Feeling and Foes

Scripture: Psalm 142, NLT

1 I cry out to the LORD ; I plead for the LORD ’s mercy. 
2 I pour out my complaints before Him and tell Him all my troubles. 
3 When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me. 
4 I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me. 
5 Then I pray to you, O LORD . I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. 
6 Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. 
7 Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me, for you are good to me.”


This is a Psalm of David written while he was fleeing from Saul. He was hiding in a cave, either at Adullam or En Gedi. He was feeling down, alone, trapped, overwhelmed, afraid, unloved and unappreciated. Do you ever get to feeling down, alone, afraid, overwhelmed, trapped, unloved and unappreciated? I think most of us have spent at least one night in the cave a Adullam. Our emotions are strong and they play a big part in our life. We all have feelings and they are important to us but our feelings are not alway reliable. Feeling are fickle, they play to the circumstances. If the circumstances are good, they are good but if the circumstances go sour, they go sour also.


Tonight we are going to talk about feelings and foes. Both are real and both can become a problem. The key to victory, to overcoming our foes and our feelings is TRUTH. Truth liberates us, it sets us free from the power of both foe and feelings. We sing the song “Always” a lot and it begins like this....”Our Foes are many, they rise against us, but I will hold my ground?”

So, I want to share with you some truths that will help you hold your ground but before I do, I want to share one story…

When Steve Tanner was at Shepherd’s in Atlanta, I visited him one evening just before sundown. When I came out of the clinic to get into my little Honda Civic, it was dark and foggy. Visibility was less than a hundred yards. One of the attendants had shared with me a way to get to I-75 without driving four miles down the ever busy Peach Tree Street. I followed my instructions to a T but there was some turning and twisting and my gyroscope got all out of wack. Those who know me know that I have a good sense of direction most of the time but when I got to the I-75 ramp the signs were wrong. South was North and North was South. I said to myself, “Either someone got these signs wrong or else they have moved down town Atlanta.” I had a decison to make,“Do I go with my feelings or do I go with the signs.” I remembered what Herman Griffin taught us in aerospace about flying a plane, “Always go by your instrument, never trust your feelings.” So I followed the signs and turned right but my feelings continued to screem, “You are wrong, you are going North.” The fog was so thick that I could not see the down town skiscrappers and my feeling continued to protest even after I turned West on to I-20. It was not until I passed the Six Flags exits that my gyroscope flipped back around and suddenly everything was where it was supposed to be.

The moral of the story: your feeling will betray you, don’t follow them. The word of God is our instrument: it sets our course and direction. We follow the word and our emotions will eventually catch up.


Matthew 28:20…“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 14:16…And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.

Hebrews 13:5-6… Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

We may be alone, even separated from those we love; we may be alone in a lonely place but we are not really alone, it just seems that way. The LORD is always with a believer. This is exactly what Jesus said, “I will be with you always.”


John 3:16….For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

I John 2:2….He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Jesus died for everyone on the planet and that certainly includes you.

The very heart and soul of the gospel is that God so loved the world, or He loved the world so much that He gave His son. I can, with full assurance and a good conscience, look any person in the eye and say, “God loves you, Jesus died for you.” You may not matter to anyone else, but YOU MATTER to Him.

Close to 30 years ago, we had a child in WEE Care by the name of Beth. Beth was a pistol. She acted out daily. The teachers were getting so frustrated with Beth that they asks me to speak with her. When I talked to Beth, she was unresponsive at first but as I continued to probe, I found the root of the problem: Beth was eaten up with insecurity. She was living in constant fear. Her father had abandoned her mom and her brother when Beth was six and now she was eight her little brother was four or five. Beths mom was lonely and she had been inviting men over to their trailor. She was not a prositute, she did not invite men randomly, but she had gone through two or three boyfriends in the space of a year. Beth picked up on the fact that these men did not care for her or her brother but saw them as extra baggage. She said, “I am afraid that I will wake up one day and my mother will be gone just like my daddy.” First of all, no child should have to live with this fear but her mom did not leave the impression that she was that stable and I was afraid for Beth and her brother myself but I did not let on. Beth was acting out in front of her mother just as she was in Child Care and that wasn’t helping. What was I going to tell this eight year old? “Yeah, your mom worries me too, I am afraid she may run off with one of these men and abandon you and your brother.” Although that is what I felt, it is not what I said. I said, “Beth look at me straight in the eye. I want to tell you something. There is someone who I know loves you very much and His name is Jesus.”

