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Keep Working

Positive reinforcement is a great tool to encourage people to continue doing what they’re doing. It rewards them for a job well done. Many companies are like mine where they give bonuses if you meet the goals the company sets for you or if you help the company meet their goals. For me, that last one comes once a year. After several months it’s easy to forget several months that I will be rewarded next year if I help the company achieve its goals long term. Sometimes it feels like a chore having to do the things I have to do because I forget about the reward at the end.

In II Chronicles 15, King Asa must have been feeling the same. He was the first king in a while to remember God. He got rid of most of the idols and shrines. He even removed his grandmother from the role of queen mother because of her love for idols. He also defeated armies with over three times as many men. God was blessing him, but he was starting to lose sight of the positive reinforcement that God was using to bless him for doing what he was supposed to do.

The spirit of God came on Azariah and he went to the king to deliver a message from God. In verse 7, he said, “But you must be strong and not be discouraged. The work that you do will be rewarded” (GNT). I believe God is saying that to you and I today. He wants to encourage us to continue doing the work He called us to. I know that we can feel like God has forgotten us as we focus on completing and doing the work He’s given us, but He hasn’t forgotten us. We will be rewarded.

Galatians 6:9 reminds us, “So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.” God believes in positive reinforcement. He has given us many promises in His Word to keep doing the work even though it gets tiring and mundane. If we will continue to do what He’s called us to, we will reap a harvest and a reward. Don’t quit doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Don’t give up. God sees what you’re doing even if others don’t. He won’t fail in delivering on His promise to you.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Fighting Discouragement

Discouragement is something that each of us face. Whether we got bad news, things aren’t going the way we planned or we’re facing an uphill battle, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. In those times we may wonder why we should even try. Discouragement really takes away our will to move forward or even to put up a fight. It causes us to see defeat before the end is even near. What it doesn’t take into account is the favor of God who is willing and able to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or think. With Him all things are possible.

In those moments, I remind myself to do whatever I can do, then let God do what He can do. If I want God to show up, I need to show up too. The Bible is full of hope in hopeless situations. All that God required of them was to not be discouraged or give up. When the Israelites walked around Jericho, the walls fell. When David walked onto the field of Battle and put a stone in a sling, the giant fell. When Peter stepped out of the boat, he didn’t fall. Whatever you’re facing today, meet it with faith and determination instead of discouragement. Let God show up and do what only He can do.

Here are some Bible verses about not getting discouraged.

1. So I say to my soul, “Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be disturbed. For I know my God will break through for me.” Then I’ll have plenty of reasons to praise him all over again. Yes, living before his face is my saving grace!

Psalms 42:11 TPT

2. Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day.

2 CORINTHIANS 4:16 AMP

3. David continued to address Solomon: “Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. GOD, my God, is with you in this; he won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch.”

1 Chronicles 28:20-21 MSG

4. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9 NLT

5. But now don’t be discouraged, any of you. Do the work, for I am with you.

Haggai 2:4 GNT

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Do The Work

Most of us spend very little time reading in the Minor Prophets in the Bible. Those are the little books at the end of the Old Testament in case you’re wondering. The book of Haggai is almost to the end of those books and the Lord gave him a word for Israel, but it can apply to us as well. The people of Israel had returned from exile and rebuilt their homes, however, the Temple still laid in ruins. God was upset because the people were more concerned about their well being than His. He pointed out that all of their labor wasn’t producing what it should have. He tied that to their lack of interest in rebuilding the Temple.

When all we are concerned about is ourselves, God can’t bless it. We will work our tails off, but will never get ahead. It doesn’t matter what we do, it will never be enough unless we put God first. This was the message Haggai gave to Israel and it goes out to us as well. When the people heard the message, they decided to obey the Lord’s command. As soon as they began, the Lord sent another message in Haggai 1:13, “I will be with you – that is my promise. (GNT)” When you’re doing the work God gives, we have the promise that He will be with us in it. He will not leave us alone.

In Haggai 2:4, God sent another message through Haggai. He said, “But now, don’t be discouraged…(GNT)” When we do what God has called us to do, there will be long periods where you work in obscurity. It will seem like no one is noticing, not even God. It will appear that you aren’t making progress, but God is there in the obscurity with you. Every great leader you can think of in the Bible spent years in obscurity. Moses left the palace to tend sheep. David hid in caves while waiting to be king. Abraham was a man without a home. Joshua was a spy before he was a leader.  Whatever obscure position you’re in now, is preparation for the greater thing God has for you. Don’t get discouraged.

The next part of that verse says, “Do the work…(GNT)” We can’t quit doing what God has called us to. We have to continue the work. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the work you do for God. There’s a scriptural principle that Jesus spoke of that we need to remember. It’s simply that if we are faithful with the little things, God will put us in charge of larger things. We have to be willing to do the small work before God can trust us with the greater work. He doesn’t just give that out. Whatever God has put in front of you, do the work and do it well. 

In the final part of that message in Haggai 2:4, God reminds the people, “I am with you. (GNT)” God is with you before you begin and during the process. He has promised to be there when no one else is. He has given you His word that no matter how hard things get, He will still be there with you. Don’t give up. Don’t look at the final outcome. Do the work one day at a time and God will bless it. When you’re doing what He called you to do, obscurity is a way of life because you’re doing things for His glory, not yours. Don’t despise small beginnings. There is much to learn, much to grow and much ministry to be don’t in those times. Don’t get discouraged, keep working. 

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