Have you been tempted to give up lately?
As I travel across the nation and look into the eyes of God’s people, there seems to be a universal challenge facing Christ followers, and it is the challenge of overcoming discouragement. Discouragement is a real battle for God’s people. Some are fighting financial battles while others are walking through physical issues. Still others are facing spiritual or emotional struggles and some people are facing extreme persecution. No one is exempt from battles this side of eternity; Jesus clearly told us that in this world we would experience tribulation (John 16:33) and add to this, the reality that we face a real enemy whose occupation is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Satan desires to play “mind games” with Christ followers, which is the actual meaning of “schemes”, found in 2 Corinthians 2:11. The apostle Paul went on to write, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). The enemy will plant thoughts in our minds such as: your prayers will never make a difference, this situation will never change, that person will never seek the Lord, you will never be healed, or your church will never be revived. On and on it goes, the mind games continue with the purpose of causing discouragement so that we’ll drop out of the spiritual race.
Jesus told a parable about ceaseless prayer so that we would not lose heart, but continue to pray day and night until God brings the breakthrough (see Luke 18:1-7). In another parable, Jesus insisted that we continue to ask, seek and knock with persistence (shameless audacity) until the Holy Spirit is poured out on the situation (see Luke 11:5-13). The point is Jesus recognized the challenge we would face concerning discouragement, but blessing always comes to those who refuse to quit pressing into Him. I wish that I could tell you when your prodigals will be redeemed, when your church will turn around, or when your disease will be healed. I may not know the actual day of your breakthrough, but I know Jesus said, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). I believe Jesus is a promise keeper, don’t you? Jesus said elsewhere, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you” (John 16:23). I realize that these promises aren’t guarantees of our self-centered whims, but if we’ve died to ourselves and live for Jesus alone, then His desires spur on our tenacious prayers.
I love the promise the apostle Paul gave us, he wrote, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9). To lose heart (enkakeo) means to become so discouraged or disheartened that all enthusiasm to continue ceases. So we cease praying, fasting, worshiping, and believing. We cease praying with expectancy and stop celebrating with victory. We then align ourselves to earthly realities rather than heavenly possibilities. But Paul is stating the mandate to not quit, to not stop, and to not throw in the towel. Listen to the promise that he wrote: in due time; in the right moment and in the correct season we will reap the blessing. Paul didn’t say “maybe” or “possibly,” he said “we will reap” if we continue sowing to the Spirit.
Sowing and reaping is something that I’ve been a part of for nearly sixteen years. We have a very large garden in our yard and each year I sow seeds into the soil. I’ve never planted seeds and picked the harvest the same day. Gardening is a matter of perseverance; it takes time and endurance. Some vegetables don’t produce a harvest until 60 days after they’ve been sown, but it doesn’t stop me from sowing year after year. Harvest time is always a blessing for the McCorkle family and has been for many years. How much more should we anticipate the spiritual harvest if we continue to sow to the Spirit! What if we continue sowing to the Spirit for revival in our church, city, and nation? What if we continue believing and praying for healing, restoration, deliverance, and for His kingdom to come? Paul wasn’t discouraged by the hard-hearted people in Ephesus who made it difficult for him to preach; he refused to quit sowing the Word for two years and eventually everyone in Asia heard the truth (see Acts 19:10). Unusual miracles broke out, people confessed their sins, and a church was birthed because one man continued to sow into the Spirit. Maybe this is why Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
My dear brothers and sisters, I have no idea what some of you are walking through. But I know who functions through you. You are possessed by the living God. You are filled with the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit; therefore, you can do “all things through Him who strengthens you” (Phil. 4:13). Jesus said, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23). I believe “all things” means just that: all things! So whatever you’re facing, whatever is challenging you, or whatever might be standing in front of you, refuse to quit. Refuse to shrink back (see Heb. 10:38). Don’t align yourself to the lies of the enemy—he’s a loser.
Some of you may be one prayer away from the greatest victory in your life, so don’t quit.
God I pray for a spirit of perseverance to fill our hearts. Give courage, hope, and strength to all of us as we continue to sow to the Spirit, in Jesus’ name, amen.