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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Defeating Discouragement - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Defeating Discouragement - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Defeating Discouragement - Part 2
TOPICS: Discouragement, Overcoming In Training

Yeah, I think we face a challenge in the church. I think we've really imagined that maturing in the Lord is not particularly a pleasant thing. We're not even certain it's a good thing. So we're kind of reluctant to mature in the Lord. We're kind of happy, you know, I think, I don't even want to say it out loud but the mindset I observe is, "Listen, I wanna go to heaven, in the event that there is one, and in the event that there might be a hell, I choose heaven. So tell me what I need to do to get my passport stamped. But once I've got that, I'm really not looking to be like a hyper-Christian or a super-Christian. I just wanna be one that gets in under the bar". I mean, we don't say that because it's a little offensive just to say it, but it seems like it's the way, that maturing might not really be good for us.

Look, I wanna suggest that the best things in life come when you mature and grow up. They really do. I mean, every time you hold a newborn baby, I'm amazed at the wonder of God in creation. How you can look at a brand-new baby and not believe in a God eludes me. But you don't wanna stay in that condition, where every need you have has to be attended to by someone else. As beautiful as that new child is, it's the promise of the child that is the wonder: the growth, the development, the ability to learn, to gain physical dexterity, to process responsibilities. All of those wonders in every life stage, and it never goes away. As long as you're under the sun, you're continuing to grow and mature and develop. We wanna grow up spiritually. It'll bring good things to you.

So we're talking about putting off your old carnal, soulish self and putting on a new self in godliness and righteousness and holiness. It won't diminish you; it will strengthen you. And if we're ever gonna gain momentum in it, we're gonna have to decide it's a good thing. You don't look convinced. Been around little people lately? You know, if you're with a 3-year-old when they're hungry, they pretty much make an announcement. "I'm hungry". And they just look at you like you've got a menu from the local restaurant in your back pocket. "Well, absolutely. What would you like"? And if you're not paying attention the first time they say it, they just find the volume knob and turn it up. "I said I'm hungry".

And they just look at you. They don't care what your financial condition is, they don't care what you're doing. They don't care how busy, they are hungry. They have expressed a desire, and your assignment in life is to meet that need. Now, I have also observed when they say "I'm hungry," what they mean is they're hungry for chicken nuggets or pizza. They don't mean they're looking for a double portion of asparagus. They will accept ice cream, but they're hungry. Now, that's not wrong. For the emotional place they are, that announcement's appropriate. When they're hungry, it's good to know. But if they make it to 40 and they make it to the public square and they begin the announcement, "I'm hungry," as if someone else should be responsible, that someone else should stop whatever they're doing, and that volume is the only thing necessary to get that need met, that's more tragic than it is cute.

And we've been a little guilty in the church. We've been a little more childlike. It's cute when we're new Christians and God honors it and helps us with that. But there comes a point when he says, "I need you to help me overcome evil". You have an assignment on planet Earth and much of the discouragement and despair that comes to us finds an entry into our lives because we've been responding from a rather immature, soulish place of that old self: "Well, I'm not getting what I want. I don't like all the feelings I have".

Now, I don't mean that if it's painful, it's more righteous or holy. I'm not suggesting that to you, but I am suggesting we're gonna have to determine that we are willing to grow up in the Lord or we will remain children in a very limited use in the purposes of God. Look in 2 Timothy chapter 3 and verse 1, says, "Mark this: There'll be terrible times in the last days. People", and then he gives us more than a dozen different character, aspects of the human character that will deteriorate in the last days. But the very first one is the only one I gave you. He says, "People will be lovers of themselves". The overriding characteristic, the one that begins the descent of the human character, is that we will be in love with ourselves. We will want our carnal, selfish desires satisfied more than we want anything else.

And Paul said, "I'm reminding you of what I taught you before. You have to take off, you have to put off that old self. God won't do that for you". You'll have to say, "I'm gonna change my desires. I'm gonna change those habits. I'm gonna change those, I'm gonna accept responsibility for my thoughts". You know, there are some things you can do that will facilitate that. Practice the spiritual truths you know, like forgiveness. I am going to forgive more than I'm gonna hold a grudge. I will not bear an injustice year after year, feeding the fire of resentment and anger and hatred. I will forgive so I can be set free to move on and do something else.

