Encouraging Yourself in the Lord ─ Part II Complete Sermon

Encouraging Yourself in the Lord - Part II
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.

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

Today I want to look at one more principle concerning encouraging yourself in the Lord and then look at HOW we can encourage ourselves in the Lord.

a.    In the story written in I Samuel 30:1-6 we are told that David "....encouraged himself in the Lord" (vs 6).

b.    David encouraged himself. I found it interesting that the Bible does not say "God encouraged David" or that a "prophet appeared to encourage David" (as so often that does happen in the Scriptures) but that David encouraged himself.

c.    In other words, David took 100% responsibility for his encouragement; he took 100% responsibility for moving himself from an unresourceful state of mind and emotion to a resourceful state of mind and emotion. David took 100% responsibility for his emotional well-being.

Lesson #3 - "You are 100% responsible for your emotional well-being."

1.   Let me say real quick that this 3rd principle (as well as the first two) is meant to be an encouragement - not a condemnation or a burden.

1)   To say that you are 100% responsible for your emotional well-being is to say that your emotions, how you are feeling and emotionally responding to a situation, are all in your control!

2)   This principle lets us know that our emotions are NOT like the weather: wild, unpredictable and outside of our control. It lets us know that we have choice about what and how we are feeling even in the worst of situations.

3)   This is an extremely important principle. One that is confirmed throughout Scripture as well as being confirmed by the latest research in the neuro-sciences and the Cognitive & Neuro-Sciences.

2.   You are NOT at the mercy of whatever emotional state you find yourself in at the moment. You have a choice.

1)   But to exercise that choice, you must take 100% responsibility for your emotional well-being.

2)    David did not wait for someone to encourage him (at that moment there was no one around to encourage him!).

3)    David realized that if he wanted to be strengthened, if he wanted to be encouraged - it was in his hands.

3.   I want to encourage you...your strength, your encouragement, your joy, your confidence - your emotional well-being - is in your hands.

1)    Your emotional well-being is not limited to or dependent on situations, events or people that are outside of your control.

2)    God has placed it in your hands. It is His gift to you.

Now the question is: How do we exercise this gift, this responsibility?

Encouraging Yourself in the Lord: Some "How to's"

While we are not told in I Samuel 30:1-6 what David did specifically to encourage himself in the Lord, the Scriptures do give us insight and strategies for how we can do that for ourselves.

Mike Davis says, "Let me share with you some of the strategies I have learned and apply in my own life to strengthen myself in the Lord."

Strategy#1 - Get some distance between yourself and the negative, unresourceful emotional state you find yourself in.

1.   I have found that often before you can move into a new, encouraging, and empowering state (like joy, peace, confidence, etc) you must first get out of the negative state (of fear depression, hopelessness, etc) that you are in - especially if that negative state is really strong or intense. How do you do this?

1)   Talk to yourself out loud about what you are feeling, as if you are talking to another person. For instance, when I have felt down I might say the following out loud to myself:

         "Mike I know that you are feeling down right now. That's understandable given what you are going through. But Mike remember -you have a choice. What you are feeling right now is but one choice out of the many you could feel. And remember - God is your strength and help. He has delivered you in the past and He will deliver you again.

  So Mike hope in God, let your confidence be in Him! And Mike I know you may feel like 'but what's the use, feeling better won't change things!'  True Mike but feeling better will help you deal with the situation much better than feeling down will. Remember the quote you read the other day? 'Whatever you can do while feeling unhappy you can do much better while feeling happy?’ You know that's true!  

  So Mike  how do you want to respond to and deal with this situation -with unhappiness or unhappiness, with joy or hopelessness? With Joy? I thought so. Good choice!" 

2)   Talking to yourself as if you are talking to another person helps to put some distance between yourself and the negative emotional state you are in. It can often help you "pop out" of the negative state or at the very least lower the intensity of the state - making it easier to deal with and manage.

2.   We see an example of this in Scripture; In Psalms 42 and Psalms 43 we have recorded two instances of the psalmist crying out to God, feeling down, depressed discouraged. But in both of the Psalms we find it written "Why are you cast down O' my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance" (see Psalms 42:5,11 and Psalms 43:5).

1)   When the Psalmist says "Why are you cast down O my soul" that is a Hebraic way of saying "Self-why are you down? Self-hope in God!". The Psalmist was talking to himself in the 3rd person and encouraging himself in the Lord.

2)   Again research has shown that by talking to yourself in the 3rd person about your experience-as if you are talking to someone else - is a great way to create some distance between yourself and the negative emotion state.

         You are experiencing and a great way to lower the intensity of that state to make it less overwhelming and more manageable.

         Another way of doing this is to write about what you are feeling -again in the 3rd person as if you are writing about someone else's experience.

