Tag Archives: discouragement

Discouragement: Satan’s Greatest Weapon — Jon Mitchell, Editor (Editorial: September, 2017)

Discouragement.  A tool Satan can use so much more easily than many of the others in his arsenal.  It sits off to the side, looking harmless, assumed to be nothing more than a normal part of life.  How little we realize that with discouragement Satan can open doors in our hearts and minds which are so tightly locked up against his other tools…and once he’s inside our hearts and minds via his key of discouragement, he can use any other tool he wants.

God’s Word records many sad accounts of followers of God 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 then remembering the size 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 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 became 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 folks 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).  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 (Jas. 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3-5).  He has promised us that the hardships we endure seem painful 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 (Jas. 2:14-26).

God can do great things with a heart which is His and a mind which 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, resulting in being brought directly into heaven rather than being allowed to die.  Fifty days after a discouraged Peter denied Christ, he converted thousands of people through courageous preaching.  All of these men faced what they thought were impossible situations, seeing no light at the end of the tunnel and no hope whatsoever…but it turns out 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 God’s help?  What can God do with you?  Does He have your heart and mind, or is Satan having his way with you?  Remember James 4:7 and Hebrews 12:12-13, dear friends.  Don’t let Satan discourage you!       — Jon


The Cursing Benjamite — Dale Barger

It is quite interesting to consider the events which God preserved in His inspired Word. When you reflect on the many possible events throughout history, no doubt there are many happenings that have been lost to the annuals of time. However, God saw fit to preserve certain events in explicit detail even to the conversations that transpired. These have been preserved so that Christians can learn how God expects us to conduct ourselves in this life.

One such peculiar event is the interaction between King David and Shimei (2 Sam. 16:5-13; 19:15-23). David had been driven from Jerusalem by the attempt of Absalom to usurp the throne. As he reached Bahurim he encountered Shimei, a relative of Saul, who confronted him with cursing and false accusations. This event provides many lessons to Christians who seek to serve God acceptably.

Lesson #1:  Recklessness in Anger. Shimei approached the king and his mighty men in an aggressive fashion (2 Sam 16:5-7). Casting stones and cursing the king in the presence of his mighty men is foolish indeed….especially when you reflect upon these battle tested men and their accomplishments (cf. 2 Sam 23:8-39). Abishai, mentioned in verse 18 of that passage, was noted for having slain 300 men with the spear. Abishai desired to execute Shimei for his cursing. Shimei endangered his own life by foolish actions in anger.

Anger causes one to act foolishly. The wise man stated, “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly…” (Prov. 14:17). Actions in anger are not what God desires to see of His children. James states, “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). How dangerous do our actions become when we lash out in anger? One often does things that harm others, damages our relationships and damages our reputation as well as the reputation of others. If you were to reflect on your life, how many times have you acted righteously when you were angry? We say and do things in anger that is contrary to the will of God. This event displays for us the folly of anger.

Lesson #2: We Are Not Alone. During this confrontation, David was probably at a very low emotional state. He was driven from his home by his own son who sought his life (2 Sam. 16:11). David had also left some of his family as well as some of his servants behind at Jerusalem. David perhaps thought that there was no one left one his side. The words of Abishai prove that he was still loyal to David. He was willing to eliminate the threat of Shimei against his king.

As Christians, we sometimes feel that we are alone. It may be an emotional time for us when things aren’t going our way. We need to be reminded that we have the family of God, the body of Christ with us on our side. Paul speaks of the body being many members yet one body (1 Cor 12:14). He further speaks how that all members of the body rejoice and all suffer together (1 Cor 12:26-27). Other passages likewise speak of multiple pieces making up the whole body (c.f. Eph. 4:16). These verses encourage Christians to realize that we are not alone. We have those on our side to help us when we are low and to strengthen when we are weak.

Lesson #3: Do Not Retaliate. How hard must it have been for King David to leave his capital city! His own son was seeking to depose him. How emotional David must have felt! Yet, David did not allow his emotions to cause him to act hastily. He could have easily commanded his mighty men to eliminate Shimei, which Abishai was desirous to do. However, he felt that this may have been a punishment sent from God. Notice David’s words: “What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” (2 Sam. 16:10). David was not going to stand and fight against God.  He realized the wastefulness of such an attempt. Had this cursing been from the Lord, David would have been fighting against God in retaliating against Shimei.

During the infancy of the Lord’s church conflict arose. As the council was seeking advice, a wise counselor told the Sanhedrin it was not possible to overthrow the work of God (Acts 5:34-39). If the church was a work of God they would be better not opposing the Lord.

