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Northern Comfort

John 14:15-18

 

 

Some of our most conservative folks offered me a drink at their house. As they were pouring, I saw the bottle said "Seagrams".  Then I saw the word "Ale".  Only then did I see the word "Ginger" in-between.  It made for a good laugh!

 

Where do you find your comfort?  I find mine in the one and only true and living God, named Jehovah, whose Son is Jesus Christ, whose Spirit is my Comforter, residing within me!  I look up to find my comfort, from the One Who dwells in the sides of the north.

 

How do you medicate the pain of life?  I choose to call the Great Physician, still practicing medicine in Spirit in those who believe!  What do you reach for to pick you up when you are down? 

Ephesians 5:18
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

I reach up on the shelf for northern comfort, the written Word of God ... which is the living Word, Jesus, translated in writing, interpreted by the Spirit of God Who gives me understanding and help.

 

This is the great comfort chapter.  "Let not your heart be troubled..."

It speaks of heaven, and gives comfort.  Jesus said, I'm going away, but one day you can follow me where I am going.  They were comforted by this.

 

But still, He was going away, and knew they would need continuing comfort.

v. 16        'pray' is a rare Greek word, not the usual one used.  It means ask.  That's why it is not followed by 'to'.  To 'pray to' would mean to pray from earth.  Jesus knew that He would soon be seated on the right hand of the Father, and would simply turn and ask, and He knew that the answer would be yes!

 

This Comforter is the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.

v. 17a      The trinity is one God, manifested in three persons:  Father, Son, and Spirit.  Do you fully understand?  Neither do I.  But I believe in a lot of things that I don't fully understand:

        Electricity-I don't comprehend how current can run thru wires and power electronics, but I believe enough to keep my fingers out of the sockets!

        Wifi-How can the internet work even WITH cables, let alone without.  And yet I'm known to get online once in a blue moon!

        How does a brown cow eat green grass and give white milk and yellow butter?  I dunno, but I'm gonna enjoy it!

1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

I believe in the trinity, and I will appreciate the fact that God is still on earth in the form of His Spirit, which by the way, is in my heart as a believer!

 

I hope you recognize and appreciate the Spirit of God!  Most Christians are stuck somewhere between Calvary and the Day of Pentecost, some 7 weeks later. 

        In Bethlehem, where Jesus was born of a virgin, that was GOD WITH US.  On the cross we see GOD FOR US.  Then weeks later came the Day of Pentecost, which is GOD IN US. 

 

So what does it mean when I say: Most Christians are stuck somewhere between Calvary and the Day of Pentecost?

        I mean that they have been to Calvary for cleansing, and although the Spirit came to live inside of them immediately, they haven't comprehended the magnitude of the Spirit's indwelling phenomenon.

        You see, the disciples walked with Jesus, and that must have been a tremendous thing to experience.  But better than Him walking NEAR you is Him residing IN you! 

        Now, imagine those weeks in-between Jesus' departure from earth and the Spirit's coming to dwell in believers.  Unlike us, they had a waiting period from their salvation to their indwelling.  What might that time have been like?  We don't know for sure, but I imagine it made them appreciate God's presence when it finally arrived, after being alone all that time!

 

Are you saved?  Then the Holy Spirit dwells IN you!

v. 17b      Understanding the role of the Spirit within you will transform your life! 

        Some of us are afraid of focusing on the Spirit since we see many in our world who major on it are quite different from us. 

ill.--as a kid, the guys I saw on TV who talked about the Holy Spirit were either hitting people on the head, knocking them backward, handling snakes, or talking about God making me rich.

        The ladies I saw who were big on the Holy Ghost either wore NO makeup, or way too much! [how 'bout them eyelashes!]

        And let's be honest, we see more nonsense going on in the name of Spirit-fullness than anything.  You'll see some weird stuff, like holy laughter, holy running, tongues that ignore the rules of I Cor. 14, faith healing and prosperity preaching, drinking of deadly poisons and snake handling.  Weird stuff, and all in the name of the Spirit.  Get to know some of them and you'll realize most of them are pretty weird people anyway...don't blame it on the Spirit, they would be weird without Him.

 

As a result, we have allowed them to rob us of the true blessing of the Holy Spirit!  We so want to avoid being associated with the extreme, that we have created another extreme of our own.  They're in a ditch on this side of the road, and we're in the other ditch.  It's time to get on track!

 

1.     The Identity of the Spirit.

There are no less than 40 ministries of the Spirit which He performs in our lives.  Here's seven of them, which just scratch the surface.

  • Explains the Bible to us. I Cor. 2:14
  • Gives assurance of salvation. Rom. 8:16
  • Intercedes for us when we pray. Rom. 8:26
  • Leads us and directs us. Rom. 8:14
  • Empowers us for witnessing. Acts 1:8
  • Strengthens us against temptation. I Cor. 10:13
  • Comforts us. John 14:16

 

We preach today on that last one, the Comforter, which is one of His names. 

 

What is comfort in this context?  It's not just soothing or consoling someone.  It does include that, but Biblically, it goes far beyond that.  God's comfort not only soothes, it strengthens.  It not only consoles, but controls.  It gives comfort, but also gives courage!

ill.--I loved riding my bike, as a little guy.  I would fall and skin my knee, and mom would kiss da boo boo and make it feel better.  Of course, it was a trick...psycho-somatic...there's no actual healing found in someone adding oral germs to a wound!  But I was comforted, and would go out again, and would eventually crash again and need more comfort.

