Here is an article I wrote which I spent a good majority of the morning composing. Hope you enjoy! God Gives Second Chances
More and more these days I’m seeing a trend in the church, that is, in sincere Christians who desire God with all their heart, to stumble and get tripped up continually in the area of discouragement.
I once preached a message called, “How to Overcome Discouragement” (which you can listen to by simply clicking on the link) and I will relay some of those themes here in this article. But discouragement, defeat, and depression seem to be a major issue I see many a good-willed believer battling against, and too often succumbing to. All too often I have as well. And I can say with utmost certainty: What a colossal waste of time and energy it is trying to battle discouragement! Indeed, too often believers yield to the lie that they have ‘missed it too often’ or that they are ‘out of the will and providence of God for good’. That is simply a lie from the enemy, no ifs, ands, or buts. Unless you've committed the unpardonable sin (which is you're reading this article I can almost guarantee you haven't turned your back on and rejected and blasphemed the Holy Spirit) I want to tell you this important truth: God gives second chances. In fact, he gives third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh chances as well.
“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overtake the wicked.” (Proverbs 14:16)
That is good news! Perhaps Peter had this scripture in mind when he thought himself generous to say to the Lord Jesus,
“Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21b, 22)
Simple math would indicate Jesus commands us to forgive 490 times a single person who sins against us, but I would beg to differ that Jesus’ inference is that we are to, quite frankly, never not forgive someone. Indeed, we never have a command to not forgive someone when they sin against us. I believe that so many well-meaning Christians are bound hand and foot by the enemy of their souls simply because they refuse to forgive of an offence against them. Just read the rest of the chapter from Matthew 18:23-35 to gain an understanding of how the kingdom of God operates in regard to forgiveness. Bottom line, if you are harbouring unforgiveness or bitterness in your heart toward someone, whether they are in the church or not, it is no wonder to me if you battle constant discouragement and depression and defeat. The Lord has graciously sent demonic spirits to torment you until you come to your senses and forgive with the same forgiveness that you received when you took the cross for granted and accepted the purification of your sins by the precious blood of Jesus. It is better a demonic spirit is sent now to torment you until you ‘pay the debt’ rather than the possibility of eternal torment apart from God in hell if you hold onto that unforgiveness or bitterness. If you desire to be free and you are willing to forgive I would suggest these resources: “The Importance of Forgiveness” booklet by John Arnott and also “The Importance of Forgiveness” DVD (which you could order from one of the above links) teaching by John and Carol Arnott. I believe they can help you get free from the bondage of unforgiveness. When you understand how important forgiveness is to your life and walk with God, it will be a huge motivation for you to forgive. Simply choosing to forgive and release the person that has offended or hurt you, from your heart, will do wonders in and of itself.
Okay, but perhaps the above does not pertain to you right now, and you say, “I have dealt with forgiving to the very best I know how. I feel a release and sincerely don’t have a grudge or bitterness toward anyone, yet I still feel discouraged. What now?”
At this point I would like to ask you to listen to the message called “How to Overcome Discouragement”(again, just click to listen to it) on our church website Mp3 listing archived under ‘older messages’. You can listen to it before or after you read the remainder of this article.
The message basically outlines 4 points.
1) Get honest
2) Get God’s perspective
3) Repent (change the way you think)
4) Go forward (apply what God is telling you with practical application)
To get honest means to ask this question, “Why am I discouraged right now?”
The word of God clearly states in Hebrews 13:8,
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
So the issue is never with God. God is not discouraged, nor is he depressed, nor does he feel defeated. I think he is actually quite happy and secure in his identity as the Almighty! So the first and foremost issue and question you must ask yourself is, “Why am I discouraged?” As well, you might want to ask yourself these questions,
- Have I been out of the word of God?
- Have I neglected going to church and fellowship?
- Am I in wilful sin?
- Am I neglecting God altogether?
Questions like these and similar ones are great keys to self-diagnosing your issue. Perhaps you are simply discouraged because you have not been spending time seeking the glorious face of God. But for whatever reason you do feel discouraged, if you do, I can guarantee you with 100% confidence that it is not God’s fault. Most likely, unless you are under the assault of the enemy, the issue is probably you. Dear reader, I do not say that to offend or condemn, it’s just the truth. Most of the time when I have felt discouraged, I don’t even really need to ask God "why?", because deep inside my heart I already know why. The reason is usually that I have neglected his word or his command to me in some way, and I am reaping the result of not doing all, or in some drastic cases, any of what he has asked me to do. This sin of disobedience can span over a moment, an hour, a day, a month, a year or longer. But discouragement usually results from my own sin and lack of passion or obedience to the known will of God.
