I usually try to use this space to provide an inspirational message or something that I feel may be of use to the body. However, occasionally I need to do as David did and encourage myself in the Lord. In First Samuel, David returns from battle to find his home town ransacked and left in shambles. Even those who fought along side him speak of stoning him. All he can do is fall on his face and encourage himself in the Lord. Scripture doesn't tell us exactly what this means but as I walk through a time in my life when it seems like the struggles threaten to take me under I do have a theory.

 

Lot was discouraged from looking back on what he must have felt he'd given up for the Lord but the children of Israel were told to keep Passover to remind them of what the Lord had done for them. What this shows me is that looking back can be useful when we do so to remind our selves of what the Lord has done in our lives. When we see the troubles He has brought us through we can know that He will do it again. If you'll allow me I would like to give a bit of my testimony (more for my benefit than for yours).

 

I was raised in the church, the son of a Sunday school teacher. Ministry was in my blood but when my family fell apart, so too did my faith. I went searching for whatever could give me some sort of meaning. I dabbled in the occult thinking it may take away the feeling that I was powerless over my own life. It didn't work. I visited Catholic churches and even went back to my families Jewish roots. It was in Judaism that I found part of what was missing. It was the connection to God that was absent in my life but I wasn't ready to give my life to Jesus. During that time frame I suffered from severe depression. I spent most of my spare time at the bar with friends drinking my night away. I was on a quick road to alcoholism.

 

I decided to make my commitment to Judaism official and began conversion classes at my synagogue. I was very hard against anything I perceived as Christian but God put a lady in my path that was willing to deal with all my sarcasm in order to break through my shell. As I talked to her I came to once again believe that Jesus was exactly who He said He was but I still wasn't willing to give my life to Him. I was convinced that I could get through the conversion process without having to account for Jesus. I was dead wrong. When I went before the Beit Din (religious court) they directly asked me about Jesus and, like Peter I denied Him. When I walked out of the synagogue that evening, my conversion confirmed God gave me a "woodshed" moment that I hadn't expected. For the first time in my life I heard God. Not just that light voice in your head but a thundering God as if He were standing beside me. He said only one word, "Peter." I immediately knew what He meant.

 

I still didn't give in. If I am known for anything it is my hard-headed nature. Along the way I ended up in the hospital. My blood pressure was off the charts and the doctors were afraid I was going to rupture internally and die of septicemia. All I could think of was a scripture I remembered from my childhood; "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." I repeated that scripture over and over. Three days later I walked out of the hospital. God proved that He truly was Jehovah Rophi - God my Healer. It wasn't long after that event that I gave my heart back to Jesus while driving down the road in my old ford. I didn't have any fancy pray to recite. I simply spoke to Him for the heart and I knew He had heard me.

 

He proved to me, through all this that He is long-suffering. He could've allowed me to die in the hospital and go to hell but He kept me going just long enough for me to find my way back to Him. He may not always show up according to the time frame we have in mind but He is always right on time.

 

This is how I encourage myself in the Lord. I remember that he brought me back from the edge of death even when I had rejected Him time and time again. He proved to me, over and over that He is faithful to his promises and I know that He will again. I know that He has a calling on my life, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and He will open those doors. He has already placed awesome people in my life who have had more faith in me than I ever had in myself (that would be you, Missy and Joann) and I can't thank Him enough. As I go through my current storm I will remember that this is a test that I can pass with Jesus. I will choose to remember that He has never let me down and will not start now. I will encourage myself in Him by calling those things that aren't as if they were. I will claim my ministry and know that He is faithful to give me the desires of my heart.

 

Praise God, I will not give in and I will not be beaten down. As the word says, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."