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The Art of Encouraging Oneself in the Lord

Posted on  Feb 2, 2021

How often do we find ourselves in dire situations that seem to be beyond our ability to handle? While some people are privileged to have a support system that is ready to do anything to help, there is a group of people that suffer silently alone. They have no family, no church, no one to call on for help. Some go into seclusion and put their lives on hold, while others end up committing suicide. Some get overwhelmed and end up in mental institutions. What do you do when you are faced with a dire situation and you have no one to call for prayer or help? I was in that predicament for six years, from 2013 to 2019. I was stripped off every connection that I would run to for spiritual and emotional support. I was forced into a tight crossroad, I had to learn to look up to heaven, to find strength from my creator. In the following paragraphs, I will share strategies I learned from the life of King David, on the Art of Encouraging Oneself in the Lord.

During my wilderness experience, I devoured the bible from cover to cover. I found strength and encouragement in studying the bible, especially, 1 Samuel 30: 1- 19.  Shortly after killing the giant Goliath of Gath, David found himself in a dire situation. He had to flee from his country because King Saul wanted to kill him. For years, David wondered from cave to cave, from wilderness to wilderness. Finally, he found refuge and safety in the land of Israel’s greatest enemies, the Philistines. Achish, king of Gath, allowed him and his men to dwell in one of his territories, at Ziklag.

In 1 Samuel 28:1-2 and 29: 3-7, the Philistines gathered to fight against Israel. King Achish asked David and his men to go with him to battle. However, the Princes of the Philistines raised concern about the possibility of David and his men turning on them on the battlefield. So, they asked Achish to send them back to the territory he had assigned them, at Ziklag. When David and his men got back to camp, they found the Amalekites had invaded the region, burned down Ziklag, and took all the women and children and livestock. 1 Samuel 30: 4 says, “David and his men were overcome with grief and wept until they had no more power to weep.” As if that was not enough, the men shifted blame on David and wanted to stone him (Vs.6). But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God (vs. 6b). Then he asked Abiathar, the priest to bring the ephod so he could inquire of the LORD. 1 Samuel 30: 8 says, “David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, ‘Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”  David was able to locate the Amalekites, attacked them, and recovered all that was stolen, including his two wives. David did not just wake up one morning knowing how to encourage himself in the LORD. This is an art he learned in his youth when he looked after his father’s sheep. He built a deep relationship with the Lord when he was alone watching the sheep. He composed and sang love songs to God. The book of Psalms is a compilation of some of the conversations David had with the LORD when he was alone. As he pursued intimacy with the LORD, he stepped into a prophetic realm in which he forecast future events, e.g., He foresaw the death of Christ and prophesied that the LORD would raise Him up. Psalm 16:10, “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”  He absolutely trusted the LORD to protect him from the assaults of his enemies. He never went into battle without inquiring of the LORD. That is why he never lost a battle. How do we apply these strategies into our lives?

First, we need to cultivate an intimate relationship with Father God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. We do this by studying the word of God daily, worshipping the LORD, talking to Him in prayer, listening to Him, and allowing Him to guide us. We also cultivate a relationship with God by putting Him first in everything we do. And living a lifestyle that is pleasing and acceptable to Him. Second, we need to trust the LORD, and surrender our lives to Him. In so doing, we align ourselves with Him and seek Him daily for wisdom and direction on how to handle each situation we face. We can build inner strength from others as well. We can read books or listen to teachings on situations we are facing, and find strength and wisdom on how to overcome. The bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). There is a saying that, “In time of peace, prepare for war” (Niccolò Machiavelli). Consistency, endurance, and perseverance are necessary in order to build oneself to a level where you can encourage yourself in the LORD. When you do all this you build a reserve of faith and anointing that you can draw from in times of need.   

I look up to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord. He is the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalms 121:1-2)

Saint Valentine Feb 14 269 – History behind Valentine’s DAY!

As you celebrate Valentine’s Day, hope you will understand that it is more than just a day for lovers…but a reminder of the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice, that we may hear the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. Happy Valentine’s Day!!

In A.D. 284, a Roman general named Diocletian became emperor. He set about restoring peace to chaotic Rome and setting up a new form of government. His efforts to establish order in Rome succeeded, but at a terrible cost to the Christians of Rome.

