1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. (NASB95)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
In a recent Devotion, we talked about encouraging other people. It is such a blessing to both receive encouragement and to be the encourager.
But sometimes the reality is that there isn’t anyone around (humanly speaking) to encourage us. Our great God hasn’t “dropped the ball.” We can turn Scripture and prayer for the greatest encouragement of all. There are some simply wonderful, spirit-lifting, hope-giving passages that are always at your fingertips.
When life is trampling you, you will find hope in the Bible. When the wicked prosper and you suffer, you will find comfort in the Scriptures. When your heart feels ripped from your body, the Lord has words that will soothe. When you feel like you just absolutely do NOT care any more, God’s Word is waiting with words of life and joy.
Great hope and joy…
Psalm 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. (NKJV)
You have to read the first nine verses to understand why “therefore my heart is glad”. In a nutshell, we find that our trust is in God (v.1), we are nothing apart from the Lord (v.2), God takes care of us (v.5-6), He directs our life (v.7) and He is our security (v.8).
Because of those things, our heart can be glad. If you are God’s child today, then these things are true for you. So rejoice and be glad. Rest in the peace of God’s sovereignty over your life. Nothing in this life can change the fact that God is taking care of you. Let the world, let your enemies, do their worst . . . God is watching over you.
Psalm 16:10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (NKJV)
Sheol means “grave”. In this context it means that God will not ignore us while we are in the “valley of the shadow of death”. When things in this life are at their very worst, God sees and cares. He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13.5). God is faithful during the worst that life can throw at you.
Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (NKJV)
Is life beating you up? Are you discouraged and sad? Turn to God. Trust Him. He will show you the way to go. And when you spend time with God in prayer and Bible reading, you will find the fullness of joy. If you are really hurting, you may find this hard to believe. . . maybe it sounds too simple. But it’s true. I have experienced it, and heard from countless others who have,(add comma) as well.
I can honestly say that there have been times for me that seemed so dark and so heavy that I just wished my heart would stop beating. At those times, two things are almost always true:
- I’ve gotten off by myself doing things my own way without God
- And, as soon as I turn back to God, it’s like the sun rising in my soul.
Wherever you are at today spiritually or emotionally, if you will turn to God, there is hope and joy waiting. We can be sure of this, because God is the source of . . .
Faithfulness and mercy (Lamentations 3:21-26 NKJV)
If you’ve been reading my stuff for very long, you probably already know that this is one of my favorite sections of Scripture. Lamentations, (REMOVE COMMA) chapter 3 is a record of the anguish experienced by the Prophet Jeremiah. Strictly speaking, the book of Lamentations deals with God’s judgment on Judah over sin. But there is great practical application for us. Jeremiah describes feelings and emotions that are universal to human experience (chapter 3):
- v.1 – Affliction – persistent pain and distress; great suffering
- v.2 – the feeling of being lost and not knowing which way to go
- v.3 – feeling like the world, and maybe even God, have turned against you
- v.4 – deteriorating health and physical brokenness
- v.5 – bitterness and sorrow; deep emotional pain
- v.6 – tangible depression; dark emotional turmoil
- v.7 – feeling trapped, like there is no escape from suffering
- v.8 – loneliness and feeling forgotten
- v.9 – hardship; nothing seems to go right
- v.14 – embarrassment and humiliation; people making fun of you
- v.16 – “grinding teeth”; worry and anxiety
- v.17 – sense of failure and apathy
- v.18 – hopelessness
Have you ever felt any of those? Unfortunately, they are an inevitable part of life in a sin-cursed world. That’s just reality. It’s not a defeated, pessimistic viewpoint. It’s just acknowledging what is true about life. The good news is, God knows it too. And He brings hope and faithfulness that is infinitely greater than any hardship in this life. And here it is in one of my absolute favorite parts of the Bible (emphasis mine):
v.21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
You can’t recall something to mind that you
haven’t taken time to learn in the first place.
That is the tragedy of our laziness about God’s Word. . . we miss out on the hope and comfort it gives because we neglect learning it. When things are bad, take time to remember what God said. When you do that, you will have hope, because the words of God are full of life and hope and strength and comfort and joy.
v.22-23 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
Well, what can you add to that? Life will not destroy us because God loves us too much. His compassion is new each and every morning. His faithfulness is great! His compassion never fails! Mercy, compassion and faithfulness. . . what trouble in this life can over power our infinite God who loves us and is full of great compassion, mercy and faithfulness? This one single verse is an ocean of hope and encouragement!
v.24-26 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the Lord.
When WE are “our portion” we have all the reason in the world to feel hopeless. But when we turn to God, our hope is in Him! How do we turn to God? By waiting on Him, by seeking Him. How do you that? Prayer and the Bible.
We can wait peacefully on God no matter how much the storm around us rages. God is our source of hope. Look anywhere else, and you will be disappointed. Turn to God, and you will NEVER be disappointed.
Well, if you needed some encouragement this morning, I hope you have found some. Let me tell you that I’ve been there. I’m in the valley many times. And God has never failed to fill me with hope when I turned to Him to find it.
Lord God, thank You that You are always ready to offer us perfect encouragement. Help us to find someone today and encourage them during a tough time in their life. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: When is the last time you took your time, energy and attention to encourage someone? When was the last time someone did that for you?
Application: If you want to receive encouragement, give it. Find someone today who is hurting, and take time to listen to them. Comfort them, encourage them and lift them up with God’s Word. See if that very act alone doesn’t give YOU encouragement.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?