Weekly Devotionals by Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.
June 2, 2013 – The God of All Comfort
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” Rom. 8:28.
Romans 8:28 is one of the easiest verses of Scripture to quote for someone else’s benefit and the danger is that it can become nothing more than a spiritual band aid for the following reasons.
The person sharing it is doing so as a sort of spiritual ‘knee jerk’ reaction to a bad situation. While it is still the power Word of God, it is often used as a substitute for a more intensive and prayerful response. Often mere words actually fail to express what a heartfelt hug might. Often an expression of understanding, e.g. “I’m very sorry to hear that” can communicate comfort and understanding. Compassion and the ability to mourn with those who mourn and comfort others comes to us, and through us, because of our relationship with ‘the God of all Comfort’ Messiah Yeshua.
While we may not be able to perform miraculous healings as He did, our intercessory prayers can heal the sick in body and in spirit:
And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much, James 5:15-16.
In the beginning of the Church age, James and others understood something about the gospel that we must have lost sight of today. Can you really follow this advice in your own congregation? Not unless your brothers and sisters believe the gospel for themselves, e.g. that they are truly holy and blameless in God’s sight, apart from their performance, Eph. 1:4! This sounds so radical to us today, only because few of us really believe that justification is a present reality. We believe it in the beginning, but somehow we lose sight of God’s grace and we become more emotionally invested in our performance as good Christians than what God has done for us in Messiah. Does anyone in the kingdom really believe it is anything or anyone but Christ that makes us good?
Jesus is, and always will be, our best example of how to minister to others in need.
Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people,” Luke 7:11-16.
Jesus is always faithful to comfort His people in time of need.
June 9, 2013 – God is the source of all comfort
It is only because of His comfort in our lives that we can possibly comfort others in need.
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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God, II Cor. 1:3-4.
Understanding justification is not only positional, but practical, will help us to apply this wonderful truth to our everyday lives. After all, we are to live by faith. When I believe I am a holy one, my behavior will more consistently reflect my true nature. It will consistently reflect Christ’s holiness, not perfectly, because we have the treasure of the new creation in an earthen vessel:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— II Cor. 4:7-8.
This is by design, God’s plan is that the trials and tribulations of life will cause us to come boldly before the throne of grace in time of need, Rom.5:1-5.
June 16, 2013 – The Holy Spirit provides comfort to God’s children
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. II Cor. 1:3-5
The person who is in need of comfort is overwhelmed by the negative emotions associated with the circumstance. Like a believer overtaken by some deed of the flesh, Gal. 6:1, we need to pray for this person and remind them of God’s promises after they are no longer overwhelmed by emotion. Emotions are always more powerful than intellect, so when the tail wags the dog, comfort, prayerfully administered, will prove more effective than all the one-liner Bible verses we can muster.
God is the One who provides peace in the midst of the storm. That is the peace that surpasses all humanistic understanding. This peace is supernaturally manifested when circumstances are anything but peaceful, Phil. 4:6-8; Col. 3:15. The following passage illustrates this very well.
On that day, when evening came, He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Mark 4:35-41
We can always rely on the Spirit of Messiah to comfort us in time of need. We might not always be aware of His presence in the midst of the storms of life, but when we call out to Him, He will always be our peace. Our Anchor holds and Jesus is our safe refuge, our strong tower Who never leaves or forsakes His children.
June 22, 2013 – “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
While it is abundantly clear from the reaction of the disciples during that storm that they were fearing for their very lives, the passage also reveals just how confused they were about who Jesus really was. This confusion would persist until they saw Him risen from the dead, even though they were repeatedly eyewitnesses of His glory and power, Matt. 17:1-6; I John 1:1-3.
Even in the time of the Messiah’s greatest persecution, in the Garden of Gethsemane, during His trials before Pilate and the Sanhedrin, and during His scourging and crucifixion, He was thinking about others more than Himself:
Yeshua prays for all of His disciples, John 17:6-26.
He protects Peter, John 18:18; Luke 22:49-51.
He provides for the thief on the cross, Luke 23:39-43.
He provides for His mother, John 19:25-27.
When we realize His great faithfulness to others, even during His own suffering, we can be confident that He will comfort us in our time of need. Using Him as our example, and the Word of God as our guide, we too can comfort others, even the midst of our own suffering. Praise the Lord!
June 30, 2013 – True comfort comes from above
If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. II Cor. 1:6
God used the Apostle Paul to demonstrate how God’s comfort would manifest to us, and then through us to others.
King David imparted the same truth when he spoke of the way God’s children experience death.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
The psalmist of Israel spoke eloquently concerning the results of God’s comfort in the lives of His children. God’s comfort becomes a source of praise to God.
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I, whom you have redeemed. My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion, Psalm 71:20-24