Bible Verses for When You Need Strength

  • Nehemiah 8:10 NIV
    Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
  • Psalm 22:19 NIV
    But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
        You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
  • Psalm 27:1 NKJV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    Whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the strength of my life;
    Of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 28:7-8 NIV
    The Lord is my strength and my shield;
        my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
    My heart leaps for joy,
        and with my song I praise him.
    The Lord is the strength of his people,
        a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
  • Psalm 29:11 CSB
    The Lord gives his people strength;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.
  • Psalm 37:39 NKJV
    But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
    He is their strength in the time of trouble.
  • Psalm 46:1 NIV
    God is our refuge and strength,
        an ever-present help in trouble.
  • Psalm 118:14 NIV
    The Lord is my strength and my defense;
        he has become my salvation.
  • Psalm 119:28 NIV
    My soul is weary with sorrow;
        strengthen me according to your word.
  • Psalm 138:3 NKJV
    In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
    And made me bold with strength in my soul.
  • Proverbs 18:10 NASB
    The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
    The righteous runs into it and is safe.
  • Isaiah 12:2 NIV
    Surely God is my salvation;
        I will trust and not be afraid.
    The Lordthe Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
        he has become my salvation.”
  • Isaiah 33:2 NIV
    Lord, be gracious to us;
    we long for you
    .
    Be our strength every morning,
    our salvation in time of distress.
  • Isaiah 40:29 NIV
    He gives strength to the weary
        and increases the power of the weak.
  • Isaiah 40:31 NIV
    but those who hope in the Lord
        will renew their strength.
    They will soar on wings like eagles;
        they will run and not grow weary,
        they will walk and not be faint.
  • Isaiah 41:10 NASB
    ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
    Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
    Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
  • Habakkuk 3:19 NIV
    The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
        he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
        he enables me to tread on the heights.
  • Mark 12:30 NIV
    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV
    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  • Ephesians 3:16 NIV
     I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
  • Ephesians 6:10 NIV
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
  • Philippians 4:13 NIV
    I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

We choose again today

I regretted ever starting in the first place.

It hadn’t been the plan for the day, wasn’t on my agenda, and didn’t appear on my to-do list.

But as I swept through my house doing my morning cleaning, I reached into my son’s closet to put something away and recoiled in horror.

This closet was at capacity.

More like over-capacity.

So I began the task.  I was “just” going to clear out a few things, “just” get rid of the boxes, “just” pull out the baby toys to donate, “just” put some clothes into storage, “just, just just….”

Until, of course that “just” meant the entire surface of the bedroom was covered with stuff from the now-empty closet.

This task sabotaged my entire morning, muscling everything else I intended to do that day out of the way.

At some point, I almost gave up.  I almost shoved it all back into the closet and shut the door because I did not have time or energy or patience or anything to tackle this project right then.

And so there was the choice….

Push through?  Persevere?  Take one more step and then another?

Or give up?  Step backwards?  Regress?

This is the same for us.

Once we choose to step out, we have to then choose whether to keep going.

Obeying God, following Him in faith, answering His call, choosing righteousness, putting down bad habits and picking up spiritual disciplines:  These are not one-time decisions.

There is the choosing….and then there is the choosing again and again and again.

I decide today to follow Jesus.  And I decide all over again tomorrow.

Giving up, of course, feels easier in the moment, but then my son wouldn’t have a clean closet and I’d feel the waste of starting a project and never finishing it.

Abraham chose to obey God no matter what.  When God called him in the night to journey up a mountain and sacrifice his promised son, Isaac, Abraham went.

I’ve always marveled at Abraham’s immediate act of obedience.

He didn’t waiver or question, pray over it for a while or seek counsel from others.

No, God called and “Abraham rose early in the morning….” and started on the path to obedience.

But here’s what I never noticed before:

On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance  (Genesis 22:3-4 NASB).

Abraham walked three days before he even saw the mountain God had called him to.

That meant he had three nights to wrestle with the task, three days to decide whether to keep moving forward or turn around and head back home.

He had three days to chicken out.

