God is Not Interested in Your Comfort

What is it with the modern American church’s obsession with thinking God wants us to be comfortable? What then do you say to the underground church in China? That God has abandoned them because they are persecuted? God is not interested in our comfort. He is interested in having His way in us. And rightfully so. And when our happiness conflicts with His holiness, our happiness will either cease for the moment or we will reject God. “God of all comfort?” Read the whole context:

“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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you [is] steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also [you will partake] of the consolation.”  2 Cor. 1:3-7

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Her Name is Duchess

There’s a woman who works at a local store where I go to run errands on occasion. Her name is Duchess and I have never seen someone in such a monotonous job with so much joy. I don’t think Duchess is a Christian, though with the way her eyes sparkle when she looks into mine, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Duchess is convicting to me every time I see her because no matter how busy the store is or a customer has a problem, she keeps her cheerful demeanor and takes everything in stride. I don’t know if I have any Christian friends working a secular job who have so much genuine joy while they work. And what’s more, I know Duchess well enough to have seen that she is consistently like this — even when she’s going through a tough time.

Paul admonished the Colossians to do everything in word and deed in the name of the Lord. How can I get offended in the name of the Lord? I can’t! How differently would I be viewed by the world if I really lived these words:

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him…And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Col. 3:17,23-24

Lately, I have been actively pursuing a gracious heart. It’s something that I lack and I desire to show others that God is a gracious God who looks past their weakness. I am realizing more and more how much I need to focus on myself and my problems instead of others’. It’s so easy to take the above verses and say, “So and so should read this, they are so ______.” Instead, I want to see the areas where I am not showing Christ and change them.

I want to live out character and joy instead of just being selfish when I don’t feel like responding well; I want to be like Duchess.

It’s Not a Sprint, it’s a Marathon

About a year ago, someone (we’ll call her Sarah) was talking to me about how great the next big conference was going to be. She told me how anointed the speakers and worship leaders would be and how much fun I would have. I anticipated going to the conference for about 3 months and when the time finally came, the messages were nothing new and the worship was good (but heaven didn’t come down like Sarah told me it would).

When I listened to Sarah talk about how great the conference would be and I bought into it, I was participating in hype. Hype is when worship is all of the sudden really good…because your favorite song is being sung by the hot guy on stage. Hype is when you get excited about the new, inspiring message…week after week after week.

If I get something out of a conference, great! But I want to live my Christianity in between conferences too. Paul used the analogy of a race:

“…Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” Heb. 12:1b-2a

To run with endurance, I must stay steady. When the revival comes and goes, I want a steady, long-term relationship with Jesus that produces fruit in heaven. Relationships take time and effort, and I believe the best ones are those that are cultivated the most.

Father, give me the grace to run the race with endurance.

To Pray and Not Lose Heart

There is one thing that I desire the Lord to say about me on Judgment Day (well, there’s a lot of things, but this is the one that trumps all the others): that I was faithful to Him.

I have known many people who walked with the Lord for a time and then decided to walk in the world. Every once in a while, when I hear about one of these stories, I wonder if I will one day be the person who is the subject of that conversation. Maybe it’s a wrong fear, maybe it’s the Lord, I don’t know. What I do know is that right now I am 100% certain there is a God, that He has chosen me, and that I am an eternal being. It frightens me that even with this certainty, I am not above turning on Him.

Because of these things, I often pray, “Lord, let me be faithful to You.” Many of the apostolic prayers (prayers that the apostles prayed in the New Testament) mention things like perseverance, endurance, strength for the journey…I don’t think faithfulness is a new struggle. I could see myself getting so offended by something the Lord does that bitterness could turn my heart from Him (read my testimony to hear about my experience with this in the past).

In addition to simply asking the Lord that I would be one of the faithful ones, I pray this prayer along with Paul:

“This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Phil. 1:9-11

Romans 15:1-4

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification…For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

I saw these verses through a different light tonight. I was reading Romans 15 with the intention of praying for the church of Roseville (using Paul’s prayer in verses 5-6 and 13), but I quickly saw that I had no idea why Paul was praying to, “the God of patience and comfort”. When I asked the Lord about this, I felt like the answer was elsewhere in the chapter. What I discovered pleasantly surprised me: I began to see that in the first 4 verses of the chapter, Paul was speaking to the mature Romans and encouraging them to be patient with their immature companions.

I have to laugh when the Lord reminds me of how closely He is watching me. I have been reflecting recently on how I have matured in the past year and been a little embarrassed when I see where I was then. I even told one of my leaders that I am amazed at the grace he had for me when I was so immature! Now, I am around some people who are in the exact place I was 1 year ago…Do I have grace for them? Well, I will admit that most of the time I just get annoyed by their immaturities.

With that insight, I’m sure you can get a little humor out of the Lord showing me this verse tonight. It’s nothing new that I get annoyed at people who are less mature than me. Paul advised the Romans to have grace for them, to edify them, and to remember patience and comfort (encouragement). This was the Lord’s answer to me also, and revealed to me why Paul prayed to the God of patience and comfort for unity within His Church.