When do you feel like giving up? I’ll tell you. It’s when you’re right on the threshold of a breakthrough. It’s when you’ve made the effort, when you’ve paid the price, when you’re done all you know to do. That’s when you feel like giving up. That’s ALWAYS when it hits. When you’ve tired and tried, and it seems like your efforts are fruitless. That’s when it hits and that’s exactly when you can’t afford to give up. God has a special word for you at a time like this. It’s Galatians 6:9. “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season, we SHALL reap, if we do not lose heart.” God KNOWS you get weary in your well doing.
When you’re weary, you feel like you’re not going to reap and your efforts aren’t any good. God says, “WAIT! You SHALL reap, if you’ll just hang in there and keep on doing the right thing.” When you’re tire, overburdened, stressed, when friends are criticizing you and enemies are coming against you, it’s easy to deceive yourself. To tell yourself to just throw in the towel. That’s why God says to you in Galatians 6:7, “Don’t be deceived. God isn’t mocked. Whatever man sows, that shall he also reap.” You can’t let the devil mock God by saying that you can do good without it coming back to you. You can’t allow your natural mind be deceived that good won’t come to you.
James 1:22, “faith without works is dead.” That also means that your faith, is made alive by the Lord Jesus, DOES have works. It DOES produce fruit. Because of this, 1 Corinthians 15:58, “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor isn’t in vain in the Lord.” See, the good things of God aren’t just laying around but they’re rewards to the faithful and those who labor abundantly. They’re prizes for those who are obedient, but a disappointment to the doubleminded person.
It’s even like this in nature. The nut is protected by a hard shell. The pearl hidden in an oyster at the bottom of the ocean and gold is locked by rocks in the center of mountains. A gemstone is found only after you crush the rock that safeguards it. Even soil gives its harvest as a reward only to the gardener that is steadfast. That’s the way God designed to distribute His good things to the faithful. One of the biggest tools the enemy uses is to get us to focus on past failures. It’s too easy to be more controlled by where we’ve been, than inspired by where we’re going. When we dwell on past failures, we feel like giving up.
Even the Apostle Paul had to deal with this. He said it was a major thing for him. He said he had to forget the past and look forward to the goal, the mark of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. That’s in Philippians 3:13. To keep from quitting when the going gets tough, you’ll have to GROW. To be more grown up and more mature. You’ll have to let the Lord change you and you can’t do it on your own or in your own strength. Yes, you can make SOME changes on your own, but the kind it takes for you to really be able to receive the good things God has for you has to come from Him. Here’s why. If you want to change and you’re using personal strength to get it done, you’ll run out of courage and perseverance before you accomplish lasting change.
Even though making positive changes brings great rewards, very few of us pull it off. Why, because we want to quit, withdraw once the Lord starts dealing with our egos. Radical change isn’t just hard to do, it’s downright impossible without wholehearted effort. We all face three obstacles to changing enough to hang in there for the good things of God.
- PAIN. It takes pain to admit Lord is trying to get us to be mature. Nobody enjoys pain and we go to almost any lengths to avoid anything that hurts. But the process of change always involves some pain and we resist changing. The person who never gets beyond being “average” is willing to put up with a lukewarm spirit, unanswered prayers and unfulfilled callings from God – a life of predictable ongoing emotional and spiritual misery- rather than going through the brief pain of yielding to the hand of God in their lives. It takes faith to choose to deliberately allow the Lord to deal with our egos and immaturities.
- PERSEVERANCE. As hard as it is to begin making a change, it’s even harder to persist and stay with the Lord as He’s doing his work in our inner spirits. In the natural, we don’t have the stamina to continue the daily struggle of staying on the straight and narrow. We WANT to have changes in our lives, but we want them to come quickly and painlessly. Commitments that last only a few days or weeks isn’t enough.
- POWERLESSNESS. “The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” You can want to be in the place where the hand of God is on you for good, but you’ll never get there by just the efforts of your flesh. Trying to change by your own will power – the way our culture approaches self-improvement – never succeeds in producing deep, lasting change. The old “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” approach is like trying to get enough energy out of an AA battery to fly a 747. To tackle deep personal and life patterns we need to plug into the only source of permanent change, the Holy Spirit of God. We need His power to change, but He needs our cooperation. Without God we can’t change, but He can’t change us unless we submit our wills.
The starting place is to honestly admit your fears, failures and weaknesses to God. You can confess all day, “I can do it!” but you won’t be able to do it until you fully yield yourself to the Holy Spirit. Saying that you can accept the Holy Spirit as your power source, while insisting that He changed you on your own terms, just won’t work. If you admit your inability to change yourself, God will supply strength and encouragement through His word, His people and his Spirit.
Studying the Bible “academically” doesn’t help, but allowing the Scriptures to penetrate your shell and strengthen your inner spirit will give you the power to receive the things of God. Remember, 1 Corinthians 2:14, “the natural man doesn’t receive the things of the Spirit of God…” It’s your spirit man that receives the things of God. God will bring other Christians into your life to encourage you and challenge you. The Holy Spirit Himself will support you and intercede on your behalf.
You’ve experienced past failure and felt the old patterns coming back, the old ways of thinking and responding. You know that growing involves personal pain and you’ve also learned that self-reliance can’t cut it. Fortunately, God loves us deeply and wants to forgive us and makes His power available to change us into what He’s destined us to be. When you get discouraged, remember Jesus, Hebrews 12:3, “Consider Him who endured such contradiction from sinners against himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Think about the hassles Jesus went through what He did, you can hand in there too. Hebrews 10:35, “Cast not away your confidence, which has great recompence of reward. You have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise!”
Be faithful. You can’t do good without it coming back on you! God might not come when wan Him to, but He’s always right on time. Be there, ready and in the faith when He comes.
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