Summary: Be an encourager

Comfort - encouragement - 2 Cor. 1:3-7 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Word to the grad. Class of 2002. The American dream is a myth - a rabbit trail. Dead end. I hate to dash your hopes but you may as well know the truth. The problem with "Happily ever after" is that is hardly ever happens.

Bigger problem than ever before - We invest an enormous amount of energy making heaven on earth. My world more desirable than any heaven I can imagine, DVD, surround sound Taco bell

Why is it that things that matter deeply to me don’t seem to matter to God at all?

Inalienable rights? - life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Not according to God - Joy

Our GNP is up, income and standard of living is up - happiness is down, way down.

Happiness doesn’t bring joy - mostly a distraction to true joy - but you won’t believe me.

Ex. Of "happiness" ending in despair - lotto winners, actors and athletes, politicians and rich.

And living right is no guarantee of happiness either

Jesus told us to take courage, to fear not WHY?- He never said that we would escape pain, illness, despair. In this world you’ll have trouble - count on it - you were meant for another world

Film at 11 - Christian woman kidnapped, raped and dismembered. Christian father shot and killed in front of his sons. Pastor’s daughter loses a battle with leukemia, his faith shaken, he is released from the church he pastors. The best of homes experience divorce, addictions, unemployment, poverty, disease and death.

2 Cor. 1:8-9a We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.

Don’t fall for the lie that God wants you to be happy. The Bible never says that.

God’s goal isn’t to make you happy, that is Satan’s goal

Happy means satisfied without God - treating God like a vending machine or massage, genie

Porn, food, drugs offer immediate and predictable satisfaction, but not lasting - Have you been asking God to do in prayer to fulfill the lusts of your flesh?

What is the purpose of despair?

Use the story of Acts 27:1-43 - stop with the boat wreck.

God uses Despair to shatter false hopes, to crush second best dreams

God uses pain and shattered dreams to awaken us and help us discover our desire for God.

Shattered dreams - the intense pain is never random or senseless.

Tragedy is the corridor towards God

Most other things have to drop away - Paul and the crew even stopped eating - during the crisis

What about when God doesn’t act or listen for a long time, maybe as long as heaven

Darkest hour we see the least and are less likely to misstep - or go it alone

Shattered dreams open the doors to better dreams - but the old must be utterly destroyed (lifeboat cut away) Pain always has a purpose - to stir up an appetite for a higher purpose and plan, knowing God well enough to desire Him above all else

Shattered dreams are needed for spiritual growth - not many Christians drink deeply from the well of living water. Shattered dreams create excruciating pain but what arises from the ashes is lovely - like flowers on Mt. St. Helen’s

Jesus battled shattered dreams (gethsemene - wept after angels strengthen him see pg. 46

God uses despair so that we will abandon all hope in lessor gods.

What do these things represent?

Cargo - my stuff, cars, boats, homes, furniture, my junk (great loss but I can still get more)

Tackle - my ability to gain, load and accumulate stuff (greater loss, no hope to regain stuff)

Lifeboat - My plans for the future - hope and dreams (I’m not getting out of this alive)

Grain - My immediate future - burn last bridge (only God can save me now)

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