Are you feeling discouraged right now? I mean, does it feel like what you do doesn't really matter? I mean, it's hard to get the drive and the passion to just continue to do what you believe God has prompted you to do.
Well, you're not alone. Discouragement comes at all of us, and today we're going to learn how to overcome it. Stay with me. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. I'm Dave Drouin, and in just a minute we'll wrap up our six-part series, Holy Ambition, turning God-shaped dreams into reality. We pray you've been challenged by Chip's teaching to follow God's calling and impact our world in fantastic ways.
So if you've learned something through this series, would you take a minute after the message and share it with a friend, either through the Chip Ingram app or by downloading the free MP3s that you'll find at livingontheedge.org? Well, with that, let's hear part two of Chip's message, Grow a Courageous Soul. As we get going, Chip continues to remind us of the ways the devil tries to mess up our God-shaped dreams. So if you have a Bible, turn now to Nehemiah chapter 4, and let's dive right in. Well, the enemy's second punch to thwart God's program in our lives is the uppercut of discouragement.
Follow along as I read verses 7 through 12. But when Sanballat, so the walls half-built, and Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the men of Ashdod, heard that the repairs of Jerusalem walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very, very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.
But we, notice again, prayed to our God and posted a guard at night to meet the threat. Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, the strength of the labors is giving out, and there's so much rubble that we can't rebuild the wall. Also, our enemy said, before they know it, or before they see it, we will be right there among them, and we will kill them, and we will put an end to the work.
Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us, ten times over, wherever you turn, they will attack you. Do you see what's going on here? I mean, it's built halfway, and now there's an offense, and now you have a group of people that, did you hear some of those phrases? Now they're looking at, instead of the wall half-built, what is it? All they see is the rubble.
There's too much to do. It says they lost their strength, they're tired. They've lost perspective. And now they're hearing these whispers, the rumors are, wherever you are, wherever you are, wherever you are, they're going to come and they're going to get you.
And Jews, some of their Jewish brothers are coming and feeding them these lies, feeding them these lies. Let me give you the four things that flow right out of this passage that will absolutely discourage you, the four causes of discouragement. Let me give you all four and then develop it. The first one is loss of strength. The strength of the laborers is giving out.
And write down the keyword fatigue. Sometimes we over-spiritualize things. When you push it, when you work hard, when you're up early, when you're up late, when there's stress, when there's a lot of demand, and you're going at it, and then you minister after that, and you get tired, you're vulnerable. You're vulnerable.
So the first thing that happens, when you get really tired and really wiped out and you're vulnerable, you get discouraged. The second is, notice the loss of vision. Notice what they say. There's so much rubble. They're half done. But all they can see is what's left to do.
And the keyword is perspective. Think of where they were just probably a week or two earlier. I mean, there was rubble everywhere. And they said, Nehemiah, let us arise and build.
Our God will do this. I mean, they were fired up. The people worked with all their heart. They get half done.
They're fatigued. And doesn't this happen to you? You lose perspective.
Like, you know something? Man, I was really, you know, we kind of were going to that marriage counseling thing, but we've been to three sessions. Now, instead of we've made progress, man, this is a long-term deal. Where you start setting some boundaries for some of your kids, and you know it's going to be really hard. And you say, nope, you know, we're going to do it this way.
And they push back, push back, push back. And you start to see some results. And you think, you know what, this is just too much.
Forget this. You fly your flag at work, and you know, you begin to share your faith a little bit and let people know what's happening. And you know, there's this inner sense, and you start getting up in the morning, and you want to meet with God. And then, you know, this happens, and that happens. And you oversleep a couple times, and there's extra big pressure at work. And you're up half the night. Then you're really tired. And it's like, you know what, God, I just, right? It happens to us. And you get discouraged. And then these little voices say, see, God's not going to use you.
I mean, not someone like you. That whole idea, that missions trip, that was stupid. You shouldn't have gone. You shouldn't have signed up. See if you can get out of it.
