by Pastor Tim Burt
A friend of mine told me that this spring, he decided he was going to grow a vegetable garden. He said he cut out a place in his yard, tilled it well so there was nothing there but tilled black dirt, and then had to leave it for over two weeks before planting it because of being out ot town, and then because of the weather. When he came back to his plot to plant the seeds, it was filled with little plant shoots. He called me to ask what they might be. I told him. Weeds! You don’t have to do a thing to get weeds except neglect the dirt. Weed seeds find their way there and germinate quickly. He had to till the soil again before planting his garden.
I don’t know if you’ve thought about this before or not, but, discouragement is like a weed seed. It always seems to find a way into your life. It will invade on good days, bad days, on any day and at any time. Discouragement is the opposite of encouragement. It’s designed by the enemy of your soul to get you to stop or quit something you were once excited about.
There have always been two strategies I have focused on to slay discouragement from of my life. One is to have a heart of thanksgiving for even the tiniest blessing in my life. The other is to talk about the goodness of God and His promises with my friends. Being in a weekly discipleship group for 39 years has given me one of many places to walk this out.
Even when you walk closely with God, discouragement finds a way to invade your life. It’s amazing that when your feeling discouraged, thoughts of ‘throwing in the towel’ surface in your mind. Because we don’t always see things turn out in the way we envision, disappointment can easily creep in. Yet at times like this, you have to remind yourself that even though you make mistakes or others fail you, God will never fail you! Hebrews 13:5 (NIV) says, “…God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” God is worthy of all our trust despite what at the time looks like a disappointment.
When we read the story of Joseph, we read about a young man who at the age of seventeen had a vision from God about being a ruler that even his own family would bow down to. That dream eventually proved true and yet not long after he dreamed it, he was thrown in a pit left to die by his own jealous brothers. He was then later sold as a slave. Despite these discouraging circumstances, Joseph was so faithful that he was promoted as a manager of a pagan household. Yet again discouragement invaded his life and he was undeservedly accused of coveting his master’s wife. It felt like a barrage of disappointments. He was thrown in jail for years. He faced injustice from the age of seventeen to thirty years old—thirteen years of hard-core injustice. How did Joseph protect himself from disappointment, anger and rage, and from wrongly believing he served a God that did nothing? Why didn’t he throw in the towel? Joseph would not cave to disappointment because He believed God to be a God of promise. He clung to that truth. He would not give up on God. The result? He was finally promoted as ruler over all of Egypt under Pharaoh.
In the book of Malachi we see disappointment take root. The Lord is warning His people of their rebellious and distrustful attitude. They had given up trusting in God’s ways and instead resorted to depending on themselves to get things done. They had stopped tithing and God exposed the deception that had permeated their hearts. In Malachi 3:13-15 (NIV) we read His Words to them. “You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD. “Yet you ask,’ what have we said against you?’ “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out His requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'”
These people lost their love and joy of God and began to see living for Him as drudgery and obligation. They ‘threw in the towel’ and moved to living outside of God’s instruction. They blinded their eyes to His goodness leaving them only to experience the disappointment of their own ways. Man seldom accepts responsibility for his own lack of success. Blame is the game. God or your Pastor and church, or anyone but you most often becomes the scapegoat.
Joseph represented the heart of those that don’t quit and trust God knowing that He is bigger than a momentary circumstance appearing to be a setback. We read of great blessing to those who like Joseph, keep on trusting God knowing of His love and precious promises. Malachi 3:16-18 (NIV) reveals those blessings. “Then those who reverence the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored His name. “They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
God says that when we trust Him and focus on His promises AND TALK ABOUT THEM with others, it draws His presence. He is so honored that He lists our names in a book of remembrance. He says that deliverance will come to those that trust Him. Thanksgiving of who and what He is to us, keeps our eyes open to His involvement in our lives and protects us from the deception that can come from disappointment and discouragement. So, begin to meditate on everything you are thankful to Him about, and praise Him for it. It will lift you up and out of discouragement and on to victory! He’ll encourage your heart, and help you stand strong in His promises! And deliverance and blessing will come!
Malachi 3:16-17 (NIV) “Then those who feared and loved the Lord spoke often of him to each other…. “in that day when I make up my jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares an obedient and dutiful son.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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