The Needed Keys In Understanding the REVELATION TO JOHN – Part One

 

WHY DOES THE BOOK OF REVELATION NOT BEING PREACHED TODAY?

8454499314_7168031652That’s a good question.  I’ve heard various replies over the years: “It’s to difficult to understand” or “It’s scary to hear about beasts–a dragon, lake of fire, hell, etc.”  

My purpose in this study, is to address the issues and difficult questions that always arise when we read the book on the surface.

THE REVELATION in the bible is NOT a ‘light read’ of biblical metaphors. Like All Scripture, the words describe an unveiling of the truth–past, present, future.  It is NOT like a “crystal ball”; no fantasy made up by man.

First, A Disclaimer–

As I began this investigation study in the last Book of the New Testament, and… for as many times I’ve read and studied the words in the past, I still come with some anxiety.  But since I was prompted going forth by the Holy Spirit– ( I don’t debate with the Holy Spirit), I found myself underlining words and phrases in Chapter One; making notes in the verses, following up with other biblical passages to give me (“you”) a spiritual glimpse–the “needed keys” available into the mysteries often overlooked.

My intentions throughout the course of this study is not to debate this study.  Nor do I intend to blog about every chapter in the Book.  I will be posting only what the Spirit directs me to write and proclaim.  So grab your Bible, ink pen, highlighter, and let’s get started!

THE THEME–

The theme is not the seven churches, not the seven bowls, the seven trumpets, the Beast, the Antichrist or the symbolism.  The THEME is Jesus Christ Victorious!!!

REVELATION CHAPTER ONE – AN INTRODUCTION:

Key Verse 1:19 (N.I.V. Bible Translation will be used in this study unless so noted.):

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”

REVELATION is broken into 3 major parts according to Revelation 1:19 –

1.  What John has seen.

2.  What John is presently seen.

3.  What is coming.

In other words, write down the past, present and future events:  “Write therefore, what you have seen (The Past)” – the Lord Jesus as the Glorified One.

**NOTE:  “Revelation” not Revelations” (plural).  It is the “Revelation” of JESUS, not of John.  If your Bible says The Revelation of St. John the divine…IT’S WRONG.

A.  The PREFACE, the PROLOGUE, the Warm-up begins – Revelation 1:1-3:

“THE REVELATION of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John,   (2) who testifies to everything he saw–that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  (3) Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

IMPORTANT WORD “KEYS” for the study in UNLOCKING the doors–

I want to show you an invaluable KEY when reading and understanding in any biblical study.  I underline with pen on the bible pages, certain words that stick out to me.  Then, with the leading of God’s Spirit, I use resources I have at hand (Expository Dictionary, Vine’s Complete Dictionary, etc.–or even Google).

The following KEYS (steps) is one idea on how to approach each chapter.  If you have your own methods, you might incorporate some of these:

1.  “REVELATION”=apokalypto (Greek); where we get the English word “Apocalypse”: (unveiling, disclosure) of Christ Jesus.

2.  SERVANTS=  All believers.

3.  SOON TO TAKE PLACE=

Vs. 1:3 “…because the time is near.”

Vs. 22:6-7 “…must soon take place.”

Vs. 22:10 “…the time is near” or “…at hand”  

Vs. 22:20 “…I (Jesus) am coming soon.”

4.  ANGEL= Messenger of God (anyone, human or heavenly, who proclaims God’s message).

5.  JOHN= identifies himself as John

Vs. 1:1  “…to His servant John”

Vs. 1:4  “John”

Vs. 1:9  “I, John”

Vs. 22:8  “I, John”

6.  BLESSED= the first of the seven beatitudes in the book; Greek word “Makarios” = “HAPPY, HAPPY” are those who will enjoy eternal life in glory (See footnote [i]).  

“BLESSED”= a favorable circumstance God puts on a person– Psalm 1:1; Matthew 5:3.