David also was not going to retaliate against Shimei in hope that God would reward him (2 Sam 16:12). Even when things aren’t going our way it is never right to take our vengeance on others. Christian conduct demands a higher moral code. Paul taught, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:18-21). It may be a difficult thing to do; things may not be going well that day. However, David gives us a tremendous lesson in not seeking vengeance against our adversaries in this episode.

Lesson #4: Time for Humility. After David’s forces eliminated the threat of Absalom and even Absalom himself (cf. 2 Sam 18-1-17), David was called again to Jerusalem to sit on the throne. As David was returning, Shimei “hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet king David” (2 Sam 19:16). Shimei approached the king with a different attitude and conduct in this meeting than previously. He realized the danger his conduct had placed him in and now sought forgiveness for his treachery. The record indicates that Shimei “fell down before the king as he was come over Jordan” (2 Sam 19:18). He wanted David to know that he felt differently and desired forgiveness. Shimei confessed, “Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart. For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king” (2 Sam. 19:19-20).

The confession of sin can be a difficult thing to do for those guilty of such prideful and arrogant actions as this man. However, he humbled himself before the king and his life was spared at this moment. Abishai however,  continued to plead with David that he should be executed for his sin of cursing the Lord’s anointed (2 Sam. 19:21).

Lesson #5: Time for Judgment.  Shimei was not punished by David at this time. David would not have that joyous occasion marred by the execution of Shimei. However, Shimei was not guiltless and would eventually be held accountable for his wickedness. As David was instructing Solomon of affairs concerning his kingdom, David gave Solomon notice of dealing with Shimei (1 Kings 2:8-9). As Abishai had pointed out Shimei was guilty of cursing the Lord’s anointed, David. Punishment was therefore in order. Solomon would place Shimei under restrictions which he would eventually violate and lead to his punishment.

As Christians, we learn from this that there are consequences for our actions. This makes the earlier discussion in this study so important. Just because emotions are high does not excuse our deeds of foolishness. We must ever be cautious to live according to the law of God. We will stand before God to give account of even the idle words that have been said (cf. Matt. 12:36-37).  If one speaks against the Lord’s Anointed, Jesus (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38) and does not seek His forgiveness, he too will one day see punishment.

These lessons and a host of others can be gleaned from this episode between King David and Shimei. One thing is certain.  Mankind still faces the same struggles. We still fight the same urges. We still possess the same spirit as those who lived hundreds and thousands of years before our time. It is no wonder why God chose to preserve events such as this for our learning, “that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4) and learn to live acceptably unto Him. 

Dale is a 2009 graduate of the Tri-Cities School of Preaching in Elizabethton, TN.  He preaches for the Wheeler Hill Church of Christ in Pikeville, TN.  Dale and his wife Lydia have three daughters.



Monday Morning Message for the Minister – Steven K. Guy

I love preaching and training men to preach.  The Lord has blessed me with a number of opportunities during my nearly 40 years of ministry.  I want to encourage every brother to preach the word.  It is heartbreaking to see so many leave the ministry.  Ministers are men of God who need encouragement.  I pray that this message will encourage the brethren to hold up the hands of their preacher and get involved in the greatest work on earth.  Monday is traditionally the “down day” for the minister.  Having studied, taught, visited, counseled, and prepared himself for a full day on Sunday, Monday faces him with the never ending reality that it starts all over again.  Many preachers take Mondays off to physically rest.  However, the mind knows no such luxury.  It keeps right on thinking and the thoughts on Monday, especially, can be rather pessimistic.  This message is to help the minister make it through the Monday morning quarterback blues and to uplift him for the rest of the week.

When Monday arrives, the minister already feels behind.  it’s like driving past telephone poles.  As soon as you pass one, another is upon you.  Two more sermons, two more Bible classes, and a host of ministry responsibilities lay ahead for the week.  Unless the title “preacher” is a misnomer, the first responsibility is that of preaching the word.  This is where Paul began and ended with his advice to Timothy (1 Timothy 1 and 2 Timothy 4).

