“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; (4) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1.3-4
I think everyone reading these words could say that we have been through a time of tribulation or trial and God has brought us through in a way that only He could. So the words of this verse could be addressed to each one of us. I believe they are. Paul speaks of God as “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort … ” Think about those two words mercy and comfort. How many times have we desperately needed mercy and comfort? And EVERY TIME we had the need, God was there and provided exactly what we needed. He comforted us is all our tribulation.
So what are WE to do? Paul told the Corinthians and us this profound truth: “that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble … ” Every day we encounter people who are in … trouble and they are in desperate need of someone to guide them. And then God puts you in their path. That is no mistake … that is divine providence. So what is it that we are supposed to do? We are to provide comfort to them with the “comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” Who else is better qualified to tell a prospective open heart surgery patient what he is about to go through other than one who has already gone through that surgery? That person speaks from experience. Who else is better equipped to tell a fellow believer that God is faithful and He will bring them through their tribulation, than one who has already experienced the faithfulness of God in a similar situation? Let us be faithful to the task of comforting others as God brings them across our paths. Just my thoughts …
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21.4
I have heard well-meaning people say there won’t be any tears in heaven but this verse says that God will wipe away all tears. That is something very different. He can’t wipe away what isn’t there. When I think of tears, I think of some of the things I have heard others say about tears. (1) Tears are a sign of weakness; (2) I’m a man, men don’t cry; (3) that person cries about everything. First let me say that I don’t consider Jesus a person of weakness and we read in John 11.35: “Jesus wept.” And if I remember right, Jesus was a man among men. While it is true that some people cry about everything, it is also true that for many people, tears are an indication of a compassionate heart.
In this verse above John mentions the things that have brought pain to us in this life. In addition to tears he mentions death, sorrow, crying, and pain. Each one of us has experienced all of these to one degree or another. So since heaven is not going to have any of these, that gives us great hope for a place of peace, comfort, and tranquility. After all, we will be in the presence of our Savior who took care of these things for us while He was down here on this earth. When we read “ … the former things are passed away”, we know that they were real but they are real no more. So when I think of the hope of heaven, I think, “Heaven’s sounding sweeter all the time.” So many in our world are living without hope. Let’s share this good news with them today! Just my thoughts …
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3.20
For the theologians reading this, I want you to know that I know the context of this verse and that it was written to the church. But I want to look at it from the standpoint of an application for you and me.
Imagine for a moment that the crucified Christ is knocking at your hearts door, and you hear Him say, “It’s me, Jesus. Can I come in and have a meal with you? Let’s just talk.” When i think about having a meal with a friend, I think about the things we have in common and the kinds of things we can talk about. What would Jesus want to talk to me about? Maybe He would speak about the truth that His goal for me is to represent Him down here on this earth? What if He asked me, “How well do you think you are doing with that?” I would be embarrassed to say, “Not as well as I should.”
He might ask me what I needed to change in my life in order for the world to see His life in me. As I think about a question like that, I am reminded how many times a day I focus solely on what I want rather than on what He wants for me. I think about the opportunities I have missed to share my faith in Him with others who do not know who He is. Even by imagining a conversation with Jesus, I am convicted by the way I have lived my life for Him. How about you? Let’s determine that we are going to live in such a way that we have just had a conversation with the Savior, and He said, “Live well for me!” Just my thoughts …
“For, brethren ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Galatians 5.13
Unfortunately there are some believers who have the idea that since they have eternal security, it doesn’t matter how they live. Nothing they may do will keep them out of heaven. Can I say that such an attitude may be true but is presumptuous? God’s grace in salvation has saved us from a life of sin, not saved us so we can go on living in sin.
Paul’s words here are powerful. “ … brethren ye have been called unto liberty … ” God saved us to live a life of liberty in Christ. But we must not confuse liberty for license. Our liberty is not a license to sin. Our liberty gives us the freedom to not live under the law because Christ fulfilled the law in our place. This is the age of grace.
“ … only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh … ” There are times when our flesh seems to have such a powerful hold over us in our decision making process. When the flesh demands to have its own way, we are headed down the wrong path when we give in.
The last phrase gives us the motivation for our service with our brothers and sisters in Christ. “by love serve one another.” Everything that you and I do out of a sense of duty in service to others is simply a spiritual job. There is no joy in doing it. When we serve each other with love, it is not a duty and it is not a job. It is a joy for God to allow us to serve in such a manner. Let me encourage you to deny the flesh and serve one another with love. Just my thoughts …
“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1Timothy 4.8
We read in 1Timothy 6.6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” There must be something to godliness since it is mentioned these two times by Paul to Timothy. So how would we define godliness? We find these words in the dictionary: “the quality of being devoutly religious; piety.” But I believe the meaning goes much deeper than this. I believe godliness is allowing my life to be so consumed by God that when others see me, they don’t really see me, but a reflection of the God who is being lived out through me.
I believe this phrase carries great meaning: “godliness is profitable unto all things …” When my life is so consumed by God that I am a reflection of Him, everything else in my life changes too. So godliness becomes profitable to everything in my life. It affects both the life that now is, and that which is to come. I cannot live a mundane, self-satisfying life if I am consumed by the God who saved me and is preparing me for eternity. Why? Because the focus of life has changed from what I want for me to what He wants for me. That brings us to the phrase: “godliness with contentment is great gain.” There is such a lack of contentment in life today. We seem to be overcome by an obsession with more things. But when my life becomes a life of godliness, then things no longer are my obsession – God is my obsession.
