Updated: May 11, 2021
February 7, 2021
Life is hard because it is an endurance race and hitting the wall is a real experience. How you handle the discouragement that follows is the challenge. Discouragement is real and it will come into your life. But you don't have to give into it.
Reasons I don't have to give in to discouragement: 1. Because I have prayer 2. Because affliction makes me stronger 3. Because I have Jesus to set before me 4. Because I have God's promise that faithfulness reaps good things 5. Because God declares me an overcomer
Here's your new perspective: There's a fight, then, I win.
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I would say welcome again, whether you're gathered here or online, where we gather around the Word of God now, it's a supernatural moment because it speaks. And so, let's open our hearts to it. So today is the conclusion to our series, “ You Can Begin Again. You know in all endurance sports, endurance athletes all know this experience of hitting the wall. They all know the experience. And do you know what that means? It means they push themselves to the point that their bodies are screaming out at them to stop no matter what, just stop. One well-known long-distance runner described hitting the wall like this, he said, whenever it happened to me, it felt this: it was like a full adult elephant, 14,000 pounds, jumped out of the tree and onto my shoulders, and was demanding for me to carry it the rest of the way to the finish line. Hitting the wall is not just a psychological, it's fully physical. You know that hitting the wall is just that the body is burning out of energy. And it becomes so depleted, that it just begins screaming at your brain to quit; to stop, just give up and step off the track. I saw a medical journal report that that said from both the New York and Boston Marathons, up to and maybe more than 40% of these tens of thousands of participants, up to 40% of them will hit the wall at mile five. Not mile 26 and 385 yards; mile five, they'll hit the wall so hard that they will just quit in that moment. Hitting the wall is like this, this incredible barrier that is so hard to overcome. Hitting the wall happens in every part of our lives. We know that, and we feel that as well. You know, for you it maybe it's a fatigue factor, right? It may be for you, as a parent of preschoolers, and you haven't slept in four years. Right? And you feel like you're hitting the wall. Maybe for you though, it's the grind of financial pressure, where there is just chronic shortage of resources to meet your family's real needs; and it is just grinding. Maybe for you it’s the hitting the wall of the fatigue of chronic sickness. Or maybe you have been the one who has cared for someone chronically ill, and you've hit the wall. That same fatigue can come into relationships where a serious issue just keeps coming back around and is wearing you down. For you it might be a toxic culture in your workplace. Yeah, that's five, but that may be only five of the 10 that are mixed into your life. We know what it means to hit the wall in every area of our lives. And the point to is they all affect our soul. Spiritually speaking, sometimes we can hit the wall and maybe for you feel that 14,000-pound elephant on your shoulders at this moment, demanding that you carry it to the finish line. And its ultimate effect is that it discourages you. So, look, here's what's common for almost every human being. Look, life is hard, because it's an endurance run’ an endurance race. And so, hitting the wall is a real experience, spiritually for almost all of us. Now I say almost because, you know, I think about billionaires all the time, not really all the time. But I just, I'm just trying to tell you, I can't relate to a billionaire. So, I don't know how to apply any message principles to a billionaire. Because, I don't know, do billionaires ever hit the wall? Or do they just pay somebody to do that for them? I'm kind of tired here, here's a check, go hit the wall for me. But I think for most of us, we hit the wall over and over. And, look, hitting the wall is not the ultimate problem. It's what you do with the discouragement afterwards. And so, this message has a big idea; this message is about a single reality. And that is discouragement is real, it's a reality, it will come into your life, but you don't have to give into it. And I'm not offering you like a little cotton candy principle there. You know, think positively and, and it won't come into your life. That's the last thing I'm doing here. I mean, the reality is that life's an endurance race with, a 14,000-pound elephant on your shoulders. Discouragement will come.