In his book, Drawing Near, John Bevere says:

“Why a three-day journey?  I believe He gave Abraham time to think it over, even to turn back.  It is one thing to initially move when you hear the voice of God, but what about the follow-through?” (p. 79 ).

Follow-through.

That’s what faith-journeys take.

Obedience doesn’t mean anything if it’s only partial obedience, or halfway obedience, or “I’ve changed my mind and I’d rather give up now” obedience.

And this matters for us because some days obedience comes easy.

The call from God feels fresh and exciting.

Our friends encourage us.
The sermon reaffirms us.
Our quiet time feels vibrant and alive.
We see the evidence of tangible success and real impact.

But that’s not everyday.

Some days we wonder if we ever even heard God calls us.

Our friends are absent, unsupportive, or unaware.  Maybe we even face detractors who discourage us and assure us of defeat.

God seems silent.

Nothing appears to make any difference and we are so small, so insignificant.  Failure feels imminent.

We are weary and weak and we can’t even see the blurry outline of the mountain anywhere in the distance.

It’s hard to keep moving forward when we’re overlooked, when we question our offering, when we lose hope for the future, when the mess we’re in threatens to bury us.

Maybe today is the day you feel eager to obey.  Or maybe today you feel overwhelmed and ready to quit.

Today might be the first day of your journey, or the third, or the twenty-third, or the one-hundred-and-third.

Regardless, today is the day to choose as Abraham did:  We choose to follow through.  We choose to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 ESV).

No turning back.

No turning back.

Originally published October 2016

Bible Verses About Overcoming

  • John 1:5 ESV
    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
  • 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 8:37 ESV
    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
  • Romans 12:21 ESV
     Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV
    But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 2  Peter 2:19-20 ESV
    They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves[h] of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
  • 1 John 4:4 ESV
    Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
  • 1 John 5:4 ESV
     For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
  • 1 john 5:5 ESV
     Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
  • Revelation 3:11-12 ESV
    I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
  • Revelation 3:21 ESV
    The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Bible Verses about Diligence (for the days you feel like giving up)

  • Deuteronomy 4:9 ESV
    Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—
  • Deuteronomy 6:17 ESV
    You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you.
  • Proverbs 10:4 ESV
    A slack hand causes poverty,
        but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
  • Proverbs 12:14 ESV
    From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good,
        and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him.
  • Proverbs 12:24 ESV
    The hand of the diligent will rule,
        while the slothful will be put to forced labor.
  • Proverbs 13:4 ESV
    The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
        while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
  • Proverbs 14:23 ESV
    In all toil there is profit,
        but mere talk tends only to poverty.
  • Proverbs 21:5 ESV
    The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
        but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
  • Jeremiah 31:16 ESV
    Thus says the Lord:
    “Keep your voice from weeping,
        and your eyes from tears,
    for there is a reward for your work,
    declares the Lord,
        and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
  • Romans 12:8 NIV
    if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV
    Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
  • 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.
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV
     For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
  • 1 Timothy 4:15-16 NIV
    Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
  • Hebrews 6:11 NIV
    We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.
  • 2 Peter 1:10 ESV
     Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
  • 2 Peter 3:14 ESV
    Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

Praying with a Penny Cup

The penny plinked into the cup and I walked away.

It was such a simple thing.  The penny pressed into the palm of my hand and then a quick release, a letting go, and I was done.

Before my penny cup, I thought that I was just persevering in prayer like Jesus told His disciples to do in Luke 18.

There was the widow who came before the unfair judge day after day to demand justice, and finally he gave in because he was annoyed and tired of hearing her complain about it.

There was the neighbor awakened in the middle of the night by obnoxious and persistent knocking at his front door.  He finally opened up the door and stood there in his pajamas listening to his neighbor’s plight—an unexpected guest, no bread in the house, could he share?  Yes!  Take it!  Take anything as long as you stop that knocking, knocking, knocking so I can get some sleep already.

So, Jesus tells us, if an unrighteous judge and a sleep-deprived neighbor gave into requests just because of tenacity, wouldn’t God who loves us respond when we pray and pray and pray and don’t give up praying?

Don’t stop praying.  Even when you’re weary and exhausted and hopeless and think it doesn’t do a bit of good, keep pushing and pushing on in prayer.

