Scriptural Saturday: Inner Strength

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Inner strength is not built ~ it comes from within.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Sam 30:5-6

5 David’s two wives had been taken captive–Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail the Carmelite, Nabal’s widow. 6 David was very upset, for the men were thinking of stoning him; each man grieved bitterly over his sons and daughters. But David drew strength from the LORD his God.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Philippians 4:13

“I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.”


 

The pressures of this life can leave us flat out worn out. I can just imagine David being surrounded by a bunch of tough guys ready to stone him. Talk about stress. But He simply drew strength from God. How?

Scripture says he asked for the ephod and sought the face of God for direction and guidance. Back then, the Urim and Thummim (gemstones) were carried by the high priest of Israel on the ephod/priestly garments, which was used by the high priest to determine God’s will in some situations.

David knew his strength came only from God. Anyone who would sling a stone at a giant obviously relies on God instead of his own strength.

Many years later Paul, Timothy and the disciples followed suit. Nothing was deemed impossible if one relied on the Holy Spirit, given to us for strength and insight.

Feeling weak, discouraged, unable to do the task before you? Jesus understands and He walked the most difficult path of all with joy set before Him. Wow.

Just because a task or situation is difficult does not mean it has to steal our joy.

His strength is enough. Enough for day-to-day drama, illness, court, accidents, any trouble. We don’t use an ephod, but today we have the living Word of God we can run to for grace, wisdom and strength. Run to Him, friend. He is enough and His strength is all we will ever need.

Lord, thank You for your amazing grace and strength. Grant us a willing heart to cry out to you and to never give up.

 

The Instigator’s Demise

1 Samuel 23:19

“Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Isn’t David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon?”

1 Samuel 24:1

“When Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, they told him, “Look, David is in the desert of En Gedi.””

1 Samuel 26:1

“The Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Isn’t David hiding on the hill of Hakilah near Jeshimon?””

1 Samuel 26:19

“So let my lord the king now listen to the words of his servant. If the LORD has incited you against me, may he take delight in an offering. But if men have instigated this, may they be cursed before the LORD! For they have driven me away this day from being united with the LORD’s inheritance, saying, ‘Go on, serve other gods!'”

Sometimes there are people in your life who just want to goad you, but one of the most terrifying things on earth is being pursued relentlessly by someone who seeks to harm you.  Feelings of desperation and helplessness overwhelm you as you wonder if it will ever end.  Driven by jealousy and selfishness and fueled by instigators and false counsel, the pursuer relentlessly seeks his way.

The Philistines’ betrayal made sense.  They were the enemies of Israel – but it is odd that Saul would listen to his enemy. Their motives were surely for their own glory.  You wonder who you can trust as people surround your pursuer with counsel to come after you.  The Ziphites, Judeans like David, betrayed him twice.  Betrayed by his own people.  It does not get much worse than that.

People surrounding Saul knew what Saul wanted.  Despite numerous times when Saul saw his folly, he quickly returned to pursuing David when those around him incited him.  He received counsel from people who ultimately sought his own destruction, as well.  The irony is that Saul reaped the opposite of what he sought and those who informed Saul sought his favor, but ultimately his demise, too.

I was comforted when I read of David’s hiding out in caves for 15 years – not at all by the duration of time, but by the fact that a man of God, chosen to lead, first had to endure severe testing and God was His portion.  Why should it be different with us?

I share personal testimony here because I think somewhere out there someone else might be barely hanging on with a similar suffering and I earnestly desire to serve someone through the pain I endured.  Dragged to court for five years by people who used to be family was one of the most excruciating moments in my life.  False testimony and accusations left scars that only God could heal, but the immense pressure of the pursuit harmed my health and hurt my family deeply.

At the same time, another family member would not accept me and lied about me, spreading rumors about me.  Add to that job loss for my husband and you have an incubator for change.

If I had not had God as my portion, I would have perished.  I sought Him more deeply than I ever had and now see that season as a treasure in my walk with God.  This blog would not have been birthed had I not walked through dark valleys and seen God’s hand in the midst.

David trusted in God and walked righteously.  Despite the attacks, he had a righteous response and saw God deliver him. So it is with us.  When people speak ill of us or are jealous, we have a refuge to run to.  The instigator does not hold sway or power over us – our God is bigger.  We might have to endure false perceptions caused by those who despise us, but it will not last forever and if we keep walking uprightly with God, he will cause our enemies to cease or give us strength to bear it.

Saul apologized several times but David knew he could not be trusted.  There was still the capability for the same sin to rise up in Saul and David had to walk in wisdom and protect himself from Saul’s potential attack.  Sometimes in our own lives we need to protect ourselves from people who have harmed us in the past.  David forgave Saul but he was not going to place himself in possible danger willingly.

