“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement)…” 2 Cor 1:3
This verse describes God as the Father of sympathy and the God who is the source of every comfort, consolation and encouragement. This is quite amazing – because it means that EVERY single encouragement or comfort you experience comes from God. It accords with the fact that God is ONLY good, and that no darkness abides in Him (1 John 1:5).
The comfort God gives is something you cannot describe. It does not originate from external impulses, but internal life. It starts with the smallest flicker of warmth and it grows bigger, developing into a lovely hope that feels light and joyful. This makes me think of the yoke Jesus refers to in Matthew 11:28 – 30
“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest (I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls). Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. My yoke is wholesome (useful, good – not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing, but comfortable, gracious and pleasant) and my burden is light and easy to borne.”
The comfort of God is good and lasting. David also speaks of this in Ps 94:17: “In the multitude of my (anxious) thoughts within me, your comforts cheer and delight my soul”. Let God’s comfort overtake you in difficult circumstances. Allow Him to cheer and delight your soul – He is there for you.
What I love about true Christianity is the simplicity of the message. Jesus encourages us to become more like children in Matthew 18. I don’t know if you’ve seen this – but little children can watch their favourite movie 200 times in a row without getting bored. This should become our mentality regarding the truth about the cross and salvation of Christ. If we understand the greatness of Jesus’ salvation, we will never tire of hearing about it!
Today, many preachers preach messages filled with deep and complicated revelations and theological discussions. Although there is nothing wrong with revelation – the message of Christ should never be neglected. It is not a message that should only be preached one time. It cannot be heard too many times. It is through hearing the truth over and over again, that we will become saved and changed into the image of Christ.
So I want to remind you about the basics again:
I can go on, but first I just want to really let the above mentioned facts sink in… :-)
As you live your life it is easy to compare yourself, or your faith, to the people around you. Some people may feel that they don’t measure up, while others might feel they are more ‘accomplished’ in their Christianity than others. Both these mindsets are wrong.
The truth is – in Christ there is no level or ranking of individuals. You can’t be a better or worse Christian than others. If you believe in the complete price that Jesus paid, you have jumped to the top of the ‘Christian ladder’. That, and that alone, is what God looks at.
“And Peter opened his mouth and said: Most certainly and thoroughly I now perceive and understand that God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons…” Acts 10:34
“Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].” John 6:29
A life without comparison is a liberating life. Comparing yourself to others drains your energy, and it will always leave you feeling discontent. Knowing how God looks at you with complete acceptance will leave you at peace and full of joy. It frees your time and energy to just get to know God’s true character and love Him.
Joy can be described as an emotion of great delight and happiness caused by something exceptionally good and satisfying. Reading the last part of the sentence reminded me of God – He is exceptionally good and He satisfies the hungry soul (Ps 107:9). It is therefore logical to deduct that His character, and knowing Him will cause great delight and happiness!
What’s more – this joy and happiness is called our strength in the Word. Not holiness, or upright living – but JOY. Our strength therefore lies in the gladness living in our hearts due to knowing the true character of God.
“And be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.” Neh 8:10
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Ps 16:11
“Honor and majesty are [found] in His presence; strength and joy are [found] in His sanctuary.” 1 Chron 16:27
“For You make him to be blessed and a blessing forever; You make him exceedingly glad with the joy of Your presence.” Ps 21:6
“Therefore God, [even] Your God ( Godhead), has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond Your companions.” Heb 1:9
There is so much truth and power in the above mentioned verses. Joy will come as a direct result (i.e. naturally) from an encounter with the true character of God. If you are feeling any other emotion (i.e. burdened, depressed or sorrowful) you are not dealing with the true God. This joy goes far over and above all earthly joy (it exceeds above and beyond our companions). It is heavenly! Spend time with the true God, the good God – and you will experience real, authentic joy.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes weigh myself down wondering what other people think of me. This kills my joy and hinders me from being myself. Like a snare, it keeps me from going forward and limits me to a boxed-in life.
“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.” Proverbs 29:25
I want to break out of this box. The only opinion that matters, the Highest opinion – is God’s opinion. I am promised that His thoughts toward me are wonderful – no other man’s praise or thoughts can compare with His! He makes plans of peace for me – no evil thought crosses His mind. How wonderful! I am completely accepted, approved and loved.
“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; no one can compare with You! If I should declare and speak of them, they are too many to be numbered.” Ps 40:5
What would you do differently, freely out of the depths of your soul, if you could not care less what anyone thought? God’s thoughts are the only thoughts that matter – and they have already put the stamp of approval and blessing on us!
In the previous two posts we spoke about the incredible gift God gave mankind in the sacrifice of Jesus. He saved us entirely – body, mind and soul. We’ve already established that faith in the sacrifice of Jesus leads to salvation of our souls and reconciliation with God. We’ve also established that Jesus took it upon himself to carry every sickness and disease in order for us to experience health. The third aspect of this complete salvation is the salvation of our minds.
Let’s look at Isaiah 53:5 again:
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.”
The highlighted part of the verse refers to our minds, and the fact that we can now enjoy peace. Peace of mind means calmness, composure and freedom from worries. It is a quiet place of contentment and joy, free from all depression, sadness and anxiety.
John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you.”
“May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Pet 1:2
A gift needs to be received in order to be enjoyed. We just need to realize God’s heart towards us, and how blessed we are the moment we are born again. We must get to know Jesus, who is God’s gift to us. It is knowing the Truth that will set us free, really and unquestionably free (John 8:32, 36)!
I’ve referred to it a few times, but today I want to dedicate an entire post to the goodness of God. Before I came into contact with the true God, I was overshadowed by the perception that He was a very angry God, waiting for any opportunity to chastise me. I had no joy, and I lived under constant condemnation. The moment I came to understand His character and His heart towards mankind, I was set free. There are numerous verses that speak of God’s goodness and character:
“And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [ no, not in any way].” 1 John 1:5
“If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!” Matt 7:11
“He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:7
We are blessed to know and love a good God. He made it so easy to love Him, how can anyone resist?
“But let him who glories glory in this: that he understands and knows Me [personally and practically, directly discerning and recognizing My character], that I am the Lord, Who practices loving-kindness, judgement, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.” Jer 9:24
I want to cringe when people make the Christian life out to be one of sorrows, seriousness and hardships. These people lay a burden on you, making you feel guilty if you are enjoying your walk with God. This perception goes against my experience of God’s heart towards us. I believe He wants us to be happy in His presence, to look forward to every moment spent with Him.
There are quite a few verses to confirm this:
“…in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
“…I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10
“…For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” Mat 11:30
“Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). ” Rom 5:1
So … don’t let anyone make you feel less worthy if you are loving life and enjoying a relationship with God. There is such great joy and contentment in knowing someone loves to be in your presence – why would it be any different for God? He is happiest when we are in His presence, loving Him. In Luke 10:40 He commended Mary, saying she has chosen the good portion – a life of knowing Him instead of just serving Him.