The first real challenge of my faith came when I went on a five-month internship in Arizona. It was the first time I lived on my own. Yes, I had been to college for four years before, but my parents were always an hour and a half away if I needed anything.
However, my five-month journey in the state of Arizona was the first time I experienced a “lack” of God’s presence.
I moved there knowing three people. I had been a Christian for only three years. And I had never been forced to find a new church or group of believers to get connected with before this point. All Christian community I had prior to this was built in because of the college ministry which grew my faith.
But now, things were different.
I was working on an internship which was probably one of the best career development activities I have ever done. But I was alone. Living on barely anything. My apartment was empty because I knew I would only be there for a short time. And I didn’t have a lot of friends to start the experience.
I hopped around, church to church for weeks. Never trying to find community. I figured I was only there for a while so it wasn’t worth my time. But I was wrong. By the end of my internship, I was feeling spiritually depleted. And had slid back into old sin patterns.
I missed an opportunity.
King David Didn’t Become King Overnight
The greatest King in Israel’s history was anointed King at an early age. However, he did not become king until 10–13 years after he was anointed. During this decade or more of waiting, he faced some difficult circumstances. He was rejected by the current king, Saul. And was forced into exile.
Later, while in hiding, he would again be rejected by his own people. Even though he had previously saved them from the Philistines and rescued one of their towns, they would turn him over to Saul. So, he was forced to flee. And he took with him other rejects who would become his “mighty men.”
After fleeing and going into a complete exile, he befriended the people he had once conquered, the Philistines. However, they kept him at arm’s length and even rejected him in the end. It seemed that no one wanted the future king of Israel.
And it didn’t get any better. He and his “mighty men” had gone out to battle and when they returned to their home city, it had been burned and ravaged. Their families were gone. And their livelihood was in ruins. Those might men began to talk of stoning David for what had happened.
Even his friends were about to leave him. But David did something which would make him the example for every Christian for the rest of time:
…But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”
— 1 Samuel 30:6
How Do We Strengthen Ourselves in the Lord?
We need to understand what it means to be strengthened in the Lord before we can go further. While I have read and experienced this in several ways, Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California puts it this way in his book, Strengthen Yourself in the Lord:
“Your faith grows as your heart, led by the Holy Spirit, perceives and understands the invisible realm of spiritual reality. That unseen realm governs the physical realm and brings your mind and will into an agreement with the reality of the Kingdom. In essence…this is the process of renewing your mind.”
We can strengthen ourselves by renewing our mind, led by the Holy Spirit in order to know and understand God’s will and destiny for our lives.
When we focus on Him, and what he has done for us in our lives, we can move from strength to strength no matter our circumstances.
After all, our destiny and purpose start with our heart. This is why in Proverbs we are reminded, “Watch over your hearts with all diligence for from it flows the spring of life.”
If we are renewing our minds and guarding our hearts, we will learn how to strengthen ourselves in the Lord.
Every Believer has Access to the Presence of God
“The truth is that every believer has constant access to the manifest presence of God… Only in that place of communion with Him do we come to know Him, and consequently, gain the revelation of our identity and purpose.” — Bill Johnson
If we are meeting with God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit in regularity in our lives he will begin to impart to us more of who we are and what he has for us here on earth. To do this, we need to do a few things. Not out of obligation or selfish personal gain, but in order to know the heart of God.
We can tap into this access in many ways, a few we already know: Read your bible, pray, attend church, and small groups.
However, there are other ways we can meet with God on a regular basis. And especially when we need to be strengthened in the middle of difficult circumstances.
5 Ways to Strengthen Ourselves in the Lord
While there are many ways to do this, there have been five ways that have changed and impacted my life in the last few years. Certainly since my time in Arizona. They are as follows:
- Pouring Out Thanksgiving — When we are thankful for the things God provides us, it reminds us of his faithfulness no matter the circumstances.
- Obedience in Praise — When we obey God and praise him out of a sense of appreciation for what he has done, not because we ought to praise, this unlocks spiritual breakthrough.
- Meditation on the Promises of God — God promises things to his people. He will make those promises happen. When we meditate on his promises we anticipate his action which brings us closer to him.
- Inheritance of Testimonies — We have all heard of something miraculous God has done. In those moments, we get a clear glimpse of God’s character. We need to hold onto these testimonies and to the character, God showed in them.
- Experiencing the joy of the Holy Spirit — The Holy Spirit is the presence of God who lives in us and rests on us. When we open ourselves up to his presence we experience the joy which God had for us.
Christians are people of tremendous power. God has provided us the ability to face any circumstance or storm we will face in our lives.
And the presence of God is never far away.
We must cultivate a lifestyle of experiencing his presence in our lives and know we can strengthen ourselves in the Lord.
“We must take personal responsibility to strengthen every weak place and break our agreements with fear. We must become the ongoing manifestation of revival and stop waiting for outside circumstances to line up with our dreams. We do this by giving thanks and rejoicing, praying as He prays, meditating on promises and testimonies, and associating with people of faith — not just when others around us are doing so, but continuously, as a lifestyle.”
— Bill Johnson, Bethel Church