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How to take your next best Bible Study step

When I was young in my faith, I saw these men and women who seemed so knowledgeable and solid in their relationship with God.

For a while, I thought that they were just born more spiritual than me.

However, over time I realized it was because they were consistently reading and studying Scripture.

I wanted what they had, but I didn’t know where to start.
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For years I fumbled around feeling like a Bible study failure. I tried opening to random passages, reading plans, devotionals, even study books.
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But they left me feeling like I was still missing something.
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I was.
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Over time I realized that I wanted more. I was tired of having other people to tell me more about the Bible. I wanted to experience it for myself.
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How about you?
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Are you dissatisfied with your ability to read, study, and understand Scripture? Do you want the “a-ha” moments with the Word? Does your soul long for a deeper, more intimate place with God?
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If you are ready for more than it’s time for you to start studying the Bible for yourself.
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And I have just the resource for you. I call it the Bible Study Boulevard.

 


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The Bible Study Boulevard was designed to not only train you on how to study the Bible, but also to help you identify where you are in 1 of 6 stages in your relationship to the Bible.
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Because I want you to take the next Bible Study step that is best for YOU.
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No more crash and burn.
No more half-read reading plans.
No more unfinished Bible studies.
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Want the first step? Head to katieorr.me/quiz to take the free assessment quiz!! It takes about 2 minutes and you’ll get your results right away. You’ll also have the option to receive personalized tips to help you take your next best Bible study step.

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Secret #4 – The Happy Soul is DEPENDENT on God’s Provision

We often think of the book of Psalms as a happy book filled with praise and worship. Yet over a third of the Psalms are filled with lament. They question. They complain. They cry out. However, alongside the wails, there is worship—a declaration of God’s good and steadfast character. They exhibit a deep trust in His faithful love and unchanging righteousness. The sad and sullen psalmists stood steady with an unwavering trust in the truth of who God is. Twice in Psalm 42 and once in chapter 43, we see the same set of phrases addressing the soul: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” The psalmist told his soul what to do and feel. So also must the Happy Soul.

The Happy Soul wrestles with her hard reality, then instructs her heart what to do while she waits for God’s rescue.

The Happy Soul presents her doubts and questions to God, then sermonizes her soul toward the truth of His character.

The Happy Soul laments all she’s lost, but she also prompts her spirit toward the ever-present hope she has through Christ.

This life is hard. It’s okay to waver. To question. To grieve. To be conflicted. However, as we do, we must cling to truth. But if we are going to cling to truth through our troubles, we need a solid foundation of who God is. Do you see how each secret builds on one another? Focus leads to resolve. Resolve leads to attachment. Attachment leads to dependency. Dependency leads to a fruitful resiliency that will carry us through the storm.

We cannot tell ourselves what is true of God if we aren’t sure of Him to begin with. God sees. God cares. God heals. God controls. God comforts. God loves. God is good. Do you believe it? Do you know it deep-down in your soul? Do you know where in Scripture it tells you these things? It will be these truths—and the conviction of their validity—that will allow you to walk with hope in God amidst the everyday hardships and the unthinkable tragedies. Instead of being driven by our ever-changing emotions, let’s embed our anchor firmly in the bedrock of God’s unchanging character and steadfast love.

The person who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed.

He will be like a tree planted by water:

it sends its roots out toward a stream,

it doesn’t fear when heat comes,

and its foliage remains green.

It will not worry in a year of drought

or cease producing fruit.

— Jeremiah 17:7–8

This beautiful parallel passage in Jeremiah is very similar to our Psalm 1 passage. But it provides us with a few extra details about the Happy Soul.The Happy Soul does not fear the fires around the corner. The Happy Soul does not worry during her desperate times of drought. Why? Because she is planted by the streams of God and has solidly situated herself in the banks of His character. She will be evergreen and resiliently fruitful—no matter what comes her way. Her source of support is in the stream. The enduring fruit of God’s people stems from the sustaining power of God.

James’s death was hard. The reality of his death is still hard. I’m certain that around the corner lies harder things still. But through all the ups and downs, through all the pain and problems, I can be a Happy Soul—not because I am strong and steady but because my God is. You can be a Happy Soul too! We don’t have to fear the future. We can kick anxiety good-bye. We can thrive regardless of our circumstances. We can never cease to bear fruit. This is the reality of the Happy Soul who trusts in the Lord. She knows that He is a good and powerful, personal and great God who will provide for her every step of whatever comes her way. The Happy Soul is dependent on God’s provision.

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

— James 1:2–4


This is an excerpt from my book, Secrets of the Happy Soul.