Preaching the word involves not preaching fables (spinning stories, 2 Tim. 4:4; 2:16-18), but preaching the holy and inspired scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 3:15; John 17:17), which are complete to equip and produce men and women of God.  It was this word in which Timothy had been reared (2 Tim. 3:15), which first produces faith (2 Tim. 1:5; Rom. 10:17) and in which Paul had nurtured Timothy (2 Tim. 3:14).  Rome was not built in a day.  Neither are faithful men, women, or churches, but they are built through such preaching of “sound” words (2 Tim. 1:13), “with all long suffering (patience) and doctrine (teaching)” (2 Tim. 3:10; 4:2).  Preaching the word will not always be inviting or appreciated, but the man of God is to preach it “in season and out of season” for it will convict, warn, and encourage the brethren and the lost to be right with God (2 Tim. 4:2; 2:24-26; 3:10).

The call to preach began with the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14).  We read Matthew 28:18-20 and feel a sense of “oughtness.”  Ivan Steward said, “Go ye means go me.”  The apostle Paul said, “For necessity is laid upon me.  Yeah, woe is me if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).  But who feels sufficient for these things?  (2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5)  Paul tells us that God gives us the sufficiency.  But at times, that concept is challenging to remember.

When Jeremiah was called, God said, “Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord” (1:8).  You remember a similar situation with Moses in Exodus 3 and 4.  Moses was about 80 when God called him and his response was also a feeling of inadequacy (Ex. 4:1, 10, 13).  But God’s response to Moses was one of assurance (Ex. 3:12, 14-22; 4:2-9, 11-12, 14-17).

It is that assurance which motivated Jeremiah, Moses, you and me to begin and depend.  However, those Mondays come when we wonder if we are adequate for the task.  I believe Isaiah was of such a mindset when he entered the temple that day and was given the vision of God “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  And above it stood the seraphim…and one cried unto another, and said ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory'” (Is. 6:1, 3).  Ironically, this vision at first made Isaiah to feel his inadequacy:  “Then said I, ‘Woe is me!  For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts” (Is. 6:4).  Again, the vision ends with God’s assurance, “and he laid it (a live coal, v. 6) upon my mouth, and said, ‘Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Is. 6:5).  It was the twin understanding of our forgiveness and His assurance of being with us that motivated us to answer God’s call in telling others about Him (1 Thess. 2:14; Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).  We remember that we felt the same fervor Isaiah had when he said, “Here am I, send me” (v. 8).  However, please note that Isaiah was told he would face rejection just like Jeremiah (Is. 6:9-13).

With such an awesome task, the young minister’s feeling of inadequacy can be lessened by the advice of the apostle Paul to young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).  To the older minister called later in life and wondering if he is adequate, remember Jesus’ response to Peter’s feeling of inadequacy, “Simon, fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:10).

Jeremiah’s call was to preach his word and be rejected by many, but be delivered by God.  The prospect of such a life is challenging enough, but as Jeremiah complains, “Why do the wicked prosper?” (Jer. 12:1).  It is tough to try to preach about forsaking the ways of the world and its folly (Jer. 20:8) when seemingly, the success of the world is flaunted and the righteous forsaken (Jer. 12:1, 4), especially His ministers.  When young men and old alike contemplate ministry for their lives they may hear advice (even from the church) such as, “Oh, you do not want to be a preacher; there is no future in it!”  When brethren have stewed preacher for Sunday lunch and churches have revolving doors to the preacher’s office, servants of the Lord cry out for justice.  Many feel like Jeremiah who accused God of tricking him into the ministry (Jer. 20:7).  Jeremiah felt that God had put him between a rock and a hard place.  If he preached God’s word, he was tortured physically.  If he tried to hold it in, he was tortured emotionally and spiritually.  What a predicament!

The prophet Habakkuk had a problem with God’s justice.  God’s response was for the preacher to wait, that the just shall live by their faithfulness (Hab. 2:1-4).  What is faithfulness?  It is abiding trust.  The wise man Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).

Jeremiah came to the same conclusion in Jeremiah 17:7:  “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, in whose hope the Lord is.”  Jeremiah illustrated this point by contrasting two plants.  One plant is of such a nature that in any environment, it would not be productive (Jer. 17:6).  This is the man who trusts in himself or in the advice of men.  The second plant is as a tree planted by waters which even in a drought, would still be productive (Jer. 17:8).  This is the man who trusts in the Lord, in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2).  Jeremiah, in a better moment, had realized that nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jer. 32:17).  God confirmed this in Jeremiah 32:27, “Is anything too hard for God?”  Trusting in the Lord will get us through all of our Mondays victoriously.

The truth is none of us are sufficient in and of ourselves.  The sufficiency comes from God “who also hath made us sufficient as ministers of the New Testament” (2 Cor. 3:5-6).  God has told his ministers throughout the ages, “I am with thee…”  Not just on Sundays, but also on Mondays (Heb. 13:5-6).