Summary: Fifth in a series exploring how to grab hold of true freedom and victory in the Christian walk. This message explores the challenge of discouragement.
(Extensive inspiration for this message, and this series taken from Francis Frangipane’s "This Day We Fight".)
(Video Clip – Bob Lujano, from “Murderball” available at ScreenVue.com)
Bob Lujano. As he said, he contracted a very rare form of meningitis at age nine. Lost most of his arms, both legs, and was almost pronounced dead. He now drives, lives independently, cooks for himself, has a job were he types on a regular keyboard, and is even a world-class athlete – competing for the United States in the Paralympics as a Wheelchair Rugby player!
Bob is not likely the first story of this nature you have seen, and I don’t know about you. . .but whenever I see a story like Bob’s, I have the same thought. When I see the inspirational documentation of people who overcome great setbacks. Maybe an episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Maybe the story of an inner city kid that against all odds goes on to professional greatness. Maybe the story portrayed in the new movie release “The Pursuit of Happiness” that documents the life of a man who literally has to raise his young son in a New York subway bathroom. From homeless to CEO.
Whenever I see such stories. Hear of such incredible life accomplishments. I always have the same thought. Here it is: “I am such a wimp.” Ever thought that? Ever felt that way? Ever looked at the great perseverance of someone and thought, “Man, I am such a wimp.”
Because you see it really takes very little to discourage me. Forget loss of limbs. Forget near death battles. Forget living on the streets. You pretty much just have to say the wrong things to me, and my spirit will drop.
- “I don’t like your haircut.”
- “That sermon seemed a bit long.”
- “That vest is a little tight. You putting on weight?”
I’m just being honest with you. Just being as transparent as can be. That is about all it takes to open the door of my life to discouragement.
And you all can sit there in astonishment and say, “Yea, you truly are a wimp.” Or you can be honest and admit that a few words just about do it for you as well. Right?
In fact, after more than three years as pastor here. I have noticed that most of us spend most of our time, just waiting for the next shoe to drop, and waiting to be plunged into the pool of discouragement.
We are in the midst of a series exploring some tough battles. Some roadblocks on our journey towards true victory and freedom. Last week we looked at how we can get focused on our past failures, and they can paralyze us.
And again, if I can just be really honest with you today, it stinks to preach this stuff. Because when a pastor ventures into the world of exposing the enemies tricks and schemes, and encourages people to rise up against Satan, guess what? Sometimes he just chooses to mount a full assault against that pastor.
So many moments in the past few weeks have stunk for me emotionally. This past week, I think every single point of failure in my life, past and present, was directly or indirectly brought to my attention. The enemy looked me square in the eye and said, “You want to tell people not to live in the past. Not to dwell on past shortcomings. Let’s just see how you do, Pastor.”
Now, I’ve tried to combat the enemy with positive steps. I awoke on Tuesday morning to head out to an exciting day of inspiration and reflection at a pastor’s conference. Went out to warm up the car at 7:20, and found a flat tire. My conference started at 8, a 30 minute drive away. I’ve had three flat tires in my 38 years of life. Three! “But ol’ Pastor Chip, you want to preach this week on discouragement, let’s see how you hold up. Try this. (sound of air leaking from tire.).”
Nevertheless. Here we go. I’m not preaching to you. I’m growing and being stretched with you. This year we will win. But first, we pray. (Pray – “more than conquerors”)
This swinging door of discouragement is not new to God’s people. Going from the mountaintop to the valley. I think of Elijah. From Mt. Carmel to underneath a little tree. In fact, today I want us to quickly look at an Old Testament example that I think we can relate to.
You may remember, thousands of years ago, the nation of Israel was defeated, and taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar. They were dragged off to Babylon, where we learn in Jeremiah 29 they would have to live, dwell, raise their families for how many years? (70)