How to deal with discouragement while doing good work

“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 6:10

This Bible verse is a message of encouragement. It not only comforts us but gives us a hope of steadfastness, and enables us to press on forward faithfully. Here, better things could be said of them to be optimistic because God will not forget the works of genuinely saved believers and the love shown when they minister to the saints. Remember, faith, hope and love are the hallmarks of true Christianity.

Do not be discouraged

Often, we are so discouraged thinking that God has forgotten us. But we should never encourage such thoughts. God never forgets or overlooks our hard work for Him. We may not receive our rewards right away, but God knows our every effort of love and ministry we do for Him.

There is an old tale about Satan walking on the street of life, sulking in the shadows with his hunting dogs, the assistant demons. A man, Albert, came walking down the street; Satan said to the little demon, scowling with bitter face: “Go, get him for me!”. Quickly he crossed the street, silently and lightly hopped on to the man’s shoulder. In his ear he whispered, “You are discouraged.”

‘”No,” said the man, “I am not discouraged.”

“You are discouraged!” insisted the demon. This time the man replied, “I don’t think I am.” Louder and more decidedly, the demon repeated, “I tell you, you are discouraged.” Albert dropped his head and murmured: “Well, I suppose I am”. The little demon darted back to Satan and said proudly, “I have got him; he is discouraged.”

Another man, Carlson, passed. Again, old Satan said: “Get him for me!” The proud little demon of discouragement repeated his tactics. The first time, he said. “You are discouraged,” the man replied emphatically, “No”. The second time Carlson replied, “I tell you I am not discouraged!” The third time he said, “You lie! I am not discouraged” and he walked down the street, his head erect, going straight towards the light. The imp of discouragement returned to his master, crestfallen, “I couldn’t get him,” he reported. “Three times I told him he was discouraged. The third time, he called me a liar, and that discouraged me!”

Satan is ready to step in with his cunning devices and stratagems to discourage and disappoint believers. At such moments we have the right prescription from the Scripture and that is “Resist the devil; he will flee away from you.”

Disappointment is Fatal

Let God’s love for us and His intimate knowledge of our service for Him bolster us as we face multiple rejections and disappointments here on earth. No matter what life takes us through, let the hope and faith we have anchored in the Lord, keep us pressing forward to do more for Him. Periods of lingering frustrations are common in each one of our lives. Some days are like diamonds – bright and shining while some other days may seem like a stone – unimpressive and unattractive. Yet we must always remember to clothe ourselves in confidence and focus on the almighty God.

Ministering to the Lord

There are few things that accompany salvation. Evidence of salvation will manifest in the lives of saints namely their work of the faith, labor of love and patience of hope. The Lord’s ministry should be done heartily, not grudgingly and as to the Lord and not to men. ‘Ye serve the Lord Christ,’ (Col.3:24). Those who persevere in a diligent discharge of their duty shall obtain the full assurance of hope in the end.

Reward in heaven will not be for prominence or apparent successes; they will not be for talents or opportunities, but rather for faithfulness as to the Lord. The Lord’s ministry is a responsibility and we must take it seriously – continue doing it and finish the task faithfully.

In the name of the Lord

Apostles and early Christians continued to serve the Lord’s people in the name of the Lord. Likewise, we have to steadfastly minister to the Lord as long as we have the health, ability, and opportunity. But, only do the ministry which you have been called to do and that which is received from Jesus Christ according to the will of God. The Bible teaches us a very important lesson that the humblest ministry (Mt.10:42) can be glorified and dignified by doing it for the Lord. While serving the saints in the name of the Lord, always remember to fret not, faint not, fear not or forget not.

Certainty of God’s promises

Remembering the reward that lies ahead should encourage us as believers to carry on the work, entrusted into our hands, till we can declare that we have finished it faithfully. Since faith must wait long to be rewarded, we may be tempted to grow weary. But if we have anchored our hope in God our savior, we will never be disappointed. The example of Abraham is given as a stimulus and through this the certainty of hope is affirmed. God is righteous therefore the fulfillment of the promise is assured.

