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.

Bible Verses about “The Lord is My…”

  • Exodus 15:2 ESV
    The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
  • Exodus 17:15 ESV
    And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner,
  • 2  Samuel 22:2 ESV
    He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
  • Psalm 16:5 ESV
    The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
  • Psalm 18:2 ESV
    The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Psalm 23:1 ESV
    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  • Psalm 27:1 ESV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 28:7 ESV
    The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
  • Psalm 118:14 ESV
    The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
  • Psalm 119:57 ESV
    The Lord is my portion;
        I promise to keep your words.
  • Lamentations 3:24 ESV
    The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
  • Zechariah 13:9 ESV
    And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’
  • Hebrews 13:6 ESV
     So we can confidently say,
    The Lord is my helper;
        I will not fear;
    what can man do to me?”

Four playgrounds in five days because we have hope

Four playgrounds in five days.

Last week, the forecast finally felt like spring.  Spring!  Sunshine, warmth,  sun,  blue skies and more sun.  I could almost feel  my vitamin D levels rising.

I packed some snacks, sunscreen and a Batman hat for my son and we visited playgrounds all week.  Anytime we could go, we went.  We walked to the playground in our neighborhood, we stopped in at the playground in our hometown, then  we picked up my daughters from school  and drove directly to a playground half an hour away just to enjoy it.

We even headed for the beach on Friday and we found a playground there, too.

I’ve always been such a task-oriented person; playing hookie from the to-do list so we can visit another park isn’t normal for me.

But it feels like this spring has been a long time coming and I am ready for it.

Anytime the wait feels long and the winter feels interminable, spring is the most welcome gift.

That’s how I feel:  Struck with wonder at the gift and deeply grateful.  I’m spilling over with praise and gratitude that our good God gives such gifts to those who wait with expectant hope.

That little taste of spring has me wanting more.  I’m insatiable now.  I’ve carried paperwork, writing, and even sewing out to the porch so I can work outdoors instead of inside.   I’ll take a walk  in the morning and will want to walk a few miles in the evening, too.

My son feels it, also.  We leave one playground and he’s ready to  move onto another one.  We are loving it.

I’ve  been reading Psalm 71 and the subtitle for this Psalm stops me right from the beginning:

Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent

It’s a prayer for the weary and a request not to be left alone, or abandoned, or forsaken.  It’s holding out for God’s strength amid utter weakness.

It’s a cry for hope. from someone stuck in the middle of that winter that seems to never end.

This Psalm is for the poured out and the emptied, for those who have hung in there with determination and are ready to collapse into Jesus’s arms.

And this is the reminder the Psalm gives us:

God is faithful.

The Psalmist prays:

Be to me a rock of refuge,
    to which I may continually come (Psalm  71:3). 

He asks for God to be an inexhaustible source  of safety and strength.

I don’t just come today.  I come tomorrow, too.  I  come running to Him day after day, time after time.  This disappointment, this struggle, that mistake, that frustration, that delay, that season of waiting—where does it send us?

To our Rock of refuge.  We come and we come continually, because we cannot get enough of Him.  We’re desperate for His presence and we’re lost without His help.

Here’s the hope we have:

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
 You will increase my greatness
    and comfort me again (Psalm 71: 20-21, emphasis mine).

He will revive us, lift us up, and comfort us anew.  He has done it before, and He will do it again.

We know His faithfulness, His  steadfast character.  We see the testimony of God’s goodness in the past…in OUR past.

That’s why we praise.  Not only do we  run to our Refuge continually and trust Him to save us again, we keep the praises coming, too.

My praise is continually of you…

 My mouth is filled with your praise,
    and with your glory all the day.  (Psalm 71 :6, 8 ESV) .

We continually come.

God continually rescues.

We continually praise

and we continually hope.

But I will hope continually
    and will praise you yet more and more (Psalm 71: 14 ESV). 

This is what I’m feeling as I’m driven to playground after playground, taking walk after walk, dragging all of my inside work to a porch so I don’t miss a minute of sun.

I’m giving thanks, because again and again He does this, taking us through the winter, through all the cold and the wearying darkness, through the toil and the waiting, through the hard.

