COMFORTERS

2 Cor.1:3-7 – 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 will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

Paul was able to get by all of his trials and afflictions by the revelation he received from the Lord. He experienced imprisonments, betrayals, beatings, stoning, and even a shipwreck or two. The Lord told Paul that His “grace was sufficient” to get through all of the resistance that he faced. Make sure you read today’s passage carefully because in it you see a very important key to effective ministry. Paul said that his comfort was proportional to the afflictions he endured. He also said that he was enabled to help others in their afflictions because of the comfort he had received. Obviously he could relate to people who were hurting because of the things he had gone through. Maybe there is more to it than that. Maybe Paul actually received an impartation of comfort from the Comforter Himself that he was able to impart to others. That is actually a very important key in ministry, receiving from the Lord through the difficulties of life empowers us to effectively minister to others. In today’s passage Paul uses a form of the word comfort (paraklesis) ten times. Here is the definition of that word from Loew and Nida’s wordbook.

Paraklesis – to cause someone to be encouraged or consoled,

Many of us have gone through stuff in the past. Maybe you went through the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans and were met by God at various times. If so, that is still available for you to draw from as we minister to folks in today’s current crisis. The God of all comfort has comforted you in affliction that you maybe able to comfort others now.

DEATH SENTENCE

2 Cor.1:8-10 – For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,

Paul is teaching something here that is unfamiliar territory for our ‘me first’ culture. He is teaching about the very strength of the early church, resurrection power revealed in us in times of persecution and death. Paul not only died as a martyr, He lived as a martyr. He preached that it was the death experiences that he went through that released the resurrection power of Jesus through his ministry. One example was in the city of Phillippi. He was beaten, put in stocks and bonds, and thrown in jail. It was at that moment the power of God was poured out and Phillippi began to turn to the Lord. Here is how Adam Clarke describes this passage.

“This is an exceedingly beautiful and important sentiment. It teaches that, in the time to which Paul refers, he was in so great danger, and had so certain a prospect of death, that he could put no reliance on himself, he felt that he must die; and that human aid was vain….The effect, therefore, of the near prospect of death, was to lead him to put increased confidence in God. He felt that God only could save him; or that God only could sustain him if he should die…He was near to death; he had no hope of rescue; and the manner of the death which was threatened was peculiarly frightful. Paul regarded rescue from such a death as a kind of resurrection; and felt that he owed his life to God as if he had raised him from the dead.”

Paul’s rescue from death was considered a kind of resurrection. Paul learned to cling closer to the Lord, the power of signs and wonders brought awakening to a city. None of us like going through death experiences, I know I don’t. Its on the other side of those seasons that the Lord does beyond what we can imagine.

HELPERS OF YOUR JOY!

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.” 2 Cor. 1:24

Sometimes ministers or lay leaders think their ministries are so hard and exhausting. My opinion is that they have missed the whole point of what they are doing. Somewhere they got lost along the way, making it all about their strength and ability. Yes, that is exhausting and impossible! Christ alone is the source or fountain that we must continually draw from everyday! Spring up oh well within me and make me drink from those eternal streams! I love the Apostle Paul when he writes about how he is a helper of their joy. Listen to my paraphrase; “I am not here to boss or lord over you, but my purpose is to give direction to your true source of joy, one that will sustain, uphold and direct you throughout your life”. Can you imagine having a job that helps you receive joy and eternal joy at that? We become an outsource of God’s joy to others. What a life!

Amplified says it like this; “Not that we rule like dictators over your faith, but rather we work with your for the increase of your joy; for in your faith your stand firm.”

We are not here to control people with our hardhat religion! As Jesus says, laying heavy burdens upon people’s backs, rules that we can’t even live up to ourselves. I have said all along that Christianity is a win, win, it’s Cinderella embracing her knight and shining armor. But this knight not only forgives us but eradicates our debt eternally and lives in us, bringing us unspeakable joy forever. John Piper goes on to say in his book, (Helpers of your Joy); “There is only one explanation for God’s sacrifice for us. It is not us. It is “the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). It is all free. It is not a response to our worth. It is the overflow of his infinite worth. In fact, that is what divine love is in the end: a passion to enthrall undeserving sinners, at great cost, with what will make us supremely happy forever, namely, his infinite beauty. The best news in the world is that there is no conflict between your greatest possible happiness and God’s perfect holiness. Being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus magnifies him as the greatest treasure and brings you more joy—eternal, infinite joy—than any other delight ever could.”

Join the joyful army of God dispelling love and happiness to all. It doesn’t have to be burdensome but flows out of your innermost being. Christ becomes displayed among others as we live to glorify him in his beauty and he in turn makes us abound in joy. Become to others a “helper in their joy”.

STAMPED BY GOD

WE ARE STAMPED BY GOD!
Merry Friday! by Parris Bailey

“Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” 2 Cor.
1:22. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Eph.1:13

