Thursday, May 5, 2016

“Illumination, Encouragement, Challenge"

"Illumination, Encouragement, Challenge"

     The communication of God's truth to our hearts involves illumination, encouragement, and challenge.

     "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness" (Colossians 1:9-11).

    A worthy walk proceeds from increased knowledge of our Lord and the strengthening of "His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness".  The order must not be reversed in our understanding or application.  First, grace reveals the Lord Jesus, that is, His person and work for the glory of His Father and His redemptive actions on our behalf.  "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).  All Truth begins and proceeds in Him, including our response of faith and faithfulness.  We must "learn Christ", as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians (Ephesians 4:20).  

   In this holy light of Christ-fostered strengthening, our hearts are encouraged to go forward in peace and confidence.  Our spiritual enemies cannot steal our sealed salvation (Ephesians 4:30).  Thus, they seek to pilfer our experience thereof by tempting us to discouragement.  They work to distract us from the "so great salvation" provided by so great a Savior (Hebrews 2:3).  To counter this work, the Holy Spirit directs our attention toward the Lord Jesus and His aforementioned person and work.  Who is Christ?  What has He done on our behalf?  What is He doing?  And what will He do forevermore?  Fresh or remembered answers to these questions in the light of Scripture renews our confidence, empowers our hearts, and directs our steps along the path of an encouraged walk with God.  "For by Thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall" (II Samuel 22:30).

   In such light and strengthening, our Heavenly Father challenges us to set forth in faith and faithfulness.  "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).  No coddling exists in the Lord's working to conform us to the spiritual and moral image of His Son.  He is wondrously patient and understanding with us.  However, a genuine walk with God includes His voice of calling us to arise, gird on our sword, and go forth in the triumph of the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.  "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might" commanded the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:10).  Since we walk in His strength rather than our own, our Father can justifiably challenge us to "walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing".  Light and encouragement in Christ prepares us for challenge, the challenge of faith, obedience, and fighting the good fight of faith as led and enabled by the Captain of our salvation (I Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 2:10).

    God's Truth illuminates, encourages, and challenges us.  We respond by seeing, receiving, and responding.  We do well to pray for each other and ourselves that this process of grace will enlighten our hearts and minds, strengthen our hands and feet, and beckon our determination and resolve.

"Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
(Ephesians 5:14-16)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.
 (I John 5:21)

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