Bible Verses for when you need God’s Help

verses-about-gods-help

  • 2 Chronicles 32:8 ESV
     With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
  • Psalm 10:14 ESV
    But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
        that you may take it into your hands;
    to you the helpless commits himself;
        you have been the helper of the fatherless.
  • Psalm 20:2 ESV
    May he send you help from the sanctuary
        and give you support from Zion!
  • Psalm 22:19 ESV
    But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
        O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
  • Psalm 30:2 ESV
    O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
        and you have healed me.
  • Psalm 30:10 ESV
    Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
        O Lord, be my helper!”
  • Psalm 31:22 ESV
    I had said in my alarm,[a]
        “I am cut off from your sight.”
    But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
        when I cried to you for help.
  • Psalm 33:20 ESV
    Our soul waits for the Lord;
        he is our help and our shield.
  • Psalm 34:17-19 ESV
    When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
    18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.
    19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
  • Psalm 37:40 ESV
    The Lord helps them and delivers them;
        he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
        because they take refuge in him.
  • Psalm 38:22 ESV
    Make haste to help me,
        O Lord, my salvation!
  • Psalm 40:13 ESV
    Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
        O Lord, make haste to help me!
  • Psalm 40:17 ESV
    As for me, I am poor and needy,
        but the Lord takes thought for me.
    You are my help and my deliverer;
        do not delay, O my God!
  • Psalm 44:26 ESV
    Rise up; come to our help!
        Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!
  • Psalm 46:1 ESV
    God is our refuge and strength,
        a very present help in trouble.
  • Psalm 46:5 ESV
    God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
        God will help her when morning dawns.
  • Psalm 54:4 ESV
    Behold, God is my helper;
        the Lord is the upholder of my life.
  • Psalm 60:11 ESV
    Oh, grant us help against the foe,
        for vain is the salvation of man!
  • Psalm 70:1 ESV
    Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
        O Lord, make haste to help me!
  • Psalm 71:12 ESV
    O God, be not far from me;
        O my God, make haste to help me!
  • Psalm 79:9 ESV
    Help us, O God of our salvation,
        for the glory of your name;
    deliver us, and atone for our sins,
        for your name’s sake!
  • Psalm 94:17 ESV
    If the Lord had not been my help,
        my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
  • Psalm 106:4 ESV
    Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them,
  • Psalm 109:6 ESV
    Help me, O Lord my God!
        Save me according to your steadfast love!
  • Psalm 115:9 ESV
    O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
  • Psalm 115:11 ESV
    You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
        He is their help and their shield.
  • Psalm 118:7 ESV
    The Lord is on my side as my helper;
        I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
  • Psalm 119:147 ESV
    I rise before dawn and cry for help;
        I hope in your words.
  • Psalm 119:173 ESV
    Let your hand be ready to help me,
        for I have chosen your precepts.
  • Psalm 121:1-2 ESV
    I lift up my eyes to the hills.
        From where does my help come?
    My help comes from the Lord,
        who made heaven and earth.
  • Psalm 124:8 ESV
    Our help is in the name of the Lord,
        who made heaven and earth.
  • Isaiah 41:10 ESV
    fear not, for I am with you;
        be not dismayed, for I am your God;
    I will strengthen you, I will help you,
        I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Isaiah 50:7 ESV
    But the Lord God helps me;
        therefore I have not been disgraced;
    therefore I have set my face like a flint,
        and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
  • John 14:16 ESV
     And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever
  • Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV
     For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
  • Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV
    Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

    “The Lord is my helper;
        I will not fear;
    what can man do to me?”

Be a Jonathan Today

1 thessalonians 5

There’s a couple in our church who’ve been married over 60 years.

They’re in a season of jet-setting, of cruises and spontaneous trips up to New England to see the fall leaves.  They drive all over to visit family and seem busier now than I am with my four kids.

They’ve known sadness too.  They’ve had cancer, lost family members to cancer, even lost a child to cancer.

About a year ago, I passed by my husband as he was chatting with the husband-half of this dynamic duo and I heard these words of wisdom:

These are the best days, when your kids are young.  I remember when all our kids were little and at home and it was crazy, but those were the best days. 

I didn’t catch any other part of that conversation, but oh how those words dug down deep within me.

The other day, I said to my husband as we drove home from church, “We’re super close to the time when we have a built-in babysitter in our home.  Aren’t you excited?  I’m excited!”

It’s so true.  Our kids are getting older, getting ready to stay home alone and even babysit younger siblings.  It won’t be long (dare I say it?) before my oldest daughter can drive herself to activities.  What a day that will be!

Last week, I took four of my kids into a museum and we did not bring the stroller.  Each child carried her own backpack of stuff and I just toted a bag of my own.  Whoa!

