“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—” Ephesians 6:10-18
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about receiving direction from the Lord and preparing to take a big step of faith forward, it’s that the devil loves to find people to use as vessels to shoot fiery darts of discouragement at me to try to get me off course. To try to get me to not follow Jesus. To try to get me to quit. To try to get me to go backward. To try to get me to do anything but move forward in the will of the Lord.
Discouragement can come from within. Discouragement can come from without. Sometimes discouragement comes from strangers. Sometimes friends. Sometimes even those closest to us. It never feels good, does it? And if we allow ourselves to fall victim to discouraging voices, we can find ourselves feeling down, depressed, confused, disappointed, scared, worried, bitter, resentful, etc. Anything but encouraged and excited as the Spirit of God beckons us to go forward.
You’ll never make it. You’re a failure. That’s a stupid idea. Who are you to think you can hear from God? Nobody would be so foolish as to do what you think God told you to do it. Don’t even bother trying. It’s going to be a disaster. It will be too challenging. Don’t waste your time. The discouraging voices can come with one message or another. But they are all messages of discouragement oftentimes coming at a time in our lives during which we could use more love and prayer and support and encouragement than ever!
What should we do when this happens? Love. Forgive. See if there is anything in the messages that in fact might be from the Lord and His Word. If not, get rid of the messages. Close our ears to the voices. Purge from our hearts and minds anything we’ve allowed in that’s not from God. Use our shields of faith for protection. Make sure we’re wearing God’s whole armor. Use His whole armor. Encourage ourselves in Christ and the Bible. Surround ourselves with loving encouraging godly people who will support us as we go forward in following Jesus. Remember that the voice that matters more than any other is the voice of God almighty who speaks by His Spirit always in line with His Word to our hearts.
Follow the voice of Jesus. Be encouraged that Jesus Christ is Lord forever. And, at the end of the day, the one who matters most is Christ!