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Discouragement

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What to do about setbacks Success even in the setbacks

There are always going to be setbacks in our lives. What can we do about them? How do we treat them. Where is God when there is a setback?
Today we are going to talk about that in light of Paul’s mission his traveling to Corinth, which is a city not quite 50 miles from Athens. We talked about Paul’s trip to Athens and how it may not have been the glaring success he may have wanted it to be but there were converts that are named but a large church didn’t come from it.
Acts 18:1–4 ESV
1 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, 3 and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.
Paul set out to do his mission/ He was just coming off of Athens where a few people became xns
It must have been discouraging for Paul; to experience this—we’ll call it a setback—from Athens where he has the words of life for people. And there were people who trusted in Christ, but it was only a handful of people. Was Athens a failure? No, people came to Christ but very few people. And has he walked those 50 miles from Athens to Corinth he had to be thinking. What went wrong? How come there weren’t many converts? What could I do differently?
You see, Paul was a brilliant man. He was so smart God used him in so many incredible ways but it seems like Paul was discouraged as he went to this town.
He brilliantly spoke to the people of Athens and used the unknown God analogy and they really didn’t catch on. They didn’t come to the Lord in droves and this might have discouraged He knows the truth about Jesus and this group of people don’t want to hear it. He is giving them the truth that he knows deep down in his soul and people aren’t really jumping on board. It has to be frustrating.
And now as he goes into Corinth Paul is kind of jumping out of the firepan into the fire.
Paul is kind of jumping out of the firepan into the fire.
Corinth was an important town. It was the capital of one of the Roman provinces and like many other towns idol worship ran rampant. Paul wanted to deliver the truth to towns like this.
I think again that is is interesting that many modern day Christians have a problem going to the “bad” places in the world. We don’t want to go to the heathen places because there are heathens there. We ignore the places and the people that need Christ the most so that we can be comfortable. The Lord is working on me regarding this.
We are called to be the light of the world. And I like being the light in the church but honestly, I can have a hard time being the light in the world that so desperately needs Jesus. It’s hard to see an individual light when you are in a room full of light. The light shows when you are in dark places.
Paul was taking the light of Jesus to the world around him and he was entering into all sorts of hellish places. Corinth was one of those places where people worshiped other Gods through perversion and sexual acts. And if he was going to go there it meant that Paul can’t live in a bubble all by himself does it?
But he is discouraged.
Discouragement is a huge problem for people. Can you identify? Have you ever been discouraged? Are you discouraged right now?
This is a problem, because discouragement can keep you from living the life that God has for you.
The Lord did three things to give new strength and courage to Paul while he was at Corinth.
The Lord’s cures for discouragement. The Lord did three things to give new strength and courage to Paul while he was at Corinth. He gave him the gift of new friends, a vision to recall him to be a visionary, and a specific, perfectly timed intervention. He does no less for us today.
He gave him the gift of new friends,
a vision to recall him to be a visionary,
and a specific, perfectly timed intervention.
When we are discouraged, be sure that God speaks to us,
through Christian friends, through a renewed vision and through timely circumstances.
When we are discouraged God gives us the gift of friends. For Paul..
Paul meets some other Christians in Aquila and Pricilla.
Paul meets some other Christians in Aquila and Pricilla.
We are told that this couple are hospitable to Paul and they are believers. So important to surround yourself with other believers. Not exclusively, but to have a network of people around you that will encourage you, to stretch you, and to hold you accountable.
We build up a network of people around us
Paul meeting this couple it crucial. And they like Paul are tent-makers. Some commentaries call them leather workers. Doesn’t really matter but they have the same trade and they spend time together.
There is a safety that exists in groups of people that have Christ in common. This couple worked with Paul and they had a great relationship together. You will see in later letters from Paul the love that he had for this couple.
We are better together. It is crucial to have other Christian friends. I want to repeat that. It is crucial to have other Christian friends because we are stronger alongside one another.