Vs. 14:13  “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on”

Vs, 16:15  Jesus speaking, “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

Vs. 19:9  “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”

Vs. 20:6  “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection…”

Vs. 22:7  “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”

Vs. 22:14  “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”

7.  PROPHECY= means foretelling the future as well as proclaiming any word from God.

B.  The GREETINGS & DOXOLOGY (Hymn or Verse or Praise to God) – Revelation 1:4-8:

–More KEYS on the Key Chain…

8.  SEVEN SPIRITS= The Holy Spirit in each church?

The SEVEN CHURCHES listed are located 50 miles apart forming a circle in Asia Minor, moving in a clockwise direction.

the-seven-churches-of-revelation

Using Bible Maps can give you an additional perspective in understanding.

9.  A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS= this Old Testament designation of Israel is applied to the New Testament Church:

1 Peter 2:5:  “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood…”

1 Peter 2:9:  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood…”

10.  PIERCED= ekkenteo, Greek found in John 19:37; Revelation 1:7 and refers to each text to “piercing” Christ on the cross.  “Karah”, Hebrew word used in the OT is a symbolic anticipation of the future suffering of Christ:  

Psalm 22:16:  “For [like a pack of wild] dogs they have encompassed me, a company of evildoers has encircled me; they pierced my hands and my feet”  (Amplified Bible).

Isaiah 53:5:  “But he was pierced for our transgressions…”

John 19:34:  “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear…”

So shall it be! AMEN= A double affirmation.

11.  ALPHA & OMEGA= first and last letter of the Greek alphabet. 

GOD is saying He is beginning and the end; He is and was and will be.

C.  VERSES 1:9-20 – “Jesus among the Seven Churches”:

12.  SUFFERING, KINGDOM & PATIENCE= the three pivotal themes in REVELATION.

13.  PATMOS= a small island off the coast of modern Turkey.

JOHN was imprisoned here until his release in 96-98 AD.  [*Note: Suggestion: look up “Patmos” on a map for reference].

14.  THE LORD’S DAY= technical term for the first day of the week; so named because JESUS rose from the dead on that day.

Also, the day Christians met together, took a collections, and why we attend church on Sundays today (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

15.  IN THE SPIRIT= In a state of Spiritual Exaltation–not a dream, but a vision like Peter’s– [Acts 10:10].

16.  SCROLL= pieces of parchment or papyrus sewn together and rolled on a spindle.

The book was not invented until about 2 AD.

17.  SEVEN= Hebrew number of perfection or completion.

18.  SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS=the SEVEN churches (Vs. 1:20).

19.  SON OF MAN=Jesus Christ.

Daniel 7:13, 14:  “In my vision at night I looked, and there before was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Mark 8:31:  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again.

20.  ROBE TO HIS FEET= traditionally, the high priest wore a full length robe to his feet.

Bible References:  Exodus 28:4; 29:5.

Reference to Christ as the high priest supported the fact that He is wearing a golden sash around His chest. 

21.  WHITE LIKE WOOL= suggest wisdom and dignity.

Daniel 7:9:  “I kept looking until thrones were placed [for the assessors with the Judge], and the Ancient of Days [God, the eternal Father] took His seat,  Whose garment was as white as snow and the hair of His head like pure wool.  His throne was like the fiery flame; its wheels were burning fire”  (Amplified Bible).

Isaiah 1:18:  “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow…”

22.  EYES LIKE BLAZING  FIRE=penetrating insight.

23.  SHARP DOUBLE EDGED SWORD= the sword is the Word of God which is used for our protection, but also our divine judgement.

Hebrews 4:12:  For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of the joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.  (Amplified Bible)

24.  FELL AT HIS FEET= great respect and true awe!

25.  LIVING ONE= Based on Old Testament references to the Living God; in contrast to the dead gods of paganism–Christ Jesus possesses life in His essential nature.