Thank you, Lord, for the warmth. I can’t get enough.  Thank you for the sun.  I don’t want to miss a minute of it.

Thank you for the scent of lilies in the breeze.  Thank you for mornings at a playground, picnics in the park and an afternoon at the beach.  Thank you for evening sunshine.

Thank you, Lord, for  being faithful.  Thank you for being our continual refuge.

Thank you that because of your faithfulness, we can have hope, not just for a moment, but in all seasons and at  all times.

When I Don’t Get My Way

isaiah 30

My one girl gets grumpy.

I arrive to pick her up at the end of an activity and I find her huddled on the floor, back turned to the crowd, face hidden on her knees or maybe she’s hiding under a table or in the back of a bathroom stall.

She’s not screaming or crying, but she’s definitely pouting.

With arms crossed, with feet stomping, with loud harumphs for emphasis at the end of her sentences, she tells me the crisis: Others disagreed, someone else wanted the same thing, another person got to go first, that person got something better.

But this is the bottom line: She didn’t get her way.

And now, she’s grumpy.

I understand.  I can be grumpy when I don’t get my way, too, wanting to sit out and let everybody know that I disagree with the decision and I’m sure not happy about it.

Another of my girls argues her case when she doesn’t get her way.  She argues….and argues….and argues her point until you’re knocked over by the powerful wave of her emotions and opinions.

And I understand this.  When I don’t get my way, I want to form protest marches and fight, fight, fight, too!  Instantly I think of who I can rally to “my side” and how I can convince others that my way is the right way, the best way, the only way.

Maybe if I just give the best speech, argue the best (or loudest, or longest, or most convincingly), use the best evidence and form the largest coalition I’ll win the day after all.

And my youngest girl simply cries over disappointment, not a temperamental tantrum on the scale of the hurricane tantrums we’ve seen in this family.  More like the desperately sad wail of a child who realizes the world doesn’t revolve around her…doesn’t always do what she wants or turn out the way she expects.

That’s a lesson that always stings painful and I’ve mourned myself with frustrated hurt that the world doesn’t bend to my whim or orbit around my convenience or comfort.

I don’t always get my way.

And, selfish creature that I am, I sometimes react all ugly.

Yet, while faith allows us to stand up for what is right and to speak truth in love, it demands something else.

Faith means trusting God even when things don’t go our way, when plans don’t work out, when others make decisions we disagree with, when life isn’t perfect or even when life is hard and obstacles loom large and hope doesn’t come easy.

Believing in God’s providential care isn’t faith until we’re blinded by circumstances and still trust.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us this:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith: That’s when we can’t see the end, can’t see how God could possibly work this out for our blessing and benefit, can’t imagine what God could possibly do to make this better much less make this the best.

But we trust Him anyway.

Faith means resting in the knowledge of God’s power over everything we face, even when our senses and circumstances tell us that people are in control, not God.

It seems like we rely on a boss, or a leader, or a committee chairman, or a judge, or someone in human resources ….but faith declares that it’s God, always God, only God who directs our lives.

God is my Good Shepherd, trustworthy, wise, caring, knowing, powerful.  I read the familiar promises:

God, my Shepherd!  I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk by my side (Psalm 23 MSG).

Yes, God my Shepherd leads me to places of rest and sustenance, providing what I need, sending me in the right direction, walking by my side even in the shadowy depths of the valley.

And my response can be fighting or pouting…but all my grumpiness, my protesting, my tears reveal where I’m not trusting God’s ability to control the tiniest detail of my life in His hands.

Isaiah tells me,

In repentance and rest is your salvation
in quietness and trust is your strength…  (Isaiah 30:15)

Enough of the ugly reactions, the crisis, the conflict.  Better to seek my God—-what now, Lord?  What is your will here in this place?  What will you have me do and how would You have me respond?

I choose resting in Him.

I choose a quieted heart.

I choose trust.

I choose Faith.

Originally posted August 16, 2013

ShabbyBlogsDividerJ

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.

