Posts Tagged ‘mercies’

Grace and Comfort

October 14th, 2015

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father.” 2 Corinthians 1:2 NKJV.

Your comfort remains incomplete until shared with others.

My thoughts and comments today are about “grace and comfort.”

In the Bible, there are many descriptions of God’s attributes. Of all the writers who attempt to describe the Indescribable, I love the Apostle Paul’s description best. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all tribulation.” 2 Corinthians 1:2-4 NKJV. Read those words deliberately – grace, peace, mercies, comfort – and embrace them personally. Were it not for His grace, there could be no peace. And were it not for His mercies, comfort would be elusive. Flowing from God’s grace and peace, mercies and comfort abound.

Life can be difficult and trying times confusing. That is when and where you and I need the One, “Who comforts us in all tribulation.” By New Testament definition, tribulation is, “pressure resulting from a too narrow place.” Maybe you presently feel discomfort in a situation with undesirable options in an uncomfortable context. Such a place is sometimes described as being, “caught between a rock and a hard place.” Tribulation is something more than a brief inconvenience from the antagonism of persons or adverse circumstances.

Paul knew such times and also knew the sufficient grace and peace he found in every experience, “We are hard pressed, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV. You need a powerful God with a tender heart and gentle hand, “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.” From personal experience, Paul wrote, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NKJV.

Comfort is wrongly assumed as merely kind, emotional support. However, the word’s origin implies a strengthening impartation of courage and fortitude. See Acts 28:15-16 NKJV. For Paul, the Father’s purpose is clear; you are comforted by God to be a comforter of others. “If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” 2 Corinthians 1:6 NIV. Your comfort remains incomplete until shared with others. “Therefore, comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be fortified in spirit and confident in every circumstance.

Christian Communications

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Bizarre Behavior

July 26th, 2013

When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshipped Him.”  Mark 5:6 NKJV

Regret apart from repentance and restoration will never bring you freedom.

My thoughts and comments today are about “bizarre behavior.”

People are capable of bad behavior, regardless of nationality, gender, geography, education, financial, or social standing. Common sense does not come automatically with any of those. People do unexplainable things, though it makes no sense to behave in destructive ways, typically hurtful to others and predictably harmful to one’s self. Some people do that all too frequently, usually unexplainable even to themselves. Everyone has had an occasion when you ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” Probably, your baffled explanation was, “I wasn’t thinking!”

Any person is capable of conduct embarrassing to themselves and bewildering to those who know them. Bizarre behavior is not as spontaneous and inexplicable as you might first think. Such behavior exposes an inner life lacking good judgment and little thought of consequence. The consequence is normally worse than previously considered. What begins as private thought can soon become public conduct. The bad news is that there is much damage that is irreparable; the good news is that all you have done is redeemable.

Mark reports Jesus’ encounter with a man whose behavior was bizarre. You will find hope in this first tragic then triumphant story of God’s grace and power. See Mark 5:1-6 NKJV. Here’s his story – the very definition of bizarre. The source of his strange behavior was spiritual. Mark’s account does not suggest that all bizarre behavior is demonic, as was true in this instance. But there is always a spiritual dynamic to wrong pursuits and passions that are controlling and eventually uncontrollable. His behavior imposed estrangement from others, worsening his isolation and despair. His actions were unconstrained, even irrepressible, in spite of his own efforts and the best attempts of others. As a result, he experienced self-disgust which produced a spiral of self-destructive behavior. (Verses 2-5).

However long he had struggled and suffered, there was some vestige of his former self that longed to be free and could recognize that Jesus alone was his solution. Whatever you have done and wherever you have strayed, come running to the Savior. “When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshipped Him.” Verse 6. Your wise response is to allow no regret over your past or present failures keep you from Jesus. Regret apart from repentance and restoration will never bring you freedom. Paul addressed this in these words, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Read 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 NIV.

Your struggle may not be as extreme as his, but your need can be as real as his. Unbecoming behavior is not the private reserve of the worst among us. Jesus braved a violent storm at sea to meet a man with a tragic storm in his soul. To both, Jesus said, “Peace be still! . . and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:35-41. There was a happy ending for him, as there will be for you.

After his encounter with Jesus, “They came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon possessed . . sitting and clothed and in his right mind.” Mark 5:15 NKJV. Changed completely; freed absolutely; satisfied fully. See 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV/1 Peter 1:13 NIV/Colossians 3:1-3 NIV. New beginnings are available. “Great is His faithfulness; His mercies are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:23 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that your first response is always to come to Jesus.

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Morning Grace

February 1st, 2013

In your hurt, you are never out of reach of your Healer.

“His mercies begin afresh each day.” Lamentations 3:23 NLT.

There are times when you just cannot wait for the day to be over. Schedules weary you; problems worry you. You just want to go to sleep and wake up to a better time. But there seem too many days are much the same as another. Maybe Jeremiah felt a little like that. He wrote a small book – just five chapters – that he called “Lamentations,” meaning “complaint or mourning.” Jeremiah, often called the weeping prophet, ministered when Israel was in captivity as God had forewarned of judgment upon the nation’s sinful disregard of His Law and Lordship.

Jeremiah laments the national destruction Israel’s spiritual rebellion has cost, and the once avoidable hardships and suffering in daily life, while also recognizing God’s justice in their national pain. Then, in the midst of his lamentation, the prophet declares the Lord’s mercies. “I will not forget this awful time . . yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: the unfailing love of the Lord never ends! . . Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day . . I will hope in Him!” Read Lamentations 3:20-32 NLT. My thoughts are captured by the phrase, “His mercies begin afresh each day.” Read Isaiah 61:1-3 NIV. When yesterday leaves you not wanting to face another day, awaken to the Lord’s compassion, mercy, and grace – afresh and ample each morning.

Life will hold moments when your present experience defies explanation. Your questions remain unanswered; your pain lingers. Minutes ago, I listened to a song, a phrase of which describes, “the moment when humanity is overcome by Majesty . . when the hurt and the Healer collide.” (The Hurt & The Healer, by MercyMe). In your hurt, you are never out of reach of your Healer.

Years earlier, I found that true the night my father and young sister died tragically in a highway accident. In a lonely motel across the road from the hospital where my Mother’s injuries were massive and her life uncertain, I fell across my bed with indescribable, emotional pain. In that dark night of my soul, I felt lost and alone. I opened my Bible randomly, and read David’s lament and praise, “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord . . The Lord will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and your going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121 NIV. In the lonely night, my hurt met my Healer profoundly. For almost fifty years, I have walked in the healing truth of that Psalm.

In the Fall of  2000, unable to sleep, I sat at my desk late at night to process a neurologist’s diagnosis from earlier in the day. My Mother had suffered a massive, cerebral hemorrhage, was not likely to survive surgery if attempted, and would not live through the night without it. Unexpectedly, a promise from God’s Word gripped my breaking heart, “As your days, so shall your strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25 NKJV. For seven weeks, I walked in the grace of those words, and continue to do so today. Indeed, God’s “mercies begin afresh every morning.”

You can hold tightly to your hurt and its pain, not knowing anything better to do with it, or you can bring your heart to Jesus and discover His compassion and grace, sufficient and unfailing. I pray that you will do the latter. See Hebrews 4:16 NKJV. Peter spoke of people who are waiting expectantly, “. . until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19 NIV. Jesus is that bright and Morning Star, the early promise of a new and better day for you. Whatever your history, whatever you’ve done, whatever your questions, whatever your past hurt or present pain, “[The Lord’s] mercies begin afresh each day.” See 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV.

My prayer for you is that you place every hurt in the hands of your Healer today.

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