Jimmy Evans - How to Overcome Discouragement
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Key number one is a Godward mind-set, is focusing your mind toward God. And David was a master at this. Now, in the book of Psalms, there are 150 Psalms in the book of Psalms. 73 of the 150 Psalms are attributed to king David. David was a worshiper. And many of the Psalms, I absolutely love the book of Psalms. Nothing ministers to my heart more than the book of Psalms, especially when I'm going through something bad. And that's because the book of Psalms were written largely when David was going through some very difficult times in his life.
So this is Psalm 16:8, written by David. And here's what David says: "I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand I shall not be moved". A Godward mind-set. See, what the devil wants you to have is a Godless mind-set. He wants you to see the giants, the mountains, the problems, the lions, the tigers, and the bears, but he doesn't want you to see God. And David chose to see God in everything. It's why he didn't get overwhelmed in bad times. Remember when David fought Goliath? All of the trained army of Israel, literally, the Bible says, were shaking in their boots when Goliath was taunting them down on the valley floor. David showed up, a young boy with a slingshot, attacked a giant. And on the way attacking that giant, he said, "You come against me with your sword and your spear. I come against you in the name of the living God".
David saw God in everything. And it's a choice that we can all make. Let me just tell you, the Bible says that God will never leave us or forsake us. God is there whether we acknowledge that he's there or not, but whether we acknowledge him or not has everything to do with our attitude and state of mind. If we don't see God in circumstances, it absolutely becomes overwhelming. Now, this is Psalm 59 that we're going to read here, but the beginning of Psalm 59 tells us exactly the circumstance of when David wrote this Psalm. Now, listen to this, Psalm 59. It says, "A michtam of David, when Saul sent men, and they watched the house in order to kill him".
So this Psalm was written when the king surrounded David's house with his men, trying to kill him. "Deliver me from my enemies, o my God: defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men. For look, they lie in wait for my life: the mighty gather against me, not for my transgression nor for my sin, o Lord. They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine. Awake to help me, and behold"! And it continues in verse 8: "But you, o Lord, shall laugh at them: you shall have all the nations in derision. I will wait for you, o you his strength: for God is my defense. My God of mercy shall come to meet me: God shall let me see my desire on my enemies".
Now, you know, David was a part of the government. David was taken into Saul's house after he killed Goliath, but then they started singing a song in Israel that disturbed Saul. And the song was "Saul has killed his thousands, but David has killed his tens of thousands". And literally through demonic jealousy and fits of rage, Saul started trying to kill David. And so David had to detach himself from the government and start fleeing for his life, even though he was anointed the king. And so let me give you the movie. It's a spy thriller. It's a movie. And this is a person who is a part of the government, and now they're no longer a part of the government, but the government, they have information the government doesn't want them to have, and so the president says to his closest, you know, people around him, "Kill. Kill this spy. Kill this guy. Go out and kill him".
And so the government sends trained people, who are trained murderers, to go out and kill this person. And they surround his house. This is a great movie. And they've got the latest technology, and they're surrounding him. They're gonna kill him. And this guy is in his house, and he's being surrounded by all these killers, trained killers. And the camera shows all the killers kind of closing in on the house. And the camera goes inside and shows this man here who is the target of the government, and he's on his knees in his living room worshiping God. Have you ever seen that movie? No, neither have I. 'Cause that movie doesn't exist. But that's exactly the story.
The king is trying to kill him, and trained killers are surrounding his house, and in the midst of that circumstance, David begins to worship: "O God, I have done nothing to deserve this. And I come to you, and I ask you to defend me against bloodthirsty men. O you, my strength. I trust in you to defend my life". David had a mind-set that in the worst of circumstances, he was thinking about God. He would not let the devil take God out of his awareness. "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand I will not be moved". He's bigger than my giants: he's bigger than my mountains: he's bigger than my enemies: he's bigger than my problems. And the worst thing that can happen is I forget he's with me. Because when we forget that God is with us, it's game, set, match.
