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Discouragement

I get discouraged fairly easily. It’s usually because of something I’ve done, a mistake I’ve made, saying something I should not have said or my lack of faith in general. It is easy to be discouraged. My frustration is that it does not take much to discourage me and I feel like I should be more durable. I’ve discovered that the key is to intentionally shift my thinking onto what really matters and that is the fact that while I’m not perfect, God’s grace is completely sufficient for me. Much of my discouragement comes from putting too much emphasis on what man thinks and not enough emphasis on the gift that is grace. This past week Chris and I visited a church in St. Louis, Missouri where Terry Virgo was preaching. Terry spoke on grace and one of my favorite things that he said was that grace is not just a cleansing, it’s a completely new identity which means that not only have we been washed of our sins but we have been given a brand new evaluation of ourselves which no one else can challenge. Terry was saying that just as Paul says in the first part of 1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God, I am what I am…”, the grace of God makes us who we are and therefore we don’t need to wallow in our discouragement. Terry challenged us with a question: Is grace changing you and freeing you? We are not to waste the grace of God, it has been given to us freely and we need to make a habit out of stepping into that grace all the time – especially when we get discouraged. If grace is not changing and freeing you, then you are wasting God’s gift to you and because of that you will not experience the joy that comes from it, nor will you be able to glorify God in the way that you were intended to. Every now and then I have to remind myself that God’s grace is a gift that I can’t earn, it’s a brand new identity that has been given to me, and I have no reason to be discouraged. So my challenge to you today is that when you’re tempted to reject the new identity you’ve been given through grace, don’t! Be encouraged that you no longer need to dwell in discouragement but that you can step into the grace of God and live in light of that!

Relevantly challenging

“Elijah prayed for rain”

I was so encouraged by the preach that Terry Virgo did this past Sunday at the church that I go to in Brighton – CCK. It was extremely challenging and has really been preying on my mind ever since. It was the eighth part in his Elijah series that he has been preaching for a while now at our church. Terry draws on the way that Elijah prays and challenges us to take some pointers from him. Terry chats us through how Elijah…  

1. Withdraws from the crowd – see Matthew 6:6 for Jesus’ advice on this too! Do you have a secret place with your Father?

2. Prays according to God’s promises – Terry says that prayer is ‘a vital requisite for God to move’ and it’s as though God’s promises are waiting for prayer for fulfillment!

3. Prays fervently – We need to ‘pray ourselves into prayer’. I love that Terry says that even when we’re not that into it at first, if we pray in the Spirit we get the energy and fervency to pray. There is actually power in prayer.

4. Prays with importunity – Don’t see delay as a sign that your prayer isn’t gonna be answered, keep at it until something happens! (By the way, ‘importunity’ basically means persistence – don’t worry, I had to look it up too!)

If you want to hear this sermon (it’s sermon number 8) and others from Terry’s Elijah series, click on this link! I would strongly encourage you to listen to this as it’s relevant for each and every one of us. Everyone I’ve heard talking about it since Sunday, from church elders to new Christians, was challenged by it!

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