Sometimes you have to encourage yourself

(Read 1 Samuel 30:1-6)  

Today I will continue with “Faith and Patience. Although David was upset with King Achish because he wanted to participate in the war against Israel, Achish was firm.  The king did not change his mind.  David and his men were sent home.  They had to make the three-day journey back to Ziklag.  Things had not turned out the way they expected, and they were traveling back home disappointed, even though they should never have been fighting the Israelites in the first place.  And then, as if often the case when you are out of position and misaligned with your purpose, things went from bad to worse.  After the three-day journey, while the men were getting close to Ziklag, all they would think about was getting some rest.  They had just spent six days traveling (three going and three coming), with nothing to show for it.  The stress of the six days was taking a toll on them.  If you have to walk somewhere for three days, it gives you plenty of time to think.  I am sure they thought about how close they came to fighting their own countrymen.  I am sure they thought about how crazy their lives had become since they moved to Philistine.  I am sure they wondered about what was going on behind them in the war between the two nations.  Remember, back then, there was no internet or global news channels.  They had lots of questions, lots of nagging thoughts, and lots of time for introspection.  After all of that, I am sure the men just wanted a hot meal, a warm bed, and a loving hug from their wives and kids.  However, what they received was completely unexpected. 

While David and his men were gone, the Amalekites raided Ziklag, hauled off all the women and children as slaves, burned the town to the ground.  When the men looked around, seeing their homes destroyed and their families gone, the Bible says that they wept until they could not weep anymore.  They shed tears until they literally ran out of tears.   

David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were gone like everyone else.  David was mourning the loss, just like his men were, but David had additional pressure.  While his men were mourning, they began to turn on David.  Although David’s men had come to him as a band of misfits, and although he had turned their lives around and forged them into an elite fighting force, all they could think about in the moment was their loss.  In the midst of their pain, the finger of blame was directed towards David.  The men came together and spoke of stoning him. 

So there David was… he knew he was destined for greatness, he knew he was called to be the king of Israel, and he knew the power of God was on him.  But the pain of the situation clouded any hope for his future.  David was in a foreign land, he had joined forces with his enemies, he had been living a lie for years, he was waiting for the day when God would make him the king he was called to be.  But his breakthrough had not yet come, and he had hit a new all-time low.  His family was gone, and so were the families of his men.  His village was burned to the ground, and so was everything he and his men had.  His ally denied him the opportunity to fight alongside the men of Philistine.  And now his men — the same men who had been there for him, through thick-and-thin — were speaking of stoning him.  All David had left was God.  In that moment, the Bible says, “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”  Another translation says, “David found strength in the LORD his God.” 

So what does this mean for you today?  A few things: 

1.  Bad things happen when you are misaligned with your divine purpose.   

— I am not saying that God did this to David.  I am saying that we sometimes open the door to the enemy when we make poor decisions.  There is a level of divine protection associated with being in God’s will.  When you choose to live outside of God’s will, you run the risk of also being outside His protection.  Note: that doesn’t mean when you are in God’s will you won’t have opposition, because you may. Being in the will of God brings haters to. Don’t forget that!  

— When you are outside of the will of God, and you make a poor decision, you are often left to deal with the full weight of the repercussions of it.  However, when you are walking with God, and you make a mistake, God often softens the negative impact.  It’s like He lessens the blowback.  You still reap what you have sown, but you do so with an acknowledgment that if God had not been there for you, despite your stupidity, it would have been a lot worse.  

2.  If you are going to deal with people, you will have to learn to walk in God’s love and extend grace.   

— David invested greatly in “the Mighty Men.”  They came to him as a ragtag group of misfits and he turned them into an elite fighting force.  But when the chips were down, they turned on him and wanted to kill him. 

— People close to you will turn on you.  This is not an indictment against people but rather an acknowledgment of the frailty of humanity.  David had invested greatly in these men and they were ready to stone him to death because their pain clouded their judgment

— People are simply human.  Sometimes good people make bad decisions, especially if they are emotional at the time.  Don’t ‘write people off’ just because they said something negative to you in the midst of a painful or overly emotional time.  What if God did that to you?  Just like God has forgiven you, be quick to forgive others.  Understand that they are human and therefore not perfect.  

— If you are going to be in the “people business,” you must learn to forgive because people are flawed.  David got through the painful situation in Ziklag, and he did not hold any grudges towards those who turned on him.   

3.  If you walk with God long enough, you will have moments when all you can do is cry. 

— David and his men cried until they ran out of tears.  They could not believe what happened to them.  I would love to tell you that nothing like this is ever going to happen to you, but I cannot say that with certainty.  What I can say is that if you walk with God long enough, there will be moments when you don’t know what to do, and the pain of the situation you find yourself in is so strong that even non-emotional people burst into tears. 

— David looked back and saw a king who refused to allow him into the fight.  He forward and saw his town burning to the ground.  He looked around and realized that his wives and the wives and children of all his men were gone.  He looked beside him and saw men who were ready to kill him.  At the moment, David had no place left to look but UP!  I have been there.  I am sure most of you have been there too.  I would love to tell you that nothing like this happens to the sons and daughters of God, but I would be lying. 

— Maybe you thought the story of David was one where the Prophet visited his home, he was anointed to become the next king of Israel, he killed a giant, and he then became the king.  I think most Christians think becoming the man/woman God called you to be, and fulfilling your divine destiny, is that easy.  But it’s not.  God is a real God.  He called you to do real things in this world.  As you pursue your purpose, you will have to deal with real people, you will come up against real opposition, you will make your share of real mistakes, and you will experience real pain.  The power of divine purpose is not reserved for those who don’t experience pain.  It is reserved for those who refuse to allow the pain to stop them!  That’s what this series is about.  If you maintain faith and patience, you will get through every challenge (pain, tears, and all), and you will arrive at God’s overall expected end for your life!      

4.  You must have a relationship with God for yourself.   

— David had a priest with him (Abiathar), but David did not rely on the priest to get a Word from God.  When the pressure was on, David relied on his own personal relationship with the Father and you must do the same. 

— Thank God for your Pastor, and you must surely appreciate your brothers and sisters in Christ, but it is critical that you develop a relationship with God for yourself.  You must know God personally and intimately!    

— The only way David got through the pain of Ziklag was by going to God DIRECTLY!  There are some things you can only receive from HIM! 

5.  You must learn to encourage yourself in the Lord your God.   

— There will be times when you can’t get your Pastor on the phone.  There will be times when even your closest friends are not there for you.  There will be times when you feel all alone.  During those times you must learn to encourage yourself in the Lord your God.   

— David did not have king Achish to support him or his men to back him, but David did have the God of his salvation.   

— Even when all human hope is gone, in God, you are never hopeless because, in Him, you are never helpless.   

— David called on His God and he received the encouragement he needed to keep going.  You must be able to do the same.  There will be times when the pressure in on you to give up, cave in and quit, but if you learn to encourage yourself in the Lord your God, you will receive the encouragement you need to keep going, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.   

— If you are still breathing, the battle is not over.  God still has purpose locked up inside of you!  We will see in tomorrow’s text that ONE WORD from God can turn any situation around.   

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