If you’re a pastor, a missionary, or serve in a church, you can’t avoid discouragement, disappointment, and hurt from ministry. The Bible even uses the not-so-complimentary metaphor “sheep” to describe those we serve. And sheep get dirty and smelly and often kick and bite. Sometimes those sheep in the church do the same to their shepherds. So when you get kicked, forgotten, disrespected, ignored, mistreated, gossiped about, or misunderstood, how do you move forward?
The story recorded in 1 Samuel 30 gives great insight. David had just begun his career to fight the bad guys. Early on he faced a huge defeat. While he and his army were in battle far from home, the bad guys, the Amalekites, attacked the city where his family and the families of his army lived. They burned the city and kidnapped their wives and children. When David’s men discovered this, they considered removing him from his position, not by a vote of a board or a congregation, but with big rocks to the head by stoning.
The Scriptures then record one of the most beautiful verses every written. The old King James Version captures it well.
David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. (1 Sam. 30.6)
It worked because his guys didn’t stone him but marshaled their energy and once again pursued the bad guys under his leadership.
As I’ve faced discouragement in ministry, these simple choices have helped me encourage myself in the Lord.
Acknowledge your pain and emotion to the Lord but don’t wallow in it. Neuroscientists have discovered that when we name our emotions, it turns down the volume in our brain’s emotional centers.
Journal your thoughts. Writing them down helps me stop the tendency to incessantly mull over the hurtful situation. Writing therapy been scientifically proven to help us process pain.
Read God’s Word, especially those verses that speak of hope and victory. Every time you read the Bible, you are actually re-configuring the circuits in your brain and reinforcing Biblical values and truth.
Do something pro-active. Take action to move forward. In David’s case he took specific action to resolve the problem. He rallied his troops to chase down the Amalekites.
Stop condemning yourself and remind yourself that you are a child of God, loved by Him with great intrinsic value regardless of whether your church is growing or whether people treat you with respect.
Pray for those who have hurt you. I’m amazed how God defuses looming bitterness in my heart when I pray for the sheep that bite me.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
William Soutar was one of the great Scottish poets of the 1900’s. – His life was a tragic one. — He died in 1943 only at 45.
For 25 years he suffered a debilitating illness — the last 10 years of his life he was completely helpless.
He had a great gift of writing and in spite of his own tragedy he possessed wit and was a noted storyteller.
One of his stories told the importance and effect of little things.
A logger’s wife forgot to put salt in her husband’s morning porridge. – When he angrily complained, she told him he was a fool to make such a fuss about such a small matter.
This infuriated the logger, and arriving at work in the forest he lashed out at a tree with such force and venom that the axe head flew off.
It injured his employer’s favorite horse that was being led to the blacksmith’s shop. That was the horse his employer, a nobleman and an important man in the District, was going to ride to a meeting of Lords to discuss their differences with the King.
Because of his anger and foul mood over having to find another horse, he successfully argued for an uprising against the King.
In the rebellion that followed many were killed, and there followed a period of poverty, famine and unrest.
This rebellion, loss of life and suffering happened because a wood cutter’s wife forgot to salt her husband’s porridge.
The point of this story is to show how little things can have a widespread effect like throwing a rock into a pond and watching the ripples spread out until they reach the shore.
If we’re young, middle aged or even retired we may feel there’s little we can do, or even want to do, that’ll greatly affect others.
This isn’t true. Every action, every good deed, every performed service, every outreach, has an effect on someone, somewhere — Pay It Forward..
We’re God’s hands and feet – have you used yours today?
A mother got so busy that one evening she forgot to clean the shoes and prepare the clothes for her 3 young children to get ready for school the next day.
The day started badly and very rushed.
The children went to school in tears. Mother and father were fighting and went to work in an ugly mood.
It was a bad day for the whole family and probably for those working alongside the parents.
And all because……
“Faith sometimes begins by stuffing your ears with cotton.”
When Jesus said, “Just believe…” He was saying, “Don’t limit your possibilities to just what you can see. . – Don’t listen only for what you can hear. – Don’t be controlled by only what seems logical.
Believing there is more to life thanmeets the eye!”“Trust Me,” Jesus was pleading. “Don’t be afraid; just trust.”
A father in the Bahamas yelled the same thing to his young son trapped in a burning house. – The two-story home was engulfed in flames, and the family – father, mother, and several children- was on its way out when the smallest boy became terrified and ran back upstairs.
His father, outside, shouted to him: “Jump, son, jump! I’llcatch you.” The boy cried: “But Daddy, I can’t see you.” “I know,” his father called, “but I can see you.”