By the way, all the money's not in, right? That ought to tell you something. Maybe God doesn't want you to go. Yeah, maybe.
Or maybe God really has something great. But you get discouraged. The next thing is notice there's a loss of confidence as a source of discouragement. Look at the phrase there in verse 10. We cannot rebuild the wall.
You're half done, but we can't do it. And the key word there is faith. Before, they believed.
By the power of God, this is going to happen. And now, they've lost their confidence. And then finally, look at verse 12. The enemy will surprise attack you 10 different times.
They have a loss of security and fear. When you get tired, when you lose perspective, when your faith begins to waver, and then when you have fear, let me tell you something. You get discouraged. And by the way, it's very interesting.
I'm doing this little study for the fall. And one of the ideas I had was to—it's not what I'm going to do—was to take all these different attributes of God and see where they came out in the life of Christ. And then I went through—one morning I read Matthew and Mark, and just—I read it very quickly, but I read it just to find out times when people were in stressful situations, and what did Jesus do? And he said, fear not. Fret not. But the most common one I saw was, take courage. You're drowning. Take courage. Peter, looking at the way, take courage. Take courage. See, courage—courage is, even though there's fear, even though there's opposition, courage is the willingness to step out, trusting God, and to do what you know is right, even when everything around you or inside you is scaring you to death.
What do you say to Joshua? Be strong and courageous. Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble.
Don't be dismayed. So when you lose your courage—and so what is discouragement? This is just removing the courage for you to hang in there.
So your threat—you want to give in, or you give up, or you start going through the motions. I told you the story about going to seminary my third year. Let me tell you exactly where I was.
I was sitting in my seat. It was in theology class. The teacher was Dr. Charles Ryrie, and so you should listen to him, because he wrote his own Bible, the Ryrie Study Bible. Brilliant, brilliant guy, and really enjoyed his class.
And where I went to school, they had these large lecture halls that went down like stair steps with these long things, and so there's probably a couple hundred guys in the class. And have you ever been so tired and so discouraged that you go into like a stupor? You just—and I probably didn't get my money's worth. I couldn't tell you a thing he said. Because all I remember doing is sitting there going, I can't do this anymore.
I was fatigued, probably going on four, maybe five hours' sleep max, but four a lot for probably two and a half years. I had lost perspective completely. My calling—who cares about my calling, man?
Life stinks. I only had one year left, but it was like, I can't do one more year. My faith is faltering. My confidence. And then I was afraid.
I just think, you know what, I probably won't be a good pastor anyway. And I was in that stupor, and I was just sitting like this, and apparently the class had ended, and everyone was gone. Because as I sat there, I felt this tap on my shoulder. And I looked up, and it was Dr. Ryrie, and I looked around, and no one was in the room. And God used him to save my life and save my future. It was a very short conversation.
In fact, it was a one-way conversation. Chip, yes, sir. Don't make any big decisions in the next 24 to 48 hours.
I don't care what's due. Go home and get two or three good night's sleep and two or three good meals, and don't make any decisions. Yes, sir. And I figured he wrote the Bible out to do what he says. And you know, I had, of course, a big paper due, and I just, you know, okay. And I slept deeply for two or three nights.
Got two, three, four really good meals, and it was an amazing thing. God reminded me that you've got three years under your belt. I called you to do this. Here's the plans that I have for you. And you know what?
I re-upped. How about you? Which one of these things is causing you to get discouraged? For some of you, maybe you just need to stop. What if you just said, I need to rest up. I need a good meal.
I need a couple good workouts. I need to not make any decisions. I've got to get off this treadmill. I've got to stop.
I've got to get perspective. When I went away, sometimes I want to get too much done too fast. And so, the very first day, I mean, I had so many thoughts. And so, in the afternoons, you know, I study all morning, and in the afternoons I try and take a walk with Teresa. In fact, we did it every day. And so, the very first day, I remember walking, and walking, and walking. We walk about 25 minutes, and we turn around and walk 25 minutes.