20 Bible Verses About God’s Power and Might

verses power

  • Exodus 15:6 ESV
    Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,
        your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
  • 1 Chronicles 29:11 ESV
     Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.
  • 2 Samuel 7:22 ESV
    Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
  • Job 9:4 ESV
    He is wise in heart and mighty in strength
        —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?
  • Job 26:14 ESV
    Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways,
        and how small a whisper do we hear of him!
        But the thunder of his power who can understand?”
  • Psalm 62:11 ESV
    Once God has spoken;
        twice have I heard this:
    that power belongs to God,
  • Psalm 95:3 ESV
    For the Lord is a great God,
        and a great King above all gods.
  • Psalm 96:4 ESV
    For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
        he is to be feared above all gods.
  • Psalm 145:3 ESV
    Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
        and his greatness is unsearchable.
  • Psalm 147:4-5 ESV
    He determines the number of the stars;
        he gives to all of them their names.
    Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
        his understanding is beyond measure.
  • Isaiah 26:4 ESV
    Trust in the Lord forever,
        for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
  • Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV
    Have you not known? Have you not heard?
    The Lord is the everlasting God,
        the Creator of the ends of the earth.
    He does not faint or grow weary;
        his understanding is unsearchable.
    29 He gives power to the faint,
        and to him who has no might he increases strength.
    30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
        and young men shall fall exhausted;
    31 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.
  • Jeremiah 10:12 ESV
    It is he who made the earth by his power,
        who established the world by his wisdom,
        and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
  • Jeremiah 32:27 ESV
    “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?
  • Zephaniah 3:17 ESV
    The Lord your God is in your midst,
        a mighty one who will save;
    he will rejoice over you with gladness;
        he will quiet you by his love;
    he will exult over you with loud singing.
  • Matthew 19:26 ESV
    But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • 1  Corinthians 6:14 ESV
    And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
  • Ephesians 1:19-21 ESV
    and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
  • Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV
    Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
  • Ephesians 6:10 ESV
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might

Remembering: Silly Mom, School Buses are for Kids

Originally posted on September 9, 2011
I dropped my three-year-old off for her first day of preschool today and it reminded me of this lesson last year on my older girls’ first day of school.  Enjoy!
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“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall”
(Psalm 18:29).

We went out early on the first day of school, so full of excitement about the big day that we couldn’t stand in the house a moment longer.  My girls had been wearing their backpacks for a full five minutes before I finally opened the door and we stepped outside.

And there we stood, dad, mom, and three girls waiting, waiting, and waiting for the big yellow bus.

When it came, the girls climbed up the steps, the doors shut, and the bus pulled away.

And I wasn’t on it with them.

Because school buses aren’t for moms.

At the end of the day, my baby and I watched for the bus to return.  After it was five minutes late, I gripped my cell phone tightly waiting for a call.

After ten minutes of being late, I knew my daughters had gotten lost and placed on the wrong bus.

After fifteen minutes of being late, I thought they must have been so lost in the school, they would be locked in all night.  No one would ever find them.  My girls would simply be missing in the halls of the school forever  . . . all because I wasn’t there to speak for them!

But eighteen minutes after the bus was supposed to arrive, it finally stopped in front of our home.  And guess what?

The girls were on it.  They were safe and cheerful.  They hadn’t gotten lost for a moment

What’s more . . . they knew their room numbers and their teacher’s names and yes, even how to use the school bathroom.

I guess they survived without me.

Maybe there will be times when they struggle and feel a little lost.  Then I’ll need to to decide when to step in and rescue them and when to trust that we’ve trained them well enough to manage on their own.

Even God, the Perfect Father, navigates this fine parental balance between deliverance and training.

In Psalm 18, the writer declares that God:

“reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.

(Psalm 18:16-17).

God yanked the Psalmist out of the drowning waves and rescued him from overwhelming foes.

Not only that, the poet tells God, “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way” (Psalm 18:36).

Sometimes God knows we can’t handle this foe and we need rescue.  On other days, He gives us easy circumstances, a broad path, a relaxing walk, rather than a treacherous mountain climb up a narrow rock-filled pathway because He knows our feet are tender and uncertain.

But life isn’t always easy and our journey isn’t always a Sunday stroll on a bright and cheerful day.  God doesn’t always carry us out of tough times; sometimes He asks us to rely on all the training He has poured into our hearts and minds so that we will overcome.

