Friday, April 13, 2012

Not Allowing Discouragement to Spread

6And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?  7And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?  8Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadeshbarnea to see the land.  9For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them.  -Numbers 32:6-8 (KJV)

Many times in the Bible we find where God’s people were given to complaining, grumbling, and a negative spirit.  When this happened the effect spread throughout the people until those who had been hopeful began to join in with the complainers.  Remember that it takes several positive comments to bring us up emotionally, and only one to bring us down.  In Numbers 13 and 14 it only took 10 negative people to get the entire Israelite community to back away from God’s plan.  A million plus people were ready to call it quits and go back to Egypt because 10 people though they couldn’t do what God wanted them to do – which was take the Promised Land.  In this case discouragement spread like a virus and infected the people to the point of despair.  
Here in Numbers 32 some of the tribes of Israel did not want to go forward into the Promised Land.  Moses was concerned that if this group stayed behind that the rest of the people would become discouraged.  Moses’ concerns were justified.  The Body of Christ today must stand unified for us to accomplish what the Lord has called us to do.  If we allow discouragement to get a foothold it will hinder all we seek to accomplish in our service to Christ.  God is not about discouraging us.  God is about encouraging us to stay and remain in His will.  How easily we can be discouraged and begin to fret, worry, and back away from what the Lord has called us to do. 

Moses shared his concern that a relatively small group of people would negatively effect everyone.  He had seen it happen before.  This is why we do well to seek the Lord, have faith, and be ready to move forward when the Lord commands us to do so.  As it turns out these Israelites were willing to assist their brethren in going over and taking the Promised Land, yet what I have to wonder about is why they were willing to settle on the east side of the Jordan.  Why live in the barren, dry desert when you could live in a good land flowing with milk and honey?  God has long called His people to settle for nothing short of the fullness of God’s blessings, yet we are sometimes willing to settle for just a taste.  We can eat that dry crust of bread, yet the Lord invites us to full banquet.  Why settle for anything less?

Mark 5 gives the account of the demon possessed man who Jesus healed.  This took place among the people who dwelt in the region of the Gadarenes.  Most Bible scholars agree these people were the descendants of the Israelites who stayed on the east side of the Jordan.  These were the people who asked Jesus to leave their region after He had driven the demons out of the man.  Where was the celebration?  Where was the praise to God for the healing that had taken place?  It was lost in their bitterness over losing a small herd of pigs.  They missed out on what could have been a great movement of God’s Spirit.  Like their fathers before them they were contented to remain where they were rather than where God would have taken them.  God always is moving us forward in our faith.  Do not allow discouragement to keep us from moving to where God is calling us to go. 

Let me share with you the following keys to overcoming discouragement:
-Keep our eyes on Jesus rather than our circumstances.
-Speak words of grace rather than complaints.  Grace builds up the Body of Christ.
-Practice grace in our relationships with each other.
-Stay in the Word and in prayer.  Saturate our hearts and minds with both.
-When you feel discouraged take it to the Lord in prayer. 
-Practice divine perspective.  Ask yourself if this present problem will amount to much in the broad scheme of things.  Furthermore, will it matter in the broad scheme of eternity?
-Be willing to pray about everything and pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17).
-Do not allow discouragement to gain a foothold in the heart.
-Be constantly seeking to grow in faith, grace, love, and, mercy.

Former heavy-weight boxer James (Quick) Tillis is a cowboy from Oklahoma who fought out of Chicago in the early 1980s. He still remembers his first day in the Windy City after his arrival from Tulsa. "I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under by arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down, and I looked up at the Tower and I said to myself, 'I'm going to conquer Chicago.' "When I looked down, the suitcases were gone."   Discouragement will come.  Rise up and claim God's power in Jesus Christ to overcome it.

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