He ordered everyone to worship roman idols. By this time, Christians were a large minority in Rome, and they refused to follow the command. Emperor Diocletian then embarked on a collision course with the Christians, a terrible persecution of Christians followed.

Roman soldiers began seizing Christian property (just like in the days of Hitler), burning scriptures, and arresting and executing Christian leaders. They burned an entire town in which everyone professed to be a Christian, killing all the inhabitants.

The killing of Christians did not stamp out Christianity. In fact, it had the opposite effect. Many people were drawn to the faith because of the bravery Christians showed in the face of death. Christians seemed to grow in faith and numbers.

According to tradition, one martyr who provided a powerful example of bravery in times of persecution was a Christian priest and physician named Valentine. It is believed that around A.D. 269, Emperor Claudius ordered the death of this Christian priest and Roman Citizen. Here is a story of the man for whom Valentine’s Day is named (Paraphrased and summarized).

Valentine was working in his clinic with his assistant Bianca (whose father worked for the emperor), when a young soldier by the name of Marius paid him a visit. Valentine asked the young soldier if he had been hurt and needed medicine. The young man nodded his head and posed the question, “do you have medicine to cure broken hearts?” The surprised Valentine asked the young soldier if his sweetheart, Livia had left him. “No,” he responded. “She is as constant as the stars in the sky.” “Then what happened?” Valentine asked. ‘We wish to be married”, Marius cried, “but since I am a soldier, the emperor will not allow it!” Valentine sighed. The Roman Empire had good laws and bad laws, but this was surely one of the worst. Roman soldiers were forbidden to marry. The empire was always in need of troops to defend its borders, and Roman emperors believed that if soldiers had no families, they would be more willing to leave home and fight for Rome. “Listen to me, Marius, “said Valentine. “Tomorrow night, you and Livia must come to me in secret. After all, I’m a priest as well as a physician. I will marry you.

Late the next night, the young couple arrived. And Bianca stood outside to watch out for the Roman soldiers. As the secret marriage ceremony progressed, Bianca gave a cry of warning. The Roman soldiers were approaching. They arrested Valentine and put him in jail. His jail cell was right on the street with an open bar window. Through the tiny widow Valentine watched the parade of life go by; birds billed and cooed, giggling groups of girls sat underneath the trees, and so forth.

Bianca came to visit him everyday and begged him to give up his Christian faith so he can save his life. Being a Jailer’s daughter she had inside information about inmates. She informed Valentine that the emperor had said that he had to give up his strange Christian beliefs or be executed on February 14, which was only a week away. Valentine shook his head. “Never. It is impossible.” “Jesus suffered and died,” he said; and if it must be so, then so will I.”

The night before his execution, Valentine lay awake. He heard a rustling outside his jail window. When he looked out, an extraordinary sight met his eyes. Marius and Livia (the couple he had married secretly) stood there, a lit candle clasped in their joined hands. But they were not alone. Around them crowded many more young couples, each with a shared candle. Some Valentine recognized as Christians. Others were ordinary Romans, neighbors he had cared for in their childhood injuries and illnesses.

Bianca stepped forward out of the crowd and said, “They have come to be married by you.” As he performed the marriage ceremony through the jail window, his heart was filled with joy.

The next morning Valentine heard the approaching footsteps of the emperor’s soldiers, who were coming to lead him to his execution. Bianca still sat by the jail window. “Oh, dear Valentine,” she cried, “why must this happen?” “God sometimes brings good from evil, my child, “he said. Then he reached through the bars to grasp her hand one final time. As he did so, he placed a small paper package in the girl’s hand.

As the soldiers led Valentine away, Bianca unfolded the paper. Inside was a single crocus. She felt the smooth petals. She smelled the gentle fragrance. And then, suddenly, there was something more – brilliant, flaming orange-gold – and she saw it. Her fingers traced strange black marks on the paper. She did not know their meaning, but in time she would read them over and over again: From you Valentine.

See Bianca was born blind and had been believing God for her sight. She got it that day.

Such is the story behind the Valentine’s day. Saint Valentine was honored as a man of courage and patron of lovers. He was beheaded on February 14, 269. His remains were buried in the Roman catacombs and later a church was built on the site.

Reference: The Human Odyssey: Prehistory Through the Middle Ages.

My daughter’s lesson on Roman History for this week. Touched my heart that I felt compelled to share with as many as would be interested!

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