This is a new era for me.  And it’s just the beginning.  I’ll be living a life without diapers, wipes, and juice boxes before long.

I should be excited.  This is a new season, and it’s a beautiful season.

But I truly treasure the wisdom from this church-friend of ours because even on days when I’m rushing from activity to activity, breaking up sibling spats, or navigating a grocery store with the ‘help’ of a two-year-old who doesn’t want to ride in the cart, even on the days when I’m most exhausted or most overwhelmed, I hold onto his truth.

These are the best days.  I will never have them again. 

I may get to go on weekend getaways with my husband. I may be less of a taxi driver and more of a world traveler.

But oh the beauty of the now.

Oh the beauty of making this family and loving this family through its most significant character-forming, faith-building, family-identity-forming era.

This gentleman isn’t the only one who has given such a gift of wisdom and perspective.

Last Easter, a dear friend in my church, a joy-bringer and encourager, gave me a little gift with a hummingbird on it.

She said the hummingbird made her think of me, flitting about, always moving, so beautiful.

This was another treasured gift.

I wage this constant battle for balance.  I’m a doer who is happy doing, and that’s something God created in me and what God creates is good.

But I have to choose and discipline myself for rest, for beauty breaks and for finding room to breathe.

I know this about myself.  I know my weakest weakness and how easy it is to call me out for doing too much.

But she chose to see the beauty.

And the funny thing is I’d never seen a hummingbird, not in my whole entire life, until about two years ago when we planted butterfly-attracting plants in our back garden.

Turns out hummingbirds like these flowers too, and they hover all summer long right next to the window where I write every day.

They have become God-gifts to me, sightings and reminders that God sees me and knows me, He made me and He loves me.  He helps me know when to do and when not to do.  He guides me ever so gently and cherishes me the way He made me.

These are the treasures I receive from God’s family, just two of many gifts I’ve been given, words of hope or encouragement, wisdom and perspective.

I’ve been reading 1 Samuel with my kids recently and we discovered this verse:

Then Saul’s son Jonathan came to David in Horesh and encouraged him in his faith in God (1 Samuel 23:16 HCSB).

David was on the run once again from Saul’s envious wrath, and he discovered that the city he was hiding in planned to betray him and him over to Saul. So David escaped with his men into the wilderness.

If ever he needed a treasured friend, it was in his wilderness season.

And Jonathan was that friend.

Can we be a Jonathan for another today?

Can we give a treasure away, encouraging someone in her faith in God, share wisdom, see beauty, give hope?

 

 

20 Bible Verses for the days you are discouraged

verses-for-the-discouraged

  • Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
    Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
  • Joshua 1:9 ESV
     Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • 2 Chronicles 15:7 ESV
    But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”
  • Psalm 27:14 ESV
    Wait for the Lord;
        be strong, and let your heart take courage;
        wait for the Lord!
  • Psalm 31:24 ESV
    Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
        all you who wait for the Lord!
  • Psalm 34:18 ESV
    The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
        and saves the crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 42:11 ESV
    Why are you cast down, O my soul,
        and why are you in turmoil within me?
    Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
        my salvation and my God.
  • Psalm 55:22 ESV
    Cast your burden on the Lord,
        and he will sustain you;
    he will never permit
        the righteous to be moved
  • Psalm 94:14 ESV
    For the Lord will not forsake his people;
        he will not abandon his heritage;
  • Isaiah 40:31 ESV
    but they who wait for 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.
  • Isaiah 41:10 ESV
    fear not, for I am with you;
        be not dismayed, for I am your God;
    I will strengthen you, I will help you,
        I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Matthew 11:28 ESV
    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
  • John 16:33 ESV
    I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
  • Romans 12:12 ESV
    Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
  • Romans 15:4 ESV
    For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
    Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV
    We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
  • Galatians 6:9 ESV
    And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
  • Colossians 3:23-25 ESV
    Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
  • Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
    Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The Grace God Gives for the Wearied Soul

psalm 51-12

I could recognize the discouragement. The perpetual fatigue in the face and in the slumping of the shoulders, not extreme, but ever so slightly burdened down low.

It was clear in the mechanical activity, not the joyous friendliness of cheerful service like before. Now my friend moved from point A to point B, task one to task two, not smiling, just doing because doing is what needed to be done.

I recognized the discouragement because

I

Have

Been

There

Before.

We who have been weary can see the signs in others, the trudging, the exhaustion, the worn out soul fraying at every edge and held together with patches and slipshod stitchery.

