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4-5-23 - 6 Keys To Overcome A Discouraged Heart

Lighting Your Way / Lighthouse Baptist
The Truth Network Radio
April 11, 2023 4:34 am

4-5-23 - 6 Keys To Overcome A Discouraged Heart

Lighting Your Way / Lighthouse Baptist

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April 11, 2023 4:34 am

April 5, 2023 – Message from Pastor Josh Bevan

            Main Scripture Passage:  2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Topic: Discouragement



We're going to jump into our text tonight in 2 Corinthians chapter number two. I appreciate Braden preaching last Wednesday. We had just planned the previous week for him to preach, and I appreciate him doing that. I know last Wednesday was a... It was a tough day. Last Wednesday, we had kind of a different service last Wednesday to open up, and I thought about, well, I probably should preach tonight because of the setting, but I thought this will be good for Braden to also experience because as a pastor and minister, sometimes you face some heavy things, and you still get up to preach.

And so he did a great job last Wednesday, and so appreciate him. And so 2 Corinthians chapter two, when you find your place, we'll honor the Word of God. We're going to read verse 12 down to verse number 17 in our text tonight. I think it's such a fitting passage and message. Verse 12 says, Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, a door was opened unto me of the Lord.

I had no rest in my spirit because I found not Titus, my brother, but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia. Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, and them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one, we are the savor of death unto death, and to the other, the savor of life unto life.

And who is sufficient for these things? I know there's some probably confusion as you're reading verse 15 and 16. I will clear up that confusion by the end of the sermon verse 17. For we are not as many which corrupt the Word of God, but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ. Lord, what a joy again to gather in your house to assemble together with your people. We praise your name, Lord, and I know that there is storms tonight and moving through, but Lord, I know there's sometimes storms in the hearts of your people, and I pray that the same God who calms the storms at sea can also calm the storms in hearts, and I pray right now that your gracious hand would rest upon the hearts of your people, that if there are any tonight that are going through some discouragement, some difficulty, some hardships, that they would find the answers tonight through the Word of God. For to you we look our King and Savior, and if anyone tonight is lost, may tonight be the night of their salvation, be glorified in all that's said and done.

We ask it in Christ's name, and God's people said, man, you may be seated. Anybody here ever face some pretty serious discouragement in life, things that really, you know, discouragement can be a very dangerous thing. There is kind of the disappointments people can have in life. You get enough disappointments in life, it leads into a deeper level, which is discouragement, and if discouragement lasts long enough, it turns into despair, and if despair lasts long enough, it turns into a destruction in a marriage that looks like an end of a marriage in a life that looks like hurting yourself, hurting someone else, or even ending your life.

And so discouragement is one of those pieces in the process, and it's really a second tier issue, and that a disappointment enough in life turns into discouragements. And as you reflect upon discouragement, what in perhaps your life has caused you to be most discouraged? What discouragements have you faced as a Christian?

What has caused you to get down? Have you ever been around someone who is very discouraged? Perhaps even a spiritual leader in your life that was very discouraged. Here in 2 Corinthians 2, we find one of the great heroes of the faith, really the greatest missionary ever to live, the Apostle Paul, the great church planter, the man who is as bold as a lion, so faithful, so diligent. He wrote 13 books of the New Testament, and yet here in 2 Corinthians 2, Paul is facing some overwhelming discouragement. He was, in fact, so discouraged that it looked like his ministry future was threatened to even continue. Paul was close to the point of throwing in the towel and getting out. Tonight, we will see what caused him both discouragement and what also caused him to triumph over those discouragements. And if the great Apostle Paul could be discouraged, do you think you and I could be?

If he could get to the point of calling it quits, do you think we would ever be? And maybe you're in the middle of a difficult season. Maybe you feel discouraged about your faith. Maybe you're discouraged about where you are spiritually.

You thought you would be further along. Maybe you felt like God would have used you more by now, and you're not seeing God using your life like you would want to see him use your life, and it's discouraging. Maybe you're battling some sin in life that just keeps getting you down. Maybe you're discouraged by another person, somebody else that maybe you look up to that you're discouraged by. Maybe you're discouraged by your own family. Maybe your parents have discouraged you, your children, or your spouse. There's different kinds of discouragements we can face. Perhaps you're discouraged by the world.

I mean, we look at the world, and it can be very discouraging as well. I love those who've served our country, those who've bled and died. I spent some time with the Marine this afternoon who had recently given his life to the Lord, going to be getting baptized here in a couple weeks. And after retiring from the military and serving his country faithfully, he was just sharing how sad it is to see where our country is.

And there's some men who've bled and shed their blood and died for this country, and it's painful to see things going in certain directions. I feel that one of the greatest privileges of my life is the opportunity to serve the Lord in ministry and to preach the Word of God. It's humbling. It's a joy. I count it as the great blessing of life, but even with the blessing of that, it's also a great weight. Nothing in my life has been more joyful, to be quite honest, but nothing has been more challenging.

