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Ministers of Comfort

When you hear about a calamity, how do you respond? As believers, we should approach such situations with a selfless and compassionate attitude. True compassion not only tries to understand the pain of others but also provides practical help.

In times of disaster, remember that you and I have the privilege of touching anybody anywhere through prayer. No matter how far away victims might be, they can be comforted by God as He responds to your heartfelt cries. So as soon as word of a tragedy reaches you, start praying. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in petitioning for protection, provision, comfort, and awareness of His presence (Rom. 8:26).

Next, remember that donations (whether money or goods) and hands-on assistance are usually high priority. It is wise to team up with dependable relief organizations and consult trusted sources about what’s needed. In local situations, you can also provide words of comfort, a warm embrace, or simply a listening ear.

We should take care to notice others’ needs and to reach out with Christ’s love. Through these actions, the world will recognize the light of Jesus, who was anointed to bring good news to the afflicted, bind up the brokenhearted, and comfort all who mourn (Isa. 61:1-2).

Our Dependence Upon God

Unlike King Hezekiah, you are probably not facing an invading army. But if you’re like most of us, your life is nonetheless full of obstacles, problems, and everyday needs that threaten your sense of peace and security. What do you do about that? Do you rely on your own strength and ingenuity to find a way through, or do you call out to God for help?

One of the purposes of prayer is to make us aware of our own dependence upon the Lord. No concern is too small to bring to Him, and nothing is too big for Him to handle. In fact, we are told to worry about nothing and to pray about everything (Phil. 4:6). The outcome of prayerful dependence is inexplicable peace, even in the midst of unchanged circumstances (Phil. 4:7).

Sometimes we forget that we are creatures who are completely dependent on the Creator for our next breath. Prayer is a privilege God has given His children—it lets us humbly lay our cares before our Father, trusting Him to direct our path and provide for our needs. We have nothing to lose—except our pride and self-sufficiency, along with the resultant fear and anxiety.

How can you know God?

It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection, see Romans. 5:10.

Romans. 10:9 promises, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." If you have not yet begun your personal relationship with God, understand that the One who created you loves you no matter who you are or what you’ve done. He wants you to experience the profound depth of His care.

Therefore, tell God that you are willing to trust Him for salvation. You can tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you have just prayed this prayer, congratulations!

You have received Christ as your Savior and have made the best decision you will ever make—one that will change your life forever!

The Burden of Inadequacy

Because we’re human, at some point we will all experience inadequacy. So the real issue you and I face is not whether we are sufficient for a task but how we respond when a challenge is beyond our capabilities. Oftentimes as an obstacle grows in our mind, we want to run in the opposite direction, away from the challenge and toward safety. However, avoiding a task that God has given us will lead to bondage. The more we feed our fear, the more we’ll be controlled by feelings of inadequacy, which can impact decisions we make and, ultimately, our future.

Look at the Israelites in today’s passage. Standing on the edge of the Promised Land, they were overcome by fear. The size and strength of the enemy was overwhelming. As a result of their refusal to trust the Lord and move forward to conquer the local inhabitants, those Israelites never saw the land that He wanted to give them. Opportunities are often lost when we let fear overrule our faith.

When God calls you to a task beyond your abilities, acknowledge your feelings of inadequacy and then choose to rely on Him and His promises. By moving forward in faith despite your fear, you will discover the Lord’s faithfulness. He always empowers us for the works He assigns.

The Blessings of Inadequacy

Have you ever considered inadequacy a blessing? Life is filled with struggles that reveal our insufficiency, and it arouses uncomfortable emotions that make us feel useless, insignificant, and weak. No one likes the frustration and fear of facing challenges that are too big to handle, but God can use them for our good. Our job is to acknowledge our helplessness, depend on His strength, and step out with confidence in Him.

Inadequacy can be a blessing since it ...

• Drives us to the Lord as we recognize our helplessness.
• Relieves us of trying to do God’s will in our own strength.
• Motivates us to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
• Provides opportunity for God to demonstrate His power.
• Humbles our pride.
• Allows Christ to receive all the glory.
• Produces peace as we rely on Him.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers have the ability to endure difficulty and accomplish whatever the Lord calls them to do. By claiming the adequacy of Christ, we can face every circumstance with confidence—not in ourselves but in God, who is totally capable.

God Is at Work in You

There are many books promising a successful Christian life, but no humanly inspired technique can ever achieve the work of God. Any commitment or rededication that is based on our own effort will not last; true transformation comes from the Holy Spirit alone. That’s why the Lord wants our humble dependence on Him for strength, growth, and perseverance.

Today’s passage reminds us of these basic truths about the Christian life:

We participate in the working out of our salvation. This isn’t referring to our initial conversion through faith in Christ; rather, it’s the process of sanctification by which we grow into Christlikeness. An obedient, holy lifestyle is something we must choose and pursue.

We need an attitude of fear and trembling. There should be no flippancy about how we live, because God is holy and we must one day give Him an account of our life.

