The Christian walk is not all glorious as some want to believe. Some days, some weeks, we just as soon skip. Some days we would not choose to live if we had our choice. We do have a constant: we, as people of God, do have a peace that passes all understanding concerning the spiritual dimensions of lives, even in the not-so-pleasant times. But often, if we are honest, life just does not play fair with us. Life throws us curves.
There are many words that must be in the vocabulary of the child of God. We are going to begin to look at these three key words of the Christian life. All three of these words are important words because we all have, or will, encounter them in the expectations of our lives.
There are some things that are beyond our means to control or handle. There are some issues of life that we cannot began to handle: we have to leave them to God. But for these three to continue to exist in our Christian life, they will be based upon the decisions we make before the Lord Jesus Christ. We have to choose whether we will be: Discouraged in our Christian walk; Encouraged in our Christian Walk; or Courageous in our Christian walk. Tonight we will consider the first of these three key words. We must choose whether we will be Discouraged in our Christian walk.
I. We Can Become Discouraged In Our Christian Walk Because Of The Way We Are Going
A. The Example of Israel.
Nu 21:4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
1. The path they took was not an easy path.
2. According to historians, the journey from Mount Hor was probably begun in the month Elul, corresponding to August-September.
3. This was the hottest and driest part of the year.
4. The route lay along the Arabah, toward Ezion-geber, at the head of the Gulf of 'Akabah, a gulf off the Red Sea.
5. The Arabah is a rocky, barren plain hemmed in on either side by mountains, and is subject to sandstorms.
6. This was no 'walk in the park' so they became discouraged.
B. We also can become discouraged in the Christian walk.
1. Contrary to the 'pie in the sky' preachers on TV, our walk for the Lord can be difficult at times.
2. Paul encouraged us to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
3. The examples of NT believers reveal that Jesus' words were certainly true.
Joh 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
II. We Can Become Discouraged In Our Christian Walk Because Of Others Who Discourage Us In Following God
A. The example of Israel.
Nu 32:7 And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?
1. The tribes of Reuben and Gad determined not to go into the promised land.
2. They chose to settle on East of the Jordan river.
3. As a result Moses was concerned that their action would bring discouragement to the rest of the tribes.
4. And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from entering into the land.
5. Moses had good reason for his concern.
6. He reminds them of what had taken place earlier with the spies.
Nu 32:9 For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them.
De 1:28 Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.
B. The application for us.
1. Other believers can and will discourage us in our walk for God.
2. The Bible makes it clear that usually when someone turns back from following the Lord, it causes others to turn back.
3. Peter determined to return to the fishing business, and he took others with him.
Joh 21:2-3 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee.
4. What we do will have an impact on others.
5. Often we can become discouraged because of other believers, and our walk for God is hindered.
6. Church splits…I hate them…God hates them…people get caught up and discouraged because of other believers.
III. We Can Become Discouraged In Our Christian Walk Because Of Others Who Break Our Spirit In Serving God
A. This is not the same kind of discouragement that we have been discussing.
1. It is one thing to become discouraged because others are not walking with God.
2. It is another thing to be discouraged by someone who would break our spirit.
3. The word in the original is "athumeo"
a. It is a compound word that means, 'no passion'
b. Or 'no spirit'.
c. It speaks of a condition that results from the action of another.
B. This word is found only once in the N.T.
Col 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
1. This is directed at fathers, but could be applied to both parents.
2. Be careful how you speak to your children…
3. Don't get me wrong, I do not buy into the idea that we can blame our parents for everything.
4. We all have a free will and we are responsible to God for our behavior, but the caution is there for a reason!
5. God reminds us that discipline is to teach and train our children…not to break their spirit.
C. The application can be made in a broader sense as well.
1. We need to be careful that we do not discourage other believers by breaking their spirit.
2. This is important for me as pastor, and for others who are teachers or leaders.
3. I believe that this applies in every relationship we have with others.
4. Even the relationship of a husband and wife.
5. God doesn't want us to browbeat one another and discourage fellow believers.
6. The opposite is true…He has called us to be encouragers!
We Can Become Discouraged In Our Christian Walk
God in His infinite wisdom created each of us with the power to make choices. That means that although there are many situations and circumstances that we cannot control, we get to decide how we will react to the circumstances of life. We decide whether or not we will become discouraged. Tonight I want to challenge you to choose to trust in God and find the strength that only comes from Him to be able to continue in the way…regardless of the obstacles that are placed in our path. We don't have to be discouraged!
Along with that challenge, may we also realize that we cannot help but have an impact upon those around us. May the Lord empower us to live for Him in such a way that we would not be a discouragement to others!