Monday, June 8, 2015

Are You Too Discouraged to Continue in Christ?

It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them (2 Peter 2:21).

Over the course of the years that we have been operating this ministry (both home and online ministry), we have witnessed with sadness how Christians who were previously zealous in their faith have abandoned the Lord and returned to the world. Some might have left the Lord through discouragement or had no root in their faith (Luke 8:13), while others abandoned their faith and returned to embracing worldly desires and pleasures (Luke 8:14). Our message today is for both groups of people.

The Challenges of Life

Facing discouragement and trouble is common in life, and people, Christians included, will always face challenges which are aimed at hindering us from having a smooth journey in life (Acts 14:22; John 16:33). However, we still have to choose between “life and death, blessings and curses” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Like the above Scripture suggest, God purposely designed life that way after the fall of man (Genesis 3:17-19). This might sound remote and removed from reality, but I tell you in truth we all experience setbacks and disappointments, even currently. As it is, many people argue and ignorantly blame God for allowing such hardships on man, while the real perpetrator continue to wreak havoc (John 10:10). As we mentioned in the article on Blaming God When Bad Things Happen, blaming God when we face hardships or when people sin against us is wicked and shows faithlessness towards God. Instead of blaming God or others, we are called to trust the Lord for deliverance, in all situations, while bearing and growing in the fruit of perseverance and longsuffering (2 Timothy 3:10-11).

We might not have all the answers, but we do learn from Scriptures that God made an agreement with man in the beginning, giving man the choice and explaining the consequences if the agreement was disobeyed (Genesis 2:15-17). This agreement was accepted but man later failed to honour it (Genesis 3:6-7). For those who don’t appreciate the values of history, the truth is that in life all rules or laws either designed by man or God are binding to all humanity who enter into this world. In the Bible Scripture referenced above, Eve was not yet brought into the world when God gave the commandment to Adam (Genesis 2:18). However, she was told by Adam, showing acceptance of God’s commandment of abstaining from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:2-3). In our Christian life we should also appreciate that all Bible teachings and admonitions are given for our own well-being (1 Timothy 4:15-16).

The governing authorities, including the government and local authorities, do often enact rules for social cohesion that are designed for our well-being (Romans 13:1-5). However, we must remember that God’s Word and commands are superior to human rules, and our obedience must first be to God (Acts 5:29).

Vision of Two Roads

In a brief vision to me on June 2, 2015, the Lord showed me two roads that people travel on in their lives’ journey. In this this vision, I was shown the road that I was travelling on. To me the road seemed to be rough, muddy and full of pretty high humps. As I walked on this road, I invited people to join me but they just stared at me. While travelling on this road, I saw a woman (whom I know) crying as she appeared on another road. As I went further down, her boyfriend appeared to my right. We hugged and while hugging him, a feeling of intense compassion, love and forgiveness came over me as I deeply cried over him. As we strolled after hugging, the man took me to another road which was all smooth and neatly decorated, almost shiny in appearance. I made a remark on the beauty of the road and he replied: “You should try out this road. We cannot travel on this road if we don’t smoke and do wrong things.” He continued: “This road is very smooth, fast and slippery, and it makes sparks which inflict some pain as we travel on it. No one can travel on this road unless they do wrong things, because that slows the pace of the road.” After he said this, I turned away from him and left that road, and the vision ended. This vision refers to the two broad and narrow roads that the Lord spoke about (Matthew 7:13-14).

Brethren, the Lord is telling us in this vision that the broad, seemingly beautiful road is walked by those who do wrong things, and that sin serves as an encouragement to those who travels on this road. The road looks beautiful and attractive on the outside to lure people, but when being travelled on it hurts those who walk on it – hence the consequences of sin. And while those who walk on the crooked road face many obstacles, and even as they endure the road becomes rougher, the Lord is right there to give them relief and comfort (Genesis 15:1; Hebrews 13:5).

