Encouragement and Freedom by the Holy Spirit
Pastor Caleb White’s message last Sunday struck a chord with many of you. We can’t live well…and we might not be able to live at all…without encouragement.
“Encourage each other day by day” the author to the early Hebrew Christians wrote (Hebrews 10:25).
Yet we often live in very discouraging times. “My marriage is hopeless” someone texted to us during the Sunday morning teaching. “What can I do?”
In every era since the ascension of our Savior (cf. Acts 1), Christians have lived in and through very difficult times. The Lord himself noted, “In this world, you will have tribulation.” Sometimes the trouble comes from within, from those near at hand, in the day-by-day relationships we live in week by week. Other times, the trouble comes from circumstances, health struggles, financial loss, even rejection by others or persecution because of your quiet, godly walk with the Lord. “Those who live godly in Christ Jesus,” Paul noted, “will suffer persecution.”
You may be living in a very difficult spot right now. Yet you belong to and are following the Greatest and Most Powerful Person in the universe (no one less than the Lord Jesus Christ). And, inside you have a Divine Resident — the Holy Spirit of God — whose presence empowers no matter what we are facing.
IT’S REALITY, NOT MERELY THEORY
The truth is that you are more than a conqueror in Christ (Romans 8:37). The truth is that you can do all things through Him who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13). The truth is that even through the most difficult and desperate struggles, the Spirit is preparing you for glory, a permanent glory, a glory that will never diminish nor end.
I say these things because I am looking to Scripture (as Pastor Caleb urged) for encouragement. How about you? Have you looked to God’s book for what your heart needs? Have you given the Spirit’s voice a chance to lift up your chin?
I am finding it in the 2nd letter Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians in ancient Greece. Listen to what he wrote:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from one degree to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
For these young Christians, Paul is contrasting the ministry of the OT Law (written in stone, a ministry of death and condemnation because no one could keep the Law, a ministry “coming to an end”) with the NT ministry of the Spirit and the Gospel (written on human hearts, a ministry of righteousness, of increasing glory, glory which is permanent).
Using Moses’ experience when he met with God in the tent-of-meeting, Paul now insists that any Christian can have even a greater experience than did Moses. Moses would meet face-to-face with God, and when he came out, his face was glowing (Exodus 34:29-35). But the glory would fade; Moses even tried to cover up the “fading glory” with a veil.
WE ALL, Paul insists, can each day meet with God “with an unveiled face” and (1) behold the glory of the Lord, (2) be transformed even more into the likeness and image of the Lord, and (3) watch that transformation happen more and more (“from one degree to another”) each time we meet with God. ALL OF THIS, Paul insists, happens because we have God’s Spirit within and around. We are free to meet with God and become like Him.
IT’S TOUGH…BUT THIS IS INCREDIBLE!
Yes, your marriage may be a place of daily hurt. Yes, your body may not be functioning as well as it did 20 years ago. Yes, you may have just taken a financial hit that has set your head spinning. Yes, your kids may be struggling. Yes, you wish you’d done better on that test.
But this is incredible. God has bigger plans for you. God is out to bless you and change you and give you more of Himself the more you will give Him time. He invites you to experience His glory, a glory you and I will experience increasingly on that day when we step into eternity. When we land in the place in which we truly are citizens.
Even in the roughest stretches, He invites you to experience His presence and His fellowship and to shine with His glory.
“Let the Spirit flow through you!” Even in the roughest stretches — which may last longer than you wise — take time to yield to the Spirit, to read the Word, to find encouragement in what God is truly doing in your life.
“Let God make your day!” Open the Word. Read in the POETRY section of the library the Psalms, which are the language of our faith and heart cries to God. Read in the LETTERS section of the Library what it means to walk with Jesus and the Body of Christ through a world that is set against us, but we are more than conquerors.
“Share your tough stuff” with some trusted Christian friends, and be encouraged.
“Extend your welcome mat” to a friend who is not yet believing in Christ, and share the joy you have in Him despite your circumstances.
These are the ways to be encouraged even in the most difficult situations, and to become more than conquerors through Him who loved us.