Illustration results for discouragement
Sermon Central Staff
AND IT CAME TO PASS...
"The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me." -- Martin Luther
During a Sunday class the question was asked, "In your time of discouragement, what is your favourite Scripture?"
A young man said, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" Psalm 23:1. A middle age woman said, "God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" Psalm 46:1. Another woman said, "In this world you shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome this world" John 16:33-35.
Then old Mr. John who was 80 years old, with head of white hair and dark black skin, stood up and said with as much strength as he could muster, "It says, 'And it came to pass...' 85 times in the Bible." The class started to laugh a little, thinking that old Mr. John's lack of memory was getting the best of him.
When the snickering stopped, he said, "At 30, I lost my job with six hungry mouths and a wife to feed. I didn't know how I would make it. At 40, my eldest son was killed overseas in the war. It knocked me down. At 50, my house burned to the ground. Nothing was saved out of the house. At 60, my wife of 40 years got cancer. It slowly ate away at her. We cried together many a night on our knees in prayer. At 65, she died. I still miss her today.
"The agony I went through in each of these situations was unbelievable. I wondered where was God. But each time I looked in the bible I saw one of those 85 verses that said, 'And it came to pass' I felt that God was telling me, my pain and my circumstances were also going to pass and that God would get me through it."
(From a sermon by Stephen Sheane, The Table of Shewbread, 5/25/2011)
SOMETHING BETTER DOWN THE ROAD
A football game was being played in Badger Stadium in 1982 in Madison, Wisconsin with more than 60,000 fans in attendance. The home team was losing. But out of the blue during time outs, when play was a at stop, the fans would jump up and roar with excitement. Why?
Many of those in the stadiums were listening to a game being broadcast on the radio from 70 miles down the road. What they were listening to was the Milwaukee Brewers beating the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the 1982 World Series. Their team on the field was losing, but they were turned into something better down the road.
The Christian life is like that for us today. Our circumstances are bad at times but we must be tuned into something better down the road. We must place our hopes not in this world but in heaven.
(From a sermon by Tommy Burrus, "Dealing with Discouragement" 7/1/2009)
Sermon Central Staff
THE RISK OF FISHING FOR SOULS
A little more than 10 years ago (2000), a movie called The Perfect Storm was released, which graphically portrayed the dangers of the fishing industry even in modern times. The movie is about the crew of the Andrea Gail, a fishing boat out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Their families and the whole town is hurting financially, so they decide to risk everything and travel to a remote but fertile fishing ground during the unpredictably stormy month of October. On their way back to Gloucester, the Andrea Gail encounters the "perfect storm" of 1991 and is never heard from again.
Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, says, "There are many kinds of work that are dangerous, but one of the interesting things about fishing is that it really hasn't changed much over time. It's been mechanized, of course, but the basic reality of going to sea for months at a stretch is the same as it was 100 years ago. You're way beyond help from anyone else; you're on your own. I think that forms a certain kind of character. Not only does everyone know someone who has died at sea but everyone who works in the fishing industry has almost died. Every single fisherman you talk to has almost gotten nailed at one time or another." The fact is the fishing industry kills more of its workers per capita than any other job in the United States. (Eugene A Maddox, Interlachen, Florida)
It takes courage to be a fisherman, and it takes courage, as well, to fish for the souls of people. Jesus has called us to "make disciples," but that is not a job for the fair-weather Christian. We must be willing to spend time with people, sharing the Word as God gives us the opportunity, to be sure. But we must also be willing to keep at it until the job is done.
In the meantime, we risk ridicule; we risk rejection; we risk persecution, and some of our number around the world risk even death. At the very least, we face discouragement sometimes, and the job gets hard and tiring, but if we're going to multiply disciples, as Christ commanded us to, then we must not give up. We must be committed to completing the task no matter what it costs.