26.  KEYS OF DEATH AND HADES (Sheol, or the place of the dead)= Christ has absolute control over their domain.

27.  ANGELS=heavenly messengers, earthly messengers/ministers, personifications of the prevailing spirit of each church.

~THE BOOK OF REVELATION~

This book is primarily a book of prophecy; it seems to begin as an epistle or a letter.  It addresses SEVEN different churches with SEVEN different problems or challenges.

It foretells things that are to come.  But I want to mention again: It IS a REVELATION about Jesus Christ; REVELATION depicts JESUS AS:

“The faithful witness”,

“The firstborn from the dead”,

“The ruler over kings of the world”,

“The Alpha & Omega, the Beginning and the End”,

“The One who is and was and is to come, the almighty”,

“The beginning of all Creation”,

“The Lion of the Tribe of Judah”,

“The Lamb on the throne”,

“The Messiah who will reign forever”,

“The King of kings and Lord of lords”,

“The bright morning star”.

Lessons To Be Learn In This Upcoming Study:

*  The church is warned on sin lifted to holiness;

*  We will see vivid pictures of worship, the ministry of angels;

*  Eschatology= Doctrine of last days.

*  The final political setup of the world;

*  The career and ultimate defeat of the Antichrist;

*  Christ Jesus 1000 year reign; and…

*  The final state of the wicked and the righteous–the unsaved and the saved.

As we go through The Book of Revelation in the weeks to come, I will try to point out ties between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

EXAMPLES:

In Genesis the earth was created; in Revelation it will pass away.

In Genesis was Satan’s first rebellion; in Revelation Satan’s last rebellion.

In Genesis the sun, moon and stars were meant for the earth’s government; in Revelation these same heavenly bodies are for the earth’s judgement.

In Genesis the sun was to govern the day; in Revelation there is no night.

In Genesis the entrance to SIN; in Revelation the exodus of SIN.

In Genesis the curse was pronounced; in Revelation the curse is removed.

In Genesis death entered; in Revelation there is no more death!

In Genesis Satan’s doom being pronounced; in Revelation Satan’s doom is executed.

Feel free to point out in this series notes you made, discoveries you found in the comment section of this blog-site.  It will be helpful to all who follow along.

PART 2 to follow in Revelation 3. So start reading in your own bible (ink pen) and I’ll see you there!

 

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Sources for this Study:

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF WORDS – Stephen D. Renn.

NIV Complete Concordance.

Photos and Maps:

Google Images

Photo Pin

Wikipedia Maps -The Seven Churches in Revelation

Bible References:

New International Version (NIV)

Amplified Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s RESUME for His Disciples–That’s Us!

I ran across an example of a RESUME in my studies this week, to preface a biblical study in Psalms:

Resumes of Apostles

To: Jesus, Son of Joseph

Woodcrafter’s Carpenter Shop

Nazareth 25922

From: Jordan Management Consultants

Dear Sir:

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization.  All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them carefully.

As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation, and comes without any additional fee.

It is our staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew had been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.

Sincerely,

Jordan Management Consultants

  Continue reading “God’s RESUME for His Disciples–That’s Us!”

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 36,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Searching to Obtain a “Soul Lift” Instead of a “Facelift”

A “New Image” for the Old–

A woman who turned 101 years old, was asked by a local news reporter, what she thought of living to such a ripe old age.  Her reply made me tickled:

“You know this growing old stuff is for the birds.  But considering the alternate, I’ll take growing old.”

When I reached the age of collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits in my 60’s, the “You Know You’re Getting Older When…” jokes began to play against my self-worthiness.  I know, a ‘man of God’ concerned about what he looked like in the mirror? Sorry, it happens sometimes.

“You know you’re getting old when…”

*  You and your teeth don’t sleep together.

*  You try to straighten out the wrinkles in your socks and discover you aren’t wearing any.

*  You are on a first name basis with your pharmacist.