But my idea of persevering in prayer wasn’t really prayer any more.  It was more like fretting in front of God’s throne and worrying about a problem before a divine audience.

All night long, I mentally paced in prayer: Lord, here’s my problem and here’s what I need You to do to fix it.  

I plead and argued and orated and then when I’d run out of things to say, I started all over again.

Hour after hour ticked by on my bedside clock and still I continued.

God loves when we pray. We can bring anything and everything to Him in prayer and He never tires of hearing us and never turns us away.

But I never released my need to Him.  I was talking at Him without ever letting go or pausing for even a second to listen or be still.

I was wallowing in anxiety and putting a holy ‘stamp of approval’ on it by calling it prayer.

John wrote:

 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for (1 JOhn 5:14-15 HCSB).

I was praying as if He couldn’t hear me.

….as if my will mattered more than His will.

….as if only my solution to the problem was acceptable.

….as if He wasn’t sovereign or compassionate—wasn’t able or didn’t care to rescue me.

… as if He was against me instead of for me.1 john 5

It was a prayer of unbelief.

Then, I read the idea in a discipleship magazine: a penny cup.

It’s not the cup that mattered or even the penny.  Writing a prayer on a slip of paper and slipping it into a prayer box would do just as well.

What matters is a physical reminder to release my white-knuckled grip on my problem and give it over to the God who loves me so.

Every time I  found a wayward penny on a dresser or on the floor, I picked it up and prayed with a quick whisper, “Lord, please take care of this need.  I trust You to deliver me.” Then I released the prayer to Him as I dropped the coin into my penny cup.

I didn’t tell Him how to fix the problem.  I didn’t wrestle with Him for hours every night over the need.

I prayed day in and day out (you’d be surprised how many pennies you find when they become part of your prayer life), but always I gave the problem to Him instead of holding onto it myself.

When the penny cup filled to the brim, I poured out the coins and started again.  For years, I prayed about this one issue, giving it over to God one…..penny….. at….. a….. time.

For the first time, I really prayed.  I didn’t fret and argue and run endless circles of desperate pleading around God.

I persisted in prayer by expressing my need while leaving the solution in His hands.

And God rescued me.  Not in the way I expected.  Not in the timing I expected.  Not without hardship and hurting or obedience or faith in the hard places.  But the deliverance was miraculous and beautiful and perfect in the way only God’s deliverance can be.

Originally published 02/11/2015

The ark wasn’t built in a day so don’t give up

This morning, I think: “The ark wasn’t built in a day either.”

I think it as my baby girl (too big to be called “baby,” she tells me) bursts into my room far too early to announce, “Mom, it’s morning time!” And I’m tired.

The ark, remember the ark.

I’m pouring cereal and reviewing ancient China with a girl who is taking her big test today.

I pulled my other girl’s hair back into a ponytail, but it was the wrong kind.  She wanted it differently.  Using her hands, she tries to explain it to me and I’m slow, so I lean down trying to understand and experiment with the brush until I get it just right.

That ark takes time to build.

They’ve dressed and stepped into shoes.  I’ve reminded and reminded them, brush your teeth, grab your back pack, zip your coat.  Hurry!  It’s time!

We huddle at the bus stop with our backs to the February wind and I snuggle close to block them from the strength of the blasts.

Then I whisper a prayer for their day, for their tests and their friends and their obedience and their learning and how proud I am of all their hard work.

Just building an ark here.  Just taking the time.

Because sometimes you wake up tired.  Sometimes you’d rather pull those covers right on up to block out the sun and the cold and sleep away some of the day and lounge away the other half in pajamas and slippers.

Sometimes you just need the reminder that what you are doing has significance and value.

Sometimes you need to know….This Matters.

Even if today isn’t the day you pound the final peg into the ark and the animals step on two-by-two and the rain falls…

Even if you don’t see the final results or immediate success, know that every peg you place and every board you lay has purpose.

It takes about nine months for God to intricately fashion a human life in a womb.
It takes 365 days for the earth to circle that sun, spinning around in its orbit.
It even takes 8 minutes from the sun to stretch its light down to our planet.
And it took decades for Noah to build that ark.

