Joshua J. Masters |
God will meet you in your disappointment and discouragement, but as we learn to cling to God’s plan rather than our own, the prayer-life and influence of the church grows.
Praying (Together) Through…
Message 2 • Disappointment
Joshua J. Masters
March 27, 2022
A. PRAYING TOGETHER
Good morning, Brookwood.
Today we continue our series on becoming a praying church called, Praying (Together) Through…
Last week we talked about praying together for unity in the church.
We prayed God would bring us:
--Unity in our PRAISE.
--Unity through God’s PROTECTION (from the evil one).
--Unity with Christ’s PERSONALITY (through PRUNING).
--Unity in God’s PURPOSE for us.
And when the church is unified, praying continually in one voice, what happens?
So, I’ll ask you again this week…
Do we want to see revival?
Do we want it to start in this room?
Then we must be willing to have God remove all the obstacles that prevent us from having that unity.
What do you think causes the most division in the church?
It’s being self-focused.
And when we don’t get our way, we become disappointed and discouraged with where God has us.
We cannot hear God’s direction for our lives or for this church if we are dwelling in the disappointment of where we are right now.
So, for revival to come, we need to recognize our disappointment and pray (together) through it.
A. The church must pray (together) through DISAPPOINTMENT into TRUST.
Let’s be honest, who here has ever felt disappointed or discouraged with where God had you in your Christian walk?
God’s plan rarely unfolds in the way or on the schedule we want it to.
And when we choose to live in a place of discouragement,
that’s what the enemy will prey on.
Satan will use our disappointments to create discontent and cause division.
--So, if we believe God has a plan for Brookwood Church,
--And we believe revival is coming,
--We must be willing to identify the enemy’s tactics and work through our disappointments.
So, today we’re looking at prayer from Moses—His Prayer of Discouragement.
It’s in Numbers 11 and we’ll start at verse 5.
So, you can turn or swipe there in your Bibles. (pg. 123).
And as you do that, let me give you a little warning.
Remember last week when we prayed for the church to be pruned by the truth of God’s Word?
Well, this passage has some pretty big pruning shears.
But addressing these stumbling blocks now will prepare us for next week when we learn how to seek God’s direction in prayer and see miracles in our church.
How many people want to hear God’s direction?
How many people want to see miracles?
We all want that, but we have to be pruned in this area so we can experience miracles later on.
Revival is always preceded by a movement of prayer, but it’s also always preceded by a movement of pruning.
Everyone with me?
Let’s set the scene:
Things are not going well at all in the Israelite camp.
--The foreigners that came with them out of Egypt are causing discontent,
--The Israelites have a bad attitude anyway,
--And God just destroyed the outskirts of their camp.
Moses is filled with disappointment and discouragement.
And the Israelites are complaining about everything, especially the food.
“We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”
Numbers 11:5–6 (NLT)
Now, what is this manna they’re talking about?
<answer – miraculous food>
Well, they don’t want the food God’s been miraculously providing any more.
They want the “free” fish, and meat, and melons they got in Egypt.
But was any of that really free?
No! They were slaves.
Skip down to verse 10:
Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated.
Numbers 11:10 (NLT)
Now, already some of us are uncomfortable.
The Lord was extremely angry.
Does God get angry?
One of the reasons there’s so much self-focus and division in the church is because the modern church has shied away from teaching about the wrath of God—and how He responds to sin and disobedience.
So, as we look at God’s response here, we must remember how severely sin and disobedience must be dealt with.
But we must also remember this: Who now stands between us and the wrath of God?
So, God is angry with them, and Moses is angry at them.
And in his frustration and disappointment, Moses goes to God in prayer.
And in this prayer moment between Moses and God, we’ll see what disappointment and discouragement will breed inside the human soul if we let it.
Here’s his prayer.
And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are You treating me, Your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did You tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land You swore to give their ancestors?”
Numbers 11:11–12 (NLT)
So, how does Moses respond to the Israelites’ whining?
By whining himself!
And who is he blaming?
Not the Israelites. God.
Here’s the first danger and temptation from the enemy we have to avoid in our disappointment:
B. Disappointment and Discouragement leads to…
1. PRIDEFUL Whining
Because whining and complaining is always a self-focused response.
--Someone’s not acting the way I want.
--I’m not getting what I want.
--This is not how I wanted things to go.
If revival is going to come, do we need to be God-focused or Us-focused?
Do we need to be seeking His plan or our own plan?
As we move together in this movement of prayer, the enemy will try to cause division and discontent by convincing us that the things God has asked us to do are unreasonable.
But a large part of our witness to the world is how we respond to hardship.
That’s why Philippians says:
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
Philippians 2:14–15 (NLT)
The world is filled with crooked and perverse people that complain and argue, but we’re called to shine like bright lights.