Get God’s perspective
Once I have in the least tried to diagnose the issue, I can then seek the Lord for his perspective (sometimes we must get his perspective in order to fully diagnose the reason for our discouragement). The thing I love the most about God’s perspective is this: He is always 100% correct in his diagnosis. He never gets it wrong. His word is absolutely, 100% infallible. I love that about God! Whenever I feel discouraged and I need to be uplifted, once I have gotten honest and understood or in the least sensed what the issue was in me, I can then go to God and to his word and be encouraged and uplifted by what he has to say.
“But what if he rebukes me?” you may ask. Good! Great! Wonderful! I’ll tell you this much, better now than later. The Bible says most encouragingly:
“My child, don’t make light of the LORD’S discipline, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” (Hebrews 12:5b, 6)
Read verses 7 – 13 of Hebrews chapter 12 for additional insight. But the above verses communicate an awesome truth: When God rebukes, corrects, or punishes you for failure, it is because he loves you and wants to validate the fact that you are his child. God’s heart is always to bless you, bring you forward, admonish you, lift you up, encourage you, and bring you higher into his call for you. He heart is never to curse you, back you up, disregard you, tear you down, discourage you, or bring you low to ground to trample upon you. I remember a man of God said the following, which when I heard it resounded so deeply inside of me, “I have been a Christian for forty years and the one regret I have is that for twenty of those years I didn’t know how nice God was.” I sure would like to learn that one now!
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? (Romans 2:4)
Can you begin to see that He loves you and wants to bless you? The only thing that prevents a loving father from blessing his kids with affection and love would be their choice to not receive it. It would have nothing to do with the father, and everything to do with the child’s absence of being in the father’s embrace, and in the ‘embrace’ of something or someone else. The same is infinitely more true about a God who the Bible describes in the following way,
“… for God is love.” (1 John 4:8b)
He is absolutely, positively, the expression of perfect, undivided, undiluted, intense, glorious love. To receive his loving instruction is the wisest course of action you or I could possibly take. And he has given us a whole Bible full of instruction, not to mention poured out his Holy Spirit upon us to lead us to fully understand the exact course He is wanting us to chart.
Repent (change the way you think)
I used to believe that repentance had a great deal to do with weeping at the altar of a church sanctuary, or lying on my face sucking carpet and agonizing over my sin. The term “repenting in sackcloth and ashes” is a biblical mandate of which many godly people have experienced during times of sorrow for sin and coming back to God. I know personally there have been times in my life where if I could've draped myself in sackcloth (if I knew what it was or where I could find it) and rub ashes all over myself (in my hair and all over my already sackcloth covered body) but we didn’t have a fireplace with ashes in it and I would've had to get in my car to go dirty myself in that manner somewhere else. But I sure felt like a needed to! There have been times when I have ‘repented my guts out’ before God, truly and deeply agonizing over my sin, whatever it was at the time. I have been broken over sin, and this is healthy, and often necessary action to create the deep change that God is looking to perform within us.
But to “repent” does not mean: to agonize. To state the definition of repent as simply as possible, it means: to change the way you think. Therefore the best and quickest way to get either get God’s perspective, or act on it once you have it would be to follow Paul’s advice below:
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (Romans 12:1)
As you give yourself to the word or command that God has spoken to you, you will undoubtedly experience breakthrough into God’s presence and joy. Then you will experience a renewing of your strength, because the Psalmist states:
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:11)
That is certainly a promise for you and me. Whatever the degree of your present sin, you can change by the mercies of God. But you must go through the process to get there.
Go forward (apply what God is showing you with practical application)
Once you have gotten honest, gotten God’s perspective and repented to change the way you think, and subsequently changed your course of action, you have something still you must do: Go forward! Because the reality is this: You cannot go backwards if you going forwards! I know its deep but try to understand :-) If you go forward from this day onward for the rest of your life to the best of your ability, you will win! Allow me to reiterate again: If you don’t stop ever pursuing God and his voice and you never stop giving your all in obeying him, you will most certainly come into the victory that Jesus promises us.
“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
So my dear reader, know for certain that if you have fallen, if you feel discouraged or downtrodden, God can and will help you. Your job is to submit yourself under his hand, and surrender to him. Know him daily through his word, through fellowship with his people (the church), through fellowshipping with him during times of individual and corporate worship and prayer. As you give yourself to God today, he will most certainly lift you out of the miry clay, and again set your feet upon the rock!