The Power of Encouragement
Renee Swope

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

I hate open heights. I can't stand balconies, and when driving across a bridge, you'll find me hugging the rail along the inside lane.

Some friends tried to help me conquer my fear of heights by inviting our family to an indoor rock-climbing center. My heart stopped as we entered the doors and I scanned the highest peak at 25 feet! The instructors assured me that a web of ropes and harnesses would hold me tight. Before I could say "no thank you," I was strapped in and signing an injury waiver.

Towards the end of the day, our friends John and Laura encouraged their eight-year-old son Steven to climb to the highest peak – promising tokens and ice cream if he did it. Steven was afraid of heights, too, but he loved a dare. The promise of reward, mixed with the challenge and faith of his father evoked courage in him.

I watched with admiration as Steven started the climb with confidence. He made it to 10 feet, then 15, then 20. But as he inched past the next face of the wall, he saw how far he still had to go. In fear, he looked down with tears and claimed he couldn't do it. Then he cried out for his daddy's help.

By this time, Steven's dad was holding their very tired 3-year-old and his mom was feeding their hungry baby girl. I don't know where my brave husband was, but I quickly realized I was the only one standing there who could do something.

Suddenly courage and strength surged through my body and I called out, "Don't give up buddy. You can do it. I'll help you!"

In record time, I reached the 20-foot marker, crossed over the peak and came up beside Steven to encourage him, reminding him of how far he'd come. I told him he could do it with God's strength and that it would be worth it if he'd persevere. With my words and my confidence in him, I helped Steven turn his thoughts towards a higher goal, an inner peak, a reward much greater than ice cream and game tokens – the reward of getting to a place he had stopped believing he could reach.

Funny how I stopped thinking about my fears when I was focused on encouraging someone else to overcome theirs. I realized that the same promises I had claimed for Steven were true for me, too. I could do it with God's strength, and I did!

Each day we have the same opportunity. Like God did with Joshua in today's key verse and like He does with us, we can come alongside each other in some of life's hardest challenges and highest peaks and say, "Don't give up, you can do it. I'll be with you and help you."

When we take our eyes off our fears, our doubts, our struggles and focus on someone else's needs, we somehow forget our own, for a little while. In believing the power of God's promises for others, our confidence in His promises for us seems to grow as well.

Lord, thank You for the power of Your Words that give me courage to become who You've created me to be – to go to places You're calling me to go and climb spiritual heights that are out of my reach without Your help. Give me Your encouragement today, and help me encourage someone, too. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Renee’s blog for more encouragement in your day and find out how you can share the power of encouragement with others!

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child CD and Character Chart - a message and method for parents to see the power of encouraging words in the lives of their kids, by Renee Swope

Girlfriends’ Road Trip – a message on CD about building Godly friendships, by Renee Swope

Self Talk, Soul Talk: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, by Jennifer Rothschild

Application Steps:
Ask God to encourage your heart today with a promise from His Word that offers hope and power in the midst of your circumstances.

Write a note, leave a message or send an email with a promise and a prayer to someone who needs encouragement.

Reflections:
How has someone's encouraging words impacted my life in the past? How has God's words of encouragement helped me do things I never thought I could?

Power Verses:
Psalm 69:32, "The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God's help be encouraged.'" (NLT)

Deuteronomy 3:28, "But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see." (NIV)

Psalm 10:17, "You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, (NIV)

© 2009 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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7 Comments:

Thank you for this devotion! I am in the midst of a terrible storm as we speak, as I've just had a 2nd trimester miscarriage (my 3rd loss). During this same time, a wonderful friend of mine has brought home a precious newborn whom they are adopting, but is in a period of waiting as the birth mom could change her mind. I sent her these very verses earlier this week to encourage her and remind her that God goes before her, whatever the outcome. And the same is true for me. He has already blessed in tremendous ways, including giving me the courage to share my story on my blog.

Anonymous RAMONA said...

GOOD MORNING, AND THANK YOU FOR SHARRING THAT. YES I TO FIND MYSELF FEARING SOMETHINGS THAT MIGHT SEEM FOOLISH TO OTHERS, BUT DEEP INSIDE OF ME I'M SCARED. AND WHAT YOU SAID, IF YOU TAKE YOUR MIND OFF YOURSELF AND FOCUS ON OTHERS WHO FEAR MORE THAN YOURSELF THATS ENOUGH FOR YOU TO HANDLE AND YOURS SEEM SMALL TO COMPARE TO THEIRS. THE LORD IS ALWAYS WITH US AND KNOWS HOW MUCH WE CAN HANDLE AND TAKE. THANK "GOD" FOR HIS SON JESUS WHO LOVES AND KNOWS US DEARLY. A MOTHERS HEART

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I had just read Isa 40:28-31 & 41:10, plus Matt. 7:7-11. I'd been going through some serious struggles lately. But His words have encouraged me and reminded me of His faithfulness. And thanks for letting God use you to encourage me and many others, too!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Blogger Monica said...

Renee;

Thank you for your post. Joshua 1:9 has been my study for the past two days and to see it as part of your devotion is confirmation that God wants me to have all that He has for me.

Between His word, encouraging words from friends and devotionals, I know that God knows my fears and wants to set me free.

Thanks for reminding us of His presence and promises.

Be blessed.

Monica

P.S. Please keep sharing photos of Aster and your family. Her precious smiles show how much she is loved and cared for. Trust that God will do the same for her birth mother.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like i strugle with fears all the time! All you prayer warriers aut there please-- prayfor me. I know with prayer incourageing words. and relying on God's word it will make a difference and i with God's help will be victorious

God bless,
ksn

Blogger Angela Dell said...

Dear God,
Thank you for your encouragement. Help me to be an encouragement to others and to believe in the talents and god given ability you have placed in me. Forgive me for pushing you to the side and trying it on my own. Give me your hand today and guide me. Amen

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