One of the intentions of these letters to you is to encourage, to help you to see all the possibilities of your potential in Christ, so that you can understand and heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God within you. You need to be able to comprehend these last two words fully, within you. For this is how the Lord has chosen to lead His children, by His Word, by others and by His Spirit.
If you are not studying His Word every day, you will not know where to go, if you are just listening, but not actually hearing all of those you meet each day, not only your brothers and sisters in Christ mind you, but all that you meet, you will miss important words that you were meant to hear. Our Lord can use anyone He wants to at any time to encourage and bring words of wisdom to our ears, even from those that do not know Him, and of course the Holy Spirit of God, who is our counselor and helper to find the way of faith. Encouragement can come in many forms, but one must be wise in discerning, for our adversary is very subtle, and this word encouraged has been modified by him into the statement “To make you feel better about yourself.” Granted, this can be a small part of encouragement, but as Satan did with our Lord when he tempted Him in the wilderness, (Matt. 4:1) he leaves out certain things, certain parts of the Scriptures, and in so doing, the Truths of the Scriptures, he speaks a half-truth, which in itself is a lie.
You cannot help a brother or sister in Christ who is behind bars being tortured for the sake of Christ with platitudes, the only reassuring encouragement for them is the Word of God, the assurance that the Lord is in complete control of their circumstances, patting them on the back and reassuring them with half-truths, trying to make them feel better are not words of encouragement. I have found thru many years of trial and error that there is one thing that encouraging, no matter who it is offered to, cannot do though, it cannot teach initiative. Almost everyone on this planet, at least in the area of their general vicinity and as much as they search the internet beyond cat videos, are wise in the ways of the world. They can usually tell you what the weather is going to be the next five days, the top events of the world that are happening at this time, and they are more than happy to discuss anything about themselves that you are willing to talk about. They are wise in the ways of the world, a wisdom that our Lord will show to be foolishness, (1 Cor. 3:19) they are fools, for the fool has said in his heart there is no God. (Psalm 14:1)
It is nearly impossible to teach them anything that they do not see as beneficial to themselves, their thoughts are continuously only upon themselves, and they surround themselves with only those of a like mind. Self is the way of the foolish man. They are in a sense like the children of Israel in their forty-year journey in the wilderness, when the pillar of cloud or fire moved, they moved, but in between they sat and waited. These will not do anything unless they are told to, and unless it is forced upon them for either monetary or other reasons that they would not choose, all that they will do will be only for themselves. Initiative my friends cannot be taught, and for some who know Christ as Lord, the promptings of the Holy Spirit will not be heard unless He yells very loudly, these will not take a step of faith unless they are one hundred percent sure, and that is not faith.
Inquisitiveness is a precursor to initiative, if Moses had seen the bush that burned but was not consumed, (Exo. 3:2) and had just thought, “Well now, that’s interesting, I had better get back to the tent though, it’s almost suppertime,” things would have been a little different, wouldn’t they? If David would have noticed Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:2) and thought, “That’s a very attractive woman, well, I had better get back to business,” if there had been no inquisitiveness there would have been no initiative and Matthew would have just continued collecting taxes. Initiative means I am curious, and so in a step of faith, after much prayer and supplication, (Phil. 4:6) I will move in this faith and see where the Lord leads. Why don’t many Christians do this though, is it a lack of initiative, a lack of faith, or an inner fear of possible failure, and then they would feel bad. Encouragement can be given at anytime and anywhere, but initiative cannot be given or taught, we can help to encourage others in their faith, but unless they of their own free will step out in faith, their faith will never be anything more than a feeling.
Faith comes from God, conviction comes from the Holy Spirit, our strength comes from Christ, but you have to take a step, a first step, you have to roll away the stone so that your faith can remove the burial clothes that surround it. Faith, my friends, is not the same as faith in Christ, those who live a life of faith in Christ no very little of the fear of failure, when the pillar of cloud is not moving, they are studying, they are contemplating, they are seeking His will in their lives so that when the pillar stirs, and begins to move, they are prepared. There are far too many Christians today who are sitting in a lawn chair beside the mailbox waiting for a clear and definitive word from the Lord, seeking the knowledge of His will in their lives from some external source, instead of listening and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit within them. There is a chance they may be wrong, and so they do not act.
I have heard it said by Godly men that ninety-percent of what a believer does is done by the steps of faith, a general direction only is known, the steps must be taken in prayerful faith, and the Lord will then let them know whether or not the path they are on is the right one, but He will not do that until the first steps are taken. “I will raise Lazarus from the dead, but you must roll away the stone; I will heal you, but you must ask first.” It takes initiative to become faithful my friends, and initiative cannot be taught, it must be acted upon.
I will let you in on a little secret here, I do not plan these letters. I wake up every morning just like you do, groggy and tired, with very little desire to step out the door and head off to work, but I listen, and a word or name that I am not familiar with will enter my mind, and then I will stop all that I am doing, whether I am at work or not, and I will begin to write. I do not pre-plan these letters to you, I do not make pages of notes, I simply start writing. This is the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my life at this point of the path that the Lord has me on, and two or three times a day, every day, I heed that prompting, I pick up my pen and notebook and I begin to write. Initiative cannot be taught, and faith in Christ is only faith if it is acted upon.
You are going to be sitting by the mailbox for a very long time until you realize these truths. You must make the determining factor for yourself, what is holding you back, aren’t you interested in why the bush is on fire but not being consumed, or are you afraid that you will get burned? Go to that Holy ground, take your shoes off, get down on your knees and say, “Use me, I am willing to follow, but I’m not sure where to go, please, make the path clear to me.” He gave me a pen and a notepad, just imagine what He might give you.