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Teaching Others Also

Encouraging Words From Lighthouse Baptist Church

The Destructive Duo of Discouragement & Bitterness

By Luke Shope | Assistant to the Pastor | Lighthouse Baptist Church

We have all had times in our lives where we have been discouraged.  Maybe you are going through one of those times right now.  We are human.  We feel things.  We get hurt.  Sometimes we might even get discouraged about things that have not even happened. We might get discouraged over things we think are happening.  I know these things are true in my life.

Discouragement does not always work alone.  There is something that often comes with it.  Discouragement often never ends with just being discouraged. Discouragement often has company.  Discouragement’s close companion is bitterness.

If we are not careful and do not handle discouragement in the proper way, bitterness can creep in very quickly and without much warning.

It happened to the children of Israel often.  They would get discouraged; they would get bitter; then they repented.  Here is just one account in the Old Testament of the cycle.

“And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth.” – Numbers 21:4-10

Notice in verse four it says, “the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.”  We must understand that if we are going to move forward in the way that the Lord has prepared for us, there will be discouragement.  There will be much discouragement.

I do not believe discouragement is a sin.  I believe the Lord Jesus was discouraged on several occasions. He was especially discouraged when He was dealing with people who refused to see the truth He was teaching.  He even got angry, but He never sinned.

I hope the following things will help us keep discouragement from growing into something deeper.

Don’t Play the Blame Game

In verse 5 of Numbers chapter 21 we see that the people “spake against God, and against Moses..”

When we get discouraged, we tend to start blaming others for our situations.  The children of Israel blamed two people.  God and Moses.

We must be careful about blaming the God of Heaven for obvious reasons.  In fact, one of the reasons is found in verse six of Numbers chapter 21.

“And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.”

If we have given our lives to Christ and know Him as our Savior, God is not the first one we usually blame.  No, we are too spiritual to blame God, right?  We do what comes naturally to us; we blame other people.  But know that when we do this, we are in good company.  Adam did it and even Moses himself did it.  In fact, Moses even blamed God for allowing him to oversee those people.

When discouragement sets in, the first thing we tend to do is start thinking who is at fault in the situation.  By the way, it is usually never us.  We think of the people who have wronged us, or at least who we think wants to wrong us.  When bitterness is coupled with discouragement, our minds tend to take us places we do not want to go.

It does not matter where we go or who we are with, discouragement will be there.  It can be found in our work, our home, and our family.  Discouragement is natural.  Just do not let it be the bridge to bitterness.  That is easier said than done.  Thankfully, the Bible gives us some more help on the issue.

Look for Healing

For healing to take place, we must come to the place where we see the need for healing.  We must identify the problem.  If bitterness has crept in to our lives, we must understand that the problem is us. We are our worst enemy.  We make up scenarios and make ourselves miserable.

Instead of looking at the negative that seems to be in every circumstance in our lives, we must look for encouragement. Encouragement is the catalyst in the healing process.  Just as discouragement is all around us and natural, so is the encouragement. We tend to miss the encouraging things in life so often because we are focusing and dwelling on negative and destructive things. We are focusing on ourselves.

How does healing come?  It came to Israel through repentance.  In verse seven of chapter 21 it says, “…the people came to Moses, and said, we have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee…”

Ask the Lord for Forgiveness

Even the sin of bitterness is a sin against God.  We must ask God to forgive us and then ask Him to heal us.  This will be a process and will not happen overnight; we cannot expect it to. When you are not fully surrendered to His Spirit, your flesh will be your biggest enemy.

Seek Reconciliation

The people of Israel went to Moses and let him know how they were feeling.  We should go to the people that have offended us.  This will never be an easy task.  Healing is never easy, and it always takes time. Just as lifting up their eyes to the serpent on the pole was the antidote for the deadly bite for the Israelites, the antidote for bitterness is always forgiveness which should be accompanied by humility.  If you have been on the receiving end of the offense, you must extend forgiveness; if you committed the offense, you must receive His forgiveness.

