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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1328

Don’t Lose Heart
Part One

March 18, 2018

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— Brother Phil Enlow: This is, as is so often the case, not organized and that’s a great thing, in this case at least, ‘cause we want the Lord to share His heart with us. And I feel like there are things that He wants to encourage His people with. Certainly we’ve heard about His peace.

But I want to turn to a familiar passage, as we often do. It’s very close to where Brother Ezra was reading, over in chapter 4. There is a theme—there are themes that run through this book and you could really branch out and understand what he’s saying in chapter 4 by what he’s saying everywhere else, and we’ll probably refer to some things. But I’m just gonna go ahead and read this briefly and then just ask the Lord to comment.

“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’sake.

“For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: I believed; therefore I have spoken. With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV).

Praise God! There is so much wrapped up in this that I just pray the Lord will help me to focus. We’ve talked about a lot of these things in the past…the idea that God has to kill every one of us. There are things in us that need to die in order so that His life can be made manifest.

And I guess one of the central things that’s been on my mind is how it is far too easy when we think about dying for Jesus, and all these things having to die in us, to get focused on that too much. And that’s not Paul’s focus, is it? Paul’s focus is not losing heart, not being discouraged, but rather seeing the purpose of God, as has just been expressed—the purpose of God in everything so that we can become a part of His purpose and become a part of His greater plan.

And you think about the man that is writing all of this. In the first place, he talks about his own conversion there and how blind the world is, how unable they are to see. They have no ability to understand the Word of God. There’s simply a veil that covers the heart.

And if you go back into the previous chapter, you will discover that it’s only when the heart begins to turn to the Lord that the veil is taken away, there becomes an ability to see. God has to penetrate, not the mind to explain things properly, but the heart, because the heart is involved…I mean, our wills are involved, everything is involved in following the dictates of our old nature.

And so, when we first find Saul, he’s a young man who is extremely zealous for his religion. I mean, he’s walking in what light, if you want to call it that, that he knows. And he is determined he is going to be the most righteous person on the planet. And man, he sees the…all these Christians as a terrible threat to everything that he stands for and, man, he’s gonna exterminate it come hell or high water!

He’s able to sit there and watch the stoning of Stephen, to hear him pray, oh God, don’t hold this sin against them. And say, yeah, get him, get him, guys! Let his head be bashed in with these stones! I’ll hold your coats, you go for it!

And he took off from that and a great persecution broke out and he was a ringleader in hauling off families to prison…men, women, children, and rejoicing and thinking he was doing God’s service, seeing some of them killed. This was a man…I mean, you talk about God bringing us out of everything and being able to turn the worst things about us into something good.

You know, Paul claimed for himself the title of the greatest sinner that ever was. And he based that on the simple fact that he had been persecuting and fighting against God and persecuting the very people of God! And so he said, I am the chief of sinners, but God saved me so that He could use me as an example, basically to say, I can save anybody! Your sin is no barrier to me.

He saved this guy and the basis of his sin was I am able to be righteous in my own strength. I can obey God’s law, I can qualify myself to be accepted by Him and all the rest of you dirty sinners, you need to just go to hell! I mean, that’s almost the spirit that he had. That was the spirit of the Pharisee. If you talk about an unlikely candidate to be able to minister the Gospel of the grace of God, there could not have been a more unlikely candidate on the planet!

Or could there? You know, what brother Ezra was saying. You want to reach somebody who is caught in a certain thing, what do you do? You save somebody who’s been through that and you teach them and they know the grace of God, they’ve experienced it, they’re in a position to say, I know what God can do.

And I’ll tell you, when God reached Paul, He didn’t have somebody sit down and explain it a little better. I mean, there’s a place for expounding the Gospel and all of that. I’m not trying to do away with that, but that’s not enough. Unless God penetrates the heart, nothing happens.

But oh, did he have a confrontation with Jesus that transformed his thinking in a moment of time. His world got absolutely, radically altered! All of a sudden, he saw that Jesus was Lord! And you know, God had to take him through some very painful experiences, as he describes and we’ve talked many times about what Romans 7 meant to his life.

I mean, you think about a guy who’s going to relentlessly hold up the fact that none of us can qualify ourselves. We are wholly, completely, every one of us, unqualified to please God or to make ourselves acceptable to Him. I don’t care…whether you are a great sinner or a little sinner in the eyes of men, has no bearing on the question. We are sinners, period!

Not one of us has any goodness, in the eyes of God, in ourselves. We need a Savior who can do away with all of that, whose blood is able to wash every sin away and give us a new life that’s based upon the mercy and the love and the grace of God! Praise God!

And so, Paul brought, as we often do, he brought a lot of his religious ideas with him. So boy, now he’s a Christian. He knows who Jesus is. Man, now I’m gonna get it! I am gonna serve God! I know what’s right, I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got!