But there's a foundational reality that I'm going to show you over the next few moments. And that is, it doesn't have to rule you, you have the power, you have the foundation, you have what it takes to say no to it. More than that, this message is not just a communication of that reality, but this message is an encouragement and a challenge to simply don't let discouragement defeat you. Just don't permit it to overtake you. And can you do that? The answer is yes. And how do I know that? Why do I believe that? It is because in four specific places in the New Testament, it gives us these biblical reasons that you don't have to give in to discouragement. Here's how I know these reasons work. The Word of God instructs us that they work. In fact, there's this little phrase found in the New Testament, seven distinct times, it's like a little formula. It's like when you see it, it's talking about how to overcome discouragement, actually, four out of the seven are either an encouragement, or an instruction for how you overcome discouragement. “Don't lose heart” is the phrase. And so that word “lose heart” is actually a single word in in the biblical text. And it means one of two things, it either means to give in to something, or it means to lose something, depending on its context. And so, it might mean that you're giving in, you're giving in to a defeat, or a setback, or some kind of fatigue that's in your life. Or you've just lost your desire for a good thing, you've lost your motivation; you lost your drive. And I want you to know that the Bible instructs that you don't have to get into that.
And so, I'm going to give you four reasons you don't have to give in to discouragement, written straight out of the Word of God. I want to put these in first person rather than second person. And so why; Why do I not have to give in to discouragement? Here's why:
Number one, because I have prayer. And you're saying does that really make a difference? I mean does the Bible really say that? (Luke 18:1) Now, Jesus, in was telling them a parable to show them that at all times, they ought to pray and not lose heart. So, Jesus was telling them a parable here, and what was it the parable was about? There was a little a woman; a widow, in a tiny Judean village. And this woman was constantly going to a municipal judge trying to get justice over something in her life. But of course, the judge is corrupt, and he wants a bribe. And, because she won't give him a bribe, well, then he doesn't want to help her. And so, Jesus says, in the parable, the woman wins because she wears him out with her persistence. And then Jesus says something about God that you don't think he's going to say about God. It's almost as if he is about to say, so if this little woman can wear out a judge with her persistence, just think what you could do to if you use persistence, you could wear God out, too. Except that's not what he says, and that's not what he means. What he means is that this is a contrast. This isn't a comparison. It's a contrast, Jesus saying, What if? What effect would persistence in prayer have in an opposite situation? In a God and Father who loves you beyond your imagination? How affected would persistence in prayer be toward Him? He's saying, you have this incredible power. You don't have to get into discouragement because you have the most powerful spiritual weapon a human can ever handle. And that is prayer. What makes it powerful? So many things make prayer powerful. Here's one thing when you pray, you automatically enlist the intercession and the advocacy of Jesus Himself.
Romans 8 tells us that, I John 2 tells us that, Hebrews 9 tells us that, that the moment that you pray, it automatically enlists his intercession, his advocacy, as well as the Spirit of God. Romans 8 tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us in ways that we can't even understand and, and we don't know. The Bible says, we don't know how to pray as we should. But the spirit takes what we say; all this messed up jumbled up prayer that we offer to the Father, and the spirit takes it, and he reinterprets it, and he gives it to the Father in a way that pleases God. In a way that God wants to work in your life and a better way in your life.. And the Spirit of God breathes it into the ear of the Father. Prayer is where you find your faith. Prayer is where perseverance and endurance are born. Prayer is where you gain new strength. Prayer is the place where you will not be shaken. And so, you don't have to give in to discouragement because you have prayer as a powerful weapon against the enemy. Maybe you've heard the classic old statement from Samuel Chadwick about the relationship of the devil and prayer. He wrote that the one concern of the devil is to keep us from prayer. He fears nothing. Chadwick writes, the devil fears, nothing from prayerless studies, and nothing from prayerless work, and nothing from prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray. That's the power of it. One of the reasons that I don't have to give in to discouragement is because I have prayer.
