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Dealing with Discouragement

Nehemiah 4:7-10


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Ill.—devil’s auction.  He decided to sell all his tools.  Lust had a high price on it, so did pride, arrogance, envy, bitterness.  But one tool was off to the side and said ‘not for sale.’  It was the tool of discouragement!


Here we find the first discouraging words in this book.  And depression and discouragement will come to you if you try to accomplish anything in life.  As the people of God were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the men of Judah became very discouraged.


The curse of discouragement, the causes, and the cure.


1.     The Curse of discouragement—it’s the devil’s #1 tool he uses to try to get you out of the game!  Out of church / give up on life.


Satan tries to discourage people in their finances…even if you tithe!  Or your children, even tho’ you bring them up in church.  Or, thru problems in ministry at church.  Or thru physical problems.


        a.     Discouragement doesn’t discriminate.  Even the best Christians are under it’s power at times. 


Ill.—C. H. Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, was given to depression and discouragement.  He said, “I would not wish upon my worst enemy the depths of despair and discouragement I often feel for weeks or months at a time.”


John Wesley was also given to discouragement.  He married poorly, the wrong woman.  There were times she would drag him around the house by the hair!  [that would only happen once at my house before I’d shave my head!]


v. 10        first 3 words…Judah was the chief tribe, the leaders among the nation, the cream of the crop!  It was these that said, ‘we can’t do it, we can’t continue.’


You’re not a bad Christian because you get discouraged…only if you stay that way!  If getting saved is the end of troubles then it’s the front end!  But now God is on your side to help you up, and to stretch you and help you grow thru it all.  Or, maybe you want it easy, and want heaven on earth.  Jesus carried His cross, and you must carry yours…but how?


        b.     Discouragement is debilitating.  It will stop you dead in your tracks.  ‘Anyone can do more than a man who has lost heart!’


ill.—back in the days of horse-drawn wagons, a man was hauling logs.  On a hill the horses couldn’t make it, and gave up.  He unloaded half the wagon, but they still wouldn’t try…he emptied it completely, but still they had given up!  They were utterly discouraged.  They gave up and wouldn’t try!


Some do this w/ their marriage, children, their church!


But that’s not what God wants.  He wants us to stay in the game, put our shoulder to the wheel, keep trying, and keep trusting! 


2.     The Causes of discouragement

v. 10-11          

        a.     Worn out

They had been working hard, but still things weren’t going anywhere.  They had lost their zest for the work.

v. 6          It was halfway done.  That’s where we often get discouraged, when we’re in the thick of it.


Ill.—the kids get excited to go on a hike or for a walk, but halfway around the block they’re tired!  Guess what, it’s just as far to get back!!


When do you get tired of your car?  When it’s about half paid for!

When does marriage get old?  Halfway thru.  Somewhere between ‘I do’ and ‘You’d better!’

When is school the most boring?  Beginning after lunch!

What’s the most depressing part of winter?  Half way thru!

Where are we at in this sermon?  About halfway thru!

When’s the most discouraging time for men?  Middle age…mid-life crisis!

        A guy looks at his life and gets discouraged.  His body / his job / his goals / his wife!


It’s time to buy the sports car, unbutton your shirt and tell the world you’ve still got it.


Ill.—recently I joked to my wife that once she's 40 I'll trade her in for 2 ‘20s’…she just laughed and said, ‘you aren’t wired for 220!’


Halfway thru is when we get worn out…like rowing a boat across a big lake…in the middle you are worn out, but you realize to turn back is fruitless.  You are worn out and discouraged, and maybe the only thing that sounds good is sitting still!


The men of Judah are worn out physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  It is wise to know your limits, and learn how to say no, for if you get worn out you can get discouraged, and then you’re no good to anybody, and will HAVE to say no to everybody!


        b.     Weighted down

v. 10        “much rubbish”

They were looking at the total job, instead of just their section.  They had miles to go and had their eyes on the wrong focus.  Rocks everywhere.  They were trying to juggle too much…they let life just pile up on them.


We must:

·       Prioritize—not just what’s the most fun, but what’s most important.  Not only what’s most urgent, but truly important.  Set aside daily time for God as a priority.  For family / for homework / for a project / and for church.  Some of our young people have just laid it out clearly, and told their boss, I have a previous commitment on Sundays and Wednesdays.  When it comes to summer ball leagues, some of our parents just tell the coach, we can participate any time except for Sun. and Wed. when we have a ‘previous commitment’.  That’s God’s time.  I won’t take the Lord’s day and give it to anyone else.  Not only because that offends the Lord, but because it’s a bad testimony to others I’ll be with who know I claim to be a Christian, but it must not include dedication if I’ll miss just for that!

