Encourage Yourself

“David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6

walklikejesusI spoke to a lot of people today who were discouraged and were needing some encouragement. I am beginning to think that the words encourage yourself in the Lord are a lifeline. There will often be times when no one is around to give you the boost that you need. To press in and receive God’s heart in a lot of situations requires us to find answers in His Word and not from those around us. Human as we are, we are quick to ask someone or wait for someone to pull us up by our bootstraps.

I think it is the same with any kind of discipline or relationship. There comes a point where we need to take responsibility and not expect everyone to do the work for us. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when our hearts may take more than encouraging ourselves in Him, but I think this is a discipline worth learning. We can’t count on others to keep us alive spiritually. It is kind of like me asking you to keep my marriage in a good place. Nobody else can do that for me. Or for you.

I remember when I first became a Christian. My Mom was a prayer warrior. So whenever I had an issue or a prayer request, I would call her and ask her to pray. Oftentimes, I wouldn’t do it myself. I hadn’t been raised to press in to things and if they seemed too hard, I would ask someone else to do it or look for an easy solution. I tell you I am still reaping the consequences of that kind of thinking. Perseverance was not a quality that was instilled in me. I learned the hard way when my Mom passed away that in order to have relationship with Jesus, I needed to talk to Him myself.

I really had no idea that I relied on her encouragement and prayers as much as I did until the silence ensued after she died. Encouraging ourselves is not just blowing smoke to ourselves and being positive but to dig in deep, lift your eyes up to the hills and let God be the one that brings the encouragement. Our words need to be filled with His truth and not used to speak defeat over our lives.

Chuck Norris wrote the foreword to a book called Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris, he wrote, “Today we live in a culture that promotes comfort, not challenges. Everything is about finding ways to escape hardship, avoid pain and dodge duty. In the past, young people were expected to make significant contributions to society.” The Harris twins write about combatting the idea of adolescence as a vacation from responsibility. I think this statement speaks loudly of what our culture has been doing in the last generation. Out of brokenness, this vacation from responsibility mentality has carried over into our lives as adults.

Hence, it has carried over into our spiritual lives with an expectation that God will just do things or a miracle will bail us out (not that miracles aren’t possible but they don’t teach us as process can) or that someone else will help to carry this responsibility. I think our spiritual, emotional and physical lives will come to a standstill or spin on a hamster wheel until we really take the bull by the horns per se. I am preaching at myself too.

The story in 1 Samuel 30 finds David coming back from being turned away from fighting with the Philistines only to discover that the Amalekites had burned Ziklag and taken their wives and children. David’s men in their distress talked about killing him even though David had experienced the same losses. Instead of giving in to blaming, David sought his encouragement from the Lord and looked for a solution in Him. Because he took this stance and listened to the Lord’s wisdom, they were able to recover every person.

David chose to be encouraged in the Lord. This meant pressing in and seeking Him in the midst of trouble. He could have easily given in to the blame or the hurt of rejection by His brothers/soldiers, or just the difficulty of the situation. He talked to God himself. Often, that is just what we need to do, talk to Him ourselves.

There is a song called Encourage Yourself by Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers. encourageThese are some of the words. We are more than conquerors. Don’t let the enemy speak lies into your discouragement. Don’t take a vacation from your responsibility to encourage yourself in the Lord. By learning this, encouragement will be quick on your tongue to speak to others that need it or to teach them how to seek it.

Psalm 10:17, “You Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them and you listen to their cry.”

Hopelessly Devoted

Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”

My husband is fiercely loyal and it is one of the qualities I love the most about him. It is one of the ways he has loved the fear of abandonment and rejection to healing in me. It is one of the ways he has shown that even in serious trouble, it is not a time to give up. He has taught me how to persevere and do the hard things because of this quality. I always say, he doesn’t just read the word and forget what it says. He does it. So when God said for husbands to love their wife as Christ loves the church, my heart is evidence of that.

This morning in our devotional we read about a couple that has been married 50 years and when asked separately what their secret was to 50 years, they both responded, I never tried to change him/her. Wade said that would be so cool to be able to celebrate 50 years with you. rocking-chairs-1046184_640

C’mon, how much sweeter can you get. I was thinking, I don’t think I want to live that long. haha We are just 11 years in and I am 49!!! Ok it is actually plausible and please celebrate with us if it happens but therein lies a picture of our differences. And I celebrate them! We make a better whole because of them.

Loyalty is defined as the quality of being faithful to someone or something. It has been in the forefront of my mind for a variety of reasons and Psalm 119 is one of them.

It is a fascinating portion of scripture in that it is the longest psalm and chapter in the entire bible. The whole theme is the psalmist’s loyalty to the Word of God. The structure of the psalm made it easy to memorize in the Hebrew culture when they didn’t all have copies of scripture. This particular psalm is formed as an acrostic with 22 sections each corresponding to a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, every verse beginning with the letter of its section. Amazing.

The Psalmist was referring to the Torah, which were the first 5 books of the Law/Old Testament and almost every verse of the 176 verses written have a synonym for the word Torah in it. How creative is that. His devotion was evident that he was fully convinced God’s word was life and those who kept it were rewarded by God.

Observe his delight and devotion.

Vs 1 – Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.

Vs 9 – How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

Vs 11 – I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Vs 24 – Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

Vs 36 – Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

Vs 45 – I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

Vs 89 – Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

Vs 92 – If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

Vs 105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Vs 125 – I am your servant, give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.

Vs 165 – Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

One of my favourite things about this psalm is how it ends in Vs 176, ‘I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.’ After all of the devotion and desire to be loyal to God’s word, he concedes to his humanness. He confesses and turns back to God. Reminding us all that every good relationship needs to be intentional, seeking after the heart of God and the ones we love. We still may fall, but the grace of God picks us up. Love covers over a multitude of sins.

Let this be your prayer and protection with me for the days to come. Psalm 119:103,104 ‘How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! honey-dipper-924732_640 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.’

What can you do to become more loyal to God’s word today?