Be encouraged, Pray & Don’t lose heart!

lose heart

Wednesday 10/26/22 

Message: Be encouraged, Pray & Don’t lose heart!

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Be encouraged, Pray & Don’t lose heart!

As I was seeking the Lord, last night and this morning about tonight’s teaching I just wasn’t feeling peace about continuing on to finish Daniel. In the end I felt as if we needed a break as well as some encouragement, so that is what we are doing tonight.
We are going to begin with a beloved passage which God saw to it, was placed in scripture in that it is unique to Luke’s gospel. That alone encourages me, because it would very easily have been left out of his account of Jesus’ ministry as well. Thus we can conclude that its message was important to God that we learn and adhere to it.

Luke 18:1-8, “(1) Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart. (2) He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. (3) There was also a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ (4) For a while he refused, but later on he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor have regard for people, (5) yet because this widow keeps on bothering me, I will give her justice, or in the end she will wear me out by her unending pleas.’” (6) And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! (7) Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? (8) I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

The lesson? Well, Jesus clearly states the lesson – people ought to be persistent in prayer and not lose heart. They are to not lose heart in calamities, difficulties or failures, but neither are they to lose heart in praying!

We have some eminent examples of not losing heart in life or praying in the Psalms which is where we will spend a little time tonight.

We can take heart that in the top three largest books of the Bible is the book of Psalms which is mostly a book of prayers, hope and encouragement.

God is a God of comfort, love, faithfulness, encouragement and even in his correction of us, He works for our benefit and edification.

Our God is a God of love!

In the psalms we learn about Encouragement, edification, trust, abandonment to God, vulnerable reliance upon Him, of embracing our weakness in faith, relying upon His strength, counting on His justice and never, never losing heart!

Psa 27:1-14 By David.

“(1) The LORD delivers and vindicates me! I fear no one!
The LORD protects my life! I am afraid of no one!
(2) When evil men attack me to devour my flesh, when my adversaries and enemies attack me, they stumble and fall.”

We, of course, count as our enemy only the enemy of God. Though, people who rise up against us appear as though they are our enemies – we in reality do not struggle or war against flesh and blood. Also, even though they may stumble and fall, under the new covenant we do not pray for it.

“(3) Even when an army is deployed against me, I do not fear. Even when war is imminent, I remain confident.”
“(4) I have asked the LORD for one thing – this is what I desire! I want to live in the LORD’s house all the days of my life, so I can gaze at the splendor of the LORD and contemplate in His temple.
(5) He will surely give me shelter in the day of danger; He will hide me in His home; He will place me on an inaccessible rocky summit.”

Though the design of the enemy in attacking us is to draw our attention and even our allegiance away from God, notice how David’s heart remained fixed upon Him.
God alone was his desire and THAT was the thing he sought. The victories which sprang out of that union were important, but secondary which even these next words enforce.

“(6) Now I will triumph over my enemies who surround me! I will offer sacrifices in His dwelling place and shout for joy!
I will sing praises to the LORD!”

David, had this attribute in spades – he confidently expected in the mercy of God and this is for certain at least ONE of the character traits of David endeared him to God’s heart.
The scriptures tell us that God delights in those who expect in His mercy! – Psalm 147:11

I like the Holman translation. It says, “The LORD values those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His faithful love.”

Psalm 27… David continues…

“(7) Hear me, O LORD, when I cry out! Have mercy on me and answer me!
(8) My heart tells me to pray to You, and I do pray to You, O LORD.
(9) Do not reject me! Do not push Your servant away in anger!
You are my deliverer! Do not forsake or abandon me, O God Who vindicates me!
(10) Even if my father and mother abandoned me, the LORD would take me in.”

Listen to his confidence and his humility. This is a king! In the natural, it could be argued that he needs nothing and no one! But here, David admits to needing himself to be taken care of. He is not an island unto himself and is not self-sufficient but rather is wholly dependent upon God for his help!

“(11) Teach me how You want me to live, LORD; lead me along a level path because of those who wait to ambush me!
(12) Do not turn me over to my enemies, for false witnesses who want to destroy me testify against me.”

The same is true for the believer. The book of Revelation affirms that the souls of the just.

Rev. 12:10-11, “(10) Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have now come, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown out: the one who accuses them before our God day and night. (11) They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not love their lives in the face of death.”

The next few words speak volumes to us all and confirm the words of Jesus in our opening parable…
Where would I be if I did not believe? It is a rhetorical question with a very negative response. If we failed to believe we would be no better than if he had not taken heart, and had not prayed at all!

“(13) Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the LORD’s favor in the land of the living?”
Then David offers us the conclusion of the matter in the form of a sage’s advice…
“(14) Rely on the LORD! Be strong and confident! Rely on the LORD!”

Let’s move on to the next psalm – Psa 28:1-9 By David.