Do you believe God knows what you need? Do believe God can supply what you need? Do believe God will supply what you need? Do you believe He will do all those things at the right time and in the right manner? Seems to me you are on the path to contentment! And that is a good place to be. Just my thoughts …
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. ” Philippians 3.13-14
Have you ever lost your focus? I don’t mean just for the moment or for the hour or for the day, but for life itself? It is easier than you think. I was impressed by something Franklin Graham said about his father. He said his only focus in life was the gospel. And nothing was ever able to distract him from that singular purpose. So, that begs the question for you and me right now, today. What is the focus of my life? Are you willing to ask yourself that question?
Paul makes three very significant statement in the verses above: (1) forgetting those things which are behind, (2) reaching forth unto those things which are before, and (3) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I wonder how many reading these words are still controlled by mistakes you have made in your past? You cannot change one thing about your past. You can ask God to forgive your past mistakes. And perhaps the hardest thing to do is to forgive yourself for what you have done that still controls you. I know that is a controversial statement for some, but nevertheless it is a vital part of moving on. “Forgetting … “
“Reaching forth … ” What are you focusing on that lies ahead of you? What does God have for you today? Have you asked Him? Are you arguing with Him over His answer? If He knows best (and He does), then accept that He has said and reach forth.
This one is significant: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. ” If you’ve watched any of the Olympics, you know that every competitor has kept his/her eye on the finish line. Looking back only tells you who is about to catch up with you. Looking ahead tells you how far you have to go, and for us it is “the mark” … I don’t want to become sidetracked. I want my focus to be clear. I pray that is the same for you. Just my thoughts …
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Revelation 14.13
America lost a spiritual giant today with the death of Dr. Billy Graham. I don’t need to recount the things this man accomplished. His name is a household word in our nation and in many nations of our world. When I read the words, “their works do follow them”, I am reminded of the millions who came to Christ because of the witness of Dr. Graham. I wonder what his welcome was like when he entered the gates of heaven and was met by those saints of God who had gone before him and who were saved because of his ministry?
Let me suggest that you and I take a page from Dr. Graham’s life and ministry and pick up the mantle of declaring the gospel will compassion and boldness. What can you and I do beginning today that will make an impact on our world? What will we do that will demonstrate a boldness that will not be silenced because someone doesn’t like the truth? Dr. Graham put aside the criticism of others in order to have the greatest opportunities to share the gospel with the greatest number of people over the longest period of time. Are we willing to do that?
I pray that the gospel will be carried to “the uttermost” so that everyone has the opportunity to hear and believe. I need to begin with my own neighborhood and let the message spread from there. Will you join me? Let’s do this! Just my thoughts …
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11.28-30
Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with the pressures of this life that we long for the rest that we will get in the life to come. But that is not what Jesus is offering here. He is talking about giving us rest in this life: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” So, what does that rest look like? As long as I insist on carrying my own load, God doesn’t have the opportunity to help carry my load. Jesus said in these verses that we should “Take (his) yoke upon (us), and learn of (Him) … ” What does that mean? It means that He wants to be in the yoke of our lives with us. Life is too short and too demanding to try to live it all along. The peace and rest for which we are longing only comes when you and I give up control and let God be in control. Why can I rest then? Because I am no longer worrying about how I am going to get something done or how it will turn out.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Do you believe that? God’s desire for us in not a difficult life but one in which we find our rest in Him. We need never fear that He wants to make things difficult. That does not mean that difficult times will not come. But it does mean that in those difficult times I can share the yoke with Him and find rest. Trust Him. Believe Him. Find rest in Him. Just my thoughts …
“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37.5
“Commit thy way unto the LORD … ” Good advice, but how hard is that to do? We get up each morning with a mind full of things that WE want to get done, and off we go. “Look out, God, I have a lot to do today!” I admit that I have been guilty of that far too many days in my life. But the psalmist had a reason for this phrase. He had learned the wisdom of it over the course of his days of walking with God. In fact, the entire 37th Psalm is a marvelous treatise of how you and I should walk with God. (If you haven’t read it recently, take time to do so.) so what does it mean to commit our way to the Lord? Doesn’t it mean that WE stop planning our path and ask God for His direction for the next step? That requires that we move the focus of our lives from what WE want to what HE wants. And that is a big step for most of us.
Believing this second phrase is paramount to doing the first phrase: “trust also in him … ” When my trust in God is without question, then the decision to commit my way to Him should be without question. When I begin to question the wisdom of the path God has chosen for me, I am not trust Him completely. I am thinking that He may have made a mistake. After all, I am not happy with His choice. But that betrays the idea of absolute trust.
“he shall bring it to pass.” What is “it”? He shall take the way that you have committed to Him and cause to happen what He knows is best for you. Notice the English construction here: “he shall … ” When shall is used in the third person, it is a demonstrative statement meaning that it will surely happen. And, my friend, it will surely happen. Just my thoughts …
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23.4
We hear people refer quite often to “the valley of the shadow of death”. It doesn’t always mean a reference to death, but may be a reference to an experience that seems as horrible to them as death. Such an experience causes each one of us to struggle unless we realize the truth of the phrase: “thou art with me … ” A realization of God’s presence with us in any and every situation is a source of strength that we can find in nothing else.
I find strength and comfort in David’s words: “I will fear no evil … ” The moment we entertain the thought that the evil we face is greater than the God we serve, we will fear that evil. But David knew, and you and I must come to know, that nothing, absolutely nothing, is greater than our faithful God. God is not simply great. He is the greatest. He reminded Israel over and over in the Old Testament that He was God and beside Him there was none else.
When I read the words. “ … thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”, I need to remember that God has a purpose in every experience He brings into my life or that He permits to be a part of my life. Everything may not be good, but God can use that as a rod to teach me something I would not otherwise learn. Let’s live today in the light of David’s words that bring comfort and confidence. The valley may be dark, but we need not fear. Our God has said He will be with us. And His presence is enough. Just my thoughts …