People ask me from time to time, Jerry, don’t you ever get discouraged?  My honest answer has to be “Define discouraged”.  I’m no different than anyone else, would YOU be pleased if after having worked for many hours on something on your computer, that it crashes and all your labor was lost?  Two weeks ago everything I’ve spent years building in my address book was lost due to a computer failure.  Thankfully I had it all backed up, or so I thought.  It turns out the backup files got corrupted long ago and is apparently unreadable. So, am I discouraged?  Again I say, define discouraged.  The more correct term might be @#$%^**!!  AAARGH!!!
   But when faced with problems, I’ve learned a trick or two, because of my vast experience being harassed by the devil because of my ministry work.  You see, he doesn’t want me out there encouraging people to seek God, so he will try to keep me running around in little circles, trying to distract me from what God has called me to do.  Not that I’m the only one these things happen to.  Actually, it’s probably happening to you right now.  If it isn’t distractions from things breaking, then it’s “time stealers”, like people who take up all your time with silly issues like, Can God create a rock so big He can’t move it?, when they aren’t really seeking God, they just want to waste your time.  And so after spending your time with them, looking back, NOTHING was accomplished whatsoever.  And that can be discouraging. But there’s an answer.
   Getting discouraged is a choice.  Yes, that’s what I said, getting discouraged is a CHOICE!  Nobody likes it when things go wrong, but how you react to it determines what you’re really made of.  I imagine God wasn’t pleased when Lucifer turned against Him and tried to take over heaven, but I know God wasn’t discouraged. Rather, He dealt with the problem and moved on.  In Lucifer’s case, God kicked him out of heaven.  Problem solved. Next, please?
   We need to learn to keep our eyes fixed on God’s plan for us.  Some, like me, are called to minister to others, to teach and encourage, correct, and exhort.  Others may be called to another function within the Body of Christ, but we ALL have a job to do.  We all have a common enemy, and that is Satan.  He stands always ready to oppose and accuse us, and if he can’t convince us we are out of God’s will altogether, then he will try to discourage us by explaining to us that we are too unworthy and puny to undertake any great work for God.  And many believe his lies and give up before they even get started.  Satan uses discouragement as one of his most powerful weapons.  But like I said, getting discouraged is a choice.  We can dodge discouragement altogether if we set our mind to do so.
   Great men and women of God, when faced with trials and tribulations, have chosen to keep their eyes on the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  The Apostle Paul certainly did not live on Easy Street.  In fact, the persecution he faced in his service to Christ Jesus will make your hair stand on end if you read about it.  Yet he didn’t give in or give up.  Even his friends and followers tried to dissuade him from going back to Jerusalem, knowing he faced death if he went back.  We can read about it in Acts 21:1-15,
Act 21:1  And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara:
Act 21:2  And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.
Act 21:3  Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.
Act 21:4  And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
Act 21:5  And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.
Act 21:6  And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.
Act 21:7  And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.
Act 21:8  And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
Act 21:9  And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
Act 21:10  And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
Act 21:11  And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
Act 21:12  And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
Act 21:13  Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Act 21:14  And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.
Act 21:15  And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.
   Here, Paul’s friends tried to talk him out of going to Jerusalem.  Some would say the Holy Spirit didn’t want Paul to go there, so He sent prophets to warn Paul not to go, and Paul wouldn’t listen.  But the truth is, the Holy Ghost had already warned Paul of all he would have to suffer for the Kingdom of God, and Paul was ready to give his life to fulfill his calling if necessary.  Most of us don’t have that kind of resolve, do we?  If we meet any opposition at all from the devil, we take it that it isn’t God’s will for us to _______ (you fill in the blank) pray, study, witness to others, you name it, and we are quick to quit.  In Revelation 21:6-9, we are plainly told the following, and it’s so clear you would have to WORK at it to misunderstand:
Rev 21:6  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Rev 21:7  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Rev 21:8  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
    You see, my friend, the prize the LORD has placed before you is SO VALUABLE, that you can’t afford to allow yourself to get discouraged.  The devil has one thing in mind, and that is to get you to doubt the integrity of the Word of God, and he will use anything at his disposal to do so.  If you’re sick, he will try to discourage you by keeping symptoms of sickness on your body, to make you doubt God’s Word that you are really healed.  If you are having a hard time in your finances, the devil will keep you broke to keep you discouraged, so you will doubt God’s provision.  Let me give you a clue here: if you doubt, you do without.  That goes for healing, finances, peace and joy, ANYTHING that God promises is yours by virtue of your covenant with Him.  Discouragement is a thief, and we know who the thief is, don’t we?
    Discouragement tells God you really don’t take Him at His Word.  God’s Word says He will never leave or forsake you, and the devil will try to discourage you by whispering in your ear, If God hadn’t left you, everything would be fine by now. If God REALLY healed you, why are you still sick?  If He is such a good Father, why isn’t He taking better care of you?  THAT, my friend is where discouragement starts.  But it is also where it can END.  Stop listening to the devil!!  He is a liar, has always been a liar, and always will be a liar so long as he exists.
 You CAN dodge discouragement.  All it takes is a heart that believes God, that has full (and I mean FULL) confidence in Him.  Once you make that commitment, the rest is easy.  Paul made that decision the day that Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, and he never looked back, no matter how the devil tried to discourage him.  And he finished his course with joy.
   I recently saw a sign in the back window of a Dodge  pickup truck that made me think of you,  “IF YOU CAN’T DODGE IT, RAM IT!”  That tells it like it is, doesn’t it?  If you can’t dodge discouragement by remembering God’s promises, then RAM discouragement head on with the Word of God and just go on through, and leave the devil deal with all the destruction of his kingdom you leave in your path.
   Remember, you ARE an Overcomer, not TRYING to become one.  Stop whatever you’re doing right now and go look in the mirror and say, “I AM AN OVERCOMER, AND I AM NOT DISCOURAGED!  I OVERCOME BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB, AND BY THE WORD OF MY TESTIMONY.  Then smile real big, because your heavenly Father is smiling, too.  He’s saying, LOOK, that’s one of MY kids there!