"DISCOURAGEMENT:SYMPTOM AND ANTIDOTE"
(A Series on Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 3/4/90 a.m. Hebrews 12:12-17
PROPOSITION: The discouragement that can come on the believer as a result of the discipline of God is identified in this passage of Hebrews as withdrawal, waivering, dissension, unholy living, failing to live in God's grace, bitterness, sexual immorality and godlessness, but all these symptoms can be overcome by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
- DISCOURAGEMENT is one of satan's principle weapons against you, Christian, that he will try to use to keep you from God's best for your life and God's eternal purposes being fulfilled in you.
- HOW many of you here this morning know what discouragement feels like?
* Life's lost its appeal. Living color has been exchanged for shades of grey.
* Joy is gone. You are just existing.
* Hope has been squeezed out of you by overwhelming circumstances.
* You used to feel like you could tackle anything. Now you are convinced that you are good for nothing.
* Everything you touch seems to turn to dust and run through your fingers.
- DISCOURAGEMENT! It is a terrible thing to live with.
- WEBSTER'S Dictionary says that it is the loss of courage or confidence. Something inside of you gets stolen, and you are left with this big hole.
- A RECENT pole taken by Lyle Schaller, a prominent church consultant, discovered that 85% of American churches are led by pastors who are discouraged and would quit it all if they had the courage to do it.
- THE loss of courage and confidence. No wonder our churches are so full of discouraged people. 85% of the pastors are discouraged.
- SATAN has stolen something very significant from the follower of Jesus Christ when he steals our courage and confidence.
- IT had happened to the Christians in the book of Hebrews.
- THE hardships and the discipline of God in their lives had flattened them. It felt like more than they could bare.
- ANYONE here ever been there?
- INSTEAD of being in the race, many had given up.....discouraged.
- AND in Hebrews 12:12-17 the writer identifies several of the symptoms of discouragement and gives us an antidote for each one.
- I PRAY that the Holy Spirit brings them into powerful focus in your heart this morning, and breaks that bondage of discouragement in you, for His glory.
ii. discouragement: symptom and antidote
- TURN with me to Hebrews 12:12 and let's identify the symptoms and antidote for discouragement.
1. Feeble Arms and Weak Knees
- THE first one is in verse 12.
"Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees."
- ONE of the first things that happens to you when discouragement hits you is that you get that tired feeling and quit what your hands were doing and where your legs were taking you.......and you withdraw.
- THAT is a symptom of discouragement.
- IT happened to Elijah after his great victory against Ahab and Jezebel on Mount Carmel. The fire of God had fallen and consumed the sacrifice. He had killed the false prophets of Baal. The people had returned to Jehovah. The drought had been broken......and then came Jezebel's scandalous attack and threats.
- AND the next time we see this great man of God and prophet, his arms have grown weak and his knees have turned to water, and he is lying under a broom tree asking God to just let him die because he is convinced that he is the only one left that is true to Jehovah.
- DOES any of that have a familiar ring to it?
- FEEBLE arms and weak knees......a symptom of discouragement. The problems hit. Your schedule gets tight. There is pressure at work and at home. You can't see your way out.
* So you have quit the choir.
* You don't have the strength to read God's Word.
* You are in church only when you drag yourself here reluctantly.
* You sing the words, but there is no song in your heart.
* You dropped out of Precepts and you don't go to Sunday School any more.
* You haven't witnessed to anyone in years about the love of Jesus.
- YOU have feeble arms and weak knees. Discouragement has robbed you of your place of productivity in the kingdom of God.
- STRENGTHEN those feeble arms and weak knees.
- WHAT does that mean? Well, it is a quotation from Isaiah that gives the antidote for discouragement.
- ISAIAH 35:3 and 4 says,
"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.'"
- YOUR arms and knees are strengthened by renewing your trust in God's love and His power at work in your life.
- THEN put that faith into action and get back into the trenches and on the firing line. This is not a time to be retreating.
