Showing posts with label discouragement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discouragement. Show all posts

19 May 2019

A Few Thoughts on Discouragement

We get discouraged. We face spiritual, physical, financial, emotional disappoints and discouragement. Hope seems to fade. We face family issues, church issues, issues at work, with friends, etc. You know what I mean. There are wars, terrorism, societal ills, evil Christian pastors, good pastors who become discouraged, etc. On and on it goes.

What do we do?

Jeremiah, the prophet, faced this very thing, too.

Background: The Septuagint has this introduction to Lamentations: And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, that Jeremias sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said,

Jeremiah is so discouraged, along with all Jerusalem: Lamentations 1:1-7 GNB How lonely lies Jerusalem, once so full of people! Once honored by the world, she is now like a widow; The noblest of cities has fallen into slavery. 2 All night long she cries; tears run down her cheeks. Of all her former friends, not one is left to comfort her. Her allies have betrayed her and are all against her now. 3 Judah's people are helpless slaves, forced away from home. They live in other lands, with no place to call their own—Surrounded by enemies, with no way to escape. 4 No one comes to the Temple now to worship on the holy days. The young women who sang there suffer, and the priests can only groan. The city gates stand empty, and Zion is in agony. 5 Her enemies succeeded; they hold her in their power. The LORD has made her suffer for all her many sins; Her children have been captured and taken away. 6 The splendor of Jerusalem is a thing of the past. Her leaders are like deer that are weak from hunger, Whose strength is almost gone as they flee from the hunters. 7 A lonely ruin now, Jerusalem recalls her ancient splendor. When she fell to the enemy, there was no one to help her; Her conquerors laughed at her downfall.

Jeremiah later states this: Lamentations 1:20-21 GNB Look, O LORD, at my agony, at the anguish of my soul! My heart is broken in sorrow for my sins. There is murder in the streets; even indoors there is death. 21 "Listen to my groans; there is no one to comfort me. My enemies are glad that you brought disaster on me. Bring the day you promised; make my enemies suffer as I do.

The suffering is horrible: Lamentations 2:11-12 GNB My eyes are worn out with weeping; my soul is in anguish. I am exhausted with grief at the destruction of my people. Children and babies are fainting in the streets of the city. 12 Hungry and thirsty, they cry to their mothers; They fall in the streets as though they were wounded, And slowly die in their mothers' arms.

Jeremiah cries to God: Lamentations 3:1-8 GNB I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God. 2 He drove me deeper and deeper into darkness 3 And beat me again and again with merciless blows. 4 He has left my flesh open and raw, and has broken my bones. 5 He has shut me in a prison of misery and anguish. 6 He has forced me to live in the stagnant darkness of death. 7 He has bound me in chains; I am a prisoner with no hope of escape. 8 I cry aloud for help, but God refuses to listen;

He was being tortured: Lamentations 3:52-57 GNB I was trapped like a bird by enemies who had no cause to hate me. 53 They threw me alive into a pit and closed the opening with a stone. 54 Water began to close over me, and I thought death was near. 55 "From the bottom of the pit, O LORD, I cried out to you, 56 And when I begged you to listen to my cry, you heard. 57 You answered me and told me not to be afraid.

He complains about his enemies: Lamentations 3:60-66 GNB You know how my enemies hate me and how they plot against me. 61 "You have heard them insult me, O LORD; you know all their plots. 62 All day long they talk about me and make their plans. 63 From morning till night they make fun of me. 64 "Punish them for what they have done, O LORD; 65 Curse them and fill them with despair! 66 Hunt them down and wipe them off the earth!"

Society suffers: Lamentations 5:9-12 GNB Murderers roam through the countryside; we risk our lives when we look for food. 10 Hunger has made us burn with fever until our skin is as hot as an oven. 11 Our wives have been raped on Mount Zion itself; in every Judean village our daughters have been forced to submit. 12 Our leaders have been taken and hanged; our elders are shown no respect.

His heart speaks to the pain he feels. He shouts to God: Lamentations 5:21-22 GNB Bring us back to you, LORD! Bring us back! Restore our ancient glory. 22 Or have you rejected us forever? Is there no limit to your anger?

The Psalmist, too, complains: Psalms 13:1-6 GNB How much longer will you forget me, LORD? Forever? How much longer will you hide yourself from me? 2 How long must I endure trouble? How long will sorrow fill my heart day and night? How long will my enemies triumph over me? 3 Look at me, O LORD my God, and answer me. Restore my strength; don't let me die. 4 Don't let my enemies say, "We have defeated him." Don't let them gloat over my downfall. 5 I rely on your constant love; I will be glad, because you will rescue me. 6 I will sing to you, O LORD, because you have been good to me.