That last little “giggle” really applies in my life.  Walking into our small town pharmacist the other day to pick up a called in prescription when a voice rang out,  “Hi Mel!”  And of course, I returned the greeting and yelled across the store “Hi Jerry!!” instead of yelling back across the pharmacy counter, “What ya’ say?”.  But as the lady centenarian exclaimed, “considering the alternate…”; guess I can still chuckle at “getting older” jokes.

SCRIPTURE 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Amplified Bible:

[16] Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.

[17]  For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory  [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!].

[18]  Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.

We Are Living in a Plastic Surgery World!

I recently read in a survey dealing with plastic surgery in America, that 48% of women are interested in liposuction, cosmetic surgery, or a combination of the two.  An additional 23% said they would “possibly” be interested [Footnote [i] ].

Despite the traditional implications of cosmetic surgery as a feminine procedure, a surprising number of men expressed a similar interest.  Twenty-three percent of the men surveyed said they were definitely interested, 17% said they “might be interested [Footnote [i] ].

Outwardly we are wasting away! (2 Corinthians 4:16)

The apostle Paul’s opponents FOCUSED on the bodily presence, worldly skills, and money.  Sound familiar today?

The Greco-Roman world worshiped the body, consider the Olympic Games.  They focused exclusively on the external: exo anthropos; dee-af-thi-ro; “to rot thoroughly” – i.e. to ruin – corrupt, destroy, perish.

2 Corinthians 4:4:  “For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and likeness of God.”

Verse 4:18:  “Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.”

In Paul’s Day…

In Paul’s day, as in our day, most people seem to focus on what is VISIBLE and FLEETING.

In our culture the “worship” of the human body.  Someone watching on TV an infomercial while eating Nachos, seeing a person receiving a stomach bypass surgery, collagen injections and liposuction.  Is there something wrong with that picture?

Our actions to resist the inevitable becomes obvious and therefore ridiculous.  If you can get a tan in a can, why get one?

EMBRACE your aging, regardless your number!

“As a white candle

In a holy place,

So is the beauty

Of an aged face.”

[Footnote [ii]]

ANTITHESIS: Inwardly we are being RENEWED day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16):

Paul tells us there is another option available to seek:  We can be RENEWED “day by day” – Our “earthly home” or “earthly tent” (2 Corinthians 4:16; 5:1, 4).

Some of the most  handsome, beautiful people I know and recognize in this life are godly people.

graham
Billy Graham

 

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa

CHOOSE to focus on the INVISIBLE and the ETERNAL:

The Human Heart –

“seek” or “search” to have a SOUL LIFT instead of a FACELIFT.  The start begins with the inward renovation  with Jesus Christ:

“Always carrying about in the body the liability and exposure to the same putting to death that the Lord Jesus suffered, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown forth by and in our bodies”               (2 Corinthians 4:10 AMP).

It is a daily process, “day after day”; His life in us and not our life.

SYNTHESES–Deductive Reasoning comes into play at this point–

We have “precious treasure” stored in JARS OF CLAY:

“We possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and 4200524837_e5ef456736exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves”  (2 Corinthians 4:7 AMP).

The NIV translation of the above verse says “jars of clay”; baked clay pots, cheap, breakable and replaceable but still serves a necessary function:

*  2 Cor. 4:16;

*  4:7  “may be shown”

*  4:17  

ILLUSTRATION of treasure in “jars of clay”

We can possess God’s LOVE within our lives, but if all you have is the outward, then it will pass away:

“Therefore you not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.  He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”                   (1 Corinthians 1:7, 8 NIV).

To focus on the outward and neglect the inward is but “Fool’s Gold.”

2008 Fitness magazine poll:

1,000 women were asked what they would do to get their desired weight:  21% said they would trade ten years of their life!

The greatest prize to find in life is…

Not your outer appearance but your inward glory.  When it comes right down to it, true makeovers happen from the inside out.  Care and maintain your body image, but do not worship your body.

