Tag Archives: God

Discouragement: Satan’s Greatest Weapon

Discouragement: It’s what keeps you sitting down instead of moving forward

I read a story once that says Satan once held a sale and offered all the tools of his trade to anyone who would pay the price.  They were spread out on the table and each one was labeled – hatred, malice, envy, gossip, lust – all the weapons that everyone knows so well.  However, off to one side lay a harmless looking instrument labeled DISCOURAGEMENT.  It was old and worn looking but was priced far above the rest.  When Satan was asked why this was, he replied, “Because I can use this one so much more easily than the others.  No one knows that it belongs to me, so with it I can open doors that are bolted tightly against the others.  Once I get inside, I can use any tool that suits me best.”

A few hours earlier when he was on a spiritual high, Peter thought he’d do anything for Jesus. But later when he was at his lowest point due to discouragement and fear, he wouldn’t do anything for Jesus.

I wonder what heroic and inspiring accounts were never written because Satan effectively used his tool of discouragement?  The Bible records many sad stories of people who lost heart and gave up.  When Moses sent the spies into the Promised Land, all but Caleb and Joshua came back with discouraging news.  The fearful saw the size and strength of their opponents rather than remembering the signs and strength of their God (Num. 13-14).  Elijah did great things for God which resulted in the conversion of thousands of Israelites (1 Kings 18:1-40; 19:18); yet, he had become so discouraged when Jezebel threatened his life that he deceived himself into thinking that he was the only servant of God left (1 Kings 19:1-18).  After Peter promised that he’d never leave Jesus’ side, he ran with the rest when the Lord was arrested, and a few minutes later become so afraid that he denied even knowing Christ (Matt. 26:31-75).  He did so because he was discouraged after seeing the apparent lost cause his Lord’s ways had become upon his arrest.

We become discouraged when we make the same mistake that these guys made and start paying more attention to the obstacles than the opportunities.  We become discouraged when we start believing Satan, “the father of lies” (John 8:44), instead of the Father “who cannot lie” (Tit. 1:2).  And what has the God who cannot lie promised us?  He has promised us that our work is not meaningless, so be steadfast and immovable (1 Cor. 15:58).  He has promised us that our trials and hardships make us stronger if we allow them (James 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3-5).  He has promised us that the hardships we endure seem painful right now, but they cause us to become more righteous later if we allow ourselves to be trained by them (Heb. 12:1-11).  Do we believe his promises?  Do we?  Our actions always prove how strong our faith really is (James 2:14-26).

Do you think Peter would have pictured himself doing this just fifty days ago when he was so discouraged and afraid that he wouldn’t even admit to anyone that he knew Jesus?

God can do great things with a heart that is his and a mind that believes it.  Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who refused to be discouraged, went on to do great things for God and his people for years afterward.  Elijah recovered from his discouragement and went on serving God, and as a result God brought him directly into heaven rather than allowing him to die.  Fifty days after a discouraged Peter denied Christ, he converted thousands of people through courageous, strong preaching.  All of these men faced what they thought were impossible situations.  They had seen no light at the end of the tunnel, no hope whatsoever…but it turns out that they were wrong.  Why?  Because they forgot that God was with them (Phil. 4:13).  Once they remembered that, look at the heights to which they climbed!

What heights can you reach with the help of God?  What can God do with you?  Does he have your heart and mind?  Or is the devil having his way with you?

“Submit therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).  Don’t allow Satan to discourage you, friends.  “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed” (Heb. 12:12-13).

Our Help Is In The Lord

All of us experience hardships and face struggles that make little or no sense to us.  Sometimes the hurt comes from what others do to us, sometimes we cause our own pain, sometimes it takes place at work, or in our home or family, or in our finances.  The fact is, there are times of hardship in all our lives.  God knows this is our situation; that’s why he sent his Son to save us.

““A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matt. 2:18)

Do you remember how hard life got for the mothers of Bethlehem a few months after Christ’s birth when Herod murdered their children (Matt. 2:13-23)?  God sent Jesus to offer hope, and right away Herod caused the deaths of all those little boys!  As a parents, I can’t imagine the suffering of those families.  Had they known this was caused by the birth of Jesus, they might not have been so thrilled to know the Messiah had come.  Yet, in the midst of all this hurt, God demonstrated how much he cares for us.

Remember that God warned Joseph three times about what Herod intended to do, thus intervening to save Jesus’ life.  That’s the good news in this story.  God is not on vacation, way off in the distance watching our lives as some disinterested being.  He is involved in our lives, helping us cope with the hurt that he sees.  That’s what “Immanuel” means – “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).  God sent his Son to let us know that he is close by and wants to be involved in our everyday lives.