God’s Calling on Servants

Being called by God takes faith, courage and commitment. In many Scriptures throughout the Bible, we witness how people who have the Holy Spirit invite trouble and hardship from the devil who rules the world (1 Peter 4:14; Matthew 4:1). When we are bent on doing the will of God in our lives, even members of our own family may attempt to discourage us through insults or other means (1 John 3:13). From our experience, people who continuously hurl abuse and insults at others operate from a hateful spirit (1 Samuel 18:8-9).

Similarly, when a person has been called and anointed by God to do ministry work, his work is approved by God through unique supernatural experiences and encouragement (John 10:38; Acts 23:11); those experiences bring glory to God. In encouragement to you, if you have received a calling and a vision from God to do ministry work, please go out there in faith and do God’s work. In our experience, discussing your calling with your leader will inevitably result in discouragement and even your faith being “shipwrecked”, because some leaders might make you think they have all the experience to steer you on the right road. It is true that our ill-experience leads us to our leaders for advice; however it’s better to take God’s advice first, as Samuel did and he was not influenced by the priest Eli (1 Samuel 3:19), and so did Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-10).

When God called us into ministry, we went to seek our pastor’s approval. Instead of encouraging us, our pastor had his ministry’s interest at heart, and his advice was for us to remain and use the gift for the benefit of his ministry. When we asked the Lord, He said that His calling for us is to create a ministry that will minister further away in order to reach souls beyond the scope of the other ministry. Therefore, in essence, the Lord directs ministry activity for the benefit of the whole body.

Faith Heroes who Conquered Discouragement

The Bible highlights some examples of people who overcame discouragement:
  • When David’s men were discouraged and distressed because they lost their children, wives and possessions, they were on the verge of stoning David. But being a man who was no stranger to hardships and sufferings. David knew His God and took courage in Him instead of lamenting and wailing (1 Samuel 30:6). David summoned his faith in God and his courage gave strength to his men who went to recover their belongings. This is as a powerful encouragement to us when we feel discouraged.
  • We also see Caleb and Joshua conquering discouragement through their faith in God’s ability, and they made their confession in relation to their convictions. As result, they were rewarded by entering the Promised Land (Numbers 14:30).
  • Additionally, being in a dire situation, Esther and Mordecai saved their nation from annihilation through prayer and fasting. They did not allow discouragement to overcome them, and instead of just sitting on their faith, they used it and called upon God’s help. The Lord answered and redeemed them while rewarding them as well (Esther 4:12-16; 6:7-11). Hallelujah!
  • Furthermore, Job in his discouragement about the fate that had befallen him, did not faithlessly walk away from God, but rallied his hope in the redemption of God (Job 2:9-10).
How many of us when faced by hardships start yelling at God and blaming Him for our condition? I received some messages from Christian brethren who vent their frustrations on God, and sadly some have gone back to their former ways.

On the other hand, we have a brother in Christ and the Lord bless his heart! This is the same person we asked for help for in our appeal in the “The Eternal Benefit of Godly Correction” article which was ignored by many Christians. This brother has all the odds stacked against him but in humble obedience he continues in Christ while trusting in the Lord to provide for his daily bread. If he had settled for discouragement, he would have ended up destroying his faith and increasing his suffering. In the Lord however, he has comfort, care and hope.

In conclusion, let us not be babies in our faith and allow discouragement and people’s insulting opinions to dictate our faith in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). Instead, let us hold fast to Christ and shun evil while holding on to the promised hope of Christ’s return. Our faith in Christ comforts and encourage us, and when we are faced with challenges that could easily make one doubt God’s deliverance, we take to prayer and the Lord honours our faith by answering and providing. So I encourage you in love: Don’t give up on Christ! Keep walking on strong in Him.

If you feel discouraged in your faith, please choose to trust God. He is faithful to help you continue serving him that you may be counted among His treasured possession (Malachi 3:16-18; Psalm 46:1). If you are not born again, we welcome you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ – please pray this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Yours in Christ’s service,
Brother Glenn.