Nothing has been more encouraging. Nothing has also been more discouraging at times than the ministry. Every pastor I know has shared with me a point in life where they felt like throwing in the towel, calling it quits, giving up. Jeremiah talks about this in the Old Testament. Jeremiah 20, verse 7, he wanted to get out of the ministry.

He wanted to quit. In Jeremiah 20, verse 7, he said, O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived. Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed. What he's saying is, I thought this preaching thing was going to go in a different direction. Not as many people are being converted. Actually, no one is. People aren't listening to me. They're wanting to kill me, throwing me in prisons and in dungeons.

I thought you were going to work through my life, and now it just seems everybody is against me. Jeremiah is extremely discouraged. Verse 8, he says, for since I spake, I cried out. I cried violence and spoil because the word of the Lord has made a reproach unto me, a derision daily. Verse 9, then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name.

He said, I call it quits. I'm not talking about God anymore. I'm not his prophet anymore. I don't want to be his prophet anymore.

Look what happens. He says, but his word was in mine heart, like as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. You know what that's saying? That's saying the will of God is greater than the will of men.

And I'm so thankful for that tonight. God's will defeats you. You have a freedom, but praise God that God is more free than we are.

God is greater than we are, and we need him to defeat us. You ever felt compelled to share the gospel, but you really didn't want to? Aren't you thankful for the time that God beat you in that argument, and you did share the gospel? Aren't you thankful when you said, you know what, but I must. There were times you say, I don't feel like going to church, and then you came, and God really worked in your heart and grew you spiritually.

There were times when you wanted to give in to that sin, and God just wouldn't let you keep going down that road, and he snatched you out of that pit, and aren't you so thankful that the will of God can defeat you? And that's what happened to you when you and that's what happened to Jeremiah. The great Charles Spurgeon also dealt with depression and the weight of ministry.

Charles Spurgeon is called the Prince of Preachers, really, really just incredible. The way God used him in England, Europe, and just powerful, but he struggled with depression so severely that he would be hospitalized sometimes for a couple months. And in his lectures to his students there, he writes, fits of depression come over the most of us, usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, and wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joy is not always happy.

There may be here and there men of iron, rust frets even these. And as for ordinary men, the Lord knows and makes them to know that they are but dust. And I think that God through our hardships reminds us of our dependence upon God. We learn that we are not sufficient for these things, but our sufficiency is of God. You may be here tonight recognizing out of desperation how much you need the Lord.

That's a good place to be. And out of all the trials of Paul's life, the physical beatings, imprisonments, he faced loneliness, being cold, hungry, tired. He says in Second Corinthians 11, verse 28, he said, Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches, who is weak, and I am not weak, who is offended, and I burn not.

He's saying, Listen, I'm weighed down with the care of the churches. You ever have to carry the weight of somebody else? Like maybe another member in your family? Doesn't that weigh you down?

Maybe a brother, a cousin, an in-law. They just cause some problems. And it just weighs you down, and you feel that. Well, when you're in the ministry, and you're a pastor, you're not just taking care of your family and the situations that all families deal with.

But then there's like multitudes of people, hundreds many times of other people that you begin to feel their weight. And that presses and that weighs in Paul saying that is just heavy upon him. No church calls Paul more discouragement than the church at Corinth.

In his first letter, he addressed all the incredible sins at the church. They were fighting among who baptized them. They were being carnal, sexual perversion, really the grossest kind. There was actually incest.

A man was taking his father's wife. They were suing one another in 1 Corinthians 6. They were being sinful and selfish to the Lord's table. Some were even getting gluttonous and drunk at the Lord's table.

They were fighting over spiritual gifts. Some in the assembly even cursed Christ with ecstatic speech saying that it was the Holy Spirit leading them to do that. They were denying the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul addressed that. They attacked Paul's apostolic authority.

They attacked his character. And in spite of all of this, Paul had such a deep love for the church at Corinth. He had ministered there for 18 months of his life and just poured into those people. He had recently visited them and it didn't go well.

It was a painful visit. Paul was dealing with some problems at Ephesus at the time where Paul was recently ministering. Things had heated up so much at Ephesus that his life was being threatened.

There was a silversmith there in Acts 19, Demetrius, that riled the whole city up saying these people are attacking God, the goddess Diana, and taking away our livelihood by making these little idols. And the whole city was riled up against him and a riot broke out. Then back in chapter one of 2 Corinthians, he shared how he faced a life-threatening situation, which he said in 1 Corinthians chapter one, he said that he was pressed out of measure. He said above strength that he despaired even of life.

I mean, his life was on the line in a recent situation that he just went through. Paul had written two previous letters, actually three previous letters to the church at Corinth. There was a letter he wrote to them initially, then he wrote 1 Corinthians, and then a third letter he wrote, which was a painful letter or a severe letter it's referred to. And then he wrote, the fourth letter he wrote to them is what we have as 2 Corinthians.