More than deliverance, however, and the character earned along the way, is the beautiful surrender of our spirits to God. Our temporary suffering is not about us, after all.  What the instigator and pursuer sought results in blessings when we hide ourselves in Jesus.  If God allowed it in, there is a divine purpose that we might not understand, but God can always be trusted.

Lord, thank You for Your protection and healing.  Help us to trust in You completely even when it seems like we are forgotten.  Your ways are not our ways and You are good all the time.

Real Hope and Deliverance

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2 Timothy 4:16-17

“At my first defense no one appeared in my support; instead they all deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it.  17 But the LORD stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message would be fully proclaimed for all the gentiles to hear.  And so I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.”

Isaiah 54:17

“No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed; you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. This is what the LORD will do for his servants–I will vindicate them,” says the LORD.”

Lamentations 3:58

“You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.”

Today’s blog is one that brings me some pain to think upon.  Even though I stand on the other side of great angst and suffering and have seen God’s amazing deliverance, reflecting on the horror of being dragged to court relentlessly is something I would rather not do.  Guess there is still some need for healing there.  But in my heart, I am driven by a passion that maybe these words today might offer up some hope to someone in a similar circumstance, or bring healing and confidence that God is indeed our Savior and will never fail us in our time of need.  So may this blog be an offering to my God and a healing balm to those who need it.

The pain of being falsely accused and the terror of my children being harmed is still very real to me.  The truth did not seem to matter and twisted words seared my soul.  Disbelief that one who once was my partner would manipulate and cajole to get his way still is difficult to fathom.  Betrayal by one who professed to be a believer.  How?  Why?  Where was God in all of this?  Right by my side.  How could He allow even a moment of this horror into my life?  Why would He allow the innocent to be condemned in place of the guilty?  So many questions, terror on every side, and yet my soul still hoped in God.  It seemed that the court system was in favor of the violator, but I knew God’s word was true and every man a liar.  Perplexed and crushed, but not destroyed.

Joseph probably wondered how God was going to achieve the promise and prophesy etched in his mind, yet he, too, trusted in God’s sovereignty.  At times when it seems all of life is against you and friends dissipate to avoid your drama, it feels like your life will be ruined forever.  But God.  He is using even the hideous things that we want to avoid to both bring Him glory and to transform our character. Why must such a painful tool be used?  Sometimes we cannot be truly changed with gentle persuasion.  A harsher tool can accomplish beautiful things despite the potential harm it seemingly brings.  More importantly, Why is it painful?

No one would say it was a pleasurable experience to discover betrayal and then have the tables turned on you, but why?  Because at the very heart of that experience is the death of what we knew.  The death of comfort, too.  Innocence is gone and replaced with disillusionment, heartache and shock.  Not pleasurable feelings or emotions at all.  Our very nature craves pleasure and peace.  But can the soul be steadied and at rest when all around it is turbulence and pain?  Yes.  The amazing revelation that pleasure and comfort are not to be worshiped, not to be pursued as an end in and of themselves is liberation.  The lesson is not that we want to become a masochist and crave discomfort, but that we learn to be content and wade out the storm in Christ.  Bathing in His word and looking to Him for deliverance, we discover that our goal was never supposed to be the American dream or our definition of utopia, but obedience and glory for Christ through our lives.

Perhaps a painful trial delivered us from clinging to a person or a circumstance instead of to Christ, as our salvation.  Or maybe it opened up our eyes to see the pain all around us that before we had thought of as things “that happened to other people”.  Ironically, the hated scorn and stigma in our lives can become the very thing the LORD wants to use in our lives to bring others as well as ourselves closer to Him.  It still hurts to recall the former suffering, but I can now see what beauty it has formed in my life and in others.  Although God delivered me mightily, the hurt from the experience is a scar that reminds me what is really important – being completely absorbed in Christ in whatever path He has me to travel.

If you are suffering now, I know no words can remove that pain, except the word of God, and strength is given to those who run to the living God for shelter.  Sometimes it is not until we have been shaken to the very core of your being that we can understand the purpose of its presence.  If we worship Him only for the good things He gives, we miss some of the greatest moments of fellowship with Christ – identifying with Him in suffering.  We cannot outrun the pain, but we can run to Him and His grace is sufficient for those found in Him.  This is what real hope and deliverance are – not avoidance, but strength and grace to walk through whatever this life brings.  My deliverance wasn’t when I finally had the victory in court, but rather when I was broken and desperate and had nothing else to hope in but Him.  Amen.

Thank You, Lord, for the pain and the joys You have allowed into my life.  You are truly good all the time and I worship You for your sovereignty and faithfulness!  I love You, LORD!