God Stands Near and Gives Courage

“. . . the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage!’” Acts 23:11 NIV

We’ve all been there—in situations where the stakes are immense and our courage has all but vanished. The life of a loved one may hang in the balance, a disaster may threaten to crush us, or a dream may be crumbling before our eyes. Fear grabs us by the throat and leaves us shaken in every way. We need courage and strength beyond our own.

We find in the Bible that the apostle Paul was no stranger to desperate and dangerous circumstances of his own. The instance from the passage above happened one time when Paul was in Jerusalem. A great uproar had broken out amongst the Jews over Paul and his teachings. He faced deadly mob violence until Roman soldiers took him prisoner. Then when the commander had Paul speak to the Sanhedrin—the supreme Jewish court—the circumstances turned violent again. And again, the Romans intervened and took Paul prisoner.

Just when Paul must have been wondering if he’d make it out of Jerusalem alive, the Lord came and imparted courage to him. Scripture tells us he stood near Paul and told him to take courage, that he had further work for him to do. Whether the Lord stood there physically or in spirit, he came to encourage Paul—in fact, to give him courage. And he drew near to do it.

Will not the Lord also come to us when we are in dire circumstances? Will he not also stand near us and speak courage and peace to our hearts when we desperately need it? Indeed he will. We can count on it. We can count on him. 

“say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come . . . he will come to save you.’” Isaiah 35:4 NIV

*When has the Lord drawn close and imparted courage, peace, or strength to you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Curtis Simmons, Creative Commons License

Beautiful Bible Passage Plus May Blogging Break

Hey friends, my last-half-of-May blogging break tradition is on again this year! As I’ve said in the past, since for most of us May proves to be the second busiest month of the year after December, wisdom tells me to slow things down where I can. And blogging is one place where I can do that.

I’ll be back with regular weekly posts on June 5, but in the meantime, let me leave you with a beautiful passage from the Word of God. Think of these words this spring and summer when you look up at the skies or gaze at mountain views or take a dip in the ocean. Remember, God’s love is vast. It cannot be measured. And best of all, it’s for all of us!

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:5-9 NIV

*How has God shown you his love this month?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*My photo

Wisdom and Encouragement for the Mother of the Bride

by Cheryl Barker  CherylBarkerWriter

Mother of the Bride, I’d love to help start your 2018 off on a positive note by offering you wisdom and encouragement straight from the Word of God. I’ve discovered over the course of my life that there is no better wisdom or encouragement to be found than what we find in the Bible.

Chances are you’ll be celebrating a wedding this year—and the demands of life may get a little overwhelming as you’re in prep mode. My prayer is that the following scriptures will provide the refreshment, encouragement, and wisdom you need to see you through to the big day and beyond. And if you’re hungry and thirsty for more after you read these, why not read a passage from the Bible each day. God is sure to provide just what you need!

Be blessed, MOB, as you drink in these precious life-giving words from the Word of God! (All scripture is taken from the NIV or NIV84 unless otherwise noted.)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

“. . .‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you . . .’” 1 Chronicles 28:20

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17

“. . . ‘Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.’” Deuteronomy 33:12

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12

“ . . . wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Proverbs 13:10

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

“Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 124:8

“ . . . serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13 

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way…” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

*You might also like to read Spirit and Soul Refreshment for the Mother of the Bride and A Prayer for Weary Mothers of the Bride.

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by charamelody, Creative Commons License

Rock-Solid Words of Hope

Many around the world are in need of hope today. Their situations look bleak if not impossible. They are struggling to hang on to hope.

Right here in our country, countless folks in Florida and Texas are dealing with the aftermath of hurricane force winds, tornadoes, and the floodwaters that came with Irma and Harvey. Some may feel that all hope slipped away with the winds and waters that wreaked such havoc on their lives. And in yet other parts of the country, people are battling wildfires.