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” – Matthew 18:15

We begin the healing process by asking the Lord to help us and confessing to Him, but the healing process will never be complete until we go to the person who has offended us or we have offended.  It is not their responsibility to come to us.  If they are Christians, then it is very likely that they will want the air cleared as much as we do.

The local church would be a very joyful place if church members would practice Matthew 18:15. In fact, it would not just be a joyful place, it would be a breeding ground for revival.  So why not start by asking the Lord to forgive and help us?  It will take His help to complete the forgiveness process by speaking to the ones who have offended us.  Do not let pride stand in your way.  The Israelites needed it.  You and I need it.

Set Forward

Verse 10 of chapter 21 says they, “…set forward” after the healing took place.

Moving forward spiritually, physically, and emotionally should be our goal as Christian people.  When we are discouraged it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It is especially hard when we get encumbered with bitterness.

When we follow God’s plan, even in the discouraging times, we can know that all will be made right.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 is a fun verse to quote but a very hard verse to claim.  The discouragement we are experiencing right now could be God’s refining fire that will grow and strengthen us.  God wants us to move forward.  He wants us to experience the abundant life that He talked about in the book of John.  We cannot live that abundant life while bound by discouragement and bitterness.

We must let God use the discouragements in life to strengthen us and ask Him to heal us from the bitterness.  We have much to do in these last days.  Let us “set forward” for the cause of Christ in unity.

 

 

 

Marketing the Messiah

By David Martin | Pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church

God the Father said, “It’s time.”  He looked with love toward the Son and the Spirit and with a nod, they both began preparation for the journey to that small corner of the universe that captured the Father’s love, sparked the Son’s great heart, and caught the Spirit’s breath.

Just then one of the archangels motioned to be heard.

“Yes, you may speak,” said the Father.

“Lord God, may I make a simple  suggestion?  The humans are quite sophisticated now.  Their advertising techniques are quite advanced.  They really have learned the principles of marketing.  Why don’t we take a page from their book, as it were, and make our decisions based on their input?  After all, the way to stay in business is to give the customer what he wants!”

The angel looked quite pleased with himself for he had observed and learned much from the humans on Madison Avenue.

The Father thoughtfully considered and a twinkle shone through His essence. “All right.  My plans are made, my Word has been given, but just for your information and education, I authorize you to take a poll.  If marketing the Messiah is the way to go in this advanced age, then you are in charge.  You choose the people, the place, the means.  Do it by using a survey.  Poll the constituents.  Make your decision based on the best demographic studies you can muster and report back to me.  I am a patient God.  We can wait a little longer.”

On wings that carried him as swift as the dawn, the angel was off.  He followed his Master’s bidding and in to time at all, for it is ever eternity in Heaven, he was back with page after page of studies, polls, and results.

“I have decided to simply compare your plans with the felt needs of the people of Isreal.  In that way, you can quickly see how you must adapt to their understandings and wishes,” the angel said pleased, but not proud and pushy.  He was simply trying to help.  “First of all the place of birth, this Bethlehem-Ephrata in Judea, simply won’t do.  My survey indicates that to be a poor choice.  Since David has largely been forgotten by the populace, no one will really see the significance.  In fact, Bethlehem is a good place to be from, but to move far away from as soon as possible.  Perhaps a better choice would be Jerusalem.  That place gets a lot of press; the eyes of the whole world are on it for some reason.  If you want to reach the people where they are, then that out-of-the-way place will never do.  Remember: location, location, location!”

The Father and the Son exchanged knowing looks and with the hint of a smile they turned back to the angel. “What other conclusion have you come to?” asked the Son.

The angel looked down at his papers and started slowly, “Well, I know you think it is very important, and I certainly mean no disrespect, but the Virgin Birth is a very hard pill for many to swallow.  I mean, it’s never been done before.  We certainly live in a progressive society, but a single girl showing up pregnant is going to get that knowing look and no one is going to be able to understand.  I’m thinking of Mary.  What are folks going to say about her if this happens?

The Father looked unperturbed and simply smiled. “Go on,” He said patiently.

