Encouraging Devotions Blog

"Stepping Up and Stepping In – The Role and Importance of Intercession."

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"For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike."
1 Samuel 30:24

This statement by David provides a clear illustration as to why David was a "man after God's own heart." David makes this beautiful proclamation amid a very turbulent, adverse time in his life. He has been pursued by King Saul and separated from his wife, his best friend Jonathan, and his homeland. David now lives in a foreign land, amongst the idol-worshiping Philistines.

After a sequence of events, David returns to the Philistine city of Ziklag, his then home, only to find it burned to the ground and discovers his family and possessions have been taken captive by the Amalekites. At this, David and his men "wept until there was no strength in them to weep (1 Samuel 30:4)." Before entering the battle, 200 of David's men were "too exhausted…and remained behind" (1 Samuel 30:9). David remained unfazed and continued. He and his men overtook the Amalekites, rescued their families, and recovered their possessions. As David and the 400 men who engaged in the battle returned, a group of "wicked and worthless men" revealed that they did not want to share the spoil with the 200 who stayed behind. David interceded, stepped up and stepped in, and said, "And who will listen to you I this matter?"
(1 Samuel 30:24).

David vehemently came to the defense of these 200 men. David demonstrated God's heart by extending grace to the 200 men who were seemingly exhausted and too tired to fight. These men did not show cowardice and run the other way. These men did not commit acts of disloyalty by sabotaging David's battle plan or questioning David's judgment. These men did not subvert his leadership or conspire a mutiny. The exhausted men stayed loyal and stayed in the fight by "staying by the baggage." David understood that just like the other men, their wives, children, and possessions were taken captive by the Amalekites. Not only did David intercede for these men he restored them to their families and returned their possessions. He shared with them in the spoil of the victory. He valued their contribution and provided them the opportunity for refreshment.

Men and women of God, stepping up, and stepping in for a fellow Christian is a necessary function of the body of Christ. At times, our brothers and sisters grow weary physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Daily, our spirit wars against our flesh, and we are bombarded by worldly messages, worldly values, and the enticement of human pleasures. The adversary of our soul takes every opportunity to exploit our weaknesses, condemn our flaws, criticize our imperfections, and crush our ambition to do the Lord's work.

Just as the Amalekites plundered David's possessions and family, the COVID-19 pandemic and society’s response have promoted fear, resulting in lost income, lost jobs, and uncertainty in the hearts of many. This can weigh on our souls so heavily that we can become exhausted and our walks with Christ can come to a stand still as we try to figure out how to pay our mortgage, put food on the table, or maintain loving relationships. These are times when we need to know it is ok to be still and seek restoration. We know that brothers and sisters in Christ will intercede on our behalf, extend God's grace, provide support, give refreshment, and continue to share in God's blessing.

David's victory in this difficult situation was not by accident. Notice that David "strengthened himself in the Lord his God" (1 Samuel 30:6), and "inquired of the Lord" (1 Samuel 30:8). Jesus, the Son of David, our Great High Priest, ever lives to make intercession on our behalf. He is our Advocate, our Banner, our Restorer, our Redeemer.

May we be people who are willing to step up and step in with intercessory prayer in confidence that God will do wondrous things!

“Oh! Men and brethren, what would this heart feel if I could but believe that there were some among you who would go home and pray for a revival - men whose faith is large enough, and their love fiery enough to lead them from this moment to exercise unceasing intercessions that God would appear among us and do wondrous things here, as in the times of former generations.”
—Charles Spurgeon

"Go in the strength you have"

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Judges 6:12–16
The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior." Then Gideon said to him, "O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian." The LORD looked at him and said, "Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?"
He said to Him, "O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house." But the LORD said to him, "Surely, I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man."

Isolation, uncertainty, fear, and oppression encompass Gideon as we are introduced to him in Judges 6. He his threshing wheat in hiding when the Lord appears to him with the greeting, "The Lord is with you, valiant warrior." Immediately Gideon challenges whether or not the Lord is with any of them. Gideon asks the question we all ask during stressful situations, "If the Lord is with us, then why has all this happened?"

In other words: Look, if God is real, if God is loving, if God cares about me, then why has He allowed this trouble to come into my life? The Lord did great things way back when, but now He has abandoned us. Little did Gideon know that he was speaking these concerns directly to the pre-incarnate Lord!

What happens next is probably not what we would have wanted or expected from God. Instead of answering Gideon's concerns, the Lord gives him a commission to deliver Israel, and this commission is powerful. Please do not miss it. The Lord tells Gideon, "Go in the strength you have...I am sending you!" God tells Gideon, this man who was hiding from the Midianites, the man who has no faith in his strength or the strength of his people, to go in the strength he has. God was not seeking Gideon's strength. God was seeking Gideon's obedience. Gideon could go and deliver Israel because God sent him and because "the strength he had" was God's strength with him.

Do we not find ourselves in similar situations at times? Do we not wonder why certain things happen, why God would allow it, and where God is in the midst of our trials?

I dare say that, in our questioning, God is right there with us, and often, we don't even recognize it. James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." You can be sure, dear reader, that God is closer to you than you can imagine, and He desires to comfort you in every situation. Sometimes that comfort does not come in the form of answered questions, but rather in the way of promised presence. No matter our situation or circumstance, God has called us to deliver His message of truth. As ambassadors of Christ, we bring the news of deliverance from bondage and oppression. Just as He called Gideon, God has called us to "go in the strength we have." And just as with Gideon, God is not seeking your strength, He is seeking your obedience. Will you obey?

Obedience comes with the sweet promise found in verse 16, in whatever God has called you to, no matter where He's called you to go, no matter what He's called you to do - "Surely, I will be with you," declares the Lord.

"You and I can face the harsh realities of life in this broken world with courage and hope because we do not face them all by ourselves. Immanuel ("God with us") is indeed with us in power, glory, and grace."
— Paul David Tripp

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