Sunday, February 7, 2010

Surviving the Slough of Despond

2 Tim. 4:6-8
The Series is Improving Your Christian Walk, ie: the relationship, lifestyle, journey...)

So..... how are you doing???

On one hand, the answers vary.
On the other hand, among those who are serious about the walk, the typical answer is at a 2 or 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 level of maturity, and they feel they should be at least at a 7 or 8.

The typical serious Evangelical Christian is plagued by feelings of:
1. Guilt - don't study enough, pray enough, witness, enough, minister as should
2. Unworthiness - feel unfit to carry the title Christian or represent Christ
3. Inadequacy - don't seem ABLE to do better!!!
4. Despair - at ever doing much better.

NOTE: A. This is NOT the response of the New Christian .... he is energetic, zealous, optimistic, has not yet experienced multiple failures.
B. This is not the response of Nominal Christian either - he's indifferent, apathetic, and generally unaware of his failures.

But this is common to seasoned, dedicated, serious Christians. AND can be discouraging, depressing, and debilitating. (inability to function at all)

The problem is not Christians who fail but Christians who fall out!!

So..... what to do?? How to battle, overcome these feelings? This tendency to despair and dropout???

#1. Recognize that this is part of the Christian experience.
It doesn't mean we should always find ourselves there, but it does mean it's a definite part.
Examples: Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul - Rom. 7:15-24
It's a result of: sin nature (tendency), fallen world, spiritual warfare - Rom. 7:21

NOTE: this is why salvation is by grace!! We are saved by grace. We are kept by grace!
NOTE: the struggle can be (often is) evidence of salvation.

#2. Recognize that you are not alone. 1 Cor. 10:13 (a)

#3. Don't simply surrender to the condition. This is part of our Christian life but keep on anyway.
A. Admit the condition.
B. Recognize the limitations
C. Push on! 1 Cor. 10:13

#4. Keep asking forgiveness.
1 John 1:9 Ask over and over and over... NOTE: 1 John 1:8

#5. Accept forgiveness and move on. Failures can devastate or motivate. It's your decision.
Contrast Peter and Judas.
What are you going to do with your failures.

#6. Continue to do what you know is right.
There is no pain-free alternative. 2 Tim. 1:6 - Paul's last words to Timothy: "fan the flames".
testify, keep, guard, entrust, endure, remember, remind, walk, present, avoid, flee, pursue, teach, instruct, continue, preach, correct, rebuke, encourage, "discharge all the duties of your ministry" - 2 Tim. 4:5

The only way to do it is to do it!!! "man up", "cowboy up" - How about? "Christian up"? "Believer up"?, "disciple up"?
The Christian walk is tough sometimes. And, men are the worst!!

#7. Think marathon (distance/long term) Heb. 12:1
Achievement/accomplishment is a result of endurance, perseverance, constancy
Walking the walk according to feelings will not get it done.

#8. Focus on Christ. Heb. 12:2 & 3
Why serve? continue? overcome? struggle? "Because He wooed me, saved me, called me, gifted and enabled me, and asked me to serve. AND I said I would!! ( John 21:15 "love me??")

#9. Remember... He's always with you. (He never gives up - Phil. 1:6

Note: You don't conquer a slough - you exit it, survive it. Again and again!

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