So we come alongside our friends, our Christian sisters and brothers, those whose burdens we’re supposed to remove so they can walk free and unencumbered for a time.  We remind them of God’s goodness, His grace.  We encourage them in their efforts, cheering them on with reminders to persevere and not give up and yes, there will be a harvest in time, and no, it isn’t all in vain.

How do we know?  That’s what they might ask.

Oh my friend, how I know.

Because contrary to what you might have heard or expected, the Christian life isn’t all easy and Christian service isn’t all joyfully inspiring and pouring out to others out of an overflow.  Sometimes we’re emptying out the last few drops from our own parched souls, not knowing what to do when we’re dehydrated and depleted and still others hold out needy hands for more.

Yet, we know this also.

We pour out…everything….and He pours in anew.

You might think you’re alone in this, stumbling over your own weaknesses, serving to exhaustion, not seeing the reward or the gain or the purpose or the point.

Yet, the prayers of saints long before teach us that others have desperately needed to be renewed, revived, restored.

The Psalmists prayed:

Will You not revive us again
so that Your people may rejoice in You?
(Psalm 85:6 HCSB)

and

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
as streams renew the desert.
Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest  (Psalm 126:4-6 NLT)

and

God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 Do not banish me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
 Restore the joy of Your salvation to me,
and give me a willing spirit (Psalm 51:10-12 HCSB).  

Their prayers would be unnecessary, meaningless even unless they felt the need for the renewing, the reviving, the restoring work of God in us.

We need the grace again, the joy again, the steadfast spirit again, the life again.  That’s what they asked.

That’s what we need, too.

Eugene Peterson wrote:

Nothing suffers from time quite so much as religion.  The skeletal structure of obedience becomes arthritic, and the circulatory system of praise becomes sluggish.  The prayer ‘revive us again’ keeps the body of Christ youthful and responsive to every new mercy and grace in God (Praying With the Psalms).

So we offer to help carry the cross for a time through this valley and we remind them of the hope and the promise as we travel along together.

We tell the fullness of our testimony, not just the revival, the renewal, the restoration after the fact…not the destination without the journey or the end result without the in between.

No, we remember that we were worn out and limping and God renewed us.

We were dead and hopeless and God revived us.

We had lost everything and God restored us.

God did this for me, that’s what we say.  And He will do this work in you, too.

And we pray, of course we pray.

We ask God to fill them right up again, fill their own parched souls so they are overflowing. We ask for strength anew and energy for each day, for reminders of the vision and reassurance of the harvest.

God’s plan isn’t for us to walk through discouragement alone, not any of us. How could we ever survive it, after all, if we thought we were the only ones and that somehow we must be here because of our own fumbling and faltering?

But to know others have been there, have made it through, and have traveled back to tell us the good news and to pray for us along the way…that’s the grace God gives for a wearied soul.

Live Generously (Because our Kids are Watching How We Live)

2 Corinthians 9

He said he learned generosity from his mom.

I read an article this week that said the founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, watched his mother give to others.  Now he in turn will give, donating at least $700 million to Kurdish refugees and refugees around the world fleeing ISIS. This is what he said:

“Today, I dedicate my signing of the Giving Pledge to my mother and I am publicly committing the majority of my personal wealth—along with everything else I can do—to help refugees and help bring an end to this humanitarian crisis.”

I’ve watched the videos this week and seen the pictures of families crammed into every available space onto boats desperate to escape civil wars and persecution.

And I’ve cried over the children.

Maybe I can’t give $700 million, I think, but surely I can give something!

It would be easy to read an article like this and shrug it off, thinking, “well, if he gives so much, surely my small gift won’t matter.”

But that’s not it at all.

That’s missing the challenge to give as God compels us, give in obedience, give every little bit we can, give because maybe we are setting the example for our kids who will one day learn to give, as well.

I am reminded to Live Generously, not hoard and protect my own resources with stinginess and self-preservation.

This in turn reminds me that living a generous life is about so much more than money anyway.

Today, the librarian chats with me as she checks out my books.  She says I remind her of her niece…the way I look, my facial expressions, and how patient I am with my kids.

Oh, she was generous, so generous with her encouragement as I chase my two-year-old away from the automatic door openers and back to the checkout desk.

I think about the time this very same librarian watched as my kids (who are old enough to know better!!!!!) started playing with the poles that mark the check-out line and they absolutely would not leave them alone and I about shot a hole through the floor when I looked at them with my laser eyes.

Still, today, she chooses to live generously, to slip in the sweetest word of praise just when my Mom-heart needs it.

How many times have I been the one feeling defeated, feeling worn, feeling overlooked or undervalued, and someone slips me that word of courage?  You are doing a great job.  I see you.  Well done.

And this week I have struggled, oh I have struggled, in anger about someone’s hurtful words toward my kids.

