When I was away at a conference last January, someone prayed over me a verse from the Bible: “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6) and it has stayed with me ever since. God has taken me on a journey over the last year of learning what it means to strengthen myself in God. I want to invite you to join me in this journey.
My prayer for myself – and my prayer for you – is that at the end of 2015, we won’t just be older as Christians, but we’ll be more mature as Christians as well. If we are going to strengthen ourselves in God, there are certain things we need to know.
In 1 Samuel 30:1-10 we see the set of circumstances in which David found himself. This day must have been one of the worst days of David’s life. He comes home with his 600 men expecting to see his family, but as they approached, they saw the smoke rising and realised that their homes had been destroyed. There was nothing living left in Ziklag. Everything was gone or destroyed.
This wasn’t what they were expecting. They were excited and full of joy about returning. David was “greatly distressed”; he and his men “wept until they had no strength to weep” (v4). These are warriors, soldiers, utterly undone and devastated by what they found. All of them were hit at the same time. There was no one with them to reassure them that it would be ok. Their world had fallen apart. Everything precious to them had gone.
BUT… despite the worst of circumstances, David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. He didn’t rush off to try to fix it – that came later. He lined himself up with God. He orderd his private world of inner turmoil so it changed his outer world. He went from weeping to where he could lead himself and his men into what God called him to do. He picked himself up off the floor, persuaded his men not to kill him, but then faces another obstacle – 200 of his men are too exhausted to carry on.
David overcame this obstacles and disappointments by strenghtening himself in God. How can we be changed in such a way that it affects how we react on our worst days? Whether you’ve been a Christian for 20 days or 20 years, we need to keep learning and keep applying the promises of God to our circumstances. There are things we need to know. The first thing is that we need to know the truth. We have to be single-minded in our determination to find the truth and to know it.
It's not what we know when we're in church that matters most, but what we know in our worst moments. How much space does the Bible have in your life? Are you giving it much space? Is TV or the Bible going to have more space in your life this year? (Click here
to follow Adrian Pusglove's Bible in a year blog.) Some of us wonder why we struggle to grow in God or stay in the same cycle of behaviour – we need to pickle ourselves in what the Bible says, letting it shape how we think. This is life to us!
As well as knowing the truth, we specifically need to know this
truth:“God doesn’t set us up to fail, but to grow.”
This has transformed how I’ve viewed difficult situations I’ve come across – it’s made me want to prove God through it. I find I don’t mature in my faith most on a Sunday morning, but in my difficult times. God loves me and He is for me. He is a glorious Father and is concerned about my good. But it's in the difficult moments that I grow most in Him. Here on earth we have an unique opportunity to bring sacrificial praise to God in the midst of adversity in spite of our circumstances.
Thirdly, we need to know our responsibility: David strengthened himself. He did it, but he did it in God. There's a God part to it, but there's also a David part to it. He was accessing God’s power in his time of weakness, but God didn’t do it for him. The apostle Paul tells us to do the same: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). Elsewhere, Paul writes: “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:29 NIV).
Sometimes we ask God to change our situations, without us taking hold of the truth, His promises, and accessing all that He has given us. It is not God’s responsibility to make you reach your potential!“We must take personal responsibility to strengthen every weak place… and stop waiting for our outside circumstances to line up with our dreams.”
We need to become mature believers who know how to take the promises of God to change their inner world and therefore impact those around them. What is your Ziklag? Where is it where you know you are at your weakest? Where do you most need to apply the wonder of God’s truth?