Beth was despisable. She acted so bad that no one wanted to be around her and I knew the workers were having trouble loving Beth and I had serious doubts about her mom but I knew at least one person loved Beth and that was Jesus.

I want you to understand that you and I are Beth, we are eaten up with insecurities. Yes, we put on a proud front but they are there lurking in the shadows of our soul but I can tell you for a fact, Jesus loves you in spite of your fears and flaws. His love is unconditional. It cannot be earned. It is a gift of grace.


I did not say that feelings are unreal, they are very real and they are important. We all want to feel good. I don’t know of anyone who wants to get over feeling good, do you? But there is a problem: feelings are not reliable and we cannot allow them to become our spiritual barometer.

Jeremiah 17:9…The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 

AV…The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?

NIV…The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

NASB…“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

If you allow your heart to call the shots, you are in a heap of trouble. First of all your emotional life will become a roller coaster ride, up and down, up and down. When the circumstances are bad, you will feel bad. Our emotions are not the Engine, they are the caboose. The Engine is the FACT OF GOD’S WORD.

No only will following the heart get you into trouble emotionally, it will get you into trouble morally. Eve followed her heart, so did Sarah and look where it got them. The heart is going to take the easy route, the supposed short cut. God wants you to be happy. Jesus died so you could be happy but the way to happiness is not to follow the heart. The way to happiness is to follow Jesus. You can’t be happy a part from Him or a part from holiness and He is the only one who can make you holy.


Things We Need

Scripture text: Psalms 138, NLT

1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. 
2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. 
3 As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
4 Every king in all the earth will thank you, LORD, for all of them will hear your words. 
5 Yes, they will sing about the LORD ’s ways, for the glory of the LORD is very great. 
6 Though the LORD is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. 
7Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. 
8 The LORD will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.


We are driven by our needs, it is human nature. When we come to church, we aren’t thinking about others or even the LORD, we are centered on our needs. This is what makes “Seeker” churches so successful. They use market place skills and they target the needs and desires of this current generation. They have thousands each Sunday while we have hundreds.

Tonights sermon is seeker friendly: I want to talk about our needs and how the LORD is ready to meet those needs.


{Biblically speaking, a positive attitude is a thankful heart}

 I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. 
2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. 

Note first of all that David had a thankful heart. I am an Alabama fan and I have been convicted about the amount of anxiety I have over such silly things. I did a lot of praying last week and God answered my prayer and I am thankful. I didn’t watch the game {Iron Bowl} and I didn’t lose any sleep. I was thrilled with opportunity to preach Sunday night and I was focused on Sunday’s activities. That’s not me folks, that is God’s grace. You probably think I should be embarrassed to talk with the LORD about such trivial things as ball games: I am not. I talk to HIM about everything. There are worse things than being an Alabama fan such as gossip, slander, a critical judgmental spirit, greed and on and on but I just felt it was time for me to move on and from. Yesterday moring, I woke up giving thanks. All Alabama fans have more to be thankful for than we do to regret. Think about all the Teams that have never made it to a final four, or a National Championship. Why can’t I celebrate what the LORD has already done? That’s it, I can. I know everything is not perfect in your life but you can still be thankfull.

There is a man in this church who will remain nameless that was helping me a few years ago. He was giving me his time and his undivided attention. Later that week, I found out what was going on at his house. He was dealing with a problem that made mine look like a scratch. I went an appologized. I reprimanded him, “You should not have been helping me, you have problems of your own.” He shook it off with a grin. This is the kind of attitude that we need. We need a GRATEFUL HEART, a THANKFUL SPIRIT. If our heart is filled with gratitude to the LORD, our attitude will be POSITIVE.