2. Waivering Walk
- HERE is the next symptom of discouragement. It is found in verse 13.
"'Make level paths for your feet,' so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."
- THESE are the feet that are straying from the race.
- THE discouragement has taken its toll, and the believer is like a drunk man staggering on and off the pathway of life.......and this turning aside from the path of righteousness is potentially dangerous and is sometimes irremediable.
- THE initial motivation to stay in the race has been dissipated by the trials, and now you are in and out of the race constantly.
- PROVERBS 4:26&27 put it this way,
"Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil."
- THE antidote is just to keep in the race and on the path, whether you feel like it or not.
- THE risks are too great getting off the course like you do from time to time.
- YOU better get another look at the prize that waits for you at the finish line.....and at Jesus, the Author and finisher of your race.....and get back onto the track this morning by His grace and power.
- VERSE 14a says,
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men...."
- THE man or woman who is giving in to discouragement in their life is not going to be a peace maker or builder.......their unsettled condition and their lack of confidence will make them a breeder for dissension.
- WHEN you are unhappy you think unhappy thoughts, you speak unhappy words, you attract unhappy people and the results are not very pretty.
- DISCORD, strife, gossip, disunity is the handiwork of discouraged people.
- WHEN you are discouraged yourself, you couldn't see a positive, hopeful, encouraging moment if it stung you by landing on your nose.
- IT is a symptom of discouragement, and the devil just loves it because if he can get you negative about yourself, negative about your brothers and sisters, negative about your family, negative about the church of Jesus.........you become his best resource to kill the church from the inside and he can give his demons a rest because we do all the work for him. (Story from Piercing the Darkness)
- NOW, the antidote!
- WE are not talking about some nice sentimental kind of peace that sure would be nice to have in the congregation of believers.
- WE are talking about the command of Jesus.
- HE died on the cross, gave His blood, so that we might have all hostility removed between us and His Father....and be at peace with Jehovah Shalom.
- AND since our peace is the free gift of His grace to us.....then who are we to disrupt the peace between us and another that He died to save also.
- IN Mark 9:50 Jesus Himself says,
"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."
- BE AT PEACE......is a divine imperative command. It is not a sentimental thought.
- HEBREWS 12:14 says......"make every effort...to live in peace with the brothers...."
* That means forgive those who you believe have wronged you......and don't bring the offense up again......and don't rehearse it with those who usually commiserate with you......and open that cage you have used to imprison that person and let them go free.
* That means overlook one another's faults, just like you hope others overlook yours. Love covers a multitude of sins....it certainly does for you and me.
* That means don't criticize unless you are willing to be a part of the solution in that persons life. Critics are a dime a dozen....it is laborers that are hard to find.
* That means looking for ways to be a source of encouragement in the lives of those who are close to you......at home, at work, at church.
- MAKE every effort.
- YOU will be amazed at how your own discouragement is dispelled when you start investing in others, working towards the peace of Christ in your life.
4. Unholy Living
- HERE is another symptom of discouragement in verse 14b. It says,
"Make every effort........to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."
- IT seems that when I am discouraged I am much more a target of temptation than when I am feeling strong in my faith. Have you found that to be true?
- I BELIEVE that is because satan knows when we are the most vulnerable......when we are down, down on ourselves and down on others......when we are cut off from the fellowship.....cut off from His presence.....and in comes the temptation to sin.
- WE are a sitting target. (Tell about Daffy Duck and Donald Duck movie company....."The hunters! The hunters! Where are the hunters?")
- THAT is how a discouraged believer is to sin.
- NOW sin is no small matter. IT cuts the believer off from the presence of God. It grieves the Holy Spirit. It tramples under foot the blood of the Cross. Without repentance it hardens the heart of the believer against God.
- THE writer says, in verse 14b, that "without holiness, no man will see the Lord." That is serious business.
- WE cannot make light of sin....any sin....all sin in our lives that grieves a holy God.
