Every now and again we just need a word spoken at the right time to get us through. Most of us have grown up in the Lord enough to where we don’t have to have reassurance and encouragement from Him each and every hour. There are seasons of our Christian journey wherein God does not speak discernibly to us about life. His silence is not a sign of His disfavor or disinterest; when God chooses not to be obvious to us it is His way of teaching us to trust all that He has previously said to us. His silence is sometimes a clear indicator that you have matured and that He can trust you to rest contentedly while He shepherds without speaking.
But sometimes God speaks something so helpful to you that it seems like He’s whispering encouragement in your very ear. Yesterday He did that for me.
I’m studying the book of James and preaching my way towards the last few passages. If you are familiar with this book of the bible you know it contains much no-nonsense instruction. Chapter four is highly confrontational as James shakes us by the shoulders to tell us how to live. His words are not rounded but, rather, pinpoint sharp. Listen to what the apostle tells us:
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God…Submit yourselves therefore to God…resist the devil…draw near to God…cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord…”
We would think that James is writing to a group of reckless pagans. He’s not, he’s writing to you and me. Poorly motivated prayer merchants? Apparently we are occasionally. Friends of the world? More than we like to admit. Enemies of God? Yes, when we align ourselves with the culture instead of the King. Dirty handed sinners with impure hearts who need to mourn instead of celebrate while humbling themselves before God? Wow. anyone else sensing that we don’t measure up? James is certainly the in-your-face preacher. But then God communicates something unexpected in verse six:
“But He gives more grace.” Hmmmmm….short statement, easily understood…and frequently overlooked by us.
When I am a dirty handed sinner, He gives more grace. When I am proud, He gives more grace. When the world begs me to abandon my purpose and become its friend, God gives Jeff more grace. When sickness sidelines you, God is ready to dispense more grace. When temptation assaults you in the same area again, God is present with grace that abounds. Demands, duties, detours, denials…God whispers that we need not fret because He gives us more grace. As His word overwhelms us by revealing his holy expectation we are wise to rush to Him and partake of the “more grace” that He is giving. Impossible challenges and lofty goals require grace upon grace upon grace.
And the in-your-face-preacher puts his arm around your shoulder to reassure you that the holy, all-consuming-fiery God burns with the fuel of grace. He is strong and holy and fearsome and awe-striking but never be deceived that He is less than gracious, patient, compassionate and committed. He’s not detoured by your weakness and failures.
It’s what attracted Him to you in the first place.
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