Number two; there is a second reason that the Bible says “don't lose heart or I will not lose heart”. The second time that that happens is in II Corinthians. And really, there's this beginning section of II Corinthians, it's chapter 1-4, it all is just sort of this unit, and it is all about this: Paul is describing the effect of affliction in his life. And so, the second reason that I don't have to give in to discouragement based on the teaching of Second Corinthians 1-4; it is because this passage is going to teach me that affliction just makes me stronger. And this is not like some, you know, workout pump up, you know, talk. There's something supernatural that happens to the one surrendered. The one who has surrendered to Christ as Lord and Savior. And there is this upside thing down that happens in you when affliction comes. So let me describe it for a second. So, here's the Apostle Paul, he's talking through affliction in chapters 1-4. In chapter one, he tells the Corinthians that an unnamed affliction happened to him in Asia Minor. Now, what's unusual about this is that he says it was beyond his strength to endure it; so much so that he despaired of life. He despaired of life now, nobody knows what this was, but it had to be bad. And here's how I know it had to be bad. Paul talks about all kinds of other afflictions and he talks about them like Yeah, well, this happened. Oh, yeah, I was in Iconium name and Lystra, and they dragged me out. They dragged me outside of town and they stoned me to death. And when they all left, I got up and went back into town. Oh, yeahI was in prison multiple times; Cesarea, Philippi, and Rome. . But it all worked for just God's advantage in my life. I've been shipwrecked three times, I've been beaten with rods and, and whips over and over. He never says about any of those that I despaired of my own life. But of this unknown thing, here he's saying, I was at the end of my rope, I spiritually hit the wall. I thought I was going to die. But then before his explanation is over in chapter four, twice, he says, but I do not lose heart. Second Corinthians 4:1 and 16 But I do not lose heart. How could that even be true? How can he make it through such despair? He gives us two secrets. He just says there are two secrets to it. And one of those he says there in verse 11 of chapter one, when he talks about this, this event, this despairing event, when he was delivered. And how was he delivered? Verse 11. Well, you also joined in helping me through prayer. He's gone back to number one. Paul's not talking about that unserious thoughts and prayers, wispy hopes that something will be okay, something good will turn out for you something that it will be you'll be okay. He's talking about something that our generation is almost completely unfamiliar with. And that is serious, bold, believing, authoritative, enter into the throne room via intercessory prayer.
But he says there was a second secret for him, not only your powerful intercessory prayer, but also here was one of my resources. Verse nine, I had the sentence of death inside myself. So that why was this happening to me? Why poor me, was this happening? It is to this end why was this happening to me, what was the purpose of what was happening inside of me, so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. He says, this affliction was having an effect in me, and this effect was so good. The effect was this, I lost all of my confidence in my own flesh, I lost all of my self-resource, I was completely empty. And in that moment, I experienced the power of God who raises the dead.
Do you know that Paul has just described the secret of all spiritual power, all spiritual effectiveness? He's just set it right there; The ability to do anything spiritually will always come down to how willing am I to make myself empty before him? All spiritual power comes from this single principle. Do you remember that Jesus said about John the Baptizer, that he was the greatest living human? I mean, that’s, that’s a bold statement to say about a human. I mean, that he, John the Baptizer, is the greatest living human. And you go, man, what makes John the Baptizer so amazing, so impressive a person? So, you start reading. So, what did he say about himself? The only thing I can say about John, I can see the John says about himself of any significance is this. Yeah, here it is in John 3:30, “He must increase, I must decrease.” Paul, the greatest gospel life that maybe has ever lived, said about his own life, when I made weak, then I’m the strongest, because the power of Christ begins to flow in me. There’s the spiritual, there’s the supernatural thing that happens, this upside-down thing that happens when a surrendered believer enters afflictions and is surrendered to the Lordship of Christ in this life, this upside-down thing begins to happen. You don't control it. God just begins to pour strength in you. And that kind of self-sufficiency, the kind that's got to come out, it only comes out in one way. It has to be refined out of you; through heat and pressure in, the dross burns away. And that's why he could end this passage, verse 16, chapter four, with therefore we do not lose heart. But though our outer man is decaying, our inner man is being renewed, refreshed, restrengthened day by day.