Thus, in that same Psalm, we see: “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall” (Psalm 18:29).

And why can we perform these feats of wonder with God’s help?  Because He has trained us in times of peace so that we can battle through times of war.

The Psalmist says:

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze (Psalm 18:32-34).

God has exercised our limbs of faith and traveled with us in paths both broad and narrow.  Our feet have grown accustomed to the journey, becoming sure-footed like a deer’s and able to scale great mountainous heights.

And while God is always with us, never abandoning us for a moment, sometimes He chooses to walk alongside us through difficult circumstances rather than lifting us up and carrying us through them.

Maybe God is asking you to walk rather than be carried today. Perhaps you’ve tapped your feet impatiently at God, waiting for Him to place you on His shoulders and make all of these hard times just disappear.

But instead of offering you an escape route, maybe your Father God, knowing full well what is best for you, is asking you to walk through the difficult road, at least a little farther.  He will provide all that you need, the training, the strength, the energy, the patience and perseverance.  And when He sees that your “foot is slipping,” like the Psalmist, you can say, “your unfailing love, Lord, supported me” (Psalm 94:18).

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

They Will See God

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
Psalm 105:4, NIV

A few weeks ago, I waited in the line of moms and dads who were picking up their children from our church nursery.  I could see inside the room where my daughter was playing, but she couldn’t yet see me.  As the parents before me went into the room, my baby started craning her neck to see if she could find me in the crowd.  She looked up as each new adult entered the room and kept searching every face to see if it was mine.

Then she saw me.  I watched her face change from searching . . . searching . . . searching . . . to pure joy at finding Mom!!   She beamed.  She ran to me.  She practically knocked me over with her embrace.

Really, there are few moments as a mom more precious than seeing a little person so excited just to see your face.  To know that you are so very loved by someone sweet and innocent, even though you aren’t perfect or even the best.

That moment with my daughter made me think of how I should passionately and intently seek after God, for intimacy with Him and time in His presence, and for opportunities to give Him heartfelt adoration and praise and to show I love Him.  After all, He is perfect and the best!

I want to see God.  I want to do whatever it takes to have a closer relationship with Him.  Just like David, I can say, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’  Your face, LORD, I will seek” (Psalm 27:8, NIV).

Sometimes all it takes to see God is persistently pursuing His presence.  Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV).  Also in Psalm 27,  David said, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14, NIV).

My daughter kept searching the crowd of parents in the church nursery and ultimately she did see me.  I came at the appointed time.  She was not abandoned and left alone.  All that she had to do was wait and not give up.

Don’t stop searching for God’s face in the midst of your busy life, your family stresses, your ministry concerns, your health crisis, your financial struggles, your job disappointments, your heart-wrenching fears.  Keep seeking with all Your heart.  You will see God.

But, actively seek.  Sometimes we wonder why we aren’t seeing God’s presence in our lives, but we are relegating Him to 10 minutes of our day as we skim through a devotional.  Or we think that listening to a sermon and some Christian radio counts as connecting with God.  Be willing to give God your time sacrificially.  Invite Him into every part of your day and immerse yourself in His Word so that you know Him more fully.

There are other times, though, that finding God takes more than just pursuing His presence.  Matthew 5:8 tells us, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (NIV).  Seeking God also means pursuing purity.

Earlier this week, I took a day off from writing.  It was partly out of necessity because the day was so hectic with appointments, work, family and ministry.  But, it was also because I needed a time out.  Someone did something in total innocence that frustrated me.  It wounded my ridiculous pride and I reacted with some pouting and whining and, yes, I admit–a private little tantrum.

It was sin and I knew it.  I needed some time to get right with God.

As much as I could, I spent the afternoon in God’s Word, letting Him sift my heart, reveal the sin and deal with it.   I seem to have these pitfalls, these consistent sins that trip me up, hindering and entangling me (Hebrews 12:1).  Do you have some of those—-lessons that you need to learn over and over and over and you wonder if you’ll ever get it right?

Unfortunately, these sins separate me from God and obscure His face.