Two letters were inspired and two were not. And 2 Corinthians 2 verse 4, again, he shares with them even in that severe letter, look at verse 4 of chapter 2, he says, for out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote unto you with many tears. I mean, his heart was broken for them, not that you should be grieved, but that you should know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. And because of his great love for them, and really when you love much, you can hurt much.

You don't love people, then you don't hurt much. But his love for them caused him to be in such anguish. And Paul's discouragement of the Corinthians was heavy. And that's what I want to look at first of all tonight, is Paul's discouragement. Paul is on his third missionary journey, and this is his final journey that he would be on. It says in verse number 12, furthermore, when I came to Troy to preach Christ's gospel, a door was open unto me of the Lord. He came to Troas, which is an ancient city named after the famous city of Troy, who was founded around 300 BC.

Emperor Augustus had given it the coveted title of a Roman colony. We have a picture of Paul's third missionary journey, maybe we could throw up there if we have that available. No, they may have trouble getting that image if they don't. Oh, okay, we do have it.

We don't have that screen on in the back. So here's where Paul's journeying from Jerusalem, Crete. He's up here in Antioch.

This is his third missionary journey. He comes over. This is Ephesus. He comes up to Troas.

This is Macedonia. He would come all the way down into Corinth and so forth. So just to kind of give you an idea, so Paul had been traveling. He comes to Ephesus, Port City, and he's coming up here to Troas.

That's where he's at when we're reading this. There's three reasons that he went to Troas. First, it says here in verse 12 to preach the gospel.

Secondly, there had been a riot that broke out. If you want to write in the margin of your Bible or you could write it if you're taking notes, Acts 19, verse 23 through 41, and you could read about that riot that went on from his bold preaching. And the third reason that he went, and it's really, I think, the motivating factor. He says to preach the gospel, but what he was pressed to go there for was he needed to find Titus. Titus was sent by Paul to Corinth to see how the Corinthians had received his previous letters.

Paul went there to see how they're doing, and he was going to come back and report to Paul how things had gone. And who is Titus? Well, Titus was a Greek.

He was a Gentile, according to Galatians 2, verse 3. Titus is actually mentioned nine times in 2 Corinthians. Paul refers to him as my brother and partner and fellow worker. Most likely, Titus had accompanied Paul in his second and third missionary journeys. Paul wrote two, what we call, pastoral epistles or pastoral books, letters to pastors. One was Timothy. First and second, Timothy was written to a young pastor named Timothy. The other one was Titus, which was a young pastor as well. Titus 1, 4, he says, to Titus, my own son after the common faith. He saw Titus like Timothy.

These were his sons in the faith. The last time Paul mentions Titus is in his last letter he wrote, which was to Timothy, where he says that Titus departed into Dalmatia, which is modern-day Yugoslavia. So Titus was a faithful minister even at the very end when Paul mentions him in 2 Timothy chapter 4. Now, why was Paul wanting to see Titus? Again, he had sent him to Corinth to see how the church had responded to his previous letter and the severe letter that he wrote.

As he's anxiously waiting for him at Ephesus, he's overcome with anxiety and he goes to Troas. And when he goes to Troas, he says that there was an open door that God brought his wife in that setting. In verse 12, he says, now when I came to Trez for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, he must have had some great preaching opportunities. He would typically go to a Jewish synagogue. They had what they call the openness of the synagogue, like you could go in a synagogue and if you had been the status of a rabbi or a Jewish teacher, they would open an opportunity up for you to speak and he would take full advantage of that. Jesus did the same thing.

It was incredible. And you would go in there and you'd preach Christ and many times you would birth the church out of that setting. And people were used to meeting. They had a foundation in the word of God and they began to understand Jesus to be the Messiah. And then a church would be planted from that.

It was an incredible opportunity. And so Paul used this phrase of the door being opened unto him oftentimes when he was seeing positive fruit. First Corinthians 16, eight, nine, he says, but I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost for a great door and effectual is open unto me and there are many adversaries. So there was a lot of fruit. There was a lot of opposition as well at Ephesus, but he says there's a great door.

So these were times of abundance. Colossians 4, three, he would even tell people, pray that a door would be open for us. He says in Colossians 4, three with all praying also for us that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ for which also I am in bonds. So he would tell people, pray the door to be open, pray a door. And then he would say, oh, there's a great door open unto us.

And we're seeing much fruit and super excited. So this is clearly something that God is doing. God is moving in Paul's ministry, he's moving in his life, he's seeing souls saved, seeing positive things happening. But in the middle of all of that, all this evangelistic work at Troas, look at Paul's heart in verse 13. He said, I had no rest in my spirit because I found not what? Well, I thought you went there to preach, Paul.

You see it? He's burdened for his brother Titus, his son in the faith, if you would. And he had no rest in his spirit. If he had gone there just to preach, then he would have been satisfied, right?

There's something missing for him. He is burdened to see Titus because he knows Titus going through that little map I showed you would go that route and then come back through Troas. So he knew he should be back here by now, but where is he at? So he thought, well, I'll preach the gospel and the doors opened up, but he's not here.

