Need Encouragemet? Check Out These Verses

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. (Proverbs 29:25 KJV)

Teach me to do thy I will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. (Psalms 143:10 KJV)

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. (Psalms 66:16 ESV)

When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. (Psalms 94:18‭-‬19 KJV)

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9‭-‬10 KJV)

Build Each Other Up

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NKJV)


How open are you to help?

Sometimes, it can be totally awkward to ask for help. I was a shy child, and the thought of raising my hand and asking the teacher a question in class was terrifying. Something about it put me outside my comfort zone. Of course, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown out of that, but it’s interesting to see how far I’ve come.

Today, I was reflecting on the power of community. Many times when I have faced a challenge, God provided someone to guide me. Sometimes, I prayed and asked for help, other times He simply provided the help before I could even think of it. Whatever the case, I was extremely grateful.

Community is a significant part of our faith. God places loving each other as a command. Romans 13:8 states, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” We can exercise love through acts of service such as being hospitable, praying for each other, going out of our way to meet a need. But I find when it comes to correcting each other, we tend to shy away.

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Battling Through Uncertainty

My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

Psalm 130:6 (KJV)


Without batting an eye, I can tell you the top three most nerve-wrecking moments in college:

  1. The first day of class ever as a freshman…For me, it was a typical scene from a college movie. A gloomy, rainy day, and I walked into the wrong room for French. I survived, and it wasn’t really embarrassing.
  2. When final grades are posted. Even if you know your grade, something about those email notifications are absolutely unsettling. But you learn to just log in, take a look, and breathe.
  3. Starting your paper the day it’s due. There’s no better adrenaline rush than knowing you have 5 1/2 hours to write a research paper on a topic you haven’t actually researched.

These three instances have something in common: UNCERTAINTY. There was no worse feeling in those moments than thinking: What’s about to happen!? I’ve done all I can, and I have no control in this!

Beyond the classroom, uncertainty hits us in other areas of our lives. Our purpose: Am I following God’s will for my life? Our relationships: What if I don’t get married? Am I going to have solid friendships? Our finances: How am I going to pay this bill? How soon am I going to get another job? It can be completely overwhelming. Yes, God promises He will provide for us, but does that mean He will specifically answer a prayer we’ve been requesting for days, weeks, or years?

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Does Prayer “Work”?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 4:6-7)


Does prayer work?

Short Answer:

Yes.

Here’s the long answer:

What exactly do we mean when we ask the question: “Does prayer work?”

Most likely, it means, “If I pray to God, will He give what I want?”

If this is why we come to God in prayer, I’d like to encourage us to reevaluate our thinking.

Don’t get me wrong–in prayer, of course we can ask God for things. Philippians 4:6 says to let our requests be made known unto God. In short, God wants to fulfill our needs and desires. As our Heavenly Father, He loves us and wants to supply our needs, and He doesn’t want us to suffer.

I should say–BUT He doesn’t want us suffer.

This means that although we have our own desires, ultimately God knows what we need in our lives and what will harm us beyond human comprehension. The things that may harm us the most may be what we are asking for.

Understand that God’s answer to our requests may not be what we have in mind. The good news is that His answer is always better than what we have in store–even if we don’t see it yet.

It comes down to trusting God. Do you believe God is who He says He is? A loving Father, an all-knowing, all-powerful God? If so, rejoice and be glad, because anything He gives will be a gift that will allow you to be shaped into His image of love, wisdom, and strength. He gives GOOD gifts.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV)

So what happens when we pray?

Through God, I’ve been shown and fully understand that prayer is a powerful weapon. It is (and should be) our #1 weapon, our first decision–not the last resort.

God has changed my heart and transformed my life through prayer. He restores, He heals, He listens, and He answers. I’ve experienced, seen, and felt these things all through communicating with Him. I like to think prayer is having a dialogue with God, and I still am left in awe of thinking about it this way–to be able to have a constant conversation with an all-knowing God is amazing, especially knowing how weak and limited I am as a human.

I want to invite and urge you to take prayer seriously. This is your answer. You will never go wrong in seeking God.

Just being able to pray to Him is a journey in itself–watch as He will transform your life and how you will learn to surrender and trust Him. Spend time with God.

You might be thinking:

“How can I improve my prayer life?”

Here’s a list of practical things that I do that has dramatically changed my prayer life:

 

Pray.

No more “I know I need to pray more.” No more “I would pray more if my morning wasn’t so busy.” Instead of thinking or saying these things, actually PRAY. It can be on your walk, in your office desk, in the lecture hall. You have free access to God anywhere and anytime. Unfortunately, today we idealize and idolize “busyness.” Who says you have to be busy 24/7? Society. Maybe parents. Peers. Coworkers. Yourself. But the Bible reminds us about the importance of being still (not restless).