And he failed, didn’t he? Everything that he…I mean he just realized there’s something in here that will not let me! I’m powerless! I can’t do what I want to do! It’s in my heart to do, but I can’t! Oh God, what’s wrong? And he goes through the agony of crying out, “O wretched man that I am!” (KJV).

But what a revelation that is! How can we minister to people who are in need…who are just like us, if we really are honest…how can we minister that if we don’t realize what we are? Oh, God! So, is it a bad thing for us to see the ugliness in ourselves? Is it a bad thing? It’s an awesome thing! It’s a wonderful thing! It’s the pathway to life!

Oh, do we get discouraged by that, though. But Paul just brought that to God and said, “O wretched man that I am!” Who’s gonna be able to save me from this? Who can deliver me from this guy? That’s what I need deliverance from. And that’s when the Lord was able to reveal to him, I’ve got a different purpose. I’ve got a different plan. It’s not to tell you what to do and try to inspire you to somehow rise to that. It’s to kill you and replace the life that animates you so that now it’s not your life, it’s My life!

And you know, in the process of that, He has got to take us though things. He has got to bring us to that knowledge that we are helpless and unable. And you know, you go back into this and you see Paul being taught…I mean, you go right back to the passage where Brother Ezra started, and what Paul was leading into about that comfort, was something he went through and we’ve talked about it many times. We’ve referred to it.

And here’s a man who was so pressed, outwardly, there was persecution going on, so it was external things coming, but I’ll tell you, everybody here knows it’s not just the external stuff. In fact, it’s not that at all. It’s what happens in here because of that. It’s the human response to that that brought Paul to a place where he was in despair, for a bit. He despaired that he was even gonna survive the situation.

Man, there was an oppression going on in his mind and his emotions were certainly not joyful, peaceful. He was struggling! He was struggling just like every one of us does. But yet, God took him through that and he didn’t sit there and talk about it so he could say, oh, you should feel so sorry for me. Oh, poor me. Look what I went through! Oh, me! Oh, it was so terrible! Oh, every time I think about it I just cry and weep…oh, it’s terrible.

No! Do you sense, in his spirit, that he sees a purpose that God had brought him through that? And he tells you what the reason is. God wanted me not to trust myself. Well, if God doesn’t deal with that self-trust, what do we do? Every single one of us trusts ourselves. It’s just our, as we’ve said so many times, our default setting. We’re gonna do that without even realizing what we’re doing.

But God brought him to a place where Paul was definitely in the deep end of the pool. There was no help. He was going down for the third time and all he could do was say, oh God, I reach my hands to You. And God was faithful. And God, “…with the temptation…” What?

( congregational response ).

He made, “…a way to escape…” But what was the way of escape?

( congregational inaudible ).

Yeah, it was Christ, but what is the character of the way of escape? Is it escape from? It was an escape through. It was that he might be able to bear it and so there was a strength that came into his spirit that gave him a victory so that this didn’t affect him the same way and there was a comfort. There was a divine strength that was ministered to him.

And because he had received that, now he could look back and say, I get it! God wants me to be able to help other people and before I could do that, He had to bring me through that place so that I could then help somebody else. And so, man, he killed something in me. He made something else alive and now, look what He’s done! And so, Paul’s emphasis was not on the terrible thing that happened, but the wonderful thing that happened because of that terrible thing! Praise God!

And so, you come down and one of the themes that is throughout this book is apparently there were other ministries who were coming and trying to present themselves as apostles of Christ to these people and giving them a different message. And Paul was trying to counter some of that because he realized, this is not from God. In fact, in one place he refers to some of their teaching as doctrines of demons. Well, that’s in another book.

But anyway…but he talks about the subtlety of Satan and how he appears as an angel of light, doesn’t he? And so, he’s really concerned for the believers, that they not get side-tracked by somebody who’s coming to glorify themselves and to lift themselves up.

But you know, as he talks about his ministry, you go back a chapter or two, and he realizes, I can’t do this! God has called me to do something. I can’t do it! It simply is outside of my job description. It’s outside of my ability, I guess is the word I’m trying to say. He cannot do what he’s called to do.

But do you know, the truth is, every member of the Body of Christ is called to something that is supernatural? You can’t be a blessing to anybody else except by the grace of God. But the conversely…with the grace of God, you and I can be a blessing one to another and to anybody that God puts in our path. It’s entirely supernatural and Paul had to come the hard way, to realize that.

I don’t know how many of you realize, but Paul didn’t…it talks about him being converted and immediately going into the synagogues but Paul did not jump on a boat and go out preaching the Gospel to the Gentile world. There was probably 15, 18 years, something like that, for those who have studied the chronology, and he was most of that time in a place of obscurity…just looking to God, learning from God, being taught of God, supporting himself by making tents.