I pray in the night and I tell God all my woes.

I hear it back, just the whispered reminder:

Extend generous grace.

This is what it means to live generously: To pour out to others without holding back, fully aware of how God has poured Himself out for you.

Generous with our money.

Generous with our talents.

Generous with our time and our attention.

Generous with encouragement.

Generous with grace.

Generous with forgiveness.

Generous with patience.

I consider Paul on those days when I want to stop answering the phone, stop reading emails, stop answering to the name, “Mom,” stop being responsible and doing things like making dinner and washing laundry.

Paul said,

I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls…. (2 Corinthians 12:15a ESV)

and

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all (Philippians 2:17 ESV).

and

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come (2 Timothy 4:6 ESV).

Paul chose to be spent, to be totally poured out for the sake of the church.

Oswald Chambers writes,

Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted–not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister?

Some days not so much.

And, while I understand the health of caring enough about ourselves as women and as moms so that we are healthy enough to care for others, I recognize this:

The calling to a generous life is a calling to pour out, to empty yourself in service, to love sacrificially and selflessly, not for our own purposes and not just for the benefit of those we love–but as an offering to the Lord.

I myself become the offering, poured out at the feet of Jesus, pleasing and acceptable to Him when I live with generosity and He, in turn, enriches me so that I can be generous on every occasion (2 Corinthians 9:11).

“No one has ever become poor by giving” ~Anne Frank

Please visit Samaritan’s Purse to see how they are serving refugees and how you can support that effort.

Please visit Ann Voskamp’s page to find 5 Ways to Stand Up, Be the Church in the World’s Worst Refugee Crisis Since World War II, including organizations to support and ways to give.  She also gives you a list of items they desperately need and where to send them.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

 

Teacher Gift Ideas and Links and a reminder to say, “Thanks!”

For ten years, it sat on my desk.

And I’m not a “stuff” person really.  I have kids.  Things break.  teachergiftideas

Yet, this I mourned a little, when I sat down at my desk and saw what a child-who-shall-remain-nameless broke this week.

Ten years ago, in my pre-Mom days when I was still teaching in the classroom, parents and students gave this simple picture frame to me.  Each teacher in the school received one with a card inside displaying their name along with the fruit of the spirit or character trait the students said that teacher most represented.

Sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective.  Sometimes you think you know who you are, but it takes someone else to say, “I see this in you…” and you haven’t ever seen that before so you know exactly what that means.

It’s proof that God’s been working in you.  He’s been transforming you and changing  you all up from the inside.  Maybe you’ve missed it, but someone else saw.  They noticed.  And they took time to say….Jesus is glorified in you.

So, I opened up that teacher’s gift ten years ago and just marveled at God because what the kids saw in me was “Joy.”

I never would have guessed that.  Didn’t see it.  Didn’t know it.  Can’t even tell you now how exactly the Holy Spirit chiseled, scraped, sanded, and carved that out of a misshapen rock like me.

But I knew one thing for sure.  That was God’s hand, His glory, an artistic endeavor that only a Master Creator would undertake and accomplish.042

That little picture frame gift never was just about remembering students or recalling the old days when I commuted and dressed like a professional instead of donning jeans, a t-shirt and canvas sneakers to head out for a full day of Mom-life.

No, it was about so much grace.

And more.

This world condones, encourages, evokes, and just pulls right out the selfishness in us.  It tells us: Focus within.  Look out for #1.  Fight to get ahead.  Don’t let anyone stand in your way.  Help yourself.  Take what’s yours.

God, though, didn’t just tell us to stoop down low, to reach out, to humbly pull out the cloth and the basin and wash another’s feet.

He did it Himself.

And then He asked us to do it for others.

Hebrews 10:24 says:

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (NLT).

001

Now, I’m the mom with the young kids and they have the incredible teachers.  This, again, is grace.  The way God blesses us and pours into us.  Then He asks us to pour ourselves right on out for others so they can be blessed and filled to overflowing.

And so it goes, a perpetual fountain of grace-giving that only stops when we break the chain and stagnate the flow until we’re all swamp-stinky and covered in a grime of selfishness.

Maybe your days of classroom teachers are long over.  But we all have those special ones who give so much and if we’ll just take one moment to look at them instead of at ourselves, we’ll marvel at the creativity, the thoughtfulness, the gentleness, the devotion, the commitment, the faithfulness, the care and the compassion.

And we’ll want to say, “Thanks.”  We’ll want to tell them—”I see this beauty in you.”

For those looking for ways to bless a teacher or other special servant, here are some ideas as we end this school year or even thoughts to give you a head-start for the fall.  We’ve collected these ideas from Pinterest, the Internet, and from other moms.  I’m hardly creative enough to come up with these on my own!