God works in us. Jesus said we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5). He’s the one who equips and enables us to live in the way He desires.

God has not left us to do the best we can on our own. He is always at work in believers, to fulfill His desired goals for each of us.

Saved by Grace

Scripture can paint a grim picture of mankind. We’re spiritually dead in our sins, alienated from God, and objects of His wrath. Can you imagine a scarier situation to be in? But there’s hope for us through faith in Jesus. God opens our eyes to our hopeless condition so we can turn to His Son in repentance and receive the riches of His salvation.

By God’s grace, we’ve been reconciled to Him. On the cross, Jesus bore the Father’s wrath for our sins so we could be forgiven and declared righteous. Now instead of being His enemies, we’re His beloved children. He made us spiritually alive by giving us a new nature created in righteousness and holiness. And now His love has been poured out in our hearts, and we have the sure hope of the glory of heaven.

Knowing how amazing God’s grace is, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and wholehearted devotion. In addition, today’s passage tells us to rejoice not only in God and our hope of glory but also in our troubles. That’s because He graciously uses difficulties to make us like Christ and increase our confidence in His love.

Praying in Jesus’ Name

  • John 14:13-14

Do you know what it means to pray “in Jesus’ name”? This isn’t simply a phrase to be thoughtlessly tacked on to the end of our prayers. On the contrary, it’s an amazing privilege given to those who know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. One way to think about it is that we’re praying something Jesus might pray. You must be His follower before you can do or say anything in His name.

Since God is holy and we are sinful, the only way to approach Him is through His Son, who paid the penalty for our sins and clothed us with His righteousness. That’s why we bring our requests in Jesus’ name—He’s the only way to the Father (John 14:6).

When we belong to Jesus, we approach God’s throne of grace not as beggars but as beloved children and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). Because the Son acts as our intermediary and high priest, we can draw near to God with confidence, knowing that we will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our times of need (Heb. 4:15-16).

The next time you’re about to end a prayer “in Jesus’ name,” remember what it means. Then ask yourself if your request is something Jesus would want for you.

Answered Prayer

After Jesus told His disciples to pray in His name, He promised they would receive their requests. Some Christians have taken this as an open-ended guarantee that every petition they make will be answered as long as they end the prayer “in Jesus’ name.” But such thinking only leads to dis- appointment and confusion when they don’t receive what they’ve requested.

Throughout His earthly ministry, the Son of God did only what His Father desired. Praying in Jesus’ name means following in His footsteps and asking according to His will, not our own. And how do we know what His will is? He tells us in His Word. Jesus said if we abide in Him and His Words abide in us, whatever we ask will be done for us. That means the more we pray according to Scripture, the more effective our prayer life will be.

Praying in Jesus’ name is also an act of dependence upon God. We don’t always know how to pray as we should. Though our knowledge is limited, God’s is infinite, and He knows every step He’s planned for our lives. When we come to Him in Jesus’ name, we’re trusting Him to answer according to His great wisdom.

The Danger of Ignoring the Word

Putting together a toy or a piece of furniture rarely goes as smoothly as expected. This is especially true if we don’t read the instructions. Perhaps they’re too long or difficult to understand, so we ignore them. Then we wonder why the project doesn’t turn out right.

This is how many believers live the Christian life. They try to figure it out without referring to God’s Word. The Bible is too long, they think, and it would take years to gain a basic understanding of the contents; there just isn’t enough time to read it. Furthermore, it strikes them as complicated and difficult to understand.

But ignoring the Word of God is dangerous. When we stop reading Scripture and applying its principles, we don’t just stand still; we actually start drifting away from God. Peter tells us to long for the Word so we may grow in respect to our salvation (1 Pet. 2:2). And don’t forget, the indwelling Holy Spirit will bring understanding.

If your desire is to glorify God and overcome worries, fears, and sin, then Scripture must be your priority. Reading, studying, and applying the Word may require sacrifices, but the reward of knowing your Savior better and living a life pleasing to God is worth it.

Getting By or Thriving?

In this age of technology, it’s difficult to keep up with the newest gadgets. For instance, some people learn the bare basics of how to operate a smart phone. But if they’d learn a bit more, they’d find the device more helpful. By limiting their knowledge, they miss the benefits the phone provides to make tasks easier.

Sometimes, we have this same problem in our Christian life. Scripture declares that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are “new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17). In His Word, God has provided everything we need to know how to live as new creations, but we must grow in our knowledge of this new life.

Are you trying to live on the mere basics of God’s Word without digging deeper to uncover richer truths and insights? If so, you are limiting your spiritual growth and missing out on the benefits that come with greater understanding of God, His ways, and His desires. You may be getting by, but you’re not thriving as the Lord desires. It’s never too late to learn more and begin enjoying the benefits of your new life in Christ.