He says, but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia. In the middle of what we would call a great revival of God at Troas, Paul's heart was overcome with discouragement because Titus had not come. Paul was so internally anguishing over the situation that he couldn't stay there any longer, even though souls were being saved.

For Paul, there was something burdening him worse than the lost. And it was how the saved were doing at Corinth. Sometimes people want to push you so hard to evangelize, evangelize, evangelize. And sometimes such people lose sight of the dear souls in the church who need minister to. When I came to Xenia, I was in Acts chapter two preacher, evangelism, evangelism. I was on the streets constantly sharing the gospel, just out, out, out all the time.

But then I went from the book of Acts to like 1st Corinthians. I was like, we got a couple of hundred people here now, somebody, and they're asking for counseling. They're needing married. They're needing buried.

They're needing, their kids are a mess. I mean, it was just a bunch of unbelievers who got saved and they didn't know much. I was having people arguing over, you know, look at all these people outside smoking after service. Look at all the cigarette butts in the parking lot. We were at the fairgrounds at the time. It didn't help things because there were two like smoke trays in the front door.

So there'd be 30 people smoking at the front door. We had people showing very little grace to a certain crowd. And then a young crowd like that who had a lot of growing to do in their Bible and their understanding of God's word. And I confess I was overwhelmed sometimes with discouragement in the first two years of ministry here more than I ever have been. There was every time I was going to quit, it would have been in the first couple of years for me. And we saw an explosion of salvation. I could not understand why Christians were being upset. Never had I had, never have I had more complaints than that ever.

I've never had. I've been fighting among leadership. All my trustees were arguing about stupid things.

I don't know if I should say that word out loud. But when you have it, when you have trustees arguing over who sits in the back because that shows a more important position, that's a problem. I mean, we'd have four people get saved that morning and I'd have a trustee come up and say, why did you ask him to sit in the back where he was? And then you didn't ask me to sit back there. And I'm like, I'm going to throw my head against the wall and thinking, I didn't say that to them, but I thought you grow up, you toddler. I couldn't gut it. I'm serious.

I may be a little open tonight, but that's okay. I literally, as trustee, leave a church service because he didn't get to pass out the offering basket that night. He didn't get to pick the people out who's going to pass. He got so mad he left. I had times where they would get together and they'd be arguing in my office. And I'm like, I'm never having a leadership meeting ever.

I don't want to see these guys. I just want to go be with the people. I just love my church. I love the church that God's created here.

I love the body of Christ. These guys are a bunch of, they reminded me of the guys in the upper room when they were arguing over who the greatest was. And Jesus is over here just ministering. It's like, get over yourselves. Like, what are you talking about? And I look back on that and I say, God, why did you give me so much pain there in the first couple of years? It just, I mean, every day off, it seemed I would have one of those guys calling me in an hour of irritating phone call. I just thought, you've got to be kidding me.

Unbelievable. So discouraging. And I think it was because God wanted to see if I could last through that. If I could not be faithful in those discouragements, what would he do when the church went from 200 to 600 or 700, whatever. And, and, and, and as Christians, you face that too, haven't you?

You face Christians discouraging you. People saying and doing things you're like, are you kidding me? Did they really say that? Are you really upset about that? People getting upset because somebody said in their chair, can I say this out loud?

Nobody has assigned chairs at lighthouse. And if I see you sit somewhere too long, I will go sit in your chair and I'll preach from your chair. I'll put your chair on the stage. That might be good.

They might like that. I'll never forget when I was a, we were in Chillicothe and the church, we started a church there. My brother is a head pastor and I was an assistant and we started with eight people like we did here and church was exploding. I mean, it was just, we was in a room that could hold church could get up to about 300 or so in that room. It was just packed. I mean, a family of three walked in and we were splitting them up cause there was just nowhere to sit. We had that happen before we went to services. We were just so jammed in here. And, um, and we had a back row. We was like, that needs to really be the visitors come in sometimes late.

And there was a group of about eight women that said in that back row, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo. And I, when you're, when you're just, I mean, I, I, I didn't, there was nothing I would have gone to Chillicothe for other than the gospel. There's nothing there.

I'm serious. There was a muddy river. There's nothing, there's pretty Hills, but I would not go there. They got a meat factory.

It stinks all the time. And, um, but I, I tell you, my, I, there's a big part of my heart in Chillicothe, that church. I love those people, man. I love those people. I'd have stayed there the rest of my life.

God didn't move me here. And then, so, so I, um, I remember going up and I thought, I'll ask these ladies, I'm sure they'd be so happy. I was thinking, they'll be like, this is so great. You know, the church is growing, you know? So I asked them, I said, Hey, next Sunday, you guys mind maybe sitting somewhere else. We want to try to reserve this back row for like visitors and guests. So when they come in late, we'll be able to, and it was like, Oh, Oh, okay.

You know how people do that? They'll like tell you upfront like it's okay. But then you get the call on Tuesday morning. Well, I got it on Tuesday night. Actually, I think it was Monday night.