You see, if we will practice the simple truths that we know, it will diminish the foothold, the stranglehold, that despair and hopelessness and discouragement can find on our lives. Let me give you a couple of examples from scripture. One I'll take from 2 Kings. It's a Hebrew Bible story from the prophet Elisha. Elisha has been working with the king of Israel. There is a foreign king that has been attacking Israel. And every time he sets a battle plan, Elisha sends a message to Israelite king and tells him what the foreign king intends to do and every attack has been foiled. So the foreign king gets his inner circle together and says one of you is a traitor. Somebody's betraying me. I wanna know who it is. And they speak up and say it's not true, my Lord, but there's a prophet in Israel and what you whisper in your bedroom, he tells the king. And this foreign king says, "Well, go get the prophet".

Now, he's a fairly clever man. He's the king of a nation, he commands an army, but he does not know anything about spiritual things. You know, what you don't know, has an impact on your life. Yeah, it doesn't mean that you're foolish or stupid. It simply means you wanna keep growing. And again, it's a challenge in the church. Far too often, we've been rather self-satisfied. We rather smugly imagine we know the important things. This king says, "Go get that prophet". Now, the problem with the prophet is every battle plan they have made for months and months, he's known about ahead of time. And if you're paying any attention, you probably wouldn't say, "Well, go get him". I mean, a third grader reading that story would go, "Well, that's foolish". But it wasn't foolish to the king because he wasn't thinking about spiritual things. He didn't have much awareness with that.

You see, we don't know everything yet. We're learning, folks, we're growing, we're maturing. Just as we watch children grow in their awareness and their abilities, we're growing up spiritually. I wanna grow spiritually, don't you? I don't know everything about God I need to know. Rather than say, "Oh, I don't believe that" or "It's not important" or "I don't care," that's not a helpful response. It leaves you stuck where you are.

I wanna learn to pray more effectively. I've been asking the Lord to help me. I've been asking the Lord to help me learn how to overcome more effectively. I'm not content with the place I'm at. I've got a background in the basic sciences. It wasn't too many years ago, not in my lifetime. It wasn't too many years ago when doctors didn't under, they didn't even wash their hands between patients. They didn't understand the germ theory. They hadn't imagined yet that they could transfer diseases simply by touching one patient and then touching another. So they didn't wash their hands between patients. They weren't trying to do harm. They weren't being willfully mean. They didn't know.

See, sometimes we wrongly imagine that if we lack intent, there should be no harm. That's not true. That's not true. This king, he's not trying to be willful. He just doesn't know, he doesn't understand. It's a whole new arena to him. And a part of being an overcomer, we remember back in Revelation, it says, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit is saying to the churches". How comfortable are you with the Spirit of God? Is he more frightening to you, intimidating to you, if you just kind of waltz, "Ah, there's nothing to that". Really? I'll give you an example and I'm off track, but I'll finish tonight, it's okay.

I'll give you an example. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is our helper, but it cautions us not to open our lives to unholy spirits, to the occult, for guidance or direction or interaction in any way because it'll have negative consequences. Don't fool around with your horoscopes and Ouija boards and fortune tellers and don't try to get direction in your life from unholy spirits. Don't give your mind and your thoughts to expressions of spirituality that are ungodly. We don't pay much attention to that. We have a whole industry out of Harry Potter. We've opened a whole generation of kids up to spiritually destructive things. We're making them more comfortable with incantation and chants and all kinds of things than we are making them comfortable with the Spirit of God. It's unfortunate.

Say, "Well, I didn't intend anything by it". Well, intent isn't required. A king says, "Well, go get the prophet". So he sends his armies to get the prophet and they encircle the little village where he lives. And the next morning, the prophet's understudy, he gets up to start the day and he sees the armies arrayed around them. Many of you know the story. And he goes back in, he's in panic mode. He's afraid. There's a battle and he can see an army. You've got it in your notes. In verse 16, Elisha says to him, "Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them". Elisha sees the army. But he said, "There's something stronger with us". "And then he prays, 'LORD, open his eyes so he can see,' and the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and he saw the hills full of the horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha".

