Are You Ready Part Three: Comfort Or “Warning?”

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When Moses told this to the Israelites, they were too discouraged and mistreated to believe him. (Exodus 6:9, CEV)

Pocahontas
Pocahontas

When Moses gave God’s message to the people, they were too discouraged to listen. The Hebrews didn’t want to hear any more about God and his promises because the last time they listened to Moses, all they got was more work and greater suffering.

Sometimes a clear message from God is followed by a period when no change in the situation is apparent. During such time, seeming setbacks may turn people away from wanting to hear more about God. If you are a leader, or a layperson, don’t give up. Keep bringing people God’s message as Moses did.

By focusing on God, whose mercy endures forever () God’s people should be seeing beyond current, temporary setbacks and reversals. Yet, despite God’s powerful words to Moses, the people were still unwilling to believe. Their cruel suffering had overwhelmed them. This is not unlike today’s society where there are many who are so over whelmed and yet some of us keep insisting on giving “the warning message.” The Bible does tell us that such people could eventually believe, they just needed to experience the reality of the living God (Exodus 14:31). And oft times this reality involves us Christians giving people the assurances and comforts of God’s Word:

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God” (Isa 40:1).

The book of Isaiah makes a dramatic shift at this point in chapter 40. The following chapters discuss the majesty of God, who is coming to rule the earth and judge all people. God will reunite Israel and Judah and restore them to glory. Instead of warning the people of impending judgment, Isaiah here comforts them. Chapter 40 refers to the restoration after the Exile. Cyrus is the instrument of their deliverance from Babylon. Isaiah also foretells a time when “Babylon”—the future evil world system—will be destroyed and the persecution of God’s people will end. But this is a clear example of where God’s people, (Isaiah for this example) chose first to comfort and give assurance, rather than “give the warning:”

As believers, we need to “store up comfort” so to speak.

This was the prophet Isaiah’s mission. Judah still had 100 years of trouble before Jerusalem would fall, then 70 years of exile. So God tells Isaiah to speak tenderly and to comfort Jerusalem. The seeds of comfort may take root in the soil of adversity. When your life seems to be falling apart, ask God to comfort you. You may not escape adversity, but you may find God’s comfort as you face it. Sometimes, however, the only comfort we have is in the knowledge that someday Jesus will come again, and we will be with God. Now is always a good time to appreciate the comfort and encouragement found in his Word, his presence, and his people. (Mat 5:14)

The world is full of comfortless/un-comforted hearts, and even when you are sufficient for this lofty ministry, you must be trained. And your training is costly in the extreme; because to render it perfect, you too must pass through the same afflictions as are wrangling countless hearts of tears and blood. Thus your own life becomes the hospital ward where you are taught the Divine art of comfort. The Bible tells us that we comfort others, by the same ways we ourselves have been comforted. We only tell the people the same gospel, by which we ourselves are saved. (1 John 1:1-3, 1 John 5:11-12)

You have been wounded. Perhaps, even in the house of your own friends or family. (Zech 13:6) In this verse from Zechariah, is pictured the final days of the earth as we know it. For God’s new era to begin, there must be a cleansing—all evil must be abolished. Therefore, idols will be banished, and false prophets will be ashamed of themselves and no longer try to deceive God’s people. Comfort from God’s Word can go a long ways in the face of impending judgment and disaster. Sometimes it’s not a “warning” that’s needed. But rather “comfort of the scriptures.” (Rom 15:4).

And in the binding up of your wounds by the Great Physician, (His comfort) you may learn how to render first aid to the wounded souls everywhere. Do you wonder why you are passing through some special sorrow? Wait till ten years are passed, and you will find many others afflicted as you are. You will tell them how you have suffered and have been comforted; then as the tale is unfolded, and the “medicine” applied which once your God wrapped around you, in the eager look and the gleam of hope that shall chase the shadow of despair across the soul, you will know why you were afflicted, and thank Jesus for being right there in the fiery furnace with you; and for the discipline that stored your life with such a treasure house of experience, comfort, and helpfulness.

