All posts in “ENCOURAGEMENT”




James 1:2-3

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

After graduating college I decided to go on a yearlong mission trip around the world with a group of fifty other Jesus followers. While at training camp in July, I was made a team leader. At first I was flattered but then the shock set in…I had never led anyone in my life, let alone seven other people in completely foreign and dangerous lands. I was set to leave in September, so for three months I worried practically 24/7.

Not once during this time did I take the verse to heart telling me not to worry because God even watches over the birds (Matt.6:26). Or the one right after saying, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life (Matt 6:27)?” I was encountering a trial, and I was failing. Of course, once I left on the mission trip everything turned out fine. Sure, I would mess up sometimes but it was all part of the growth. I had spent all that time worrying for nothing.

Look at your own life. Are you facing a struggle, temptation, addiction, worry? How are you handling it? Think back to a time in the past when you worried a lot. That worrying accomplished nothing, right? Give your worries, struggles, whatever it may be that is overcoming your mind, to God and remember—it is going to be okay. God is with you and he will work everything out for his glory.

QUESTION 1. Are you a worrier? Has worrying ever accomplished anything for you?
QUESTION 2. Do you give your worries to God and rest in his comfort and peace?
CHALLENGE: Next time you start to worry, speak the above verses over yourself. Then, ask God for his peace and comfort and remember that he will never leave you or forsake you.




Psalm 22:1-3

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.

 When depression hits it can hit hard. It feels like no one cares; you can barely get yourself out of bed. And worse, it can feel like God doesn’t care. In your lowest moments you feel like that is when God should be pulling you closest, but you certainly don’t feel his tug. Could it be, though, that in those times of depression that it is actually you who is pushing God away instead of the other way around?

God promises never to leave us or forsake us. He is always right there beside us ready to comfort and love on us. But the reason we may not feel God there during those times is because we turn our focus away from him and spend what little energy we have focusing on ourselves and the circumstance that is causing us to be depressed. If we turned our eyes to Jesus and focused instead on his love and majesty, then the things of this world would become less and less important. It can be hard to do this in our moments of deepest sadness, but push through, focus on Jesus, and he will provide you with peace and comfort. Your circumstances may not change but your attitude will, and that makes all the difference.

QUESTION 1. When depression hits you, does it feel like God is miles away?
QUESTION 2. What worldly things do you usually turn to when this happens?
CHALLENGE: Next time you start wondering if God has left you or doesn’t care, lean fully onto him. Pursue Him with all your heart and you’ll find that He was there all along.




Lamentations 3:32-33

Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.

How often do we encounter a hardship or witness a disaster and blame God for it? He is God isn’t he? He could’ve stopped the wave from crashing into that town or stopped the cancer from spreading, couldn’t he? Think about this though: God is the ruler and creator of all, who has always been and always will be. You are the created, whose life is but a vapor, who knows nothing of the future or past. We are not God so why do we feel like God owes us an explanation when something bad happens? He knows all the mysteries and knowledge of the universe and yet we think that we know better?

The Bible tells us that God does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. Remember, God created a perfect world and our pain now is a result of the fallen and sinful world. We are the ones who botched it up and we continually botch up His perfect creation every day. But the good news is that the Bible also promises that God will show compassion and love to us in our suffering. His love is unfailing. So next time you encounter or witness suffering, instead of shaking your fist at God who knows infinitely more than you, decide to put your faith and trust in the one whose love will never fail. Not ever.

QUESTION 1. When suffering happens what is your normal response? Do you turn to the only one who can bring you out of it or do you distance yourself and get angry at God?
QUESTION 2. Do you believe that God has your best interest in mind when hardships come? Do you truly believe that He will bring you through, whether you like the outcome or not?
CHALLENGE: Next time you go through something hard, trust that God will show you compassion and love just as he has promised.




Psalm 34:18-19

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all;

Everything is going great for you. You, your family and friends all have good health; you’re working a high paying job; school isn’t too hard. You seem to be coasting happily through life. But then the unthinkable happens; your best friend dies in a car accident, your parents get divorced, or you lose your job. A whole new world of brokenness opens up before you. What do you do?

The decision of how to handle pain and suffering is a huge one. None of us can control what we face in this life, only how we choose to handle it. Do you turn to medications or alcohol to numb the pain? Do you spiral into deep depression and barely leave your bed? Or do you throw yourself into the waiting arms of God and lean on him through it all? The Bible tells us that God is near to us in our deepest pain and that he saves us from it. He wants those of us who are weary and burdened to come to Him because only He can give us true rest (Matt. 11:28). Yes, the trials we face in this life can be awful, and it’s okay to be sad, but make sure it’s God you’re turning to and he will give you the strength to make it through to the other side.

