Summary: The pattern is all over Scripture: we cannot separate our vertical relationship to God from our horizontal relationship to others; the vertical always influences the horizontal. This is true in the realm of comfort.
Receiving God’s Comfort to Give It Away
1. Yesterday Marylu and I went to the Ko-ko-mah encampment as we do every year.
We love the smell of campfires cooking food, crafts and arts done in an 1800’s style, the music, the costumes, the re-enactments.
2. When parking car, I thanked the attendant and said, “This must be a pretty boring job.”
3. He said, “No, it really isn’t. It’s a chance for me to give back to the community.”
4. The idea of giving a little back is a Biblical idea; we worship God not to repay Him – for we cannot – but to give some of our thought, our attention, our time to Him.
5. When we grow as Christians or even as human beings, sometimes we have opportunity to lighten the load of others by helping them through some of the difficult times we have been through. These ideas are part of our text.
Main Idea: The pattern is all over Scripture: we cannot separate our vertical relationship to God from our horizontal relationship to others; the vertical always influences the horizontal. This is true in the realm of comfort.
I. The Vertical: Blessing GOD for His Goodness (3-4a)
A. The practice of blessing seen throughout BOTH testaments
1. Baraka from “Baruch Ha Shem”
2. In Jesus’ day, if you woke up to a rooster’s crow, you would bless God as follows: “Blessed is he who has given the rooster understanding to distinguish between day and night.”
3. As you opened your eyes, “Blessed is he who opens the eyes of the blind.” [See Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus”].
4. Jesus “blessed” before he distributed the bread and cup…
B. Blessing God’s Name is to be a way of LIFE
• When Paul says, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (I Thessalonians 5:16) I think he is teaching this concept
• Have you ever thought how much richer your life would be if you blessed the Name of God constantly for your blessings? You would appreciate your salvation, your spouse, your children, your parents, and your church so much more. Instead, we are tempted to focus of deficiencies and we become sour or worse yet, we feel entitled.
• Feeling entitled makes us demanding, and demanding strikes close to the heart of what sin and evil. Lucifer felt entitled to be God, so he demanded and rebelled…
C. God’s NAME is blessed, not the item for which we are thankful
D. Notice how Paul adapts the Jewish blessing to include JESUS
1. God the Father is distinct from the Son
2. The “Lord” Jesus suggests his deity
3. Jesus suggest his saving work as the risen Lamb of God
4. Christ means Messiah, and predicts his kingly reign on the earth
E. We bless God’s Name because of his COMFORT and MERCY
1. In five verses, the word “comfort” in one form or another is used ten times.
2. We find the word “comfort” all over this letter, parakaleo (“call to the side”); in OT, the word “naham” means to “ease onself, find relief” (ISBE, Vol. 1, p. 735).
3. God’s mercy is tied in to His “hesed,” faithful lovingkindness
Psalm 86:15, “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”
Psalm 116:5, “The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
John MacArthur writes, “Believers never know God more intimately than when He comforts them in their suffering.”
II. The Horizontal: Passing God’s Comfort to OTHERS (4b-7)
A. Our trials, coupled with God’s comfort, are TRAINING
• Severe trials mean amazing comfort
B. We are to be a CONDUIT of God’s comfort to others
• Judah bar Nahmani, “May the Lord of Consolation console you! Blessed be the Comforter of the Mourners!" To the friends who had come to condole he said: "Brethren who practise benevolence… may the Lord of Recompense recompense you! Blessed be He who recompenseth good deeds!" (Ket. 8b). [source: jewishencyclopedia.com, “consolation”]
• If you suffered the tragic grief of losing a child, divorce, laid off – you are now qualified to help others who have a similar grief. You know how it feels.
• You only know how your situation turned out; theirs may turn out differently; example: a person breaks up with boyfriend/girlfriend; fish in the sea…
C. How can WE comfort others?
1. Your QUIET presence being a paraclete (being along side); our quiet presence. Job’s comforters served in this way – until they began talking
2. NOT giving advice, not trying to make sure they learn a lesson, not talking about how others have it worse.
3. ENTER into their feeling of grief a little
4. PRAY with and for them