The “Disobedient Body” – a Story by Philip Yancey (See Footnotes for source) – A powerful Metaphor for the Church:

HOPE

I have a bright, talented and very funny friend in Seattle named Carolyn Martin.  But Carolyn has cerebral palsy, and it is the peculiar tragedy of her condition that its outward signs–drooling, floppy arm movements, inarticulate speech, a bobbing head–caused people who meet her to wonder if she is retarded.  Actually, her mind is one part of her that works perfectly; it is muscular control she lacks.

Carolyn lived for 15 years in a home for the mentally retarded, because the state had no other place to put her.  Her closest friends were people like Larry, who tore all his clothes off and ate the institution’s houseplants, and Arlene, who only knew three sentences and called everyone “Mama.”  Carolyn determined to escape from that home and to find a meaningful place for herself in the outside world.

Eventually, she did manage to move out and establish a home of her own.  There, the simplest chores posed an overwhelming challenge.  It took her three months to learn to brew a pot of coffee and pour it into cups without scalding herself.  But Carolyn mastered that feat and many others.  She enrolled in high school, graduated, then signed up for community college.

Everyone on campus knew Carolyn as “the disabled person.”  They would see her sitting in a wheelchair, hunched over, painstakingly typing out notes on a device called a Cannon Communicator.  Few felt comfortable talking with her, they could not follow her jumbled sounds.  But Carolyn persevered, stretching out a two-year Associate of Arts degree program over seven years.  Next, she enrolled in a Lutheran college to study the Bible.  After two years there, she was asked to speak to her fellow students in chapel.

Carolyn worked many hours on her address.  She typed out the final draft–at her average speed of 45 words per minute a page–and asked her friend Josee to read it for her…Josee had a strong, clear voice.

On the day of the chapel service, Carolyn sat slumped in her wheelchair on the left side of the platform.  At times her arms jerked uncontrollably, her head lolled to one side so that it almost touched her shoulder, and a stream of saliva sometimes ran down her blouse.  Beside her stood Josee, who read the mature and graceful prose Carolyn had composed, centered around the Bible text: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surprising power is from God but not from us.”

For the first time, those students saw Carolyn as a complete human being, like themselves.  Before then her mind, a very good mind, had always been inhibited by a “disobedient” body, and difficulties with speech had masked her intelligence.  But hearing her address read aloud as they looked at her on stage, the students could see past the body in a wheelchair and imagine the whole person.

 


FOOTNOTES:

[i] – Statistics, Surveys and Trends – American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

[ii] – Joseph Campbell, “The Old Woman”.

Photo Credits:

Billy Graham – BG Photo cnsnews.com

Mother Teresa – Google Photos at  http://www.biography.com/mother-teresa/

 – Photo Pin.

Story Source Credit:

The “Disobedient Body” / “Disappoint with God” a  story of Carolyn Martin; the “Hope” chapter by Philip Yancey – https://books-google.com/books 2009. 

 

“For dust you are–to dust you shall return,” doesn’t COMFORT Me!

Over the years of my Christian life, I have come upon instances of grief and suffering in the body of Christ.  The questions in my mind at the time were always the same.  “What can I do, say, to comfort them in times of illness, even death in their family?”

stock-photo-sadness-89664067GRIEF & SUFFERING:

How do we deal with GRIEF and SUFFERING in our midst?  Our skills and know-how are not nearly as important to others as our genuine concern.  The RIGHT WORDS are really simple and ordinary ones.  Words like “I’m sorry,” and “I am praying for you.”   My pastor’s wife received news over the Christmas holidays that her dad was in a severe accident and in ICU of the hospital in Arizona.  What could I say to COMFORT her?  And so far, I’ve said nothing!

So let’s learn together from God’s Word in dealing with grief, suffering, concern for people in the body of Christ on what to say when you don’t know what words to use.  You will need your Bible for this topic.