We should have friends who aren’t Christians too, but not exclusively. You don’t want only non christian friends

A farmer, troubled by a flock of crows in his corn field, loaded his shotgun and crawled unseen along the fence-row, determined to get a shot at the crows. Now the farmer had a very “sociable” parrot who made friends with everybody. Seeing the flock of crows, the parrot flew over and joined them (just being sociable, you know). The farmer saw the crows but didn’t see the parrot. He took careful aim and BANG! The farmer crawled over the fence to pick up the fallen crows, and lo, there was his parrot—badly ruffled, with a broken wing, but still alive. Tenderly, the farmer carried the parrot home, where his children met him. Seeing that their pet was injured, they tearfully asked, “What happened, Papa?” Before he could answer, the parrot spoke up: “Bad company!”535

We are accountable to one another. If the only people you hang out with are not believers than you can be the worst that you can be and still be the best in your crowd. If you only hang out with people that don’t believe the way you do then you can still not be a very good Chrsitian but still feel good about yourself because at least you are better than them.
If the only people you hang out with are not believers than you can be the worst that you can be and still be the best in your crowd. If you only hang out with people that don’t believe the way you do then you can still not be a very good Christian but still feel good about yourself because at least you are better than them. That is dangerous.
We need Christ followers in our lives to encourage us, we need Christ followers in our lives to lift us up and for us to lift them up. We need serious Christ followers in our lives so that we will be held accountable. Someone who we answer to when we do something wrong that will keep us from doing wrong. Every Christian needs that.
College folks. Find a campus ministry to go to. It’s so important. Find other guys or girls find other girls who are serious about their faith and spend time with them.
High school students. You do the same. Find people who follow Jesus and spend time with them. Not only them… again, you need non-Christian friends so that you can be the light but you need to have that core of Christians friends so that you can Be encouraged by them and be encouraged by them.
Middle school students, yes you are in here too. Find other kids in school that follow Jesus and stick together. Become a force so that when you are faced with stuff that is wrong you will have the group to back you up and be there for you. Because you will face it. Especially in school.
This message isn’t just for the students. Adults, the same goes. Find people at work who follow Christ and spend time with them. You know that the enemy wants to tear you down. You are not above sin, I am not above sin.
Godly friends are a blessing and are crucial to your walk with the Lord. If you don’t have any Christian friends pray for some. Look around this room, this body, this family and get together during the week because we are family.
We need those people around us because we will become discouraged. Paul is there with these people in Corinth. He goes first to the Jews and gets really frustrated.
Acts 18:5–8 ESV
5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.
We build up a network of people around us
Paul experiences (again) another setback (the Jews don’t want to hear it) and it really looks like Paul is discouraged.
Paul’s ministry was to bring the name of Jesus, first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. (non-Jews) Paul had to remain faithful to the prophecies that were in the Scriptures. Paul needed to follow the scriptures but how frustrating it must have been to go into all these towns to the people that he identified with (the Jews) and would speak to them in church week after week only to have them throw him out, make fun of him or even threaten to harm him.
How difficult that must have been, this setback. Another town, another synagogue where they don’t believe in you, Lord. Another town that I will probably get run out of. Another group of people who beat me and throw stones at me. How awesome is that?
Paul says, I am out of here. I will only speak to the Gentiles in this town. And he shakes the dust out of his garments which is a cultural thing that basically means, I am done with you. I don’t even want the dirt from your town sticking to me.
Looks like a set back, looks like a good opportunity to give up.
Just because things get hard doesn’t mean that God’s not in it. Thats a big principle. Just because things are difficult doesn’t mean that you aren’t in Gods’ will. Too many times we try to read signs into our situations thinking that because something is hard means that God must not be in it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
verse 7 says that Paul went and lived with Titius (teet-tee-aus) who just so happened to live next door to the synagogue. I love that! And verse 8 says that many Corinthians believed and were baptized.
See, God’s doing something. Even when its hard, even when there is opposition, even when there is a setback, God is still working.
We have these setbacks over and over and we wrongfully interpret them to mean that God isn’t in it. But God is moving even in our setbacks. First, he gave Paul some new friends and it makes them stronger together.
Then, God gives Paul a renewed vision.
Look what God does for Paul here in verse 9-11
Acts 18:9–11 ESV
9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
Most of the time Paul would spend a short period of time with a town, get beat up or threatened to get beat up and leave. He is probably thinking the same thing here but Jesus comes to him in a vision and tells him “keep it up, don’t be afraid, I am with you, there are many here who belong to me.
See God reminds Paul that He is with him. So Paul stays much longer than other places and leaves when he is ready… He won’t be driven out of town this time. He will leave when he is good and ready and that means that Paul not only gets to bring people to Jesus but he gets to disciple them. He gets to be part of their lives. He stays there a year and a half teaching them about God.