{David was not a perfect man but he was a praying man}
3 As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
David was a great leader because he had a positive attitude and a bold confidence. Where did these two strengths come from? David tells us in verse 3, his strength came from the LORD. As he relates later in the Psalm, “It was the power of God’s right hand that saved him.” {v.7}
Early into Jesus ministry, His disciples associated His strength with His quiet time. This was made obvious when they came to him and said, “LORD, teach us to pray.” Note, they did not say, “LORD, teach us to preach, to heal, to cast out demons, etc.” They ask Him to teach them the art of prayer because they associated His power with His prayer life. There was one black man in my seminary class. He was a tall, dignified, astute and gracious man. He peached one night at the Seminary chapel and he preached on prayer. He said one thing I have never forgotten–“Where there is much prayer, there is much power, where there is little prayer, there is little power.” The reason I have seen so little power in my life and ministry is that I have done so little praying.
Folks, I need my quiet time. I need it as much as I need a place to sleep or something to eat. I go to bed at night thinking about my QT the next morning. My confidence and strength does not come from within me, nor do I draw from my experience, althought that helps. THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH AND MY SALVATION. He is the bubbling spring that I drink from.
David could not have accomplished what he did without confidence. A leader must have confidence. If you lose your confidence, it is over. David was surrounded by enemies. The Jebusites still lived in the land along with six other nations, most of them Canaanites in orgin. These people did not want a united kingdom, a strong Israel. They wanted a divided and weak kingdom so they could do as they pleased.
We too are surrounded by enemies, the world, the flesh and Satan. His goal is to destroy our confidence and he was use whomever is available to do the job. All God’s servants have to be wise as serpents. The serpent’s enemy is mankind: 99% of the people you met hate snakes and the other 1% are devil worshippers {just kidding}. Snakes are still around in abundance because they know how and when to stay out of sight. They have mastered the art of hiding.
Criticism is like the ice that builds up on the wing of a plane: if you don’t do something about it, learn to defrost or deflect it, it will bring you down. Your wings are your confidence: when the devil is able to destroy your confidence, your flight is over, you are coming down. This is exactly what he did to Elijah. He used Jezebel to accomplish his mission. Elijah got so discouraged that he quit. His only assignement after the Jezebel fiasco was to find and anoint his replacement. NO ONE CAN AFFORD TO LOSE THEIR CONFIDENCE and the LORD is the source of our strength and our confidence.


{We need the ability to look beyond our present circumstances}
4 Every king in all the earth will thank you, LORD, for all of them will hear your words. 
5 Yes, they will sing about the LORD ’s ways, for the glory of the LORD is very great. 

David lived among pagans. They worshipped idols and idols were everywhere. Idols were repulsive to David, He knew that God deserves all the worship and praise. Although God was not being praised by other kings in David’s day, David was able to look beyong his present circumstances to a day when all kings would praise God. As we look back over history, we learn that since David’s time, there have been fewer and fewer pagan kings. This move away from pagan worship has been accelarated since the Reformation. Most of Europe’s kings have been Christians, as least in name. But there is coming a time when every king will give God glory.


6 Though the LORD is great, He cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. 
Though I am surrounded by troubles, You will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand {Jesus} saves me
8 The LORD will work out His plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

I love CHRISTMAS and I wanted to preach a Christmas message but to this point the LORD has not given me a new one. But meditating on the verses above brought the incarnation to mind.
  • David is right: THE LORD IS GREAT, infinitely great, greater than any of us or all of us together can imagine. You could put every great intellects in the world along with all the great scupturers and they would not be able to make a image in God’s likeness or anything close. God is transcendent, like the Stars but moreso. There is an infinite gap between who He is and who we are. The earth itself is but a speck to God which would make us a microspeck, yet….
  • GOD REACHED OUT HIS HAND. He sent His son, born by Mary. The Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us. Wow! The incarnation blows my mind…God becoming one of us to save us from our sin and the destruction that come with our sin.
  • THE POWER OF HIS RIGHT HAND SAVED ME. Who is seated at God’s right hand? Psalm 110:1….”The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” Peter repeated mentioned the fact that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the father seven times[Acts 2:25,33,34; Acts 3:7, 5:31, 7:55,56]. Paul said in Romans 8…Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Jesus has interceded in our behalf…He has taken a position between us and hell and He is the only one capable of keeping us safe and secure.
  • THE LORD WILL WORK OUT HIS PLANS…and He has a plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” David Livingston the great missionary believed in the PLAN, he said, “I am immortal until the will of God for me is accomplished.” We need this same assurance; it would relieve us of a lot of useless anxiety.


To wrap it up: we need, desperately need:

  1. A Grateful Attitude
  2. A Strong Confidence
  3. A Vibrant Hope
  4. A Bold Assurance

God can give us these things, if we humbly asked. The greatest miracle, other than our atonement just may be prayer.

The Tongue [Part Two]


 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring [fountain, NASB] of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.




We are talking about the tongue which James describes in detail: The Tongue Is:
  1. A very small part of the body but it boast of great things.
  2. A flame [blow torch] set on fire by hell.
  3. A force that cannot be tamed.
  4. A restless evil, full of deadly poison.
  5. A fountain that bring forth whatever is in the heart.