And we got about, you know, to like the 40-minute marker. And Teresa said something like, wow, aren't these trees beautiful? And I looked up, and I realized I had walked 40 minutes. I had not noticed the trees. I had not noticed the mountains. I had not noticed my wife.
I had not noticed—you know, we had a little chitchat. I mean, my little brain, and I was going, going, going, going. And I remember just stopping and saying, you know what, Ingram, just lighten up.
What you need to do is stop. And I watched the trees. And for the next 24 hours, I just spent time with God and shut off all the media and said, you know what, I'm going to trust that by the time I head down this hill, three or four days later, that you will give me a crystal-clear idea of what you want to say to your people.
And you know what? I took a nap that afternoon. I got a workout later that day.
I ate good. I limited how much of that box I watched. And it was amazing.
It was amazing the renewal that happens. Nehemiah's response teaches us how to come off the ropes and rule the ring. Let's look at verses 13 to 29, or to 20, actually, and just notice some very specific things he does. He says, therefore, okay? He's discouraged. The people have lost it. They think we're done.
It's not going to happen. There's threats. And, you know, all the murmuring now, Nehemiah's hearing, God, we can't keep building this.
You know, Bob already left. You know, he and his family, they took off. And I mean, if you've ever been a leader, and things are falling apart, it's not a good situation, especially if you're like the head of the family, male or female, but you're the head of the family, or you're the head of a ministry, or you're the head of a project at work.
Notice what Nehemiah does. Therefore, I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall in the exposed places, posting them, notice, by families with their swords, spears, and bows. After I looked things over, notice, evaluation, notice, families are together, relationships. I stood up and said to the nobles, to the officials, and to the rest of the people, don't be afraid of them. Stop being afraid.
Why? Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your homes. In other words, what's at stake? Let's remember why we're here, what we're doing. When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears and shields and bows and armor. This is real warfare for many of us.
This will translate into spiritual warfare. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand, and they held a weapon in the other hand, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
Then I said to the nobles, to the officials, and to the rest of the people, the work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. So he's saying, look, we're stationed here. We've made preparation. We're ready to fight. You've got people protecting you here. We've gone to the most strategic, vulnerable spots, but we don't know where it's going to happen. When you hear the trumpet, that's where we're going to gather. Very strategic, very clear. He has a plan. He goes on to say, so we continued the work with half the men holding the spears from the first of dawn until the stars came out at night.
Translation, there's times that you bust it in your life and your ministry and your walk with God. It starts at dawn, and it ends when the stars come out. At that time, I also said to the people, have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night so they can serve as guards by night and workmen by day. And then notice this modeling. Neither I nor my brothers nor the men nor the guards with me took off their clothes.
Each had his weapon, even when he went for water. Now let me give you four very practical things to do when you're discouraged, and for some of you, this can't come too late because today was like a discouraging day. Or maybe it was a very depressing day. Or maybe you're thinking about some stuff, and what I've shared tonight is like unbelievable.
You're saying to yourself, that's exactly where I am. Number one, be proactive. Notice Nehemiah did not wait around wondering, I wonder if they're going to come. I wonder when.
I wonder what's going to happen. He was proactive. He knew something practical and positive. Notice that he put people in the places where they were most vulnerable. Notice that he got a mindset of battle.
It wasn't just getting the work or the task done. He realized there's a battle going on. There's a battle going on for your soul. There's a battle going on for your family. There's a battle going on for your sexual purity.
There's a battle going on for the ministry that God, it's a holy ambition, and Satan wants to cut you early and hard. And so, you've got to be proactive. And so, for me, this can mean taking a walk, writing a letter to encourage someone, texting someone that I care about that I'm thinking, I just haven't thought about them in a while. In other words, do something positive. I will go work out. I'll listen to Christian music. I'll call someone that I know very well and say, hey, this is Chip. I'm discouraged.