Conclusion

Lest we become discouraged and disappointed, the Bible reminds us to have faith and hope in the Lord for rewards are certain even if not immediate. Over the medical school of the old St.Bartholomew’s hospital are carved these words: Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.

The story is told of a king who placed a heavy stone in the road and then hid and watched to see who would remove it. Men of various classes came and worked their way round it, some loudly blamed the king for not keeping the highways clear, but all dodging the duty of getting it out of the way. At last a poor peasant on his way to town with his burden of vegetables for sale came, and contemplating the stone, laid down his load, and rolled the stone into the gutter. Then, turning round, he spied a purse that had lain right under the stone. He opened it and found it full of gold pieces with a note from the king saying it was for the one who should remove the stone.

Those who expect a gracious reward should not be slothful. They must not love their ease and lose their opportunities. Therefore, ‘Beloved brethren, be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord’.

C.M.John

You’re Precious

Has anyone ever told you that you are precious?

By my acts and words, I have shown how much I love you. I created this beautiful world just for you. But I don’t know how much you appreciate that. Soon this world will come to an end. Nonetheless, an entirely new dwelling place is being created for you. If this world is magnificent, how much more the new earth will be!

Meanwhile I wanted you to grow in knowledge and love as well as continue to enjoy the good things. But you keep falling and failing. If someone makes a battery and if it doesn’t charge, it is considered dead. When it comes to you, I have created you with the best intentions and you continue to get lost. You are having a real struggle within you between choices and functions. But I didn’t want to term you as a failure and cast you away.

You are precious_RIK

You were wonderfully made by me even though I knew you would become selfish and careless. In your pursuit for freedom and independence, you plunged deep into despair and bondage. So I already had a plan to rescue and revive you. Love is beautifully expressed when it is shown to someone who is helpless. Love always involves sacrifice. So I came to this world to see what it means to live as a human with flesh and blood. Most importantly, I came to die in your place so that you can continue to enjoy life forever.

If I was willing to die for you, don’t you think I am willing to do any other thing so as to let you live? What more do you need to see to know that I love you?

I have done everything to draw you closer to life —to the abundant life. Why would you want to reject me?

You are precious to me.

 Jesus Christ

 

You’re Precious!(Click to download in pdf. Feel free to print and share as much as you want with your friends. Stay blessed!)

The Future of God

What is the future of God? Most importantly, can man live without God?

Secularization is gaining more traction in entire regions of the world. Unsurprisingly, recent surveys taken in wealthy nations show a prevailing attitude of living without the recognition of God.

I wrote this after reading a recent article published in the BBC titled Tomorrow’s Gods: What is the future of religion?

This article reiterates the oft-repeated refrain that religious beliefs serve only to make people conform to moral standards and are useful in promoting psychological wellbeing during challenging life situations. The author does a good job of expressing his analysis on the development of many religious movements throughout the centuries. The pushing point of the article is the continually changing dynamics of beliefs and the constant development of new spiritual movements.

nowhere in history have “gods” been created faster than that which is occurring in our own days

I want to direct further discussions on the topic based on an important premise. Specifically, it is the human desire for independence and freedom. Those are good things and should be celebrated. But like any good thing unless they are kept in balance the door is flung open to abuse.

Consider history, particularly those times when man considered himself powerful and self-sufficient and began to create his own gods. People attempted that in Babel. In fact, many kings and emperors of the past acted like gods and demanded worship. But nowhere in history have “gods” been created faster than that which is occurring in our own days. Look around you. Newer gods and movements are being carved out everywhere.

It is a terrible combination to feel powerful and to be confused at the same time. The result is a desire to find meaning and contentment through ever newer and more novel forms of spirituality. The unintended consequence is that millions are plunging into deeper despair and meaninglessness. Questions about one’s reality abound. Does vegetarianism help? Should the environment be our priority? Is science the cure? Does anyone care?

