20 Verses When You Need Encouragement

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Hello, friends. Has anyone else felt like she can’t catch a break? The last month has had its share of challenges for me, and I know I’m not alone. Today, I want to share some of my go-to Scriptures that speak encouragement to my heart. I hope these verses will be balm on any other soul that is feeling discouraged or dry.

The promises are in no particular order. I encourage you to look them up in your own Bible (I used the New King James version), and consider the rich contexts as well.

#1: Perfect Peace – Isaiah 26:3

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

#2: Hope in God – Psalm 42:11

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

#3: A Very Present Help – Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

#4: I Will Lift Up My Eyes – Psalm 121:1-2

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

#5: I Shall Not Want – Psalm 23:1

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

#6: Take Refuge – Psalm 91:4

He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

#7: The Lifter of My Head – Psalm 3:3

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

#8: A Spirit of Power – 2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

#9: Is There Anything Too Hard? – Jeremiah 32:27

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

#10: Mount Up with Wings as Eagles – Isaiah 40:31

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

#11: He Heard Me – Psalm 34:4

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

#12: Power to the Weak – Isaiah 40:29

He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.

#13: Come to Me – Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

#14: Hope and a Future – Jeremiah 29:11

 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

#15 – His Compassions Fail Not – Lamentations 3:22-24

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

#16 – Be of Good Cheer – John 16:33

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

#17 – The Peace of God – Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

#18 – Grace to Help – Hebrews 4:15-16

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

#19 – He Cares for You – I Peter 5:7

… casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

#20 – The Love of God – Romans 8:38-39

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Dear Lord, thank you for your promises which are new every morning. Thank you for your faithful love for us. Even when we can’t see the purpose in the circumstances, we can look to You, knowing You control all things and supremely care for us.

~ Kristen

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When God Seems to Smile

This life is full of highs and lows, isn’t it? One day, we’re smooth sailing, and the next, we’re doctoring scraped knees and disappointed hopes.

As believers, we can’t draw our joy from a perfect set of circumstances but have to find our contentment in a grounding relationship with God that stands firm through life’s sifting sands.

But every once in a while, God just seems to smile. Please don’t misunderstand me. The Lord is always good, but sometimes, He reminds us of His incredible generosity and the fact that He enjoys giving good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). It’s like he’s handing us a precious gift or a breath of fresh air. Maybe it’s an answer to prayer. Maybe it’s an impossible dream realized.

In my case, it’s the latter. Last week felt like all the pieces of a 1,000-piece 3D puzzle came together in minutes. Something I’d secretly wished but never dared to think possible … became possible.

Next time, I’m going to share more of the story with you, but right now, I just want us to pause and remember some way (big or small) that God has showered His blessings on us.

I know that sometimes, I stare too hard at life’s problems that I lose sight of God’s mercies at work. Let’s focus this week on those mercies, which start fresh every day.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

– Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)

How have you seen God work recently? Please share your encouragement in the comments below. 

~ Kristen

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Our Maker’s Metronome

Click, click, click. Beep, beep, beep. That metronome used to drive me crazy as a beginning piano student. If you play piano (or some other instrument), maybe that little device was the bane of your early musical years, too.

Of course, my teacher had my best interests at heart, and thanks to her persistence and the nagging of that metronome, my timing improved. All along, I knew its steady beat was right, but I still resented it.

Am I that way with God’s timing? Are you? We might say we believe His ways are best, but truthfully, we’d rather speed up the tempo. However, when we rush ahead of God, we miss His perfect plan. Two Old Testament characters learned this lesson the hard way.

King Saul forgot his place.

As Israel’s king, Saul enjoyed many privileges and responsibilities. Offering burnt sacrifices was not one of them.

During the second year of his reign, he faced a critical test. Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, gathered to attack. Their numbers were “like the sand on the seashore in multitude” (I Samuel 13:5 ESV). In response, the men of Israel fled and hid themselves.

Although the text doesn’t contain the message, King Saul must have sent for the High Priest Samuel to come sacrifice to the Lord and intercede on their behalf. In reply, Samuel sent word he would be there in seven days (I Sam. 13:8).

Can you imagine the tension building inside Saul? His forces were scattered, and he couldn’t do anything to rally them until Samuel appeared. His panic grew as more men disappeared with each new dawn. At this rate, he wouldn’t have an army left to face the Philistines.

Finally, the day arrived, but Samuel did not. Too impatient to wait any longer, Saul offered the sacrifice himself.

Guess what? The Bible says that “as soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering,” Samuel arrived (I Sam. 13:10 ESV). Saul armed himself with excuses, but the bottom line was that he had disobeyed God. As a result, Samuel declared that God would not establish Saul’s kingdom (I Sam. 13:14).

Do we try to take things that don’t belong to us—or perhaps aren’t God’s design for us right now? Losing our place in a musical piece might leave us embarrassed, but getting out of sync with God’s plan can only bring regret.

Abram and Sarai rushed ahead of God’s plan.

In Scripture, God made a covenant, an unbreakable promise, with a man named Abram.

  • In Genesis 12, God promised to make him “a great nation” (vs. 2) and give the land to his offspring (vs. 7).
  • In Genesis 13, God told him that his descendants would be like “the dust of the earth,” meaning that no one could count them (vs. 16).
  • In Genesis 15, God declared that his children would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (vs. 5).