It ain't last till Tuesday. So this is how this usually works. Like somebody will talk to somebody. Oh no, they're okay with it. Okay.

You've been in the ministry about 20 years. You know, it goes a little further than that sometimes. Yeah. Hopefully they're okay.

I hope they do. You get that call. You're like, okay. So I get a call on Monday night and this lady says, pastor, Josh or Josh, pastor, Josh, whatever. I said, yeah. She said, I just want you to know I've been going to church for 50 years. I've never had anybody in my life ask me to move my chair.

I said, well, there's a first thing for everything, right? I didn't have a whole lot of grace back then. I'm telling you, I just, it just kind of rolled out.

I don't know. My wife may have been sitting next to me at the time. I said, well, let me tell you something.

I said, um, I said it is, it should be an honor and a privilege for you to get up and move out of your chair to serve somebody else who's coming in, especially guests. And I couldn't believe that you would even call me and be upset. I mean, I just, I preached a half sermon to her.

I mean, it's, it's kind of went on for a long time. I thought, but again, I'm not the head pastor, so it just all fall back on my brother anyway. You know, it's nice being made number two. You can just roll it down the hall. Hey, there's another door down there.

I'm not the end of the road. So if you're upset, I'll just, I'll just make you mad. You finish it up with him. You know, so my brother would tell me sometimes don't get him stirred up because then I got to deal with it. So I said, uh, I, I'd be honest. I kind of, kind of litter lit into her a little bit. And so, uh, in a gracious and biblical way, but in a, in a clear way, I mean, and I'll be honest, my soul was grieved. I was grieved like you would like you would be. And, um, about two weeks later I get a, uh, get a card with her name on it. I thought, Oh boy, I know this is going to roll on me.

I opened this thing up and there's a, there's a letter in there where she apologizes for her position. She, and she even gave me like a $75 gift card. I thought I'm gonna light her up again.

If I'm gonna get a gift, I'm gonna tell you something right now. I wasn't finished. I know I'm teasing.

You need to get lit up again, right? Just, just know this. People are people. Nothing more.

God has got nothing less. Sometimes I'm surprised when people get so discouraged in church, like they'll leave a church and it's like, you, um, you think families are any different though? People say, I never would expect people to talk like that in church. I'm like, you just went home and talked to your husband or wife like that.

You start your children like that. You have a problem with your parents and you think it's going to be perfect at church. Are you that self-righteous?

Really? You think people here don't have bad days? You don't think people in church have grandmas, they found out had cancer or had heart attacks or going through some financial strain or job loss or a child dealing with drugs or whatever. You don't think there's people coming in here, every single service carrying some discouragement and weight and heartache, and then you're going to hold them at a standard of perfect righteousness and if they look at you the wrong way, sit in your chair, don't shake your hand. What kind of attitude is that?

Well, that godless attitude don't hang around lighthouse very long. We're not going to put up with that because we're going to confront you and say, that's not okay. That's not, that may have been okay if you was at another church.

We're not going to, we're not going to live with that here, right? You ever pull in and see a parking lot sign that says pastor's spot? If that ever happens, if I die, listen to it. If I die and never pull all those up, you have my permission to run it over with the church bus, okay?

Just run it flat over. I mean, there's churches that do that. Well then, then the rest of the people be like, well, where's my spot?

Right? It's insanity. It's like, anyway, don't get me started.

That stuff drives me insane. So Paul is, Paul is dealing with discouragement. I'm not finding Titus at Troas. He, I mean his heart, just know this, like in our day you can communicate back and forth. Paul's like waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.

Information was, it just took a long time to communicate, right? So he's just, this is agonizing for him. His heart is torn like a parent for an erring child. Paul's heart was aching.

He was in a dark place. In second Corinthians seven, look what he says in verse five and six. He said, for when we came into Macedonia, so he left Troas, he went up into Macedonia. That's where Philippi and some of those churches are. He said, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side without our fightings within were fears. I mean, he is just in a, in a bad place. Verse six, he says, nevertheless, God that comforted those that are cast down comforted us by the coming of Titus.

Titus finally arrived. I just want to say this about the church at Corinth, because the church at Corinth continued to do sinful, foolish things. It caused the heart of Paul, the great apostle Paul, great grief. When you choose to sin in your life, to be rebellious, just know this, your sin not only affects you, but it splashes on other people.

Like you do foolish things and there's a ripple effect. You know, one of the things that grieved me when I became a parent was I began to realize, and I could never comprehend this. Aren't there some things in life you just never comprehend till you go through it? You try to talk to somebody and it's like, they're just never going to understand until they go through it.

They're just not. I never could understand the effect I had on my parents. I know I could not wrap my brain around it. And if you don't have kids, you're probably going to struggle to wrap your brain around this. Your children can bring you incredible joy as well as incredible grief. There were times I have grieved my parents as a young kid, teenager growing up, incredible grief. I mean, me and Ryan, especially us preachers today, it's kind of crazy. But I mean, it just grief so much.

