Posts Tagged ‘discouraged’

Roads of Awakening

I love the story of the two disciples on the Emmaus Road (Lk 24:13-35). I could read it again and again, because it’s the story of two people who are introduced to the reality of confusion and pain. They had come so close to seeing what the whole world longs for – “real hope”… only to find their expectations shattered and their hearts yearning for a place to hide. Yet the same roads that call us to believe in God’s Promise… will challenge our courage and awaken real faith.

Roads like the Emmaus Road are where Jesus meets our human frailty with resurrection power and surprises us by the joy it releases.

From Broken Hearts to Burning Hearts:

At the start of the story they are two men defeated and discouraged. They thought they had something precious, but it was gone as quickly as it started. All they experienced with Jesus changed how they perceived their world. Now, taken away by the brutal forces of religion and government, their friend was branded a blasphemer and an enemy of the state. They could feel their hopes displayed upon that cross and placed into that tomb.

Yet, by the end of this story we find these same men joyfully testifying of the “stranger” they had shared their troubles with along the way. The guest at their table was Jesus Himself… raised from the dead and alive forevermore! They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread. As the crumbs fell to the table, they could hardly believe their eyes… He was risen from the dead, actively sharing with them and causing their hearts to burn with delight.

Roads Like Emmaus:

These roads are not unfamiliar journeys for the average believer. I would guess, we all have traveled the path away from pain, away from shattered dreams, away from our destiny. We have done this for many reasons, but perhaps the most compelling is defeat. When we feel defeated, emotions surprise us, confuse us and even lead us in the opposite direction to where we could find Truth emerging.

When defeated…  emotions surprise, confuse and even lead in the opposite direction to where Truth emerges!

The Good News:

Roads like Emmaus are diversions not disaster… because Jesus is Alive!!! He comes alongside of these two men, much like He comes alongside of us, to reveal Himself as the Victor over all that can defeat us. When we feel these realities we might find ourselves going the wrong direction, but God is not blind to our limited perception. He meets us in the hour of deepest despair and calls us back to “Jerusalem”!

What’s The Key? – The Breaking of Bread!

He was known to them in the breaking of bread (Lk 24:35). There, in a moment of surprise, a moment at a common table… comes a powerful realization. This “stranger” is the Savior! They saw it in the blessing. They saw it as He sat at the table with them and remembered how they had received from Him. It awakened their heart… this breaking of the bread. They saw it in the giving, in the sharing together and in the moment of abiding grace… their eyes were opened.

So they arose that very hour, like a person does when they come to their senses… and they returned to Jerusalem – The City of Peace. Roads like Emmaus are round trip journeys back into faith. They test the nature of our hope and reveal the power of resurrected love. They are roads of awakening!

“Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to each other, did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:31-32)

Words & Arrows

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, Oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Ps. 19:14)

Wow what a prayer…

Life carries challenges and words create trouble… the kind of trouble that hinders our ability to walk in peace on a variety of levels. When judgement or criticism is spoken (either by us or about us) we must make a choice to walk in the favor of God. Words can become arrows that harm or maintain our peace… and the “acceptable” place in God’s sight. When words are spoken that shake our identity or cause us to feel offended, we must recognize the spirit that “rules” over those words.

Every word is an arrow designed to carry power and influence… blessing or curse!

We must guard the heart at all cost, because that is where our thoughts and motives arise and bear fruit… “words”! The Bible says that out of the heart flow the issues of life. Guarding our hearts takes enormous training. I would like to suggest that the Psalmist is showing us what is at the center of that training… the spiritual principle of “agreement”. The Psalmist is saying “I want my words and my meditations to be in agreement with Your mind and acceptable to Your heart, Oh Lord!” Agreement is like spiritual glue that ties us to the Father’s power! Jesus said, “if you abide in Me and My Words abide in you, then you can ask whatever you want and it will be done for you” (Jn. 15:7). That is an agreement that offers connection to the power of God.

Agreement with evil thoughts happens by speaking evil words! To speak evil is to rehearse emotions that carry the weight of curses… an intent to harm. Situations that effect us the most emotionally are opportunities for the devil who wants to rule our thoughts, motives and actions. Don’t give the devil your agreement and he will have nothing to rule over you.

These simple things called words have the potential to become our life or death… literally!

Jesus stated that His words were spirit and life to those who believe and agree with them (Jn 6:63). The sad thing is that most of us are unable to govern our mouth, because we have weak emotions. We become easily offended and then fail to discern or control our words. Remember that self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. All the Holy Spirit needs is our agreement to release this fruit into our lives.

