I am so excited about the Word of God for this morning because I believe it is going to transform your life and mine. Here’s what I want you to know and understand. I am tired of seeing God’s people being robbed of the abundant life Jesus paid for them to experience. I am tired of seeing God’s people being crushed by the enemy, being robbed of their destiny, being discouraged and settling for less than God’s best for them. I am tired of watching people be destroyed by drug and alcohol addiction, seduced by sexual perversion, and destroyed by lies and deceit. I am tired of seeing believers in debt and unable to pay their bills let alone give to the Kingdom. I am tired of seeing believers go from white hot in love with Jesus to casual observers of Kingdom Life. I am tired of watching people give in to fear and believe they can’t witness, they can’t pray, they couldn’t possibly teach a class or be engaged in a circumstance that could produce a miracle. I am tired of hearing how Satan has robbed people of their peace, their joy, and their confidence.
If Satan has taken something from you, if the enemy has stolen something from you, God has sent me here today to tell you, it’s time you take it back. Turn to your neighbor and tell them, “I’m taking it back.”
Let me give you some backstory to our text this morning. David, the guy who had been anointed the next King of Israel, was actually hiding out, living out in the land of the Philistines. He had been on the run from King Saul, the reigning King of Israel, who had been trying to kill him. After a long season of living on the run and escaping many attempts on his life, David actually thought if he went to live among the enemy of Israel, if he settled in the land of the Philistines, King Saul would quit looking for him. After all, Saul didn’t need more trouble with the Philistines than he had already had. I understand David’s thought process, but he was relying on himself when he made that decision and as he settled in the land of the Philistines, he moved farther and farther away from God.
And when the Philistines decided to go to war against the Israelites, David and his 600 men who followed him wherever he went, decided to join them. Are you kidding me? David, what are you doing? You are going to go to war against the very people you were anointed to reign over as King? What in the world? So, David and his men set out and marched behind the Philistine army. I believe God is Sovereign in every situation, and I believe that even though it was the leaders of the Philistine army that told their king to send David and his men back home at some point in the journey, that they didn’t want them fighting alongside them, that God was really at work, keeping David from going to battle against his own people. So, David and his men turned around and went back to their home called Ziklag. When they arrived, they were in for the shock of their life.
1 Samuel 30:1-81 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and all who were in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. 3 When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives had been captured–Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. 7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”
Allow me to run down what had been taken from David:
The enemy had run off with David’s relatives and resources.
David didn’t know the status of his family when he got home. He just saw the destruction and knew they weren’t there. He didn’t know if they were dead or alive. He wasn’t sure of their status. As he looked around he also saw that all of his stuff was gone. His home had been decimated and all of his belongings were gone.
The enemy had robbed David of his strength.
David was emotionally done. Verse four tells us that David and his men cried until they had no more strength to cry. It doesn’t take a whole lot of physical and emotional strength to cry, but they were so broken, so messed over, so overwhelmed they had no strength left to cry. They were in shock. They were thrown into the darkest night they had ever faced. Losing everything caused them to lose it. It was a desperate situation.
The enemy had ruined his credibility with his men.
The men who had followed David blamed him for what had happened. After all, it was his idea to join the Philistine army and to march toward Israel. If they hadn’t been away from home, if even some of them had stayed behind, they could have defended their families and their homes. But no, David, had led them into battle; into a battle that wasn’t even theirs to fight. This was David’s fault. They started talking about stoning him to death.
How do you take back your family? How do you take back your strength? How do you take back your reputation and credibility with people? Allow me to read verse 6 to you from the NKJV: “Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”
How often do we wait for God to do something to help us when we could be doing something to help ourselves? I’m not suggesting that the answer to our problems lies within us. It doesn’t. You don’t just dig deep in times of desperation. That will only get you more of the same. I am, however, suggesting that we get busy and “wait on the Lord.” That we seek Him. That we talk to Him about our situation.
