Last week, I shared the various encouragements which I had received from our heavenly Father during a season of chastening. I want to expound on one of those here; but before I do, I need to share something about the word “encouragement”.

Words are important and should be carefully chosen. In this case, a more natural word to use would have been “corrections”. So, why did I choose “encouragements”?

Encouragement is something a person does to put courage into someone else, and Christians today need all the encouragement we can get. When we submit to the Father’s chastening, He provides the courage we need to positively respond. Conversely, withdrawing from the Father’s chastening leaves us without the courage we so desperately need in this desperate time. I hope and pray that you will find and receive a large dose of courage as we search deeper into this matter of doing.

Neither restoration nor reformation will come until we stop treating the truths of Scripture like Christian clichés. For me, the challenge of this has come in two well-known passages: “…without Me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).” Think about it.

Have you been thinking about it? If so, I am very interested in what the Holy Spirit has brought to your heart and mind. If you have not had the time or inclination, perhaps I can help. This matter of “doing” requires more of our thinking.

Thought #1: Jesus and Paul chose their words wisely. I am referring to the words “nothing” and “all”. They are absolute and extreme opposites.

Thought #2: People can do things without Jesus. The most ungodly people do things all the time. Therefore, we can assume that Jesus meant “without me, you can do nothing of value to God“. The Parable of the Talents warns us that a servant (i.e., Christian) can “do nothing of value to God” with the talent entrusted to him; and that, with dire consequence.

Thought #3: “With me” and “through Christ” are the differentiators which set “nothing” and “all” on opposite ends of the spectrum. The danger here is thinking that Christians naturally and passively do everything with and through Christ. This leads to a very dangerous deception: that everything a Christian does is pleasing to God.

Thought #4: Trusting in our natural thinking invites deception. Our carnal mind will not be overcome passively. The enemy that lies within is at enmity with God and His children.

Closing Thought: When we consider the whole of our life in light of the nothing-or-all spectrum, we will find ourselves at some point between the two extremes. This point represents an average and is affected greatly by our past. However, in the present, we must avoid looking at the work and talent entrusted to us from the perspective of averages.

In the present, there is no spectrum; there is only choice. We will either do nothing without Christ, or we will do all things through Christ. Our carnal mind would have us be less determined and disciplined. Don’t be deceived into thinking this is complicated. It only requires that we ask ourselves one very simple question, “Am I doing this with and through Christ, or not?” Believe me, the answer comes quickly… and with courage.

God bless you with grace and encouragement to ask yourself the challenging questions.

Humbly yours and forever His,