In spite of our zeal to become unrestrained and free, each of us remains intrinsically dependent. For example, trillions of bacteria live inside our bodies. These organisms are far too small to be seen with the naked eye yet our health is inextricably tied to them. Again, even though the oxygen in the air we breathe is both abundant and free, yet, it is absolutely vital to life. Likewise water, so simple and ubiquitous that we scarcely give it a thought, is necessary to survive.

if you are making your own truth and establishing your own freedom you are ultimately destroying yourself.

Consider man’s technological achievements such as the hyperloop. As per the plan, it can transport passengers at a speed of 1100km/hour. Even though we are able to travel faster than ever before, yet no one knows what comprises one’s mind.

Did any of us have control of the date in which we were born or when we will die?

Are you still feeling self-reliant and independent?

Perhaps it is good to slow down a bit. Our culture is trying to “move fast and break rules”. That is the path to destruction. Our thoughts and emotions are to be used wisely. This results in true independence. God, who created us, does not want to control us like will-less beings.

Freedom is derived from truth. People are craving and fighting for freedom. For most, the end is even greater disaster because seeking truth was never part of their journey. If you desire to assert yourself and yet are confused, I urge you to seek the truth. The truth of which I speak is the truth which is self-existing. It is the truth which is not carved out by man. Seek and you will find. But if you are making your own truth and establishing your own freedom you are ultimately destroying yourself.

It’s self-contradictory to discuss God’s future because God does not live in a time dimension as we do. We have a beginning and thus we journey through time. Likewise, the earth had a point of beginning and so it passes through time as well. Because we had a beginning we can never claim complete independence. God is eternal and has neither beginning nor end. Only He can claim complete independence.

Dijo John

 

 

 

Raising Godly Children-Teaching Respect

What is the most important virtue for a parent to teach a child?  Honesty?  Generosity?  Patience?   Compassion?  All these are not only important but vital to the development of Christian character.  But God places one character quality above all others, the fifth commandment:  Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12).   Paul reiterated the importance of this commandment when he wrote,  “Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with promise” (Ephesians 6:2).

Naturally the question arises as to how we can teach respect to our children.   One of the most important methods is to model it ourselves.

Modeling Respect

Recently, when I was at my daughter’s house, I needed a flyswatter.  I had no idea where she kept hers but because I have always kept mine on top of the refrigerator, I checked to see if it might be there.  Lo and behold, she keeps hers in the same place I keep mine.  It was not coincidental.  As a child she learned what I did and as an adult she continued the same practice.  The expression “more is caught than taught” is true for so many things we want to teach our children.  If we want respectful kids, the first thing to do is to model it ourselves.

Respect for others

When our children were still young, a wise elder told me that one of the worst things we could do to our kids was to have “Roast Pastor” for Sunday lunch.  I had never heard that expression but understood his meaning.  He referred to the sad practice of many in which on their way home from church they criticize the pastor and his preaching.   This elder had seen families in the church do this and he had experienced the resulting disrespect the children had for the church leaders.

I thought of this a few days ago when talking with someone who was very critical of one of their church leaders.  I was hoping that as parents they hadn’t discussed their grievances in front of their children.  It is hard not to, because we are always going to see some things differently, but it is a critical thing not to do in front of our children.  It breeds disrespect, and as Christians, our desire is for our children to grow up to love Christ and His church.

The admonition to model respect goes beyond just the church setting.  In everyday life, we ourselves must show proper deference to those in authority even if we don’t agree with their political views or opinions.  In fact, every person deserves to be respected in that man is made in the image of God.