Verse six doesn’t say that the Lord strengthened David, but that David strengthened himself IN THE LORD. David got very proactive. He sought out the priest. He then sought out the presence of God. When you have been robbed by your enemy, when the enemy has your family, when the enemy has taken your livelihood, when the enemy’s tactics have left you without strength, when your reputation and credibility have been compromised, you need to:
Run to the Lord. Take initiative, take ownership of any disconnect from the presence of God.
David had been doing things his own way. David had been leaning on his own understanding. David had been living to please himself. He had been making decisions without consulting God. It has been noted that during this time in his life, he didn’t write any of the Psalms. No praise and worship was flowing from him. He had been living disconnected from the seeking of God’s presence, and he had been living in enemy territory.
David created a vulnerability in his life. David’s disobedience to God and disregard for God had created an opening for the enemy. David knew some stuff. He had some expertise about battles. He had begun to trust his instincts, and for the most part, they had proven to be reliable. But this time, this one time, he messed up. He miscalculated, and it cost him big-time. It cost him, and it cost those who followed him.
Listen, you may think you can do your own thing, go your own way, and for a while you might even enjoy it. You might be perceived as good at it. You may think you are invincible, that you are on a roll, that everyone should follow your pattern for life because it is fun or it is profitable or it is foolproof. Don’t be a fool. Don’t fool yourself. There is only ONE who can give true success. There is only ONE who can give abundant life. There is only ONE who can cause us to triumph in any situation. Only through Christ our Lord do we have true victory.
David fell. He fell hard. There was a heavy price to pay. The enemy robbed him blind. Everything was gone. It wasn’t just a setback. It was total destruction. He knew he couldn’t fix it. He knew there was no one to go but to the Lord. And so, David, who had distanced himself from God and God’s plans, ran to the Lord. He strengthened himself in the Lord.
Some of you may have lost something valuable-whether a relationship, part of your livelihood, your self-esteem, your confidence, trust with people—whatever it is, there is only one way to get it back. It starts with your relationship with the Lord. Intentionally investing in your relationship with Jesus is the foundation for all recovery in your life.
Coming to church is good, but coming and worshiping and hearing from God on Sunday only will still leave you vulnerable to the enemy Monday through Saturday if that is all you do. You must take responsibility for your walk. I cannot make you a successful Christian. Your parents or grandparents cannot make you a successful Christian. Your Sunday School teacher or Youth Pastor cannot make you a successful Christian. You have to want to grow up in the Lord. You have to want to live well. You have to want to belong to Jesus body, mind, and Spirit. You have to want to obey the Word of God. You have to want God’s way over your own way.
David made a decision. He ran to God. He took initiative to reconnect with Him in order that he might recover his life and his purpose.
The second thing I would tell you if you want to recover what Hell has stolen from you is that you need to:
Rely on God’s Truth
David had started to believe the lie that eventually Saul would find and kill him. He said it himself in I Samuel 27:1. He believed he was doomed to be killed by Saul, and that is why he wound up fleeing to live in the land of the Philistines. That was faulty thinking. He had been told over and over by person after person after person, even people in high up places, “We know that one day you will be King of Israel.” God had even proven that He would protect David from Saul time and time again. Why now did David have to start believing it wasn’t true?
You know, if you tell yourself an untruth long enough, you can start to believe it. Eventually a lie can start to sound like the truth. David had relied on himself for his life’s decisions, and it led his mind to things that weren’t true. When you believe the wrong things, you will act the wrong way. Scripture doesn’t give us any detail about David’s motives for joining the Philistine army against the Israelites. Who knows if it flowed from a new desire to want to take care of Saul the old fashioned way? Who knows what David was thinking?
