31 Jan Comforted to Comfort
Last Sunday, Pastor Jason closed the series Christ Intercedes with a sermon from John 17:20-26. We considered the truth that true unity is not something believers pursue or manufacture but a reflection of our common union with Christ. Union with Christ is a spiritual connection with Christ and the numerous benefits believers receive in salvation through relationship with Christ. We also learned that true unity is supernatural in that it results from the gospel and reflects God’s character, and it is observable in that it authenticates the gospel, announces God’s love, and anticipates Heaven.
Read: 2 Corinthians 1:1-7
This Sunday, Pastor Ken will begin a new series in 2 Corinthians called Sufficiency in Christ with a sermon from 2 Corinthians 1:1-7. We will be considering the purpose for God’s comfort in our lives, namely that we might know God more intimately and dispense to others the same comfort that we have received from God. As you prepare for our Sunday gathering, let this devotional from Paul Tripp further enlighten your understanding of God’s ministry comfort.
Reflect: “Comforted to Comfort”
God puts you in hard moments when you cry out for his comfort so that your heart becomes tender to those near you who need the same comfort.
Sometimes we are quicker to judge than to comfort. This hit me not too long ago on the streets of Philadelphia, where I live. I walked by a young homeless person who was begging on the street, and I immediately thought, “I wonder what you did to get yourself here.” Criticism came more quickly to me than compassion. Hard-heartedness is more natural for us than I think we like to admit. We’re that way with our children when we yell at them as if we’re shocked that they’re struggling with the same things we struggled with when we were their ages. We’re that way when we look down on the parents who can’t seem to control their children in restaurants or on those who have trouble paying their bills. It is a function of the self-righteousness that, in some ways, still lives inside all of us. When we have named ourselves as strong, wise, capable, mature, and righteous, we tend to look down on those who have not achieved what we think we have.
So God humbles us. He puts us in situations where our weakness, foolishness, and immaturity are exposed. I remember how I struggled with the sovereignty of God in the painful days after my father’s death. I had previously prided myself in how well I understood and could communicate this important doctrine, but there I was, grappling with God’s plan. At street level, my dad’s story made no sense to me. I wondered what in the world God was doing. It all looked chaotic and out of control. It was humbling to admit to my struggle, but doing so caused me to be much more sensitive to and patient with others who struggle with God’s rule in hard moments in their lives.
Here is how Paul captures this in 2 Corinthians 1: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. . . . If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort” (vv. 3–6). The hard moments are not just for your growth in grace, but for your call to be a tool of that same grace in the life of another sufferer. In difficulty, God is softening your heart and sharpening your edges so that you may be ready to make the comfort of the invisible Father visible in the life of the weary pilgrim he has placed in your pathway. God intends for you to give away the comfort you’ve been given. The grace that has given you hope is meant to spill over into hope for the person next to you. What a plan!
July 19th Reading, in New Morning Mercies, by Paul Tripp
Sing: Song List for Sunday
1. “God Is Able,” by Hillsong Worship
2. “Yes I Will,” by Vertical Worship
3. “Jesus Paid It All,” by Passion
4. “Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me,” by CityAlight
5. “Singing in the Victory,” by Austin Stone Worship