- WE are all far too much like the Pharisee who saw no sin in himself, but could pick it out real good in the tax collector nearby.
- THE Church of Jesus needs a baptism in Holy Spirit conviction and repentance....starting with all the "me's" here this morning.
- THE antidote?
- MAKE every effort....leave no stone unturned in being holy.
- NOT a self-generated holiness, but a complete casting of our lives at the foot of the cross in repentance and faith.
- YOU will be amazed at how quickly discouragement will flee when you walk in holiness before a holy God.....and you see His sanctifying work performed in you.
5. Missing the Grace of God
- IN verse 15 the writer says,
"See to it that no one misses the grace of God......"
- THERE were some believers who had been so shattered by the hardships of their lives and the discipline of God, that they had fallen from the grace of God. They had walked away from their faith....thrown in the towel.
- DISCOURAGEMENT will do that. I quit!
- THE writer gives us all the charge......"See to it that no one misses the grace of God."
- IT is our responsibility to one another.
- NOW, that is hard to do for you if you are only here on Sunday mornings or evenings.......and you are not known in a smaller unit like a SS class, or choir, or Precepts.....and even then it can happen.
- A very good antidote for discouragement in you is to be responsible for the spiritual care of someone else and to invest yourself in their welfare.
6. Bitter Roots
- VERSE 15b says,
"See to it that......no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
- A SYMPTOM of discouragement......bitterness towards God......bitterness towards parents....towards a spouse....a friend.
- THE problem with this symptom of discouragement is that it does not stay alone.......it is a root that brings forth fruit and defiles many. Before long it will infect the whole group. The literal Greek word used is the same as for a poisonous plant.
- AGAIN it is all of our responsibility......the writer says, "See to it....."
- DON'T allow it to happen in your life and watch out for it in others.
- THE grace of God is a softening, cleansing, forgiving agent in our lives.....and that is the antidote.
7. Sexual Immorality
- VERSE 16a says,
"See that no one is sexually immoral....."
- DISCOURAGEMENT seems to lower ones resistance in this area particularly....probably because the enemy uses sexual activity in a carnal way to inflate our human ego, to pump up self-seeking gratification.
- THIS is an area where we need a real delivering work of the Holy Spirit in our age. We are an oversexed society that needs the power of the Spirit to set us free from its bondage.
- AND the place for the believer to start is in what we use to fill our minds......what we read and what we watch.
- THEN the next area, men, is that we have a covenant with our eyes in how we look at other women.
- AGAIN, concerning the antidote, we have a responsibility to watch out for one another in this area.
- HOLINESS scores a great victory against discouragement.
8. Godless lifestyle
- HERE is the last problem with discouragement, found in verses 16b&17,
"See that no one........is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears."
- WHEN Esau was discouraged, he despised the promises of God, and turned to what the world offered him that felt good at the moment.......a pot of stew.
- ONE lousy meal......and he gave up all that God had in store for him.
- AND millions have been doing it since....for one lousy house, or one lousy affair, or one lousy million, or one lousy car, or one lousy business.......men and women have been trading the unseen world and all the promises of God for what they can see and touch and posses.
- AND, like Esau, the day may come when they want it to be different, but it will be too late.
- THE antidote?
- TO live for a kingdom you cannot see, but that will last forever.
- THE curse of discouragement.
- ITS symptoms are,
* Withdrawal from God.
* Waivering on and off the path.
* Living in dissension.
* Walking in sin.
* Missing the grace of God.
* Allowing bitterness in your life.
* Being sexually immoral.
* Being godless, like Esau.
- BUT, there is an antidote.
- LIKE Brian Duncan sings, "There is a medicine...."
- AND His name is Jesus.
- AND the power that He has for you is the power of His blood.....a power that forgives all sin and breaks the power of the enemy over you.
- YOUR circumstances may not change, but He will put a song in your heart, and joy unspeakable and full of glory.
HE IS THE KING