You know, we're going to have to move school districts. You know, they're working like crazy. My parents are the hardest working people working like crazy. And we would argue to the hilt over doing dishes or mowing the yard. Well, you mean as much are you just fighting with them, getting in trouble at school, getting bad report cuts, getting fights all the time.

And just not only are they taking care of you, but it's like then they have to put up with you. I wish I could like go back in the flesh. I'm like, God, could you give me like one day with myself when I was a young kid, like young guy like that, I lit myself up. But at the same time, how much joy you can bring them, you know, Christian, the same is true. Are you blessing others with your life? If you're growing in the Lord, you're being faithful, you're serving Jesus, I'm gonna tell you, you're gonna you're blessing other people.

They're so encouraged by you. I don't know that people realize like I like standing at the door because you're my joy. I couldn't stand standing down here. I have to be out there. I need to see people. I want to be around you.

I want to spend time I love to talk with people. I like it when you're here, it brings me joy. There's people I walk around the church before service after I'm thinking it's just such a blessing to see them here. So good.

So awesome. So encouraging. But but it's also discouraging when people get away from the Lord and they go down wrong roads. And it's like, man, I they were doing good. They were they were on the right path.

They were living right what happened and it just griefs. Just know tonight that that you are you are impacting people. You're impacting people. Statistics show that there was a 13% increase in pastors that are seriously considering quitting the ministry from 2021 to 2022. There was a went from 29% of pastors who are seriously considering quitting the ministry to 42% in 2022. And and it's because of the immense stress of the job was the number one factor. Others felt lonely and isolated. Others felt the current political division.

Those were the top three reasons. I've seen many pastors in my life who just threw in the towel and quit. That's why I always think pastors should have a long tenure at a church. They shouldn't jump five years here, five years there.

I mean, you barely get to know a guy, right? Imagine if I came in for five years and then went somewhere else and another guy came in and and just know my heart is with you. My heart is here. I could have taken other pastorates of churches that have offered things over these years and I said, No, I want to stay at Xenia. Now, if you're in the Bahamas, I may consider you a dual pastured or something. Lord, I don't know if this is spiritual or not, but man, it'd be a fleshly struggle.

No. But but just just thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for being such a wonderful church. Thank you for the I love lighthouse. I love what God's doing here. I love the unity.

I love the growth. I love the I love the love for the word. I love the the visitors coming. You're evangelizing. I love seeing new people getting saved with three turn their lives over to Christ this Sunday. I love seeing the people getting baptized.

I love seeing the mentoring going on. I I just there's so much fruit and I'm just so thankful this is not normal. I talked to a good pastor this last week and I said, Hey, how's your in one of the most effective churches in Springfield, Missouri, where I grew up at and one of the most evangelistic churches and and they're down like 150 people since COVID.

I said we've grown by 150 people since COVID. I mean, that is just praise God for his faith. That's all the glory to God, isn't it? And thank you.

Thank you that you're not still scared over that. Thank you that you've you've you love the word of God. Thank you that you you expect this, like you come here, you're expecting me to read and to teach from God's Word. You're you're expecting this, right? I mean, you're not looking for for clippings and storybooks.

You expect to learn from God's Word. And so let's look tonight at six keys in this last thought and we'll wrap this up. That wrap up is kind of a general wrap up, but we'll get there. You know how that rolls.

I love that you laugh at that. I let me say this, I, you know, thank you for for your attentiveness to the Word of God. I mean, we preach 50 minutes sermons here ish. And you know that's coming and you still come.

We had 650 people here Sunday. They know what's going to happen. And they sit here. Sometimes guests will come and they'll say, man, you know, long sermon like what we do grown up church here. We're doing grown up church, right? This isn't we're not we're not trying to entertain lost people. The church isn't for the lost. We go out and reach the lost.

We bring them in. But we're here for the word. This is if this isn't worth 15 minutes of my focused attention, then then then something I will go home and watch it to our movie. So so thank you for that. Thank you for your love for the word.

So let's jump into this six keys to really overcoming discouragement. The first here we see in verse 14 is turning your eyes on Christ, turning your eyes on Christ. He says in verse 14. Now, thanks be to God. I mean, verse 13 is like I had no rest in my spirit. I found not Titus.

I mean, he is great. He is down. He is discouraged. Verse 14, a massive transition. How did you overcome that?

How did you get out of that hole? This was months and months of struggle for Paul. Verse 14. Now thanks be unto God. The first key to victory over discouraged artists to turn your eyes from the problem to the solution from the pain of the situation to the power of the Savior. I truly believe outlook will determine outcome so often. If all you see is negative, you'll always feel what?

Negative. If all the disciples looked at the waves, they would have lived with fear all the time. Peter sank because he saw the waves and took his eyes off Christ. Psalm 16 verse eight says I have set the Lord always before me because he is at my right hand. I shall not be moved. I want to ask you what discouragement are you facing?