Would you just listen? And they do, but you've got to do something positive. Encouragement and depression are like a cloud. And when the cloud comes on, you know how you can kind of feel it coming? And you're sinking, and you're sinking. And there's something deep and ugly in our souls where there's something almost like self-titty, and it's coming down, and it's really hard, and this is a terrible place to be, and I really hate to be here, but I am, I am.
Will someone—you know, when you get to about here, you need to get—I'm putting this off. I'm not going there. And it's a choice.
You don't feel like going there. It's rousing and asking the Spirit of God to give you courage. Second, remember who's on your team. He says our God will fight for us. You're God's child. You're loved.
You matter. He's got a plan for you. He loves you. He's got a ministry for you. Remember who's on your team. Remembering God's great faithfulness in the past will empower you to trust Him for still greater things in the future.
That's what the Psalms are all about. Third, fight, fight, fight. Notice he says see what's at stake. Fight for your mothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, your homes, your brothers. Fight.
We've lost that. If you haven't noticed, there is no easy way to accomplish anything of any value. The reason so many of us get sucked into the tube is because it's something that we can do completely passively.
That's why kids who watch a lot of TV early and play lots of video games often have real problems thinking, because they can't wait on anything anymore. You've got to fight. Your will is like a muscle. And you ask God, I don't feel like doing this. And you know, when I cave into that, you are either a slave of your body, or your body is a slave to you. That's what the Apostle Paul said. I will make my body my slave.
Your body, your appetites need to do what you say, not you doing what it says. Otherwise you're a prisoner. I have to watch this. I have to drink this. I have to eat this. I have to be with here. I have to let people use me.
I have to let people walk all over me. I have to. I have to. I have to. You're not a victim.
You're not a victim. Fight. Fight.
And you know the areas where God is speaking to you. And then finally, never fight alone. He put them in families. He put them together.
He put them with someone behind them to protect them. What we know from Scripture and experience is the people that get connected—and I don't mean just going to a small group. You can go to a small group and keep it superficial until Jesus comes. The people that get connected in a small group who learn to minister, who roll up their sleeves and do something for other people that's bigger than themselves together, who share hearts, who share God's Word, who tell one another the truth, who hold each other accountable with a gentleness and a love—those are the people whose lives progressively, with all the ups and downs that you're going to have and I have, are transformed to become like Jesus.
And by the way, that's the game plan, that you be conformed to the image of His Son. You have a Heavenly Father who thinks so much of you. He thinks—I mean, because He's infinite, if you think of all the sand there is in the sea, all the stars, the billions and billions, His thoughts toward you are that many. You, not somebody else. You, because you matter, because you're loved. He died for you.
He raised from the dead. He has a plan for you. And He invites you, come into me. Walk with me.
Let's do life together. But He's going to show up, certainly in the pages of Scripture, but the Spirit of God lives inside of me, and the Spirit of God lives inside of you. And when we sit around together openly and honestly and can put aside our pride and our ego and allow the Christ in me and the Christ in you to share with one another, we're shaped and loved. The way He's going to hug you—now you might have a big supernatural experience, and praise God, I'm for as many as I can get of those. But most of the hugs I'm going to get from God are going to have flesh on them.
They're going to be a regular person. And when God listens to me, it's often going to be through the ears of a kind, compassionate person. And so, what the enemy wants to do is get you off by yourself, and when you're alone, you get discouraged. And when you get discouraged, you do stupid stuff, and you're vulnerable. And we all do.
But do you hear my heart? God has a holy ambition. What's yours?
What's yours? Our dream, because it's God's dream, is to mobilize 100% of the people to discover the God-shaped dream that He's forming in your heart, and have you connected with other people and doing something that you would say three to five years from now, I could never imagine that God could use an ordinary person like me to accomplish His love and grace in extraordinary ways with others. Chip will be right back with his application for this message, Grow a Courageous Soul, from his series, Holy Ambition, Turning God-Shaped Dreams into Reality. Now, you may be asking yourself, what does it mean to have a holy ambition?
