“This I call to mind and therefore I have hope.” – Lamentations 3:21 NIV
You need to establish some spiritual landmarks in your life to remind you of the times when God intervened on your behalf. Someone said, “We’re not slow learners, just quick forgetters.” How soon we forget or claim credit for things we had little to do with. When God parted the Jordan River for His people to cross over, He knew something they didn’t-that on the other side they would face some big challenges, including the City of Jericho. That’s when they would need “reminders”. So He told them to collect twelve stones from the Jordan and build a monument, so they and their children would recall His past faithfulness to them. Samuel did the same after Israel defeated the Philistines. He took a stone and named it Ebenezer, meaning, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Sa 7:12 NKJV). Before you give in to discouragement, doubt or defeat, stop and recall what God has done for you “thus far”. Like the day you met Jesus, or the times He guided you, or the doors He opened that you thought were permanently shut, or the scrapes He brought you through. Keep a record of these events and refer to it often. It will help you to remember His goodness when you tend to forget it. It will give you a sense of gratitude for yesterday’s blessings, and confidence to face whatever tomorrow brings. “This I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:21-23 NIV).
“Martha…you are worried and upset about many things.”
Lk 10:41 NIV
Worry acts like a thief; it robs us of the joy God wants us to experience each day. Basically, all our worries come down to two things: that we won’t get what we need, or that we’ll lose what we’ve got. Martha was a “worrywart,” and it showed up when Jesus came to dinner. She worked hard in the kitchen while her sister Mary sat listening to Jesus. In frustration, Martha asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? (v.40 NIV). Worry makes us forget who
’s servant and who’s Lord. Notice three things in this story: (1) Martha was busy serving, but she wasn’t enjoying it. No doubt she wanted to please Jesus; it’s just that she allowed her work for the Lord to become more important than her relationship with the Lord. Has that happened to you? (2) Satan didn’t take Martha out of the kitchen; he just stole her purpose for being there. Satan doesn’t turn you against the church; he just makes you focus on yourself. He doesn’t take away your ministry, he just discourages you by saying you’re overworked and not appreciated. (3) God values your attitude more than your actions. “Do everything without complaining’ (Php 2:14 NIV). A bad attitude spoils the gift you offer to God. Jesus said, “Martha…only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen…it.” (Lk 10:42 NIV). What did Mary choose? Sitting at the feet of Jesus. He always prefers the quiet devotion of a sincere hears to the noisy attitude of a complainer. Think about it.
“I will give you shepherds according to My heart.” —Jer 3:15 NKJV
Here’s a sad statistic: Over 50% of those who enter the ministry leave it within ten years because of discouragement. Make sure that doesn’t happen to your pastor. Picture this: Joshua’s soldiers are down in the valley fighting the Amalekites. Above him on a hilltop sits Moses with his hands raised toward heaven. As long as his arms are raised the battle goes their way. But if you’ve ever tried to hold your hands up for long, you quickly grow weary and lower them. The moment Moses does that, the battle goes against Israel. So Aaron and Hur hold up his arms and the tide turns in favor of Israel. It wasn’t just Joshua’s ability to fight, it was Moses’ ability to hold up his arms that won the day. Aaron and Hur kept a leader from fainting so an entire nation could be saved. God said, “I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” If God has given you a pastor who loves, leads and feeds you, support them. Hold up their hands! In the Old Testament tabernacle, the candlesticks had to be kept burning day and night because their light represented God’s presence among His people. If a light so much as flickered, designated servants moved immediately to refuel it and restore it to its original glow. Are you getting the idea? It’s your responsibility to make sure the light doesn’t flicker in your church of the fire go out in your pulpit. So pray for your pastor every day and be sure to encourage him every chance you get.
“Do not be deceived…A man reaps what he sows.” —Gal 6:7 NIV
Your child says, “I didn’t mean to break the window.” You reply, “But you threw the rock that broke it, right? So you’ll pay for repairing it.” And when your child pays, he or she learns a principle that could save them from costlier consequences down the road. God, who is a loving heavenly Father, invented the law of consequence-for our benefit. Consider this:
Whosoever doth not bear his cross…cannot be my disciple.” — Luke 14:27
Brenda Goodine says, “My friend decided it was time to talk to her bright four-year-old son, Benji, about receiving Christ. “Benji,’ she asked quietly, ‘Would you like to have Jesus in your heart?’ Benji rolled his blue eyes and answered seriously, ‘No. I don’t think I want the responsibility.’ “Now, you may not like Benji’s answer, but you have to admire his honesty. He wasn’t just thinking about the rewards of discipleship, he was thinking about the responsibilities it brings. Brother Lawrence, a French monk, put it this way: “Let us think often, that our only business in this life is to please God.” Imagine asking yourself before each action, word, or attitude, “Is this pleasing to the Lord?” How different would your life be? How would your decisions impact the people around you? Jesus said, “Whoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Crosses were not made to live on, but to die on. Every morning when you wake up, go to the bathroom, look in the mirror and say, “Today, I’ve been called to die to self-indulgence, self-interest, and self-promotion.” Tom Landry, the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, once said, “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.” And that is the essence of discipleship. Furthermore, Jesus said if you are not willing to do it, you “cannot” be His disciple.