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10 KJV)

(I actually wrote a post on stillness here).

Of course this doesn’t mean don’t do anything you have to do. We have busy schedules, and that’s okay. What’s not OK, is being “too busy” for God. If you feel like you’re at this place, reevaluate some things. Check your heart. What’s the purpose behind the things you “have” to do? Truth is, you’re just too busy with the wrong things.

Be intentional in prayer. Be active in prayer. Be diligent in prayer. Do you love God? Do you want to know what He has in store for you? Do you want to lay down your life for Him? Put Him first. No more excuses.

If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15 KJV)

 

Keep a prayer journal.

This is actually something I have been meaning to do for a long time, and I finally did this week. It doesn’t have to be anything special–I’ve taken an ordinary notebook and started jotting down prayer requests–as well as how God has answered these prayers.

It’s been amazing to keep track of what and who has been on my heart to pray for–and even more amazing to see how God answers these requests. A prayer journal serves as encouragement for us to look back and see how God actually is working in our lives.

Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; (Psalm 105:5 KJV)

Also, it is so important for us to keep others in prayer. This is true love–for us to ask God to redeem others and to intervene on their behalf–so that they might have the full life that only He promises–and most importantly that they might have eternal life in heaven.

The Bible encourages us to love others as we would like to be loved. Think about how overwhelming it is when we know someone else has been praying for us. Remember to pray consistently for others–those you know and don’t know. Pray by their name, pray specifically about their situation. See how God works.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, (1 Timothy 2:1 ESV)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)

 

Incorporate Scripture in your prayer.

There is power in the Word of God. It is the source of truth, life and freedom–learn and study His Word to access these things.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

When we recite Scripture in prayer, we are affirming what God has already said. In Micah 3:6, God affirms that He is Lord and does not change. That means all the promises in the Word that He has said is YOUR portion!

Memorizing Scripture is a lifeline, especially when the enemy attacks you with doubt. Responding with the Word of God is encouraging to us and also will make the enemy flee from you. Why? Because God is powerful, and He has already conquered evil and death.

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

(Psalm 18:30 NIV)

Not only do we affirm God’s promises by incorporating Scripture in prayer, but we affirm who He is. That is, that He is almighty and capable of answering our prayers and directing us in His perfect plan.

I like to think of studying the Word as a heart-check. Learning the Word allows us to submit to what God says–and knowing that God is good, we know that doing this is the right choice. But In order to find out who God is, we must go to the source that reveals who He is–the Bible.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)

So, does prayer “work”?

Absolutely. Prayer works on hearts. Prayer works on lives. Prayer pleases God.

I urge you to pray. Cast your cares to God. Let Him heal you and show you wisdom. Praise and acknowledge who God is through prayer.

The Choice

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

(John 10:10 NIV)


I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure how to start off this post. It’s going to be a bit more personal than my previous ones, but I do hope and pray that sharing my experience will bless and encourage whoever is reading in some way.

So, today I started my summer internship, and well, it was hard. I was able to spend the first few hours of the day meeting other interns, which was definitely my favorite part of the day. I met undergrad and grad students, and I always find it fascinating to learn about other people, especially their goals and dreams. At this point, I was convinced I was going to love this place.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t love it now. I really appreciate the fact that I am here and what my assignment is. My co-workers are very kind, hardworking, and friendly. What shocked me was my workload, however. I expected to have assignments, deadlines and projects, but I just wasn’t expecting to get so much work so soon. I felt I entered this internship fairly, with an open mind, but now I was thinking, “God why did you bring me here? I can’t handle this.” The last thing I needed was stress in the summer.

Let me now trace back to a blog post I wrote a couple weeks ago called “The Power of Encouragement.” One of the points I expressed  was that I’ve seen God use other believers in my life to encourage me in different ways that I knew had to be from Him–often times, He uses these people to meet me right where I am.

Over the weekend, preparing for the internship, I naturally felt nervous, yet I was able to see how God provided for me while I was stuck in this emotion. A ministry leader I hadn’t spoken to or seen in years messaged me just to say that he’s been keeping my brothers and I in prayer during the past few years. A friend from a past retreat also reached out over the weekend to share a scripture that was on her heart and just to say she’s praying for me. Words cannot express how much I needed their encouragement. I wouldn’t have even thought that these two would have reached out to me. Nevertheless, I think this is a great example of how obeying God’s direction and acting on the commands that He places on your heart can greatly minister to others and ultimately reflect His awesome love.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  (2 Cor 1:3-4 NIV)

Looking back to this moment after a long day gave me encouragement.