Those two words seem to be contradictory. As we'll understand through Chip's teaching, God's called us to be both holy and ambitious. Through the biblical story of Nehemiah, Chip unpacks how God develops unique passions and desires in us so that He can then work through us. Discover how you can be used by God to accomplish the extraordinary. Now, if you missed any part of our series, Holy Ambition, the Chip Ingram map is a great way to catch up any time. Our Bible teacher, Chip Ingram, is with me now. And Chip, before we hear your application, you know, I was wondering if you take a second and talk to a specific group of people. They've been listening to this series, and they think they have a dream, but they aren't confident in it, or they're unsure it's even one God placed on their hearts. Now, what advice do you have for them? Oh, Dave, I love talking to people that are in just that spot, because I think as God is birthing something in us, we usually have a barrage of doubts.
And I mean, that's got to be for someone. I remember thinking, way smarter than me and way more holy than me. And as I taught through for the very first time Holy Ambition, I watched different people like a coach get a view of it, and then a businessman, and he launched a group for businessmen, and then a teenager, and I saw what they did in their school, and it was just so exciting. And so after that series, it a few years later became a book.
And everyone I've talked to just has this issue. I remember getting to teach this at where I went to seminary, and there was a young man there named Zach, and Zach said, could I come out for maybe a couple days and just hang out with you? What you said about Holy Ambition deeply resonated with me. And so Zach came out, we spent a couple days together, and little did I know that he was married to a lady named Jenny, and it was Zach and Jenny Allen. And Zach and Jenny are both just excellent leaders, and Jenny actually took this concept of Holy Ambition, overwhelmed with lots of doubts, and could this be me? And she walked through that process that we walked through in the book, and it's been amazing to see the if-gathering grow out of that.
And now she speaks and is an author, and Zach is an entrepreneur building disciples. So I would just say, if you don't know, kind of, where do you go from those vague sort of sense of promptings, I don't know if it's really from God, how do you get it clear and where do you go? That is exactly why we turned this series into a book called Holy Ambition, how to turn God-shaped dreams into reality. Dave, why don't you take just a second and let people know how they can get it. Be glad to, Chip. To order the newest edition of Holy Ambition, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or call us at 888-333-6003. Through this resource, Chip will walk through a step-by-step process to turn your dreams and good intentions into a God-infused reality. Now during this series, we've discounted this latest edition of Chip's book, so order yours today.
Simply go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or give us a call at 888-333-6003. Atlas Nurse taps special offers. Now here's Chip with some final thoughts from what we heard today. As we wrap up this program and the series, I just want to remind you that this idea, this Holy Ambition that we've talked about, it's not just for me or people in ministry.
It's for every single one of you listening. You know, in it we went through a process that God uses. He dislocates your heart. I mean, you start caring about something and then you realize you can't do it and you develop this broken spirit and you come before God and pray. And then at some point he has you take this radical step of faith to say, okay, Lord, I'm going to give it a whirl. And then he asks you to develop a strategic plan and often he brings other people into the mix so you get the help that you need. And then you make a very personal commitment and say, God has really called me to do this and this is my part on the wall of God's kingdom and this is the part that he wants me to play. And then finally, when you do that, as we've talked the last couple days, boy, you need a courageous soul because it really does get harder before it gets easier. But here's what I would say more important than anything else. Ask God to show you what he wants you to do with your life that is holy, that makes a difference in loving others, that makes a real impact whether anyone else sees it or not. And let me encourage you, whether it's launching something big or something inside your house, ask God for your holy ambition and then do it.
That's a great reminder, Chip, as we wrap up this series. Well, before we go, let me take just a second to thank the generous people who make monthly donations to support the ministry of Living on the Edge. Your faithful gifts help us inspire Christians to live like Christians and every gift makes a huge difference. Now if you haven't partnered with us yet, would you prayerfully consider joining the Living on the Edge team? Make a one-time gift or set up a recurring donation by going to livingontheedge.org or by calling us at 888-333-6003. That's livingontheedge.org or 888-333-6003. App listeners, tap donate. Well, until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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