Secret #1– The Happy Soul is FOCUSED on God

Secret #2 – The Happy Soul is RESOLVED to follow God’s Way

Secret #3 – The Happy Soul is ATTACHED to God’s Word

Secret #4– The Happy Soul is DEPENDENT on God’s provision.

Secret #5– The Happy Soul is CONFIDENT in who she is.

Secret #6– The Happy Soul is SURRENDERED to her King.

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Secret #1 – The Happy Soul is FOCUSED on God

The Bible is not a collection of stories about mankind. It is not a history book. It is not a how-to guide for how to live our lives. It is first and foremost a book about God. It is theological in function and form. Does it include history? Indeed. Does it record stories of people from whom we can learn? Yes. Does it give us instructions for how to live our lives? Absolutely. But all of it—every story, every rule, every historical detail—is there to point us to God.

If there is any sort of quick fix when it comes to becoming a Happy Soul, it is this: We need to get our focus off ourselves and turn it to God. And the primary way we know about God is through the Bible. That means starting from the correct vantage point. Instead of turning first to what the Bible can give us and what we ought to do, let’s start with a resolve to see God more clearly in the pages of Scripture. For so long I read the Bible primarily through the lens of “What does this mean to me?” The Bible does mean so much to me, as I’m sure it does to you too. However, this is not the best first question to ask when we approach God’s Word. The more appropriate question—and the one whose answers I’ve found to bring the greatest comfort and lasting joy—is “What does this teach me about who God is?” This is the primary purpose of the Bible: to specifically reveal to us the character of God.

Worried about how you are going to pay your next bill?

Set your gaze on God, your Provider.

Afraid of what’s around the corner?

Remember God, your in-control King.

Have you been wronged by someone?

Look to God, our righteous Judge.

In the throes of one of your darkest seasons of the soul?

Focus on God, our comfort through the storms.

For so many of us, this is counterintuitive. When something isn’t right in our lives, we want to know what to do in order to fix it—and we want to do it now. For so many years, the thought of “looking to God” felt like a non-action to me. Perhaps you feel the same way—that the action of opening your Bible in order to learn more about who God is is not actually helpful when your world is falling apart. Because “put your focus on God” can seem like a weak and useless platitude when you’re drowning. But it is especially during the hard times when we need to know—really know—the steadfast character of our God.

This is not to say that we simply “look to God” and everything magically falls into place. But really seeing God for who He really is will always be the starting point for the Happy Soul. If your soul is stuck in despair or fear, hopelessness or pain, the right and best next step is always to remember the faithful, unchanging, good character of God.

The Happy Soul is focused on who God is.


This is an excerpt from my book, Secrets of the Happy Soul.

 

Secret #1– The Happy Soul is FOCUSED on God

Secret #2 – The Happy Soul is RESOLVED to follow God’s Way

Secret #3 – The Happy Soul is ATTACHED to God’s Word

Secret #4– The Happy Soul is DEPENDENT on God’s provision.

Secret #5– The Happy Soul is CONFIDENT in who she is.

Secret #6– The Happy Soul is SURRENDERED to her King.

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Set your gaze on Christ this Christmas

It’s a downright fight for me to remember the reason for the season: celebrating Emmanuel, God with us. Amidst (what seems like) endless parties, shopping lists, and family gatherings, the season gearing up to Christmas Day is typically rushed and stressful. Beyond this busyness is a constant temptation to indulge. From grandma’s cooking to the latest and greatest gadget, the inclination of my heart and flesh to be gratified through toys and treats is given continual opportunity to think about self. My wants. My wishes. My will.

So, yes, busyness is a problem. Excessiveness and self-gratification, too. But the biggest hurdle in the way of celebrating and honoring Christ this Christmas is not primarily in the external distractions—it’s in my propensity to want what I want, how I want it, when I want it. I forget that life is not all about me. Christmas surely isn’t either. I must be intentional to remember that Christmas is, indeed, about Christ. It’s not primarily about celebrating time with family, making memories for the children in our lives, or showing love through gift-giving. Christmas is a celebration of Christ our Savior.

The actions you and I take during this Christmas season (and every other day of the year) are important. We exist to worship God. Yes, God has given us good gifts to enjoy, family to love, and a community to serve. But every party we attend, conversation we engage, and shopping trip we make ought to have an attitude of worship as the undercurrent. A desire to honor and glorify the God who sent His only Son for us should permeate our days. As we enter this Christmas season, let’s do so with a view toward worship and turn our hearts toward the glad tidings the coming of Christ bring to our souls.

p.s. If you are looking for a study to help you to just that—point your heart toward the significance of the coming of Christ, join me for this 12-day journey. Let’s set our gaze on Christ this Christmas!