         What is neat is that we have both strategies in the Psalms 42 and 43. The Psalmist both speaks out loud to himself about his experience (or sings it-which is also effective) and writes it down!

Strategy #2 -Remember and rehearse (especially out loud) the great things God has done for you in the past

1.   In Deuteronomy 7:17-18 God tells Israel that when they enter the land to possess it they will face nations greater than themselves and will be tempted to be afraid. God tells Israel "Fear not!" and then he tells then how not to be afraid "You shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt"

1)   The Hebrew word for remember "zakar" means "to call back to mind, to rehearse, to relive in the mind".

         The purpose of "remembering" was to reestablish and refresh Israel's faith and confidence in God.

         This was done by Israel remembering, rehearsing and calling back to mind the great things God had did for them in the past.

         Remembering God's great deeds, how He acted to save and delivered them in the past served to encourage them!

2)   When David faced Goliath in I Samuel 17 he first rehearsed before king Saul how God empowered him and enabled him to overcome and defeat a lion and a bear (I Samuel 17:32-37). This was to encourage David (and Saul who had little faith David could defeat Goliath!).

3)   In Psalms 63 David, while in the wilderness of Judah, begins to feel down. How does he encourage himself? "...My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. And my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips. When I remember you upon my bed, I meditate upon you in the night watches. Because you have been my help therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice!"" (Psalms 63:5-7)

      David encouraged himself by remembering and rehearsing what God had did for him. It fills him with joy!

      Over and over throughout the Scriptures we see the People of God remembering and rehearsing the deeds of God on their behalf. This serves to encourage them.

2.   And it can do the same for you. When feeling down, discouraged, or depressed begin to rehearse out loud what God has done for you!

1)   Rehearse how he has saved you, delivered you, healed you, provided for you, open doors for you that you thought were closed.

2)   When we are going through tough times it is easy to forget the many wonderful things God has done for us as we focus on the problem(s) before us. This serves to weaken our faith and saps our emotional strength. Remembering and rehearsing God's acts on your behalf serves to strengthen and encourage.

3)   Remembering God's goodness re-focuses us on what matters - God.

         So - what has God done for You?! As someone once said "Tell the truth - and shame the devil!!"

         And remember do this out loud; loud enough so you can hear it with your own ears!

 Strategy #3 - Maintain a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving! Create a "Gratitude List" and review it often!

1.   How often have you heard or been told "Count your blessings!"? In I Thessalonians 5:18 we are instructed "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus!"

1)   Giving thanks, being thankful is to be a way of life for us as children of God. 

         And research has has shown that thankfulness or an attitude of gratitude builds emotional well-being and strength.

         Dr. Dan Baker  in his book "What Happy People Know" states that it is impossible to feel anxiety and gratitude (or appreciation) at the same time. To feel one excludes feeling the other.

2)   Dr Sonya Lyumbomiirsky  and Dr. Barbara Fredrickson in their books "The How of Happiness" and "Positivity" both share how their research on the effects of Happiness and Positive emotions that practicing on purpose feeling grateful is a great way to build emotional strength and resiliency during tough times.

         Gratitude helps to build a reserve of positive emotional energy that you can call on when times are tough.

         This right in with the Scripture's admonition to rejoice always and to Give thanks in all things.

2.   And a wonderful way to do this is to write down as many things as you can that you are grateful for.

1)   I suggest getting a little note book and creating a gratitude journal or that you can record all the things you are grateful for.  Why? Because when you are going through difficult times it is hard to remember the good stuff that has happen and that are a part of your life.

         I have such a notebook. In it I have recorded many, many things I am grateful for and feel appreciative for. I have events that have taken place in my life, experiences I have had, places I have been, people that I met, books I have read.

         I write down favorite memories from my childhood that I am grateful for. I have in my book how grateful I am for the laughter of my 3 daughter's- I love to hear them laugh, it brings a smile to my face especially when they are really tickled about something (I am smiling as I write this).

         When I experience something or someone new that I really enjoy...it goes into the note book! And every so often I take it out and read out loud to myself what I am thankful for.

         I use it as a way of giving thanks to the Lord for all of the wonderful gifts He has so graciously poured into my life. It is a reminder to me also of his love for and towards me.

2)   Now the key to this is to really FEEL the gratitude and appreciation. So take your time. Think about not only what you feel grateful for but why. Jot down a few thoughts as to why you feel grateful.

         Do this often. To start ask yourself "If I had to pick at least one thing to feel really grateful about what would it be?" And write down your answer. And most importantly feel the gratitude and appreciation. Then pick something else. If you haven't done this already pick at least 5 things to record on a sheet of paper or in a little note book.

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