A similar example of faith was found on the wall of a concentration camp. – A prisoner had carved, “I believe in the sun, even though it doesn’t shine, I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown, I believe in God, even when He doesn’t speak.”
Try to imagine the person who etched those words with his skeletal hand gripping the broken glass or stone that cut into the wall. – Imagine his eyes squinting through the darkness as he carved each letter.
What hand could’ve cut such a conviction? What eyes could’ve seen good in such horror?
There’s only one answer: Eyes that chose to see the unseen.
Paul wrote — 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Either to live by the facts or to see by faith. When tragedy strikes we’re left to choose what we see.
I don’t mean to buy into the Christian Science Doctrine thinking life is just an illusion, but I do mean to adopt Romans 8:28, and not let everything swamp our boat.
Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Remember, this life is short compared to eternity and eternity is where we’ll find our answers as to “why” and also complete satisfaction for what we go through here.
Many people were severely disappointed at the results of the Election this week. – To many there was still hope on January 6, when it was thought the Electoral College vote could be reversed by exposing fraud in the election.
Then came the invasion of the Capital Building and hopes were completely dashed for turning things around. – Some have said, “What’s the use? We have some hard days ahead of us!” – “I just don’t see how we can go on from here!”
You can let your discouragement control you like the guy who didn’t get salt on his porridge or you can remember that God is in charge and trust Him for the outcome of the elections or anything else that seems to be plaguing you!
My suggestion is if you let God help you to get your mind off your troubles and make yourself available to helping and encouraging others it won’t be long until life looks a whole lot better.
I found this article the other day and I think it might add perspective to all of our lives.
Would Somebody Please Help?
Scripture says: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” – Matthew 25:40
Could someone help me out? My little brother has no food. It’s been three days since he last ate a real meal. His dad ran out on him earlier this year. I thought I’d ask you for help because you’re a Christian.
One of my sisters ran away from home because she overhead a conversation about her being a mistake. She told me that nobody cares. She’ll be back in a few days. Would you go over and tell her that somebody does care? She just needs some attention.
And then there’s that elderly lady that lives down the street. You know the one, the dirty, smelly lady that no one likes very much. She’s out of medication and has no money to buy more. Please help, she’ll die if she doesn’t get that medicine.
Oh yeah, I hate to be a bother, but I know this man who’s in the hospital. The doctors have given him only 48 hours to live. There’s no hope for improvement. What I’m really concerned about is that He’s not ready to meet God. Is there any way you could go there and tell him how he can be saved?
Please, could you help?
There’s so many people that I know in your own hometown, even on your street, who could use a little help. I see so many sick, lonely, hurting and lost people. – Some need encouragement, some food, some clothing, some need attention and others just need a few odd jobs done around the house that they can’t do.
There are the kids who have no parents, the elderly who have no children, the teenagers who feel unloved and the men and women who are facing divorce. They all need help.
Please could you help? Look at all of the broken homes and broken hearts around you. All of the needs that you could meet. Please, could you help?
I won’t keep you any longer, but I do need your help. Just remember this one last thing the next time you see a hurting or needy soul in front of you……”In as much as ye have done unto these, the least of my brethren, ye have done unto me.”
We can see either the hurt or the Healer.
We can either bask in our own self-pity because we think something has gone wrong or we can choose to find new purpose in life.
This week started off pretty horrendously. I was managing a little stress after a disagreement with someone, the kind of stress which usually I can manage quite well, but, combined with what I believed to be a friend disrespecting me with careless words, throw in a couple of bickering kids, a house that is upside down, and a washing pile that looks like it belongs to old mother Hubbard, an unexpected bill and an overwhelming urge to run away from home at thirty-eight.And that’s only the first week of the summer. I was feeling completely overwhelmed by not really an awful lot. A flick through social media seemed enough to tip me over the edge. Seeing that perfect family holiday, another perfect relationship, a mum who has just crafted something beautiful with her well-behaved children while sitting peacefully around the table, a family much bigger than mine that has a super tidy house. Why, oh why is my life such a shambles? Why am I so crap at parenting? Why can’t I manage my home like that? The questions mount up.
So I have hurt, anger, comparison, inadequacy, stress all piling up in a big heap on my shoulders. And this presented itself as verbal diarrhea when I took (yip that gross) swipe at a friend in the most ungodly fashion, practically biting their face off over a very unimportant matter (sorry DB & thank you for your grace), followed by a whole lot of tears, a stop at the garage for an extra large bar of chocolate and home to sulk in my room. Well because I’m six and that’s what you do when you’re six. Please, if nothing else, please let me know I’m not alone here! We all have these little mishaps, yeah???
