INTRO.- ILL.- The New York City Transit Company was missing a bus and a driver some years ago. For over a week, authorities searched for the man but couldn’t find him. Finally, ten days later after the man had disappeared, he was found, bus included. IN MIAMI, FLORIDA!
The driver said, "I’d had it with the cold weather, the passengers, and my family! One day after I got off work, I thought, ‘I WONDER WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I JUST TOOK OFF FROM DRIVING!’"
So, that’s what he did! He took off for Florida where he enjoyed the sun and surf for over a week, ALL BY HIMSELF!
HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE THAT? Haven’t we all felt like that bus driver at times? We get so frustrated and/or aggravated about life that we either want to pull our hair out or run away!
Maybe your marriage hasn’t gone the way you thought it would. It’s never like you dreamed it would be. But perhaps yours has really been poor at best. You’d tried so many different things to add some spark to your marriage, but nothing seemed to work. So you may have thought, "I wonder what would happen if I just took off for a few days and told no one where I was going?"
ILL.- That’s like the husband who said, "Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight dinner, soft music and a slow walk home. SHE GOES TUESDAYS AND I GO FRIDAYS."
Or maybe it’s your parenting that is getting you down. KIDS DO GET PARENTS DOWN!
ILL.- One mother said, "These children are nuts today. I have a child myself. He is 12 years old. He is going to be 13...IF I LET HIM!"
Maybe you’ve tried everything you can think of to discipline your child and nothing seems to work.
ILL.- It’s like that old story about the mother who had two boys and one of them cussed a lot. They came to the breakfast table one morning and the mother said to her one boy, "Son, what you would like for breakfast?" He said, "I want some of those blankety-blank post toasties!" His mother just hauled off and backhanded him and knocked him in the floor.
She turned to her other boy and said, "And son, what would you like for breakfast?" He said, "I don’t know, but I sure don’t want any of those post toasties!"
Sometimes children can really get us parents down. And they don’t have to be little to get us down, do they? There are times when you just want to throw up your hands, or else smack ‘em and whack ‘em! Some parents think, "I might as well just let ‘em run wild. There’s nothing I can do to carouse them!"
Or maybe it’s your job that’s getting you down.
ILL.- A father came home from work one day, very exhausted and frustrated. He wanted to get some rest, but little Johnny kept pestering him and asking him questions, "Daddy, daddy, what do you do all day at work?" "Nothing!" shouted his father. After a long pause, little Johnny asked, "Well, daddy, how do you know when you’re through?!"
HAVE YOU EVER COME HOME FRUSTRATED AND EXHAUSTED OVER THINGS THAT HAPPENED AT WORK? Of course, you have! Who hasn’t? There no is such thing as a pain-free job! Every job or occupation has its drawbacks.
Brothers and sisters, life is full of pain and disappointment! We think things are going to be thus and so, and find out they are not what we expected at all! Bills pile up, health fails, marriages crumble, people hurt you or disappoint you, your zip has been zapped, people are out to get you, criticize you, your job turns out to be a bummer, as do some people, etc.
And who knows? Perhaps there have been times when you have even thought about quitting the Christian life. You started out with high hopes of a better life, a happier life, a richer life and found it to be a lot tougher than you expected.
You may have thought all your problems would go away and they didn’t! Temptations were stronger than you expected. People were not always as helpful or as nice as you thought they would be. And you began to think after a period of time, "What’s the use in coming to church? Why not just drop out and do what everybody else in the world is doing?"
ILL.- The worst defeat in a college football game came on October 7, 1916, when Georgia Tech played Cumberland college of Kentucky and beat them 222 to 0! Wow! It’s on record! It’s a fact! It was said that Cumberland never made a first down. The much smaller Cumberland players were mauled. Halfway through the first half one of the Cumberland backs fumbled the ball.
As the ball rolled toward his teammate, he yelled out, "PICK IT UP! PICK IT UP!" The other player yelled back, "YOU PICK IT UP! YOU DROPPED IT."
Sometimes our situation in life seems so hopeless. We’ve dropped the ball and we don’t’ feel like picking it up again and running with it! We been knocked down time and time again, and we just want to quit the game!
Gal. 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
The people who seem to do well in life are not particularly the most flashy, or the most talented or the most materially blessed. They are the people who just don’t give up! They don’t quit doing good! They are dependable. They just keep on, keeping on! The apostle Paul was that kind of person.
Twice in II Corinthians chapter four Paul said, "We do not lose heart." That’s what we need! Somehow we must not lose heart in life! We need to discover Paul’s secret.
PROP.- Paul secret for not losing heart in life is given in this chapter.
1- Remember your responsibility
2- Combat the enemy
3- Develop a resiliency
I. REMEMBER YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
II Cor. 4:1 "Since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart." WE HAVE THIS MINISTRY. Or we have this responsibility in life.
ILL.- Bernard L. Brown, Jr., president of the Kennestone Regional Health Care System in the state of Georgia told this story. Brown once worked in a hospital where a patient knocked over a cup of water, which spilled on the floor beside the patient’s bed. The patient was afraid he might slip on the water if he got out of the bed, so he asked a nurse’s aide to mop it up.