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The main point here might just be that

“God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters. — Dr. Jowett”

Praise God, for He is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in similar trouble. We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comforts he gives. We suffer in the hope that you will be comforted and saved. And because we are comforted, you will also be comforted, as you patiently endure suffering like ours. (2 Cor 1:3-6, CEV) Now, Many think that when God comforts us, our troubles should go away. But if that were always so, people would turn to God only out of a desire to be relieved of pain and not out of love for him. We must understand that being “comforted” can also mean receiving strength, encouragement, and hope to deal with our troubles, not to avoid them. The more we suffer, the more comfort God gives us. If you are feeling overwhelmed, allow God to comfort you. Remember that every trial you endure will help you comfort other people who are suffering similar troubles.

Comfort in Affliction

1/ Has anything been left as a legacy to the righteous?
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers people out of them all.” Psalms 34:19.

2/ What ought those in affliction to have from their friends?
“To him that is afflicted, pity should be showed from his friend.” Job 6:14.

3/ If one visits, and shows pity toward those in affliction, what does it indicate that he possesses?
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself un-spotted from the world.” Jam 1:27.

4/ What did David say with reference to his affliction?
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” Psalms 119:71.

5/ Before he had affliction, what was his tendency?
“Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy word.” Psalms 119:67.

6/ When affliction came upon him, what did he consider it was for?
“Look upon mine affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins.” Psalms 25:18.

7/ How does God regard the cry of the afflicted?”
He heareth the cry of the afflicted.” Job 34:28.

8/
With what feelings does the Lord look upon His children?
“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” Psalms 103:13.

9/ What has the Lord promised to be to those who are oppressed?
“The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” Psalms 9:9.

10/ When the Saviour was about to go away from the earth, what did He say He would send to His disciples?
“If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” John 16:7.

11/ What is the Comforter called?
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me.” John 15:26.

12/ What has the Lord promised to the mourner? 
“Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.” Mat 5:4.

13/ What prophetic words were especially designed to comfort the mothers in Bethlehem who should mourn for having lost their innocent children through the envy of Herod?
“Thus saith the Lord: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.” Jer 31:16 (compare with Mat 2:16-18).

14/ What does the apostle present as a comfort to those who have lost dear friends by death?
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him… Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thes 4:14-18.

15/ When one has received the Comforter in his heart, what use should he make of it?
“Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Cor 1:4.

16/ How was Paul once comforted when in trouble?
“Nevertheless God, that comforts those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” 2 Cor 7:6.

17/ When in affliction, how should one rest their case?
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Rom 8:28.

18/ How did the bonds which were endured by Paul work for good?
“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places.” Phil 1:12.

19/ How does Christ exhort those who have tribulation in the world?
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace, In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

20/ What comforted the apostle in these troubles?
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Rom 8:18.

21/ What did he call the troubles that beset him?
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 2 Cor 4:17.

Never should we pass by one suffering soul without seeking to impart to them the comfort wherewith we are comforted of God. {COL 387.3}

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But how many times have we Christians done this just so we could “correct” someone on one doctrine or another? Is that really how Jesus comforted people?

Those who have borne the greatest sorrows are frequently the ones who carry the greatest comfort to others, bringing sunshine wherever they go. Such ones have been chastened and sweetened by their afflictions; they did not lose confidence in God when trouble assailed them, but clung closer to His protecting love. Such ones are living proof of the tender care of God, who makes the darkness as well as the light and chastens us for our good. Christ is the light of the world; in Him is no darkness. Precious light! Let us live in that light! Bid adieu to sadness and repining. Rejoice in the Lord always.

It is your privilege to receive grace from Christ that will enable you to comfort others with the same comfort wherewith you yourselves are comforted of God. Let each try to help the next one. Thus you may have a little heaven here below, and angels of God will work through you to make right impressions. Seek to help wherever you can. Cultivate the best dispositions that the grace of God may rest richly upon you.

Young and old may learn to look to God as the One who will heal, as One who sympathizes, who understands their necessities and who will never make a mistake. {AG 122.5}

Find time to comfort some other heart, to bless with a kind, cheering word someone who is battling with temptation and maybe with affliction. In thus blessing another with cheering, hopeful words, pointing him to the Burden Bearer, you may unexpectedly find peace, happiness, and consolation yourself. A consecrated Christian life is ever shedding light and comfort and peace. It is characterized by purity, tact, simplicity, and usefulness. It is controlled by that unselfish love that sanctifies the influence. It is full of Christ, and leaves a track of light wherever its possessor may go.

