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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Extracting Courage From Discouragement

Have storms and discouragement been plaguing your life? Your thoughts?

I think we can all relate to the apostle Paul and the story of the thorn in his side, given to keep him humble and leaning on God's strength. (2 Corinthians 12: 1-10) We can also relate to the life of David, who loved God so much but found himself in all kinds of trouble and trials before God lifted Him up to his prosperous position. (1 &2 Samuel and Psalms) And Elijah who believed God to win a battle but then turned around and doubted Him when he heard that Jezebel wanted to have him killed.(1 Kings 19) It seems in some things we can easily trust God will handle the storms in our lives and in others, we get in our heads that this next storm must be too big and we withdraw from Him. I can almost hear God asking as He did Elijah" What are you doing here?"(after he ran for His life, from fear and discouragement.)

That's the question we need to ask ourselves ..."What are we doing here?" Are we trusting God in our storm or are we withdrawing, fighting our on our own and forgetting God in the process?

Discouragement can be looming enemy in our life. Once allowed to take root, It does just what it's name reveals...it takes our courage, replacing it with fear, doubt, anxiety, and self -centeredness. It isolates, stripping us of God's perspective.

We are no different than those great men from the bible. God put their stories in His word to show us the way, encourage us to keep our faith, comfort us in our trials, and reveal that it is in His power and timing that His purposes are accomplished. God says "humble yourselves before Me and I will lift you up."

Sometimes we need a little or a lot of help getting to that humble state. We feel justified to stew in our self righteousness. God is not interested in our works, successes, or victories in the world...His interest lies in our hearts. Till we come to Him with our broken and contrite heart/spirit, we will not experience his full presence. We have to come to the end of ourselves before we can live in God's power and presence. The offer is open, He beckons us to come and lay our burdens at His feet. He invites us to cast our cares on Him, He tells us over and over to take courage and not to fear. And yet somehow it's easier for us to hold on to the discouragement that infiltrates our lives. Why? Why is it that when we are offered treasures and jewels we settle for mud and rocks? We proclaim to believe in God...but do we really believe Him? Think about it. Will you trust Him? As Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water, we too must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we step out of our own boat, and just as Peter, when we find ourselves sinking...we need to cry our to the Lord, grab His hand and continue along the water...the only other option is drowning in the storm! (Matthew 14:22-35)

So let's choose to get ourselves out of His way, let's choose His encouragement over the enemies discouragement. Storms will come. They may last long. But with our hearts and eyes fixed on Jesus, we can rest assured that the storms of life will not destroy us.

God extracts the courage from our discouragement when weather the storms of life in trust and obedience to Him.

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