Devotional Word for Friday, July 3, 2020
Have you ever considered the “always” of Scripture? We read in the Great Commission that the Lord Jesus promises to be with us always even to the end of the age. When I hear those kinds of always statements, I rejoice! It is a reminder that my Savior is faithful and will see me home. However, there is another sort of always statement that can be a little more problematic. Take 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It says, REJOICE ALWAYS; PRAY WITHOUT CEASING; IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS; FOR THIS IS GOD’S WILL FOR YOU IN CHRIST JESUS. How in the world are you supposed to rejoice always? Further what does it look like to pray without ceasing. It seems impossible to execute these commands. Why would Paul even care?
Hebrews 3:13 gives us another. The author writes, BUT ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER DAY AFTER DAY, AS LONG AS IT IS STILL CALLED “TODAY,” SO THAT NONE OF YOU WILL BE HARDENED BY THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN. Did you hear that always? When the author days day after day, he means always. After all, when tomorrow comes it will be “today.” Are we really expected to encourage one another each and every day? Yes, and the reason it is so important comes at the end of verse 13. We are to encourage one another SO THAT folks will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Perhaps your heart has never been hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, but I bet it has. I know that mine has. There have been times when I have been angry and know I need to pursue reconciliation, but it is so much easier to remain bitter and angry. That is my heart being hardened. Sometimes I feel as though I know better than the Lord or any authority He has placed over me, and I am tempted to grumble and complain. If I am not careful, that leads to a hard heart.
Hebrews 3:13 provides the remedy for this hardheartedness. We are to encourage others and by extension be encouraged by others. To be clear, this encouragement is not simply saying, “Way to go! You can do it! Rah Rah Rah.” Verse 14 provides the substance of the encouragement. It says FOR WE HAVE BECOME PARTAKERS OF CHRIST, IF WE HOLD FAST THE BEGINNING OF OUR ASSURANCE FIRM UNTIL THE END. Our assurance is the knowledge that Christ has died to take away our sin. Christ has given us His own righteousness. Christ has promised to see us through. That should lead us to rejoice “always!”
Consider John 10. It is a wonderful passage to turn to for assurance of what the Lord has done. Here the Lord Jesus says I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD, AND I KNOW MY OWN AND MY OWN KNOW ME, EVEN AS THE FATHER KNOWS ME AND I KNOW THE FATHER; AND I LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR THE SHEEP. Later on in the chapter He continues saying MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, AND I KNOW THEM, AND THEY FOLLOW ME; AND I GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO THEM AND THEY WILL NEVER PERISH; AND NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND.
Let us encourage and be encouraged by reminding one another that we are sheep. Isn’t that wonderful? We are not just any sheep. We are sheep that belong the Christ, the Good Shepherd. The Lord Jesus has laid down His life so that His sheep, that is to say those who believe in Him, might live. Even more, as the Lord’s sheep, we dwell securely knowing that nothing can take us from the Lord. In the midst of the uncertainty of the day when we are all tempted to grumble and complain sinfully, remember that the God who made all things has loved you and redeemed you. Give thanks for all He has done and hold on to that amazing reality knowing that He will be with you always and forever. Let us pray.
Heavenly Father we know that you have all things in Your hands. We know that You, O God, are seated on Your throne. We pray that You would send Your Spirit to encourage us. We pray that we might be an encouragement to one another reminding each other day after day of Your love and redemption. May we live bold lives secure in the knowledge that we are Your sheep, and nothing can take us from Your hand. We pray all of this in the name of our Redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ.