Every time I think of you, I thank my God. And whenever I mention you in my prayers, it makes me happy. ~ Philippians 1:3, 4 (CEV)
READING: Philippians 1
As a church planter, I often had legitimate reasons for discouragement: difficult people, setbacks, persecutions, fatigue and so on. Staying encouraged has sometimes been a challenge.
The Apostle Paul grappled with the same issue of discouragement. He wrote in II Corinthians 1:8, “We want to remind you, friends, of the trouble we had in the province of Asia. The burdens laid upon us were so great and so heavy that we gave up all hope of staying alive” (GNB). How did he stay encouraged? Our passage tells us that he stayed encouraged by remembering his spiritual children and praying for them.
I have found the same thing keeps me encouraged: when I remember and pray for those who have been saved – those whose eternal destiny was changed from hell to heaven, my joy returns. On the other hand, when I focus on my problems, my spirit languishes and my courage fades.
During the time that he wrote the Philippian letter, Paul was in prison, chained to Roman guards. What a discouraging circumstance! Yet he managed to remain joyful by focusing on the fruit of his ministry.
Recently I again had the privilege of leading someone to Christ. As usual, I left the encounter feeling like I was walking six inches off the ground. Gathering fruit is exhilarating.
What are you focusing on? Focus on the fruit!
But, you may say, how do you stay encouraged when you don’t see fruit yet? Stay faithful, keep your eyes on Jesus, and pray now for the people who will be the fruit of your labors one day. Focus on the fruit!
Lord, Please help me to focus on what is most important. Help me to focus on the fruit. Amen.
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