TEXT:  2 Corinthians 1:3-11 NAS:

[3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort;  [4] 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.  [5] For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.  [6] 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; [7] 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.  [8] 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;  [9] Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;  [10] 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,  [11] you also joining us through your prayers, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of many.

After counting the word “COMFORT” ten times in 7 verses, the theme is quite obvious.  It also must have made an impact on a Preacher one Sunday morning, although I think he missed something in the translation:

A preacher was making the point that death is a natural part of the life cycle.  He pointed to and quoted Genesis 3:19, saying that we came from dust and to dust we will return [*Note – I got my title for this blog from the quoted verse].

After the service,a five year old boy came running up to the preacher.  All out of breath with excitement he asked, “Is it really true what you said, that we came from dust and return to dust?”

The preacher said, “That’s right my young friend.  That’s what the Bible says.”

The boy replied, “Then you better get over to my house right away and look under my bed because somebody’s either comin’ or goin’!”

Death IS part of the Life Cycle…

12076256215_445ac8114c

Bad times come into life for everyone.  They certainly came into the life of Paul.  Take a look at Verses 8-9:

[8] For we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about the affliction and oppressing distress which befell us in [the province of] Asia, how we were so utterly and unbearably weighed down and crushed that we despaired even of life [itself].  (Amplified Bible)

[9] Indeed, we felt within ourselves that we had received the [very] sentence of death, but that was to keep us from trusting in and depending on ourselves instead of on God Who raises the dead.  (Amplified Bible)

The apostle Paul uses words like affliction, distress, weighed down, crushed, despair and more.  He felt it was all beyond his ability to endure.  In fact, he thought he was going to DIE!

Hard Times will come…’ve

You have probably been through some hard times.  I know I have, scattered throughout my life:  Lost my job–several times; been fired too; two of my three children have Type I Diabetes; mother succumd to Alzheimer disease.

You might be deep in debt and facing a financial crisis as you’re reading this blog-post.  Your CRISIS may be health related; dealing with a troubled and rebellious child.  Or, you may be coping with the death of someone that you’ve loved deeply.

No matter what kind of SUFFERING you’re enduring, no matter what the source, be ASSURED you’re in good company.  PAUL suffered; our LORD suffered and people who you see and sit by on Sunday mornings are suffering.

SUFFERING BECAUSE–We are Human.

HURT and SORROW and PAIN take many forms, that come from many sources.  Paul and countless other Christians suffered and are suffering today because of their FAITH in Jesus.

Accidents happen, diseases are contracted, cancer appears, tornadoes strike, floods ravage and DEATH stalks us all.  Simply because we’re HUMAN and we live in a world cursed by sin.

So often, we don’t choose the suffering.  However, we can choose our response to the distress we bear.  We can be bitter and angry.  We can complain that God isn’t fair.  We can quit, give up, trow in the towel!

Or…

Paul made his choice to use his suffering..

Probably a better way to phrase this is to say that Paul chose to be used by God through PAIN.  Look more closely at Verse 6:

2 Corinthians 1:6 (Amplified Bible)

“But if we are troubled (afflicted and distressed), it is for your comfort (consolation and encouragement) and [for your] salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which works [in you] when you patiently endure the same evils (misfortunes and calamities) that we also suffer and undergo.”

If we are DISTRESSED–“troubled”, it is for your COMFORT and SALVATION.  Oswald Chambers wrote:

“If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands.”

The “WHYS” in our troubles–

WHY IS THERE SO MUCH PAIN?

WHY DID SOMEONE DIE?

WHY DID A LOVED ONE HAVE A TERRIBLE DISEASE?

WHY AREN’T THINGS DIFFERENT?

“WHY?”

I’ve tried over the years to answer the questions for myself; others around me who are going through so much “stuff.”  I have pulled books down from storage; used Commentaries written by bible scholars; dived into word studies using my bible, and found out this:

God doesn’t offer much in the way of an answer to “WHY”.  He seems more interested in “HOW’.