Fortunately—or more accurately— amazingly, God extends abundant mercy and compassion when we confess our sins to Him and ask Him to make us clean. We are promised that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV).

That day, I prayed through Psalm 51, which was David’s Psalm of repentance.  He had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed to hide the sin after she became pregnant.  Adultery.  Murder.  It seems like a lot for God to forgive, and yet God’s grace is big enough for any sin we lay at His feet.  Like David, I prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, NIV). I want a steadfast spirit, not my roller coaster reactions when I feel hurt or wronged.

Paul wrote, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1, NIV).   Purity of heart isn’t something we stumble on accidentally.  It’s not a spiritual gift that God gives to some people and not to others.  Instead, it means confessing sin and also actively pursuing purity and “perfecting holiness.”  It means asking Him to dig deep in my heart to root out the ugly sins that have such a deep hold on me, even when it hurts, even though it embarrasses me to face up to what’s really lurking in my soul.

It’s worth it– Seeing God’s face and knowing that–not only am I lighting up at finding Him in the crowd, but that He’s grinning at the sight of me washed clean and anticipating His presence.  I want a pure heart so that I can see God.  I don’t want to miss out on His presence, His peace, or His activity in my life.

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to see God?  Right now, that might just be holding on to hope with all your might.  Pursue His presence and keep waiting with expectation for God to show up in all His glory.  Do not give up.   Or, it might mean getting on your knees and asking Him to cleanse your heart and forgive you.  Then, with a pure heart, you will see God.

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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 © 2011 Heather King

I Choose to Obey

“Therefore, my brothers, 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”
(1 Corinthians 15:58).

Today is piano lesson day in my house.  I stopped giving lessons to other students when my youngest daughter was born, but I still teach my older girls once a week.  At times, this may seem like a raw deal to my daughters, having a teacher there not just for lessons, but for practice time, as well.  They might not fully appreciate me hovering over their shoulders and correcting their mistakes all week.  I change their hand positions when they shift their fingers too far.  I show them the right notes when they stray to a wrong key.  I remind them of the OTHER song they were supposed to practice this week, not just the song they really like.

In many ways, me being their mom and their teacher has been helpful, not just because I make sure they practice the songs the right way all week long, but also because I’m there to encourage them each day to keep going and not give up.

In the beginning, my oldest daughter asked me to quit about once a week.  Any time she got a new song that was just a little bit harder than the last one, she thought it was a good time to give up.  One minute, she would be super excited about mastering her old lesson, playing it 20 times so I can hear how great she is, and then I’d turn the page to a new song.  Some new notes.  A new hand position.  A new skill.  And she’d be discouraged and a little afraid.  She’d tell me that what she had learned was enough , that she was a great piano player because of how well she could play “Old MacDonald,” so there was clearly no need to play “Aura Lee.”

But, I’m her teacher and mom and I know better.  I know the new song isn’t too hard and that if she just gave it one good practice session, she’d regain confidence. Within a week she’d have mastered it and be ready for something new.  So, I tell her, “Don’t give up.  Keep trying.  You can do it.  The best things in life take hard work and the effort is worth it.”

Today, I feel like giving up.  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.  Did you really call me to this?  Did I hear correctly or am I just off doing my own thing?  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.”

Have you been there?

Have you changed your 13th diaper for a morning and thought, “I’m over this.  I’m done.   Nine months old sounds like a perfectly reasonable time to potty train.”

Have you listened to yet another fight between your kids and wanted to scream and just shut the door and hide until your husband comes home?

Have you washed every dish and bit of clothing in your house only to find the sink and hampers filled by the evening and just been totally overwhelmed by the endlessness of it all?

Have you given everything you had in ministry only to see little tangible result and watched as someone else seemed to reap success with little effort, so you just want to pack it in?

Have you worked hard to get out of debt or saved to put money aside, only to face a totally unexpected bill or rising gas prices that cut into your budget, and find that you’re never any closer to your goals no matter how hard you work or cut expenses?  And you think, “What’s the point.  Why am I trying so 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 hard to remember the vision He gave us or the call He placed on our hearts.  He knows we just want to escape sometimes and curl up in His lap for comfort and rest, but He encourages our hearts by telling us, “Don’t give up.  Don’t run away now, not when you’re so close to the reward.  It is worth it; it is all worth it.  Just take another step, go a little further.”

