am going to link here and I would encourage you to read them if you are feeling down today. One is called “Don’t Let Discouragement Choke You.” Another is called “Lay Aside the Weight of Discouragement” and the third is called “Overcoming Discouragement.” I don’t have time to delve deeply into this issue today so I’m going to count on you doing some extra reading. In that last article the author mentions four things we need to overcome depression: 1) A fresh encounter with God’s Word; 2) We need to get back to work for the Lord; 3) We must persevere in the face of opposition; and 4) We need to trust the sovereign God to accomplish His will through us. Notice how none of those is just sitting back and throwing a pity party. Notice that none of them are just sitting around and doing nothing and hoping we will eventually feel better. It’s like yesterday’s sermon where we talked about working out your salvation. Healthy bodies and minds and spirits are developed through hard work and not through soft cushions. There is no easy button that leads to emotional or spiritual well-being. It still takes work.

Let me give you a long quote here from the first article listed above. Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (John 14:1)

Discouragement is a temptation “common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). And in dealing with it sometimes we need tenderness and other times we need toughness. But either way discouragement is not to be tolerated or wallowed in. It’s to be fought.

If we linger in discouragement it can be costly. Its sense of defeat and hopelessness saps us of energy and vision. It can consume a lot of time. It can keep us from doing what we need to do because we don’t want to face it. And it can even be contagious, weakening others’ faith.

When we feel discouraged we want comfort, which is right to feel. But the comforts we often turn to are ways to avoid our fears rather than ways to muster our courage to face and overcome them. When this happens discouragement simply becomes sinful indulgence in unbelief, no different than indulging in lust or anger or other sins of unbelief.

Jesus does not want us to be discouraged. In fact, he commands us not to be. Listen to what Jesus says to his disciples just before what probably was the most discouraging experience of their lives — his brutal death: “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1).

Note Jesus’s words, “let not.” These are not merely comforting; they are commands. He knew they would be tempted to fear. Things were going to look very bad, like the whole mission was imploding. What were they to do instead of being afraid? Believe! “Believe in God; believe also in me.”

In other words, “Don’t let your hearts be ruled by what you see. Let them be ruled by what I promise you.” And that’s what he’s saying to you and me too.

Note also a couple of verses that should be an encouragement to all of us today no matter what our circumstances:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9

God wants your life to be full and meaningful and filled with joy. But He never said it would be easy. When sin entered the world life became much more difficult. Work became more of a chore. God doesn’t just take a magic wand and make everything wonderful. His process for making us like Him requires that we be tested in the fire of life. The testing is never fun. Trust me, I wish it were. I grow weary. We all grow weary. But God is not done with us. Put your trust in Him. He knows what you don’t!

Last Word: Join us this Sunday for another joint Anglo-Hispanic service at FBCWS! Our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters will be joining us the second Sunday of every month. And every other second Sunday our Hispanic Pastor, Ernesto Alfonzo, will be preaching for us! I know God is going to use this message to speak to all of us.

I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?