The world needs to see us moving through hardship with purpose, not whining.
So, how do we avoid that prideful whining?
It’s everything we talked about last week—through experiencing the truth of His Word and having unity with Christ and one another.
Remember what Jesus prayed for us:
“I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent Me.”
John 17:21 (NLT)
Here’s the problem.
Unity with Christ means submission to Christ.
And if we’re honest, we don’t always want to do that because it means giving up control and what we want—even if it’s bad for us.
Whining comes from the belief that God has not done enough for us—it’s a lack of trust in His plan.
And Like the Israelites, once we become disappointed with where God has us, we start desiring the pleasure of our slavery over the journey to God’s freedom.
So, if prideful whining is self-focused, what’s the antidote?
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”
Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
--Stop focusing on what we want to do and start focusing on what God is already doing.
--Remain focused on who God is and ask Him how He wants us to provide and care for others (both individually and as a church).
You want a simple prayer that takes the focus off yourself?
When you’re discouraged or disappointed and you don’t know how to pray, pray this:
Show me what You’re doing today and how You want me to be a part of it.
When we’re focused on being part of a larger, perfect plan, we have a humbled heart that allows God’s power to work through us.
But Moses has forgotten that here.
He started out at the burning bush rejecting his mission because he didn’t think he was worthy.
Now, he’s rejecting his mission because he thinks he’s too good for it.
There’s a warning there for us.
And once the enemy has you in a place of self-focused discontent, he’ll tell you you’re all alone in your struggle.
So, here’s the second danger we have to avoid from the enemy:
Disappointment and Discouragement leads to…
2. PERCEIVED isolation.
Moses is discouraged and overwhelmed because he feels like he’s carrying this huge burden on his own.
“Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy!”
Numbers 11:13–14 (NLT)
Now is Moses really alone?
No. It’s a PERCEIVED isolation.
It’s a lie from the enemy designed to prevent him from seeking God or seeking community.
But even though it’s not true, it feels real.
--How many people sitting here right now believe the lie that you’re alone?
--How many people sitting here (or at home) right now think God won’t help you?
--How many believe you can’t reach out to the church or one another for help?
It’s a lie. The enemy loves to make people feel alone in a crowded room.
And without God’s truth, Moses feels alone and overwhelmed.
There are two reasons we might feel overwhelmed in what God gives us to do:
1. You’re taking on things God never asked you to do. OR
2. You’re leaning on your own strength rather than God’s.
Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. … For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28, 30 (NLT)
But for some reason we keep trying to carry the burden ourselves.
God has given Moses and the Israelites everything they need for this journey.
But as they look to themselves rather than God, they begin to lose trust God will fulfill His promise.
So, when we feel isolated, we must pray God gives us a desire for healthy community.
And we must continue to pray for us to have unity with God and unity with one another.
Because once the enemy has you feeling discouraged, self-focused, and alone, he’ll make you feel hopeless.
And that will paralyze your faith.
Disappointment and Discouragement leads to…
3. PARALYZED faith.
The enemy fears the power of your faith, and he really fears this church being unified in faith, so he’ll seek to neutralize it.
And here’s the pattern:
--The enemy sows discontentment in our lives through disappointment and discouragement.
--Then he turns your attention to what you want rather than what God is providing.
--Then he isolates you from a healthy community.
--And finally, his endgame, you start doubting your faith.
Look where it took Moses. Verse 15.
“If this is how You intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”
Numbers 11:15 (NLT)
Then jump down to verse 21:
… “There are 600,000 foot soldiers here with me, and yet You say, ‘I will give them meat for a whole month!’ Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?”
Numbers 11:21b–22 (NLT)
Does God need their livestock to provide meat?
Of course not.
Moses, in this weakened state of faith, can only see the human solution.
And since the human solution is impossible, then it must also be impossible for God.
If we’re honest, how many of us have been in that place?
The more we live in our disappointment, the less we trust God’s plan and the less we expect Him to act.
But look at the theme verse at the top of our outline.
Commit your way to theLord; trust in Him, and He will act.
Psalm 37:5 (ESV)
So, Moses has raised 2 major issues of discouragement.
1. He can’t manage these idiots by himself.
2. He can’t provide the meat they keep whining for.
How does God respond to his prayer? v. 16:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather before Me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you. I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.”
Numbers 11:16–17 (NLT)
Now look closely at these verses.
God is supplying Moses with people to help him, but what’s He really offering through those people?
I will meet you there.
I will talk to you.
I will put My Spirit on them.
God will work through other people, but the promise is His presence.
Disappointment leads to whining, isolation, and a broken faith.
C. But turning to God in trust reveals His PRESENCE…
Even in Moses’ broken state, God responds with a promise of His presence.