No Condemnation

We can all relate to Paul’s dilemma in today’s passage. These verses describe the internal struggle we have with sin, even after salvation. When we give in to temptation, we’re often plagued by feelings of condemnation and may wonder if God has abandoned us. That’s why Romans 8:1 is such a comforting “Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

When the Savior went to the cross on our behalf, He lifted the guilt and penalty for sin from our shoulders and made us righteous. Our sins are wiped clean, and we are chosen and loved by God. Condemnation is reserved for those who reject the Lord, not for those who have been reconciled to God by the Savior (John 3:36).

If you experience feelings of rebuke, they are not from the Lord but from the devil who accuses us. To realign our thinking with the Father’s, we need to fill our mind with the truth of Scripture and remember that He never condemns those who belong to Him. Satan whispers lies, but God’s Word always speaks truth. So rely on it and thank the Lord for loving and saving you.

The Nature of Conviction

No one enjoys sensing conviction about having done wrong, but that uncomfortable feeling is actually a demonstration of divine love. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin, their lack of righteousness, and the reality of coming judgment so they’ll turn to Christ and be saved. If wrongdoers never feel the guilt of their sin, they won’t see the need for a Savior. Every prick of the heart is intended to draw them to Christ.

And we should also be grateful that the Spirit’s convicting work doesn’t end once a person is saved. He continues to instruct and shape us after salvation and convicts us of disobedience to our heavenly Father. In other words, He makes us aware of specific sins and God’s attitude about such behavior. He also prompts us to confess our wrongs, repent, and turn back to the path of righteousness.

In addition to protecting and leading us in these ways, the Spirit does much more for us. He guides us into truth, discloses the meaning of Scripture, transforms our character, and empowers us to live a holy, obedient life characterized by love. So listen to His conviction and promptings. They are for your good and God’s glory.

What Is the Church?

Most people think of the church as a building, but that’s not the biblical definition. It isn’t merely a meeting place for social interaction, scriptural instruction, and service projects. Rather, the church is composed of all those who have been redeemed by Christ. He is the head of church, and believers are called His body.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” He was referring to the entire body of Christ, which is composed of all believers worldwide from every generation. The church began on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and filled Jesus’ followers, and it will continue until the rapture of the church, when believers in Christ will be caught up to meet Him in the sky (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

Until then, our job as Christ’s body is to follow our Head. We’re not the ones in charge; He is. The Lord builds His church, but He uses us to make disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey all His commands (Matt. 28:19-20). We don’t come up with our own plans; we simply follow His.

The Blessings of Inadequacy

Most of us assume that feelings of inadequacy are enemies to be subdued, but God uses our weaknesses to display His glory. Even though we love feeling confident and bold, this kind of self-reliance is the opposite of humility. Despite all his great knowledge and varied gifts, Paul knew he was not sufficient for the tasks the Lord had called him to accomplish. When he spoke of his ministry, the apostle said, “I also labor, striving according to [Christ’s] power which works mightily within me” (Col. 1:29).

Inadequacy reveals where we lack ability and drives us to dependence upon the Lord. He works in our weakness to accomplish His purposes in and through us. Therefore, we shouldn’t surrender to our failings by letting them hinder us from even trying to serve the Lord. Nor should we try to pump up our self-confidence with pep talks and self-affirmation. Instead, our inadequacies are designed to humble us so we’ll turn to the Lord for strength.

When we depend on Him in humility, “the extraordinary greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:7). Then all the praise and glory go to Him.

The Pathway of Faith

Scripture says that we are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). That means we’re unable to know what’s ahead but can trust the God who does. Abraham is a prime example, and we should follow in his steps. When called to leave his country and family to go to a land God would show him, Abraham obeyed. Hebrews 11:8 adds, “He left, not knowing where he was going.”

That’s basically a summation of the Christian life. Each day we face the unknown, but we trust the Lord to guide us. Since we don’t know the particulars, our walk with God can seem perplexing. That’s when we’re tempted to rely on our own feelings, perceptions, and reasoning. But sometimes He places us in situations to teach us to trust Him even when we don’t know where we’re going and cannot see the outcome.

The Lord wants us to lay down our own ways of figuring things out and instead to walk by faith. That may sound risky, but here’s why it’s absolutely reasonable: The One leading us has complete knowledge of the future and the power to orchestrate all events to achieve His good purposes in our life.

Trusting God’s Plan in Trouble

Does your faith shrivel when you encounter trouble? Perhaps you prayed about a situation and expected God to act according to your desires, but He didn’t. Though you were hoping for a smooth path, He gave you one with bumps, twists, and turns, which left you wondering where He was. He promised to care for you, but instead you felt deserted.

These are situations that test our faith, and they are common to all believers. Abraham, a man with great faith followed God’s instructions to leave home and travel to Canaan. You’d expect the Lord to honor such bold obedience with blessings, but it wasn’t long before Abraham faced another faith challenge—a famine. This time, his trust faltered. Instead of believing God would provide, he fled to Egypt and made more foolish and costly decisions.

The next time you’re tempted to think that God has let you down, remember that trouble is one of the means He uses to strengthen your belief in Him. When circumstances seem to indicate He doesn’t care, stand firmly on the truths of Scripture and fix your eyes on the Lord, who is always faithful.

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