        Mom could soothe and console, but she couldn't strengthen me to have more control or more courage either.  But the Holy Spirit can!  He helps you heal, strengthen, grow, gain courage, and keep going when humanly you can't keep going.  The Holy Spirit can hold you up when you don't think you can hold up!  He can help you press forward when you feel like falling backward! 

 

"Comforter" is from the Greek "paraclete" [paraclete], which means to come along side of.  This speaks of support.  This is when there's only one set of footprints in the sand and He is carrying us!

 

Our Comforter cares enough to give comfort to each believer who needs and wants comfort. [Exception:  Those who don't want comfort, but prefer the attention of being the forever victim in life, or find some morbid pleasure in the pride of enduring the pain as a martyr...doing private penance perhaps?]

        But our Comforter not only kisses the boo boo, soothing on the spot, but He gives us strength to go forward, even if it means picking us up, and carrying us!  This is not just what I've studied [academic], I've experienced this, and I'll bet you have too!

 

This same word 'paraclete' is translated as 'advocate' in I John 2:1.

1 John 2:1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

He's our attorney.  He's in YOUR corner!  It's like a boxing match, as you fight the good fight of faith in this world of low blows, kidney and rabbit punches.  After getting beat up a while you go take a break in the corner and you get comfort, healing, smelling salts, wounds bound, salve applied, refreshment, shoulders rubbed, a big 'atta boy', and then you are infused with strength to go back out there swinging!  I'm so glad He's in my corner!

 

ill.--R.A. Torrey was the great preacher who followed his mentor, D.L. Moody, in Chicago.  He went thru an experience that about knocked him out.  It was what every parent fears the most, the tragic death of a child.  Her name was Elizabeth, and she was 9.  A friend had taken her to the zoo.  She got home and didn't feel like supper, but went on to bed.  The next morning she came to breakfast and said she couldn't go to church she was feeling so badly.  She was diagnosed with diphtheria...fatal in those days.  Within 2 days she was gone.  The Torrey's were devastated.  To make matters worse, her diseased flesh was so contagious that there couldn't even be a real funeral.  Torrents of rain fell for days, as if choreographed in a tragic movie. 

All this while, the Torrey's couldn't be in their home as it was being fumigated for germs.  They lay in a cold, dark hotel room, with the rain beating on the window.  Pastor Torrey decided to go to his church study to take his mind off of things.  As he walked to the office he collapsed in the street under the weight of his burdens.  He began to cry uncontrollably.  He was inconsolable.  In those moments something came over him, and he said the Holy Spirit became more real to him than ever before in his life. 

He later wrote, “And just then this fountain, the Holy Spirit, that I had in my heart, broke forth with such power as I think I had never experienced before, and it was the most joyful moment I had ever known in my life. Oh, how wonderful is the joy of the Holy Spirit! It is an unspeakably glorious thing to have your joy not in things about you, not even in your most dearly loved friends, but to have within you a fountain ever springing up, springing up, springing up, always springing up, three hundred and sixty-five days in every year, springing up under all circumstances into everlasting life.”

        He was not only consoled, but strengthened!

 

The identity of the Spirit can be expressed in so many ways, including our advocate and Comforter.  And please remember that the Spirit is not an IT...but a HE.

vv. 16-17         "He" / "Him" 5 times.  He is not some impersonal 'force,' but rather a real part of the Godhead, visible with spiritual eyes, Who literally touches us from within, and speaks with a voice thru the Word of God. 

 

What does it take to have a person?  A body?  No.  When your soul leaves your body one day you will not cease being a person.  Your conscious existence won't cease to be.

 

It takes three things to be a person:  intelligence, emotion, and will.  You must be able to think, feel, and act.  The Holy Spirit does all 3...

 

He thinks...

vv. 25-26         He teaches us with His intelligence.

 

He also feels...

Ephesians 4:30
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

He has emotion with which to feel.  A force is like gravity.  You can't grieve gravity.  But a real person can be grieved.

 

He also acts with a will...

1 Corinthians 12:1-11
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man [gifts] severally as he will.
 

You want God to be more real to you?  Jesus is God, and if you've seen Him, you've seen the Father.  And the Spirit is a real person, you can feel Him, and He deserves our respect and attention ... this is God IN us!

 

Identity...

 

2.     The Indwelling of the Spirit.

v. 17b      This first happened on the Day of Pentecost.  Before this day, in their OT, the Spirit of God was WITH them, but not IN them.  He sometimes came UPON them, but was not IN them.  But now in the age of grace He comes to live within us, and it would do us all a lot of good to remember that we have a divine companion within us.

 

This is both exciting and sobering:

        What we see, He sees.  What we listen to, He is subjected to.  What we experience, He experiences.  What we do, we force Him to tag along for!

        "Oh be careful little feet where you go..."

ill.--you can't walk into that bar, hang the Spirit on a coat rack, have your fun, and then pick Him back up on your way out!

        But we are never alone and never forsaken!  Some of you may spend a lot of time in an empty house, but you are never really alone! 

 

Let's enjoy walking in the Spirit, talking to God in the Spirit, reading our Bibles, explained to us by the Spirit of God within us, our Comforter!

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