Progress happens over time, seconds and minutes and day after another day of perseverance, dedication and refusing to give up.

How often Noah must have woken up to a new morning and wanted to stop.

Surely there were days it felt impossible to construct a massive floating vessel without power tools and contractors.

Surely the ridicule from the masses and those he considered his closest friends—yes even from his family—must have wearied his soul.

Surely there were moments he just needed God to reassure him that he wasn’t crazy, that he heard correctly, that what he was doing was necessary.

Some days it must have seemed so hard.  Some days maybe he wanted to give up.

Yet, had he given up one decade….one year…one month…one week….one day too soon, had he abandoned the project and left the ark unfinished, it wouldn’t have saved anyone.  God couldn’t use an unfinished ship to rescue, save, and redeem.

God saved him…and us…because “Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (Genesis 5:22).

Just one simple verse; it makes it sound so easy.

But I know the truth.  I know every time I sit down and open the Scriptures up on my kitchen table on days when I’m tired and the interruptions just keep coming, that I can’t give this up.  Even if the inspiration doesn’t come, even if God seems silent or my soul unstirred, still I build this ark.

When the chores seem endless…
when you’re deep-soul tired…
when you can’t seem to find your joy and don’t know where you lost it…
when no one says, “thank you” or appears to notice you serving them…
when others ridicule your efforts and tell you it doesn’t matter…
when you’re teaching but they don’t seem to understand….
when you’re pouring everything you have into this but you don’t see results….
when you give with passion and what you receive back is criticism….

You get up in the morning and you lay one more peg and one more board into the ark that God told you to build.

You do everything just as God commanded you, not because it’s easy or fun or seems so rewarding in the moment.

We do it because we’re building into eternity:

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”
(2 Corinthians 4:16-17).

Originally published 2/1/2013

If you want to get there, first you have to be here

galatians 6

My five-year-old has taken to the piano like a hummingbird to nectar.

She watched her older sisters play for years and could not wait for her turn to tackle those first assignments in the beginner piano book.

Of course, it starts out so easy. Follow the pictures, plunk down the right finger and ‘presto’—a song! It might only be ten notes long, but it’s still a song and she aced it with no effort at all.

Then the lesson grew a little harder. She needed to read actual notes and sometimes those notes went in unexpected directions.

You mean not all songs use just four keys?

After one mistake, she collapsed into deep sobbing. I finally calmed her down enough to understand what she was saying. “I (sob) can’t (sob) do (sob) it (big, big, big sobbing).”

I’m her teacher and her mom, though, and I know better.

I know that one wrong note the first time you play the song does not mean you can’t do it.

I tried to tell her, “When you play the piano, sometimes you hit some wrong notes. You don’t play every song perfectly the first time you play it. You have to make mistakes and fail sometimes, but you just don’t give up. You practice and practice and work hard and then you get it right.”

After that award-winning Mom-advice, she looked right at me and whined, “I don’t want to play the piano then.”

She was ready to give up, ready to pack it all in and call this whole experiment in piano playing a complete failure at the grand old age of five years old because it took a little effort and because failure was part of the learning experience.

Have you felt like giving up recently?

Have you made a few mistakes and decided maybe God should pick someone else for this job?

I’ve been there so many times before.

I’ve looked around at where I’m at and how hard it is, and I’ve thought, “I’ve gone far enough.  I’ve exerted enough effort.  It’s just too costly and time-consuming and emotionally draining and I think I need to stop.  Take a vacation.  Escape.  Quit and do something easier.  Settle for something less.  I just can’t do this anymore, God.  I’m not seeing any results, blessing or reward, so this just doesn’t seem worth it.”

Sometimes it’s just fine with me to stay on the beginner lessons and never move on to mastery.

Because this is just too hard.

But, God’s our Teacher and our Father and He knows better.

He knows that sometimes we grow tired and weary and that in those moments, it’s difficult to remember the vision He gave us or the call He placed on our hearts.

He knows sometimes we want to pack it in and curl up in His lap for a rest.

He knows that sometimes the only way we learn is to make a mistake or two, to try again, to practice and practice and inch our way forward….but that what we really want is instant victory.