The patient didn’t know it, but the hospital policy said that small spills were the responsibility of the nurse’s aides while large spills were to be mopped up by the hospital’s housekeeping group.
The nurse’s aide decided the spill was a large one and she called the housekeeping department. A housekeeper arrived and declared the spill a small one. An argument followed. "It’s not my responsibility," said the nurse’s aide, "because it’s a large puddle." The housekeeper did not agree. "Well, it’s not mine," she said, "the puddle is too small."
The exasperated patient listened for a time, then took a pitcher of water from his night table and poured the whole thing on the floor. "Is that a big enough puddle now for you two to decide?"
Brothers and sisters, all of us are faced with certain responsibilities in life. Some of them are large puddle responsibilities and some of them are small puddle responsibilities. Naturally, we prefer the small responsibilities but we know it doesn’t work that way all the time.
ILL.- When Elaine and I moved into our house we started immediately to fix it up, decorate, change things, etc. We have a sun porch, which has 16 windows and at that time, had no window shades. So I thought I’d put up those window shades one evening. I thought the job would be a snap! That job about snapped me into two pieces! What I thought would take a short time turned out to be a four-hour job. I worked, strained and sweated until 10 p.m. When it was over, I thought, “Never again!”
For some of you who are better at that kind of work, that job might have been a small-puddle job, but for me, it was large-puddle job. I did it anyway, because the boss made me do it! No, I did it because it had to be done whether I liked it or not.
ILL.- Professor George Palmer of Harvard once told the story of a boy lying in bed until very late in the morning. His mother called to him and asked, "Aren’t you ashamed to be lying here so late in the morning?"
He replied, "Yes, mother, I am ashamed, but I would rather be ashamed than get up."
There are many people in the world who are lazy and don’t want to fulfill their responsibilities in life.
But the apostle Paul was a man who understood and fulfilled his responsibility in life. He said, "We have this ministry." As in "I have this ministry."
Rom. 1:14-15 "I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and to the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel..."
Paul considered his job of preaching the gospel an obligation, a responsibility, which only he could fulfill.
ILL.- A young boy answered an advertisement for a responsible boy. The employer asked, "What makes you think you’re responsible?" He replied, "On every job I have ever had so far, whenever anything went wrong, the boss always said, ‘YOU’RE RESPONSIBLE!’"
Brothers and sisters, we are to be responsible people! Life is not always fun and games. The real test of your maturity is your ability to keep going when the fun is over and you go ahead and do your job anyway.
There are many times we don’t feel like going to work, but we go to work anyway.
ILL.- Preacher Wayne Smith from Kentucky said, "I like people who crawl in sick, not those who call in sick."
There are some who talk a lot today about "burnout," when in reality it may just be a "cop out" for irresponsibility.
Paul had a ministry. He had a job to do and I’m sure there were times when he didn’t feel like preaching.
ILL.- Someone put it this way:
I slept and dreamed that life was beauty.
I woke and found that life was duty.
Remember your responsibility in life. If you want to make it in life you must take the bull by the horns and do what needs to be done. BE RESPONSIBLE.
II. COMBAT THE ENEMY
II Cor. 4:4 "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel."
ILL.- A golfer who had been playing badly went to a psychiatrist who told him to relax by playing a round of golf without a ball. "Do everything you would normally do, but use an imaginary ball," advised the psychiatrist.
The golfer tried it the next day. He stepped up on the first tee, imagined he got a 260-yard drive, made a fine approach shot to the green, then putted for a par. The round went splendidly and as he approached the 18th hole, he met another golfer playing the same way--no ball. The other golfer had seen the same psychiatrist.
They decided to play the last hole together and bet $10 on the outcome. The first golfer swung at his imaginary ball and announced that it had gone 280 yards right down the middle of the fairway. The second golfer matched his drive.
The first fellow then took out his 5-iron and after swinging at his imaginary ball, he exclaimed, "Look at that shot! It went right over the pin and the reverse spin on it brought it right back into the hole! I win." "No you don’t," said the second golfer. "You hit my ball."
Brothers and sisters, I think both of those golfers were mixed up and that’s because they’d been listening to the wrong person. In their particular case it was their psychiatrist.
Many people in the world are messed up and/or mixed up and it’s because they’ve been listening to the devil!
ILL.- One night Thomas Carlyle took Ralph Waldo Emerson through the dark streets of one of London’s worst sections and said, "DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE DEVIL NOW?"
There is a supernatural evil force in the world that is out to blind people’s minds and destroy their lives.
I Pet. 5:8-9 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist Him, standing firm in the faith...."
If we are going to make it in life we must alert to what is going on and be aware of our enemy!
ILL.- Don’t be like that boxer who went to his corner after being knocked down in the first round. His trainer patted him on the back and said, "Go back out there and get him. He hasn’t laid a glove on you."
In the second round he was knocked down twice and saved by the bell on the count of nine. He barely made it back to his corner. His trainer patted him on the back again and said to him, "Go back out there and get him. He hasn’t laid a glove on you."
