Yesterday I spoke out of 1 Sam. 30 about David and his ability to find strength in God and the promises God had spoken over his life. “Strengthening yourself in the LORD” is an essential skill in Christian discipleship. It is the ability to persevere and act in faith when everything else is against you – when circumstances are bad, your friends abandon you, your own emotions betray you and it would just be easier to quit. We talked about two main ways to strengthen yourself in the Lord.
Individual Prophetic Words
Like David in 1 Samuel 30, we recall the words God has spoken over our lives. I do this through voice recordings, saving emails, and writing things down in my journal. I have a growing list of prophetic promises over my life that all share specific themes, even though they were given by different people in different times and places. As I review my prophetic history, my life’s calling comes into greater clarity and focus.
I believe we all need people with prophetic gifts in our lives. Prophets in the Church are primarily called to encourage, equip and edify the body. I liken each and every person to a gold mine – we all have some gold nuggets surrounded by loads and loads of dirt. It doesn’t take a prophet to see the dirt, but it does take someone with supernatural vision to see the “gold,” the amazing things God has put inside of us to bless one another.
However, not everyone lives in a Christian community where the gift of prophecy is actively practiced. And some people live in communities where there is so much prophetic activity that it is hard to see straight. So individual prophetic words, as wonderful and necessary as they are, can’t be the sole guiding force in your life. For that, we turn to God’s Word.
Corporate Prophetic Words
The Bible is an amazing creation. It is roughly 2,100 years of God’s interaction with humankind, recorded and synthesized for our benefit. God’s Wisdom has been filtered through nearly 4,000 years of human experience and been shown to be without equal in showing people how to live. More than that, it is a record of what God wants to do in and through His People. It is overflowing with God’s promises towards us.
The wonderful thing about the Bible is that it doesn’t take advanced degrees to understand. Really, a 12 year old probably reads it with more insight than someone with a Ph.D. The Bible says we are supposed to feed the hungry – so we do it. The Bible says we are supposed to heal the sick and raise the dead – so we do it. Because God’s Word is the supreme authority in our lives, whenever our circumstances don’t align with God’s Word we have the right to doubt our circumstances
This is where we step into the area of faith. Will we believe God’s Word, hold fast to His promises and take the next step of faith? Or will we decide our emotions are our supreme reality and discredit God’s Word? I’ve tried it both ways. The first is tremendously difficult, especially when it comes to trying to raise the dead; but the second is disasterous. The moment we begin to discredit, compromise or explain away God’s Word our whole life falls apart. Strengthening yourself in the Lord is about trusting His Word and finding yourself in His Story.
The Greater David
I began this post by referencing the story of David in 1 Samuel 30. At this time, David is in exile and biding his time until he is crowned king. While he and his army were away, some enemies came and pillaged the camp – they took everyone into slavery. When David and his men return to find the camp burned and their families enslaved, the men turn mutinous. David withdraws to strengthen himself in the Lord. When he returns, he rallies his men to go after their enemies. The men agree and overtake their foes. They put every enemy to death and are reunited with their loved ones. They return to rebuild their camp.
The Truth of the Bible is that there is a Greater David. There is another man spoken about in the Bible who was in exile and waiting to be crowned King. He, too, found that his bride had been captured and enslaved. His friends all abandoned him and he knelt alone in a garden to strengthen himself in the Lord. He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” And after finding strength in the Lord his God, this King readied himself for battle. For three days he fought his enemies until they were put completely beneath his feet and this King, this Jesus of Nazareth, strode confidently out of the tomb having overcome sin, death and the devil.
The Truth of the Bible is that, even now, this Jesus reigns Supreme. Sin and death are defeated foes who should no longer intimidate the people of God. And this is our ultimate source of strength – for whenever our hearts condemn us and our circumstances lead us to despair, this one truth remains – Jesus is alive. And if He lives, then we also shall live, provided we remain in his love. That fact alone puts everything into perspective. That fact alone empowers us to live lives of faith and victory.
So for anyone who struggles with depression or despair, find yourself in this Story. Jesus loves you, he fought for you and he won you from the grip of sin and death. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you and has proven himself by placing his spirit in you – the same spirit that raised him from the dead. You are a fighter. You are victorious. If you don’t quit you will win a crown of everlasting life.
Blessings to you my friends!