To see my whole Pinterest board of Cute Gift Ideas, click here!

Of course, gift cards are great, too.

Most importantly, though, is a genuine, heartfelt note of appreciation and encouragement.  That’s something we can all give to another this week.

Originally published 5/20/2013

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Renew, Revive, Restore Us Again

I could recognize the discouragement. The perpetual fatigue in the face and in the slumping of the shoulders, not extreme, but ever so slightly burdened down low.

It was clear in the mechanical activity, not the joyous friendliness of cheerful service like before. Now my friend moved from point A to point B, task one to task two, not smiling, just doing because doing is what needed to be done.

I recognized the discouragement because

I

Have

Been

There

Before.

We who have been weary can see the signs in others, the trudging, the exhaustion, the worn out soul fraying at every edge and held together with patches and slipshod stitchery.

So we come alongside our friends, our Christian sisters and brothers, those whose burdens we’re supposed to remove so they can walk free and unencumbered for a time.  We remind them of God’s goodness, His grace.  We encourage them in their efforts, cheering them on with reminders to persevere and not give up and yes, there will be a harvest in time, and no, it isn’t all in vain.

How do we know?  That’s what they might ask.

Oh my friend, how I know.psalm51

Because contrary to what you might have heard or expected, the Christian life isn’t all easy and Christian service isn’t all joyfully inspiring and pouring out to others out of an overflow.  Sometimes we’re emptying out the last few drops from our own parched souls, not knowing what to do when we’re dehydrated and depleted and still others hold out needy hands for more.

Yet, we know this also.

We pour out…everything….and He pours in anew.

You might think you’re alone in this, stumbling over your own weaknesses, serving to exhaustion, not seeing the reward or the gain or the purpose or the point.

Yet, the prayers of saints long before teach us that others have desperately needed to be renewed, revived, restored.

The Psalmists prayed:

Will You not revive us again
so that Your people may rejoice in You?
(Psalm 85:6 HCSB)

and

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
as streams renew the desert.
Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest  (Psalm 126:4-6 NLT)

and

God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 Do not banish me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
 Restore the joy of Your salvation to me,
and give me a willing spirit (Psalm 51:10-12 HCSB).  

Their prayers would be unnecessary, meaningless even unless they felt the need for the renewing, the reviving, the restoring work of God in us.

We need the grace again, the joy again, the steadfast spirit again, the life again.  That’s what they asked.

That’s what we need, too.

Eugene Peterson wrote:

Nothing suffers from time quite so much as religion.  The skeletal structure of obedience becomes arthritic, and the circulatory system of praise becomes sluggish.  The prayer ‘revive us again’ keeps the body of Christ youthful and responsive to every new mercy and grace in God (Praying With the Psalms).

So we offer to help carry the cross for a time through this valley and we remind them of the hope and the promise as we travel along together.

We tell the fullness of our testimony, not just the revival, the renewal, the restoration after the fact…not the destination without the journey or the end result without the in between.

No, we remember that we were worn out and limping and God renewed us.

We were dead and hopeless and God revived us.

We had lost everything and God restored us.

God did this for me, that’s what we say.  And He will do this work in you, too.

And we pray, of course we pray.

We ask God to fill them right up again, fill their own parched souls so they are overflowing. We ask for strength anew and energy for each day, for reminders of the vision and reassurance of the harvest.

God’s plan isn’t for us to walk through discouragement alone, not any of us. How could we ever survive it, after all, if we thought we were the only ones and that somehow we must be here because of our own fumbling and faltering?

But to know others have been there, have made it through, and have traveled back to tell us the good news and to pray for us along the way…that’s the grace God gives for a wearied soul.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 05/05/2012–Stressing Over Stupid Stuff and an Undivided Heart

Hiding the Word:

It was all stupid stuff and it all stressed me out.

That afternoon, we spent too much time in the school library during the family reading time because my kids wouldn’t stop reading, which normally makes me grateful, but that afternoon made me a bit frustrated.

Then, while changing into her ballet clothes, my oldest daughter asked me to help her untie the knot in her laces.  “Sure,” I said, holding out my hand for one ballet shoe.

Instead, she plopped two ballet shoes into my hand that she actually had tied together last week because “it looked like fun.”  She was still giggling a week later.  I was not.  Now the slender laces of her slippers were pulled together in a knot that would have made any sailor or Boy Scout proud.

Zooming out of the school bathroom, across the school parking lot and into the mini-van, I still picked at the knot on the shoes unsuccessfully.  When we arrived at ballet, I reached into the bag to pull out the bobby pins and hair net and the other jumble of hair accessories we tote around in order to pull my daughter’s mass of princess-like hair into a perfect ballerina’s bun.

