Strength for the Journey
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 1 Kings 19:1-8
Sunday 1st September 2013
We need strength in this season, both in our personal lives and the season that we find ourselves in collectively in New Wine Church. In the agenda of God, we are on a journey; our lives are a journey and it is not possible to advance far in the journey of life if you are weak or weary. Today, therefore, we will look at how we can be strengthened in our lives for the journey that is ahead of us. In the foundation scripture, we are told of the prophet Elijah, whom after his encounter with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel was threatened with death by Jezebel. He fled with his servant to Beersheba and from there journeyed into the wilderness alone. He had become so depressed that he asked God to allow him to die. We are told that the angel of the Lord came to him and touched him and instructed him to eat saying, ‘Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.’ We see in both Deuteronomy 2: 24 and Deuteronomy 10: 11 God giving the instruction to Moses to get up and move ahead on the journey to the Promised Land.
In this house we know that God is taking us somewhere. There is a plan that God has for your life; there is a future to embrace. It is important therefore that we look closely and understand how to walk in the strength of the Lord. It is interesting to see that ‘Arise’ occurs a number of times in these scriptures. Twice Elijah is told to ‘arise and eat’ and Moses is instructed to arise and take a journey. This makes clear that unless we ‘arise’ we can cannot access the place that God has prepared for us. There is a prophetic future for this house and also for your life. You must be ready therefore and properly positioned to access the prophetic journey. God does not take us on a journey just for the fun of it; it is connected to His purpose. There is a specific journey which must be undertaken. There is a Promised Land ahead, a place that God is taking us to. This is not a journey that God is still in the process of thinking about; the journey that you are destined to take has been concluded in the mind of God from before the foundation of the earth. We must understand that where we are is not our destination. There is a future that God has in mind for us. We must not therefore make plans to remain where we are. On their journey through the wilderness, the children of Israel were not allowed to construct houses but remained in tents throughout their wilderness experience. The key to us accessing our Promised Land is our willingness to arise. When God addressed Joshua in Joshua 1:1-4 after the death of Moses, He was essentially telling the children of Israel that where they were was not the best that God had for them but that they had to go ahead and cross the River Jordan. Relating this to our lives, we can understand that the Jordan represents anything standing in between our current position and our Promised Land. This could be a challenge or even a habit. Unless you arise however you will not be able to cross over and advance. Unless you first arise, you will not be able to shine; arising precedes shining. You must first rise up and change your posture; this involves rising up on three levels: physically, emotionally and spiritually. To arise means to stir up and to get up; it involves determining to yourself that you will do something different and shift your position.
Turning back to the account of Elijah in 1 Kings 19, we understand that Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, had vowed to kill him after he slaughtered the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah, on hearing of her threats was afraid and travelled with his servant to Beersheba and from there left his servant behind and took a days’ journey alone into the wilderness. He went alone, relying on his own strength and effort but we understand that the arm of flesh will fail us. It is no wonder therefore that when he arrived in the wilderness he fell asleep. Your own strength cannot sustain you for the journey ahead. From this account also, we can see the importance of not letting life’s challenges drive us to the wilderness. The wilderness is a place of loneliness, isolation and dead dreams. Elijah isolated himself. The enemy’s strategy is to isolate us so that he can attain his ambition of destroying us. Be careful where you run to in the days of adversity. Do not let circumstances of life dictate where you go. For example, in marriage, there is a danger that when challenges arise, for a spouse to shut out the world and retreat into themselves in isolation, the ‘wilderness’, in which s/he becomes open to all kinds of suggestions including that their spouse does not love them and indeed no-one loves them.
Irrespective of what you have been through, it is important to remember that God has a plan for you. Elijah had concluded that it was all over for him and fell asleep in despondency but God was telling him that there was a journey ahead of him and that this was not the end. It may well be that the events of life have not gone as you had expected, however God is still saying “I have a plan for you; there is somewhere that I am taking you.” You must allow your spirit to be marinated by this truth until it becomes your reality. Never come to place where you conclude that God has nothing planned for you.