The enemy can overwhelm us easily if we don't keep God in our minds. Here's what happens when you keep your mind on God and you set him before you in your life. And it's a choice that we can all make at any given point in time. The first is instant encouragement. When you set your mind on God, it gives you instant encouragement and a new perspective. You see a big God and a little devil in everything. God gets bigger, and problems get littler. The second thing that happens is it feeds our faith and starves our worries and fear. When your mind is on God, when you're praying, when you're worshiping, when you're reading your Bible, when you're meditating on God, and you're just aware of God's presence around you, it feeds your faith, and your fears just begin to starve.
However, when you don't have your mind on God and you're thinking about the mountains and thinking about the giants and thinking about the problems, and you're overwhelmed with your circumstances, it starves your faith and it feeds your fears. Literally, our mind-set is everything in what we're going through in life. The third thing that happens is it changes the way that you talk. You literally talk according to your perspective. My dad loved the TV show "Hee Haw". I think it came on on Saturday afternoons or something. And my dad absolutely loved it. And so we always had to watch "Hee Haw". But one of my favorite parts of "Hee Haw" was the guys that sang "Gloom, despair, and agony on me... Deep, dark depression, excessive misery, if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all... Gloom, despair, and agony on me".
You can tell I've heard it a few times... I mean, do you know there are people that sing that song every day? Their perspective is so godless, and I'm talking about believers, and I'm not saying they don't love Jesus. I'm not saying that at all. I'm not saying that they're on their way to hell and they don't believe in God. All I'm saying is the devil has so succeeded at removing God from their perspective that their confession is "Gloom, despair, and agony on me... Deep, dark depression". I mean, it's just, "How are you doing"? You ask a person "How are you doing"? And in some cases, you dread the answer. And I don't want to be plastic. I don't want to be a person that denies the things that I'm going through, but can I just tell you, when God is with us, it's always a good day.
"This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it". Why? Because my God is with me, and he's bigger than my mountains, bigger than my giants, bigger than my problems, bigger than all my enemies. And even though I've got problems, it's gonna be a good day because God's with me. The other thing that happens when you put your eyes on God is it causes to be an encourager of other people. David was the most inspirational king in Israel. He inspired men to follow him. He rose up from this circumstance and inspired his men, and they gathered around him.
And let me just tell you this, David was kicked out of the Philistine camp, the chapter before. In this chapter, his wife and his children are taken captive, and his town was burned there. Three chapters later, he becomes king. Saul dies. He's 3 chapters away. This is right before he becomes king. And he decides in the worst moment of his life, he's gonna be an encourager. I want to tell you something this morning: the devil wants to use your mouth as a microphone to discourage other, not only does he want to discourage you, he wants you to spread the joy. And he wants you to discourage other people. Words are nuclear, and just a few words can discourage us, can't it? You can give a bad report, or you can give a good report. And we all have a decision to make: "Is this going to be the devil's microphone to spread discouragement, or this is gonna be God's microphone to spread encouragement. I've made up my mind. This is God's microphone to encourage other people".
I'm not gonna let my mouth overwhelm and discourage other people because it's a choice we all have to make. And the Bible says that God gives us a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Let me tell you this now: it's a garment. You have to put it on. You're not born with it, and you don't wake up with it. Every day when we wake up, we have to make a decision that "I am going to praise God this day. I am not going to let my mind be Godless or dark or overwhelmed or depressed. In the midst of my circumstances, I am going to praise my God". And, listen, it's what the devil is terrified of. When you begin to praise God in your circumstances, darkness has to flee, and God will show up, and you will see the miracle that you're praying for, when you begin to praise God. This is what David did. And I'm telling you right now that a Godward praise and prayer and reading the Word of God and worship and studying and receiving teaching like this, all of this puts our minds on God, and it keeps the devil from doing what he wants to do.
Number 2 key to overcoming discouragement is realistic expectations. We have to have our expectations realistic. Well, let me tell you what I'm talking about. David was anointed king of Israel. And, you know, I think, this is just me, because this is what I've done, many times, if someone showed up at my house and anointed me king, I think I'd go to bed that night, and I would think to myself, "Wow. Well, first of all, I deserve it. Finally. Finally they recognize who I am, and I'm sure here in a couple of days, they're gonna show up in a black limo and, you know, pick me up, and they're gonna drive me to Jerusalem, and there's gonna be this huge coronation ceremony. And from that day forward, they're going to worship me, and rightly so. And I'll be king".
