Summary: Sermon 2 of 4: Dealing with the discouragement that comes when yesterday outshines today.
Do You Miss The Mountaintop?
Woodlawn Baptist Church
October 9, 2005
(From Pastor Timothy Peck)Over the last several years motivational posters have been very popular. You know what I mean: those posters with a photograph of a landscape or usually of an athlete with an inspirational saying underneath the picture. People hang them in their offices or in workplaces to motivate and encourage others.
Well, a company came out that decided to put out some de-motivational posters. I’d like to share a few of them with you as we start today.
• A poster for mistakes says, “It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.
• One for doubt says, “In the battle between you and the world, bet on the world.”
• A poster for humiliation says, “The harder you try, the dumber you look.”
• I like the one for losing, “If at first you don’t succeed, it could be that losing is just your style.”
• The poster for despair says, “It’s always darkest just before it goes pitch black.”
We really don’t need posters to help us be “de-motivated.” It is easier to be down and out or discouraged than it is to be positive, fresh and excited all the time. You can imagine how Dr. Lenore Campbell felt when he went to see a patient who was coming out of anesthesia. He wrote in a medical journal that as he walked in the room some church bells sounded far off in the distance. The woman stirred and he heard her mutter, “I must be in heaven.” At that moment she looked up and saw him and said, “No, I can’t be. There’s Dr. Campbell.”
The truth is that we get down about many things. Maybe you’re not as healthy as you used to be. You try to do things you used to do, but you don’t have the stamina for it anymore. I know the feeling, and I know that it can be depressing when we finally look in the mirror and realize we’re not as strong as we used to be or as fit as we used to be. You try to make a muscle and there’s more hanging under your arm than is on top of it. Some of you are getting on up there in age, and you’ve told me what it’s like to realize your driving skills are diminishing, or getting up and getting ready for church is a struggle.
It’s not just our physical condition; we get discouraged about any number of things. Sometimes our personal relationships aren’t what they ought to be. We look back and conclude that what we have today or what we enjoy today or where we are today pales in comparison to yesterday. This church isn’t like the one you used to attend; the products you buy aren’t as good as the ones they used to sell. The service at Lowe’s isn’t as good as what you used to get at the local hardware store. “The good old days.”
As much as that kind of discouragement can affect us and get us down, there’s another kind that I want to deal with, and that’s the discouragement and dissatisfaction that comes when our experiences of God are not what they used to be or what they ought to be. Most of us can think back and remember times when we were really close to God, those “mountaintop” experiences when God was so real and your view of life and the world was fresh and exciting.
We remember those times and try to reproduce them. We pray a little harder or a little longer. We read our Bibles more, get up earlier, begin this study or join that group hoping that this experience of God will get you back where you used to be.
In the text we’ll read this morning, Israel faced a similar kind of discouragement. They were in the beginning stages of rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem, but their memories of days gone by got them down. It happens to all of us as we relate to God and the things of God. But is that as good as it gets? Are we to live with disappointment and only the memories of better days? You miss a favorite mentor or pastor. You miss a great church or period of history in your church. You miss that closeness to God: you miss the mountaintop. In this message I want to ask and answer the question, How do we get it back?
Be Honest About The Past
Let’s read Haggai 2:1-3.
“In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the Lord by the prophet Haggai, saying, Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?