In the middle of Jeremiah’s complaints, he remembers something: Lamentations 3:21-25 GNB Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: 22 The LORD's unfailing love and mercy still continue, 23 Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. 24 The LORD is all I have, and so in him I put my hope. 25 The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him,

Habakkuk feels much the same: Habakkuk 3:17-19 GNB Even though the fig trees have no fruit and no grapes grow on the vines, even though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no grain, even though the sheep all die and the cattle stalls are empty, 18 I will still be joyful and glad, because the LORD God is my savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD gives me strength. He makes me sure-footed as a deer and keeps me safe on the mountains.

We can speak in this same way to our counselor: Isaiah 9:6 GNB A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, "Wonderful Counselor," "Mighty God," "Eternal Father," "Prince of Peace." [Emphasis is mine]

The Psalmist praises God for hope: Psalms 16:1-11 GNB Protect me, O God; I trust in you for safety. 2 I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; all the good things I have come from you." 3 How excellent are the LORD's faithful people! My greatest pleasure is to be with them. 4 Those who rush to other gods bring many troubles on themselves. I will not take part in their sacrifices; I will not worship their gods. 5 You, LORD, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands. 6 How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are! 7 I praise the LORD, because he guides me, and in the night my conscience warns me. 8 I am always aware of the LORD's presence; he is near, and nothing can shake me. 9 And so I am thankful and glad, and I feel completely secure, 10 because you protect me from the power of death. I have served you faithfully, and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead. 11 You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever.

Of Messiah, it is prophesied: Psalms 22:1-2 GNB My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I have cried desperately for help, but still it does not come. 2 During the day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer; I call at night, but get no rest.
In the midst His pain, Messiah remembers: Psalms 22:22-23 GNB I will tell my people what you have done; I will praise you in their assembly: 23 "Praise him, you servants of the LORD! Honor him, you descendants of Jacob! Worship him, you people of Israel!

If you are suffering discouragement, you are normal. God has not forsaken you.

He will listen.

He will deliver when the time is right.

So we must pray, “God deliver me.”

We must also pray, “Teach me something from this.”

Then we wait.

We can complain as often as we need to, because

He listens.

Don’t give up hope.

Our souls are safe.

Even if we think we cannot tolerate any more, remember:
He suffered and knows our suffering: 1 Thessalonians 3:3 LEB so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed for this,
We do not know when deliverance comes, but it will happen: Psalms 34:19 NRSV Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all.
We can help others: 2 Corinthians 1:4 NRSV who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
God’s love for us is enduring: Romans 8:38-39 NRSV For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Finally, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 GNB For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. 17 And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. 18 For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.

God bless you.

We Christians are in this life together.

11 July 2018

When We Can't Find God

When we can’t find God

Theme: A song of Distress

Scripture: Psalm 44

Objectives: (From the D6 Fusion Sunday School Lesson book)
Know: No one is exempt from troublesome times, but we can cry out to God for help.
Think: I will condition my thinking to trust God even when going through unexplained difficulty.
Do: During difficulty, remember God’s past blessings and cry out to Him for help.

