There are times when we all need a little encouragement. The pressures of life are real, none of us are immune, and on occasions, we can feel weary or discouraged. Sometimes, we just need to be refreshed by taking a physical break and applying basic self-care. But there are occasions when one problem after another can leave us feeling spiritually weary. It is then, when our faith is tested, that perseverance is developed within us. Our strength to persevere is found by receiving and believing in the Word of God.
Encouragement is defined as giving someone the courage and confidence to do something. This is often thought to be with kind and supportive words, or maybe even practical help, which are all a blessing. But true encouragement, or exhortation, is found by drawing closer to God. It is there that we find our ever-present help, our refuge, and our strength. Let us build ourselves up ‘in the faith,’ with the courage and confidence to trust in God, through times of great need. One way of strengthening our faith is by remembering all that God has done for us – to remind ourselves of His faithfulness.
The scripture reading today is a call to draw near to God and to keep on persevering in faith, through remembrance of the reconciling work of Jesus.
We can come with a sincere, true heart, in full assurance of faith.
We have been given this boldness and confidence to approach God, through faith in Jesus Christ. He has made the way, by His death and resurrection, for us to be reconciled to God. We can come to an approachable and relational God, who is attentive to us, because of Jesus’ sacrifice. What greater encouragement could there be of God’s love for us! We receive, by faith, a fresh revelation of His love, and renewed strength. For God’s Word promises that when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.
For we have been washed and cleansed from all guilt.
In the Old Testament, the sprinkling of water was used as a symbolic and ritual act of cleansing in the Temple. The imagery here, though, is of our hearts being sprinkled, that by faith we are cleansed from sin, and all guilt removed. We no longer have a guilty conscience; we are free from condemnation. There is no arrogance in full assurance of righteousness, when it is founded in faith, from believing in Jesus’ all-sufficient sacrifice.
In the New Testament baptism closely followed conversion – the decision to believe and become a follower of Jesus. We follow that pattern, believing in the symbolism that baptism depicts, that through faith we are united with Christ through his death and resurrection. The power of sin over our lives has been broken. As we rise from the water of baptism, we are symbolically washed and cleansed, to walk in a new way of life, by faith in Christ Jesus.
What wonderful encouragement to draw near to God, with the reminders of our privileged position. God’s grace and His love towards us, are not cheap, we have been bought with a price. There was a substantial heavy cost to be paid for our freedom and that alone spurs us on in our journey of faith. Let us press on and persevere to know more of God. Our desire, every day, is to grow in faith as we draw closer to Him, and to know more of His presence.
Be reminded today of how much you are loved by God and receive this word of encouragement!
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV