Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
Small town life agrees with me. I love the community just outside of the city which is adopted as home. Sitting around a folding table in a diner with friends, I begin to survey those with us. Such an informal meeting yet by the end of the evening, I am content. God has blessed me with wonderful friendships that I cherish. People who I cannot imagine not being in my life. God loves relationships. He created Eve with the mindset that it was not good for man to be alone. He needed a helper. While there are obvious reasons why Adam needed Eve, I believe the heart and soul of all relationships were manifested in that moment.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18) God deemed relationships to be important from this moment on. Yes, he made a partner, spouse, and companion for Adam with purpose. But I believe that this mandate was also for all relationships in life. It is not good for man to be alone. The enemy has worked since the moment that the very first relationship was form to violate it, tear it apart, and ruthlessly destroy the connection between humans. His purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. He is obviously very good at it. Divorce is soaring. Drama is entertainment. Division has made its way from the home to the community and is devouring the church. God provided encouragement for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. It is in belonging to Christ that righteousness is restored so that we can once again have a thriving and productive relationship with our Father. It does not stop there.
It is by God’s Design and Divine Will that relationships are restored. Is there any comfort from His Love? If so, we will become lovers of people again. Is there any fellowship together in the Spirit? If so, the Lord becomes our source and the fruit of His Spirit will nourish connections to become healthy relationships again. Is my heart tender and compassionate? To be like my Father, it must be so. How do I make God happy? Become a friend to all His People. To agree wholeheartedly with each other. Love one another…even those I consider to be against me. Work together with one mind and purpose – I have the Mind of Christ. It is my purpose to share the Light of His Love with others and glorify the Lord with my life. It seems to fulfill my purpose I must build relationships.
I Thessalonians 5:9-11(NLT) For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
In our home, there is a basket of warm blankets and soft, comfy throws for people to use. When gathering in the family room to watch television or just be together everyone usually grabs one to wrap up. Our little dog loves them. If you find one on laying around, please lift it gently or a tiny Chihuahua may fall out. Who doesn’t love to be comfortable? Many days after work, I cannot wait to come home and change clothes. Hot showers wash away the worries and comforts of the day. However, if you take the same blankets and throws putting them in the washer, but not drying them what happens? They aren’t comfortable anymore. They are wet and cold. The material is heavier now filled with moisture which now becomes a burden. The same source of comfort now is not so comfortable anymore.
Because God chose us, created us, and send His Son to save us – it is clear rather than pouring out His Anger – God desired reconciliation with His Beloved People. More than that – He wanted a closer relationship so He adopted us calling us His Children. We are all comfortable with salvation and the thought of redemption. Amen and Hallelujah. Now if we can just get there from here… So (or now do this) encourage one another and build each other up. Are we doing this? If not, we should be. People can be a burden. Relationships may be messy and unpleasant sometimes but His Grace is enough to rebuild, repair, restore and renew relationships day by day.
Isaiah 40:1-5 (NLT) “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over for all her sins.” Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”
I have shared many times that when the Lord started speaking to my heart about women’s ministry. I begged and pleaded with Him – not me. Women make me uncomfortable. I am not good at relating to other women. I hate the drama. I hate the gossip. I hate the whole persona the world has placed on ladies of all size, shape and color. Ugh. I don’t even know where to start. So as usual, the Lord started in me. He comforted and corrected me for over a year. True to form, the enemy was well aware of my reluctant obedience and within days after the kickoff of the Ladies’ Ministry at church – all hell broke loose (please don’t be offended) because we all have those days. To step out on faith releases a storm almost every time, Peter is not the only one who encountered an assault against his faith as he moved closer to Jesus.
Comfort, comfort my people. God has created us to be a comfort to one another. I cannot give what I have not received. This does not mean waiting on others to comfort me but rather to allow the Holy Comforter inside of me to have His Way with my heart, mind and soul. To open my heart to others will always require confidence in my Lord to sustain. Ever been hurt? Yep, me too. Ever been taken for granted? Same. Felt the sting of betrayal? Friend, I am right there with you. Want the Peace of God? Clear the way for renewal but asking the Lord to remove all bitterness and hate. Ask the Lord to make a way through the wasteland of offense, level the mountain of hurt, and pave a level and straight path of forgiveness and freedom to love and be loved again. What does the God promise those who do? His Glory will be revealed. Revival will come!
What is comfort? True comfort. Comfort means to sooth, console and reassure one another. To cheer each other up. To make physically comfortable. To aid, support and encourage each other. Life is hard. Choices get tough. Love has grown cold. It is time to fan the flame into a fire again. We must become passionate about building healthy and strong relationships with one another based on the love and comfort offered to us by Jesus Christ. It is our purpose. He has told us to love one another as a result of the gift of Unfailing Love given to us. We cannot withhold it because it is obtained by a grace that mandates the same grace to others.
Job 16:1-5 (NLT) Then Job spoke again: “I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are! Won’t you ever stop blowing hot air? What makes you keep on talking? I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you. But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief. Instead, I suffer if I defend myself, and I suffer no less if I refuse to speak.”
Am I a miserable comforter? I have struggled to read the book of Job because of all the banter back and forth. I often wondered if these were really Job’s friends or messengers of satan sent to rub salt in his wounds. Over the last year, I have discovered that the Book of Job is about pride. When pride exalts itself in our life, people will always rub us the wrong way. Their advice seems callous. They appear uncaring. Such a rigid stance does not allow us to bend and sway in the waves of grace necessary to love, console, and comfort one another. Let’s face it when suffering in our own problems – the opinions of others either fall on death ears or feel like pebbles being pelted at us one by one. God wants us to comfort one another. He wants our eyes and ears to be tuned to the cries and calling of one another. Our feet should be ready to move in their direction. Our arms and hands should be open to help or hold each other. We are all in this together. Whether or not, I like a person does not exempt them from God’s Love and a place for them in Heaven so I should probably get with the program and become more generous with my love and compassion.
Job 42:10-12 (NLT) When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring. So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.
Newsflash! People are not perfect. Our family and closest friends will let us down. Job prayed for his friends. Granted it took 26 chapters and intervention from the Living God, but he finally forgave them for what he perceived as callousness and uncaring. The fact is that they were there. Job was a rich man and very influential in his community. Only three people showed up when he lost everything and his health appeared to be failing. When depression overtook him and he was in deep despair, just a trio of individuals left the comfort of their lives to enter the chaos of their friend, Job. Sometimes if we just change our perspective and stop expecting perfection from people, one might see the intentions of the heart. When Job forgave his friends releasing bitterness to rebuild the relationship, offering grace that He had freely been given, and decided to restore his faith in God that allowed him to love other people unconditionally, God blessed Job with a double portion. What if the blessing we are missing is actually relational and not financial or material? What if the very thing that brings contentment is not really found in stuff but in the souls we connect with on an intimate level? Could it be that the missing link in our life is relational?
Isaiah 50:4-7 (NLT) The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.
In the version of Bible that I am studying from, this section is titled “The Lord’s Obedient Servant.” It is not enough to serve the Lord with our actions or even our attitude. Until our heart breaks for others and relationship begin to form – there is no point to Christianity at all. It is all about building a Kingdom. The center of the Kingdom is Jesus Christ. The Light of His Love shines so brightly in the center of it that no other light is need and dark cannot penetrate it. Does the Light of His Love shine in me that brightly? What is my limit? Where is the line in the sand? Is my heart always open to love and forgiveness? Have I built walls so that it will never be broken again? Friend, the Word of God tells us that He is close to the brokenhearted. Pride wants to build a wall that protects its own interest and keeps our own life comfortable. We are called to be comforters not wet blankets in life.
To be an obedient servant of the Living God requires building relationships with other people. Even those we have nothing in common with or the ones who appear to be in direct opposition. The burden does not belong to them. It is on me…if I desire to please the Lord with my life and become His Obedient Servant. A life not spent rebuilding, renewing, restoring and reviving relationships in our homes, churches and community is wasted effort. Our faith must always keep us moving closer to the Lord. In doing so, we will suffer hurt, brokenness and disappointment in other people. However, if we put our expectation fully in Jesus and love from His Love in us – we will never be disappointed in people again. People are not problems. People are opportunities to please God through the gift of relationship. Reconciliation makes the Lord happy because it strengthens His Kingdom as His People join together in purpose. Are you building relationships today? Or are you a “miserable” comforter? God can change all that if you will just reach out to another. We must not just reach out to others but wrap them in the Love of God.
John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”