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Misc. - "Dealing with Discouragement" - Luke 7:18-23

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“Dealing with Discouragement”

Good morning church!
A survivalist, Larry Olsen, wrote a book entitled, “Outdoor Survival SkilIs” and detailed a man lost in the desert.
Apparently this man was without food and water for days. His lips are swollen, his tongue is swollen, and he’s all beat up and bloody. Because he had gone without food for so long, his bones begins to be visible through the skin.
He was scrapped up from cactus, sand, and sun. His skin was blistered.
He continued crawling, and as he crawled over a small hill, he came across a little plant. He propped himself up on one of his bloody elbows, and looks down at that little plant and said, “You know, if things keep going like this, I might get discouraged.”
After all he had been through, he still wasn’t ready to quit.
He wasn’t discouraged yet!
Zig Ziglar tells of a thief, a man named Emmanuel. The year is 1887. The scene is a small neighborhood grocery store. Mr. Emmanuel is buying some turnip greens. He gives the clerk a $20 bill. As the clerk begins to put the money in the cash drawer to give Nr. Emmanuel his change, she notices some of the ink from the $20 bill is coming off on her fingers which are damp from the turnip greens. She looks at Mr. Emmanuel, a man she has known for years. She looks at the smudged bill. This man is a trusted friend; she has known him all her life; he can't be a counterfeiter. She gives him his change, and he leaves the store. But $20 is a lot of money in 1887, and eventually the clerk calls the police. They verify the bill as counterfeit and get a search warrant to look through Emmanuel's home. In the attic they find where he is reproducing money. He is a master artist and is painting $20 bills with brushes and paint! But also in the attic they find three portraits Emmanuel had painted. They seized these and eventually sold them at auction for $16,000 (in 1887 currency, remember) or a little more than $5,000 per painting. The irony is that it took Emmanuel almost as long to paint a $20 bill as it did for him to paint a $5,000 portrait! It's true that Emanuel Emmanuel was a thief, but the person from whom he stole the most was himself.
As I read that, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of conviction… because it seems that it takes a lot less for Christians to become spiritually discouraged.

Spiritual discouragement are times in a believer’s life when courage, confidence, and commitment seem to have been stolen from us.

Spiritual discouragement is not a matter of resiliency.
Spiritual discouragement is not a matter of will-power.
Spiritual discouragement is a matter of time.
Spiritual Discouragement comes to all of us, so this morning, I believe it would be wise for us to approach this Scripture with an open heart ready to learn what to do when we are dealing with discouragement.
Look at Luke 7 with me this morning...
Luke 7:18–23 KJV 1900
18 And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things. 19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Wati a minute… is this John the Baptist? It is, and later on in Luke 7, Jesus said he was the greatest man to walk the planet… and he dealt with spiritual discouragement.

1. The Reality of Spiritual Discouragement

Here’s the reality,
spiritual discouragement has a way of creeping in and rooting itself in our hearts with its fruit blooming in our minds.
When does Spiritual discouragement begin to approach us and set in?

a. In Light of the Exceptional

Luke 7 opens with two incredible miracles!
First, the centurion’s servant is healed by Jesus just speaking a word, and if that wasn’t proof enough that Jesus was who He said He was, he touched the coffin of a dead young man and said, “Arise....” and the young boy woke up!
Jesus was at work!
He was moving!
He was being talked about. He was being proclaimed. He was being followed.
He was doing an exceptional work, and John’s disciples come to talk with him about what Jesus was doing. They were likely amazed and what they were seeing.
John asked this question immediately after he heard about all that Jesus was doing.
When Jesus’ bright light goes to work, it seems that discouragement is always near to cast a shadow.
That shadow of discouragement seems to be cast when you leave a DNOW weekend and go back to a tough work environment.
That shadow of discouragement seems to be cast when the light of Jesus heals someone but not your own family member.
That shadow of discouragement seems to be cast when you watch another prodigal return home while yours hasn’t yet.
The reality of spiritual discouragement is that it shows up in light of Jesus’ exceptional work.
But it also shows up...

b. By Leaning on Expectations

John’s currently in prison. The forerunner of Jesus… in prison.
John ‘s life goals:
to preach the rest of his life.
to see the King enthroned
to bye a Green Egg smoker and try some nice honey wrapped locust one day.
John did not expect to:
be in prison.
be beheaded

Spiritual discouragement becomes a reality when your experiences don’t match your expectations.

You probably didn’t expect for your son or daughter to make the decisions they are making… yet you’re experiencing it.
You probably didn’t expect to have to work as long as you have to in order to retire… yet you’re experiencing it and discouraged.
You probably didn’t expect for your spouse to walk out on your… yet you’re experiencing it and discouraged.
You probably didn’t expect that you would get rejected

God is still so very faithful.

Spiritual discouragement shows up (1) in light of exceptional, and (2) leaning on expectations… but it also shows u

c. By Listening to the Enemy

The devil, according to a legend, once advertised his tools for sale at public auction. When the prospective buyers assembled they found one tool listened “NOT FOR SALE.”
The devil explained, “I can spare my other tools, but i cannot sell that one. It is the most useful tool that I have. It is called ‘discouragement.’ and with it I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible. When I get this tool into a man’s mind, there is a way for me to plant anything there I may desire.”
Discouragement is a dangerous place because it leaves us open to his assault.
John began to think that maybe he got it wrong.
“Did my ministry fail?”
“Was it worth it?”
You know one of the most used lines of Satan when he tries to discourage: He reminds you of your past sins.