Today, I’ve felt a little like John the Baptist just before the end of his life.  This man had boldly proclaimed the coming Messiah, publicly baptized Jesus and personally witnessed the Holy Spirit descending like a dove with God’s voice from heaven proclaiming, “This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased.   It may seem like if anyone in Scripture had the assurance of his calling and confidence in his ministry, it was John.

Yet, when John was in prison, he sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask, “‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2, NIV).

As he sat in that prison, preparing for death, John must have begun to wonder, “Was it worth it?  Did I put everything on the line for the truth or for a lie?  Should I just give up?  Did I hear wrong from God?  Should I have stayed in the desert and never stood before a crowd to preach at all?  Was this guy even the Messiah or has this all been for nothing?”

So, Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5, NIV).   Jesus didn’t just send back a message of platitudes and inspirational quotes.  He gave John concrete evidence and specific reminders that God was at work and that it was all true and worth it.  Just like I tell my daughter at the piano, “Remember when you couldn’t play this song?  Now you can.  Remember when playing with hands together was hard?  Now it’s easy.”  I give her tangible signs of progress and success.

God gives us encouragement for those days when we question our call and think giving up sounds a whole lot better than persevering.

  • “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” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV).
  • “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).

These Scriptures remind me that it’s worth it, all the effort and sacrifice and heartache and time.  There’s a reward and blessing at the end of this as long as I don’t give up.  But, I can’t stop here.  I have to keep going, step after step after step. Even though I can’t see the end result, I can trust that to God.  All I can see is now and in this moment, I choose to obey.

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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 © 2011 Heather King

Even If He Does Not

Today, the sermon at our church was on miracles and how God uses them to bring glory to Himself and to grow faith in us.  It is always exciting to recount what God has done and give testimony, both Biblical and current, to His might and majesty.

But, today was a hard day for me to talk about miracles.  I’ve been praying for two years for a sweet baby girl, born terribly premature.  She’s fought so hard for so long, receiving a liver transplant, undergoing open heart surgery, and more.  Yesterday, though, I got the phone call saying she had passed away in the night.

Yes, it’s a hard day to think about miracles.

It’s not that I think this was too much for God or that He didn’t love this little girl enough to give her another miracle in her already miraculous life.

The hard thing for me is that I’m a question-asker.  In any room at any time, I am usually the one asking the most questions.  I am willing, sometimes even with people I hardly know, to ask them far more than the superficial sanctioned small-talk.  I’m not a “How are you doing?  Where do you live?  How’s the weather been?” kind of person.

Thus, as I’m praying for the family of this tiny girl, I’m bold enough to ask God some tough questions.  It’s at times like these I’m thankful that He is such a big God, that He allows us to lift our pain-filled faces up to His, look straight into His eyes, and ask Him, “Lord, why?  What are you doing in this situation?”

When one of Jesus’s closest friends fell sick, his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11:3, NIV).  Surprisingly, Jesus didn’t rush to their home to heal Lazarus.  In fact, by the time Jesus arrived, Martha greeted him along the path:  “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Then Mary went out, fell at His feet and said exactly the same thing,  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32, NIV). Some of the bystanders even bluntly asked, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (Luke 11:37, NIV).

These sisters didn’t hide their confusion and hurt and Jesus didn’t rebuke them for confronting Him.  In this case, Jesus quickly answered their questions.  He called Lazarus up from the tomb and displayed His power over life and death.  He asked a question in return ,“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40, NIV).

The prophet, Habakkuk, wasn’t like most of the other Old Testament prophets, who delivered messages from God.  Instead, much of what Habakkuk wrote is full of questions for God, just as Mary and Martha asked questions of Jesus. In his brief book, Habakkuk asked:

  • How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?  Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? (Habakkuk 1:2-3)
  • Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (Habakkuk 1:13)

After presenting a chapter-long list of complaints to God, Habakkuk says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1).  And God answered Him.