I did the only thing that was left to do in my sorry state, which probably should have been my first move but a killer headache and sleep in had left me rushing out the door like a maniac. I came home, went to my room, grabbed my notebook and Bible and lay on my bed and spent some quiet time with God. I lay there and talked to God about all the trouble on my heart. Immediately, and with the added help of two paracetamol, my throbbing headache and aching heart started to ease.
In Philippines, it tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
My Bible’s footnotes say prayer and peace are closely connected. The one who entrusts cares to Christ instead of fretting over them will experience the peace of God to guard him from nagging anxiety.
So often we try to create our own peace with the quick fixes, the chocolate or the Netflix marathon, or the other activities that help us switch off from our stressful circumstances, when the Bible tells us that we can find peace through simply spending time in prayer. So when we feel the need to unplug from the world, that probably means what we really need is to disconnect with the world and connect with God. From there we will find our peace.
It’s not that my situation changed. I still had that unsettling disagreement to sort out. My kids were still squabbling, my house was still a bit of a mess. The magic fairy hadn’t turned up to pay the bills and do the laundry. All these things still felt bigger than me. But I know my God is bigger than even my biggest problem.
But rather than running away from my stress I need to chose to run to God with my stress.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”
Psalms 46:1 NLT
I looked up the meaning of refuge and the definition says the state of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger or difficulty. That doesn’t mean I get to escape from everything, that just means I get to rest from it while strength to continue I get from the Lord. So often I try to depend on myself for that strength; I try to do it all on my own and leave God out, but this verse reminds me to go to God and he is my refuge and MY STRENGTH.
While I’m finding my rest and strength with God then I’m reminded that all these things that are causing my strife are all manageable. Because God has given me everything I need to deal with these situations and, from him, I can get wisdom guidance and help.
Spurgeon, the absolute legend, said this:
“If indeed the Lord is our refuge and strength, we are entitled to seek after a spirit that will bear us above the dreads of common men. Not everyone can sing the psalm of peace amid commotion and clarity. We must belong to the believing company, we must have the Lord as our God, and we must learn the art of prevailing in prayer.”
But I guess in these situations in life we can all be wise to reduce the build-up of these stressful situations. We have to be willing to help ourselves and, as appealing as it may be, I can’t just take to my bed with a giant whole nut bar and hope that everything is better by the time I get up again. I need to find time to spend with God, like proper intentional time carved out every day, and for me this needs to be a discipline that I will not waver on, even if it means saying no to other things or maybe it means going to bed an hour earlier and not sitting scrolling through social media. But actually setting my phone down and pulling out my Bible, like the real paper version, not the electronic version, reading scripture and talking to God.
I also need to wise up and be a better steward of my money. Get wise and budget for unexpected bills. Plan a holiday allowance, stop impulse buying, save for a rainy day and then I wouldn’t have the unexpected bill stress
Battles for me, I guess I need to chose when to fight battles and with whom. I realised a while ago that I actually have a choice to be offended or not. I will tell my boys when they so often come telling tales of what this one said or whatever and I will ask them if it’s true. Usually, they will answer no. So I will say, then it doesn’t matter (mama needs to practice what she preaches). Choosing not to allow other people’s poor choice of words or bad manners to offend you is a great decision and, in turn, that can cut down on any unpleasant, heated discussion because, well, it probably won’t even affect you what they say because you know the truth.
The biggest for me! Don’t fall into the comparison trap. I can just picture the devil, pitchfork in hand, giving even the most secure Christians the poke over the edge into the hellfire of comparison, and social media is his fuel to the fire. See all that stuff on social media, that’s the highlight. However, even knowing that doesn’t seem to stop us. And I do it too. I put the best version of me on display for all to see. It’s not that I pretend that my life is all peachy perfect but I’m not going to post a makeup free selfie of my freshly squeezed face sitting in amongst all the clutter of my home. Noooooo I’m not. But stupidly, I will look at others’ lives through their hi-light reel and feel so inadequate. So this is where I need to be careful about how much of what I see on social media I allow to influence my life. Sometimes that’s gonna look like a media fast or social media free days to guard against that.
So today I want to encourage you to ask yourself if my peace is lost. what do I need to give up?
is it that busy schedule that needs to change?
is it the novel needs set down and the Bible picked up?
does the FB/Insta app need deleting off your phone?
Do you need to put some boundaries in place with that friend overstepping the mark?
