We best encourage not by being cuddly with people but by reminding them of the promises of God. Encouragement from God for the people of God comes from the word of God. I am not depreciating the helpfulness of the personal touch or care, but in an age that wallows in “caring” and “sensitivity” on every hand believers need to know that solid encouragement comes not from emotional closeness but from God’s speech.
You can end up in grave sin by thinking it is very important to be nice to people. How easy it is to practice a gutless compassion that never wants to offend anyone, that equates niceness with love and thereby ignores God’s law and essentially despises His holiness. We do not necessarily seek God’s honor when we spare human feelings.
Our culture does not help us to smash our graven image of the casual god. Our culture proclaims that God must be the essence of tolerance; He is chummy rather than holy; the ‘man upstairs’ rather than my Father for Jesus’ sake. So long as our novelty license plates declare that "God is my co-pilot’ we can be sure that we have not yet seen the King, Yahweh of hosts.
Sometimes the clearest evidence that God has not deserted you is not that you are successfully past your trial but that you are still on your feet in the middle of it.
Yahweh’s will must be achieved in Yahweh’s way; the end that God has ordained must be reached by the means that God approves.
All the believer’s life and all the church’s life requires theocentric thinking. The tragedy is that were someone to hear our thoughts and words in our dangers and troubles they would never guess that we had a living God.
The difference between grace and works is the difference between worship and idolatry. The man inebriated with the thought that all he has is Yahweh’s gift finds himself repeatedly on his knees, adoring, thanking, praising. But if we do not grasp grace we plummet into idolatry, for that is the inevitable corollary of self-sufficiency.
Sometimes the Father may box us in, place us in a situation in which, one by one, all our secondary helps and supports are taken from us, in order that, defenseless, we may lean on His mercy alone – prayer. Once we see this, we will no longer regard prayer as a pious cop-out but as our only rational activity.
We stand in the present but dwell on the past in order that we can be steadfast for the future.
Our hopelessness and our helplessness are no barrier to (God’s) work. Indeed our utter incapacity is often the prop He delights to use for His next act… We are facing one of the principles of Yahweh’s modus operandi. When His people are without strength, without resources, without hope, without human gimmicks – then He loves to stretch forth His hand from heaven. Once we see where God often begins we will understand how we may be encouraged.
Memory…keeps gratitude fresh and…gratitude keeps faith fruitful.
God’s ways will frequently baffle us but God’s will is sufficiently clear to lead us in the meantime. God’s ways may not be clear but our way is – at least enough of it to know what obedience requires. We may wait for God’s providence but we already have God’s law, and that is all we need for the moment.
When I use the word "providence"…I mean that wonderful, strange, mysterious, unguessable way Yahweh has of ruling His world and sustaining His people, and His doing it, frequently, over, under, around, through, or in spite of the most common stuff of our lives or even the bias of our wills.
If we cannot comprehend we can perhaps apprehend, at least enough to adore.