And so, that’s number two, but there is a third. So, there's a third place, which this “do not lose heart” phrase shows up in the New Testament. And that happens in Hebrews 12. And it gives us the third reason that we don't have to give in to the discouragement. And here's the third reason because I have Jesus to set before me. I have Jesus to set before me. I'm going to read these verses, starts in chapter 12, verse one. And so, the Bible says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, (he means by that all of these examples in Hebrews 11,) all of these faith- filled people that made them faithful people. We have this great cloud of examples surrounding us. And so let us, also meaning like them, lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run the race. The race with the 14,000-pound elephant on our shoulders, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author, the perfecter of our faith. Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Verse three, this is what you are to do. “For consider him (consider Jesus, think deeply about Jesus, connect to Jesus) who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself, so that you will not grow weary, and you will not lose heart.” What is he telling us to do there? What's the reason there for not giving into discouragement? It's because I have Jesus to set before me, verse two fixing our eyes on Jesus. This is where your attention should be. If you're approaching the wall, put your eyes on Jesus. You put your focus, your sight, your attention on Jesus, and keep it there. Psalm 16:8 means so much to me, saying exactly the same thing. Psalm 16: 8 says, “I have set the Lord continually before me, because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
And so, what does it mean to fix your eyes on Christ? Practically, it means this: seek to live in his presence daily. That means to become aware that he is real, and that he's around you, and that he is with you, in every single moment. Stay connected to him, like John 15 says, like the branch is to the vine, let the flow of nourishment flow out of his life into yours. Be in constant conversation with him and in constant surrender to Him. You know, Colossians 3:4, I love that the Bible is so truth filled, that even its little aside statements are the most profound thing you've ever read. Here's a little aside statement from Colossians 3:4. Christ, who is our life,.. What; Christ who is our life? Christ is not just in my life, Christ is not just important to my life, but Christ has become my life. He has become the source of my life. You've got sources, you've got sources for your life. Money can be the source of your life. You look to it to be your significance, your safety, you look to it to be what gives you meaning. You look to it to be the answer. For the most important thing, money's a source, but money can evaporate. For another person a love relationship, another person can be the source of your life. You look to them to be your security and your significance and your purpose. So therefore, you live you live the relationship cycle of that imperfect person who is as imperfect as you are, but you live on the rollercoaster of them as a source for your life. When Jesus becomes the source of your life, he becomes the power of your life. In John 4:6 and 8 Jesus says, I'm the water of life, I'm the bread of life. I'm the light of life. He's describing the most elemental sources of life. And he's saying, I can be that in you. If he's the source of your life, then his life in II Corinthians 4 it says this, that if he's the source of your life, then his life will begin to manifest itself in you. That means it will begin to shine out of you, it means that his life will begin to fill you up. Guess what, you don't make that happen. You surrender, you embrace, you fix your eyes on him. And then the life of Christ will begin to fill you with the power of it, the substance of it, the effect of it, and it'll begin to shine out of your life. And then you can say, to disappointment, you're not welcome here, I don't need you. There’s an outcome. in verse three, you will not grow weary, you will not lose heart.
There's a fourth time that this phrase is used in the New Testament. And it gives us a fourth reason why we don't have to give in to discouragement. And the fourth one is found in Galatians 6:7. Let me just give you the reason. Here's why I don't have to give in to discouragement. It is because I have the promise of God. I have the promise of God that faithfulness reaps good things. Listen to it. And Galatians 6:7 the Bible says, “Do not be deceived, God's not mocked.” In other words, you're not fooling God with the way you live, okay? And you're not mocking Him, either, that you think you're getting away with the stuff you get away with, and God's not watching, or he doesn't care that you're not mocking him. “For whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.” God has built into the framework of the moral and spiritual universe, sowing and reaping. And that after you're lived, as long as I've lived a long, long, long time; after you've lived for a while, you'll begin to realize that's all of life. All of life is just the cycles of sowing and reaping, sowing and reaping, sowing and reaping. And so, in verse eight, for the one who sows to his own flesh, that's his own selfish desire, his own selfish wants, his own self-centeredness, the one who just sows to himself will from the flesh reap corruption. But the one who sows to the spirit will from the spirit, reap eternal life. Verse nine, “So let us not lose heart, in doing good, for in due time, we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Look at the context of what we will reap, where you sow your life, where you sow the intention of your life, either sowed into your own flesh, or sowed into the spirit. To sow into the spirit is to sow into things that are consistent with the spirit, that to sow into things that are the spirit’s desire for your life. So, if I sow into my own flesh, my flesh desires, the outcome can only be one thing, inner corruption, and negative life- sapping consequences. That's what he says here. And he says, but if you sow to the spirit, if you just keep choosing thoughts, motives, reactions, and behaviors that are consistent with the spirit’s influence on you, meaning you listen to the voice of the Spirit, that comes primarily from the Word of God, also in prayer, other sources, but if you listen to the voice of the Spirit, where the Spirit of God is saying, No, not that, no, don't go there, hey, avoid that, hey, at all cost, run away from that, hey, choose this, embrace this, go there, immerse yourself in this. Then you will begin to reap what the Spirit plants in your life and the outcome will be in due time. That phrase means at the right time, that means at the appointed time, that's at the time that it should happen. Something good will begin to be produced in your life all around you. You'll begin reaping good things, good things will start growing up all around you. Here’s why I don’t have to give in to the discouragement because I have the promise of God that faithfulness reaps such good things. Do you know what that could mean in your life? This might be the application you need.