Sometimes when I'm struggling, when I'm tired and weary, and I say, "Lord, I'm not sure I got the strength to do this any longer". I'll start to say, "Help me see those things that are working on my behalf. Open my eyes to see, God, because at the moment I don't feel them. My, my soul is...I'm not feeling them. I need to put that off. I need to put on something that brings hope and encouragement to me. Help me to see". It's important. We can grow in this. Remember the assignment not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. That requires us to stand and to take a place.

I brought you another story. It's from the book of Acts chapter 27. This is Paul. He's onboard a ship. God's given him an assignment to go to Rome. He doesn't tell him how he's gonna get there. I'm reading that story and I'm thinking, "God, I'd like to go first class, please. I'd prefer the front of the plane with one of those seats that lies flat and a menu where I can suggest all, select all my dining choices prior to takeoff, please. Thank you, God". God books a different kind of trip for Paul. Paul gets to Jerusalem and he's arrested falsely. He's accused falsely. There are assassination plots leveled against him. Multiple times, he's on trial before officials who could care less about his outcome. It becomes clear he can't get a fair trial.

So he appeals to Caesar which means he's got to be transported to Rome. That's where he needed to head anyway. But now he's not traveling first class. He's traveling, chained to a Roman soldier. He's a prisoner, a scoundrel, accused. They get onboard the ship and the ship is not sailed by the most prudent of captains and they sail at the wrong time of the year and they get caught in a horrible storm and they can't find a suitable port and they're lost at sea in the midst of a storm. And with their own hands, they throw over the cargo and then they throw over the ship's tackle and then finally says, I gave you the passage. You can check me later. They finally say after many days, "All hope was lost".

All hope was lost. They're hopeless, discouragement has overwhelmed them all. When they started the trip, they were individuals, their self defined them. We had a captain and a crew. We had a Roman soldier and a prisoner. We had business people and sailors and merchants. But after many days, it's just a huddled mass of frightened people. Who they were and their self has gotten exchanged. They didn't lose hope in a moment. They lost hope over a series of interrelated events until finally, it had run all hope out of them. They had hope when they threw the cargo overboard. "If we'll throw the cargo overboard, we'll make it". They had hope when they threw the tackle overboard.

"If we'll throw the tackle over, we'll make it". When they dropped the sea anchor, "We'll make it if we do this". But now they've done every, they got no hope left. Their wealth is gone, their strength is gone. They've got no hope. And that night it says an angel came and spoke to Paul and said, "I need you in Rome, Paul. I'll save you out of this mess and I'll save everybody that stays onboard the ship with you". He gets up the next morning with an announcement: "I told you we shouldn't have sailed". You gotta love Paul. But he said, "Last night, an angel spoke to me and it'll be okay". He had a revelation that lifted him out of it, took him home.

Now, when I read that story, I think, "God, why couldn't you just put Paul on a nice smooth ship to Rome? He was your messenger. He's on your assignment". You know, I don't know that the Bible gives us an answer to that. Sometimes life is harder than I wish it were. Sometimes our circumstances are not fair. Sometimes the things that we're asked to overcome are not just, they're not what you would desire, they're not what you would schedule. They're not what you would hope for yourself or your children or anybody else you cared about. And yet God says, "I need you to overcome in this circumstance for me". I don't know all the details of that. I can point to some things in the story that were positive outcomes and the impact on those who sailed with Paul. But if I'm Paul, I'm still thinking, "God, couldn't we reach those people another way? I thought you just wanted me to go to Rome".

And I'm telling you, if you're walking through a tough season, God has not abandoned you, you're not alone. It's not your failure or your wickedness. If it is, repent. If you think the reason you're standing where you are is because you've been tolerating ungodliness in your life, stop tolerating it, repent. Ask the Lord to convict you of anything you're tolerating that is unacceptable in his sight. Don't just be neutral on it, but beyond that, God will bring you through. I'll give you one last verse of scripture, very quickly. It seems to me that Jesus gives us a different kind of an invitation in Hebrews 12. Says: "Let's fix our eyes on Jesus. He's the author and the perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God".

