WEEK 21, Day 5, Friday, 24 May 2019

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Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 24 May 19:

Note: Here is a short video overview of 2 Corinthians: https://thebibleproject.com/explore/2-corinthians/

2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 – “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.”

Where do you go for mercy and comfort? Do you go to the Father of mercies and the God of ALL comfort? How powerful is the comfort of God in your life?

How do you experience God’s comfort? First, claim His promise to comfort you —

– Isaiah 66:13 — As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
– Isaiah 51:12 — I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass.
– Psalm 23:4 — Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
– Psalm 46:1 — God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
– Psalm 71:21 — You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.
– Matthew 5:4 — Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
– John 14:16, 26 — And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Comfort in the hope of eternal salvation through Christ –

– 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 — Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
– Psalm 27:1 — The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
– Psalm 119:50 — This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
– Psalm 119:76 — Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
– Psalm 55:22 — Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
– 1 Peter 1:3-9 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. …

Receive comfort from God’s word –

– Psalm 119:52 — When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord.
– Romans 15:4 — For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (NKJV)
– John 17:7, 17 — Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me…. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
– 1 Thessalonians 4:18 — Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The word “comfort” in its noun and verbs forms is repeated ten times in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 alone. The Greek word for “comfort” in our readings today is “paraklēsis” which basically means to ‘come along side’ someone through trials. Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego in the fiery furnace?

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’ He answered and said, ‘But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.’” (Genesis 3:24, 25)

God did not keep Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego from the fiery furnace but rather came along side them and protected them through it, all to His glory. Likewise, God does not keep us from the trials of life but rather leads us (shepherds) us through them, all for His glory and for our joy as we grow closer to Him through it all. Remember Jesus’ prayer before His crucifixion – “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one…. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world…. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:15, 18, 22, 23) What did the Psalmist say? “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

“…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.” God wants you to experience His presence, His mercy, and His comfort through your trials, but not just for your own benefit but so you would be able to comfort others through their trials.

Comforting others is more than just offering them well wishes; it is coming alongside them, getting into the fire with them, helping to carry the load. As someone once said, “You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to be there.” Prayer is always the first step and a continuing action when supporting and comforting others, but “being there” means “being there,” and actions speak louder than words. As with our worship, our care for others must be done both in spirit and in truth, or practicality. (John 4:24) Where do you need to be and what do you need to do today to truly comfort others in need? What is stopping you from being there?

– James 1:27 — Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

– Galatians 6:2 — Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

– Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 — Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

A final point: You will find comfort in comforting others. When you take care of others, you focus less on your own afflictions and will also learn to better appreciate your many blessings.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 May 19: Today, see the need; meet the need, proclaiming the love of Christ in the process.

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