And there came a time when Barnabas came looking for him and they brought him to the church at Antioch, I guess it was. And it was there he labored and taught with the people for a period of time. And it was way down the line that he finally went out as a missionary, as an apostle.

But God…I’ll tell you, every single one of us, God’s working in us. God is reaching down into deep places in our lives and He’s challenging, He’s showing us, He’s revealing what we’re made of. But in the process of that, His desire is not to grind us down and show us how bad we are so we can major on that.

You know, we need to get over ourselves. Every once in a while I’ll encounter somebody and you get the feeling that they think it’s very, very spiritual to go around talking about how bad they are. And how ugly and how, oh my God, I’m such a sinner, I’m such…like we’re supposed to grovel.

I don’t sense any of that in Paul and yet here’s a guy who was the chief of sinners, who had to go through all kinds of deep lessons from God in which he discovered his own weakness, his own pride, his own corruption and every sort of thing that would have arisen in him!

And yet he was able, by the grace of God, to see past that, to see through that and say, God is bringing me exactly the way I need to go and He is accomplishing something that is awesome and…I’m rejoicing in it! I’m not down. I’m not saying, oh God, I’m worthless! Oh, poor me. It was, I’m a product of the grace of God and I’m on a pathway that He has engineered and it’s great right now and it’s gonna be greater! Onward and upward! Praise God!

And so Paul talks about what he has been given and how impossible it is. And you know, I’ll just summarize little bits of chapter 3. He talks about how some of these other guys, they’re gonna come in with letters saying, hey, this guy is great, you ought to listen to him.

Paul says, yeah, I got a letter too. But the letter I’ve got is written by the Holy Spirit in people’s hearts. God used me to minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it has changed lives and the changed lives are God’s letter that are demonstration of the fact that He sent me and that’s what people read and they see the lives that are changed and that’s the only letter we need!

( congregational response ).

Every one of us can be instruments to see that kind of a letter written. You can do it in your home. You can do it in your workplace. We can do it here among ourselves. We can do it on behalf of anybody God sends us to. God is the one who has to do the writing. And so, Paul saw himself in that light.

And he says, in verse 4, chapter 3, “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves…” (NIV). He constantly goes back to that.

Folks, every one of us needs to take comfort and wisdom and strength from that simple fact. Every time you feel like you’re helpless, worthless…it’s true, in one sense, but you’re looking at the wrong thing if you stop there.

Paul learned not to stop there because it’s not about us! Man, we want to figure…we want to learn the stuff, and then we want to do it, and that doesn’t work. And before God can do anything much with us, He has got to bring us to the place where we know that we’re nothing. We understand the Cross was not just a place where Jesus died in our place to pay for our sins, but it’s a place where we died, where our old life, the life that we were born with in this world, was literally nailed to that Cross and we were set free. We embrace all that that means…that this needs to die. There’s not a thing that we were born with in here that we can take with us to that eternal kingdom of God.

Do you realize that? Everything here has to die. And that’s God’s purpose. But thank God, it doesn’t ever stop there! There’s a resurrection, too! Because everyone who has truly been united with Him on the Cross has been united with Him in His life as well. And that life cannot die. That’s what the Lord is bringing every one of us to, is a place where we can learn how to live out that life and not this one.

And you see it in the ministry of Paul, as he describes it. And, I’m just gonna go forward, I think, a little bit here and get back into chapter 4. But notice there’s a phrase that he uses, at least twice, I guess it’s twice, in this chapter and it comes here. He says, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.”

Now that phrase, we do not lose heart, is one that…I feel a need of it myself. I have a feeling there’s probably people here who need that. Because there are things that you are experiencing, there are needs you are seeing in your own heart and your life and they discourage you. Am I the only one that ever feels that way? No!

But I want us to see this, this passage in this light that…well, how in the world could somebody like Paul not lose heart? My God, every time he went somewhere there was just all…all hell would break loose! And as it did, he would…things would rise up in him! He even talks about it. He says, “…who is offended, and I burn not?” (KJV).

Paul was a human being. The emotions that arise from anybody’s human nature were things that he was intimately familiar with. He understood them. He felt them. He had to contend with them. He had to deal with all this stuff that wanted to rise up in his heart. But he was able to look back and say, God, why am I here, why am I doing this? He said, it’s God’s mercy! He didn’t look down and say, man, there’s a candidate I can really use, they’re so talented. They got a personality, man, that’s who I want. He picked the most unlikely people.

( congregational amens ).

So, do you feel unlikely this morning? Well, you might be just the one that God wants to use in ways you can’t even imagine.