But then I started thinking, what if this never even happened? What do we do when we don’t clearly see encouragement in our lives? How do we gain hope when there seems to be none or nobody in sight? Although God is always present, sometimes it’s hard to be reminded of His goodness and comfort. It’s easy to feel distant from Him.

In those times, I think it’s important to remember and understand one, simple fact:

God is a good God. No matter what is happening in life, God is a good God. This is a fact that never changes.

We have access to a good God as believers. But Satan can catch us in a snare–that is, a trap–of disappointment and discouragement. It is essential that we understand that this is not of God. Negative thoughts, fears, and insecurities are not of God. It’s not enough to even acknowledge that these are attacks from the enemy–we must reject these emotions in the name of Jesus. There is power in that name.

We may be asked to do big tasks on this earth–ones we feel completely unqualified for. Yet God has equipped us to do all things that come in our path. He’s equipped us with the grace to get through the day before it has even started.

This is what encourages me. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but God hasn’t given me life to worry about it. He’s given me rest to rejoice in it.

Now it’s hard for me to obey. It’s hard for me to accept this truth I cannot always see, but faith itself is the hope in things that are not seen (Hebrews 11:1). So I’m taking a stand to hold onto the Lord’s promises, remembering that He has provided for me before (even this past weekend!)

In all of this, I realize how essential it is to submit my way to the Lord. My way–my mind, my actions–and He will bring it to pass. I have a long summer ahead, but I’ve already been thanking Him for all the breakthroughs, strengths, and lessons that will come to pass. I realize how much my life is not about me at all. I’ve been so worried about my performance that I became caught in the enemy’s trap of despair. But when I realize that there’s a reason God has placed me in this particular experience, my performance is no longer this heavy thing looming above my head–rather it’s my performance for God that counts. I don’t know why He brought me here, but I trust that if I submit my ways to Him in all things, He will bring this to pass and in some way, me being here will glorify Him.

My experiences all come down to a choice: falling into the enemy’s trap–where my fears and my doubts reside–or serving God–my Rock, my Redeemer–instead.


I thought I’d end this post with a song I feel fits the topic. Listen and read the lyrics–I feel it has some serious, thought-provoking ideas to take away.

Jaeson Ma | Glory

“Give It Up” for 2015

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. (Proverbs 26:11 NLT)


As winter break comes to a close, I’ve found myself worried when I think about spring semester.

For me and other college students, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by upcoming classes/workload, applying to internships, and other future-related things. On top of that, it’s easy to compare our successes with others, who seem to have it “better” than we do. These two habits are quite addicting but are such a destructive combination — they set a negative attitude that can last for hours of our day to weeks, months, and even years. We can chain ourselves in a prison through our thoughts alone without even realizing it.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Proverbs 26:11 (above) in my Bible reading, and it stuck in my mind.

There’s so much depth in comparing “foolishness” to “vomit.” Vomit is unpleasant and putrid. It’s something that was once in you, but has been purged. It’s no longer a part of you–in fact, it’s so vile that you shouldn’t even want a part of it. It makes no sense to even think about wanting it back.

Our “foolishness” (aka sin) is something vile and putrid as well. We should want no part in it. Unfortunately, because we are sinful in nature, we are drawn to these sinful “pleasures.” The funny thing is, they are actually harmful to us and have no value. They steal our relationship with Christ.

When I finished reading this verse, I asked myself: What is something in my life that I keep returning to even though it harms me?

The first thing that stuck out to me was fear. I have a habit of letting fear seep into my thoughts. I never even thought to consider fear as the same “foolishness” described in this verse, but I soon realized how necessary it was to do so.

God promises us countless times in His Word to trust Him, and that He will never leave us. I read online that the phrase “Fear not” is stated 365 times in the Bible! And yet, despite these promises, I continue to fear when stresses come my way. If God Himself wants me to know that I have no reason to be afraid, then it’s foolish–simply useless–for me to continue.

Of course, it’s hard not to fear when we don’t know the future–when we’re faced with obstacles that seem IMPOSSIBLE to overcome. Like any other harmful habit we indulge in, fear steals our hope and faith in Christ, and it blinds us to what He is doing and going to do in our lives.

Nevertheless, when we choose to walk away from our “vomit”–whether it is fear, temptation, etc.–we are choosing to embrace a beautiful, fulfilling life. God loves us, and He wants us to live our lives fully in peace in whatever state we are in (see Philippians 4:11.)

So, for 2015, I’m choosing to give up fear.

What are you planning to give up for the New Year?