We all sin and come short of the glory and perfection we see in Jesus. We have all done things and said things that hurt other people. Any person who denies this is calling God a liar [1 John 1:10]. James said, We all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. So the fact is, we have made many mistakes with our tongue and not all of them were malicious; some were just careless. One of our problems is denial: we see the sins of others but we don’t see our own, especially as it relates to the tongue. This is not a new problem. Tonight we are going to look at the sins of the tongue as described in Proverbs. Many of these are also mentioned in the N.T.

  1. GOSSIP [to murmur or whisper, to be spacious, to be open, wide open: Webster–casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.
    • Moses [Lev. 19:16] Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.
    • David [Ps. 41:6] They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.
    • Proverbs 11:13– A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.
    • Proverbs 16:28– A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
    • Proverbs 17:4– Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.
    • Proverbs 20:19–A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers. [NASB–
      He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.
    • Proverbs 25:10–Others may accuse you of gossip, and you will never regain your good reputation.
    • Proverbs 26:20–Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.
    • Paul [2 Cor. 12:20]–For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior.
  2. SLANDER [the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation]
    • Psalms 15:1-3–O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue.
    • Proverbs 10:18–He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool.
    • Isaiah 32:7–As for a rogue, his weapons are evil; He devises wicked schemes to destroy the afflicted with slander.
  3. LYING [to make  deliberate untruthful; deceitful and false statements such as propaganda]
    • Proverbs 6:7–Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood.
    • Proverbs 12:19–Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.
    • Proverbs 21:6–The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.
    • Proverbs 26:28–A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
  4. FLATTERY [Overly complimentary, excessive praise]
    • Psalms 12:2–They speak falsehood to one another; With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
    • Psalms 12:3–May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaks great things.
    • Proverbs 7:21–With her many persuasions she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him.
    • Proverbs 26:28–A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
  5. TALEBEARER [A person who spreads gossip or confidential information causing unnecessary harm]
    • Proverbs 11:13–He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.
  6. BACKBITTING [A person who is looking for a safe place, away from the presence of the one they are talking about: malicious talk about someone who is not present]
    • Proverbs 25:23–The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance
    • Psalms 75:4–“I said to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn.
    • Proverbs 27:1–Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
    • Jeremiah 9:23-24–Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.
    • Romans 1:29–They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 
    • 2 Timothy 3:1-5–But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

Dishonorable Mentions

  1. Innuendo–an allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive or disparaging one.
  2. Exaggeration–a statement that represents something as better or worse than it really is. An overstatement or magnification.
  3. Profanity–blasphemous or obscene language. Swearing, filthy or foul language, cursing blasphemy, irreverence, disrespect and sacrilege.

Five Steps To Overcoming Discouragement


As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him. Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar. I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. 9 “O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?”  10 Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?” 11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!


As Augustine said, “We find no rest until we rest God”. The human soul cannot survive the storms of life unless it is anchored in something greater than it self. The soul that rest upon itself will sink in the storm. Christ is the anchor of the soul and it is He who carries us through the storms of life. We are buoyed in Him and He keeps us from sinking in a sea of depression and misery. We long to see Him in the storm and to know that He is near. Matthew Henry once said, “To be in the presence of the Lord is the desire of the upright, as it is the dread of the wicked.” We all like sailing when the seas are calm but whether on land our sea, we have some ups and downs and at times our world is shaken. During these turbulent times we are prone to doubt, to be discouraged, to lose our confidence. Like a ship in the midst of the sea, the human heart is assailed by many things: turbulent times, taunting enemies of the faith, doubt, fear grief, loneliness and just the feeling of being forgotten. Sometimes it is just the feeling of being small, like a ship in the middle of the sea. How could my life mean anything to the grand scheme?

It is at this point that there are things we must remember….

FIRST — DISCOURAGEMENT is always of the devil.

Note these scriptures–

    • When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. [Rom. 1:12]
    • If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. [Rom. 12:8]
    • Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. [2 Cor. 13:11]
    • I have sent him [Tychicus] to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. [Col. 4:8]
    • So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. [I Thes. 5:11]
    • Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. [2 Timothy 4:2]
    • And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. [Heb. 10:25]

We must recognize the source of discouragement. No where in scripture does the word of God attribute discouragement to the LORD. Every verse above and there are many more are about encouraging one another. Imagine the writer of Hebrews saying, “Don’t concern yourself about being faithful in worship attendance. It will discourage those that are being faithful and this is good.” Or Paul saying to the Colossians, “I have sent Ty to discourage you.” Ask yourself this question: why did Paul put so much emphasis on encouraging each other? I think the answer is simple: because we are easily discouraged. Matter of fact, it does not take that much to discourage most of us. The world taunts us, the flesh is always pulling us down and the devil is firing those fiery darts of doubt. All believers need encouragement. Take these 13 new Christians we have at DBC, what if next Sunday morning, they were the only ones who showed up? Do you think that would be discouraging? It would be devastating.