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, The Church's Concerns (or priorities), 1/20/2011)
The story is told of a Sunday class that had been asked the question, ¡§in your time of discouragement, what is your favorite Scripture.¡¨ A young man said, ¡§the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want Psalm 23:1.¡¨
A middle age woman said, ¡§God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1. Another woman said, ¡§In this world you shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome this world. John 16:33-35. Then old Mr. John who was 80 years old, with head of white hair and dark black skin, stood up and said with as much strength as he could muster, ¡§and it came to pass¡¨ 85 times in the bible. The class started to laugh a little thinking that old Mr. John¡¦s lack of memory was getting the best of him. When the snickering stopped, he said. At 30 I lost my job with six hungry mouths and a wife to feed. I didn¡¦t know how I would make it. At 40 my eldest son was killed overseas in the war. It knocked me down. At 50 my house burned to the ground. Nothing was saved out of the house. At 60 my wife of 40 years got cancer. It slowly ate away at her. We cried together many a night on our k...
Illus.: “Adopted by Christ”
John was born into a family of 12 children. They were very poor. He was the youngest. He never remembered his father eating a meal with the rest of the family. He had to work long hours to feed his family. One day his father ran off with another woman, leaving his mother to care for all 12 children. At age 6, his mother told him through tears that she was going to put him up for adoption along with 3 of his sisters. She told him she had no choice. If she didn’t take this step they would likely starve.
She placed an ad in a newspaper of a nearby town and within 3 days a couple responded. When the day finally came for John to leave, he said it was the worst day of his life. They were at the train station, ready to say their last good-byes. He said, “When the conductor reached down to take me from my mother’s arms I felt something die on the inside of me.
His new family was very loving and kind but it was just not the same. John lived with the constant fear that one day they would give him away too. He grew into adulthood and finally went out on his own. He spent year after year absorbed in his work, trying to bury the deep hurt in his soul
One day something beautiful happened. In a moment of great discouragement, he visited a church, hoping he would hear a word that would boost his spirits. Little did he know that his life would be changed forever. The preacher talked about how God loves to adopt people into his forever family. At the end of the sermon he asked if anyone would like to join God’s family. John raised his hand and then went to the altar. At last, the ache in his heart was healed. Jesus told him He would never abandon him, never send him away. After years of turmoil and hate, John felt loved and accepted. He now had a security he never dreamed possible. He felt the Lord saying to him, “John, I know about that day at the train station. I know how you felt and I’ve been waiting all these years to adopt you into my family.”
There is never a single, horrible memory but what God plans to eclipse it with a better one. Like green grass sprouting to recolor a burned-over field, so God brings along beauty for ashes.
I will never forget the day I watched about 40 khaki-clad men get off an old rattletrap brown bus in Houston, Texas. Some had scars on their faces. I especially remember one man whose arm had been amputated. Some of them looked tough. I remember thinking I would not want to meet some of those guys in a dark alley. Others looked like clean-cut, all-American boys. They all had two things in common. Each man had served time in prison and each man had been freed. Freedom had been a long time in coming. They measured the time they had served by calendars.
As I talked with some of those men, it soon became apparent that adapting to freedom would require some adjustment. They were so used to forced regimentation that some of them really did not know they were free. They asked if I represented the Texas Department of Corrections.
As children of God, we sometimes do not quite comprehend the fact that we have been set free by our Savior. Some of us are imprisoned by the memories of a sinful past. Lloyd Ogilvie said, "The memory of past failure is like sand in the gears of our effectiveness." God did not put the handcuffs of past memories on you. They are self-imposed. He wiped out your sins in order that you might have seasons of refreshing (Acts 3:19).
Other Christians are incarcerated by legalism. They read the Bible to learn of its rules. The legalist with a sensitive conscience knows he cannot keep God’s laws perfectly. Maybe that is why the novelist John Updike said, "I agree with the Jews. One Testament is enough." If faith is solely a matter of law keeping, I would agree. The Psalmist was talking about the Old Testament when he said, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul" (Ps. 19:7). There was no need for a new law code, but there was a need for freedom from the consequences of disobedience. Small wonder that legalists either live in a state of perpetual discouragement or self-righteous hypocrisy. The legalist does not understand that "everyone who believes in Him is freed from all things" (Acts 13:39 NASB).