What challenge are you facing? Are you looking at that problem more or are you focusing on the Lord? Now it is true that later Paul finds Titus. He gets a pretty good report from the church at Corinth that they receive things well, but that doesn't come till chapter seven. But you notice that his joy, his encouragement is not based on the report. His joy is based on God because he doesn't bring Titus's response up in verse 14.

He was thinking he needed to find Titus. He needed to focus on the Lord was the problem. Paul needed to focus on the Lord. I know people can allow others to pull them down into discouragements, parents over children, Christians with children, Christians, pastors with people. But what you must see is that peace is not determined by our outward situation.

Peace is determined by our focus. That is why Paul starts this chapter in second Corinthians one. He says, blessed be God, even the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforted us in all of our tribulation.

First thing is make sure your focus is right. Secondly, choose to be thankful. He says in verse 14, now thanks be unto God. Ephesians 5 20 gives the monumental statement, giving thanks.

Look at the superlatives always for how much? All things unto God and the father of our name of Lord Jesus Christ. So always in all things.

Well, that includes everything. So learn to be thankful for what you were discouraged about. Philippians four verse six, be careful or anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication. So turn your anxieties and the prayer request and then do it with thanksgiving. Let your requests be made known to the God. And then what the result verse seven and the peace of God, which passes all understanding. You know why?

Because to be thankful means that you're saying this, Lord, thank you that I'm in the passenger seat and not in the driver's seat. Thank you that your will wins. Be victorious in this situation. I don't like the current conditions. It's stressful.

It could be hard. The water's coming in, but thank you for being with us. Thank you that you can turn bad into good. Thirdly, remind yourself of the certainty of Christ's victory. He says in verse 14 now, thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ. When we read verse 15 through 17, it is on the backdrop of what was known as a Roman triumph.

I like what Warren Wiersbe writes about this. Let me give you a brief description of this because this is not something that would be in the backdrop of our minds. So what happened in those days is if a Roman commander in chief won a complete victory on foreign soil over the enemy, and if he killed at least 5000 enemy soldiers and gained new territory for the emperor, then that commander in chief was entitled to what was called a Roman triumph. The processional would include the commander riding in a golden chair to have been pulled by four steeds surrounded by his officers. The parade would also include a display of the spoils of battle as well as the captive enemy soldiers. The Roman priests would also be in the parade carrying burning incense to pay tribute to the victorious army. The procession would follow a special route through the city and would end at the Circus Maximus where the helpless captives would entertain the people by fighting wild beasts.

It was a very special day in Rome when the citizens were treated to a full scale Roman triumph. This could sometimes only happen one time in their life, and here he relates it to our Lord Jesus Christ, our great commander in chief, who will march triumphally throughout the world on foreign soil and defeat the great enemy Satan. And instead of killing 5000 of the foes, the Lord Jesus is saving millions of them. According to Revelation, they'll come from every kindred, tongue, and tribe. Paul here then is highlighting the fact that we are on the winning side that God always, he says, causes us to triumph.

We are not fighting, listen, for victory, we're fighting from victory. And so we must see that as Paul moves into the joy and certainty of the victory. Number four, remember that Christ is using your life in spite of results that you may not see at this time. He says in verse 14, he maketh us manifest the savor or fragrance of his knowledge by us in every place. So he refers to this because there would be priests that would be waving these censors with fragrance and it would be all over smell just permeating all the people. And Paul says, that's what God has made us. We're like permeating the crowds with the knowledge of God.

And that's what he says in verse 14, maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place, like we're spreading the fragrance of the gospel. You know, sometimes people can get very discouraged and think, what is the use? I'm not accomplishing anything. What difference am I making? I'm not making any impact. I remember feeling so discouraged.

It's probably been six years ago. I was so discouraged and feeling like that as a pastor, just man, I'm just, and I was so down and Satan was just beating me down, man. The enemy was lying about some things and that can, just know that can press you down, that lie can hammer you. You'll never, you're a failure. You're no good. You can't do that, you know, and just beat you down.

Those aren't true. It's always harder in ministry than easier. Just know that as a Christian, things grow slower than faster. There's usually less people to help than you hoped.

There's usually less given than you expected. But in the midst of all that work, labor, prayer, teaching, preaching, service, souls getting saved, lives are being changed, churches being planted, families being transformed, God is working in mighty ways. Sometimes people say, you know, you know, we had a lot of people saved last year.

Where are they at? We're living in the same place where they were when Jesus led them to Christ. Didn't he baptized probably tens of thousands?

He baptized more than John the Baptist. Where are they all at? I'm always encouraged when people tell me that. Thank you for that. Do you know that's always the case? Oh, I thought more people, yeah, sometimes people do this. I came on a Wednesday service, thought more people would be here than that. We have like 350 people here, but they're spread out all over the building.

But thank you for highlighting that seems a little love for you. Have you ever pastored a church? You ever try to get people to come to a gathering? It's slower than faster. It's harder than easier.

It's less than more. Always. My brother took over the youth ministry. I was a youth minister over. He said, you have any advice?

I said, yeah, just know this. You'll be discouraged 95% of the year. There's only about 5% of the time you're encouraged. So get used to that.