Do you know that it could mean this, that you could be just one disappointment away from God finishing a great work in you? Do you know that principle comes out of last week's passage? Stephen did a great job with that passage. And I loved every insight he shared and there's an insight that follows that passage. So, you remember what's going on there? It's I Samuel 30, it's the end of I Samuel and David and his mighty men have been camping in a little village called Ziklag. It's just an outpost. It's a place out in the middle of nowhere to keep people from attacking them. David makes a military mistake. He takes his mighty men, they leave Ziklag and they go raid another place, but he's left all their families and all their possessions there. And a band of raiders come and take everything while they're gone. And when they come back, they hit the wall. Do you realize this is 10 years from that moment when David was, I don't know, 14 or 15 years old. Samuel the Prophet came in and pours this holy oil over him and anoints him King of Israel, you're now the king of Israel. And so, if I were David, my expectation would be well in the next few days, a chariot is going to come by and pick me up and, and I'm going to be swiftly taken to Jerusalem and I'm going to set on the throne of Israel except that's not what happens. And what slowly begins to unfold over 10 years is one hardship after another; one difficulty after another, harassment, after being chased by Saul, living in caves, and, and living out on the land, having to live with the Philistines. I mean, it is one tearing down, grinding thing after another and, and I Samuel 30 is the wall he hits;, they all hit the wall, they come back to Ziklag, and they're just depleted in every way. In fact, David's faithful men all start mumbling to one another, suggesting that they kill David. But in I Samuel 30, verse six, the passage says, “But David encouraged himself in the Lord.”
This is like the disappointment of all disappointments, but David encouraged himself in the Lord. If you just turn the page in the Bible, to see how it played out. Next chapter, Saul's dead, David is King. I mean, what if, in that disappointment David said, “That's it, I'm done, I'm done with God, I'm done with this all. It was a stupid thing to say that, that I was going to be anointed king. I'm going to the Dead Sea and don't bother me anymore.” He was one disappointment away from God doing the greatest work in his life. And if your nose is against the wall, you have the promise that faithfulness reaps good things. That's why I don't lose heart. God's promised good things will grow out of my faithfulness to him. This is not me earning God's favor. This is the natural fruit that grows out of faithfulness and obedience to the Lord. Therefore, I refuse to be discouraged. God's promised good things. I don't have to give into discouragement. All I have to do is just stay faithful to Him.
Four reasons that I don't have to give into the discouragement. ... I'm going to give you a bonus reason. Reason number five, right? It should be three but I'm going to give you a bonus reason. Here's the last one, it’ll take just a second. It doesn't have the phrase in it. The bonus reason is because God has already declared you an overcomer. That's your fifth reason. Romans 8:35 “Who separates us from the love of God? Is it circumstances? Is it tribulation or distress or persecution or famine, or nakedness or peril sword? No verse 37. But in all of those things, all of that hardship, all of those difficulties, all of that hitting the wall, we are overwhelmingly conquer, through Him who has loved us, he's already laid the foundation down in Romans 8, that this is a truth that is declared over you. God has declared this truth over you, because of the life of Christ in you, I have already made you an overcomer. Except I didn't describe it correctly. I didn't say it accurately. It's not that I'm an overcomer. In the biblical text, this is a compound word that is literally hyper- conquer, hyper conqueror, to conquer overwhelmingly, to conquer way more than you even have to, to over conquer. I am becoming super conqueror and in a supermassive way I overcome with more overcoming than I need. He's telling you, that's in your nature, because you have the life of Christ in you. And if you have the life of Christ in you, Romans 8: 11-13 the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, resides in you. It’s more power than you will ever need.
If those five things are true, then there is a perspective that you can have in your life. A simple perspective about anything hard coming your way. There’s a simple perspective that you can have, you see it, it’s ominous. It’s coming your way, you know, this difficulty is on its way this, this affliction is coming your way. And here’s what your perspective can solidly be: Yep, there’s going to be a fight. And then I win. I already know it, it doesn't matter what it is, okay, there's going to be a fight. But I win. It doesn't matter how long the difficulty is going to go. What's the truth, there's going to be a fight. And then I win. It doesn't matter how tired it makes you, what's the truth, there's going to be a fight. Some of you believe that.
There's going to be a fight. And then I win.