Study Scripture:  “ And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9

Introduction:

I am praying that the Lord will give me the ability to focus, and help me to write this message.  I am not surprised to see that this is the message I’m to write about considering I’m a bit sleepy as I write this.  This learning to balance ministry, work, family time, personal devotional time, and even a little me time is proving to be a challenge.  However, it is a challenge that I’ve accepted because if I’m going to be in ministry and serve the Lord then I have to learn to adjust to a schedule that’s not of my own.  So, let’s get into this message, and I’ll just simply ask that you believe God with me that this will turn out to be a really good message.

Today’s Message:

I’ve been a Christian for twenty-three years,” Cheryl said. “I’m just not getting anywhere. I’m as weak as I was when I first accepted Christ as my Savior. I still fail. I just don’t know if it’s worth it.” Tears streamed down her cheeks as she continued to talk about her failures. “By now I know all the right things to do, but I don’t do them. Sometimes I deliberately do something mean-spirited or unkind. What kind of Christian am I?” – Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer

So, can we once again be transparent, and not act like we’re super spiritual?  Has anyone other than me ever felt the way this woman did?  You know what, I’m not even going to give you the opportunity to deny this one because if you’re anything like me then the following statement has probably been true at some point in your walk with God just like it has in mine.  It doesn’t matter if it’s been 23 years, 23 months, or 23 weeks…the simple truth is that each one of us has at one point thought about throwing in the towel as Christians…haven’t we?  I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people who say that they “tried that God stuff, and it just didn’t work for them”.  I couldn’t even try to be judgmental of them because I’ve felt the very same thing at various points in my walk with God.

I have found myself looking at my life, and thinking that there’s no way that God’s really working in my life because I can’t see any results.  I still had some of the same struggles, I still wasn’t a powerful prayer person, I hadn’t been able to speak the Word with boldness, and my life with Christ at times seemed to be that of a roller coaster ride.  I’ve tasted and seen the goodness of God only to falter, and forget how sweet the goodness of God tasted.  I have looked at my life, and thought that there was just no hope for me at all to ever get anywhere, and I even felt that I must not really be saved because saved people don’t live like I do…and you know what…the really good religious people agreed.

“But I’m so discouraged, and I fail God so many times.” – Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer

Now, I know I’m not the only one who has uttered that statement a time or two.  Being completely honest…I still say that.  In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I said that I would probably be a lot better off financially…know what I’m saying.

So, what in the world do we do about this?

I went on to tell Cheryl she was correct–that she had failed. All of us do at times. If we’re not careful, we allow the devil to point to what we haven’t accomplished and where we have been weak. When that happens, it’s easy to feel bad or want to give up.

That’s not the way of the Spirit. No matter how we mess up our lives, God doesn’t give up on us. The Spirit constantly nudges us. – Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer

We have to stop listening to the devil first.  He’s the accuser of the brethren.  He doesn’t ever want us to be certain and secure of our place in Christ.  He wants us to always have our sin before our faces, and he’s always interested in heaping condemnation upon us for every single time we fail.  So, what happens is not only do we heap condemnation upon ourselves, but the devil helps shovel it on.  His whole goal is to get us to quit on ourselves first, and then once that’s accomplished it’s easy for him to get us to quit on God.  So, we have to stop listening to him, and when he starts reminding of our past…we ought to remind him of his future.

We can allow our thoughts to dwell on what we haven’t done or how spiritual we ought to be after all these years in our Christian faith. If we focus on what we’re not or what we haven’t accomplished, we are allowing the devil to make advances on the battlefield of our minds. – Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer

Another thing we need to do is allow ourselves a bit of slack.  For most of us, it took us years to get to the place where we needed God, and while salvation is instant sanctification isn’t.  We do instantly become new creations in our spirits when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  However, we do still have this stuff we live in called the flesh, we also still have our minds, and stuff that’s in our hearts.  Getting this stuff conformed to God’s will takes time.  Nothing in our lives other than our eternal security is instantly transformed…everything else is a process.  It takes time to learn how to crucify our flesh, and keep it crucified.  It takes time for a heart of stone to become pliable, soft, and learn to love.  Learning how to live and walk with God takes time.

While we are in a race…we are all walking step by step.  We grow step by step, faith to faith, and glory to glory.  The thing about the Christian life is that everyone is at different levels, and the truth really is this.  Your not called to be Billy Graham.  Your not called to be TD Jakes.  Your not called to be your pastor.  Your not called to be your co-worker.  Your called to be who God has designed YOU to be.

Don’t you know I had to learn the same things?  I had these struggles.  I listen to certain people pray, and I find myself envious wishing I could pray like that.  I can, but it takes time to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer.  I hear pastor’s quote scripture, and hope one day I can quote like they do.  I can, but it takes me taking time in the Word of God studying to be able to do that.  I have to realize that there are people who wish they had my ability to write, and for the longest time I never used my gift at all.  I had a man of God speak a word of knowledge over me that I’d one day write for the Lord, and being the good immature Christian I was I thought about books and magazine articles.  However, I was told that more than 5 years ago, and I’m just now beginning my ministry writing for the Lord.  You know what?  I’m never going to write a book if I don’t write a sentence.