And if I would have thought that, I would have gotten my heart broken because that's not what happened. When Samuel the prophet showed up at David's house and anointed him king, it started problem after problem after problem after problem that led him to this place right here. Rather than a black limo showing up, he shows up at the battle line, has to kill a giant, and then the king turns against him. Then he has to go turn to the Philistines, the enemy. And Goliath was a Philistine. He attaches himself to the Philistines, literally, you know, the enemy. And then his family is taken by the Amalekites, and his men are speaking of stoning him. See, here's what David knew: "There's gonna be a fight, and then we're going to win".
Let me tell you how to think about life, and I promise if you think this way, you'll never be overwhelmed by discouragement. There's gonna be a fight, and then you're gonna win. There's gonna be a fight, and then you're gonna win. If you think that way, you won't get discouraged. You won't get overwhelmed. If you don't think that way, you're going to get your heart broken. Because there's going to be a fight. Jesus said in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world". Jesus said, "Hey, there's gonna be a fight, but you're gonna win. In the world, you're gonna have trouble, but I have overcome the world". There's gonna be a fight, but you're gonna win.
Romans 5, Paul: "And not only that", we exult in our, "Tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance: and perseverance, character: and character, hope". Paul says, "There's going to be problems, but God's going to do good things with those problems, and we're going to win. There's gonna be a fight. We're gonna win". And so David was a person, that he did not get overwhelmed by the fight, because it was fight after fight after fight. Rather than be anointed king and the limo shows up and drives him to Jerusalem and all good things happen, he's anointed king of Israel and all hell breaks loose. And he finds himself at the low point of his life.
In fact, if I were David, I think I would have a conversation like this with God, and that is: "Could you anoint somebody else next time? Or could you send me a letter before Samuel shows up, telling me what I'm getting myself into when I stand there and let him pour oil on me? I mean, for crying out loud, I would have never signed up for this". But David doesn't do that, because David understands reality: "There's gonna be a fight, and then I'm gonna win". There's gonna be a fight, but then we're gonna win. Here are the perspectives of people who are chronically discouraged: "I expect victory without difficulty. There's not gonna be a fight, but I'm gonna win anyway". 1 Peter 4: "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy".
Peter here is trying to comfort believers by saying, "Are you going through trouble? Well, join the club. Don't get overwhelmed at the fiery trial that is there among you. This is something common, but you're going to win. There's gonna be a fight". The highest divorce rate is among young people 20-25 years old. And it's because they get married with such unrealistic expectations. And this is what happened to karen and me. When we got married, we were 19 years old. We didn't know anything. I just expected "In a few days, I'd have her trained. She wasn't training well while we were dating, but I thought the answer is full-time training. Huh! The part-time thing ain't happening, but if I could just have her all day every day, I think I'd get her trained here, and things would be good". 37 years later, I'm just telling you the sister, well, she's trained me really well. I got my heart broken in marriage because I got married with such terrible expectations.
Let me tell you something, marriage is going to be a battle, but you're going to win. It's a fight. The devil's going to fight you for your Promised Land. He's going to put giants on your Promised Land: marriage, children, finances, everything in your life. When you're going to hell, he'll pretty much leave you alone because he doesn't want to break the flow. But when you turn around and decide you're not going to go to hell and you're going to live for Jesus, that's when the battle begins because you're on your way to the Promised Land. Your Promised Land is not that way. Your Promised Land is that way. And when you start heading towards your Promised Land, he'll put giant after giant after giant after giant in your way, but you're going to kill every giant and you're going to get to your Promised Land.
There's gonna be a fight, but you're gonna win. There's gonna be a fight, but you're gonna win. But there will be a fight, you trust me. In every good thing that you'll ever do in this life, there's going to be a fight. And if there's not, you're not headed the right direction. Here's the third key to overcoming discouragement, and it's faith in God's grace. This is a big one. And I'm going to ask a question that is, what qualified David to become the king of Israel? And the answer is nothing. There's not anything that qualified David. He was a young boy, too young, too small, untrained, unsophisticated. He didn't have a background in government, a background in finance. There was nothing that qualified him except God chose him. That's the only thing that qualified David.
