Living for Jesus and doing the Lord’s work is supposed to be easy, right? That’s what I thought thirty-five years ago when I started out in the ministry but I quickly learned that is not the case. Yes, you are doing the Lord’s work but, Satan doesn’t want one more person to become a Christian… he doesn’t want one more dollar to be given to the Lord’s work. So, Satan will attack and he uses Christians.
When this happens to us, it can discourage a Christian. It may even cause someone to quit. When we quit, we reason that we just didn’t know how tough it is. But we aren’t the first to face tough times.
In II Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul is talking about what he had experienced. He writes, “we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you (II Corinthians 4:8-12).”
Think about what Paul wrote… “we are hard pressed on every side.” Doesn’t sound like Paul’s life is stress-free, does it?
Paul adds, “… crushed.. perplexed… but not destroyed.” Doesn’t sound like an easy life, does it?
I think we all need to understand that living for Christ is not easy. Working for Christ is not easy. If you think it is, you are mis-led. And, you don’t quit just because things are tough. You dig in… you pray hard.. you trust the Lord.
So, if you are discouraged and about to quit. Don’t. Hang in there. Paul said he faced a tough time but God was with him. He will be with us as well.
“When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
And the road you’re traveling seems all uphill.
When the funds are low and the bills are high,
You want to smile but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with it’s twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
Many a failure has turned about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
So stick to the fight when your hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worse that must not quit.”
Are you open to new things or, are you resistant to change? We all have a comfort zone and when something comes along that is outside our comfort zone we can be resistant.
This happens in church often. Someone can propose an idea that is good but, it’s different and will take people out of their comfort zone. When people are afraid they have a tendency to resist.
But if the Holy Spirit is moving and leading with the a new idea, we need to be open and listen to the leadership of the Spirit.
The apostle Paul said, “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
God may be trying to teach you sonething new but you are resisting. Maybe God is tryibg to move and do something new in your church.
Folks, the gospel message is the only thing that doesn’t change. Methods may change but the gospel doesn’t. We all need to be open to the leadership of the Spirit in our churches and in our lives.
Are you living in the past?
Are you constantly talking about how things were “back in the day?”
Maybe there was a time in your life… in the past… that you made good money or had a nice position and you love to talk about those days.
This is especially bad in church. We love to talk about how things “used to be.” Someone will say, “I remember when…”
Maybe your church has changed some and you don’t particulary care for it. And,you are constantly telling people that “back in the day” we didn’t have drums and stuff and preachers dressed up with suits and ties and preached the gospel…
Friend, you are living in the past. Those days are gone. Gone! Forever! And it doesn’t matter how much you romanticize them, they aren’t coming back. They don’t need to come back… we have today. God wants us to live in the present.
Maybe your Daddy or your grandfather was a Minister and you love to talk about how he did things. I understand. But if your Dad or Grandfather was Ministering today, they might well do things the way it’s being done today.
The apostle Paul said, “forgetting what lies behind.. I press on…”
If you are dwelling on the past… living in the past… friend, you to need to move on..
Years ago a man was talking about how people like to remember “the good ole days.” The man said, “the good ole days” weren’t as “good” as people like to remember them. lol
Today, we worship a God of the past, present and future but He wants us to live today and focus on today… Don’t dwell on the past.
Have you ever been ion a season of life where, you know that God exists but, you sure wish He would speak to you? I think most of us have. I do not doubt that God exists. To me, there is too much evidence not to believe in God. But. there are times when you are thinking, “Lord, I sure wish you would speak to me.”
That’s how Job felt. Job said;
“If only I knew where to find God,
I would go to his court.
I would lay out my case
and present my arguments.”
Think about those words… “If only I knew where to find God…”
Lots and lots of people can identify with what Job said.
Notice what else Job said…
“I go east, but he is not there.
I go west, but I cannot find him.
I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden.
I look to the south, but he is concealed.”
Job looked in every direction and couldn’t find. Had God left? No… but at times, due to the pain we are feeling, we can look everywhere and not seem to find God. We know God exists. We see God’s creation and it gives evidence that God exists. But, if you are hurting enough you can think God has forgotten you.
Job looked in every direction but couldn’t seem to find God. Maybe you feel like Job. Life can be tough and it can cause us to wonder if God does exist.
On those days… look to God’s creation… feel the warmth of a smile or hug… read God’s word. Listen to Christian music. Find a church and just sit down and be quiet.
“I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even though I don’t feel it.
I believe in God, even when he is silent.”
There is an old saying that there are three types of people in life; Those who are going through adversity, those who are about to go through adversity and those who are coming out of adversity. Adversity is no fun but God can use our adversity.
Paul said, “God comforts us in our afflction so that we may comfort others..”(II Cor 1:3) One of the benefits of adversity is, when we face it, we are more concerned for others who are going through adversity.
Several years ago I was going through some tough times. I called a couple of people and honestly, got little help. But then I called another man and he asked me to lunch. We talked and he encouraged me. Holli and I started attending his church.
Why did this Pastor reach out? Because he had been through adversity. He knew how it felt.
God may want you to reach out to someone today. God may have comforted you during adversity in order that you can comfort others.
Are you a refresher or a depressor? Are you the kind of person people like to see coming or, do they want to run when they see you coming? We need to be people who others want to be around. We need to be encouragers. In first Corinthians 16, the apostle Paul was closing out his letter. As he did, he mentioned three people whom he said “refreshed my spirit.”
Those people were Stephanas, Fortunatas & Achaia.” Paul said of them, “…they refresh my spirit.”
I have some people in my life who refresh my spirit. I bet you do as well. Everyone needs some ” refreshers” in life.
So, question; are you a refresher or a depressor? Hopefully you are a refresher. That’s how I want to be known… As a refresher. Today someone needs you to refresh their spirit encourage someone today. Brag on someone…say something good about someone.
Today you have a choice; you can refresh or you can depress. Refresh someone today.
Have you ever met someone who seemed to know it all? I mean, they think they are a one-stop dispensry of wisdom and knowledge. I’ve met a few folks like that and probably you have to. Some people seem to know everyone and everything.
In Job 12:1-3, Job said to his friends, “You people really know everything, don’t you? And when you die, wisdom will die with you! Well, I know a few things myself— and you’re no better than I am.”
Why are people like that? It’s because they are insecure. They are trying to impress people in order to be affirmed. Someone reading this may be like that…if so, friend, you dont have to try to impress people. Be yourself. It’s miserable trying to be somethng you’re not.
If you know someone like ths; be patient with them and pray for them.
Bottom line is this; you dont have to try impress people by thinking you are more important than you are. Be yourself. God loves you that way.
Zig Ziglar used to say, “When I graduated, I was the part of the class that made the upper half possible.” lol
Be yourself and stop trying to impress people.