Respect for spouse

I recently read an article written by a woman who says that in a family the children should come first.  She stated, “Your spouse is an adult, capable of meeting his or her own needs.”  Wow! It makes me wonder why the spouse would stay around. If children are number one, where is the unity in that marriage? Where is their respect for the father when he comes in second or third or fourth on the list? It reminds me of the time my daughter was passing through the tough teenage years.  She came to me one day and said, “Whom do you love better? Me or Daddy?” She was saying, in effect, “Pick your side.”  I told her that I loved her father the most.  Many years later she said to me that at first, she wasn’t happy with that answer, but she wasn’t as upset as she thought she’d be.  She said it actually gave her a sense of security.  Parents must keep a united front.  When our children would ask their dad or me if they could do something, we would ask them, “What did your dad/mom say?” We would back each other up.  As parents, we didn’t always agree on rules, but we saw the need to be one voice in the eyes of our children.

By Instruction

It is often stated that respect must be earned.  Certainly it is true that respect should be earned, but children must likewise be taught respect for those who are in authority.   For example, a child should never be permitted to speak disrespectfully to either parent.  Because we are from the Southern United States it was natural for us to teach our children to say “Yes Sir and Yes Ma’am” when we asked them to do something or when we asked them a question.  It’s seems like such an unimportant little thing, but it serves to show proper respect.

Respectful words alone are insufficient however.  The words need to be accompanied by a respectful attitude.  I have a five-year-old granddaughter, and her mother can read her attitude by her eyebrows.  When her daughter becomes angry and doesn’t want to do something, she scrunches them up.  Her mother tells her to change her eyebrows.  She is, in effect, saying “You need to change your attitude.”

The Ultimate Goal

The purpose of showing honor and respect to parents and others is not an end in itself.   As I mentioned, my main purpose in teaching respect to my kids was so that they would be able to learn to love and respect and obey God later on in life.  I wanted it to be as easy as possible for them to choose Him and live for Him.

Sharon Haesemeyer

The Lord saved me at 14 years old and has proven Himself faithful every day of my life.
Joshua 1:9 is the verse He specifically gave to encourage me before we went as missionaries to Honduras in 1989.  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Jim and I just celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary. The Lord has blessed us with 3 kids and 9 grandkids (all of them in the cover image).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Church of Laodicea: The Church that Grew Too Comfortable

Our studies now bring us to the final message of Jesus to the seven churches.   Of all Jesus’ comments to the churches, the one to the Church of the Laodiceans is undoubtedly the most sobering and solemn.  It surely evoked deep introspection among the believers in that ancient city and, we trust, a repentant spirit.  But Jesus’ final message was by no means written only to that place so far removed from us in time and geography.  Jesus’ words are just as apt to us personally in the context of our present lives and in today’s culture.

To reiterate what we have learned already, there are four possible ways to interpret the messages Jesus sent to the seven churches of Asia.

  1. The seven churches were actual churches to which Jesus had a specific message and specific exhortations.
  2. The churches symbolically represent seven different types of assemblies of Christians that can exist at any given time.
  3. The seven churches symbolically represent discernible stages in church history.
  4. The messages to the churches are recorded in the Bible to be an encouragement and a warning to all Christians both in the corporate sense and as individual believers.

Certainly, all four interpretive perspectives are valid but for our present study, the final two views are particularly pertinent.  Jesus’ last message to the churches goes beyond the recipients in the first century and represents His exhortation to us, those living in the final days prior to His glorious return.  Each of us must, therefore, be constantly vigilant to guard against a Laodicean spirit.

Jesus’ message to Laodicea is as follows:

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ”  Revelation 3:14-22

The City of Laodicea

In all the seven letters, the cities to which the messages were addressed give remarkable clues as to the trials and difficulties besetting the Christians residing there.   The church in Laodicea was no exception.  Let us consider the city of Laodicea itself to gain helpful insights.

He seeks to join us and to share the richness of His fellowship and the depth of His love, blessing our lives in ways no earthly possessions could ever equal.

