Thursday, November 17, 2011

On Not Losing Heart

You might find it hard to believe that a pastor would be tempted to lose heart. But, the times are so difficult for so many still that it is difficult to...You understand. Some of you know that I served as a District Superintendent in the United Methodist Church for a while, and I have been a pastor for a long time.

I have discovered that there are many temptations for all of us Christians. The usual temptations are easy to define: money, sex, power. These are the temptations that Richard Foster writes about. Many of the things that happen to hurt us in our world have to do with money, sex, or power. But, there is a greater and sometimes overlooked temptation for the Christian. We are tempted to lose heart.

In the midst of the way things are, in an increasingly hostile-to-faith world, in and through all of the changes that this world is going through, we are tempted to lost heart, to give up on our faith, on the God-thing, on our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ. It is easy to be lured into a kind of funk about money and about the chaos around us.

But, often our memory of faith is our teacher. When we look back over our lives, we can see the work of God, mostly hidden. I am here where I am today because of the grace of God. You are where you are today because of the grace of God. Remember that.

Thanksgiving is next week. Remember the things and people for which you are grateful. Each person that God has given you is a unique and wonderful gift. Each year, each day, each moment is a gift of God.

The Apostle Paul was tempted to lost heart. Paul, who had been beaten and whipped and spat upon, tried in the courts, locked in prison, Paul could say: "Therefore having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lost heart." He says: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

With the economy as it is, we are tempted to feel it as a huge dark cloud hanging over us. That's the temptation, isn't it? The temptation to lose heart, to give up, on our faith in God is real.

We can get by this temptation, the greatest temptation of all, by remembering with Paul: "Therefore having this ministry by the mercy of God..." Therefore having this ministry, this day, this life, by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.

We do not lose heart, not because of our own power or strength or good works. We do not lost heart not because of our own ingenuity. We do not lose heart because of the mercy of God.

Whatever you're going through at any given moment cannot compare to the great and wonderful mercy of God. The mercy of God is that love that is as tender as a mother's love for her children.

So, say it with me, "We do not lost heart because of the mercy of God."
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dave Nichols

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