Psalm 44
B1 Outline
C1 Psalm 44:1-8: Israel’s past deliverance
C2 Psalm 44:9-16: God is questioned why He doesn’t deliver any more.
C3 Psalm 44:17-26: An appeal to God for deliverance now
B2 Distress
C1 Images
C2 Defined
D1 Stress is from stressors. A stressor is a some demand on the body. So, a deadline can be a stressor, so can pain, allergic reaction, shock, illness, etc. It usually has a solution.
D2 Distress is when someone can not adequately respond to stressors. So, chronic stressors can be deadlines, pain, allergic reaction, shock, illness, etc. Many times there is no solution, there is no easy solution, or there is no solution that seems possible.
D3 Sometimes distress is worse when you know of others who have been delivered, while you haven’t. In Psalm 44, the psalmist knows of past deliverance for Israel, but sees no deliverance now.
C3 This is distress: Matthew 27:46 NRSV And about three o'clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
C4 But: Psalms 30:5 NRSV For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
C5 And: Romans 8:35-39 NRSV Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
C6 Finally, Isaiah 65:24-25 NRSV Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.
B3 Psalm 44:1-8,
C1 Why should we pass on to our children how God helped us in distressing times?
C2 What specific deliverances does the psalmist pray to God?
C3 The psalmist emphasizes that God delivered them? Why is this proper?
C4 How can God be our king? Why is this important?
D1 God reigns: Psalm 97:1 MEV The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
D2 God is always and only king: Psalm 10:16 MEV The Lord is King forever and ever; the nations perished from His land.
D3 Jesus is king: John 18:36-38 GW Jesus answered, "My kingdom doesn't belong to this world. If my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. My kingdom doesn't have its origin on earth." 37 Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus replied, "You're correct in saying that I'm a king. I have been born and have come into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to me."
D4 Jesus is King over all: Revelation 15:3 WEL They were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and marvelous [are] your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true [are] your ways, you King of nations.
C5 Israel’s main enemies were human, but they also had enemies of selfishness, disobedience to God and His Law, disbelief, etc. What enemies do Christians have, and how will God defeat them?
D1 Death: 1 Corinthians 15:55-58 GW Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?" 56 Sin gives death its sting, and God's standards give sin its power. 57 Thank God that he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
D2 Overcome the world: John 16:33 GW I've told you this so that my peace will be with you. In the world you'll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world.
D3 Overcome temptation: 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
D4 Overcome fear of death: Hebrews 2:14-15 NKJV Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
C6 In summary: Psalms 44:8 NKJV In God we boast all day long, And praise Your name forever. Selah
B4 Psalm 44:9-16,
C1 The psalmist lists 8 (or 16 depending on what you count) claims against God.
C2 Is it permissible with God to complain like this?
C3 Why does God sometimes allow what appears to be defeat from our enemies? One reason is to get us to repent: Luke 18:13-14 NKJV And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
B5 Psalm 44:17-26,
C1 Even in the midst of distress, the psalmist does not forget God or turn against Him. He still prays and asks for God’s help.
C2 How does God know the secrets of our heart?
B6 Distress
C1 Experienced
D1 By David: Psalm 31:9 NIV - Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
D2 King Hezekiah and Israel: Isaiah 37:3 CSB - They said to him, "This is what Hezekiah says: 'Today is a day of distress, rebuke, and disgrace. It is as if children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to deliver them.
C2 Turning to God
D1 By Asa after Azariah gives God’s message: 2 Chronicles 15:4, 7-8 CSB - "but when they turned to the LORD God of Israel in their distress and sought him, he was found by them. ... "But as for you, be strong; don't give up, for your work has a reward." When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage and removed the abhorrent idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin...
D2 By the psalmist: Psalm 120:1 CSB - In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
C3 Deliverance experienced
D1 By Israel: Deuteronomy 4:30 CSB - When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, in the future you will return to the LORD your God and obey him.
D2 By our Lord Jesus: Luke 24:34 NLT - who said, "The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter."
B7 Applications
C1 We will have hard times. Sometimes we know why; sometimes we do not know why.
C2 When difficulties arise, it does not mean God has forgotten us.
C3 Sometimes troubles happen from others bad decisions.
C4 Sometimes the enemy of our soul, satan, attacks us.
D1 Job: Job 1:11 GW But now stretch out your hand, and strike everything he has. I bet he'll curse you to your face.
D2 The saints at Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey): Revelation 2:10 GW Don't be afraid of what you are going to suffer. The devil is going to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested. Your suffering will go on for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
D3 God delivers:
E1 We Christians from satan’s kingdom: Colossians 1:13-14 GW God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of his Son, whom he loves. 14 His Son paid the price to free us, which means that our sins are forgiven.
E2 From satan and fear of death: Hebrews 2:14 GW Since all of these sons and daughters have flesh and blood, Jesus took on flesh and blood to be like them. He did this so that by dying he would destroy the one who had power over death (that is, the devil).
E3 From testing: 2 Peter 2:9 GW Since the Lord did all this, he knows how to rescue godly people when they are tested. He also knows how to hold immoral people for punishment on the day of judgment.
C5 We are weak, but He is strong: Hebrews 11:34 NKJV quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
C6 God’s grace is able to completely help us through anything: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
C7 We need to pray to God in all things. The Psalms are given to help us, comfort us, give reason for hope, and for worship of God. They are our emotional release.
C8 Trust God even in the hardest of times. Easily said, but God is able.
C9 We are a family of God. We are in this life together. Let us pray for each other.
C10 God will not leave us: Hebrews 13:5-6 GNB Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never leave you; I will never abandon you." 6 Let us be bold, then, and say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?"
C11 Praise God: Psalms 34:8 GW Taste and see that the LORD is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him.
C12 Be encouraged. Do not give up. He will deliver either in this life or the next.
B8 Next week:
C1 Past, Present, and Future
C2 Theme: A song of God’s love
C3 Scripture: Psalm 118