QUESTION 1. How do you handle trials? Really think through this and be honest with yourself.
QUESTION 2. How often do you actually find your hope and rest in God? How do you feel when you do?
CHALLENGE: Next time you face pain or suffering, turn away from the temporary fixes of this world and choose God instead.




Matthew 10:14

“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”

Whether you are a fan of Taylor Swift or not, you have to admit that she has some pretty sound advice when it comes to being successful even when others are trying to hold you back. “Shake it off!” Her catchy song by this title may be her idea, but the advice itself is not. This is something Jesus taught his disciples to do as they were going from town to town whenever they were not welcomed somewhere.

When I played volleyball, we used this phrase a lot. Whenever someone made a mistake or missed the ball, we would encourage one another to “shake it off.” I needed to hear this a lot. If I didn’t let my previous mistake go, it was pretty obvious. One mistake led to another and I would beat myself up over it mentally. If I had just listened to my teammates the first time, I would be able to enter into a new play with a clear mind, ready for whatever came my way.

We do this a lot with life too. When we hold on to our past mistakes, rejections or hurts, we can’t keep moving forward because the weight we are carrying is too much to bear. God does not want you to keep holding on to those things anymore. If Jesus’ disciples didn’t follow his advice, their work might not have been as effective. They would’ve been bogged down by all the hurt, rejection, mistakes, and persecution they faced. When you hold on to words, mistakes, fears or hardships from your past, you are limiting how you will be used by God moving forward. Let Him lighten your load and just “Shake it off!”

QUESTION 1. What extra weight are you carrying from your past that is slowing you down from reaching all God has in store for you?
QUESTION 2. What would it take for you to be able to “shake it off” and leave it in the past so you can move forward?
CHALLENGE: Write out those things that you are holding on to from your past. Ask someone you trust to walk with you through the process of letting those things go. Let God lighten your load and keep moving forward!




Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Have you ever had people make fun of you for something that was simply out of your control? Brittany experienced this when she contracted a disease that made her lose all of her hair at the age of 7. Unfortunately, Brittany had to wear a wig to school and all the kids would make fun of her, steal her wig and laugh at her. It’s hard enough being a kid sometimes, but to have something so out of your control like this disease can be almost unbearable.

Often we look to our friends to come to our aid and, if we are lucky and they’re real friends, we have someone to lean on for support. However, sometimes our friends go right along with it. When this happens, where do you turn when you are feeling left out, ridiculed and discouraged? For Brittany, she prayed with her family and put her trust in God, knowing that he promised never to leave her or forsake her. Brittany’s relationships did get better and her hair eventually did come back. But her life has forever been transformed by her relationship with her savior, Jesus Christ. God came to Brittany in her hour of need and he will do it for you as well. God never breaks his promises, and he promises you that, if you believe in him and put your trust in him, he will never leave you or forsake you.

QUESTION 1. Have you ever felt left out, ridiculed, or like no one was on your side? (Explain)
QUESTION 2. In times of need, who is there for you? Outside of friends and family, have you ever tried to rely on God? (Explain)
CHALLENGE: God sent his son Jesus Christ into the world to die for you so that you can be with him in paradise forever. If anything, God is trustworthy. He’ll be there for you and you can depend on Him. When you feel alone and down and out remember God’s promise in Deuteronomy 31:8; memorize it, and know that God “will never leave you nor forsake you.”




It’s easy to get discouraged in life. Life seems to have so many ups and downs it’s easy to get nauseous after a while. This proved to be true for a young college student named Ross Kaellner who got discouraged and lost his way. That is until on a day when everything seemed to be going wrong, Ross received some divine words of encouragement through a youth pastor who wrote Ross, I think God may be calling you into full-time ministry — you are an incredibly gifted & humble leader & communicator, and it’s clear Jesus has a hold of your life. That little bit of encouragement changed Ross’ life that day. He had a new direction in life. And you know what — that young college student Ross Kaellner grew up to be a full time pastor, all thanks to some divine encouragement!

QUESTION 1. Have you ever had a really rough day before and someone wrote you a note of encouragement to lift your spirits? How did that feel?
QUESTION 2. When’s the last time you gave someone a note, card or word of encouragement?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to look around for people in need of encouragement, and find fun ways to lift their spirits. Don’t wait around for someone else to do it, let God work through you as he worked through that youth pastor toward Ross!




Psalm 121:1-2

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Words hurt. There is such power in them that even one word can send you spiraling into depression and believing a lie for the rest of your life. When I was young I was a very happy child. I remember I was at a soccer camp when I was 10 years old when the other kids started calling me Smiles in a very mocking and condescending way. That one word stole my joy for years afterwards because I stopped smiling. During those years I completely forgot the truth of what God says about me and I believed the hurtful words of my peers.