Inappropriate Comfort

his wife asked,

“Why do you still trust God? Why don’t you curse him and die?” 

Job replied, “Don’t talk like a fool! If we accept blessings from God, we must accept trouble as well.”

In all that happened, Job never once said anything against God. (Job 2:9-10)

Why was Job’s wife spared when the rest of his family was killed? It is possible that her very presence caused Job even more suffering through either her chiding or her sorrow over all they had lost. Job’s response to the second test, the loss of his health and alienation from his wife, was once again commendable. His rhetorical question, urging the acceptance of both good and adversity from God, anticipates one of the central messages of the Book of Job: the person of faith will trust in God through prosperity or adversity, even while unable to understand why bad things happen.

For seven days and nights, they sat silently on the ground beside him, because they realized what terrible pain he was in. (Job 2:13). These friends truly cared for Job because they wept and stayed close by him for seven days and seven nights. Yet later they would fail Job miserably by not listening to him (Job 8:4-6; Job 13:5-13).

O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom. Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips. Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him? Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God? Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocks another, do ye so mock him? He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons. Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you? Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay. Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will. (Job 13:5-13)

If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression; (Job 8:4) The repetition of the word if in these three successive verses illustrates the presumptive nature of Bildad’s statements (Job 8:8-22).

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In his zeal to defend orthodox doctrine, he fails to listen to Job’s pain. It is very sad to see church members try to “correct” people on some supposed truth/doctrine, when what they really needed first was someone to just be quiet and listen to them. We are each building a structure that is to have the inspection of the Judge of all the earth. This work is the moulding of our characters. Every act of our lives is a stone in that building, every faculty is a worker, every blow that is struck is for good or for evil. The words of inspiration warn us to take heed how we build, to see that our foundation is sure. If we build upon the solid rock, pure, noble, upright deeds, the structure will go up beautiful and symmetrical, a fit temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

“Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?” (Job 4.7)

This passage sums up the argument and angst of the friends. What is wrong with the questions in relation to God? The assumption is that God always punishes and never forgives, does not work with people in their weakness, is brutal and unkind, does not take into account that people are just dust. It makes God sound like an insensitive machine.

The friends had only spoken of the justice of God, as though there is nothing else to Him. They emphasized God’s justice, but left undone His mercy and forgiveness. They had a lop-sided view of God. And don’t we hear this same kind of condemnations today in “end time” messages?

I had 50% of my body burned years ago. Spent years in and out of hospitals for surgeries and treatments. And now, even “in these last days,” I busy myself giving people in pain and suffering the hopes and comforts that I received while recovering. And I got much of my comfort through a Christian nurse who stood by me during many long nights of suffering and crying. It is because of those burns that I can now be the comforter that God needs of me. My wife died of cancer almost 2 years ago. Now I work on a project that comforts others going through a similar journey from across Canada. Its only because I have been through it that I can do it! If Jesus brings you to it, Jesus brings you through it!

God comforts us not only to make us comfortable but also to make us comforters. The comfort that God gives to us becomes a gift we can give to others (2 Cor 7:6; Acts 9:10-19, etc). Our willingness to share it reflects the sincerity of our faith (John 13:35). We share our faith best, by comforting first, before “warning.”

The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill [the Church] with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the [reverence] of the Lord is [OUR] treasure. (Isa 33:5-6, ESV. emphasis mine). Is it any wonder then, that Isaiah, sometimes a prophet of doom, chose first, in many instances to offer comfort? Isaiah said God wants to give us “the treasures of darkness.”

“I will give you treasures hidden in dark and secret places. Then you will know that I, the LORD…have called you by name.” Job had also experienced this same truth re “treasures of darkness:” “Utter darkness is laid up for his treasures; a fire not fanned will devour him; what is left in his tent will be consumed. (Job 20:26).

Now thats another reason why I keep saying “there is light in every cloud.”

And many times, we are that light! (Mat 5:14)

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Verse of the Day

“If I say, “My foot is slipping,” Your faithful love will support me, LORD. When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy.” — Psalm 94:18-19 Listen to chapter . Powered by BibleGateway.com.
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