HOW WILL WE RESPOND? – HOW WE WILL BEHAVE?

He gives us the opportunity to allow both the good things and the terrible events we face in our lives…

To mold and shape us…

Maybe make us stronger…

Perhaps to make us wiser.

But always to CONFORMS US to fit His hand like a tool.  Paul saw himself as a TOOL; an instrument to be used in God’s hand.

SHAPED and MOLDED by God's Hands
SHAPED and MOLDED by God’s Hands

Using “COMFORT” as a God-given Tool:

Sometimes God used DISTRESS…sometimes He used good things to COMFORT.  In all of it, His PURPOSE was to use Paul as His tool to comfort others.

God wants to COMFORT the people around you because He is the Father of COMPASSION–the God of ALL COMFORT:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pit and mercy) and the God [Who is the source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement)”  (Vs. 3 AMP).

SURRENDER is the Key to Responding–

In verse 9 of our text in 2 Corinthians 1, Paul says he had “learned”–‘surrendered’–to his reliance on God.  In fact, the pressure, despair and the sentence to death pushed him to SURRENDER, to let go, to rely on God and not on himself.

He relied on GOD for COMFORT; he learned to trust God’s promises for his comfort as he tells us in verse 4, God comforts us in “ALL” our troubles.

So, how does God comfort us?  

Would you expect God to impregnate our spirits directly from heaven courage and hope?

I suppose He might and you may have even experienced something like that.  Not sure the Scripture promises it will always be that way.  What I can point out to you is the experience of Paul found in 2 Corinthians 1:4:

“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”  (NAS).

Paul was the conduit when God’s COMFORT came to him and he let that COMFORT flow through the lives of others.  How do you suppose Paul received God’s COMFORT?

Guessing just a little, I suppose he was comforted by others who had been comforted by people who had been comforted.  That’s how God does it.  I’m not saying it is the only way, but that’s how Paul explains it happens.

So how do you do that?  How do you SHARE the comfort?  What do you do?  What do you say when you don’t know what to say?

A Few Ideas to Share–

Just be available.

Just Being There
Just Being There

You don’t need to say anything.  Simple expressions, like a hug, a smile, a simple touch of someone’s hand to start with that shows LOVE and CONCERN.  They mean a great deal.

Bringing food, cutting someones grass, picking up someones mail, running errands, the list goes on and on.  They all help because they’re expressions of LOVE.

We need to do something at a time when most often there are only limited ways we can help.  We don’t take food because people in grief don’t have food.  We take food because it is something we can do to demonstrate we care.

The “Elephant in the Room” Experience–

There are of course, some things that are better left unsaid.

Most of us know not to say, “I know just how you feel!”  Even if you have had a similar loss of a loved one, say the loss of your parent.  The loss of your parent is not like the loss of my parent.

RELATIONSHIP is unique and each person is unique and our feelings stand alone.  We don’t need to hear that time heals all wounds.  For one thing, it’s not true.  We just read in 2 Corinthians 1, God is the source of ALL compassion and comfort, NOT TIME!

Time may not heal and certainly, at the moment of intense loss, the IDEA that some day all of this will not matter to us is ludicrous.

Knowing the People Around Us in our Lives–

P.T. Forsyth said:  “You must live with people to know their problems, and live with God in order to solve them”  (P.T. Forsyth, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 13).

It may be helpful to remember your own time of loss.  If you haven’t lost someone close to you in death, talk to someone who has.

Recall what helped when tragedy struck.  Then use that experience to help someone else.  Use the COMFORT God comforted you with to comfort someone else.

I hope this blog-post has helped you when COMFORT is needed in your own lives and when comfort is needed in someone elses need.

 


 

Credits:

Photos – Photo Pin

Bible Translations used:  New American Standard (NAS) and the Amplified Bible.