The name Laodicea means “rule of the people.”   Oftentimes we regard democracy as the highest form of government, but it is by no means so.  The highest form of government is a beneficent monarchy or, put more specifically, a theocratic kingdom in which Jesus Himself reigns.  In contrast, a government ruled by the people by definition excludes God and sadly such was the case with Laodicean church.  We find Jesus standing outside, knocking to get in.

The city of Laodicea was founded during the third century before Christ.  It was located on a plateau, a feature which ensured it would be secure from enemy attack.  The location would seemingly be ideal were it not for the city’s vulnerable water supply.  Laodicea depended on water from the neighboring city of Hierapolis located ten kilometers (six miles) to the north.   Water from the hot springs of Hierapolis was piped via aqueduct to Laodicea, however by the time the water arrived it was insipid and tepid.  It was neither hot nor cold.

Laodicea was located on an important commercial trade route and became quite prosperous.  In fact, the city became so wealthy and self-reliant that when it was partially destroyed by an earthquake in AD 61, it refused offers of Roman assistance to re-build, insisting instead that it could take care of itself.

Laodicea was known for three things:

It was a wealthy city and a financial center.

A lustrous black wool was produced there which was woven into much-desired clothing.

It was the location of a temple dedicated to Asklepios.  Associated with the temple was a medical school. It is also likely that a medicine known as Phrygian powder was formulated in Laodicea.  Phrygian power was used as an eye salve.

Jesus’ Message and Admonishments

Jesus begins His message to Laodicea (and to us) by describing Himself as the Amen.  The word amen means “truth.”   The obvious point of using this title is that if the Laodiceans said they were rich and Jesus said they were poor, who is right?  Jesus is the truth.  He is the Amen.  It is of vital importance that we consider our lives from Jesus’ perspective, not from comparing ourselves with others.

Next, Jesus turns to the crux of the problem in Laodicea.  It was one of indifference.  They had languished into lifestyles that were so comfortable that their relationship with their true Provider and Sustainer seemed to be an afterthought.  In a manner reminiscent of the days when the city had been destroyed by the earthquake, the Laodociean Christians of Jesus’ time felt they could take care of things by themselves.  They didn’t take notice of the One who loved them the most.

There can be no greater offense done to one whom you purportedly love than to not even notice him.  In chapter two of Revelation, we saw that the problem besetting the Ephesian church was that of lost love.  But in Laodicea, the problem was much graver—total apathy.

The Laodiceans were comfortable and contented, but the Lord reveals to them that they were actually impoverished.  He tells them to seek true wealth, that which comes only from walking in His ways.  Instead of garments of black wool, He tells them to clothe themselves with the white gowns of righteousness.  Instead of the Phrygian eye salve He exhorts the Laodiceans to anoint their eyes with His Word so that they can truly see their spiritual needs.

And then Jesus says something surprising and shocking.  He tells the Laodiceans that He is standing outside and knocking to come in.  Surely no one could imagine the Creator and Lord of the universe would describe Himself in this way, but it is true.  Jesus’ heart is ever toward His creature.  He seeks to join us and to share the richness of His fellowship and the depth of His love, blessing our lives in ways no earthly possessions could ever equal.  As William Barclay stated, “It would be great enough to think of a God who accepted men when they came back; it was beyond belief to think of a God who actually went out and searched!”

Jesus ends His messages to the churches with a universal call to respond.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  May our ears indeed be open to the One who is truth and love.

Jim Haesemeyer

This concludes the series on seven churches of Revelation. Here are the direct links to all articles published so far in this series

  1. The Messages to the Seven Churches of Revelation: Their Meaning and Their Application to Our Lives
  2. The Message to the Church of Ephesus: The Most Important Thing
  3. The Church of Smyrna: The Love of Christ is Always Present
  4. The Church of Pergamos: Lessons on the Insidious Attacks of Satan
  5. The Church of Thyatira: The Church Where Sin Was Justified
  6. The Church of Sardis: The Dead Church
  7. The Church of Philadelphia: Lessons on Love