Christmas Bible Study

December is buuuuuusy. This Christmas study will help you remember the reason for the season through a Christmas hymn and  two timely passages a day.

Learn more here.

 

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Tips for Developing as a Bible teacher

A few months ago, I got invited to do a podcast interview for At the Table with Jacki King, a part of the ministry of the SBC Women’s Leadership Network. Super excited and honored, I agreed and we began working to schedule a time to chat. When I received the questions for the interview, I was actually quite surprised. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but most of the questions were geared toward being a Bible teacher. I guess it surprised me, because there are so many women she could have asked to talk about this topic that are more seasoned than me.

One of the questions she asked was about the barriers I’ve faced as a woman Bible teacher, and through the process of preparing for that question, I’ve realized that my biggest barrier has been me, myself, and I. The self-doubt and limitations I’ve placed on my own calling and ministry in so many ways. Even the fact that I was surprised that Jacki would want to chat about these things with me points to this reality.

Yet the more I prepared for the interview, and the more we chatted, I realized I do have something of value to say and maybe I’m not as green and inexperienced as I think I am. Now, I certainly want to err on the side of caution and humility over thinking I have it all together. But I am excited for this episode to arrive. It is very different than most of my podcast interviews. It is geared for a specific audience: women of the Southern Baptist Convention, but will apply to any woman who has considered the calling to teach the Bible to other women.

You can catch the full episode here.

Here is an excerpt.

What are some of those first steps to really developing as a Bible teacher?

It absolutely starts with learning how to study the Bible and walking with God on your own.

If you’re thinking you want to get on a platform and teach the Word you better know how to study the Word. Teaching is a heavy responsibility. Gratefully, we have the Spirit of God within us and I fully believe He changes words that come out of my mouth when needed. None of us is perfect. But teaching the Word effectively has to start with learning how to study the Bible. If you don’t feel like you know how to go to the Bible, open to any page, and know the steps to take to study correctly, then I feel we have no business putting ourselves out there as a Bible teacher.

As far as sharpening our skills, for me it is watching my husband. I’ve been watching him preach for over 10 years and my teaching style very much matches his because I learn so much from him. Watch the people that you learn from and mimic their structure as a starting point.

One book I’ve read that was helpful early on as I was learning the skill of crafting a teaching talk, is Preaching with Bold Assurance by Hershel York Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! . You’ve got to figure out your own system, but it helps to have a starting point. There are tons of books out there that actually teach you how to teach the Word.  I think some seminaries also have classes on teaching the Bible that you can audit, so that could be an option. It would be a much bigger commitment than reading a book, but you’ll learn a lot more from a seminary class.

I’ve figured out my own system over time. The more you do it, the more you’ll figure out what works for you and what your style is.

Listen to the full episode here.

Are you interested in taking the next steps toward speaking, writing, and/or leading online communities? I will be piloting a coaching course in 2020. Head here to get on the waiting list.

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Why we need to quit trying to clean ourselves up

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Galatians 2:20-21

Why we need to study the book of Galatians

The book of Galatians is filled with truths about the gospel—the good news of what Jesus has done to redeem us so that we can enjoy His presence for eternity. At first glance, it may seem that talk of circumcision and the Law is not applicable to us, but the motivations and mistakes hidden behind the traps the churches in Galatia found themselves in, also abound today.

Here is an excerpt from the Galatians Study Pack, where we study Galatians together. I have daily coaching videos to help you start out on the right foot and understand the cultural background behind the words we see on the page. Indeed, the book of Galatians holds much for each of us today.

One huge key to living a Christian life

So if you and I are trying to become right by any other means than depending on Christ righteousness on our behalf, we are denying the crucifixion of Christ. We are saying, “Jesus what you did on the cross was pretty awesome but I’ll take it from here because I gotta get I gotta clean myself up.”

We gotta quit this notion that I gotta clean myself up before I can come to Christ. We’re never ever ever gonna be able to clean ourselves up enough to come to Christ. Ever.

We come to Christ because we are broken.

We come to Christ because we are dirty.

We come to Christ because we are unrighteous.

And what does He gives us? He gives us grace. He gives us mercy and he gives us our very righteousness.

Go look up 2 Corinthians 5:20. It says that, “He made Him—Jesus—who knew no sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of Christ.”

He takes on our sins and then gives us His perfect righteousness. That is the only way to true justification. That is the only way to true righteousness. It is a gift that is given to us. It is not earned.

Then, when we really get that we have been given the righteousness of Christ, it is amazing motivation to worship and honor the sacrifice of Christ with my life.

Because God has made me righteous, I choose to live a righteous life.