2. The Risk of Spiritual Discouragement

This question and these doubts began to produce something in John. What was it?

a. A Doctrinal Confusion

John wouldn’t have asked a question if he wasn’t confused.
there are two Greek words for “another” - one is another of the same kind.. this was used when Jesus refered to the Holy Spirit as the one coming after Him. They were of the same kind!
the other “another” refers to something else that’s different.
John asked the question of “should we expect another (of a different kind) to come?” Are you really the Messiah?

b. A Distinct Crisis

“look we for another...”
This Greek word means “to wait for anxiously, or to look forward to an occurence with trepidation or anxiety.”
So the amn that came in teh Spirit of Elijah.... the bold man we knew by the River Jordan is now asking a question FULL of anxiousness and fear.
John found himself asking, “is this really it?”
Have you ever noticed that in times of crisis we ask the similar things?
Midlife crisis
“Is this it?”
Is this all I have?
If not careful, we can look to ANOTHER to fill the void.
Another provider, another
Circumstantial crisis
Are you going to do something about this?
If we are not careful, we will look to ourselves to fight our battles.
Religious Crisis
“Is this it or should I look to another?”
If we are not careful, we will look to another religion to fill our void.
Whatever crisis you find yourself in listen to me: Don’t think that your doubt is crushing your faith. In fact, if you lean into Jesus, that doubt that you think is crushing your faith will actually be a catalyst to cultivate your faith.

c. A Dangerous Choice

According to a study by Barna Group in June of 2017:
45% of people who experienced doubt STOPPED attending worship.
29% STOPPED READING THE BIBLE
29% STOPPED PRAYING
25 % STOPPED TALKING TO FRIENDS & FAMILY ABOUT DOUBT

3. The Response to Spiritual Discouragement

SO much of the Christian life is how we respond and react. This is where our character shows up and is proven.

a. Turn to your Community

Luke 7:19–20 KJV 1900
19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
Thank goodness John did something about his doubt.
John turned to his community during doubt.
Proverbs 24:10 KJV 1900
10 If thou faint in the day of adversity, Thy strength is small.
Proverbs 20:6 KJV 1900
6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: But a faithful man who can find?
Proverbs 27:10 KJV 1900
10 Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; Neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: For better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
John had two good friends.
During a time when John couldn’t seem to get to Jesus, John was connected to people that were able to get near Jesus.
Do you have a friend that will go to Jesus for you?
Actually let me ask you this… Are you the friend that has been going to Jesus?
John’s disciples made their way to Jesus.
Let me pause here for a moment… don’t ever underestimate the power of time with Jesus.
Don’t stop petitioning Him on someone else’s behalf.

b. Treasure His Work in other Christians

Before Jesus ever speaks up to answer their question, look what He does
Luke 7:21 KJV 1900
21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
This gives the idea that those disciples were waiting on Him for a while.
This also gives us the idea, in the way this verse is written, is that Luke is trying to communicate this simple truth: JESUS IS THE ANSWER.
Even when I don’t see it, You’re working.
Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working.
You never stop, never stop working.
Some of you have been waiting on Jesus to respond for a while.
DON’T LET THE WAY HE’S WORKING AROUND YOU CAUSE YOU GRIEF, PAIN, OR HURT. THE WAY HE’S WORKING AROUND YOU IS ALL A PART OF THE PROCESS.
One of my favorite things about Jesus is that He’s busy, but interruptible.
Jairus’ daughter… He was interrupted by the woman with the issue of blood, and yet He still got to Jairus’ daughter.
Sometimes waiting can be hard, but remember, our God is still at work!

c. Trust His Counsel

Jesus finally sends word, “Go tell John this...”
And blessed is he that is not offended at Jesus.

The remedy for doubt is always found in the Word and work of Jesus.

Time out… this is how I should deal with discouragement??
Turn to your community.
treasure his work in other Christians
Trust His Counsel
You may be thinking… I’ve tried this Hayden… I’ve tried this so many time. Well listen to me...
In Luke 5:4-11, Peter had just spent the night fishing out in the lake of Gennesaret. Jesus asked to use his boat to teach the crowd, and after he finished teaching, Jesus said something to Peter…a discouraged fisherman. Here’s what He said:
“Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.”
It’s interesting to me that Jesus told Peter to go to the same exact spot that he had previously been in.
Jesus said, “go back out and drop your nets again.”
If only we could try something new, go to a new place, then trying again would be easier.
But here’s what Jesus says, “use the same ole net, in the same ole boat, in the same ole spot.”
They went out and their discouragement turned into delight, when they used the same ole net, in the same ole boat, in the same ole spot.
Some of you believers dealing with discouragement need to use the same ole net of community, in the same ole boat of prayer, trusting in the same Lord to deliver you.
Conclusion:
If you need to be saved, come.
If you need to join the church or get your baptism on the right side of your conversion, come.
But some of y’all need to grab a friend by the hand and say, I need you to go to Jesus for me.
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