Friday, November 4, 2011 by Laura Lewis
Comfort - 1. to give strength and hope to: cheer; 2. To ease the grief or trouble of: to console.
"Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation (COMFORT) of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves, do not look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He esisted in the form of God, did not regard equality wiht God a thing to be grasped, but empteied Himself, takeing the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross...even I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith,I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me."
I have been single for a couple of months now. Leaving my last relationship made me realize I need to be more careful about who I trust, and I know I can trust in God. I want to concentrate on building my relationship with God. I've been reading the Bible daily for about 6 months. I've read about how we are all sinners, what to avoid and how to avoid sin; we do not belong to this world and we are meant to suffer as Jesus did. I'm becoming overwhelmed instead of refreshed. I'm thirsting to read about God's love. John 3:16 gives me hope, but at the same time it breaks my heart how Jesus suffered for me. Can you give me a perspective on how to interpret the Bible? Or even verses on hope and God's love would be great! Thanks!
Hey, Katie! Thanks for writing to me! You are not alone in your struggle to grasp the love of God. Other young women like you will be blessed by your heart search and God's truth. Katie, I am excited to hear you are reading your Bible - DAILY! I love that you have read and understood that we are all sinners, but because of Christ we can and WANT to avoid sin. And this world - Yes! This world is not our home. Katie, we will suffer. This is true. That we were meant to suffer - not true. In the beginning, God made everything GOOD. Sin was, and still continues to be, the breakdown from which everyone - even nature - is subjected to sin's recourse.
The GOOD news is where I run in the midst of that suffering...
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe." Proverbs 18:10
"Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed are those whose sin the Lord will never count against them." Romans 4:7-8
Katie what does THAT blessing - what does THAT safety look like? Right? The Bible is a God book - not a you and I book. And what God is resolute in teaching us - is about Himself so that we can know Him, love HIM, and live in relationship to Him. IN Him is life. We must get HIM above everything else. Sometimes I think we miss Him because we are so caught up in the thought "what does THIS - that I am reading - have to do with me?" Sometimes I think we impress on us what is really His heart that He wants to make us well aware of. And why? Why does God want us to know His heart? Because KNOWING Him changes absolutely everything about us. So please keep in mind with me that this book we get to read daily is about our God - about Jesus - about the Spirit of the Living God. He is well acquainted with suffering, and yes - He wants us to understand that. Why? Great question! Seek His Word for why and we will realize it.
"He Himself knows our frame."Psalm 103:13
"You are intimately acquainted with all my ways." Psalm 139:3
"For we do not have a high priest who cannot synpathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15
"He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief...as a result of the anguish of his soul, He will see it and be SATISFIED." Isaiah 53
We have a King who loves us from a place of intimate understanding. We have a King who can empathize with us in every way. We have a King who does not only empathize with us, but who - through HIS suffering - made a way for us out of our own. Not a physical escape so much, Katie, - although God does do wonders in our physical realm - but most assuredly a Spiritual escape is ALWAYS given. Does that make sense?
Pull out a ways from our lives in Buffalo, NY for a minute and take a world view. The Bible is a book for the entire world. Are there people suffering far greater than you and I? Absolutely. How then would a postion of "Jesus is about my physical prosperity" - a verse that promises life, a hope, and a future apply to the orphan in Siera Leone who is hearing for the first time in John 15 that God is her Father, that He loves her, and will be with her as she lives for Him. What does that sound like to her? That she will be rich? That she will be removed from her circumstances in an orphanage where she is starving? I hope that is exactly what she hears! I hope she grips with HER SOUL and HER HEART that she can focus on TRUTH and not her circumstances.
If the Gospel is not for those who are suffering, than who is it for? Sin has caused suffering. And you know what? Some people don't even realize that they are suffering. Numb. That sin has separated us from our LifeGiving God who loves us - is the depth of our lostness and suffering.
Jesus said, "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world." John 16:33 What does that mean, Katie? Does that mean that right here and right now Jesus has overtaken evil. YOUBETCHA! Not to its completion in our viewing - but to a God who sees tomorrow and a thousand tomorrows after that - it is FINISHED! So, how do you and I live with THAT perspective? We live by every Word of God, Baby! We live by what He says, and by faith - believe it! THERE! theretherethere is my realization of His love. He gave us soul vision - FAITH! to live beyond circumstances in TRUTH that will change our perspective on this life - and have it to the FULL! John 10:10! The JoyRobber wants to take that from you. Satan can kill, steal, and destroy that full life in one perspective my friend. "I was meant to suffer". BAMB! You have just bought into a lie about your God. About your Savior. About the price He paid for your Full Life - that He promised. Satan is good at his lies - and if he can get you to sink your teeth into that fruit, even just a little bit, he has a foothold that he can use against you as you seek the love of God.
All of God's Word calls us to consider two very critical questions. Are you ready for what they are?
1. Do you trust me?
2. Do you believe that I am good?
No matter what is going on in His Word as I read it and think about what is happening on the pages of that timeless book - and what is happening in my own heart and mind as I try to embrace the truth it holds .... I have to come away with the resolve in my SOUL that I trust God. That He is Good. No matter what. Only God's Spirit in us can help us embrace by faith that POWER perspective.
When you go to the Word of God, Katie, look for God. Look for a glimpse of Him in everything you read. What are you like God? What are you trying to teach me about yourself? You won't miss His holiness - His joy, peace, faithfulness, patience, longsuffering, genteleness, goodness, faith, humility, self-control...you won't miss the stuff your heart and soul hungers after. Katie - you ABSOLUTELY will not miss love.
Power - Perspective - that changes everything else.
"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now - remain in my love." John 15:9