2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Encouragement

"Blessed by 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."

Introduction

When life is tiring, when you are struggling with your sin, when family members aren't saved, when bills aren't paid, when school is difficult, when work is exhausting, when your health is failing, when your loved ones are hurt, when the future is unsure, and when a good friend leaves, it is easy to be discouraged.

Discouragement is a thief.  It steals your vitality, your zeal, your joy, your peace, and your contentment. If discouragement dwells long with you, its friends will soon join.  Their names are fatigue, hopelessness, despair, self-pity, depression, doubt, and bitterness. Sometimes, discouragement can be so strong that you even don't want to go on living.

Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future.  It is the result of blindness.  It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow.  It is unawareness of the presence of God, unconcern for the needs of our fellow man, and unbelief in the promises of His Word.

If we have nothing to rely on, or we forget our blessing and look to our circumstances, then that is when discouragement begins to take hold. Instead, what we need is encouragement.  We need hope and peace and the knowledge that the Lord knows our troubles has great concern and compassion for us and is not leaving us unloved or uncared for.

Keeping your eyes on Jesus is the best way to be encouraged.  In Him you can have comfort and peace and encouragement.  You need to find Him and His words and by faith rest in Him.

  1. Be encouraged because God is a God of mercy and comfort.  Verse 3.  Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.
    1. God is called the Father of Mercies.
      1. In the Greek the word "mercy" is oiktirmos.  It means compassion, pity, mercy.   And, it is something that is felt in the heart.  In God's very heart, He feels mercy toward you.
    2. He is the author of mercy.  His mercy toward you brings salvation, the forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal damnation . . . and this is because of Jesus and because of His sacrifice and because of His shed blood for you.
      1. God is the God of mercy: Psalm 86:5, "You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you."
    3. The word in Greek for "comfort" is paraklesis.  It means exhortation, comfort, and encouragement.
      1. In fact, a form of this word, parakletos is used for the Holy Spirit. That is why the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter in the KJV in John 14:26: "But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
        1. In the NASB the word is rendered "Helper."
      2. All this shows you that God is a God of Comfort, of exhortation, and of encouragement.
    4. All comfort comes from God who is the God of comfort, of mercy, and love.
      1. It isn't an angel or a cosmic force, a pill, psychotherapy or a quick and clever slogan that warms your heart and lifts you up.  It is God.
    5. But you may ask, "How is the Comfort received from God?"
      1. By faith--because God says He is the God of comfort, then you need to believe it and act upon it; that is, you need to trust Him and receive His comfort as He provides it.
      2. From others--God uses His people to comfort you.  When you have a problem, doesn't the Lord send someone with an encouraging word, a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on.
      3. Through His word--reading and hearing--the words of God are beautiful and there for our instruction and encouragement.
      4. By the Holy Spirit.  He is called the Comforter. He indwells you.
  2. Take encouragement because God is there in your afflictions.  Verse 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."
    1. Affliction (NASB) ("trouble" in the NIV) in the Greek is the word is thlipsis.  It can be translated as tribulation, trouble, anguish, persecution, burden, and, of course, affliction.
    2. Afflictions come in all different shapes and sizes.
      1. Sickness, financial difficult, loss of a loved one, an unsure future, an auto accident.  But also, and this is something very important, affliction occurs in the heart--in that place where we get frustrated, confused, and hurt.
      2. Why do we have afflictions?
        1. Because we live in a fallen world.
      3. And it takes a world with trouble in it to train Christians for their high calling as children of God and to carve upon their souls the features of the face of Christ.
    3. James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (NIV)
      1. So then, afflictions are a way of making you better.  And that is how they should be tackled: as the testing and strengthening of your faith--through the comfort and mercy of Jesus.
      2. You don't have to worry whether or not He is going to take care of you. He already has (THE CROSS); He is currently doing so; and He will continue to care for you.  After all, aren't you more valuable than sparrows, and He cares for them.
  3. YOU SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED BECAUSE YOU CAN BE INSTRUMENTS OF COMFORT TO OTHERS.  Verse 4 " . . . 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."
    1. This glorifies God--to comfort others.
    2. Being used by God makes you feel good--that isn't the only reason to help someone, but it does feel good when the Holy Spirit uses you to do good.
    3. You need to praise God that you have even had afflictions so that you can be able to help others.
    4. How many of you, because of a trial, have been able to help another better because of that trial?
      1. You see, God does not comfort you to make you comfortable but to make you comforters.
        1. Lighthouses are built by ship-wrecked sailors. Roads are widened by mangled motorists.  Hospitals are built by those who were sick.  Where nobody suffers, nobody cares.  When you suffer, you learn to care.  That is why God does not comfort us to make us comfortable but to make us comforters.
        2. But don't forget, He suffered first . . .
  4. You should be encouraged because the comfort you receive from God comes through Jesus.   Verse 5.  "For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ."
    1. This means that all comfort, encouragement, and hope that you receive through people, through the Word, or through circumstances are filtered through Jesus.
    2. Therefore, the comfort is pure, good, and right.
    3. It is received by faith.
    4. Where our sufferings are abundant, so is our comfort.
    5. This comfort is a spiritual comfort--received by faith by active choice.

Conclusion

Encouragement is something that belongs to you as a Christian. You do not have to live in a world of hurt and doubt. You don't have to live alone. You don't have to weep in solitude. You have the body of Christ to lift you up. You have the Word of God to teach you. You have the Holy Spirit indwelling in you who warms your soul.

You have the God of encouragement waiting to show you His mercy and love.

But you need to trust. You need to remember the Lord's blessing.  You need to depend on Him.   You need to keep your eyes on Jesus and Him alone.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28).

 

 

 

 
 
CARM ison