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Dealing with Discouragement

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When God gives you a vision, the devil will try to discourage you. Hold on to your hope!

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Introduction (5m)

Beware the Eeyore Syndrome

Don’t want to worry but plague infecting our churches. Not Coronavirus. Not Monkey ‘Flu. Not Bird or Swine ‘Flu. Eeyore Syndrome.

Eeyore Syndrome

Won’t see them around here, Christians acting like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. Choose to look at the gloomy side of life. Everyone is against them. Decisions are made simply to wind them up or upset them. Things just aren’t what they used to be. Things just aren’t done in the right way. They look at the floor. Their faces look like a wet weekend in Yarmouth. The only thing they get enthusiastic about is telling you how bad everything is.

Acting like Eeyore is not a fruit of the Spirit!

Need to tackle today!
Galatians 5:22–23 NLT
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
People filled with the Spirit and growing the fruit of the Spirit cannot be infected by ES.

A definition of discouragement

Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God. (William Ward, Christian writer)

This morning we look at how Nehemiah deals with discouragement

Explanation (5m)

The story so far

God had made him aware of the state of the walls in Jerusalem and of city’s parlous state. He’d approached the King for permission to rebuild walls, and miraculously granted. Travelled to Jerusalem and inspected walls. Recruited the city and others to help rebuild. in Nehemiah 3, walls had begun to be rebuilt. But there was a response.
Nehemiah 4:7–8 NLT
But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the work was going ahead and that the gaps in the wall of Jerusalem were being repaired, they were furious. They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw us into confusion.

The People of Judah had Eeyore Syndrome

Nehemiah 4:10 NLT
Then the people of Judah began to complain, “The workers are getting tired, and there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.”

The people of Judah were discouraged because they faced many enemies

If you read through Nehemiah to this point, It looks like the number of enemies just keeps on increasing. First, Sanballat and his sidekick, Tobiah. Then along comes the mysterious Arab, Geshem. Now we have the Ammonites and the Ashdodites. Jerusalem is surrounded by enemies In neighbouring Samaria, Ashdod, Edom and Ammon. It is being pressurised by all of its neighbours. All of them have political reasons for cutting Judah down to size and ensuring it doesn’t become too confident or self-sufficient.
No wonder they were discouraged!

They were subject to ridicule

These enemies compounded Jerusalem’s discouragement by ridiculing them and the work they were doing:
Nehemiah 4:2 NLT
saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?”
Sanballat looked at them and their human resources, and called them feeble. Sanballat also attacked the work they were doing. He denied that God would help them to rebuild the walls. He didn’t believe that the Jews’ sacrifices — their equivalent of prayer and worship to God - would help them achieve the future they wanted to build. He scoffed to think they would even finish the project and that if they did, the walls would soon be in ruins again.
No wonder they were discouraged!

They were also discouraged because they were surrounded by rubbish

The rubble was getting in the way of the rebuilding. Now, I don’t do any building work - otherwise everything would be reduced to rubble. But sometimes, I do get time to bake. And usually, after 15m or so, the kitchen looks like a bombsight. Sometimes, I have to clear up before I can continue with the baking. Sometimes, the best thing that can be done when we are discouraged by the rubbish and rubble in our lives, is simply to clear it out.
No wonder they were discouraged!

Application (5m)

Don’t worry if you ever feel discouraged

It’s not a weakness. Don’t ever feel that you must be weak and feeble if you suffer from discouragement. Even the best Christians can feel discouraged at times. One of the greatest preachers of all time, C.H. Spurgeon, sometimes gave in to discouragement: “I would not wish upon my worst enemy the depths of despair and discouragement I often feel for weeks or months at a time”.
Judah was the chief tribe in Israel. The tribe of Judah were the leaders of the nation. And yet they were the ones who told Nehemiah they could not continue.

But don’t stay that way

So you are not a bad Christian if you get discouraged. But you are a bad Christian - a bad reflection of God - if you stay that way! If you choose to wallow in Eeyore Syndrome, then you have a problem. But if you remember God is on your side, if you remember he is there to stretch you as you grow in spiritual maturity, if you recall that he is there to help you grow through any discouraging circumstances, then you’ll begin to have a positive impact on God’s future for you and for his people.

Why is this so important? Because of the impact it has on those around you

Jim Rohn, an American businessman and motivational speaker: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.
Think about that for a moment. If you spend time with negative people, eventually, you’ll become negative just like them. Conversely, if you find yourself suffering from Eeyore Syndrome, one of the best things you can do is hang around cheerful, positive people. It will rub off on you!

If you find yourself becoming discouraged, Do what Nehemiah did, and pray

Nehemiah 4:4–5 NLT
Then I prayed, “Hear us, our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in front of the builders.”

And like Nehemiah, choose to be an encourager

There are too many discouragers in the world. You may have met one or two of them. Maidenhead Citadel needs encouragers. God’s future needs you to be a “glass half full” Christian rather than a half empty one. Nehemiah sees that God’s people are discouraged and in danger of simply giving up on the future God has planned for them:
Nehemiah 4:14 NLT
Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!”
Nehemiah reminds them who God is.

Decide not to turn back, whatever the discouragement

Will you decide to throw off discouragement this morning? Will you rid yourself of any trace of Eeyore Syndrome? Will you choose to see the positive rather than the gloomy? Will you choose joy rather than cheerlessness? When someone asks you “how’s things?” will you choose to say something positive?

Next Steps

SASB 649 - If crosses come, if it should cost me dearly

If crosses come, if it should cost me dearly To be the servant of my Servant Lord;  If darkness falls around the path of duty,  And men despise the Saviour I?ve adored: I?ll not turn back, whatever it may cost;  I?m called to live to love and save the lost.  I?ll not turn back, whatever it may cost;  I?m called to live to love and save the lost.  2 If doors should close then other doors will open,  The Word of God can never be contained.  His love cannot be finally frustrated,  By narrow minds or prison bars restrained.  3 If tears should fall, if I am called to suffer,  If all I love men should deface, defame,  I?ll not deny the One that I have followed,  Nor be ashamed to bear my Master?s name. John Gowans (1934-2012) © The General of The Salvation Army. Used By Permission. CCL Licence No. 135015 Copied from The Song Book of The Salvation Army Song Number 649
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