Ministry sucks the pride right out of you. You have nothing left. You feel literally like a failure. I'm being serious.

I don't know if I'm being too open tonight. You will feel like a failure 95% of the year. You spend your life chasing people to come what they should love to do. Read the Bible. I don't want to read the Bible. Are you even saved?

Come on now. You should pray. I don't want to pray. Come to church. Why? Sometimes it wears you out.

So thank you for coming when you don't have to be nagged. And you know what it's like, what cracks me up is when somebody is finally over a ministry, they like have a D group or some group they're meeting with. They're like, it's just, they're not reading like they should. It'll be like a man or a woman over a group.

And they're like, you know, that only one of them did their reading assignments. Is that normal pastor? Yeah.

Yes, it is. So instead of being discouraged, like, I've already gone through the discouragement of the years. The Lord's like, suck that all out of me. So it's like, I'm just super happy somebody's here. I'm like, yes, they're still showing up.

I didn't think anybody could come anymore. Like, I'm serious. It's because I know what we offer people here. I know what we do.

I could be a salesperson. We're not, we're just not going to do that. So, so don't be discouraged. Just, just remember this God's using your life in spite of sometimes the fruit that you see. He says, we're a saver of Christ. We are, we are a fragrance. It's permeating.

Last two things. Remember this, your faithfulness is pleasing to the Lord. He says in verse 15, for we are unto God, a sweet saver of Christ. Do you know what God expects of you? He does not expect you to be the one that bears the fruit. He expects you to be the one who's faithful. Be faithful.

You know, labor faithfully. Paul says, God found me faithful putting me in the ministry. Second, remember that you are pleasing to God and you're, you're a smell of victory to those who, who are being saved. It says in verse 15, for we are unto God, a sweet saver of Christ and them that are saved and them that perish. So there's, you're, you're leaving a fragrance and it's speaking two different messages. Verse 16, to the one, you're a saver of death and a death to the other, a saver of life and a life. You know what he's saying is when, when that, when that Roman triumph was going and that fume was coming off the fumiating from the, off the fragrance, to those who were on the winning side, man, that was a beautiful smell of victory and celebration and joy.

But to the ones who were losing, it was a fragrance of their impending judgment and death. That's, that's the ministry. This is eternal business. This is eternal work. This is when, when you preach the gospel, there are people who say, yes.

And then there's others who say, I can't stand that stuff. To one, he's a stumbling block. To the other, he's a foundation stone, right? And he will hold up one and the other, he will grind to powder according to the Bible.

And the last thing you have to remember to find encouragement is remember Christ is your sufficiency. Verse 16 at the end of it, he like blurts this out. He's like, this is so monumental and who is sufficient for these things? Like this is beyond our sufficiency.

Like no human resource has the ability to influence eternity. And he gives the answer in chapter three, verse five. He says, not that we're sufficient of ourselves to think anything is of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God. And then in verse 17, as I close up, he says, for we are not as many which corrupt the word of God. That word corrupted or is kapalu.

It means to peddle something like a huckster, like a con artist, a street worker trying to sell something. He said, this is such a difficult message. We're not like some who try to like make it sellable to the world or palatable to the world.

But we are sincere. We are of God and the sight of God speak we in Christ, because there's a lot of hucksters today that are preaching. Doing it, twisting the word of God, using clever methods. And so in conclusion, Paul found his way out of discouragement and sorrow of heart, by turning his eyes on the Lord, choosing to be thankful, reminding himself of Christ's victory, remembering that Christ is using your life in spite of the results you see, remembering your faithfulness is pleasing to the Lord, and remembering Christ is your sufficiency. You know what he said in Romans chapter eight, verse 31. He says, what shall we say then to these things, if God before us, who can be against us? And then in verse 37, he says, nay, and all these things, we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

We win because he won, right? So tonight, wherever your heart is, just know that you can find your encouragement in the Lord. Let's all stand this evening. Heads about nice close the altars open. Maybe you just need to come and spend a moment in prayer. You're welcome to do that. Maybe you need to come and you know, the Bible says, cast your care upon the Lord for he cares for you.

He cares for you tonight. You can find that encouragement. It's only through Jesus Christ. If you were to stand before God and he said, why should I let you into heaven? Are you ready for that day? Are you ready to meet the Lord Jesus Christ?

If you don't know the answer to that question, I'd love to talk with you. We have men and women that could talk with you and show you from the word of God, how you could know when your life's over. You'll be in heaven. Father, thank you for your word. It brings us joy. What joy your word has for our souls. We celebrate you Christ. We come here tonight because you're worth our time.

Thank you Lord. You said in your word that the flock is just a little flock and there are few that be saved and we just celebrate the many who have come to Christ throughout these years at this church and the many that do come. Lord, everyone is of eternal value.

And so we never want to undermine each individual. We celebrate your greatness. Lord, I pray that you would encourage hearts that may be downcast today. May they find their strength in you. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-11 06:11:09 / 2023-04-11 06:33:00 / 22

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