At this time of year, we say good-bye to the old and welcome the new. For most, it’s a time full of hope and expectation. Whether 2014 was good or bad, most of us will welcome 2015 with optimism. It’s a fresh start, a new beginning. For others, there is fear in the unknown. Perhaps 2014 is ending with a great deal of stress, anxiety or fear. Regardless of which category you find yourself in, you can find hope in God’s word. In the best of times we still need his guidance. In the worst, we need hope. Both are found there. God’s word is the food our souls need to flourish. So as we are making resolutions for the New Year, let’s make sure we put feeding our souls at the top of the list! Below are some great encouraging scriptures – especially if you are facing difficult times.
Deuteronomy 31:8 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.”
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit
Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 71:20-21 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”
Lamentations 3:21-24 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These are just a few of the many treasures hidden in God’s word for our comfort and strength. For those going through extremely difficult times, you may struggle to find the words of these scriptures true. But that is where faith comes in. Faith holds us when reality seems to scream “It’s a lie!” We can hold fast to the hope of what God tells us in his word. But unless we are reading it, we can easily forget or lose sight of what is in there for us.
As I was visiting my parent’s church on the last Sunday of the year, their pastor spoke on the importance of being in God’s word. He encouraged his people to find a reading plan and be in the Word every day of 2015. This is something that’s been on my heart lately as I know I struggle to make the right time for it myself. I have a passion for being in the word and knowing it, but still I struggle! The world forces us to move at a crazy pace and unless we are intentional on a daily basis, we will not succeed. What we need to remember is this – we have a refuge. Our refuge is found in the pages of God’s word and in relationship with him. Our relationship grows as does our faith the more time we spend there. If we only delve into our Bibles when we feel guilty, afraid or needy, we are missing out on the treasures of daily living and we are starving ourselves spiritually.
I want to encourage each one reading this blog to make a commitment to spend time daily with God in his word. A study Bible makes the reading easy and understandable. There are so many helps – apps even – to give us guidance and keep us on track. Bible Gateway and Biblehub are 2 websites where you can try out different versions of the Bible to find the right one for you. You can even read the Bible online from those sites. I encourage you to take some time early in the New Year and find or make a plan that will work for you. Make your time with God a priority in 2015. Whether you face mountains bigger than you think you can climb or whether you see smooth sailing at the start, God will be there to guide, comfort and bless. He has plans much bigger than us. And we can find what we need to get through whatever comes our way in the reading of his word!