For us, sometimes it does become clear why God chooses to answer “no” or “wait” to our heartfelt pleas for a miracle.  I can look back now and see how God used my husband’s job loss and temporary unemployment not just for God’s glory, but ultimately for our blessing and benefit.  What seemed like harm, was actually salvation for us!

In other cases, though, our questions remain unanswered this side of heaven.

When the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to and worship King Nebuchadnezzar, they faced instant death in the fiery furnace.  The king offered them one last chance to deny their faith and worship him instead.  To this, they replied:

“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

What faith!  The miracles aren’t what we should be seeking; we should be seeking God and hoping for whatever brings Him glory.  If He rescues us, then we praise Him.  Even if God doesn’t give us the miracle we’re looking for or provide for us in the way we expect, we can, like the three men in the fiery furnace, still worship God alone.  We can trust His hand.  We can know that somehow He will be glorified even in our tragedies.

When God answered Habakkuk’s tough questions, the prophet was moved to write what my Bible notes is a “hymn of faith” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NIV).  It’s one of my favorites:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk says, “Even when we’re starving and we have no hope of a harvest, we’ll choose to praise God.”  The Message translates verse 18 as: “Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength.” It’s when we walk through the hard times with God, counting on His rule to prevail, pouring out our questions to Him and learning to trust Him, that He gives us the toughened, sure “feet of deer” and trains us how to “tread on the heights.”

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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 © 2011 Heather King

Endurance Training

I opened up this screen to write and I have my prayer journal next to me.   As I sit here, I’m overwhelmed with things I want to share with you.   I started a new prayer journal this year and I can’t wait to tell you about the verses, quotes, thoughts and prayers on each page!  It’s as if we’re two friends meeting after a long parting and I’m spilling over with things to share.

As excited as I am about God’s Word and how relevant and living it is in my life, I can’t help wondering if someone might read this and be discouraged, rather than encouraged—because maybe your quiet times haven’t been a success or you’re in a place right now where God seems silent.  Perhaps you’re new to this whole Christian life experience and you want to do things “right,” but when you sit down and follow all the “steps” of reading your Bible and praying, it just isn’t doing anything for you.

I get it.  It’s like when I open up Facebook and am greeted by posts from people who love to exercise and then share about it.  “I ran 12 miles, up hill, in the freezing rain.  Then I finished an hour-long workout video and next I’m headed to the gym for yoga class.”   You know who you are, exercise-lovers!

But that’s not me.  Today, I had a long conversation with myself, trying desperately to come up with the winning excuse not to exercise.  I lost the argument.  I exercised.   Did I love it?  Nope.  Am I glad I did it?  Definitely.

In the Bible, Paul told Timothy to “train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8, NIV).

The emphasis here, of course, is that godliness, just like physical prowess, takes training, effort, and discipline.

More than that, we’re not training for a one-time event or sprinting in a quick-to-end race.  We’re undergoing endurance training so we don’t give up in this long-term commitment that is the Christian life.  It’s easy at times to get excited by a clear act of God in our lives–an answer to a heartfelt prayer, a job after long unemployment, a good report from the doctor after an extended illness.   For a time, we’re propelled forward by the anticipation of what else God will do.  At other times, it might be a great Christian book that we just read or a speaker we just heard.  We’re thrilled with a fresh perspective and propelled forward by the encouragement and challenge of it all.

Those times are when we’re “in the zone.”  We’re running faster than we’ve ever run before, farther than we’ve ever gone and we’re not even short of breath.  It all seem so easy and so worth it.

Over time, though, those high-points fade.  They’re great for reinvigorating our Christian life, but it’s the daily walk, the steady, disciplined, never-ceasing walk, that ultimately allows us to finish the race.

In Biblical poetry, ideas are often presented in three’s, ending with the most important or greatest.   That makes the oft-quoted Isaiah 40: 31 even more encouraging to me: “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.”

If you read these posts and you’re not “soaring” right now, you’re not even “running,” and it’s all you can do to plod along—don’t give up.  Keep walking.  He will give you the grace and energy you need to not faint.  Don’t look at those around you who are zipping by and start comparing your pace with theirs.  Do what God has called you to do and don’t neglect the daily disciplines of the faith that keep you constantly moving closer to Christ.

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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 © 2011 Heather King