Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
We are assured and know that God, being a partner in their labor, all things work together and are fitting into a plan for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose.”
“There is fullness of sympathy in our God. The river that flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb, did you ever hear of it drying up? The ‘Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.’ The Son, the ‘Consolation of Israel,’ He that was sent to comfort all that mourn; the Holy Spirit, ‘the Comforter,’ leading us to the Consolation of Israel and the Father of mercies. We are at the deep, deep well of love. The weariest head and the sorest heart may lean on the bosom on which the beloved disciple (John) leaned, and find indescribable relief and indescribable sympathy, for He will whisper all the time, ‘all things work together for good to them that love God.’”
Today’s Study Text:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy, pity and mercy and the God who is the Source of every comfort and encouragement. Who comforts and consoles us in every calamity and affliction, so that we may also be able to comfort those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
II Corinthians 1:3,4
“Furnace of Affliction” – Part 24
“God’s Circle of Comfort”
“God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.”
Can I think of a time in my life when God sent “comforters” to console and encourage my broken heart?
How can I pass on the gift of comfort to someone I know who is aching?
“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.”
“It will greatly comfort you if you can see God’s hand in both your losses and your crosses.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Several weeks ago I received a note from my Garden friend Nina Ruth. She’s been coming to Transformation Garden for several years, and yet, as with many of my Garden pals, I’ve grown so close to Nina Ruth that I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in my life. Like so many of God’s children in Transformation Garden, Nina Ruth is part of what I call a “Circle of Comfort” which has formed here in the Garden.
At first, when people come to Transformation Garden, they often ask for a bookmark or they have a need for us to pray for them. And then something happens. After sending out our weekly Prayer Blast or even an emergency notice, I’ll recognize their name along with a note they have sent “Prayers have been sent to heaven.” Or here’s one of my favorites, “The prayer engines are running.” And here’s one more, “I’m on it!” I love the way Dee P. always sends a note after every prayer request goes out. So does Myrt G. in Finland who teaches weekly at her church plus takes care of her big, extended family. And there’s Georgia M. Sometime I’m going to share her “Garden” story with you! But let me just tell you this – every night she sends me a note to check on my health and well-being for that day! And don’t feel bad if I didn’t mention your name because it would take a book filled from cover to cover for me to do justice to all of the fantastic women and men God has sent to the Garden in the last 9 years. He recently sent Fred who is helping me with proofreading – how’s that for assistance from heaven.
Well, back to Nina Ruth. She is so beautiful and dear with an angelic smile. Everyday, yes you read that correctly, everyday she sends a note after reading the devotional. Her “love letters” are masterpieces, believe me. And here’s the thing. Nina Ruth is right in the middle of the furnace of affliction. It’s hot and dark and painful and this is the path she’s walking on right now. But she is also God’s special daughter who wrote to me several days ago after the devotional on the three Hebrews and she made this observation: “Wasn’t God good to give the three Hebrews friends! There were three of them in that fire together, encouraging one another, standing together to support one another.”
Then Nina Ruth told me about a group of people God has put in her life right now. As she shared, “None of us go to the same church. We haven’t known each other real well for too many years, but God put us in each others lives for a reason.” After reading her note I could not write fast enough for thoughts were just pouring out of my head.
Have you ever noticed that when fiery trials hit us and the way is oh so tough and we are certain God has forgotten us, it is then that God doesn’t just promise His presence, but He sends us the hands of someone we don’t even know to wipe our tears. He sends us hearts that will open up and love us even when we feel unlovable. He’ll open the mouths of His children in prayer – continually – over and over again! And all of a sudden, we feel the comfort of heaven lifting our burdens and consoling us in our heartaches. And if you’re like me, you’ll say, “Where did God find all these precious people to encourage me when I needed comfort so badly?”
It certainly is not lost on me that it wasn’t until after our car accident and the sudden death of my dad and Jim’s mother’s lengthy illness and dementia that God used people that He brought into my life to encourage me to write a devotional which focused on His Word and His immense love for us. I’ll never forget the first year of devotionals here in Transformation Garden. I’ll be critical of myself for many of those daily thoughts didn’t reflect hours of Bible study and prayer. But thankfully, God works with us and with time, those who loved the Garden encouraged me to study more, pray more and then watch God go to work.
In the past few weeks as we’ve added “Prayer for Salvation” to our Blast each week, I’ve noticed another change I could not have predicted even one month ago. One particular day last week, here in the Garden, I received ten prayer requests from new people right in a row – within a few minutes of each other. We don’t advertise or promote the Garden. So I wondered, “How did ten people from around the world all write in requesting prayer within minutes of each other?” It had to be God! And if this wasn’t enough, one of the names that we had been praying for previously, put this note on her request, “I wanted to thank you and all the people in the Garden. I’m from Nepal and I thank you for remembering me in prayer.” Nepal!! That’s God too!
As I reviewed the story of the four Hebrew youth taken into Babylonian captivity, these friends, or as Daniel 2: 17 refers to them – “companions” – “joined together,” as the Hebrew states. And they made a “league” together that they would live their lives to the glory of God. That was first and foremost in their hearts.
Second, they prayed together. When King Nebuchadnezzar was baffled by a dream he could not recall, Daniel tells us how he went to his companions and they joined together in prayer, “that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret and that (they) should not perish” (Daniel 2: 18, K.J.V.) In their behavior and witness, these companions stood together as they reflected God in all they did.
Call them friends and companions – it was the fellowship of heaven that led these individuals to be bold, courageous and devout in their love for God and their fellowmen. And it was in the furnace of affliction where they were brought together. This event underscores the fact that their heavenly bond could not be broken by their earthly trials. As our study text today reads in The Message Bible: “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us” (II Corinthians 1: 3,4).
May our prayer today be the words of David Adam:
“Christ, let me see You in others.
Christ, let others see You in me.
Christ, let me see.
You are the caller
You are the poor
You are the stranger at my door.
You are the wanderer
You are the homeless
With no bed.
You are the man
You are the child
Crying in pain.
You are the other who comes to me
Open my eyes that I may see.”
“God knows your need to be comforted. He knows you need to be reminded regularly you are not alone or forgotten. You need a pick-me-up. You need to be held. You need to be encouraged. God gives of Himself to comfort you.”
“God – let me be aware.
Let me not stumble blindly down the ways,
Just getting somehow safely through the days,
Not even groping for another hand,
Not even wondering why it all was planned,
Eyes to the ground unseeking for the light,
Soul never aching for a wild-winged flight,
Please, keep me eager just to do my share.
God – let me be aware.
God – let me be aware.
Stab my soul fiercely with others’ pain,
Let me walk seeing horror and stain.
Let my hands, groping find other hands,
Give me the heart that divines, understands.
Give me the courage, wounded, to fight.
Flood me with knowledge, drench me in light.
Please, keep me eager just to do my share.
God – let me be aware.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P. S. Thank you so much for the gifts you send to Transformation Garden which continue to assist our ministry here in the United States and in 192 countries around the world. 100% of your donation goes directly to providing for our daily devotionals and gift bookmarks. Transformation Garden is a non-profit organization so your gift is tax-deductible and you will receive a receipt for any gift you send.
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.