They were gone. We had left them all piled on the bathroom sink at the school.  I tugged a ponytail holder out of another daughter’s hair, made the messiest bun of all time on my oldest girl’s head, and ran into the ballet studio.

I asked the lady at the desk for scissors and held up the attached ballet shoes apologetically.  She haplessly searched for scissors—which she couldn’t find because of course most people don’t need to cut the laces of their ballet shoes before class.  Fortunately, a nice man with a pocket knife slashed the laces apart so I could run the shoes into my daughter, already poised at the barre and pointing her toes.

And so it went.  There were bigger stressors that day.  There were other petty annoyances still to come.  The crazy whirlwind of it all left me dizzy and exhausted, but I knew one thing was true:  Nothing that day was worth the frustrated attention I was giving it.

Nothing there was life-threatening or mattered in the eternal way that some things matter.  They were silly and foolish worries, just pests that nipped at my heels and made the simple treading through my day difficult.

Would less stress have made it all better?  Would untied ballet shoe laces or un-lost hair accessories have improved my day? Perhaps.

But what I really needed, what I usually need, isn’t a more smoothly running life with less obstacles and bothers.

I need the eternal perspective that only Christ can give, the reminder of what really matters now, what will still matter 20 years from now, and what God and I will agree matters when I’m hanging out in heaven and worshiping at His throne.

That’s the perspective Paul writes about in Colossians and it’ll be my verse for the week.  I encourage you to copy it down, pray over it, meditate on it, memorize it and ask God to help it change your perspective this week when life gets hard or even slightly tiresome or stressful.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).

Weekend Rerun:

One Heart And Mind
Originally published April 21, 2011

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name”
Psalm 86:11

Multitasking is my spiritual gift.  Somehow the Apostle Paul left that off of his lists in Romans, Corinthians and Ephesians.  Even if it didn’t make the Biblical list, some of you share this gifting with me.  You mop the floor, do laundry, type emails, care for children, talk on the phone and make dinner all at the same time.  What can we say?  It’s a talent.

Usually my multitasking works quite well for me and truthfully I am sometimes bored when I am simply keeping one ball up in the air instead of juggling several.  But there are those moments, I’ll confess, when I open my pantry cabinet to find that I accidentally put the frozen broccoli away there and when I open up the freezer, there are the spaghetti noodles.  It’s a sure sign that I have too much going on and things are starting to fall apart.

Multitasking may work for me (most of the time) as I clean my house or plunge through my to-do list each day and yet its a choking hand of death on my quiet times with God.

This morning I sat at my kitchen table, my place for meeting with God every day.  My Bible was open and ready, my journal and pen set to the side waiting to be used.  My cup of tea was steaming hot, strong and sweet.  Everything I needed to spend some focused time with my Savior was at my fingertips.  Everything was prepared—-except my heart.

I was distracted.  Distracted a little by projects and to-do lists, the phone and the emails left unanswered.  Distracted by my children asking and asking for help.  Distracted a little by frustrations and situations needing to be handled.  My thoughts drifted to all of those things as I read the words on my Bible’s open page.  Words that normally hold power and relevance for me, the living and active Word of God, now made dull by a scattered heart and an unfocused mind.

Not wanting to give up, I prayed over Psalm 86:11.

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (NIV)

and in the Message:

“Train me, God, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path.  Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear” (MSG).

I prayed, “Lord, create in me an undivided heart.  Put me together, one heart and mind—wholly focused on you.  There are so many things vying for my attention, captivating my heart, stirring up my emotions, and setting my thoughts wild.  Please fill me and focus me so that You alone are my heart’s desire.”

It’s not a magic formula, a mystical incantation that somehow brought clarity out of chaos.  No, it was a confession of desire.  A request for God’s strength in my weakness.

I am a forgetful and distracted creature, and I need the help of my God to cut through the clutter and noise so that I can pay wholehearted attention to Him.  That’s why David writes this verse as a petition to God.  He knew He needed heavenly help also.  He asks for God to “give” Him an undivided heart or, as the message says, to “put him together” so that he can be receptive vessel, prepared to hear and receive God’s teaching and training.  David knew He couldn’t achieve an undivided heart on His own.

And yet, I didn’t just pray this prayer and then sit down to the best quiet time ever, full of revelation and inspiration.  It took effort on my part to reject and discard the jumble of thoughts that kept popping into my mind.  I had to stand guard over my heart and not allow it to take my focus off God’s Word.

