Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dealing with Discouragement

Message today is taken from the book of Nehemiah. The Jews had been exiled to Babylon and after King Cyrus decreed that any Jews who wanted to return to Jerusalem could go, many of them did so. They were back in Israel almost 100 years and had re-established towns and homes. However, the wall around Jerusalem had not been rebuilt.

Nehemiah, King Artexerzes' cupbearer, got word that the wall had not been rebuilt due to lack of necessary supplies and money, and so was allowed to go back to oversee the project. The king provided him with supplies and monies to get the wall built.

Building the wall - all went well for the 1st. half. Neh. 4:6

Then: Neh. 4:7-23 Neh. 6:15 & 16 - the job finished

Verse 10 is a key verse - internal discouragement.

There are many lessons and applications in Nehemiah. One is:

Dealing with Discouragement.

Question: Why people lose heart. (some parallels with Nehemiah)
#1. The task is so big - also so constant, never ending! In Nehemiah, the job eventually got finished. As Christians, the work never ends. We must keep going, building, following.

#2. The workers are so few. Jerusalem had 25, 000 people before the fall. When they returned, there were only about 6,000. Matt. 9:36-38 There will always be a huge task and a huge need.
#3. the willing workers are often overworked. (which leads to discouragement!)
#4. the workers get tired - physically, psychologically, emotionally - which leads to more physical tiredness.
#5. There is constant opposition - from without 1 Pet. 5:8
#6. There is so much rubble. Neh. 4:10 Trash, debris that hindered the work. The same is true for the Christian worker. It's often not the job that discourages but the picky little petty remarks and problems that shouldn't even be problems that a worker comes up against time after time.
#7. There are nagging questions (doubt) - does this matter? is it necessary? Am I making a difference?? Life's busy enough without adding un-necessary work!!!

Point being: there is a lot of reasons to slow down or sit down.

BUT, Nehemiah's reply and approach was:

#1. Remember the Lord Neh. 4:14 This reminder was so common in the Old Testament because we humans tend to forget WHO we are serving. Col. 3:23 & 24 Who is your LORD? Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love ME?" Not, "do you love sheep."

#2. Review the benefits. Neh. 4:14 b ie: family, community, nation.
On one hand, I benefit. On the other hand, I'm motivated by others benefiting.

#3. Resist the opposition. (whatever form it takes) physical? relational? mental? spiritual?
1 Pet. 5:8, 9, 10
Take a stand against the discouragement.

#4. Rally together. The tendency of the discouraged is to pull away, isolate themselves. Which is exactly opposite of what is really needed. We need the support and encouragement of others.

#5. "Get to work"
On one hand, God offers and expects us to rest.
but this is a time of refreshing, not of retiring.
Example: Elijah at the end of 40 days - Jer. 12:5

Note: A. The Lord works with you Haggai 2:4
B. The work stengthens you. John 4:34

When we get discouraged, God says get to work. Rest for a time to get refreshed, and then get back to work. The answer is never to RETIRE.

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