No matter what others may say about you, or believe, you know the truth that you have hidden in your heart. God is always for you and he will lift you up when you feel cornered or downtrodden by the world and the words people may throw at you. Next time you feel yourself getting hit by the world, cry out to God for help and he will wrap his mighty arms around you and bring you more comfort than you can imagine. Turning to things like alcohol, drugs or sex won’t sustain you and will only spiral you further down. Remember, in this world we will have trouble, but only God has overcome the world (John 16:33).

QUESTION 1. Was there a time when someone said something hurtful about you and you believed it and it stopped you from moving forward?
QUESTION 2. Where do you turn to when trouble comes?
CHALLENGE: Whenever you feel alone, cornered, or like the whole world is against you, turn your eyes to Jesus and he will sustain you.




1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction…

It is one of the worst feelings in the world to not be picked, whether it is for a game, a job you thought you had in the bag, or a party where everyone else was invited but you. When this happens you feel like you don’t matter or that no one likes you. It’s an awful feeling and one we have all experienced at one point or another. But when you buy into others’ opinion of you you’re buying into ugly lies. Because the truth of the matter is that you are so worthy, so valuable, and you are already chosen by the Creator of the universe.

If God has chosen you why does it upset you when a mere human doesn’t choose you? God has chosen you specifically to be his child and he has given you his power. Nothing else matters. The opinion of another that you’re buying into is of a person who won’t last much longer than the morning mist (Hosea 13:3). God is eternal and he loves and cherishes you more than every man who ever lived or will live combined. Pastor Louie Giglio puts it this way: “What can we ever gain or accomplish that could compete with knowing the Maker and Sustainer of the world on a first name basis? What on our resume eclipses the fact that we walk with God?”

QUESTION 1. When was the last time you weren’t picked for something? Did it bother you?
QUESTION 2. You have been chosen by God; have you accepted that? Do you live your life with that in mind?
CHALLENGE: Accept the fact that God has chosen you and then live a full life in that acceptance.




1 Corinthians 3:7

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

A few months ago I found a treasure tucked in the shelves of the Target Dollar Spot: a “Grow your own Christmas tree Kit”. Of course, since it was cute and only a dollar, I got it and brought it home with me. I was going to be a plant mom and I couldn’t have been more thrilled about it (I know it sounds silly, but it’s the little things in life that make me smile). When I got home, I opened up the packet of seeds and planted them in the soil pellet that expanded when soaked in water. My new plant found its home on the window sill right next to my bed. Then, I waited…and waited…and waited some more.

After what seemed like forever of feeling discouraged by my cheap impulse buy, I saw a little green sign of life! Inside my tiny pot sprouted the makings of a spruce tree. It was small, but it was a start. Over the next few weeks, my tree started to grow taller and taller. Slowly, but surely, some of the other seeds began to sprout as well.

There was nothing I could do to make the tree grow any faster than it did. However, if I had wanted to, I could have made certain that it didn’t grow anymore by depriving it of sunshine and water. I was not responsible for the growth rate of the plant. However, since I had resources to help it grow, it would have been rude of me to deprive my plant of those resources.

Just like growing a plant, we have been given resources to help others grow. We are not responsible for the growth that happens, but we are responsible for what we do with our resources. Growth takes a whole lot of love and support; how are you sharing those with others today?

QUESTION 1. Who is someone that has invested a lot in helping you grow in Christ? What did they do?
QUESTION 2. How can you share your resources of love and support with someone you know?
CHALLENGE: Don’t hold back what God has given you. Love people like He does whether you see results or not.




1 Peter 2:5
You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We’ve all heard the expression that iron sharpens iron, and it is especially true when you’re trying to find a good community of friends for yourself. It’s hard to find a friend who encourages you, challenges you, loves you for you, and isn’t afraid to call you out on things. We tend to surround ourselves with “friends” who put us down, constantly complain, and gossip like it’s nobody’s business, because they’re easy to find. If you surround yourself with negative people, you won’t rub off on them, they will rub off on you. We need to find people who will build us up like living stones and spur us on to loving God and others more.

Jesus doesn’t call us to live life alone. Type the phrase “Bible verses about community” in Google and you’ll find site upon site referencing the many verses where God tells us to live together in love spurring each other on to greatness. Life is meant to be done together. But we must be sure that the people we surround ourselves with will sharpen us, not dull us. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

QUESTION 1. Who do you spend most of your time with? Do they encourage you or bring you down?
QUESTION 2. Does finding a strong community scare you because you might have to leave your comfort zone to do it?
CHALLENGE: Don’t do life alone. Find a good community of friends who will encourage you and challenge you; then you in turn should encourage and challenge them.
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