God reminds Paul that He is with him. So Paul stays much longer than other places and leaves when he is ready...
God comes to Paul with a timely vision. He reminds Paul that He is with him, that God has plans for Paul.
We may look at a verse like this and think, well, God hasn’t given me a vision, God hasn’t said anything to me. But we can’t use that excuse at all because God HAS spoken to us.
When we are discouraged God speak to us. He gives us a renewed vision. He speaks through
He speaks to us as we read His Word. That is the truth. The Word of God, Scripture is God speaking to us. We read what it says and it is God speaking to you.
God’s word is the most accurate most trusted voice of God that we have.
If you were to hear a voice from God, it would only say something that to you that scripture agrees with. God really does speak to us and to our situations through scripture.
I remember going through something in life that was difficult and I turned a preacher on the radio and I didn’t like what he was saying. It was biblical but i didn ‘t want to hear it. I turned on another preacher who was talking about the same thing. I didn’t want to hear it either. Every where I turned this same principle kept coming up and I wanted to ignore it but it was God speaking to me through all these different pastors preaching from the word of God the very thing I needed to hear even when I didn’t want to hear it.
God also helps our discouragement by perfectly timed intervention.
But again, is it smooth sailing? No, not at all. After a period of time we are told in verses 12-17 that the Jews make a united attack on Paul and bring him to court. They bring Paul before the Roman authority Gallio and they accuse Paul of breaking the law.
But again, is it smooth sailing? No, not at all. After a period of time we are told in verses 12-17 that the Jews make a united attack on Paul and bring him to court. They bring Paul before the Roman authority Gallio and they accuse Paul of breaking the law.
Real quick history lesson here. The Jews were given legal permission to worship their God their way. Worship had to be sanctioned by Rome so these Jews were trying to accuse Paul of bringing a new God which was unlawful since Paul didn’t have the license to worship this different God.
So again, Paul is no stranger to setbacks. Here he is again, in front of some judge, probably trying to put together his defense in his head. One that he has previously used. He was probably praying somewhat. Gallio saw right through what the Jews were trying to do and the Scripture says that as soon as Paul began to open his mouth to speak that Gallio threw the case right out of court.
He says. “if this were a real crime I would certainly hear you but this is nothing. This has to do with your religion. I don’t want anything to do with this. Get out of my courtroom. Case dismissed!
So there you go. The set back that Paul experienced didn’t ruin him, it actually helped him train his faith in the Lord.
The Lord made a promise to him and he accepted that promise through faith and lived it. out and got to see God work it out.
God used a perfectly timed intervention to take care of Paul.
God uses this guy Gallio to be God’s hand in all this mess with the Jews. The jews, again try to get paul
God does the same thing for us. When we are discouraged, at just the right time, God will give a perfectly timed intervention for us. I can’t explain it, I can’t even tell you what kind of intervention, or when it will happen other than it being God’s perfect timing.
Sometimes we don’t even recognize it but God is working. This is why we should be journaling, so that we can see the hand of God moving in our lives and in our circumstances.
God will intervene in your situation at the just the right time and in just the right way. We can trust Him. He doesn’t leave you hanging. He is usually teaching you something about Himself, or yourself. But you can trust that God will intervene.
Discouragement is not for the Christian. Paul traveling into Corinth was probably discouraged after the Athens issue.
Paul was nervous going to Corinth
1 Corinthians 2:2–3 ESV
2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,
1 Corinthians 2:1–3 ESV
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,
1 Corinthians 1:1–3 ESV
1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 cor 2 21-3
He was discouraged and God took care of him. By giving him new friends, a renewed vision and an intervention at just the right time.
This morning if you are discouraged you can come to GOD for this too. Maybe you need a godly person in your life to help you along the way. That is why I am so passionate about discipleship. That is why we have the home groups and that is why we have the ladies bible studies. To give you ways to be discipled and to grow closer to God.
Corinthians were proud, immoral. Intellectually arrogant. The cross flies in the face of that stuff. (this is why the “wise, successful”, self made people have a hard time with Jesus.
If you are discouraged today, let God do a work in your life. By faith you can give that situation to Him. And you can walk away from that discouragement toward God.
Do that by surrendering your life to Jesus.
Corinth was extremely immoral. Worship of god’s and sexually immoral.
Giving all of yourself over to God.
Setback because of success.
Even when there are huge setbacks in our life with Christ we can depend on God to have a plan and for His plan to prevail.
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