Then the boxer said to his trainer, "I’m going back out there and get him this next round. But you keep your eyes on that referee because somebody out there is beating the devil out of me!"
Many times in life someone is beating the devil out of us and we need to realize who it is! Please realize that it is the devil that is out to dupe you, abuse you, and use you!
Eph. 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark work and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
The devil is our enemy! And we need to combat him, fight against him if we are going to make it. Peter said, "Resist him, standing firm in the faith."
James 4:7 "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you."
When you are fighting against some big guns you need even bigger guns to win the battle or the war. Our bigger guns are the Lord himself. Without the Lord, you won’t win against Satan! Satan is bigger and stronger than you are by yourself.
Phil. 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
To combat the enemy and keep from losing heart in life we need the big guns of Bible study, prayer, worship, Christian friends, etc. These are how we receive Christ’s strength for life.
III. DEVELOP A RESILIENCY
II Cor. 4:8-9 "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed."
Paul knew about heartaches and headaches. He knew about stress, but he didn’t let those things get him down. He may have been down temporarily, but he didn’t stay down. HE ALWAYS BOUNCED BACK. HE WAS RESILIENT!
ILL.- I heard about a man who had lost his wife in death several months earlier. Someone asked him how he was doing and he said, "I’m lonely, but I’m not alone." That’s the spirit! That’s the spirit that we all need in order to make in life.
ILL.- Or it’s like the little girl who lost her mother in death and the preacher asked her what she was going to do. She replied, “Brother Smith, I guess I’ll just keep going to Sunday School.” That’s bouncing back. That’s resiliency.
I’m sure, of course, that little girl had the support and help of other family members as well.
Gal. 6:2 "Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." God put us here for one another!
ILL.- Dale Carnegie once told that the manufacturers of automobile tires originally tried to make a tire that would resist the shocks of the road. It was a tire that was so brittle that it would be cut to pieces. Then they started making tires that would give a little and absorb shock. And that’s the kind of tire that we have today. Tires that have resiliency will last longer.
And that’s exactly what we need in order to not lose heart in life. WE MUST LEARN TO BOUNCE BACK! We must learn to endure! We must be resilient!
ILL.- A Knoxville, TN, newspaper once carried two articles about similar situations in which the main characters had opposite reactions.
The first was a story about a young man who was jilted by his sweetheart, so he jumped off the Henley Bridge. He left a note which read: "To whom it may concern: I’m going to jump off this bridge because my people are all against me, and the only one I ever loved is mad at me, and I think this is the only way out."
The other article was a brief comment about a young Air Force corporal who, when his girlfriend jilted him, wrote about his heartache in a country song. The tune became something of a hit and he made $20,000.
When your romance fails, don’t jump off a bridge, write a song about it and make some money! Make your disappointments pay!
What is that old saying? When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade out of it. YOU JUST HAVE TO ADMIRE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THE BEST OF A BAD SITUATION.
ILL.- In 1852 many California vineyard owners were going bankrupt because of a drought. All the grapes had just shriveled up on the vines. One vineyard owner picked them anyway, took them to the market, and advertised them as Peruvian delicacies and we’ve been eating raisins ever since!
Everybody is going to experience trouble in life, but what we do with that trouble is another matter. Some people hide. Some people run. And some people run to the Lord!
ILL.- J. Wallace Hamilton said, "Every man’s life is a diary in which he means to write one story, but he’s often forced to write another story."
Life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect it to. We have to make the best of what we have been given.
ILL.- It is my understanding that John Wesley wanted to be a missionary. He went to the U.S. to preach to the Indians, but was a miserable failure. He went back to England a defeated man, but that turned him even more to the Lord and he started a great revival in England that resulted in Methodism.
ILL.- It is said that Whistler, the artist, wanted to be a soldier, but he failed at West Point, and had to become an artist.
If you’re going to make it in life, you must learn to bounce back from defeat. You must turn your defeats into some kind of victory. This will only happen when you focus on the Lord, not yourself, and not other human beings.
Prov. 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways (victories and defeats) acknowledge (seek Him, His will, His direction) and He will make your paths straight."
ILL.- When a friend asked Sir Douglas Haig, British Field Marshal, during a very bad time in WWI if he was discouraged, he replied, "DISCOURAGED?! A CHRISTIAN MAN HAS NO RIGHT TO BE DISCOURAGED IN THE SAME WORLD AS GOD!"
Brothers and sisters, the truth is we do get discouraged in life. That’s because we are still human even though we are Christians. But discouragement doesn’t have to be a controlling factor in our lives. WE ALL GET DOWN, BUT WE DON’T HAVE TO STAY DOWN!
The biggest factor of all for us is that God is still God! He is all-mighty! He is all-wise! He is all-powerful! He is everywhere present! He is eternal! He is here! He is here with us! He is with us in our marriages, our parenting, our work, our everything!
He is with us when we are down and when we are up! And more than anything, He is here with a heart of love!
The apostle said it well in Romans 8:31 “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” With our loving God in our corner, how can we lose?