And He solves the problem by bringing Moses 70 people to support him.
And then God turns His attention to the whining of the Israelites… but the outcome is not as pleasant.
“And say to the people, ‘Purify yourselves, for tomorrow you will have meat to eat. You were whining, and the Lord heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to Him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”
Numbers 11:18–20 (NLT)
Well, that’s intense.
Now, is God angry because they asked for food?
No, of course not.
God was already providing for them, but they looked at what He miraculously offered them and said, “Not good enough.”
God is angry because they rejected path to freedom for the pleasures of those who had enslaved them.
And if you keep reading, the Israelites end up gorging themselves on so much Quail, it lead to God sending a plague. And a bunch of them die while still stuffing their mouths with meat.
Then Moses names the place they were buried “The Graves of Gluttony” (or lust).
This is a difficult but important truth:
When we continually reject God’s journey for us from shackles to freedom, when we continually push God for what we want rather than what He’s promised, He will sometimes discipline us.
And sometimes, God will discipline us by giving us what we want.
And where did all this meat come from?
Remember how Moses complained in verse 21-22?
“Even if we slaughter every animal we have, there’s not enough.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has My arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not My Word comes true!”
Numbers 11:23 (NLT)
God doesn’t need our plan to fulfill His purpose.
Turning to God in trust reveals His PRESENCE, POWER…
And finally, Did Moses and the Israelites have everything they needed to follow God’s purpose for them?
Did they have everything they needed to see His promise fulfilled in their lives?
Yes. They had everything they needed, but they couldn’t see it because they were self-focused instead of Kingdom focused.
But when we learn to trust His plan, we start to see His provision everywhere we look.
Turning to God in trust reveals His PRESENCE, POWER, and PROVISION.
But how do we get to that place of trust?
The first step is in the text.
What’s the biggest difference between Moses’ whining and the Israelite’s whining?
The Israelites whined ABOUT God
And Moses brought his whining TO God.
The next step is to seek His direction, which we’ll talk about next week.
Listen very carefully.
If you leave this message feeling guilty or that you’re a bad Christian because you get discouraged, you’ve heard the wrong message.
God will meet you in your disappointment and discouragement, but as we learn to cling to God’s plan rather than our own, the life and influence of the church grows.
God doesn’t want you to be discouraged.
He wants us to come to Him with our disappointments and allow Him to transform them into trust in His plan.
But what would that look like?
What would it look like if we all took the focus off ourselves and submitted our circumstances to the greater purpose God has for us?
The truth is, I had no idea how to answer that question. I was struggling with it.
>>Now watch how God works!
Because as I was wrestling with it a couple days ago, I got a text from our Special Friends Director, Angie.
She had no idea I was struggling with that question, but she forwarded me a text from one of our special friends.
Coop texts out a word of encouragement every day.
This is the first one I’ve ever seen, but he was gracious enough to let me share it with you.
What would it look like if we all submitted our circumstances to the greater purpose God has for us?
It would look like this:
“God’s got my legs up in heaven with Him. When I get to heaven, my wheelchair will be outside the gate. The first thing I’m going to do is to get up and run to Jesus and give Jesus a big hug, and thanks Him for putting me in my wheelchair and [that] I enjoyed helping people understand about disabilit[ies], and talk[ing] about Jesus with them, and chang[ing] their lives because of it. I have some great friends because of it.
Praise Heavenly Father.
Have a good day.”
-Brian “Coop” Cooper
Brookwood Special Friends
Imagine the revival that would come if we all allowed God to give us THAT heart.
Imagine what God would do if we had that kind of unity in our purpose.
I know these things are difficult, but we get there by encouraging one another and by praying together as a church.
Isn’t that worth praying for?
And that’s what we’re going to do.
So, just as we did last week, when I give you the signal, you’re going to stand up, turn to the people around you, and get into groups of 3 or 5—or whatever.
If you see someone without a group, invite them into yours so no one is alone.
Then pray in your groups however you want, in whatever language you want.
Pray how the Spirit leads you or for these points we covered today:
PRAISE THE FATHER FOR…
· His presence, provision, and power.
PRAY GOD WILL…
· Reveal opportunities for us to provide and care for others.
· Bring us a desire for healthy community and unity.
· Deepen our trust and faith in Him as He teaches us to surrender our circumstances to Him.
We overcome our disappointment by praising the Father for His presence, provision, and power.
--And when we feel self-focused, we pray He will reveal opportunities for us to provide and care for others.
--When we feel isolated, we pray together God brings us a desire for healthy community and unity.
--And when we have doubts, we pray together God will deepen our trust and faith in Him. And teach us to surrender our circumstances to Him.
Let’s pray together in one voice.
Then I’ll come back and close us out in a few minutes.
Ready? Let’s go.