Because God has made me perfect, I choose to walk in holiness.

I mess it up all the time but when I mess up, I have to turn right back and keep my eyes on Jesus and remember that he is given me righteousness and then it fuels me right again to continue in righteous living.

See what’s going on here is that we have this internal, inward foundational truths about us as Christians. Jesus has made me righteous. Jesus has made you righteous. If you have trusted him for salvation, if you trusted him to take care of your sin problem, he’s done it. He’s taking care of your sin problem. Your sin has been paid for and now you have His righteousness. That is true of who you are at the deepest part of who you are. You are righteous.

And so our work here on earth is sanctification. We get to join in what God is doing to make those inward truths become external reality so that over time I look more and more like Jesus. That is the working out of our salvation.

We already have salvation. It is within us. We have been given everything we need to live a godly life. We get to spend
the rest of our life working those truths out since they become more and more and more true of our everyday living.

Galatians Bible Study

You can access the rest of this teaching video and jump into the Galatians Bible study pack. Through this customizable Bible study through Galatians, you will better understand the gospel and the freedom we have in Christ. Whether you are brand new to Bible study, or a seasoned veteran, this Bible study pack will help you take your next step toward better Bible study—even if you have a busy schedule. All from the comfort of your own home!

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Stronghold in the Bible

Have you heard any teaching about strongholds? About taking your thoughts captive? Paul teaches us about strongholds in the New Testament:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”
2 Corinthians 10:3–6 ESV

Paul was writing to a very unhealthy, immature church in the very sin-filled city of Corinth. Sin had also permeated this church family … and with what seems like very little resistance. Paul has written to correct the church numerous times, and this last section of 2 Corinthians in the most severe of all. He is desperate for them to change and experience the joy of obedient christian living, and he attempts here to clue them in to the fact that they have a great enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy them through their disobedient actions AND thinking.

Here are two actions we can take when it comes to strongholds.

Recognize the reality of spiritual warfare

Spiritual warfare can seem scary and overwhelming. Yet it is a reality often mentioned in Scripture. Here in 2 Corinthians, Paul teaches us about the “weapons of warfare” we are given through Christ. Since there is a spiritual battle all around us (Ephesians 6) we must ENGAGE the battle. He tells us of these weapons, not so they can be hung on a wall as trophies. They are to be employed! Specifically, Paul tells us here in 2 Corinthians 10 to use the weapons of warfare in order to destroy strongholds. These weapons are not of the flesh and they have divine power to destroy the strongholds in our lives.

Identify the strongholds

But what are these “strongholds?” Paul gives us three actions to take to help us identify the these dangerous strongholds in order to fight in the spiritual battle.

  • Destroy anything that is raised against the knowledge of God
  • Take captive our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ
  • Be ready to punish every disobedience that pops up in our life

Strongholds in the Bible (Video)

In this video, I take a look at 2 Corinthians 10 as well as a bit of what the Old Testament has to say to help us understand the word stronghold in the Bible.

Resources mentioned in this video about strongholds in the Bible

Enter the video discussion here.

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Love Bears All Things

The threat of my house catching on fire is haunting. Fire can spread quickly and in unpredictable ways, bringing a great potential for destruction. Though fire can be erratic, we do know there are three things needed for a fire to burn: heat, oxygen, and fuel. In light of this, safety experts suggest keeping a fire blanket handy at home, especially for small kitchen fires. A fire blanket is a nonflammable covering used to contain a small fire from getting out of control. It’s designed to contain the fire by preventing oxygen access, thus smothering the fire into submission. The blanket provides a covering in order to suffocate the flames.

You and I have fires that pop up everyday, and they are (hopefully!) not in our kitchen. Every wrongdoing we experience is an ember, and we have an opportunity to smother it immediately or allow it to catch into a smoldering wildfire. Each insult, injury, or inconsideration encountered is a chance to cover the offender in love. When we obsess over the attacking flame on our doorstep we breathe life into it and allow it to burn bright, instead of immediately smothering the offense with love.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Love covers. It quickly blows out the flame of irritability, resentment, and pride. Again and again and again. It suffers long toward every ember that tempts to take over. Love is shown in the response we make toward wrongdoing. We don’t need to go out looking for fires to put out, we each have enough to go around. Fires pop up every day, and in those moments when we begin to feel the heat, we have a choice to feed the fire or smother it into submission.

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,” (Isaiah 61:10).

Jesus smothered our sin into submission, then He gifted us His righteousness. This act of love covered over you and me in a way we cannot fully comprehend on this side of eternity. And as we attempt to grasp the reality of Christ’s covering, let’s move toward extending a covering of love to those around us as extravagantly as Christ did for us.

