Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Philippians 1:2 (ESV)
READING: Philippians 1:1-6
We church planters need to encourage our congregations. They are filled with people who are exhausted, distracted, confused, grief-stricken, carnal, afraid, and just beat up by life. They need encouragement. And it seems there are only two kinds.
One kind of encouragement points to people and tells them they can do better, that they have hidden reserves of talent and energy that they have yet to develop. Keep on trying, keep on working, because things will get better.
The other kind points to God and says, our God is great, and He is in control no matter what comes. The Lord is good, all the time. He is full of wisdom and power, and whatever concerns Him, whatever it takes to accomplish His purposes, He will do. Trust Him, follow Him, obey Him, and He’ll get you through.
Now the first kind of encouragement is good. It will help. We should try harder, not give up, and we can do more than we think.
But the second kind of encouragement is the kind Paul used when he wrote the book of Philippians. Rather than telling the Philippians they were a great people, he told them they had a great God. Instead of speaking of their great potential, he told them, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And rather than telling them that if they just hung in there, things would get better for them, he told them that Christ was the only reason for living and dying, and that one day every knee would bow and every tongue would confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
That’s how he encouraged them. And that’s the kind of encouragement we need to receive, and to give.
Father, Encourage me with a greater vision of Your glory! Amen.