Friday, January 26, 2018

Being Encouraged in Difficult Times

I wanted to share a message of encouragement with you all today. There are many times in life when we can be tempted to feel like we can’t keep going, like it’s too tough. And even if you don’t feel that way today, there will be times when you feel that way. 

So let me encourage you with Galatians 6:8-10 which says ”Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to the family of faith.” -Galatians 6:8-10

Sometimes we will feel like the prophet Jeremiah, as he watched Israel turning away from the Lord, knowing everything was on the line and that Israel was facing destruction from Babylon, but still the people refused to turn to God. And Jeremiah said:'"Ah, woe is me! For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning and have found no rest."' -Jeremiah 45:3

And Jesus said to his disciples: (Matthew 10:22) "You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved."  Jesus calls us to persevere through all sorts of difficulties.

1 Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast and immovable. Always excel in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

Our work in the Lord can be challenging, but it is so rewarding, and it is so important. What we do today in Christ has eternal consequences!  Every good act we do in Christ name will echo in eternity.  We're honored to serve God, with our whole lives.  We have an incredible ministry!

2 Corinthians 4:1 "Therefore, since we have this ministry through the mercy of God, we do not lose heart."

We have a ministry before us that will impact thousands. We must continue. And we must never give up. It’s our job to do well, even when it's hard to do.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 "But as for you, brothers, do not grow weary in well-doing."

A retired officer in Escanaba used to tell me “In difficult times Justin, all you can do is cling to your calling.” And I’ll remember that in times of trouble. But sometimes I just cling to the Lord, I walk up to him in prayer, with tears in my eyes and run to my daddy, and take refuge in Him.

I’d like to tell you a story. I was just 3 years out of drug addiction, God had led me to the Salvation Army of all places. And I’d had a tough time of it, I’d worked at the homeless shelter, and it had been really tough.  It was highly stressful work with difficult clients.  And then suddenly I was going to Escanaba upper Michigan, honestly the last place I wanted to go. But I went. And it was really tough. The schedule, the long hours, my bosses, the people, and my coworkers, challenging situations seemed to be piling up one after another. But God had given me a scripture at that time:

Isaiah 40:31 "Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary."

I was so tired, and sick everyday, my health was very bad at this time, and I felt every week, just exhausted physically.  Early on the in week, Tuesday or Wednesday I would think: "I just can't do this." I was exhausted physically and emotionally. But I battened down the hatches, and I said, I’m going to get through this, and if I can’t run, I’ll walk, and if I can’t walk I’ll crawl, but I’ll keep moving forward.

And God’s promise is true. I made it through those 2 years, and I’m here today, stronger than I’ve ever been in my life and ministry, and that’s not a testament to me. I couldn’t do it at all. But God was faithful and he matured me, built me up, and completed the work He did in me for that period. And today He’s put before me another scripture:

Hebrews 12:1-3 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

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