How the comfort of Christ can overflow in our lives

“For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:5)

Faith receives the benefits of Christ’s sufferings on our behalf.

This truth resonates with the heart of every Christian believer. As this reality sinks in the depths of our soul, the fruits of joy, peace, patience, and comfort become a part of our life. We forgive because we are forgiven. We exercise patience because the Lord is so patient with us. We proclaim peace because the King of Peace has announced our pardon. All of these blessings come together and flow into our lives like a swollen river. The force is unstoppable. Lives filled up with the presence of Christ can’t help but to crash into others who don’t know Him yet. It’s God’s force of nature colliding with the world. And he uses Christians as his spirit-filled ambassadors to live and proclaim the message of reconciliation as a result of Christ’s sufferings on our behalf.cool picture

Ahhh…. comfort.

The desire for comfort prompts most people to desire riches. The need for comfort also prompts those seeking inner peace. People envy the rich, but they also envy those who have spiritual comfort and peace.

Christians receive the benefits of Christ’s comfort typically during times of suffering and trial.

The Bible promises that God will comfort us in every difficult circumstance. For every trouble, worry, or anxiety, Christians are encouraged to trust God and take Him at His Word. Difficult circumstances become opportunities to grow in the faith, to experience His comfort, but also to exhibit His comfort to others.

A life in Christ can see trials in life as not burdens, but opportunities to share the message of salvation with others.

I remember receiving the opportunity to grow in my trust in God’s promises when I was laid off from work. With four young children at home and my wife staying home full-time to care for them, it was a scary proposition. Yet, the Lord provided comfort during this time of uncertainty. Our next-door neighbors, Bob and Jan, took notice of how our family was responding during this trial. As a result, they began investigate Christian churches in the area without our knowledge. Eventually, they received the gospel and trusted in Christ. By faith, they received and experienced the same comfort and peace.picture three

Faith receives the benefits of Christ’s sufferings on our behalf. It is during these opportunities, we can remember five key blessings and benefits:

#1        Difficult circumstances in life can keep us closer to God.
#2        Troubles in life grant opportunities to experience God’s presence.
#3        Difficult circumstances in life invites opportunities to share His Word with others.
#4        Troubles in life builds endurance to overcome anything (2 Cor. 1:6)
#5        Difficult circumstances forces us to rely on God, not on ourselves (2 Cor. 1:9)

The Heavenly Rewards of Sharing our Faith

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)

The Apostle Paul understood the process of conversion.

A seed needs to germinate and take root in the soil before it can grow into a healthy plant. Largely hidden, the seed planter trusts that the natural elements of soil and water are producing the intended results. Yet, the watering does not stop. A seed needs constant nourishment of life-giving water to continue the process of germination.

The seed planting of God’s Word seems to work in the same way. Seeds are planted in the soil of human hearts. Sometimes the soil is hard-packed from life and the hot, dry sun of unbelief causes the seed to bounce off or die quickly. Other times the soil is rocky or covered with weeds causing the outward appearances of disinterest. Jesus tells us not to pay attention to the soil, but plant the seeds anyways. He has plenty of seeds available and the fields are ready.wheat

A faithful servant like the Apostle Paul takes God at His Word. He plants the seeds trusting that the Holy Spirit is at work. A servant of Christ trusts there are other faithful servants that are watering the seed with the salt and light of His presence within them. This not only includes the model of good behavior, but also continuing to extend the hand of love, respect, and encouragement. Paul needed Apollos. And God needs you.

“God has chosen to limit himself to his human messengers as his agents in driving his Word out into the world. He will take care of converting people and filling them with his Spirit. But he loves to use human messengers for his divine message.” (Mark Jeske, timeofgrace.org)

Even though God is solely responsible for creating faith, he mysteriously uses His servants as His agents to be a part of the process. Notice there is a blessing associated with being involved in the process of conversion.

“The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:8-9)

Our human nature automatically thinks of earthly rewards as a means to compensate for hard work. Christ reminds everyone in the gospels that a servant’s main pursuit in this life on earth is to garner heavenly rewards, not earthly one. By participating in the process of planting or watering seeds, a soul receives the blessings of joy, peace, and contentment. A servant of Christ experiences the presence of Christ by sharing the presence of His Word (Christ) with others. This heavenly exercise causes a servant’s faith and trust to grow even stronger than before. Paul’s exhortation to “work out our salvation” inspires souls to use long-dormant spiritual muscles prepared for such work.iStock_000027630618Large

Test me on this. To borrow from C.S. Lewis, you will be “surprised by joy.”