If that’s you today and you feel like giving up and giving in, look ahead.

I tell my daughter not to give up because one day she wants to play this song and that song and she wants to play harder music and beautiful pieces.

And if you want to get there, first you need to be here.  

Here might be hard.
Here might be costly.
Here might be lonely.
Here might be exhausting.
Here might seem unimportant or it might seem to be taking forever and can’t we move on to something new now because frankly I’m tired of waiting and I’d rather just skip to the end?!

When all you can see is the difficulty of the moment, it’s hard to keep going.

Remember the goal.

Then take the next step.

You can’t conquer everything in a day.  It wont always be easy. You’ll falter.  You’ll have to persevere.  But that next step…the one right there infront of you….that’s all you need to do today.

So, take heart.

Do not give up.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7, NIV).

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).

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.

Is it time for the bus yet?

1 corinthians 15

When you’re one-and-a-half years old there are a few things you need to know.

Mom and dad are the boss.

Don’t flush things down the toilet.

Don’t eat the cat litter or the cat food or really anything that mom has not put on a plate and handed you to eat.

And this: It’s way more fun when your sisters are home from school.

My son has figured out that the secret to a happy day is not spending the day at home with mom all by his lonesome self.

This morning, my five-year-old tried to walk out the door to school and this baby boy grabbed a hold of her backpack, screaming, pulling her back away from the door and would not let go. Would. Not.   I practically had to crowbar his hand off so she wouldn’t miss the bus.

Our conversations yesterday went like this:

Andrew at 10:00 a.m.:  Bus?

Mom (that’s me): No, not yet.  No Bus.

Andrew at 10:30 a.m.:  Bus?

Mom: No.  No bus.  Not yet.

Andrew at 11:00, 11:15, and again at 11:30:  Bus?

Mom: No, buddy.  No bus.

Andrew every 5 minutes from 11:30 to 12:20:  Bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus, bus?

Mom: Nap time.

Andrew the moment I pick him up from his crib at 2:30 and then at 3:00 and 3:15 : Bus?

Mom: Almost, babe.  So close.

Andrew at 3:25: Bus?

Mom:  Yes.  Bus. Absolutely.  We will go get the girls from school now.  It may be a bit early, but by golly we are driving to the school right this second.

Andrew:  Shoes?

Yes, dear one, shoes.  Yes, we will load into the minivan and wait in the pick-up line and get our girls from school and then your day will be perfect.

You gotta love such focused determination and single-minded purpose!

In 2 Samuel, I read about a mighty warrior named Eleazer.  The Philistines gathered for battle and Israel retreated. They took one look at the size and force of the enemy and ran away.

Eleazer didn’t, though.

He stayed right where he was…alone….and faced down the enemy.

Apparently, he ‘stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword.’ (2 Samuel 23:10 NIV).

Not only did he survive against impossible odds, he single-handedly won a victory for Israel that day: “The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead” (2 Samuel 23:10 NIV).

One man fought back a horde with such determination that his hand had to be pried off his sword at the end of the battle.

Yes, by himself.  He defeated the Philistine army on his own.

His fellow-soldiers slunk back after abandoning the battlefield, but they didn’t have anything to do. No enemies to fight off. No victory to win. All they did was pillage the dead bodies for weapons and armor.

You gotta love it, this focused determination and single-minded purpose.

Maybe you’re like me.  Maybe you give up too easily.

If I were Andrew, I’d probably throw in the towel the first time I said, “bus?” and mom said, “No.”

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t stand ground on the battlefield alone when all my fellow soldiers abandoned the field.  And I probably wouldn’t slash at the enemy until my hand froze in place on the hilt of my sword.

But I should.

Because God calls us to supernatural courage and perseverance.

Sometimes we think His calling and His will means open doors and easy progress.  We think if this is His plan, He’ll remove every obstacle, every difficulty, every enemy from our path.

And then, at the first obstacle, or when it gets hard or even uncomfortable, we question.  Did you bring me here, God?  Is this your plan, God?  Are you really at work here? 

It takes discernment, of course, to know that God has called you to this ministry, this relationship, this place, this job, this stance, this challenge.  He’s brought you here and it’s hard. There are days when you’re weary. Maybe you want to give up.