“(1) To you, O LORD, I cry out!
My protector, do not ignore me!
If You do not respond to me, I will join those who are descending into the grave.”

Back in our Word of Faith days we would have seen this as a negative confession or at least a negative concession. However, in reality it is an appropriate embracing of our “branchness”.

This is an old testament example of strength being made perfect in weakness. Like Paul who said in 2Cor. 12:9-10, “But Jesus said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. (10) So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Psalm 28…

“(2) Hear my plea for mercy when I cry out to You for help, when I lift my hands toward Your holy temple!
(3) Do not drag me away with evil men, with those who behave wickedly, who talk so friendly to their neighbors, while they plan to harm them!”
“(4) Pay them back for their evil deeds! Pay them back for what they do! Punish them! (5) For they do not understand the LORD’s actions, or the way he carries out justice. The LORD will permanently demolish them.”

Of course this changes under the new covenant even as we stated earlier. We bless those who curse us and pray for those who spitefully use us and oppress us. Jesus tells us that in so doing we become children of our Father Who Himself causes the rain the fall and the sun to shine on the just and the unjust and ungrateful.

“(6) The LORD deserves praise, for He has heard my plea for mercy! (7) The LORD strengthens and protects me; I trust in Him with all my heart.
I am rescued and my heart is full of joy; I will sing to Him in gratitude!”

I always used to have a problem with statements like these because on the surface, it seems to imply God’s worthiness is based upon what I get out of my relationship with Him. But understood from a New Covenant view point, Jesus told His disciples, “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” – John 16:24

The joy is attached more to the relationship of knowing and trusting. It is because we know that our voice is not only heard, but welcomed in heaven by the Father and that it is His great joy to meet our needs.

“(8) The LORD strengthens His people; He protects and delivers His chosen king.
(9) Deliver Your people! Empower the nation that belongs to You!
Care for them like a shepherd and carry them in Your arms at all times!”

This last portion has even more special significance under the New Covenant. God’s nation is His kingdom made up of all those who call upon the Lord in Faith and are faithful to Him. The desire for the kingdom to be empowered is not a selfish one, but is one where all the members are strengthened corporately and we all benefit as a result because we are members of one another!

Psa. 57:1-11,

“(1) Have mercy on me, O God! Have mercy on me!
For in You I have taken shelter. In the shadow of Your wings I take shelter until trouble passes.
(2) I cry out for help to God Most High, to the God Who vindicates me.
(3) May He send help from heaven and deliver me from my enemies who hurl insults! (Selah) May God send His loyal love and faithfulness!
(4) I am surrounded by lions; I lie down among those who want to devour me; men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are a sharp sword.
(5) Rise up above the sky, O God! May Your splendor cover the whole earth!
(6) They have prepared a net to trap me; I am discouraged.
They have dug a pit for me. They will fall into it! (Selah)
(7) I am determined, O God! I am determined! I will sing and praise You!
(8) Awake, my soul! Awake, O stringed instrument and harp! I will wake up at dawn!
(9) I will give You thanks before the nations, O Lord! I will sing praises to You before foreigners!
(10) For Your loyal love extends beyond the sky, and Your faithfulness reaches the clouds.
(11) Rise up above the sky, O God! May Your splendor cover the whole earth!”

Heb. 10:23-25,

“(23) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (24) And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, (25) not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Eph. 4:17-32,
“(17) This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, (18) having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; (19) who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (20) But you have not so learned Christ, (21) if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:
(22) that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, (23) and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, (24) and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
(25) Therefore, putting away lying, “LET EACH ONE OF YOU SPEAK TRUTH WITH HIS NEIGHBOR,” for we are members of one another.
(26) “BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, (27) nor give place to the devil.
(28) Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
(29) Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
(30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. (32) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Rom. 14:13-21,

“(13) Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
(14) I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (15) Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love.
Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.
(16) Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; (17) for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
(18) For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.
(19) Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
(20) Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. (21) It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.”

Rom. 15:1-7,

“(1) We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
(2) Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. (3) For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.”
(4) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
(5) Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, (6) that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (7) Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”

Php. 2:1-4,

“(1) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, (2) fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (3) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (4) Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

James 5:16-20,

“16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. 19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”

Gal. 6:1-2,

“1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

1Cor. 14:12-20,

“(12) It is the same with you. Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, seek to abound in order to strengthen the church. (13) So then, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. (14) If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive. (15) What should I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing praises with my spirit, but I will also sing praises with my mind. (16) Otherwise, if you are praising God with your spirit, how can someone without the gift say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? (17) For you are certainly giving thanks well, but the other person is not strengthened. (18) I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, (19) but in the church I want to speak five words with my mind to instruct others, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. (20) Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”

1Cor. 13:1-13,

“(1) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (2) And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (3) If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit. (4) Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. (5) It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. (6) It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. (7) It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (8) Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside. (9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, (10) but when what is perfect comes, the partial will be set aside. (11) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. (12) For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. (13) And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!