We can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4
As I stood in the back of the room at a senior citizens’ center in Palmer, Alaska, listening to my daughter’s high school choir sing “It Is Well with My Soul,” I wondered why she, the choir director, had chosen that song. It had been played at her sister Melissa’s funeral, and Lisa knew it was always tough for me to hear it without having an emotional response.
My musings were interrupted when a man sidled up next to me and said, “This is just what I need to hear.” I introduced myself and then asked why he needed this song. “I lost my son Cameron last week in a motorcycle accident,” he said.
Lord, help me to see where help is needed.
Wow! I was so focused on myself that I never considered the needs of others, and God was busy using that song exactly where He wanted it to be used. I took my new friend Mac, who worked at the center, aside, and we talked about God’s care in this toughest time in his life.
All around us are people in need, and sometimes we have to set aside our own feelings and agendas to help them. One way we can do that is to remember how God has comforted us in our trials and troubles “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:4). How easy it is to be engrossed in our own concerns and forget that someone right next to us might need a prayer, a word of comfort, a hug, or gift of mercy in Jesus’ name.
Lord, help me to see where help is needed, and help me to provide that help. Thank You for the comfort You give; help me to share it.
Comfort received should be comfort shared.
By Dave Branon
It Is Well With My Soul
…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit… —Ephesians 6:18
As we continue on in our intercession for others, we may find that our obedience to God in interceding is going to cost those for whom we intercede more than we ever thought. The danger in this is that we begin to intercede in sympathy with those whom God was gradually lifting up to a totally different level in direct answer to our prayers. Whenever we step back from our close identification with God’s interest and concern for others and step into having emotional sympathy with them, the vital connection with God is gone. We have then put our sympathy and concern for them in the way, and this is a deliberate rebuke to God.
It is impossible for us to have living and vital intercession unless we are perfectly and completely sure of God. And the greatest destroyer of that confident relationship to God, so necessary for intercession, is our own personal sympathy and preconceived bias. Identification with God is the key to intercession, and whenever we stop being identified with Him it is because of our sympathy with others, not because of sin. It is not likely that sin will interfere with our intercessory relationship with God, but sympathy will. It is sympathy with ourselves or with others that makes us say, “I will not allow that thing to happen.” And instantly we are out of that vital connection with God.
Vital intercession leaves you with neither the time nor the inclination to pray for your own “sad and pitiful self.” You do not have to struggle to keep thoughts of yourself out, because they are not even there to be kept out of your thinking. You are completely and entirely identified with God’s interests and concerns in other lives. God gives us discernment in the lives of others to call us to intercession for them, never so that we may find fault with them.
God does not further our spiritual life in spite of our circumstances, but in and by our circumstances. Not Knowing Whither, 900 L
A lot of negative emotions accompany hardship: frustration, despair, fear, and doubt. People ruled by these feelings will often make poor choices. This is why I recommend that you decide now to respond to troubled times the way the psalmist did: with a heart of praise. Even in the darkest hours, worshipping God fills the heart with joy and the mind with peace. A believer who is filled in this way can wisely keep a commitment to obey the Lord no matter what.
Worshipping the Lord enlarges our vision. By doing so, we begin to see how He is at work in the world, perhaps in ways and places we’ve never noticed before. More particularly, we see what God is doing in our situation and detect areas where He requires obedience from us.
Our human tendency is to plot a course through a situation toward the easiest solution. But believers who strike out on their own do not mature in their faith. Moreover, they miss out on the blessings of following the Lord’s plan. Stopping to praise can keep us from taking the easy way out and direct us to the right path—namely, the way of God’s will. Taking a step forward in faith can be frightening. However, we can confidently take a risk, knowing our omniscient, omnipotent God has His children’s best interest in mind (Isa. 64:4; Jer. 29:11).
It’s hard to despair while honoring the Lord for His love and strength. We can dispel doubt by recalling His past faithfulness to us—and ease frustration by committing our future plans to Him. Praise is not the obvious reaction to hardship, but it is the wisest response.
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
It is said that the most quoted verse in all the Bible is the passage in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Surely that is a magnificent testimony to the love God has for us, and without it none of us would know God. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
But God “loved righteousness, and hated iniquity” (Hebrews 1:9). How is it that God “commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)? “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Human love is usually reciprocal. That is, we love if and when we are loved in return. Yet those of us who are twice-born are commanded to love each other, and the godly husband is expected to love his wife like the Lord Jesus unilaterally loved the church. But that kind of love is not normal—it is God’s love in us. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7).
The English word “love” in its various forms appears over 700 times in the Bible. The vast majority of those references do not attempt to describe God’s love. They focus either on our responsibility to “love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) or “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8).
Evidently, we experience God’s love when we are saved and are under obligation to show it as we “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). HMM III
But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. —Psalm 73:28
To speak of being near to or far from God is to use language in a sense always understood when applied to our ordinary human relationships. A man may say, “I feel that my son is coming nearer to me as he gets older,” and yet that son has lived by his father’s side since he was born and has never been away from home more than a day or so in his entire life. What then can the father mean? Obviously he is speaking of experience. He means that the boy is coming to know him more intimately and with deeper understanding, that the barriers of thought and feeling between the two are disappearing, that father and son are becoming more closely united in mind and heart.
So when we sing, “Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,” we are not thinking of the nearness of place, but of the nearness of relationship. It is for increasing degrees of awareness that we pray, for a more perfect consciousness of the divine Presence. We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.
Lord, I long to be near to You in experience, in intimate awareness of our Father/child relationship. Draw me close, I pray. Amen.
But now, after ye are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements? (Galatians 4:9)
I am not in the business of trying to downgrade any other believer’s efforts to win souls. I am just of the opinion that we are often too casual and there are too many tricks that can be used to make soul winning encounters completely “painless” and at “no cost” and without any “inconvenience.”
Some of the unsaved with whom we deal on the “quick and easy” basis have such little preparation and are so ignorant of the plan of salvation that they would be willing to bow their heads and “accept” Buddha or Zoroaster if they thought they could get rid of us in that way.
To “accept Christ” in anything like a saving relationship is to have an attachment to the Person of Christ that is revolutionary, complete and exclusive!
It is more than joining some group that you like. It is more than having enjoyable social fellowship with other nice people. You give your heart and life and soul to Jesus Christ—and He becomes the center of your transformed life!
Soldier of the cross! the hour is coming when the note of victory shall be proclaimed throughout the world. The battlements of the enemy must soon succumb; the swords of the mighty must soon be given up to the Lord of lords. What! soldier of the cross! in the day of victory wouldst thou have it said that thou didst turn thy back in the day of battle? Dost thou not wish to have a share in the conflict, that thou mayest have a share in the victory? If thou hast even the hottest part of the battle, wilt thou falter? Thou shalt have the brightest part of the victory, if thou art in the fiercest of the conflict.