When I suddenly remembered an item for my to-do list, I jotted it down on a piece of paper and returned to Scripture.  When I started rehashing what was frustrating and upsetting me, I cut off my thoughts and whispered a quick prayer that God would take care of that situation.  And I returned to Scripture.

It was work, but it was worth it.

Paul prayed for the Thessalonian church, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  By asking God to give me an undivided heart, I was making a similar petition.  I was allowing Him to sanctify me (make me holy) through and through—spirit, soul, and body—and this brings me peace straight from the God of peace.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Now Recruiting Team Members: Job #1, Barnabas

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)

We have the world’s largest dress-up collection.

Our closet holds two Rubbermaid containers full of tiaras, fairy wands and wings, long flowing dresses, and clickety-clacky high-heeled shoes.

But after my daughters choose their perfect outfits, they find themselves missing a piece in most of their fairy-tale games.

They can play Sleeping Beauty, but there’s no prince to wake her up.

They can play Cinderella, but there’s not much point in going to a ball if you have no dance partner.

They can play Snow White, but once she eats the poisoned apple, she’s a goner without a prince to rescue her.

With three girls in the family, we’ve got the princess roles pretty well covered, but we’re always missing the prince.  My oldest daughter always suggests what seems like the perfect solution, “Mom, if you just had a boy than he could play with us.”

Never mind that he won’t pop out of the womb and instantly be ready to ride over the hill and wake sleeping princesses.  Or that even if they waited until he was five years old, he might prefer playing Legos to wearing tights and a feather cap and dancing at balls.

My girls are missing a role.

It’s made me think about the roles we are sometimes missing in our own lives and ministries.  Maybe we all could do some recruiting for some open positions in our circle of friends.

Job posting #1: Barnabas

  • Must be willing to believe in you when no one else does.
  • Must always “have your back” and stand up for you against opposition.
  • Must know exactly the right encouraging words to say when you need it most.
  • Must be willing to work alongside you and give you friendship and practical help in whatever God calls you to do.

All applications will be considered.  Deadline for applying is as soon as you can! Equal opportunity employer.

Have you ever had one of those days when you just needed someone to put their arms around you and say, “You’re great.  You’re beautiful.  I believe in you.  What you do matters.  Don’t quit.  I’m with you all the way.”?

You need a Barnabas.

We all do, I suppose.

It’s hard for any of us to be strong and confident on the tough days when our hair doesn’t look right in the mirror and the ten outfits we try on make us look frumpy.  Oh, and of course a runway model stands next to us in line just to accentuate our plainness.

We tend all day to needs that seem so vital to the little people at our feet, but don’t ever seem to make it on the news.

We pour ourselves daily into ministries that don’t make a bestseller list or pack arenas and at times seem to make so little difference, no one would care if you quit.

We make ourselves vulnerable and put ourselves out there in obedience to God’s call and others come trampling all over our dreams with massive steel-toed boots of apathy or even outright opposition.

Yes, we surely need a Barnabas.

Paul certainly did.

Paul didn’t start out as a massively famous and successful missionary who penned the bulk of the New Testament.  He began as a devout Jewish man named Saul who was famous for his brutal persecution of the early church.

When he encountered the resurrected Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and dramatically converted to Christianity, the disciples didn’t welcome him into the Christian fold with welcome arms either.

They were terrified of him, “not believing that he was a real disciple” (Acts 9:26).

The church thought Saul was a faker with a capital “F.”   Everyone except Barnabas, that is.

Luke writes, “But Barnabas took him (Saul) and brought him to the apostles.  He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord” (Acts 9:27).

This was Barnabas’s great spiritual gift, encouraging others in their faith and bolstering their ministry.  In fact, his real name was Joseph, but the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas, “which means ‘son of encouragement'” (Acts 4:36).

It makes sense then that Barnabas would believe in Saul when no one else did.

He wasn’t just a source of encouragement for Saul.  In the early days of the church, the Gospel message was spreading, but only to Jews at first.  When some people crossed the line and started telling Gentiles about Jesus, the church leaders weren’t too sure that this was acceptable.

So, who did they send to visit with the Greek believers in Antioch?

Barnabas, of course.  Just like he did with Saul, he put aside prejudice and “he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:23-24).

Barnabas was forever encouraging others, telling them “Don’t quit.  Don’t give up.  I see God at work in you.”

Even when others counted people out, he had the faith to see what God was doing in their lives.  Not only that, he put himself on the line in order to give the ministry of others a boost.

He didn’t just affirm God’s call on Saul’s life, he said, “I’ll come alongside and join you in your work.  I’ll travel with you.  I’ll endure hardship and persecution because I believe in the call God has placed on your heart.”

Without Barnabas, would we have Paul?  Would the Gospel have spread to Gentiles everywhere?  Would Paul’s New Testament epistles be written?

