All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Notice the cycle in today's first passage: God is the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles. This makes it possible for us to comfort others. When others are troubled we comfort them with the same comfort God has given us. Being squarely in the flow of this cycle of comfort is essential for all who desire to have God's mission for this world be their true purpose in life. Being a recipient and agent of comfort becomes the heartbeat for bringing the Gospel message of redemption to the world and caring deeply about the significant pain and suffering that exists in our world and taking helpful steps toward alleviating it.
We need to look closely at ourselves for how we are doing with this cycle. Where does our comfort come from? Our comfort should come from God as he ministers to us through his Spirit and through others who pass along to us the comfort with which God has comforted them. Substitute sources of comfort easily derail us from participating properly in God's two-fold mission of love and compassion for the world. Earlier in the week we talked about the powerful influence of self-interest, self-preservation, and self-exaltation and our need to be liberated from them. These powerful influences are the driving force in our turning to substitute sources of comfort. All of this raises havoc with our Christian walk and our ability to live truly for the purpose of God's mission for the world. We need to flee these things like refugees flee their oppressors.
The world we know is overflowing with opportunity for material and spiritual prosperity. We need to be delivered from having such a desire to preserve our prosperity and comfort that it keeps us from sharing it. May we be "Opened" to the plight of the suffering and downtrodden like never before and may we be willing to do whatever God wants us to do that is in our power to do on their behalf.
- Today's second passage encourages us in our quest for living for the sake of God's mission for the world. The image of being "captives of God" is the first of a powerful set of images. It is only as captives of God that we are free to live for his purposes. God leads us along and wonderfully uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere. When this happens we are like a "sweet perfume" to the world and our lives are a "Christ-like fragrance" rising up to God.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, I embrace the victorious life to which you have called me and I trust you to help me go forward in the triumph of Christ. I look forward to the opportunities that will be mine for extending comforting, loving, and compassionate help to those who are experiencing pain and suffering. Make me a "sweet perfume" that awakens in hurting people a sense of need for the message of the Gospel and leads to my sharing it with them. Amen!
World Relief coordinates and maintains a number of initiatives and partnerships to help foster peace in dangerous conflict zones, with programs currently active in DR Congo, the Middle East, Sudan, South Sudan and Pakistan. World Relief works through local churches and faith-based organizations to establish foundations of harmony in communities, empower refugees and incorporate women into peacebuilding discussions.
(This is the fifth of the five emphases of “World Relief.” May it guide you in prayer and giving as you further join God in whatever response he is calling you to. There is not necessarily a correspondence between the “World Relief” emphasis and Devotional theme for today.)
Posted on Fri, November 18, 2016
by Alan Porter