The angel continued, “Well, studies show that the name you’ve chosen is to eventually become a problem as well.  Yes, millions will love and cherish it, but the vast majority are going to defame it.  Jesus Christ is going to become the most cursed and abused name in all of history.  No other name will be so misused and degraded as His.  Why eventually they will even replace it with an “X” on the day they pretend to celebrate His birth. I don’t have any alternative suggestions but I’m sure you can come up with something.”

The angel went on, “Forgive me, but the idea for the Baby to be wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger and the shepherds getting the only announcement; I’m sorry but,” the angel stopped for a brief pause with a look of fright and then asked hesitantly, “don’t you think that humble beginning situation has been a little overworked?  I can understand it with some of the prophets.  No one really listened to them anyway.  But this is the Son. He is far more important than some locust-and-wild-honey type.  If the people are going to receive Him, then His is going to have to project a more positive image.  People today are looking for someone who is a success.  You know what they say, nothing breeds success like success.  The latest polls indicate that a manger birth and limited exposure just won’t draw a crowd.  The closest you come to something with some real pizzazz is the wise men’s visit, but the whole thing could be pumped up a little more.  In my book, it’s just a case of too little, too late.”

With a quick breath and a glance at the throne, the angel proceeded to tell of his findings, “The plan that His mother and supposed father will be humble people and that His childhood will be simple and rather quiet is also a less-than-perfect scenario.  You know how much attention those child prodigies get.  You’re only going to let him shine that one time in the temple and then fade away in a family setting.  Let’s build on that.  Let him do a few miracles at a young age.  People are suckers for children.  I’m sure that the simple family and obscure beginning approach just won’t cut it in today’s marketing climate.”

Continuing, the angel said, “We are going to have a hard time selling the concept of his lifestyle and his call to discipleship.  People are learning to assert themselves, find themselves, love themselves, better themselves, improve themselves, and He is going to call on them to deny themselves and to die to self.  This goes against everything they believe in and hold dear.  I don’t think the idea will ever really catch on.  If you are going to reach the masses, then I recommend you rethink this principle.”

The angel rushed on, enthusiastic about his findings and eager to share the results. “In my surveys, I’ve also come to the conclusion that mankind is really not interested in the purpose you have for sending the Son in the first place.  They are not looking for a Savior.  Most of them don’t even know they need one.  A better approach might be to scrap this entire project and rethink the reason for the whole thing.  I just think that the people might be more open to a king, no, make that an emperor.  Rome is definitely the place.  Power is definitely the name of the game.  People respond to those who rule.  After the kingdom is established, then the time would be right for mentioning the sin and salvation theme.  You know, get them in with pomp, ceremony, and image.  People just aren’t going to come if you don’t give them what they want.  Remember, you must find your niche in the marketplace, find a felt need, and fill it.

The Father smiled at the well-meaning angel and said, “I appreciate your intention.  I’m afraid, however, that you’ve been concentrating on the human race so much that you’ve lost sight of the grand work I am doing in the universe.  I just want to remind you that these ideas are not new and mankind certainly didn’t come up with them.”

The Father continued, “I won’t change the place of His birth, nor the means of it, not the announcement to the shepherds, nor His childhood.  His purpose can’t change, so His name can’t either.  He comes to be Savior and regardless of man’s felt need, my Holy Spirit will get through to some of them.  When He does, the Name of Jesus will be the sweetest thought of their heart and the last word on their lips.”

With a sigh, the Lord God continued, His voice soft with a pain whose source was eternally constant. “Remember the Garden of Eden?  Remember the Wicked One’s plan?  He appealed to Eve’s felt need.  He gave her exactly what she thought she wanted.  That’s the reason for the whole purpose of my Son’s visit to earth.  You are right.  The coming of the Messiah will not make the papers, and we refuse to use the advertising methods of the humans.  But I have been preparing them for over thirteen hundred years now.  Some of them will listen, and some of them will understand.  Besides, this is not all I will do to redeem them from sin.  In just a little while, the Son will be back home, and the Spirit will continue His work.  Trust me, little one, my plan will work.  It just won’t work that way.  I cannot simply market the Messiah.  It’s far too important to risk losing the message in the medium.”

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