2021 – here we go! Will it be much different from 2020? It sure looks like wearing masks, social distancing, not getting together – all those things that keep us apart from family and friends will continue until most of the population has been vaccinated. It’s hard! Even though the vaccines are ‘a light at the end of a tunnel’, we need to be encouraged right now.
“He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles for us! Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.” II Chronicles 32: 8 NLT
“The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.” Psalm 69: 32 NLT
“If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honour at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8: 31 – 39 NLT
One of the most encouraging things for each one of us is knowing that God is on our side. There are times when no matter how many wonderful friends we have, or how great our marriage is, that we feel alone in some things we face. Those are the times that we can turn to God for encouragement and comfort. But you know what? It’s hard to turn to someone you don’t know.
I know that if someone is facing a crisis, they are likely to pray for help – even if, during their everyday life, they really don’t pay any attention to God or religious things. That seems to be a very human thing to do – pray when you are scared to death. But our relationship with God can be so much more than that. Getting to know Him on an everyday basis gives us a secure foundation and hope in facing the future no matter what it brings. How do we do that?
Find time to read our Bibles and pray every day. It’s actually hard to do. As parents with preschoolers or a baby, finding that time can be really hard. They wake us up early in the morning, and we drag ourselves out of bed knowing we won’t have a moment to ourselves that day. Anyone, married with a family and working, the day starts early and by the time everything gets done, exhaustion rules. So, when do you find time for reading and prayer? God understands our busy schedules, and He can meet us whenever and wherever we find that time.
Prayer may take place while you are doing dishes, or doing the laundry. Or maybe prayer takes place while you are driving somewhere, or maybe even in the minutes when you wake up, or before you fall asleep. I know people who go to work 10 or 15 minutes early and sit in their car in the parking lot and pray. Often I find myself praying at various points during the day, and I like to pray out loud because that keeps me focused. If family members are in another room, you can pray while doing household jobs – and if they show up, you can laugh and say you are talking to yourself – or be honest and tell them you are talking with God. If you really want to start talking to God, you’ll figure out how and when.
Reading? Start posting Bible verses on your frig, on your mirror, at your desk, in your car – wherever you can see them during the day. Meditate (that just means think about something for a while) on what those verses say over the day – or even over several days. Think about how those verses apply to you, and what they tell you about God. There are a lot of websites where you can have a Bible verse of the day emailed or posted to you every day. If there is a particular topic you want to know about – for example, peace – go to biblegateway.com and type in the word ‘peace’ at the top. All the verses with that word will appear. Copy the one(s) you like best, and post them somewhere in your house. Although I think websites where you can read devotions – something like this one – are good, I really encourage you to find a verse or a group of verses that you think about without anyone elses’ perspective on what the verse says.
What you want is to develop that personal relationship with God. There is absolutely nothing that can encourage you more than knowing your Heavenly Father is just a breath away, and is there for you no matter what, knowing you have a personal relationship, a family relationship.
Our song for today is Word of God Speak by Mercy Me.