Elevator Going Down
By Dr. Ken Matto
Christmas time and with the holidays come a lot of stress and the disquietude of this time of the year drains all of us no matter how spiritual we may be. There are church responsibilities, family responsibilities, friendship responsibilities and the list goes on. There is only 24 hours in a day, even at Christmas time. This time of the year is probably the most beautiful though, since there are so many houses lit up and the night time is filled with those lights and for a brief moment even the unbeliever knows something is different about this day. Yet the unbeliever being attached to this world does not know the real reason they are putting lights on their house. To them it is a festival of lights and good cheer and being nice to those they even hate. There are many who do not celebrate Christmas for they say it is a pagan holiday.
Christmas comes at a special time of year and it does not come on the birthday of the Lord Jesus since He was born in either September or October. The Shepherds were still in the field which means the temperatures were still warm enough to allow them to remain outside with their flocks. December 25 is a very appropriate day to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus. When one looks at the calendar, we see the 25th comes only about 1 to 3 days after the winter solstice which means the beginning of winter. When the sun passes the solstice at this time of year, the days begin to get longer and the sun gives more light and slowly the winter fades into the beauty which we know as spring.
Until we see spring come on the scene with all its regenerating beauty, there is still the matter of a few more months of winter which means a few more months of cabin fever and for many it means increased isolation or loneliness. At least in the summer you can sit outside and putter around in the garden or work on the property or something akin to that. Just this past week, isolation got the best of me for a while. It got to the point I sent out a despondent e-mail to a few friends stating that I felt like quitting the ministry and just leaving it all behind and the reason I gave was there was no response to the truth and the lethargic mindset of many Christians caused me to stand still and ask if it was worth it to spend hours in front of a computer studying the Bible and disseminating truth when it is always trashed by the majority of so-called Christians. Bible truth is hated in the churches and I was tired of getting thrown out of them for standing for the truth.
Well as you can tell I was off course for a while and I had my eye focused on the worldly response to Biblical truth. Then a good brother in New York State sent me two e-mails: One was a personal letter advising me to check my motives and the second one was an article he wrote concerning missions and he used the ministry of Isaiah as his subject. Both of these communiqués played a great part in my spiritual restoration by getting me to realize I had my eyes in the wrong direction. I was looking for sunrise in the west.
At this point I want to share some reality principles with you which will help when you become spiritually discouraged or want to give up like I did. It is good to note that God didn’t throw a lightning bolt at me instead He raised up a brother to fight the good fight with me. I am sure that those preachers on this list can identify with the fact that if you constantly minister and minister without being ministered to, you will become drained and eventually discouraged. Let us now attend to some of those principles.
How to Fight Discouragement
God is Close
Sometimes when we are discouraged we feel God is so far away but the truth is when we get ourselves off track He is right there to restore us. God never moves away from His children but He is always faithful and ready to hear our prayers. Many times we don’t go to God because we believe we can fix our discouragement on our own and this is a big lie. God knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows exactly how to restore us. Never make the mistake in believing that when we get off track God is ready to throw a lightning bolt at us. He does not do that, He is the embodiment of love toward His children. When David sinned with Bathsheba and was finally confronted with his sin, he asked God to restore him. (Psa 51:12 KJV) Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. If God is willing to restore David back to a right relationship with Him, would He not do the same thing for you.
Keep your expectancy low
If there is one area I have made a mistake in all my 20 years of being a Christian is setting my expectations of Christians too high. This is a great mistake and has many times sent my spirit plummeting. As we get closer to the last day, I am finding out that the majority of Christians have departed from the central and cardinal truths of the Scriptures and this is why they have become deaf to the truth. Let me impart one major truth that can keep you from being discouraged in this area. Whenever you give truth to a Christian, always give them a photocopy. In other words, when they reject it and throw it away, you will have the originals. You are not responsible for their willful rejection of truth. If you bring them truth, you have been faithful in your duty but keep your expectancy low for the reception of truth and this holds true for your friends also. Remember Job’s three friends? They no doubt knew him for quite a while but when they were confronted with truth, they completely misunderstood the truths about God. They did not say what was right concerning Him as the majority of Christians do today. Try telling a free will, love gospel Christian that God does not love everyone, only His elect and see what happens. Don’t expect too much from the majority of modern day Christians. I don’t anymore!
Realize your Position in Christ
Every true Christian is a son or daughter of the living, omnipotent God. Discouragement will come to each Christian but because of our position in Christ, we never have to accept a perpetual state of living in discouragement.
(Psa 42:11 KJV) Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
If you notice in this verse that it is not the flesh which becomes discouraged or cast down but the spirit. Our spirit controls our flesh. If we are walking according to the spirit, we will have victory over the flesh and the world but if we walk according to the flesh, we will succumb to sin. The flesh is neutral, it is like money, it can be directed in a good or evil direction. I am not saying that all discouragement is a result of sin. I am saying that the flesh will follow the leading of the spirit. If I am discouraged in my spirit then the adverse feelings come into my life and if we live in this type of state, then even physical sickness can come from it. This is why the Psalmist asks his soul why is it cast down? In light of our relationship to God, what right does it have to drag him down? The Psalmist sees the fact that he will not always be discouraged but that he will praise God once again who is his spiritual health. When discouragement starts to set in, that is the time we need to seek the Lord, not wait until you get to the point of wanting to give up, like I did. Living in a perpetual state of discouragement does not identify on the outside with who we are on the inside. Blood bought children of the Lord Jesus Christ. We of all in this world have the most to be joyous about. This is why I do not understand why so many true Christians want to walk around with long faces and no smiles, do they think they impress God with their facial morbidity.
Your Possessions in Christ
If there is one thing a Christian may look to during a time of discouragement, it is the fact of all God has given us in Christ Jesus. Let us look at some of those things and when we begin to reflect on these things the discouragement will begin to dissipate.
1) (Eph 1:7 KJV) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Here we see the believers are a redeemed people by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and this resulted in the full forgiveness of our sins past, present and future which are according to the full riches of His grace. Each true believer receives the grace of God which undergirds our eternal salvation.
2) (Rom 11:29 KJV) For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Here we see that once God bestows upon His children the gift of salvation, He will never recall it. We are totally secure in our salvation. We did nothing to earn it and we can do nothing to lose it.
3) (Acts 10:34 KJV) Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
Here we see that God does not play favorites. He loves His children equally and all will receive the same inheritance of eternal life and the social or financial status here on earth means nothing to God since God sees the bigger picture for His children.
4) (Eph 2:6 KJV) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
What is that big picture? This verse gives us a little insight to the fact that God views this whole world as over and His children up in heaven already.
The discouragement we have here on earth may seem pretty large at the time but when we place it next to the magnitude of God, we can have assurance that our discouragement will fade right into the hands of our Heavenly Father. Now push the button to take us to the lobby.   (12/17/00)