Others of us may be in need of hope right now for different reasons. If you fall into that group, this post is for you as well as for all of those struggling to regain their footing after their foundations literally got blown or washed or burned away.

The truest and most powerful words of hope I can share with you come straight from the Word of God. God’s Word is a firm foundation. His promises are rock-solid. May the following scriptures inspire fresh hope and strengthen your faith today, my friends!

“. . . I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“‘There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the valley of Achor [trouble] a door of hope.’” Hosea 2:15

“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” Psalm 71:14

“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him . . .” Romans 15:13

Praise God for the hope we have in him!

*Which of these verses speak to you most powerfully today?

*Since September is an exceptionally busy month for me this year, I’m taking a short break and will be back on the 26th. Maybe you can take a look at my list of Favorite Posts (sidebar) and read some posts from there. Blessings!

*Flickr photo by Our Enchanted Gardens, Creative Commons License

Guest Blogger Julie Gillies: Let’s Choose Brave


I’d like to welcome writer friend and author Julie Gillies to my blog today as she shares an excerpt adapted from her recently released book From Hot Mess to Blessed. I’ve already read the book and it’s filled with biblical wisdom, encouragement, and hope. I pray Julie’s words bless you today!

Let’s Choose Brave

Bravery has ripple effects. We rarely consider this (at least I don’t) because we’re so caught up in the everyday and the here and now. Life’s daily battles are intense, and sometimes it’s all we can do to remain focused and keep plowing forward. Yet our courageous choices act as a gleaming machete, slicing a path through the thick jungle of fear that entangles and trips.

Choosing brave helps us fully believe and embrace and pursue God’s promises while inspiring those around us and making a way for those behind us.

A key component in learning to embrace bravery is praying brave prayers—prayers that focus less on avoiding fear or keeping fear away from us and more on courage and confidence and holy mettle. Though we might not always feel fearless, by praying for specific qualities from Scripture, we can fear less.

– Instead of praying that fear will be far from us, we can pray for strong, bold, and very courageous hearts (see Joshua 1:9) when fear comes near.

– Instead of asking God to remove all the sources of fear in our lives, we can pray for His grace to run toward the big, scary things with great courage (see 1 Samuel 17:48).

– Instead of praying that fear will leave us alone, we can pray that when we are afraid, we will have confidence and put our reliance on God (see Psalm 56:3).

– Instead of asking God for all fear in our lives to vanish, we can pray that His peace that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus—and supersede all fear (see Philippians 4:6-7).

– Instead of feeling alone and fearful, we can pray to consistently remember God is with us, and we don’t have to fear. King David declared, “The Lᴏʀᴅ is for me, so I will have no fear” (Psalm 118:6 ɴʟᴛ).

I think I need to write the above verse on a Sticky Note and attach it to my forehead. If I had it my way, I’d never wrestle with fear again. It would be completely and permanently eradicated from my life (Can I get an amen?). But this side of eternity, I don’t know how realistic that goal is. I think we will all have times when we must battle fear, but it is always for a purpose.

Facing down fear teaches us how to engage the enemy, to fight, to stand, and to prevail. So be beautifully clothed in His mighty strength and the holy dignity He lavishly provides. Laugh without a care, free from fear’s taunts and digs. I see us—hot messes though we may yet be—laughing beautiful, musical laughs, heads tossed back, and hearts lifted toward heaven because we have nothing to fear.

This is an adapted excerpt from the book, “From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything”, Harvest House Publishers 2017. Used with permission.

*Question from Cheryl: What situation in your life is God calling you to choose brave for today?

Julie K. Gillies is the author of From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything and the devotional, Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. Healed from a traumatic childhood, Julie’s message helps women pray, know, and believe God’s Word. Julie is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of two soldiers and one civilian, and Grammy of four. She loves bicycling , any day without humidity, and hanging out with the entire family at home, especially on days when her house is clean. Find FREE resources and connect with Julie at www.JulieGillies.com .

*Photos courtesy of author.