Encouraging Yourself in the Lord ─ Part I Complete Sermon

"Today I Choose to be Happy!"

"Encouraging yourself in the Lord."

I Samuel 30:1-6

By Mike Davis, Ph.D.

And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;

And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.

So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.

Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.

And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

Today I want to share about encouraging yourself in the Lord. Hopefully it will be encouraging to you!

In I Samuel 30:1-6 is a story out of the life of David. David and his men had just come back home to their village of Ziklag. When they returned home they found that their camp had been burned to the ground by the Amalekites. The Amalekites had taken all of the women and children. David and his men were faced with devastation.

1.   How did they respond?

They wept. It was a natural response, an appropriate response given their situation. 

But from here things went quickly from bad to worse in the next moment.

2.   Because of their shock, grief and sorrow the men began to blame David for what was happening to them.

Out of their anger and fear they begin speaking of killing David.

The Bible tells us that because of this David was distressed (I would be too!).

3.   But then we are told that David did something different.

     We are told in verse 6 that David "....encouraged himself in the Lord his God" (King James version). 

In the midst of the devastation, in the midst of people blaming him and turning against him David encouraged Himself in the Lord.
And if you read the rest of the chapter you will find that as a result of encouraging himself in the Lord David ultimately was able to recover everything that has been taken (and more!).

4. The Lessons this holds for us today:

In the book of Romans we are told "Whatever things were written before were written for our learning that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4).

1)      There are many lessons contained in this passage that can be a great encouragement to us all as we deal with the "Ziklags" in our own lives.

2)    Right now in our nation of America (as well as around the world) many people are facing a lot of "Ziklag" situations.

3)    During such times you can get discouraged, dismayed and even depressed. You can even start to question God and his love for you. And maybe like David's men you begin to point fingers and blame others (or you are the object of the blame). The times we live in can be quite stressful.

5.   Notice though I said can be stressful-not have to be".

This is one of the lessons, the first lesson, that David's story has to teach us:


1.   "When it comes to the situations you are facing -no matter how bad - you have a choice about what and how you feel in the situation. You have a choice about how you will go through and experience your situation."

In the midst of devastating lost, in the midst of his men blaming him and talk of killing him David decided  to encourage himself in the Lord. David decided that he would have a different experience of his situation. David decided this in the MIDST of his situation.

2.   In the MIDST of all the mess David decided to experience something   different.

1)    First he was experiencing grief (understandable and appropriate),

2)    Then he was experiencing fear and distress (again understandable and appropriate given what was happening).

3)    BUT then in the middle of all of this David decides to move to another emotional state.

4)    One that would better support him and enable him to more effectively deal with the situation.

5)    David moved from grief and fear to encouragement and strength. In the midst of a very negative situation David decided to feel positive.

Now this is significant. Dr. Barbara Fredickson a psychologist and researcher in her book "Positivity" has written that positive emotions are important for resiliency and for being able to better deal with negative situations and setbacks. In her research she has found that positive emotions enables you to think more clearly and more creatively about how to handle and deal with problem situations while negative emotions as a rule tend to constrict and limit your creativity and problem solving capabilities.  She also found that positive emotions tend to promote positive actions and behavior while negative emotions promote the opposite.

3.   David, as he strengthen and encouraged himself in the Lord, took positive action.

He moved toward the Lord and sought God for wisdom and guidance for his situation. 

As I wrote earlier this led to David and his men recovering everything that he lost and more.

4.   But the main point I want you to get from this is that in the midst of the problem David had a choice about how he was going to experience the situation.

1)    Jesus said "....in this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer I have overcome the world".

2)    Folks we are going to have problems. We are going to go through "stuff". It is a part of life.

3)    We don't get to choose whether or not we will going through things in this journey called life.

5.   But we do get to choose how we experience the journey!

David's experience lets us know that we have a choice. We are not stuck with only one emotional choice when we go through difficult times: Fear or despair or depression,. We can chose to experience encouragement, joy, peace, confidence, faith and trust in God, etc.,

Bob Bodenhamer shares this experience:

Saturday morning 4/8/2010, I received a call from Brisbane Australia.  It was from Lorna. She is one of my sponsors in Australia. She presently is having an advance training and one of her participants is giving her a fit. One thing that got the participant all upset was that Lorna said, "I choose each day that I am going to live this day happy."  This lady told her that that is unrealistic. "You can't do that." You know what, that gal does choose each day to be happy no matter the external circumstances. She told me, "I am too old and I have spent way too many days not happy that I have chosen from now on I am going to be happy each day."  Her 21 year old niece is living with her and has been with her for several months. That young lady stood up and told the group, "Lorna does choose to be happy each day and she is in fact happy each day." I like that.

6.   We have a choice. YOU determine the quality of the experience of your journey.

Mike states:

         One of the things the Lord taught me during these times is that we are going to go through whatever we are going to go through:

         I can go through it with positive and supportive emotions or I can go through it with negative and non-supportive emotions.

         Either way I am still going to go through it. So I need to choose wisely HOW I am going to go through it.

         The choice is always ours.

And that leads me to the second lesson.

Lesson#2 - Your emotional experience in a situation is not determine by the situation. it is determined by you.

Said another way "it is not what is happening on the outside that determines how we are feeling rather it is what we are choosing to do on the inside that determines how we are feeling".

1.   David, in the midst of the situation went from feeling afraid to feeling encouraged.

1)   Had anything changed in the external situation? No.

2)    His men still felt afraid, grieved, and angry.

3)    Yet David felt encouraged, and strong in the Lord - in the same external situation!

4)    It was not the external situation but the internal choices that made the difference.

2.   I love that. This let me know that my emotional life is not limited to or dependant on what is happening around me.

3.   And the same goes for you. We are not limited emotionally to what is happening to around us. This is reiterated over and over in the Scriptures.

4.   Again - you have a choice.  You determine how you will experience the events of your journey. The events of the journey do not determine the experience for you.

1)    So know that whatever we are going through we can choose what and how we will experience it emotionally. This put you and I in the driver seat. A position given to us by God.

2)    And this is meant to be encouraging -not condemning. The enemy of our souls would lie to us and tells us, "You don't have a choice, things are too bad." He will try to get us to give up our freedom from the Lord-our ability to choose.

3)    Don't fall for it. You get to choose how to respond mentally emotionally and behaviorally. Nowhere is it written "When situation are difficult thou must feel depressed" Feeling bad or stressed in difficult times happens-but it is not one of the Ten commandments!"

4)    You don't have to feel bad -and if you do you don't have to remain that way.
You always have a choice,
So choose wisely.

1997-2010 Bobby G. Bodenhamer and Mike Davis All rights reserved.