Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Sign Here, For This"

      We minister to others the comfort we receive.

     "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 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" (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

    Our Heavenly Father determines or allows many of our challenges for the specific purpose of preparing us to help others experience the encouragement we find in Christ.  We do well to remember this truth in times of discouragement.  The Lord beckons us to His throne of grace for the purpose of assuring us, and then to send us forth to the world of hurt in which we live.  Comfort received becomes comfort distributed by the believer who realizes that the Lord Jesus now lives the same quality of life in us as He lived during His earthly sojourn.  "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.  Or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation" (II Corinthians 1:5-6).  Just as His buffeting became our blessing, so do our trials provide opportunity to administer the risen life of Christ by example, word, and deed.

    A hurting Christian hearer once responded to these thoughts, "But I didn't sign up for this!"  Yes he had, first by being born again through faith in the Lord Jesus, and then, by praying, "Heavenly Father, lead and enable me to minister Christ to others."  God's answer to this prayer necessitates our personal challenges.  We cannot disseminate comfort we have not received.  We do not minister the assurance of Christ to others simply by memorizing Bible verses and principles.  We rather face our personal hurts, in the myriad of forms they come to us, recognizing that our reception of grace enables our ministry of grace.  Doubtless, none of us knew in the hour of our new birth that such a life awaited us.  No, we did not know that the path of Christ's love, with its joy of a life lived for God and others, lay before us.  We were unaware that salvation in the Lord Jesus delivers us from the black hole of self absorption unto the upward, outward, and away gaze of recognizing with the Apostle Paul, "The things which happened unto me have fallen out rather for the furtherance of the Gospel" (Philippians 1:12).  Indeed, during his imprisonment, Paul spiritually pillaged "Caesar's household" because he knew and responded in faith to the truth for which he had in fact signed up when he believed (Philippians 4:22).

    Our Lord can bestow no greater and undeserved honor than to grace us with the same quality of life as He lived.  He indwells us for such holy purpose.  Moreover, He plainly informs us in His Word that His path lies before us.  Look closely and see the prints of His nail-scarred feet that lead the way, His way, your way and my way.  And then hear the voice of His Word and His Spirit...

"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you."
(II Corinthians 4:8-12)

Weekly Memory Verse
  They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
(Psalm 126:5)

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