·       Plan—don’t bounce around like the pinball in the machine, but learn to live by a schedule…be organized.  Most people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan, and it leads to bigger failure!\

·       Plod—this means to just take it a day at a time, don’t look at the whole job and the long term, but take the vision we laid out in planning and have some focus…what do I need to do today?!  Just plod away, and keep going.  Life:  by the yard it’s hard, by the inch…what a cinch!  How do you eat an elephant?  [One bite at a time!]


        c.     Wasting away

v. 11        Their enemies were planning.  And Satan has a plan, so we might as well form a game plan, too!  The devil’s plan is to hit us when we’re down and discouraged, and we won’t even see him coming.  So our plan must be not to abide in discouragement, but to escape it!

Isaiah 54:17

    No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.


Notice from v. 10 it is compounded when Judah “said” it.  That’s how Satan can “spread” it to others.  Then it became, “we are not able…”


James 3:4-5

    Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. [5] Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!


What we say can be encouraging, or very discouraging to others around us.  The same is true w/ what we do.  Your presence in services this weekend is an encouragement to others, or your absence will be a big discouragement to many.  So, let’s prioritize, let’s plan, and keep plodding along!


3.     The Cure for discouragement


Nehemiah gave his people 3 steps to getting out of discouragement:

1.     Nehemiah armed the people.

v. 13        He said, we’re not gonna take the enemies advances lying down.  He gave them swords, spears, and bows.  ‘To be forewarned is to be forearmed.’  It works for America and for the Christian as well!


Think about it:  we already know what Satan is going to try to do.  He’s gonna attack us with discouragement.  So, we are foolish if we don’t prepare ourselves and take up arms!

Ephes. 6:10-13

    Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. [11] Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. [12] For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. [13] Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.


Then it goes on to detail each piece of armour to put on!


Accept no substitutes.  As David told Saul, I need my own armor, not another’s.  Don’t try to be encouraged by anything other than Christ.  Accept no other crutch.  Not drugs, not a hobby, not a holiday, not a movie.  What does it take to lift you from discouragement?  No temporary help should be good enough…accept your armor from none other than Jesus…none else will do!  How it must pain His heart to see us turn to other things that will never truly satisfy, when He has the answer and is close by, His hand held out just hoping we’ll look to Him and grab on!


2.     Nehemiah assured the people.

v. 14a      ‘Your dad’s bigger than their dad!’

If it had been written I’m sure Nehemiah would have quoted

Romans 8:31

    If God be for us, who can be against us?

Psalm 54:4

    Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.

Isaiah 40:31

    But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

        That’s the opposite of discouragement!


Know why we get discouraged?  In a nutshell:  because we take our eyes off the Lord!


Ill.—Robert Louis Stevenson told of a ship being tossed by mighty waves.  The passengers were very frightened and huddled together deep in the ship.  After a while one of the passengers decided to go see the captain.  He worked his way all the way up near the pilot’s bridge.  He could see him thru the big window.  The captain saw the passenger w/ fear written all over his face.  So, seeing how afraid the man was, the captain threw him a great big grin.  The passenger returned to the others in the bottom of that ship and said, ‘it’s ok, we’ll be fine…I just saw the captain, and he was smiling!’


Are you discouraged?  I beg you, look to heaven, and see the smile of captain Jesus!  Keep your eyes on him, not on others.


Peace is not found in the absence of trouble; it is found in the presence of God. His arms are available to you if you’ll let Him love and encourage you through the body called the church, the presence of His Holy Spirit, and through Bible verses.


Psalm 18:2

    The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

        There’s no panic in heaven, only plans.

Romans 8:28

    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.


3.     Nehemiah aroused their spirits.

v. 14b      ‘There’s too much at stake to be discouraged.  We cannot quit!  We’re not just building walls…we’re fighting for our families and all we hold dear!  It’s not just brick and mortar, it’s flesh and blood!’


At GBC the glory of God is at stake.  Don’t give up on your church / your marriage / your children / your dreams / what God has called you to do!


There are many discouragers…so we need you to join the ranks of the encouragers.  Be a “glass half full” Christian, not half empty!


When Nehemiah saw the potential of the wall, many people saw only problems. In verse 12, others came to Nehemiah and warned him of the impending dangers of building the wall saying, “they will be upon you.”  When Nehemiah saw hope many saw only hopelessness. Although this opposition may have discouraged Nehemiah, he remained persistent to His God-given purpose.  And so must you!


I want to let go, but I won't let go.

There are battles to fight, By day and night,

For God and the right—And I'll never let go.


I want to let go, but I won't let go.

I'm sick, tis true, Worried and blue,

And worn through and through, But I won't let go.


I want to let go, but I won't let go.

I will never yield!  What! Lie down on the field

And surrender my shield?  No, I'll never let go!


I want to let go, but I won't let go.

May this be my song:  "Mid legions of wrong—Oh, God, keep me strong

That I may never let go!"                       Author Unknown


Every day we remain discouraged is a day that we’re not going anywhere for God.  Don’t let up, don’t shut up, don’t back up, and don’t give up, until you’re taken up!


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