There was only one problem. Abram and his wife Sarai were old and childless.

Perhaps at first, Abram believed God without question. But ten years passed from the initial promise when he was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4). Maybe he needed to “help God along.”

He wife suggested he have a child with her handmaid. The result of that union was a boy named Ishmael, but he was not to be the son of promise. Instead, God told Abram and Sarai they would have a son named Isaac (Genesis 17:19-21). He changed their names to Abraham and Sarah to underscore His promise that they would be parents of not just one son, but of many nations (Genesis 17:4, 16).

God’s promise came to pass, though not on their timetable. Twenty-five years after the promise in Genesis 12, Sarah bore Isaac to Abraham, now 100 years old (Genesis 21:5).

Although God always keeps His word, we often grow impatient. We think our timing is better—only to complicate our circumstances.

God’s promises endure.

Is there something you’ve been praying about for some time? Does God seem to be saying no or not yet?

God’s Word provides the encouragement we need to persevere. As we spend time in the Bible, we can identify unchanging truths and apply them to our circumstances.

Let’s look at one of them from Abraham’s story. This man had his share of doubts, but the Lord told him: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward (Genesis 15:1b NKJV).

I wonder if these words were God’s way of reminding Abraham that greater even than the child of promise was His own presence in Abraham’s life.

Try placing your name in that verse. Say it out loud.

Do not be afraid, ______________. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.

The Lord is our shield and our reward—even while we’re waiting, even if God ultimately says no or reshapes our request.

God’s timing is always perfect.

We would never tell a metronome that it’s timing is wrong and ours is right. We’re aware, sometimes painfully so, that it’s on tempo and we’re not.

If we wouldn’t argue with a mechanized device, why do we argue with God? How often do we tell Him that He needs to answer our prayers … for a friend, a relationship, a growth spurt, a scholarship … NOW?

Even though we may think our timing makes sense, the truth is we can’t see or understand God’s schedule. In the Bible, the book of Isaiah speaks to this very truth:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV).

Let’s stop resenting His timing and learn to conform to it. Our unchanging God has planned the perfect rhythm for our lives, and when we follow it, we can enjoy His best.

~ Kristen

This post first appeared in the Girlz 4 Christ Fall Issue. To read more great content for teens girls, subscribe at girlz4christ.org.

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The Path of Resistance

resistanceLast week, I went biking on a particularly windy day. Starting down the trail, my dirt bike raced along without much effort on my part.

The return home, however, was not such a breeze. With head down, I peddled hard into the wind and made much slower progress. My thighs started to burn.

Resistance brings pressure, sweat, and sometimes pain; I’m not just talking about the kind that comes from biking into the wind.

Life presents us with resistance. In school, we have to work hard and figure out teacher expectations to earn good grades. In our jobs, we might have to deal with unpleasant customers, co-worker conflicts, or project deadlines. Good relationships also don’t come naturally but require honesty and patience to resolve differences.

We writers know all about resistance. Editors may return our queries with polite or critical rejections. We may have a deadline looming, and suddenly, our fingers feel frozen on the keyboard.

Chances are, most of us complain about resistance.

However, let’s take a different approach. If teachers handed out A’s like candy, we would never discover our weaknesses or learn from our mistakes and improve. If editors drew smiley faces on every writer’s proposal, the market would be flooded with half-developed plots and weak characters (books no one wants to read).

Resistance makes us better, stronger. We can’t grow without it.

The need for endurance

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul explained the need for a character trait that knows how to handle resistance. This quality is endurance.  In I Corinthians 9:24-27, he compared the Christian life to an athlete who can win a race only if he exercises self-control and disciplines his body. Resistance training helps the athlete succeed when the race counts.

The truth is, however, that none of us enjoys push-backs and disappointment. To appreciate them, we have to look beyond the moment.

20170130_073655One way to help keep the goal in mind is to remember past finish lines crossed. I’m a visual person, so you’ll see pictures of physical dares I’ve met around my house (usually in the form of adventures with my brother). Recently, I’ve also started keeping a gratitude journal. These entries remind me that God has always been faithful in tough spots in the past, and He’s not going to quit on me (even when I’m tempted to quit on myself).

Starting is easy. Finishing is hard work. But it’s worth it.

The prize before us

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it (I Corinthians 9:24).

As I biked home, I turned my gaze upward. In the sky, birds glided and swooped. The same wind that fought against me allowed them to soar.

When you’re faced with resistance, whether in your spiritual walk or personal life, press on. Set your eyes on the prize. (Make sure you have one picked out before you start!)

The prize I’m running for is to hear my Savior Jesus Christ tell me well done one day:

  • Well done for loving the people in your life, even when they’re hard to love.
  • Well done for being faithful where I place you, even when you’d rather be somewhere else.
  • Well done for listening for my voice, even when I seem silent.
  • Well done for writing the words and stories I’ve given you to tell, even if you never know what impact (if any) they will have.

One day, I pray I’ll hear words like these. Until that day, I say amen to what Paul said in Philippians 3:14.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

What prize do you have in sight? What well done do you want to hear? 

Today, embrace the resistance. One day, the wind that buffets you may give you wings.

Kristen

 

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