Encouraging Yourself in the Lord ─ Part III Complete Sermon

Encouraging Yourself in the Lord - Part III
I Samuel 30:1-6

By Mike Davis, Ph.D.

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."

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

How do we exercise this gift?

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

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

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

Part III follows:

Strategy #4 - Think about and Meditate upon Eternity

1.   In II Corinthians 4:8-9 the Apostle Paul writes about the various tests and trials he has experienced as he preaches the Gospel. In verse 16 he writes "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man  is being renewed day by day"

2.   How did Paul remained encouraged, renewed day by day?

1)   In II Cor. 4:17 -18 Paul writes "For our light affliction which is but for a moment is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary but the things which are  not seen are eternal".

2)   How did Paul stay encouraged in the midst of tests and trials?

         He focused on eternity on his eternal reward.

         He focused on a time when there will be no more pain, troubles, trials or tests.

         He focused on the time when he would enjoy without measure or interruption God's Presence, Fellowship and joy!

 3)  The word "Look" in verse 18 above, when it is not speaking of the physical ability of sight speaks of "seeing with the mind's eye".  In other words it speaks of the the imagination!

         Paul was imagining what it would be like in eternity!

         He did this NOT to escape reality but to encourage himself, to renew and refresh his spirit so he could better deal with the reality of the temporary world of the seen.

3.   I (BB) have done this many, many times. Revelations 21:4 lets me know that "over there" I will have "no more pain".

1)   I am sure that you have done this many times during those times when life has been so tough you prayed that the Lord would just come on and get you. You longed for a better place. You know there is a much better place than this. You feel like you are a "stranger" here on this earth.

 2)  Mike states, "there are times when I will stop and I imagine a time when all sickness and disease and pain will be no more. When every need will be met, when there will be no more poverty,, no war, no prejudice, (only love for each other) no more bill collectors or bad breath (or bad hair days!).

"And this renews and refreshes my soul to engage the challenges of life for another day!"

4.   We in the Christian faith hold that this world is not the only world there is, there is a wonderful glorious world to come.

1)   Spend some time thinking, meditating upon, and imagining it. It can and will refresh your soul!

2)   God gave us this awesome power of imagination no doubt, among other things, to help us "dream" about what is to come.

3)   Neuro-Science has proven time and time again that our power of imagination to the mind-body is as if you are really doing what you are imagining.

         Indeed, our power of imagination is awesome.

         When God calls us to envision His Glory, He is calling us to experience Him.

Strategy #5 - Remain in contact and fellowship with others who can and will encourage you (and you them)!  

1.  In the book of Hebrews 10:24-25 we are told "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much more as you see the  day approaching".

2.   One of the most dangerous things we can do when we are feeling down, discouraged or depressed is to isolate ourselves from others.

1)   The plan of the enemy is to get us away from other believers, to isolate us and then takes us out.

2)   When going through difficult times we need each other.

3.   Taking 100% responsibility for your emotional wellbeing does not mean that you don't need others or that you have to go it alone.

1)   Some people like to say "We are not called to be Lone Ranger Christians" I like to say "Heck -even the Lone Ranger had Tonto!"

2)   In other words even the Lone Ranger wasn't alone!

(Actually he's called the Lone Ranger not because he was alone but because he was the only or lone ranger to survive an ambush on the group of Texas Rangers he was a part of-but that' may be more than you wanted to know)

4.   Do you have people around you that you trust; who can be and are a source of encouragement?

1)   Do you have people you can laugh with...or cry with?

2)   Do you have around you those who can comfort and encourage you and you them?

3)   Make sure you do!

4)   Remember what Ecclesiastes 4:12 says "Though one maybe overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken"

Strategy #6 - Do things that you enjoy!

1.   We often quote Nehemiah 8:10 "The joy of the Lord is your strength". But what many do not realize is that the verse is a part of a larger context.

1)   Nehemiah 8:9-10 - The verse is quoted in the context of Nehemiah telling Israel " 'do not mourn nor weep' For all the people wept when they heard the words of the Law [and realized how far from it they had come]."

2)  Nehemiah then tells them "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared. For this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow for the joy of the Lord is your strength!"

 2.  The people were instructed to engage in joyful behaviors and actions.

1)   They were to engage in celebration and as they did they would release and experience the joy of the Lord in their midst.