We are told that the angel of the Lord touched Elijah. This is a man whom had sunk into the lowest place of despondency and depression and yet the angel touched him and affirmed him and assured him of his future. Elijah was provided with a cake of bread and a jar of water which symbolises the word of God and the Holy Spirit, precisely what he needed to go ahead. God was re-assuring Elijah of his presence; be assured, God is in your situation and has made provision for all that you need to Go Forward. We are on a journey and we are in need of strength to run the race and finish the course. With every move that we make we are advancing against opposition. Without strength, you cannot overcome that which seeks to prevent you from going forward, whether your mind-set, the past, the opinion of others’ and your opinions about yourself. You must be stronger than the forces that would seek to stop you. It is not possible to solve a problem at the level of ignorance at which the problem was created. You need to solve the problem at a different level. The enemy’s desire is for you to stay where you are, however the more strength you have the better equipped you are to advance against opposition and Go Forward. The distance that you will travel in life’s journey is dictated by your strength. You will not attain CEO status if your strength is not commensurate with that position.
2 Samuel 22:33 says, ‘God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.’ Isaiah 40: 29 (NLT) says, ‘He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.’ As God is in our business, we have access to His power. Let’s look at 7 keys to walking in God’s strength:
1. Knowing God – Daniel 11:32 says, ‘the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.’ There is a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. We will experience the strength of God when we are actually intimate with him and have a revelation of who He is. God is faithful, God is loving, God is powerful and God is able. At some point in your life, your knowledge of God will be tested. Your revelation of God is what will allow you to stand in the day of adversity. When the situations of life arise, it is your knowledge of God that will enable you to arise and press ahead. In the book of Acts when Peter had been arrested we are told that he was asleep. How, you may ask, can you possibly sleep when you have been arrested and are likely to be executed? It was because he trusted in the Lord completely and was secure in the assurance of God’s deliverance. We must make time therefore to become intimate with God.
2. Understand God’s vision for your life - Habakkuk 2:2-3 says ‘Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.’ You cannot run the race of life without an understanding of what God’s vision for your life is. By the same token, you will not get involved in the work here at New Wine Church unless and until you have an understanding of our vision, which is to discover, develop and deploy the giftings and abilities that God has deposited in you. Everything you do must be dictated by vision. If you do not understand the vision you will not move. It is vision that will inject passion into your life and will drive you forward.
3. Celebrate and appreciate God’s giftings – Do not focus on your weaknesses and what you perceive to be your inabilities. We have a tendency to focus on what we do not have and despise what we do have. Do not despise what God has deposited in you. Everyone has a gifting and ability it is often the case that we are simply looking in the wrong places and are yet to actually discover our gifting. Proverbs 20:5 says, ‘Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water but a man of understanding will draw it out.’ Counsel represents treasure positioned deeply; a person of understanding is able to draw it out. There is strength within you of which you are not aware. Do not believe the suggestion that you have nothing to offer.
4. Unity - God never designed for us to do the journey of life alone; He designed that we would draw strength from each other. In Genesis after the Tower of Babel, God remarked that nothing would be withheld from the people as they were united. Our celebration of the life of Pastor Tayo is the biggest event that New Wine Church has ever arranged and hosted and it was orchestrated within 3 weeks. This was a demonstration of what can be accomplished and the strength that is released when we are united. We need each other. Elijah’s mistake was in leaving his servant behind and seeking solutions on his own strength; it is no wonder that he fell into depression.
5. Intimacy with the Holy Spirit - In Ephesians 3:16, Paul talks of us being ‘strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man’. It is important not to overlook the ministry of the Holy Spirit in seeking strength. He plays an important role in strengthening us. He provides us with strength that we would not have believed ourselves capable of exhibiting and enables us to press ahead in the most difficult of circumstances.
6. Knowing the Joy of the Lord – In Nehemiah’s day, the exiles became re-acquainted with the covenant after the book of the Law was rediscovered and read to them. They became so excited in finding themselves in the word of God that the priests declared that the joy that they were experiencing coming from the word of the Lord was their strength.
7. Encouraging yourself in the Lord – In the face of the most difficult and challenging of situations, it is possible to experience the strength that arises from encouraging oneself in the Lord. David encouraged himself when on returning to Ziklag and discovering that the Amalekites had taken into captivity all the wives and children of his army, his own men wanted to stone him to death. David was a psalmist and no doubt, having surveyed the devastation around him, found a harp and began to minister to God in praise. Within a short time he was sufficiently strengthened to pursue, overtake and recover all that had been lost.
God does not want to you to be weak but to be strengthened; His enablement is available to you to journey through life and win, notwithstanding the challenges that you may face. His strength is available to you to ensure that you complete the race of life and reach your destination.
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