We can easily talk ourselves into a whole lot of stuff that leaves us vulnerable to attack, right? “He won’t continue to be my boyfriend unless I have sex with him,” so we cave. “She won’t continue to hang with me if I’m not funny all the time like I am when I drink,” so we indulge. “He won’t think I’m cool if I don’t have money to do everything he can do,” so we steal. “I won’t be popular if I don’t cuss, so I’ll just throw in a casual cuss word now and then.” Or how about these? “He would think I was stupid if I witnessed to him about Jesus, so I’ll just pray for him.” “My kids won’t love me if I don’t give them everything they want, so I’ll just have to work more jobs and go deeper into debt.” “I know she isn’t a Christian, but I’ll probably never find a Christian who makes me as happy as she does, so I’m going to go ahead and marry her.” “I could never (you fill in the blank) because I’m just not good enough, smart enough, or connected enough to make it happen, so I’ll just settle for (you fill in the blank).
Because David believed something false, he set himself up to be robbed of his destiny.
Listen, the only way to get back what Hell has stolen from you is to replace every lie in your heart and mind with the truth of God’s Word. Even if you don’t understand everything you read, if you will open it, if you will read it, if you will ask the Holy Spirit to help you get something from it, if you will meditate upon it, if you will read it again, if you will pray about what you read, if you will talk to people about it, you will start to notice a different way of believing which will produce a different way of behaving.
When you read the Word of God, you will reorient yourself with the words and ways of Heaven. When you read the Word of God, you will be cleansed of that which is evil and dark. When you read the Word of God, you will have a mind transplant as you have the mind of Christ deposited into your mind. There will be fruit. It is worth it. It is the only way to think the thoughts that God has for you. You can’t control everything that is thrown at you, but you can be tenacious about the amount of time you invest in God’s Word so that when stuff comes at you, you have the knowledge and power to refute it!
You can want God to take of a crisis, but before the crisis hits, you have an opportunity to allow God to take charge of you by taking initiative to get into His Word.
Third, in order to walk into enemy territory to get your stuff back, you need to:
Robe up. Put on the full Armor of God.
Ephesians 6:10-18 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Well, Pastor Melissa, what do you mean by “Put on the full armor of God?” I mean that you make sure you are saved. Without the Spirit of God living inside of you, you are living an unprotected life. That makes you vulnerable every day to an attack of the enemy. Wake up to the reality that your enemy isn’t that democrat that you can’t understand or that republican you can’t deal with. Wake up to the reality that your enemy isn’t the boss that you think is unfair or demanding or that co-worker that is seems critical of your work. Wake up to the reality that your enemy isn’t the spouse you live with, the parent that is trying to protect you or the sibling you think is hogging the spotlight. Wake up to the reality that your enemy isn’t the kid at school who is poking fun or trying to make you look bad. Realize your enemy is the devil himself.
Yes, pray about the boss, the school kid, and the co-worker, but pray about the dark and evil power that is prompting and provoking those people to do what they are doing. Pray that the powers of evil be broken in their lives. Pray they get a revelation of the love and grace of God so that they can be changed from the inside out. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of Hell itself. Pray the darkness will be exposed. Pray the Kingdom of God will come to your school hallways, your office cubicles, your training sessions, your homes, and your neighborhoods.
Walk in truth and be prepared to witness for God in the midst of any battle. God is greater than anything you face. People need to know it and see it in your life. Get your armor on and get ready to fight. Recovery is ahead.
Resolve to recover whatever it is that the enemy has stolen. Take initiative with the enemy.
I mentioned taking initiative to strengthen yourself in the Lord. You also have to get bold about your enemy. You can’t hide in the corner and just wait for things to work out. You have got to get aggressive. You have to determine you are going in and you are going to recover whatever it is that Satan has stolen from you. We need to not only stand against our enemy, but we need to go after what is rightfully ours.
David did, and the Scripture tells us he got it all back. Every person was recovered. All livestock were recovered. All of their stuff was recovered, and their enemies were obliterated.
It’s time to take some stuff back. Let’s strengthen ourselves in the Lord right now. Let’s rely on God’s truth, and let’s robe up in the power of God’s might. God told David he would recover everything, and David believed him. David resolved to get it all back. Did God love David more than He loves you? Absolutely not. He says I can have abundant life. He says I can have peace and joy and a sound mind. He says I can prosper. He says I can live free from anything that binds me. I’m taking my stuff back. How about you?