2)   This feeds on itself. As they did what was joyful they would experience joy - which gives strength!

 3.  What do you like to do that brings you joy?

1)   When was the last time you did it?

2)   It is easy when we are going through difficulties to stop enjoying life.

3)   We can get so focused on our problems and trying to solve them that we forget to enjoy and celebrate life!

4)   We no longer do those things that lift and nurture our souls. There is more to life than our problems!

         So what do you like to do? Garden? Go for a walk? Talk with a friend on the phone, play with your kids, sit quietly in a room, listen to praise music (read an email post from me)?

         Mike Davis says, "I like to go to a bookstore and just hang out for 3-4 hours. Or I like going to one of my favorite theological libraries nearby, go to the periodical section where they have hundreds of theological periodicals and thousands of articles dating back to the early 1920's. I like going, exploring and seeing what I can find. I am not looking for anything in particular-just seeing what I will find, what nugget I will uncover. To do this for 3-4 hours is pure joy (especially when I find something that I can't wait to tell Karen about when I get home)."

         I (BB) like messing with some old computers and, yes, I usually make a mess but I have fun. I like working in the yard. I enjoy going out to eat with my sweetie. I like seeing my sweetie enjoy herself. I love a new hobby that we are doing together - (losing money Trading Futures).  J  It will turn around I know that and  I sure am having a lot of fun.

         When was the last time you really did something just for the pure joy of doing it?

         How about doing something today?!

5)   And when you do it savor the experience, thank God for it - and rejoice for His joy is your strength!

Strategy #7 – Make it a regular practice to feel good on purpose!

1.   Dr. Barbara Fredrickson in her book “Positivity” tells how she found in her research that one of the key components of resilient people, of people who are able to bounce back from setbacks, disappointments and traumas is that they feel more positive emotions than negative emotions on a regular basis. She shares that by increasing the ratio of positive emotions to negative emotions you can build a reservoir of “positivity” to draw on in times of setbacks and disappointments.

2.   How do you increase the ratio? By feeling positive feelings on purpose!  And, of all people, we Christians should have no problems feeling positive.

1)   Meditate on positive thoughts, images, and memories (remember the gratitude list?).

2)   Philippians 4:8 tells us “Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be anything praiseworthy think /meditate on these things”

3.   Whatever we give consistently our minds to we develop a mind for.

1)   By focusing on what is good and positive we develop a positive mindset  that can serve us in the “not so good times”

2)   As Dr. Fredrickson’s research bears out  we will develop a reservoir of positive and resourceful emotions and attitudes that can be a source of strength in difficult times.

         But the key is to do this ahead of time.

         So choose to feel good on purpose! Make it a part of your daily routine to “bathe” in some good positive emotions.


1.   Someone on our email list asked Mike,  “What is the difference between just encouraging yourself and encouraging yourself in the Lord?”

2.   Good question!

1)   As I (Mike) see it, when we encourage ourselves in the Lord we are doing more than just “pumping ourselves up” or giving ourselves a pep talk (though that can be a part of it also).

2)   It is reminding ourselves as to where our strength lies, who our hope is in, and in whom we find our confidence: The Lord!!

3)   It is not feeling good to just feel good.

         When I encourage myself by using one of the strategies I have shared above (and in other emails) and I am in a place where I am feeling much more positive and optimistic.

         I just don’t stop there. I remind myself while I am feeling good “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

         Or, I tell myself “Mike – hope thou in the Lord!”

         In other words as I am feeling encouraged and more empowered emotionally, I remind myself of the true source of my confidence, hope and emotional strength.

         I ground myself in the reality and truth of God/Christ as my all.

3.   It is similar to what God reminded Israel in Deuteronomy 8:18:

1)   After Israel had entered into the promised land and partook of the blessing of that Land God told them “You are not to say ‘the might and power of my own hand hath gotten me this wealth’, but you are to remember the Lord your God that it is he who hath given you the power to get wealth”.

2)   Just as Israel was to acknowledge the true source of their wealth and power when they were full and enriched, so when we encourage ourselves we are to remember the Lord, that He alone is the true Source of our encouragement and strength.

4.   The difference lies in where we see the Source of our strength and encouragement: in ourselves or in the Lord.

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