I love studying different words in the New Testament. Paul also seemed to love using interesting words to explain the mystery of the work of God in our lives. The word “sealed”, also means to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation; by implication to keep secret, security: from Satan, to mark a person, to impress, confirm authenticate, written document, and to prove one’s testimony.
Eph.4:30 “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” We have been sealed to the day of our redemption. I have preached it many times but will write it- we are not just a random blob floating out in outer space bumping randomly around. As a Christian we are bought, redeemed, stamped and covered all through our lives even throughout eternity. IN OTHER WORDS, CHRIST HAS US COVERED! “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His.” 2 Tim. 2:19
The Expositor’s Commentary says: “In the chamber of our spirit, while we abide in faith, the Spirit of the Father and the Son dwells with us, witnessing to us of the love of God and leading us into all truth and duty and divine joy, instilling a deep and restful peace, breathing an energy that is fire and fountain of life within the breast, which pours out itself in prayer and labor for the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit is no mere gift to receive, or comfort to enjoy, He is Almighty force in the believing soul and the faithful church.”
This seal from the Father guards them from evil and wrong while it ratifies our divine son-ship and guarantees our personal share in the promises of God. It stamps us for God’s possession, and his kingdom and glory as our possession. A sealed document speaks of secrecy: John Owen says; “God’s sealing of believers is His gracious communication of the Holy Ghost unto them, so to act by Divine power in them as to enable them unto all duties of their holy calling, evidencing them to be accepted with Him both to themselves and others, and asserting their preservation unto eternal salvation.” Our lives are “hid with Christ in God.” Col. 3:3 and we become “a garden enclosed”. SOS 4:12 Expositor’s goes on to say; “I am sure God, as He looks down upon us and sees the seal of the his Spirit upon their hearts anticipates this full emancipation.”
This seal also can have a meaning of a wedding ring- He will unite with us soon enough as His glorious Bride. COME LORD JESUS!

GOD’S ENGAGEMENT RING

ENGAGEMENT

2Cor. 1:21-22 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

When Parris and I decided to get married, we were broke. I went to the pawn shop in Slidel and purchased our wedding rings. Her ring served as the wedding ring as well as the engagement ring. It was small and inexpensive, quite an understatement to the life the Lord has blessed us with. Even with the incredible extravagance of the outpourings of the Holy Spirit in this life, I think these outpourings will prove to be God’s understatement of the life to come. I am not playing down the joys available to us throughout the Spirit in this life. Far from it. All I am saying is that heaven will be beyond our ability to comprehend. None of us will be disappointed.
Today’s verse is an interesting passage of scripture in which Paul uses various images to share with us the importance of the anointing upon our lives. He said that the Spirit is given into our hearts as a pledge of things to come. The actual word Paul used was arrhabon which has some very powerful shades of meaning that help us grasp the function of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
One of the implications of this word is the idea of a pledge. The Holy Spirit is like the first installment of the promise of life purchased by Christ on the cross. His death was about more than just forgiveness and eternal life. The life that He purchased for us was more than length of days, it was actually a quality of life. When we experience the fullness of the Spirit in this life, it serves as a promise that there is more to come. Actually, heaven will be an eternal unfolding of this incredible promise as we are totally swallowed up in this heavenly ocean of love, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, Who is our purchased possession which we will experience for eternity.
This word, arrhabon, has also taken on a new meaning in the modern greek language. It has become the word for engagement ring. This can give us a powerful image of the promise given to us in Christ of our life to come. Think about it, what is the purpose of an engagement ring? It is a statement made by the future husband to his fiancee. He is saying this is a small taste of the life I will give to you. Of course the future bride wants a beautiful stone on this ring, the beauty and value represents the promise of a beautiful marriage to come. That is exactly what the Holy Spirit does for us, when we receive His fullness through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we begin to catch an idea of how wonderful heaven will be. This baptism is characterized by extreme instances of joy, sometimes the kind of joy that seems beyond our human capacity. This is clearly a small foretaste of the joys of heaven. Peter called it “joy unspeakable and full of Glory”. That brings us back to the ring I purchased at the pawn shop. It was small and insignificant to the natural eye, but it represented the wonderful life the Lord had planned for Parris and I. In the same way, the baptism in the Spirit may seem insignificant to most. In it, there is found the promise of joy evermore in the life ahead.

WHO QUALIFIES TO BE ANOINTED?

WHO QUALIFIES TO BE ANOINTED?

2 Cor. 1:21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God,

Sometimes we tend to think the anointing is for the super spiritual. We have a tendency, in Christian circles, to exalt and make celebrity out of people who are anointed. Many times the people who are supposedly anointed are really only talented. Someone who has a great speaking ability or a great singer is mistakingly called anointed. The anointing, like every other gift from God, is received by grace through faith. The lowliest of new believers can step into the powerful anointing of the Spirit. The Lord pictured this spiritual phenomenon for us in Leviticus with the cleansing of the leper. Listen to these powerful comments from A.B. Simpson.

“This anointing is the privilege of the humblest believer, and of the most unworthy sinner that is willing to receive Jesus and be baptized with the Holy Ghost. There is no more beautiful figure of the anointing, in the Old Testament, than the story of the leper in the book of Leviticus. A poor outcast, unworthy and sinful, he was brought unto the priest in his helplessness and misery; then he was touched with the blood, washed with the water, disrobed, and cleansed; and then he was clothed upon in the garments of holiness; the blood of the oil touched the tip of his ear, his thumb, and his foot, and he, too, became an anointed one. So, still, the most helpless, hopeless, and worthless may receive the very highest gift of the Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed Holy Ghost, and say with the apostle, “Now He which stablisheth us in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God”; and then go forth to say with the Master, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; for He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, the recovering of sight to the blind, and set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

This is a powerful picture of the grace of God lavished upon us by the Lord Jesus. In the Bible, the leper represents the sinfulness of man. The healing, cleansing, and anointing of the leper is a picture of what Christ has done for each of us. We were all wallowing in our filth and stench of sin until Christ came. He washed us from our shameful past, healed us from the results of our destructive lifestyle, and then amazingly, anointed us with the power of His Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not just for the super spiritual or mature but is reserved for whoever thirsts for this living water. If you are thirsty, go ahead and have a drink of His Living Water. Today, the Lord wants to anoint each of us with His fresh oil. Do we deserve it, hardly. He anoints us to display the glory of His grace in this hurting world.