I put my Dad’s sermon, “Discouragement up on this blog the other day. After reading it, plus a couple of more sermons, it inspired me to do a series on my own. So I have my Dad’s version of the sermon on Discouragement, and now here is my version that I will preach this upcoming Sunday morning, October 7th at Faith United Church, Hempstead Texas.

DISCOURAGEMENT, EXCITEMENT, AND LOVE
PART ONE
DISCOURAGEMENT
Nehemiah 4:1-10

Nehemiah 4:1-10 NKJV – 1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. 2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?” 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.” 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 5 Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.
6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. 7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night. 10 Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”

INTRO: The other day I was looking through some of my Dad’s sermons. I was doing it for the express purpose of putting a few of them on my blog. I was reading through them, and even putting one on there, I really had some thoughts come to me. And this sermon series actually came from reading through his sermons, which is the first time for me that this has happened.

So today, we are starting a 3 part series entitled, “Discouragement, Excitement, and Love.”

Now in the Book of Nehemiah, we see Nehemiah leads a remnant from the Children of Israel back into Jerusalem from captivity. They see all the rubble from the walls, the city and of course, the Temple itself. They have a daughting task, and that is to repair what has been destroyed. I’m sure that the task seemed to great for them to do, yet they took the task head on, and in the process of personal threats and attacks, and the pure size of the job itself – discouragement set in.

What is discouragement? Some people think it is depression, but actually, that is incorrect. Depression is now known by physicians as a brain disorder, or a chemical imbalance in the brain – discouragement certainly isn’t that, although it could lead to clinical depression. The dictionary definition of discouragement is, “the feeling of being demoralized and disheartened. It is feeling dejected and cast down; weighed down and oppressed.” William Ward gives an rather interesting definition of discouragement: “Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is the ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, the indifference to the opportunities of today, and the insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is the unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of others, and the unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatient with time, it is the immaturity of though, and impoliteness to God.”

We all have to deal with discouragement. That is a fact. We can become discourage with our jobs, our families, our homes, individuals, our circumstances, and our churches. Bu t it is one thing to have discouragement, it is quite another to let discouragement have you. Or in other words, let it control your thoughts, your actions, and what you say. It is nothing new, even David dealt with discouragement. Three times in Psalm 42 David asked or said, “Why am I so discouraged? Why so sad? I am deeply discouraged.”

Let’s look at this subject this morning.

1. Discouragement can come when we feel the opposition of others.

Verses 1-3 NKJV – 1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. 2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?”
3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.”

When word got back to Sanballat that the remnant from Israel was rebuilding the walls of the city of Jerusalem, he got angry. Not only did he get angry, but he reacted in anger, by raising up a coalition of people who would oppose them and their work. He began to speak out against them.

Verses 7-8 NKJV – 7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.

Now notice how Nehemiah reacted to this. He didn’t return personal attacks with personal attacks – that only produces bitterness. He even didn’t defend himself. Neither did he ignore what they were saying. He took his burden and fear to the Lord his God.

Verse 4 NKJV – Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 5 Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.

Verse 9a NKJV – Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God…
There is a great lesson to be learned here: When opposition comes, don’t fret about it, neither return the attack back on the person or persons bringing the opposition, but take it to the Lord in prayer. You see, God is not only our strength, but He is our fortress, our security, our shelter in the midst of opposition.

2 Samuel 22:3 NKJV – The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.

2. The second cause of discouragement is growing tired, or fatigue.

Verse 10 NKJV – Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”

The work seemed to great and to difficult and after working hard, the Tribe of Judah declared that they were becoming tired because of the difficulty of the job (so much rubble). I’m sure they were physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.

The same thing can happen to us when we become tired and fatigued. Not only do we become physically tired, but we can also become mentally, emotionally, and spiritually tired as well. It is during these times that we need rest.

But honestly, sometimes, we just can’t stop what we are doing a take a rest, so how do we find rest during stressful times so that we don’t become discouraged.

Ultimately, we can find complete true rest in the midst of stress by coming to Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-29 NKJV – 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Let me say this: Prayer shouldn’t be a chore, it is resting in Him. Spending time in His Word shouldn’t be a chore, it is resting in Him. Coming to church and worshipping Him and listening to the Word preached shouldn’t be a chore, it should be resting in Him. Fellowshipping with other believers, confessing your weaknesses and well as lifting up one another’s burdens shouldn’t be a chore it should be resting in Him. I haven’t said it in a while, but I have said it here before that I want our church services to be a safe place. A place that people can come and find rest from the heat of the world that is bothering them, not a place where they come and find more heat.

3. The final point I want to share is that discouragement can come because of loss of vision.

Verse 10 NKJV – Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”
The remnant from Israel started hearing the voice of opposition, and the greatness of the job before them, and then they forgot to focus on the vision. God’s vision was to bring them back and restore what had been abandoned and destroyed. They had quit focusing on that.

The same thing can happen to us. We look at the vision that God has called us to and quite frankly it is just to big for any man, woman, or group of people to handle. And then when opposition in the form of negativism comes, and we see, the size of the task, we tend to lose our focus on the vision. Let me state to you the vision that God gave me for this church as a reminder. It is found in the mission statement. “The mission of Faith United Church is to be a church that is focused on Christ and pursuing His purposes for us. We will be a church that touches the heart of our community, county, nation, and world with the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ.”

Now God has given us I believe two ways that can help us keep our focus on the vision He has given us, and not the opposition or the size of the work.

His joy.

Nehemiah 8:10b NKJV – Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

His presence in our lives.

Philippians 4:13 NKJV – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

To me, what is so interesting about that verse in Philippians is where Paul wrote it from. He didn’t write it from a palace, or a place of security and safety, but from a prison cell. Paul endured that prison cell and whatever he faced, either good or bad, through the presence of the Spirit of Christ in His life. Church, it is His joy, and His presence that helps us keep the vision.

CONCL: Now there are many of causes for discouragement, but we are going to stop there today. The solution to discouragement is always found in Jesus Christ. Don’t lose heart; don’t lose faith; don’t lose your vision. Keep believer; keep looking to Him. Get alone with Him and let Him pour life and strength and joy and encouragement back into your life.

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