PRAY THIS WITH ME: Jesus, I praise You for Your covering of grace and forgiveness. Never let me forget what You have saved me from. Help me to see the fires that need covering and enable me to douse them with love today.


This is an excerpt from Everyday Love — a women’s Bible study on love. This easy-to-use, four-week Bible study will help you discover how your life can bear witness to God’s purpose. In as few as 15 minutes a day, you will explore the Book of 1 Corinthians 13 and the deeper truths about God’s love for you and others. 

Join the Online Study Group!

 

Discover what the Bible has to say about love

(And learn how to study the Bible along the way!)

WHAT: Studying 1 Corinthians 13

WHEN: February 11th – March 8th, 2019 

WHERE: Bible Study Hub Facebook group

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5 Tips to Help Your Kids Love God’s Word

My oldest approached me a few days ago and asked if we could meet as a family every morning and have our “quiet times” together. For months now, he’s been trying to find a time and a place in his day to spend time with God. He and I started going to breakfast on Wednesday’s before school and I’ve been teaching him how to study the Bible using an inductive study method. But he wants more. He wants to be in the Bible every day and there isn’t much more that makes this momma’s heart sing.

Thought I certainly don’t have this parenting thing down, and I’m sure we have some tumultuous years ahead of us in these last 9 years we have as parents with kids in the house, we are beginning to see both the holes caused from our parenting failures as well as the good and sweet fruit of our labors. With the clarity of hindsight, I can now see how the Lord has faithfully led us to take several actions with our kids when it comes to the Bible. Here are five we’ve seen begin to bear beautiful fruit.

MODEL AND INVITE

It is really tempting to study behind closed (and locked) doors, especially when they were younger…. Allowing them to stay was an invite for them to be a part of what mom was doing.

UPLOAD AND HAVE FUN

I cannot count how many times we (unsuccessfully) tried to have some sort of family devotion time that ended in kicking and screaming and me losing it in absolute frustration that my kids could not get with the program! Looking back, I can see that I was asking them to do something they were not developmentally ready for. There was, however, something I was doing right all along …

BUILD THE HABIT AND INVEST IN THEIR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

There is no way I can impart everything they need to know about God and the Bible while under my roof. And even if I did, it will mean little if they don’t choose to make it their own relationship, their own faith, their own pursuit. While I cannot chose for them, I can set them up for success by inviting them to make time with God part of their everyday lives through providing opportunities and tools to help them do so.

DISCUSS WHAT YOU ARE LEARNING

Chat about what you are learning in your own time in the Bible. Ask them what they’ve been reading…. Make it normal to talk about and enjoy the Word of God in your everyday life.

PRAY, PRAY, AND PRAY SOME MORE

There are no guarantees that they will grow to love the Word, but just as a plant needs the right environment to grow, so does a spiritual life. As we do the work to till the soil, water, fertilize, and pull the weeds, we must also pray for the Light of the World to illumine the hearts of our precious seedlings. Without His work in their hearts, our labor is in vain.

(Read more about each tip in my post over at LifeWay Voices!)


One of the ways we are doing this in our family recently, is through the Brave Roots Boxes. My kids have LOVED their boxes. All three have faithfully sat down to do their “quiet time” using the simple yet significant Bible studies that come in the box. You can learn more about the Brave Roots Boxes here. (This is an affiliate link. Because we love them so much, we want to share about them! At no additional cost to you, I receive a portion of your purchase if you make one. Thanks!)


 

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Bible verses for discouragement

There are seasons that are hard. I just don’t feel right. Discouragement comes easy. The dark cloud looms and lingers.

I begin searching for what’s missing. Maybe if I start running, or eat better I will feel better about myself? Or, am I lonely and just need to find a new friend? Get more sleep? A better schedule? Time alone? A date night?

I’ll try a few things, and when the newness wears off I turn to what energize me. Teaching the Word, blogging, time with good friends, time alone to plan. While they do help recharge me, they will never be enough.

bible verses discouragement

9 Bible verses for discouragement

Only God’s word brings me life.

  • My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! Psalm 119:25
  • Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:37

In uncertainty, His word alone is my good counsel.

  • Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. Psalm 119:24
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

When my soul cries out, His promises alone bring comfort.

  • This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50
  • Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

Though there are moments of overwhelming sorrow, His word under-girds with strength.

  • My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Psalm 119:28

His mercy and grace is what I truly need. Not a smaller jeans size, or a better organized house. Not a new friendship or time to myself. He is my missing piece.

  • Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. Psalm 119:77
  • Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. Psalm 119:132

Which verses do you cling to when the dark cloud looms?