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I Believe that We HAVE Won!!

I don’t know about you and your family, but our family has been getting into the World Cup soccer.  I’m pretty sure that each game has been on at least one laptop in our house for the entire competition thus far! Sometimes it is fun to listen to the game by announcers from other countries – they give a different perspective, can be insightful, and their enthusiasm can be entertaining! index

Anyway, throughout these past weeks, the chant of “I believe that we can win!  I believe that we can win!” has taken off across this nation.  The USA men’s team was not expected to do so well but they made it out of pool play to the Round of 16.  In their loss to Belgium in the Round of 16, the USA defense did not play so well, but the goalie “stood on his head” and made a record number of saves. The USA men’s team garnered the respect of other nations because of their tenacity and never-give-up attitude. Because they are representing the United States nation, those qualities have been transferred to us as a nation – some welcomed positive attributes.

However, I am not only citizen of the United States, I am also a citizen of heaven – and I am on Team Jesus.  And Team Jesus is definitely a team – a body – with many players with different strengths and different roles.  We have our own “Lionel Messi”s and “Christiano Ronaldo”s, and we also have our little known players of “DeAndrea Yedlin”s and “Julian Green”s.  But regardless, it takes a whole team to win a game.  And in our case, our chant has and always will be “I believe that we HAVE won!  I believe that we HAVE won!” because the outcome has already been determined by Jesus’ death and resurrection.  What an awesome team to be on!!  When challenges come my way, I can remember the chant and “play” with confidence – the victory is ours!!

With the July 4th weekend still in my mind, I am asking us all to pray for our country this week – perhaps taking one weekday to pray for a specific area:

Today, we can pray for our president, governors, and mayors – pray that the hearts of our leaders put God on the thrones of their hearts.

Tomorrow, we can pray for our legislatures – from federal and state congressmen and women to our local councilmen.  Pray that they will make laws that are in keeping with God’s laws.

Wednesday, we can pray for all our judges – from the Supreme Court to our local magistrates.  Pray that they will seek God before any decision they will make. ManHoldingSun

Thursday, we can lift up all those who enforce the laws in our nation – from the federal to state to local men and women who make sure we obey the laws and who protect us from those who don’t. Pray for their protection and that they they seek God’s wisdom in carrying out their work.

On Friday, we can pray for all citizens of this great nation.  Pray that we seek God in our lives.  Pray that we are informed citizens who wisely use our great privilege to vote.

Each day, we can pray that our leaders, legislatures, judges, enforcers, and citizens will be guided by what is right and not necessarily what is popular.  Pray for a desire to follow God’s will – a strength to stand against the temptation of power and popularity – a desire to serve God.  For those who do not know God, we can pray that the Spirit work on their hearts to produce the miracle of faith.

Recently, there was an elite track event in Paris, France.  A well-known 800m Frenchman decided to run his race before the home crowd in an outfit that mimicked the World Cup team from France – complete with similar shorts and jersey with his name across the back, long socks, but with black spikes instead of soccer cleats.  He looked like a French World Cup player – He was proud of his country and his country’s soccer team!  frenchWhat a delight!  In the same way, I pray that we Christians are proud of our heavenly citizenship and our place on Team Jesus – that we stand out and express our joy in being who we are in Christ!

Philippians 3:20    But we are citizens of heaven.
John 16:33    I [Jesus] have won the battle over the world.

“Dear Jesus, I am so glad You have placed me on Your team!!  Help me stand out as Your team member – I want others to see Your attributes through me.  I don’t want to blend in with the crowd or be mistaken for belonging to another team – I want to be salt and light for You – to be recognizable as one who belongs on Your team.  Fill me with Your Spirit.  And LORD, I want to pray for this great nation You have placed me in.  You have so very much blessed this nation!  I pray for our leaders from top to bottom – may they seek Your righteousness and put You on the throne of their hearts.  Only then will we be a nation who will continue to receive Your blessing and approval.  But LORD, I know that change can only occur from changed hearts – not from changed laws.  LORD, I pray for Christian citizens who care about the hearts of others – who are bold, exercise their faith, and share You with those You have put in our lives.  Make us a nation who can truly chant, “I believe that we HAVE won!”  Thank You, Jesus!”

Guest Blogger:
Lori Malnes
Truth in Love Ministry

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