Brooks Faulkner, a Leader Care counselor, estimates that nearly 100 SBC pastors leave their ministry every month. Why is this? Some of it is moral failure but a lot of it is what they call burnout which is extended discouragement. First of all, I get quite a bit of encouraging from members and friends and I am thankful but I learned a long time ago that you have to determine where the criticism is coming from. God uses criticism to help us but the devil uses it to destroy us. Good criticism is anchored in a heart of love, destructive criticism is intended to discourage and it always of the devil. Once you know the source, you can deal with what is being said. A man confronted me many years ago with an accusation. He had heard a rumor and he told me that he had a good source. I said, “I know the source.” He argued, “You cannot know the source.” I said, “I assure you that I know the source. What you heard is a lie and all lies originate with Satan and that makes him the source.” He just grunted. This principle is not only true of gossip and rumor, it is true of discouragement. Anyone who intentionally tries to discourage a child of God is being used by Satan.

SECOND: Your personal worth is determined not by your performance or your accomplishments but rather by the price that was paid for your redemption.

Someone said it like this, THE CROSS is your barometer; it is how you measure God’s love for you. Charles Allen says that “No person created in the image of God is useless.” I think it was Elisabeth Elliott who said, “No one who can perform an act of kindness toward another is useless.” We live in a gigantic universe and at times it’s immensity can make us feel rather small. But created us and crowned us with glory and honor [Psalm 8] and that is said of no other creature other than man.

Getting encouragement from others is important but even more important is to understand our relationship with Christ. You need to know who you are in Christ. If you are convinced that He loves you unconditionally and that He values more than He did life: that in itself will change the way you think. I am not a loner: I do enjoy solitude but I like to pick and choose the spots. I enjoy the company of my wife, my children and grandchildren. I cannot imagine a world without them but I can live with their disapproval. There are times when they get angry we me but that does not change my course. I know what Christ has called me to do and I must do it with or without any one’s approval or encouragement. We must maintain our vertical alignment with Christ.

THIRD–Remember, You are needed.

There is something that needs to be done that will not be done unless you do it. God has put you in a unique position: there is no one else on planet earth that has your positioning, conditioning and gifting. The question you need to ask is: “What is it God wants me to do that only I could do?”

FOURTH–Remember, you are empowered.

God has given you a will. You can be what you choose to be. Recently a woman came up to me and just blessed me out. She said several things and none of them were nice or encouraging. When she finished, she threw her head up, wheeled around and marched off. I was standing there is shock. I think my only verbal response was “well.” She is filled with bitterness and she blamed me and others for the way she feels. You choose the way you feel. If you are determined to be discouraged, I can’t help you. If your life goal is to be bitter and sour, no one is going to change you. Ruth was sweet and adorable because she choose to be sweet and adorable. Naomi was bitter because she choose to be bitter. You say, “Naomi had lost a husband and two sons,” and I would say “Ruth had lost a husband and never knew the joy of having a son.” Naomi is your classic example of the person who believes “My problems are worse than your problems.” Problems are problems and grief is grief and everyone has them. Self-pity will destroy the greatest among us

FIFTH–Last but certainly not least…Remember you have an Awesome God to turn to, to trust.

David said, “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” First of all: no problem is bigger than God. When I get down and discouraged, I go to God. I get alone and pray. I talk to my maker and redeemer.

Most of us have flown on commercial jets and those who have flown quite a bit know that you can get into turbulent weather. We got into a little on our last flight to Guatemala. The captain spoke to us over the intercom and reminded us to stay buckled. He said, “We have encountered some turbulence and we don’t know where it came from. We have not seen any bad weather on the radar and there are no other air craft near us so its a bit of a mystery but just stay in your seats and hopefully we will get through it shortly.” I’ve been in a lot of turbulence for worse than that day and I have never heard that particular speech. I was on a flight from Atlanta to Huntsville back in 1986 and it is only a 30 minute flight but we got in a thunderstorm. The captain came on and informed us that even though it was a short flight and not normal, we were going to go higher and fly over the storm which he did, thank goodness. This is good advice: when you are in a storm go higher. Go to the one who is greater than the storm.

[For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.]