Listen: We can… and must agree with God!

We must look to God in faith and recognize the power of our words! We can use our words as arrows that strengthen and connect us to the power of God! Jesus has given us the ability to triumph over all the works of the enemy and rule over our soul (Col 2:13-15)(2 Cor 10:3-6). As New Creatures in Christ, new identities and thought patterns enable us to overcome the activities of Satan. Evil words are designed and spoken to make us feel we have no right to our inheritance among the righteous, but agreement offers us freedom (Col 2:4-8) and an acceptable place to rest. The Truth sets us free!

The shield of faith… agreement has the ability to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one (Eph 6:16).

Healing – Body, Soul & Spirit

When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” (Mt. 8:16-17)

When Jesus first announced His anointing (Lk 4:16-20), He was quoting from Isaiah 61. The Bible mentions multiple forms of inner healing in this passage, including “binding up the brokenhearted”- “comforting all who mourn”- providing “the oil of gladness instead of mourning” and “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair”. The entire chapter focuses upon physical, emotional and spiritual healing. The fact that Jesus quoted this passage when He began His ministry emphasizes the importance of healing as a key evidence of revival.

Wounds are Real:

On one occasion Jesus spoke with a Samaritan woman at a well (Jn 4:1-30) and His focus was not just upon the physical realities of her life, but emotional wounds. He provided her with compassionate Truth that soothed her deepest emotional dysfunction. To meet at the well in the heat of the day is an indication that the woman was an outcast. She was not welcome to draw water alongside the “respectable” women. Jesus honored this outcast by choosing her to reveal Himself as the Messiah.

Encountering Love:

God provides all kinds of healing by drawing us near to Himself. The Bible records such an encounter in I Kings 19. The prophet Elijah runs for his life because he was discouraged to the point of praying to die. First, God sent angels to meet his physical needs. Next, God responded to Elijah’s pain by drawing near and reaching out in a gentle whisper. Finally, after Elijah experienced the healing of his heart, he was ready to follow through with God’s plan. Restoration can be a process, but its always an encounter with His Presence.

Restoring Wholeness:

Remember that the meaning of revival is to live again, to bring back to life or to breathe fresh life into something that is dead. God’s pattern is to restore lives, spirit, soul and body; and although breakthrough in each area of life is unique and personal… the key ingredient is always the power of love. God really loves unconditionally, with a love that has no limits and no bounds. It reaches as far as the deepest pain and is attentive to the whispered prayer.

He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28)

He is at work, showing us the way to find rest for our whole being. No question, we have real difficulties in life; yet the promise in Scripture is to come be yoked with Him (Mt 11:29). He wants us to rest in His Truth about our life problems. Jesus told us in John 8:32, “you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free”. God has made provision for our wholeness.

He is Jehovah Rapha – The Lord Who Heals Us! (1 Pe. 2:24)

Fruitful Lips

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15)

I am invested in the idea of maintaining fruitful lips. Like David I want to be found praising the Lord seven times a day… and seven days a week! Why? – Because Praise accomplishes things that nothing else can. It effects hearts, renews vision and awakens passions that have grown cold. Praise gets the attention of the enemy of our soul and pushes back against the kingdom of darkness. My finest hour is not when all is well… but when all is sheltered beneath the shadow of God’s Presence.

Rejoicing Releases Peace:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)

When we praise Him He shows up right in the middle of our circumstance! God wants to bring us the victory! He is not insecure… He doesn’t need our praise to prop up a sagging self image. Praise does far more for us than it does for Him. The Apostle Paul tells us that rejoicing praise and thanksgiving will get us beyond our limited imagination, small thinking and mere understanding… it will guard our hearts and minds with the power that Jesus Christ offers.  Don’t be anxious and worry about things, unlock your ability to trust God in the midst of storms and uncertain circumstances… and the peace of God will be released! Jesus is the Prince of Peace… let Him show up as you rejoice in who He is!

Never Allow Yourself to be the Victim:

When the Apostle Paul and his good friend Silas were arrested for preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. They were chained, beaten and cast into prison. They were locked down and positioned for defeat. They had every reason to be angry, depressed and discouraged; but instead they praised God. And at midnight; what looked dark to most people, looked like daybreak to Paul and Silas. They would be found rejoicing and singing hymns of praise to God. The other prisoners were listening, when suddenly a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the jail. All the doors immediately flew open and all the prisoners’ chains broke loose. (Acts 16:25-26)

  • In the midnight hour when things are dark, Praise Him!
  • When you feel mistreated or misunderstood, Praise Him!
  • When you are facing physical or emotional pain, Praise Him!
  • Don’t wait for things to get better. Praise Him and things will get better!