And you say, "Well, he had a heart after God". Yes, he did. He had a heart after God, but he also had sin in his life. He had problems with lust: he had problems with pride: he had problems with violence. David had a lot of problems. He wasn't qualified. Only the grace of God qualified him. And so when he's sitting there at Ziklag, he never makes it about him. He never makes it about him. And, see, this is how you know whether you're walking in grace or not. Grace is all about God, and it's all about God's goodness. Performance is all about us and how qualified we are and how well we're doing.
When I came to the ministry, I had every wrong expectation, and I got my heart broken over and over and over. And when I came into the ministry, I was still living in performance to a great degree. It was kind of like a point system. If I do enough good, then I deserve good. And if I do something bad, I deserve bad. And so I was always trying to do good. And I was always trying to pedal hard and be a good pastor and be a good preacher and be a good this and be a good that. And anytime that problems came up, I just pedaled harder. Literally, I worked harder. And I experienced burnout several times as a pastor because I just, you know, I didn't rely on the grace of God. I tried to do everything myself.
And I pedaled, and I pedaled, and I pedaled. And I remember pedaling harder and pedaling harder, you know, to try to solve problems and do all the things that I was supposed to do. And one day, I woke up, and I just decided, "I can't do this anymore". I kept burning, physically, I was exhausted: I was getting sick all the time. I just had all kinds of problems. And I woke up one morning, and I remember sitting in my office and saying this to God: "I can't pedal anymore, Lord. I don't know what's gonna happen". It was like I felt like if I stopped performing and if I stopped doing everything that I'm supposed to do, the world's gonna fall apart. And I thought, "That's fine. I'm gonna go ahead and let the world fall apart, but I can't do this anymore".
And I set in my office one morning, and I said, "Lord, I can't pedal anymore, and I'm not going to. I'm not going to". And I remember kind of what I thought would happen at that moment, that God would say something like, "You better get up on that bicycle and pedal, buddy, or else". But the response I got from the Lord was surprising. When I said that, the Lord said, "Good, Jimmy. You can rest in my grace. You don't have to pedal, son". All you have to do is just obey.
Let me say this, it's not about performance. It's about obedience. Performance is about me. Obedience is about him. Performance is about me. Grace is about him. And I say to you, I stand here this morning by the absolute mercy of Almighty God. And in the Psalm that we read earlier, Psalm 59, David said, "My God of mercy", the men of Saul surrounded his house to kill him, and in the midst of that, David said, "My God of mercy shall come to me, and he will deliver me from my enemies". "My God of mercy". What does that mean? "I don't deserve to be rescued by God. I don't deserve to be used by God. I don't deserve anything God has. Everything I get is a free gift of his grace. I don't deserve it. The only thing I can do is praise him and obey him. That's all I can do. But I don't have to pedal harder, and I don't have to deserve it".
But in those times in your life where everything is falling apart, the devil always shows up to make it about you. "You're not doing good enough. You're a failure. You've failed so many times. You're defective. God can't use you anymore". And in those times, the way that you defeat the devil is by the blood of the lamb and the word of your testimony. That's what Revelation says. "We defeated the devil in this world by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony".
And when the devil shows up and tries to condemn you and put you down and accuse you because of all your failures and all of your inadequacies, you tell him, "I don't have to qualify. The blood of Jesus qualifies me. And I rebuke you in the name of Jesus. You will not make this about me. I know I'm weak. I know I don't know enough. I know I'm inexperienced, but I serve a gracious God. And my God of mercy will come. I know I made financial mistakes, but my God of mercy shall come". "I know I made mistakes in my marriage, but my God of mercy shall come". "I know I made poor decisions in my life, but my God of mercy shall come". He's a God of mercy and grace. I will not make this about me. And if I've done a thousand things wrong, one drop of his blood, it's all gone. My God of mercy. All of us experience in our lives times of discouragement. It's inevitable that it's going to happen, but we make a choice if we're going to stay there.