He is not only close, but is busy in your life.  When you are hurting, it is often difficult to see God at work around you.  But he is caring and loving and working for your good (Rom. 8:28).  He knows how much we hurt, and he stays close by to help.  And in the end, he will give us the victory through Jesus, as long as we obey his will (1 Cor. 15:57; Heb. 5:9).

What Does It Mean To Love God?

Let’s say that a survey taker decided to make it his goal to stand outside of every church building  in America each Sunday and ask every person who left the building if they loved God.  How many do you think would answer in the negative?  My guess would be that the overwhelming majority of churchgoers would gladly and sincerely profess their love for God, and I am thankful for that.  It is due to their love of God that they are attending church in the first place.  It’s because of their love of God that they own a Bible and peruse through it from time to time.  Their love of God is a major reason why they love others and help others in their time of need.  Professing a love of God is an important first step.

“’First step’?” you might ask.  “What do you mean, ‘first step’?  I thought loving God is the ultimate, the pinnacle, the highest we can achieve!”  That is true, but consider this.  We say that we love God…but does God agree?  Does God think we love him?  Does God define us loving him the same way that we define loving him?  We might be tempted to assume that he does, but God’s Word suggests otherwise (Is. 55:8-9).  In fact, Jesus said that there would be religious people who call him “Lord” and are involved in many good works who would still be condemned at judgment (Matt. 7:21-23).  Obviously, those who call Jesus “Lord” and do many good things in his name would also gladly say that they love him…so why are they being condemned?

The more Beth and I come to know and understand each other, the deeper our love grows. That’s how it is with our love for God as well.

The answer lies in finding out how God defines our love for him, and the way to do that is to go to his Word.  This makes sense when you think about it.  Consider your spouse and your closest friends and the love you have for them.  When you think about it, the love you have for them and they have for you is based upon your mutual knowledge of each other.  You know each other well, you understand each other, and that’s what causes your love for each other to grow more and more.  It’s the same with our relationship with God.  The more we come to know God, the more we will love him…especially when we grow in our understanding of just how much he loves us!  (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16).

The Scriptures contain the revealed mind of God. Only through deep study and obedience of his Word can we come to truly know him and love him.

But how do we come to know God?  The only way that will happen is by going to his Holy Spirit-inspired Word (2 Pet. 1:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).  After all, no one knows the mind of God except the Spirit (2 Cor. 2:9-11), and the Spirit revealed the mind of God to the writers of Scripture (John 16:12-15; 1 Cor. 2:9-13; Eph. 3:3-5; 2 Pet. 2:19-21).  When we study and meditate upon God’s Word day and night (Ps. 1:1-3), we grow in our knowledge of God and how he looks at things.  We also grow in our knowledge and understanding of how God defines our love for him.

So just how does God define loving him?  Over and over again, the Scriptures correlate love of God with obeying God (John 14:15, 21, 23-24; 1 John 5:3).  In fact, obeying God is how we come to know him as well as to love him (1 John 2:3-5).  Even in the Old Testament, God always defined the concepts of loving him and obeying him interchangeably (Deut. 6:4-5; 7:9; 10:12-13; 11:1).  So if you obey God, you love him.  If you choose to unrepentantly disobey God, you don’t love him.  If you love him, you obey him.  If you don’t love him, you will not obey him.  It’s that simple.

With this in mind, go back to Matthew 7:21-23.  Why did Jesus condemn some even though they called him “Lord” and did many good things in his name?  He tells us why.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  They weren’t doing the Father’s will.  Perhaps they were doing some of it, but they weren’t obeying him in all areas of their lives.  That’s why he called them “workers of lawlessness.”

Abraham was willing to obey God even if it meant sacrificing his own son. By being willing to do even that, he passed the test and proved that he truly loved God.

Do we love God?  Sure, we might say we do.  We might sincerely think that we do, and perhaps in some areas of our lives we do.  All of that is good and shouldn’t be ignored.  Like I said earlier, it’s an important first step.  However, ask yourselves this.  How well do you know God?  How well do you know the Bible?  How often do you go out of your way to study his Word in depth?  Furthermore, are you obeying his Word?  Are you doing so as best you can in all areas of your life?  Are you willing to obey God even if his revealed will in the Scriptures goes against your most cherished belief?  Are you willing to put God above even family, even above self?  When you disobey him, are you willing to repent?  Are you willing to obey him no matter what?

That, and that alone, shows how much we truly love God.