“This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My Praise.” (Isa. 43:21)

Empowered By Leaders

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established - that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Rom. 1:11-12)

This is a wonderful expression of the Apostle Paul’s desire to empower the believers in Rome. In my own life I have been blessed by the example of many great mentors and friends. People who seemed like heroes of the faith or people who have set the standard of ministry by their skills and devotion to Christ.

Yet, I can count on one hand, the number of leaders who inspired me by their story and gave me the tools to achieve what seemed beyond my reach. At times, observing successful leaders has left me more discouraged than encouraged, more intimidated than empowered. Their impact or success seemed so impressive that it left me feeling it was unattainable.

Perhaps you too have felt this way after leaving conferences, listening to podcasts or reading great books. Why, and how can it be avoided?

I believe it is a heart problem which manifests as “inspiration without impact”. Getting the most out of any leadership requires us to be empowered not simply impressed. I believe it comes down to a balance of two character traits, confidence and humility… “teachability”.

  • Teachability happens when we can hear and communicate with integrity and empower those who listen.

1. Confidence

Part of the problem is me. I want to be inspired and sometimes inspiration is blinding. My initial adrenaline rush feels good after hearing a great teaching or going to a wonderful conference, but it is followed by the inevitable sobering look in the mirror. Rather than empowered, I measure myself by what I see – not what God sees. When the skill level of a leader feels more like a “super-star” to me than authentic, then it has not really changed how I see. “Hype” will cause us to miss the point of a leader’s influence. When in situations where I don’t compare to others, I just try to admit it! I am not them, but this should not lead me to discouragement or disqualification. In fact, that may be why God has this person’s voice in my ear… to shift my thinking, so that I see myself the way God sees me. We must recognize that God has made each person unique and special, and we must tune our ears to hear at the heart level, every time.

Likewise, leaders and communicators also need to be secure. Few things will destroy you faster than insecurity. Leaders or those with a larger platform should exude confidence. I once heard a well known preacher say that he used to vomit every time before he got on stage, because he was so nervous. One key to his overcoming this was recognizing that it wasn’t about him, but about God. To help shift his mentality and his fears, he would take a step forward before getting on the stage and consciously think about stepping into Christ and His strength (Gal. 2:20).

  • Here is the Truth: When any person finds their confidence in themselves rather than in Christ, it leads to confusion rather than empowerment. (Jn. 8:31-36) Truth is reality from God’s perspective!

2. Humility

As a disciple or ”learner” it’s easy to feel the delight of being inspired and impressed by powerful leaders. Yet, its honesty and authenticity that empowers us to achieve the goals of God’s Kingdom on Earth. I try to listen with a personal need to gain instruction, rather than feel like I’m getting material to teach to others. Humility is what causes teaching to become training, information to become revelation and testimony to become empowerment. I cannot just “listen” – I must “hear” with spiritual ears what a leader is communicating. My life is my testimony, not just my words.

The great temptation for leaders and followers alike is to avoid talking about weaknesses and flaws. But every strength is susceptible to be a weakness when it is not tempered by humility. There is a subtle fear in all of us that if we let others see who we really are that we will loose credibility and shrink our influence. But leadership is only influential when it is honest and humble. We have all seen what hype can do! There is nothing wrong with “putting your best food forward”, but don’t present an illusion of reality. Walk in integrity and present the real you.

Here is the Truth: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble”  (Jms. 4:6). When you feel God’s resistence, there is a reason. Stop and address it and God will give you ears to hear and a heart of understanding (Prov. 3:34).

Christ, Real Confidence & Humility:

Christ modeled this so beautifully. Unlike you and I, He actually had it all together. He was flawless and perfect. God - in skin and dwelling among us. Yet, “He humbled himself, taking on the very form of a servant and coming in the likeness of men”  (Phil 2:5-8). While on earth, He obeyed the words of His parents and in His ministry He listened to the voice of His Father in Heaven (Jn. 5:19). He modeled the confidence and humility that empowered His disciples and now by the Holy Spirit, He empowers us to have the same mind and the same character.

Be Yourself:

You don’t have to be in the spotlight or emphasize your achievements, to have influence and empower others. My advice: do your best and be secure with your calling in Christ. More opportunities will come as you do your best in your current position. Don’t allow shame or pride to poison your heart from receiving from those who are ahead of you or achieving what seems impossible.

Its Christ in you that is the hope of Glory! He is the One we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (Col. 1:27-28) Hallelujah!

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