My mentor, and father in the faith would say it this way…you have to be able to bloom where your planted.  He’d teach us that in order to find out what step two would be then you have to complete step one.  We need to give ourselves some leeway, and learn to allow ourselves to miss the mark.  We need to learn not to get down on ourselves when we make mistakes because we are going to make mistakes.  It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”.  We need to not compare ourselves to others, but compare ourselves to who God wants us to be.  Your not called to be anyone else, but who God has called you to be.  You also need to give yourself time to grow.  You didn’t get to the bottom of the ditch in one day, and it’s going to take a while to get to the top, then you have to climb out, and then you have to get away from the ditch.

I remember I was murmuring, and complaining to the Lord one time about how I was a loser because I couldn’t see what in the world He was doing in my life.  He allowed me to do this for a few days, and then one day I began to wonder why I liked the smell of cigars.  He took me all the way back to when my grandparents lived in a mobile home park, and their next door neighbor used to smoke cigars.  But, that wasn’t the best part.  The best part came as He began to show me the things that He walked me through, the things He’d delivered me from, and what He spoke to me about that was priceless.

The Lord spoke this to me at the end of that journey:  “I have brought you out of your own personal Egypt.  There were many things that you were bound, and enslaved to that I had to set you free from.  You have gone through the wilderness of your life, and now you stand looking over into the Promised Land…but what do you see?  I said: “I see the giants like the Israelites did.”  Then the Lord said to me:  “You have to go through the land of the Giants before you will enter into the Promised Land.”

So, I had many personal giants to fight, and the truth is I am still fighting giants today.  The Promised Land that the Lord has to me is in sight, but I still have many giants in my life that I need to defeat before I reach that Promised Land.  Do you know what the Promised Land is?  Eternity with Him.  That’s right friends.  For the rest of my life I will have to continue to fight the giants that are in my life, but I don’t have to fight those giants alone.  He’s blessed me with a godly wife, He’s blessed me with an amazing church and pastor, and He’s also promised me that I won’t have to fight them alone.

I told that story to tell you that we’re going to have to go through some things.  What did James say about that?  He said count it all joy WHEN trials and temptations come.  The important thing is to do like Paul encourages, and to not grow weary.

Friends, there’s an age-old principle of scripture that’s been unchanged since the beginning of time.  That principle is seed…time…harvest.  When you plant an apple seed you don’t get an apple tree over night.  However, that’s exactly what we do when we come to Jesus, and we’re not different after a while.  We are always going to reap what we sow.  If we’ve sowed a lot of bad seeds…we are going to continue to reap a harvest of bad things.  It’s not until we begin planting good seed that we will reap the harvest of good things.

“Don’t quit. Don’t give up.” That’s the message we need to hear. I think of Isaiah 43:1b-2: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you…; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.” Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2005 by Joyce Meyer

As a sports fan I know the name of Jim Valvano.  Every year ESPN talks about the Jimmy V Foundation, and they replay the words from his famous speech at the ESPN’s ESPY Awards Ceremony.  In it he says something that sticks with everyone who has ever heard that speech.  It’s simple, yet profound as it comes from a man who was fighting, and eventually lost his battle with cancer.  His message:  “Don’t give up…don’t ever give up.”

Don’t Give Up…Don’t Ever Give Up

Jesus spoke that trouble, persecution, difficulties, and trials WILL come.  You know, there’s something that I hear occasionally that I really like, and have kind of adopted myself.  There’s a saying out there that says that God never said the Christian walk was easy, but He promised that He would walk with us.  So, when your discouraged and frustrated like the writer of the infamous “Footprints in the Sand” poem…know that the times where you only saw one set of footprints…those footprints weren’t yours…they were His.

Conclusion & Prayer:

This is God’s promise. He doesn’t promise to take us completely out of troubles or hardships, but He does promise to be with us as we go through them. And when God is with us, what is there to worry about?

I believe that sums up this message nicely.  If God is for us, and He IS for us…there’s nothing that can come against us.  He knows about it all, but the problem is (going back to willpower) we think we’re strong enough to handle things on our own, and when it doesn’t work out because we’re depending upon us instead of Him…we fail.  The problem with that is when we fail because we’re doing things our way…who do we point the finger at?  If you try telling me you point it at yourself then you’re way too super spiritual than I am, and I need to be learning from you.  Why do I say that?  Because even I have been guilty of blaming God for things that were my fault.

Well, it was rough, and to be honest I was tempted to quit writing and finish this tomorrow.  I was tempted to grow weary while writing this message, but I need to get it finished so that I can defeat the devil, and tell my flesh that I’m going to honor God.  I hope that this all makes sense, and I hope that you’ll continue to follow along.  We’re only 4 days into this 14 day study…and I don’t know about you…but I’ve learned quite a bit already.

Pray: God, despite my failures, You are with me, encouraging me not to give up. Please help me to remember that, with Your help, I can win. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.