Back in the day when there were still brick and mortar Christian bookstores, you could buy business sized cards with verses or encouraging words on them. Then you could pass them out or put them in places where you could see them. I came across one the other day as I was cleaning out a drawer looking for something. The card references Philippians 4:13,” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It also reminds me that the task ahead of us is never as great as the power within us. And that power is the power of the Holy Spirit. All of us need encouragement occasionally and some more than others. We have never received a guarantee that believing will make our lives a piece of cake. Jesus only promised to walk with us through whatever was happening at the time. Life is challenging, especially right now. So, along with Philippians 4:13, here are some more scriptures to tuck away for those times when you need encouragement, or when you need to encourage someone else.
In Matthew chapters 5--6 we find the Sermon on the Mount. Included in that teaching are the beatitudes. Here are a couple. ”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” They sound counter cultural but that is often the way Jesus operates. These are a reminder to us that the Kingdom of God does not follow the rules of the world, the rules we are used to. God makes His own rules, and these three beatitudes remind us that we can trust that God will lift up the downtrodden, comfort those who are discouraged and reward those with humble hearts.
There is an old Beatles song that says...love is all you need. Paul devotes an entire chapter to love in 1 Corinthians 13 and he reminds us that faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love. And we love because God first loved us. You can read that in 1 John 4. Here we also read that God is love. Since God is love that is all we really do need.
These words from Paul are tremendous words of encouragement. ”God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-14. Many would say God does not give you any more than you can handle but I believe God does sometimes stretch us. He will not let us break but sometimes we may feel a bit thin. He will give us the strength to endure and sometimes no more than that. But He will walk with us in every trial and joy, each sorrow and challenge.
The Psalmist has much to say about encouragement. In Psalm 100:4-5 we read that” the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.” That is good news because all generations include us! We also, read in the psalms, 34:17-18 that” The Lord is near to the broken hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” Again, a reminder that we are never alone. And this promise from Psalm 23:6” Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” There is always a place for us, and we are always in the tender loving care of our Lord. God is here, now. He waits to hear from us, and we read this in Psalm 46:1. ”God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.”
Jesus tells us in John 14 that in His Father's house there are many rooms, and He is preparing one for us. We are also reminded that the way to get there is through Jesus who is the way and the truth and the life. We humans sinned and broke the relationship God had with His people. But when the time was right God sent His Son Jesus to make the way for us to return to God. Because of Jesus we have a way to eternity with He and the Father.
Paul too, has much to say about encouragement. In Romans 8:31-32 we read, “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who can stand against us? He who did not withhold His own Son, but gave Him up for all of us, will He not with Him also give us everything else?” We will have all we need to persevere in this life. And it is in the persevering that we find endurance that produces character and that produces hope and hope doesn't disappoint us. All of that because God pours His love into our hearts and lives in the power of the Holy Spirit. And when we are at the end of ourselves it is the Holy Spirit that takes our sighs and turns them into prayers. God the Holy Spirit searches our hearts, and He knows what we need.
This is a small sampling of encouragement in scripture. Not only do we find encouragement in scripture, but we find it in prayer and spending time with others who believe...folks that will walk through the challenges with us. God likes to use us to help one another. Some have helped you, and you have helped others.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W