As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
Psalm 138:3, NLT
Confidence can live in silence but insecurites are loud.
David was a great leader and one of his strengths was his bold confidence. His strength was his secret to success. David did not get his strength, his boldness from within. Early in life David made the LORD his strength. David said, “As soon as I pray, you answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength.” David was not a perfect man but he was a praying man. If you look up devotion or quiet time in the dictionary, David’s picture should be there because David loved spending time alone with the LORD. Early into Jesus ministry, His disciples associated His strength with His quiet time. This was made obvious when they came to him and said, “LORD, teach us to pray.” Note, they did not say, “LORD, teach us to preach, to heal, to cast out demons, etc.” They ask Him to teach them the art of prayer because they associated His power with His prayer life. There was one black man in my seminary class. He was a tall, dignified, astute and gracious man. He peached one night at the Seminary chapel and he preached on prayer. He said one thing I have never forgotten–“Where there is much prayer, there is much power, where there is little prayer, there is little power.” The reason I have seen so little power in my life and ministry is that I have done so little praying.
In verse 7 David said, “Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.” David was surrounded by people who were praying for him to fail. David united the kingdom of Israel. He lead Israel to become one strong nation. The Jebusites, Canaanites, Philistines and all the other Gentiles living within the border preferred a weak and divided kingdom. David was convinced that the LORD wanted to use him to make the nation one and strong. He was confident that the LORD would fulfill all His promises. David Livingston said, “I am immortal until the will of God for me is accomplished.” David had this same confidence. How is it that David, as a youth, faced Goliath without fear while Saul and the Israelite army cringed in fear? He had a bold confidence in God.
I spoke with one of my coaching friends about this just last week. He brought the subject up and I agreed. The greatest part of coaching is building confidence in your players. When the High School basketball team faced East Limestone, I cringed like Saul. Seriously, I thought East Limestone would beat us by 30 points and do it easily. They had the athletes. I was intimidated just watching the warm up but our boys were well coached. No one told Caleb Bolton that we couldn’t win the game. Unfortunately, we have people in the coaching profession that do not need to be there because they constantly degrade the kids and destroy their confidence. A former coach at DHS told a kid one day in practice, “You are a loser and you will always be a loser.” I know the kid was at fault, he loved to prank and act out when they were trying to teach but that is not what a coach needs to tell a kid. As soon as I found out, I contridicted the coach; I told the kid, “You are not a loser and he should not have said that you were. He is the loser.”
Folks, if I have learned anything in these last 48 years of ministry it is this: the devil wants to destroy your confidence and he will do whatever he needs to do to accomplish his purpose and that means he will use whomever is available–little old ladies, deacons, unhappy church members, etc…he does not care so long as he can undermine your confidence. His chief tool is criticism. Criticism is like ice on the wings of plane, if you don’t learn how to deflect and defrost, it will eventually bring you down but you have to avoid extremes. You can’t ignore all criticism. We need criticism but we need it from the right people. Just remember this rule of thumb: if the criticism is destroying your confidence and courage, it is of the devil. He is the one who wants you to quit. You would be surprised at how many men gave up because they got discouraged. Before you get critical of what I just said, you might want to study the life of Elijah. He got so discourage, he not only quit, he fled the country. Some believe this was his sin unto death. The LORD sent him back to Israel with this assignment, anoint Elisha, the man who will take your place.
Larry Garner had a better day. Corey said it was like night and day. He had a radical change for the good early yesterday morning. They think two of the meds caused a reaction. Thank You Jesus for answered prayer. I get to preach tonight and I am excited. We will met in the parlor. Also, Doug is coming Sunday and doing a Christmas concert Sunday night.
Honoring Our Veterans
Today, I share some more of my beloved veterans. I am running out of month so today I mention four. I will take Hugh Fitzgerald first. I consider Hugh one of my mentors. I never dreamed it would happen after we got off to a rocky start but Hugh became one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I miss him a lot. Hugh was an MP in the Army and he never got that out of his system. I came back home giving everyone orders including his mama and daddy. He didn’t hesitate to give me instruction either. He even rebuked me a couple of times and he should have because I was wrong. I tried to rebuke him back a couple of times but it didn’t work so well in that direction. Hugh probably told me more war stories than anyone. He was stationed in the Philippines. James Kyle Lindsey was also in the service at about the same time but not in the same unit. Hugh and James Kyle were big buddies. I did not have a pic of Hugh in uniform but he didn’t need one, we all knew he was boss. James Kyle was the polar opposite. He was probably the kindest man I’ve ever known. He had the most sensitive conscience of anyone I’ve ever known. He would drive a hundred miles to pay you a dime if he thought he owed it. Joe Eaton was a career Navy man and the most helpful supporter I’ve ever know. Joe had courage to confront. He and I went on some rough visits. Joe would have followed me into hell with a water pistol. I never saw fear in Joe and he had enough military in him that he was not worried about difficult situation. Mr. Luther Roberts was also in the Army and I have his picture with his girl friend. I think it is Mary Jewel. Kenneth served in the National Guard. All five of these men were my friends. Luther and I got off to a real rocky start. I got in his mater patch without his permission. Shelia Jo set me up and Luther gave me the old ambush. I have not forgot it. Luther became my buddy. Next to Joe Fitz, Jerry Segars and David Glenn, he probably put more time into the house on Craze road than anyone. Kenneth is the reason I got to stay at Danville for 38 years. Kenneth was gentle in his demeanor and some mistook that for weakness but he was not weak. Kenneth had lest insecurity than anyone I have ever met. He was lion hearted. He stood against the odds and friends to intervene in our behalf. Very few people will do this for a preacher but he and Jimmie Stephenson did and I could not have survived without their support. I have the utmost respect for all these men. I do honor their memory and I am grateful for their service.