With countless songs, books, and movies dedicated to love, you would think we actually understood what it means. But the world has warped our view of God’s most precious attribute, leaving humanity longing for the real thing. In this message, Dr. Stanley teaches us what love really is and how it affects our lives. Learn how your life can be transformed when you allow God’s love to wrap around you and flow through you to others.
We are all very familiar with John 3:16, which clearly states that because God loved the world, He sent His Son so those who believe in Him would never perish. We usually think of God’s love as generally applying to everyone, but maybe not specifically to us personally. However, the Lord wants us to know we’re loved by Him and to love Him in return. Only then will we be able to give and receive love in our relationships as He desires.
To understand how important love is to God, we need only look at His Word. In the Old Testament there are 250 mentions of love, and the New Testament uses love 234 times—and of those, 72 are found in John’s gospel and epistles.
In 1 John 4:7-11, the apostle John mentions love in every verse.
 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Since love is such an essential part of our lives, we need to understand what it truly is.
Love is more than an emotion. It’s a commitment to another person.
Love is not free. It actually demands something of us. We can’t live for ourselves in isolation and at the same time love someone else.
Love looks beyond the flesh. Its focus is the heart and spirit of a person, not the external appearance. The connection is both emotional and cerebral, not merely a physical attraction.
Lust has nothing to do with genuine love. Our world has substituted lust for love, and this has become very obvious in the sexual revolution, which is still continuing to this day. Lust is focused on self—what I want or need from the other person. But love is concerned for the loved one—what I can do for him or her.
Love cannot be bought. It’s a gift that is given freely, and one that is received without cost.
Love desires to give with no strings attached. It doesn’t demand that the other person be a certain way or do what is desired before love is given. Genuine love is freely bestowed without qualifications or requirements.
Love is generous and unselfish. True love is othercentered, not self-centered. It’s always looking for ways to give, not ways to get.
Love is more fulfilled in giving than in receiving. Those who genuinely love others find great satisfaction in generously giving to them. They are especially gratified when they can supply what someone else really needs or desires.
Love is forgiving. Carrying the weight of anger, resentment, bitterness, or jealousy chokes a person’s spirit and hinders the ability to truly love others.
Love desires to express itself. Love is demonstrative and must be expressed. When God’s love is in us, it flows out in sacrificial giving.
Love is a happy emotion. The happiest people are not those who have everything money can buy, but those who know how to love.
Love enjoys seeing others happy.That’s because the focus is not on getting for self but in sacrificing for others. In seeing the pleasure others experience, there is great enjoyment.
Love is fulfilling and enables us to feel complete. When we know how to give and receive love, it gives us a sense of completeness, competence, and worthiness.
Love hurts when others hurt.Genuine love is characterized by compassion and mercy expressed either through direct interaction or more distantly through prayer.
Love does not keep accounts. There is no record of who did what for whom. Love is not a matter of paying and receiving, but of giving without expectation of return.
Love may be very painful. This is especially true if the love isn’t mutual. It may require repeated forgiveness.
Love doesn’t require anything in return. There are no conditions or requirements placed on the other person before love is freely given.
Love is patient. It waits until the proper time, whereas lust wants immediate gratification. If ultimatums are given, it’s not genuine love.
Christ’s death on the cross is the perfect example of love. Jesus came into the world He loved to give His life as a ransom for sin, yet few people loved Him in return. When we continue to love unresponsive, ungrateful people, we are following Christ’s example. This is possible because after we accept Him as our Savior and Lord, He pours His love into our hearts, enabling us to love others no matter how ugly they behave toward us.
Love is its own reward. Knowing that we are loved by God and being able to love Him in return is an amazing blessing. It sustains us when we feel forsaken and unloved by others. And if loved ones die or leave us, we have a Friend who will never desert us.
Love isn’t found in advice from magazines, books, or people. God is the source through Jesus Christ, His Son, and the place to look is the Bible. It begins with accepting the death of Jesus Christ on the cross as the greatest act of love ever shown. He died to pay our sin debt in full. And when we believe in Him and repent of our sins, all the mess we’ve made of our lives is washed away. Our sins are forgiven, and God will remember them no more.
Now His love is poured out in our hearts, enabling us to love Him in return and to receive and give love to others. If we don’t have Christ and His love in us, our lives are empty, and we are poor, needy, and wretched. The only One who can satisfy our longings is the One who died for us on the cross. His love for us is beyond all explanation and human comprehension.
Do you feel loved by God? Why or why not? What does God’s Word say about His love for you (See Romans 5:8 and 8:36-39)?
Are you able to give love, or is something hindering you from expressing it freely to others? What hope do you find in 1 Thessalonians 4:9?