Now, why would we do that? "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men". That phrase intrigues me. Jesus endured opposition from sinful men. May I make an announcement? So will you. You will endure opposition from sinful people. The sinful people that opposed Jesus weren't primarily the Romans. The Romans executed him, that's true. But the opposition arose first and foremost from the people closest to him, from the high priest, from the religious rulers in the city, from the covenant people of God, the people that offered daily sacrifices. The tension often broke out when he was on the Temple Mount. Opposition from sinful people, not distant from you, people that do not understand what God is doing, and so they resist it.

"Consider him who endured opposition from sinful men," for a reason. "So that you will not grow weary and lose heart". So that we won't lose our strength and courage. I look back at the beginning of that. Says, "To fix our eyes on Jesus who for the joy set before him endured the cross". How did Jesus make it through the cross? The cross was horrific. If they could capture the cross on video, you couldn't bear to watch it. It was horrific. How did Jesus overcome that? It says that he looked at the joy that was set before him. Now he came to Earth knowing where he was headed. May I ask you a question? How was Jesus doing before he got to Bethlehem? Before the ox and the lamb kept time, how was Jesus? He was fine.

In Philippians 2, it says, "He didn't consider equality with God, something to be grasped, but he made himself nothing. And he took on the form of a servant and he found himself in human likeness". The incarnation. Jesus laid aside the privilege and the prestige to say Yes to the Lord. See, if his life had been driven by an old carnal, adamic, soulish self, he would have never done that. God has something for you and me, if we'll be willing to say to him, Lord, "Not my will be done but yours". There's a great expression of that in Jesus's life. Remember on the cross, through the horrors of the cross, when he says, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing".

I read that, I think, "What do you mean, 'They don't know what they're doing'? That Centurion that drove that spike through your hand, he knew exactly what he was doing. The soldiers that forced that crown down on your head and hit you over and over and over again and said, 'If you're the Son of God, tell me who hit you,' they knew what they were doing. What do you mean"? I'm telling you if that had been me on the cross, I think I'd have had a different response. If you know the stars by name and you can command the weather, I'd have been calling on a few lightning bolts, wouldn't you? "Hey, the ugly Roman with the wart on his ear. Get him. And the smug one with the mallet in his hand, I wanna watch his flesh melt". What did Jesus say? "Father, forgive them. They don't understand the magnitude of this day".

You see, if we'll cooperate with the simple truths that we know: forgive, choose God's way. How do you do that? You have to take off that old soulish, carnal self, and you have to put on a new self. It's invested in righteousness and holiness and the purposes of God. The distinctiveness of your life isn't because you're bizarre. It's because you desire godliness. It'll help you overcome. It will help you defeat discouragement and despair. It'll bring a new set of objectives to your life. It'll bring a new set of values to your life. It'll bring a new meaning to your life. Our God is able, our God is able.

I brought you a prayer, but the one I brought you, I don't want to pray with you. It's a good one. You can pray it later. But after I wrote that one, I wrote another one. I wanna pray that one with you. I know, pray. I'll get it sorted out ahead of time, huh? Why don't you stand with me? I'm just gonna ask you to repeat this prayer after me and I'll tell you what it's about before we do it so you can make an informed choice. It's a prayer of deliverance. It's a prayer acknowledging God is the one who watches over our lives. He's our strength and our deliverer. And it's a prayer inviting God to deliver us from every discouragement and every point of despair. So if you're interested in that you can, I'll invite you to pray this prayer with me. Just repeat it after me:

Almighty God, you're my source, my rock, my deliverer. I trust in your faithful care. Renew my strength today and give your rest to me, body, soul, and spirit. Provide for me the encouragement necessary to stand in the place you've called me. Give me the wisdom to guard my heart and mind. I repent of all sin and willful rebellion. I renounce every curse that may be associated with my life. Through the blood of Jesus, I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil. I choose to put off my old self and to put on my new self. I want to live for the glory of my Lord. He has given me victory over every adversary, in Jesus's name, amen.

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