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How easily discouraged are you?
I believe discouragement is one of Satan's hand grenades in the spiritual battle. If God tells us to be strong and courageous, we can be sure that the Accuser is at work to bring the opposite effect.
I have been an easy target, but I am becoming more aware of these flaming arrows of discouragement and their source. During a recent walk with praise music pulsing through my little earbuds, a "not so new" discouraging thought crossed my mind. But this time, I had a little conversation with myself about it:
Me: That is not what God says about me. This reoccurring thought is an indication that I have an enemy and he is targeting me. (Stomping my foot in my spirit) I REFUSE to cooperate with the enemy and this thought.
2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." He plans to enlighten us to his way of thinking and make it seem oh so right. Without the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, I would have once again heard the discouragement and accepted it as what is true about me.
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Here are 4 sure ways to overcome discouragement:
1. Express Your Faith
In today's culture, we are discouraged from talking about God, His goodness and His power. Thankfully I have friends and family who enjoy talking about God and His goodness. But I haven't been so brave at expressing my life-giving relationship with God to people who don't know or trust Him.
Relying on God through prayer is a topic that brings doubtful glances even from the "Christian" community. Just this week I told someone about getting to prayer walk at a local institution and her response was, "Well, I hope it works."
I've been there. I've doubted the impact of my prayers more than I care to admit. It's a faith issue isn't it? Satan uses discouragement to squash our faith and limit our effectiveness as a witness.
The truth must be spoken regardless of the listener's behavior or response. Our devotion to God has to trump every "what if" that rises up in us. We need to dethrone the intimidator.
We must speak God's truth from hearts that love the captive. We can't hesitate just because they might not listen. That would be like withholding CPR because the person might sue us if they live. We must always err on the side of life. Abundant life. Eternal life.
2. Resist the Spirit of Intimidation
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Those who rebel against God are often very skilled intimidators. Their words, tone and body language send a firm message of "I'm not listening" and "You are so wrong!"
Intimidators are skilled at wielding the sword of shame. There are plenty of intimidators in the world and the church. They are fiercely protecting the rules while their minds and hearts are numb to Spirit of Life.
"God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7 (emphasis mine)
In his teaching, Breaking Intimidation, John Bevere explains the "fear" in 2 Timothy 1:7 is intimidation. Breaking free from the grip of intimidation is a process. We take steps toward His power, love and self control and away from fear.
I am a recovering coward. In the past, I have been very obliging to the one who pushed his or her opinion as if it was the only way to see life. Just the assumption of an upcoming harsh and disagreeing word worked to quiet me.
Last December, God began to awaken me to the work of intimidators in my life. He helped me to see them as captives of the enemy. The vision He gave me was of a person trapped in a train car looking back at me through barred windows. I was free and at liberty to pray for the one who was behind bars.
3. Embrace Boldness
Proverbs 28:1 tells us "the godly are as bold as lions." We are bold in faith, bold in hope, bold in love. Jesus displayed this boldness for you and me. His Spirit lives in us to display this boldness through us to those He died to save. We are instruments of His world-changing victory.
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When I am bold in faith, I believe that God's truth can overcome Satan's lies. I believe His Word is alive and able to bring life where death resides. Therefore, I pray. I speak. I love the angry and distrusting ones.
When I am bold in hope, I pray without ceasing and wait on the Lord expecting breakthrough. I hope in what I know is God's truth instead of what appears to be true in the present moment.
When I am bold in love, I am undeterred by intimidation. I forgive. I hug. I smile. I pray. I give. I risk every sort of reaction because love does.
4. Rely on God
Our courage is an extension of our faith in God and devotion to Him. We can go boldly to the throne of God and ask for more courage, more faith and more devotion. Join me in praying for the MORE we need.
God, I exalt Your Holy name. You are the unflinching One. You are the merciful One.
You know how I react to the discouraging thoughts launched at me by the evil one. Forgive me for focusing on myself more than You.
You have commanded me to be strong and courageous and to trust You as my shield and defender. You've proven over and over that You use the weak to display Your unlimited power and wisdom. I need this truth to move beyond my head and into my heart. The fear of rejection is a hurdle I want to fly over.
Shepherd me to live with the boldness You've provided. Open my ears to Your promptings. Fill me so completely with Your love for others that I speak as You inspire me without hesitation. Empower me to pray for others with a listening ear trusting that You will show me what to pray.
Use me to awaken those who are numb to You. Let Your Words of life flow through me to those who are resisting You.
Revive me so that with my life You can revive others.
In Jesus name, I pray believing. Amen.
Jennifer O. White is the author of Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God’s Armor After the Wedding Dress and Marriage Armor for the #PrayingBride. Jennifer is a natural encourager who offers hope from the truths of God’s Word at her blog, Prayerfully Speaking. With every blog post, Jennifer is exalts the one true God who can empower us to do more than we can ask or imagine.