Best Advice for the New Year: Encourage Yourself in the Lord Our God!

“…But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).Marilyn-350x320

I recently finished a 12-week study on the life of David. He is always identified as “a man after God’s own heart,” and if you have never studied him, that title might conjure up images of a near perfect man who rarely strayed from the straight and narrow. Actually, the opposite is true. If ever there were a saga of the good, the bad, and the ugly laid bare before the eyes of the world, it would be David’s life story. His humanity bleeds through the intriguing tale of heroic moments as well as disappointing failures. It is always encouraging to me that God did not gloss over or omit the times David’s willful disobedience or lack of faith resulted in heartache. David’s life experience may have been set against the backdrop of ancient times, but his human nature was an awful lot like ours. And oh, how evident and beautiful is God’s powerful grace and redemption again and again as the story unfolds.

Here, on the brink of a new year, as we are inundated with painful news on every front, the verse from 1 Samuel 30:6 bounces around my brain constantly. David and his army had been away, and when they returned to their village, they discovered the Amalekites had swept through, burned everything, and taken all the wives and children captive. Circumstances seemed to go from bad to worse as the angry and grieving men began to talk of stoning David. Scripture says, “They wept until they had no more strength to weep.” And when the tears finally stopped and the dust settled, the grief was still fresh when David “encouraged himself in the Lord.” I would think he retrieved a sense of hope and comfort by intentionally remembering God’s faithfulness, God’s nature, God’s promises, God’s providence, and the fact that God was still God. And so, for us today, God is our refuge and our fortress every bit as much as He was David’s 3000 years ago.

Sometimes, in the middle of breaking news, it is good to remember that, and to encourage yourself in the Lord!

As we roll out this first issue of the New Year, we hope you find much to encourage and inspire. Drake Bassett, President of Palmer Home, left a very successful career at the top of the corporate ladder, to take the reins of a relatively small ministry in Columbus, Mississippi. His story, and indeed, the Palmer Home story, will definitely encourage in the Lord because it is a true picture of what can be accomplished when God takes complete hold of a Believer’s heart.

One of my favorite new columns comes from our familiar guru of books, Susan E. Richardson. “Chewed Petunias” will speak to any discouraged hearts that feel that life has literally chewed them up and spit them out. You will love Susan’s insight and appreciate her transparency.

Even those of us who don’t make resolutions anymore still have good intentions of reforming a bad habit or creating a good new one. While we adopt a million self-improvement strategies for everything from diet and exercise to organizing closets to nurturing our spiritual lives, we cling to optimism that this year we will succeed where in the past we failed. You will find plenty of ideas and lots of tips, but just for good measure, read Dr. Cox’s consoling column, “All in the Family.” He will help you toss your guilt in case you don’t achieve total success with all of those good intentions.

Broadmoor’s Gary Maze wrote our “Pastor’s Perspective” this month, and I love his thoughts on the pitfalls of compartmentalizing our lives. Imagine the ripple effect in the world around us if we, as Believers, considered every experience of our lives in the context of our life in Christ.

There is so much more here—I’m anxious for you to meet the array of amazing people featured this month. You cannot read very far without being energized and—yes—encouraged in the Lord because He is very much alive and at work no matter what the “breaking news” broadcasts!

Happy New Year, and, by all means—encourage yourself every new day in our magnificent and glorious Lord.

❝ O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come, Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home. ❞ – Isaac Watts

Pro-Life Mississippi