When trouble comes, don’t question God, look to Him for help.

Go back to the calling.  Remember what God said.

Then, knowing that God has brought you here, remember that He will bring you out.  He will not abandon you.  So, stand strong.  Don’t abandon the battlefield.

Paul says it like this:

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 (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV).

What is your favorite verse about perseverance?
Here are 35 Bible verses to read on perseverance and not giving up.

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.

Invisible Grace That Now I See

My oldest daughters were still preschoolers when our library hosted a dance party for kids.  We decided to see what a dance party for tiny tots looked like.

There was some Hokey Pokey and something like Sweatin’ to the Oldies.  My kids jumped into the middle of the room and boogied down with the best of them while I sat criss-cross applesauce on the edge of the circle and smiled.

And I marveled at one of my mom friends, who hokey-pokied with the best of them, dancing with her only son.

How does she do it?  I wondered.

People asked me the same question for years as I worked from home with young kids, balancing work production with Candy Land breaks, juice cup refills, baby doll changes, and searches for Barbie’s perpetually missing shoe.

But I told them that it wasn’t so amazing for me as a momma to three.  My kids played with each other (with periodic fights, of course).  How much more amazing was the mom with one child!

Besides, somehow we made it through despite the hard days.  The kids ripped the house to shreds and pieces while I worked and I couldn’t come behind them and clean up or cajole them all day to pick up their own blocks, Barbies, babies, Little People, dollhouse, movies, crayons, and dress-up.

Some days I felt like capital-F Failure mom for too much TV time and too little creative play.  There were times I rocked a tiny screaming baby while crying from fatigue myself and I thought:  I….can’t….do…..it….all.   That’s a realization that hurts.

Some nights I coached myself in preparation for my husband’s call on his way home from work: Good wives don’t explode about their day to a weary husband stressed with his own stuff.  Good wives don’t complain about fighting children and the two-year-old who dumped a bar of soap in the fish tank.  Good wives don’t cry on the phone while they are making dinner in the kitchen, hiding out from the living room that is covered in princess dresses and tiaras, with a screaming baby on her hip and two preschoolers in the play room battling out who had the doll first.

But of course, my husband would ask the question: How was your day?  And what do you do then but explode into an unintelligible mess of tears while you stir the spaghetti?

We worked through those tough days, and it took discipline, a schedule, planning, a dose of humor, reasonable expectations and grace, such incredible grace.Silhouetted female in front of sunset sky

So often, we miss this grace, this invisible presence of God and the way He helps us through.  We think grace is only the obvious, only the easy, only the deliverance from and not the deliverance through.

Yet, sometimes there’s nothing simple about it.  Sometimes even grace is messy and difficult.

Occasionally, grace is God stretching our miniscule faith.  We feel the aches and pains of growth, the throbbing in our souls and we think, “I can’t do it, not one minute more, not one single day.”  But there we are, rising with the sun again, giving it another try, and leaning hard on Jesus, somehow making it through.

This past week, I paused for thanks, amazed that somehow God helped me have a productive day even with three daughters home on summer vacation.

That’s when God shone light on the invisible grace from all those past years.  In the blindness of the moment, I’d missed it.

He used almost seven years of me typing medical reports at my computer with kids at my feet to prepare us for the here and now of me writing with young children.

God doesn’t waste the tough days, difficult seasons, dry spells, or training times for any of us.  He’s a Redeemer of each season, a recycler of past refuse, a Creator of all things beautiful in their own time, and He is surely working in you today in preparation for tomorrow.

That’s how God worked in David:

He chose David His servant
and took him from the sheepfolds;
He brought him from tending ewes
to be shepherd over His people Jacob—
over Israel, His inheritance.
He shepherded them with a pure heart
and guided them with his skillful hands (Psalm 78:70-72 HCSB).

God didn’t need a palace-trained king.  He needed a shepherd for His people, so He taught David out in the fields, long before this shepherd donned the crown and the robe and ruled as King of Israel.

God had a plan all along.

We may only see the now-invisible grace in the looking back.