If you are living in a prison of your own making, you can walk through the doors of freedom today. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Gal. 5:1).
Stories for Preachers: Freedom
Sermon Central Staff
CAREY: GOD'S SOVEREIGN WILL
William Carey, who is called the father of modern missions, began his missionary career to India in 1793. He served the Lord in that country for 40 years, never once returning to his home in England. And throughout those years he translated portions of the Bible into over a dozen Indian languages.
But one afternoon, after 20 years of hard labor, a fire raged throughout his printing plant and warehouse. All of his printing equipment was destroyed and most of his precious manuscripts. Obviously, in that day there were no computer back-up copies or even photocopies kept somewhere else. Tragically, 20 years of non-stop labor was gone within a few hours.
Many people would have been devastated over the loss, but not William Carey. This is what he wrote to his pastor friend, Andrew Murray, in England:
"The ground must be labored over again, but we are not discouraged. We have all been supported under the affliction, and preserved from discouragement. To me the consideration of the divine sovereignty and wisdom has been very supporting." Then he quoted from Psalm 46:10, where the Lord Himself says, "Be still and know that I am God." (Bill Mills and Craig Parro, Finishing Well in Life and Ministry, Leadership Resources International, pp. 101-102)
Carey found peace and strength in God’s sovereign plan for his own life, even if it included times of devastating loss. & We can find the same thing if we return to the Lord. We don’t find exemption from sorrow, just supernatural strength to face it with hope and joy.
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Back to Bethel, 4/13/2011)
Many years ago a young Midwestern lawyer suffered from such deep depression that his friends thought it best to keep all knives and razors out of his reach. He questioned his life’s calling and the prudence of even attempting to follow it through. During this time he wrote, "I am now the most miserable man living. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell. I awfully forebode I shall not." But somehow, from somewher...
Sermon Central Staff
THE EEYORE SYNDROME
In the past I have spoken of what I call, "The Eeyore Syndrome"--these are Christians who walk around acting like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. They choose to look at the gloomy side of life. Their eyes are cast down, their countenance is cheerless, and they have no enthusiasm or anticipation for life.
Joyful people cannot have The Eeyore Syndrome. The Eeyore Syndrome is not a Fruit of the Spirit. The Eeyore Syndrome is not a realistic view of life nor faith-filled.
William Ward writes words about discouragement that can apply to the Eeyore Syndrome. He says, "Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God."
(SOURCE: William Ward. Today in the Word, April, 1989, p. 18. From a sermon by Ken Pell, A Fruit-Full Marriage: Joy-full Love, 6/26/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
SPECIAL DELIVERY: MIRACLE MANDY
The doctor told Marsha Mark and her husband they needed to accept the fact they would never have biological children.
Amid the discouragement, Marsha clung to a friend's words: "Somehow, Marsha, God is going to use your struggle with infertility for his glory."
Marsha began to pray for a glimpse of that glory. In her words:
I'd asked everyone I knew to pray. One 5-year-old gave God suggestions: "Dear God, please send Marsha a baby. Maybe someone could give her one, or she could just find one on the street. Amen."
My husband stopped praying when we realized that I was beginning menopause. Being a scientist, Tom had seen all the facts. And in his lifetime, he'd never seen prayer change facts. Six months later, I made an appointment for some tests including one more pregnancy test.
They looked at me with pity and said, "No. You haven't had any cycles for seven months. Asking for another pregnancy test indicates you are not accepting things as they are."
I begged for the extra test and finally convinced them. The test came back positive. Over the next 14 days, I had four more pregnancy tests and three more sonograms at the hospital's request. I think this time they were having trouble dealing with the facts.
My full-term pregnancy was uneventful unless you count every day bathed in praise for the answer to our prayer.
On October 22, 1996, Amanda Joy was born. We call her Miracle Mandy.
[Marsha Marks, "Special Delivery," Christian Reader (Sep/Oct 2000), pp. 15-17. From a sermon by Terry Blankenship, An Unforgettable Moment, 5/16/2011]