Monday, June 25, 2007

From Comforted to Comforter

I just have to comment about yesterday's message. Pastor Sterling spoke about The Real World. He shared the facts about Atlanta, Georgia in that there are many wonderful things about our city. There is the opportunity for education, business, appreciation for the arts, and much more. These are the things we tend to hear of the most. However, the dark side of Atlanta is that it not so much the City of Fountains, but has a widespread reputation for its perversity in prostitution, homosexuality, sex trading and more unthinkable things. This is the Real World.

We live in a world that is so anti-family and the dark side of our city demonstrates this to no end. We need to wake up to reality and realize God placed us here for a reason and for a mission. Everything we have struggled through and everything that has seemingly been our weakness is the very area God wants to turn into our strengths and this becomes our mission.

Last night I was watching a special on the sex trade and prostitution
in India. Some of these girls are sold by their own families into this industry because of the poverty and the desperate need for income. Some of these girls were as young as eleven. I began to think about Sunday's message and the reality that these same types of things go on right beyond our own back doors within our own community.

In our fast paced, fast food, instant potato and microwave culture, many of us really do not have a clear or a deep understanding of suffering. We want to live lives of comfort and convenience. However, Jesus said if anyone desires to follow Him , he must deny himself and pick up his cross (Matthew 16:24). Jesus picked up His cross after he had been beaten and scourged until there was no flesh left upon him.

His suffering demonstrates to us that if we want to follow Him , we must be willing to suffer through tests and trials. We need to change our perspective on suffering. We can count it all joy when we go through valleys because God is using those things to dig wells of compassion within us as well as building a mission for us to carry out. Think about it! You are a mission that has been in the making ready to happen. You are a fireball of God's fiery love and power ready to slam against the forces of darkness. You are a bomb ready to explode and disarm the enemy's evil intent to hinder God's Kingdom.

That is why you have been hearing all of those lies lately. Have you heard them? They constantly echo, "You are no good. You are a failure. You have too many hang ups to be of any use to God. Give it up and quit trying to be someone you are not." If you have been hearing this lately. Take heart. It is time to step into action. It may only start with sticking your toe in the sea. However, if you make this one little move, the ocean will part.

I loved the part of the message where we were exhorted to not only allow God to come to us and comfort us in times of need, but to also go and be a comforter. We have been through many tests in our finances, families , relationships and health. We have received much comfort from the Lord. Now it is time to go and give some comfort to others who need it. We have received much, now we must freely give.

At the end of the service, there were two statements made in which we were to raise our hands for prayer. The first thing stated was to acknowledge that you are in a place where you need comforting and you need to come to God in repentance and restoration. The second one was to lift your hand if you have been comforted and feel the stirring of God to move forward and do something to be a comforter. ironically I sensed I have been in both places at the same time these past weeks. I have needed God's mercy grace and comfort, but also have had an ongoing gnawing within to go and comfort and to make a difference. I love it when God shows up in the midst of this type of turbulence.

Just the other day I was talking with the Lord and I asked Him to just show up in a special way. I was feeling discouraged and desperate for Him to come and encourage. Because His ways are not our ways, He never shows up in the way we imagine Him to. I was looking for a word or even a phone call.....I was just wanting to hear from Him. I was looking for a special bird to show up on my deck rail just as some manifestation that He was near.

Instead I received a phone call, but it was not for me. It was a needy friend who was in town and wanted to come by. She was the one who needed the most encouragement and help. My woes were of nothing compared to what she was going through. She stayed for hours and the Lord allowed me to speak truth to her and to encourage her. God showed up, but He wanted me to get out of me and to be a comforter in spite of my own pain. In ministering to this dear lady the Lord met me and showed me something tangible He had been speaking to my heart earlier. "Do you want to be healed, encouraged and strengthened? I will do that by showing you the strength that I have already deposited within you. I will continue to send those in need so that you can comfort them with my Love. In turn, you will be healed and lifted up through giving in this way." As the Lord spoke through Pastor Sterling. "Take your comforter and comfort someone else. This is true life. This is His call to THE REAL WORLD.

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