For now, we have to grip on with white-knuckled determination, knowing that He’ll use this for His glory, knowing it won’t be wasted, knowing somehow He’ll prepare us for the future with Him.

…Knowing grace is here even when it’s invisible.

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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

Tap-Dancing and Life

She tossed open the box from Payless and snatched out the two shiny black shoes with metal plates on the bottom.

Tap shoes: Her little six-year-old heart’s great desire! She slipped her feet in and immediately started performing.

Then my eight-year-old crammed her feet into the shoes and put on a grand show.  My three-year-old even stepped into the shoes and shuffled round the kitchen a bit.012

They were like magic shoes, all shiny and loud, and they transformed any girl into a superstar on a grand stage.

On the first day of tap lessons, my girl clip-clopped her way into the dance studio along with the other excited students. I heard them take those first steps onto the wooden floor, hesitant at first, and then heard them break into freestyle tap routines of their own.

How could they resist?  This studio and those magic shoes made them all feel like Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire.  It was inspiration and joy and visions of grandeur accompanied by tip-tapping rhythm.

Then the lessons began, and the order to contain the disorder…the structure, the routine, the method to the madness.

It’s a slow realization for a kid, but eventually it comes: tap dancing doesn’t just mean slamming your feet on the floor in any combination of athletic flailing you choose.

You have to practice.

Bummer.

You have to watch and listen and then move in just the right way.  You have to drill and rehearse and repeat.

For a week, I asked my daughter to “shuffle” and “flap,” and practice, practice, practice.  Then, because I know absolutely nothing at all about tap dancing, I asked her if she was doing it right (because, after all, how was I to know?).

She rolled her eyes at me occasionally and huffed loudly at times, blowing her bangs up off her forehead in exasperation.

Reluctantly or not, though, she practiced.  When she returned to class and shuffled correctly and the teacher announced, “You all must have been practicing,” that was the reward.  My daughter beamed.

She loves tap, she declares.

Life and tap-dancing, they can convince us all at times that inspiration is all we need.  They can woo us into running on spiritual and emotional highs.  We’re at our best.  It’s fun and grand (and noisy perhaps).  And the lessons and the practice come easy.

Quiet times are easy, too, when God is speaking so clearly we can hear His voice ringing in our ears. When that time with Him is overflowing, it’s no great discipline to carry our bucket to the Well.

And we have these seasons with Him, where we’re hearing and learning and it’s thrilling to be used and useful, to see ministry grow and faith deepen, to see prayers answered and miracles happen, to read God’s Word and actually feel it tingling in our souls.

It’s a slow realization for us, perhaps, but eventually it comes: This walk with God isn’t always easy and the emotions and the highs and the results we expect aren’t always immediate or obvious.

Truly, it’s discipline.

It’s waking up, pouring that cup of tea and opening up that Bible not because it feels so good, but because this is how we grow over time.

It’s going to church even when the sermon isn’t about your needs and singing even on days when it’s hard to really mean the words on the screen.

It’s praying even when you don’t sense the connection and it feels like silent heaven and empty air.

It’s committing to Bible study even when you’re busy, tired, distracted, complacent and just downright don’t feel like it.

Yes, it’s practice and rehearsing, repeating, growing slow and steady, committing and then choosing not to give up–not today, not tomorrow, not a week from now.

It’s feeling the desperation of the deer panting after water and heading to the stream even when it’s elusive and difficult to find.

And like, Elijah, it’s listening for God’s voice even in despondency, depression and despair.  He stood on that mountain and listened for God.  Even after the mighty wind passed by, the earthquake ceased shaking, and the fire abated, still Elijah listened.

He could have given up: God’s not speaking.  I couldn’t see Him in the big and the obvious, the glorious and spectacular, the emotional or the ear-shattering.

He could have headed back into the cave and abandoned the effort.

And then he would have missed it.

No, Elijah continued to stand, waiting, listening, still.

And God spoke.

Sometimes it’s there in the quiet that we hear God simply because we haven’t given up.  We’ve continued to stand in His presence beyond the silence, faithfully and determinedly waiting…listening…still.

Beyond the point of inspiration, fun, glory, and ease, we discipline ourselves to listen.  And so we hear.

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