Maybe not.  It took someone with the gift of encouragement to help Saul reach the full potential of the Paul we know.

We all need a Barnabas.

And we all need to be a Barnabas for others.  Someone today needs you to be a Barnabas for them.  How will you be the encouragement they need?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Eyewitness to Murder

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 18:21

I was an eyewitness to a murder at Wal-Mart.  Not just one.  Many.  In the baby section.  Among the girls’ clothes.  Along the aisles of frozen foods.  Standing in line.  Two of them in the parking lot.

And not just at Wal-Mart.  Wherever I went on Friday, I witnessed the battering of husbands to wives, wives to husbands and parents to their children.

It was murder by words.

Sure, I lose it with my kids sometimes.  My tongue sharpens when we’re in a hurry and I’ve asked for shoes to be on feet four, now five times, and still my children play with their toys in their socks.

Sometimes I lose it when I can’t find something I need.  I fly through the house frantically shuffling papers, opening and shutting doors, shoving things aside and my kids tag behind me wanting to chat.

And then there’s pestering.  The guilt-inducing nag, nag, nagging attempts to wear me down.  Why haven’t I sewn a rag doll for her yet?  It’s been a long time since she asked me.  She clearly sees me sitting down (for the first time in 12 hours) and shouldn’t I now be able to whip out just one more project for her, because clearly I am not doing enough?

But at Wal-Mart that day I didn’t see a slightly tired and exasperated mom juggling shopping list, coupons, and three kids who touched everything, talked about everything and argued about everything.

No, it was a mom screaming at her preteen daughter about outfits.  It was a father mocking his son in the parking lot, bringing the boy to the point of humiliated tears.

I didn’t see a husband and wife disagreeing about detergent or the dinner menu for the week.  It was a wife snidely joking about her husband to a crowd and a husband screaming in anger into a cell phone.

And I was sick over it all.  The kind of sick you feel when you witness violence and you just want to intervene and rescue and make the world better.

Jesus came to bring abundant and overwhelming grace through His sacrificial death on the cross.  But, He did something else, too.  He reset standards.  He told people that good isn’t good enough.  Do more than avoid adultery, He said, don’t even throw lustful glances at a woman who is not your wife.

Do more than just avoid murder, “I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.  Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ (fool) is answerable to the court.  And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:21-22).

He said our tongues are murder weapons.

John echoed this again later, writing: “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him” (1 John 3:15).

Still, we do it.  We call each other names.  We gossip.  We slander.  We quibble and argue in a public show of disunity and disrespect.  We talk about our husbands behind their backs.

We make jokes that humiliate.  Proverbs 26:18-19 says, “Like a maniac shooting
flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”

Isn’t that what people find funny now?  We put others down and then say, “Just kidding!”  As if that makes it better.  As if that erases the damage already done by our words.

Maybe that’s not you.  Maybe you don’t do that.

But, do you ever find yourself “sharing opinions” about others, perhaps even about your friends, commenting on their parenting decisions, their career choices, their clothes, their money, their ministry?  Do you feel it necessary to share your thoughts about everything?  To rise to every occasion with a verbal slap of a sword in a duel of opinions?  To criticize and judge and judge and criticize?

James wrote: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires”  (James 1:19-20).  How often do we skip right over listening and instead jump right to the speaking part?

God held Ezekiel to the highest standard imaginable when it came to his tongue:

“I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious people. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ ” (Ezekiel 3:26-27).

God essentially glued Ezekiel’s tongue to the roof of his mouth.  The only time Ezekiel could talk was when he was saying what God wanted him to say.

What if that became the standard we used to decide when to talk and when to keep our opinions quietly tucked away in our brains rather than spewing out of our mouths?  What if we asked, is this something God Himself wants me to say?  Maybe we could give ourselves a little grace and just ask, “Is this something God would approve of me saying?”

Either way, I know I don’t meet that standard 100%.  I wonder if any of us do.

My mom had all of us kids memorize Ephesians 4:29 when we were little.  We’d bicker or start name-calling and she’d intervene and ask us to quote this verse:  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

No unwholesome talk.  Nothing hurtful.  Nothing weighted down with criticism and oozing with judgment.

Instead, we ask, “Is what I am saying right now helpful?  Will it encourage someone else and build them up?  Will it be of benefit to anyone listening?”

If not, then they are words best left unsaid.  Because words are powerful.  They are life and death weaponry in our arsenal.  We speak words of hope and people remember them for years, thriving on encouragement and being renewed by praise.  We speak words of criticism and people remember them for years, dying a slow death from the poison of language.

How can your words bring life and not death to others today?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King