Summary: We can’t listen to people and live in victory.

Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches

August 11, 2002

“Don’t Let Discouragers Frustrate God’s Plan for Your Life”

Ezra 3:10-12

Ezra 4:1-5

INTRODUCTION: It is easy to become discouraged. Right? Discouragement comes in many ways to all of us. It comes through circumstances of daily life that happen to us all and it comes through people. Sometimes we allow these things to stop us right in our tracks. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to give up on our goals and dreams completely. We say, “I can’t do this. Might as well just quit. Maybe this idea was foolish. No way can I accomplish this dream. It’s impossible.” Right along with our negative self talk comes people who say, “ I don’t think you should attempt that. You will never succeed. I think you should quit while you’re ahead.” Can you think of a dream you have given up on because discouragers came and frustrated God’s plan in your life? I think we all can. It is not something that only happens to us.

In today’s scripture in the Book of Ezra in 539 B. C. God moved upon the heart of Cyrus the king to help the exiles to return and rebuild the temple that had been destroyed over 50 years before. Anyone who wanted to return to Jerusalem in Judah was free to return and Cyrus had given them not only the authority to rebuild but they also had the resources --the timber, the gold and silver and the cash to do it as well as human resources. They had the green light, and they were “good to go.” They started out full steam ahead and were rebuilding on the original foundation of Solomon’s temple.

When the builders had completed the foundation, they took time out to have a dedication ceremony. The priests came out with trumpets and the Levites with cymbals and led the people in praise and worship. They said, “God is good. His love for Israel endures forever.” The younger people shouted and praised the Lord, but many from the older generation wept because they remembered the glory and splendor of the old temple, and they felt this one did not come up to it. (See Haggai 2:3, 9). But Haggai prophesied that “the glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house.”

It was so far so good, but then things began to change for them. Everyone was not happy about their successful progress in rebuilding and set out to stop the work. There were four methods discouragers used to frustrate God’s work. These same methods are used on us today.

1. DECEPTION: Chapter 4 begins by saying, “when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord..., they came to Zerubbabal saying, “Let us help you build, because, like you, we seek your God...” (v. 2).

You might think, “That’s great! The more the merrier. Two hands are better than one. We could sure use your help.”

But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families said, “No way. You have no part with us in building the temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord.”

I wondered who these enemies were and why the people outright rejected their offer. I found out that they in part DID worship God, but right along with all of their other gods.

II Kings 17:24, 41 tells us that “the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon and a number of other places and settled them into Samaria to replace the Israelites. When they lived there they did not worship the Lord. They PERSISTED in their former practices. Even WHILE THEY WERE WORSHIPING THE LORD, they were serving their idols.”

These people would have been nothing but trouble and therefore the builders didn’t take them up on their offer to help. They didn’t say, “This is a definite maybe.” They just said “No,” to their offer because they perceived that they were trying to DECEIVE them by becoming a part of the group and then working against them.

One of the ways that discouragers will frustrate God’s plan in our life is also through DECEPTION. How many times when things look too good to be true we find out that they WERE “too good to be true” and we get sidetracked. We become the loser instead. Can you think of times that discouragers came to you in the form of deception and you found out too late to do anything about it?

When the offer to help was rejected, the enemies became HOSTILE and MORE OPPOSITION began.

2. DISCOURAGEMENT: In 1798 in the Scottish manufacturing town of Newcastle, a young woman began teaching a Sunday school class of poverty-stricken boys. The most unpromising teenager was Robert, a boy who ran with the wrong crowd. After three Sundays he did not return.

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