2 Corinthians 7:4b-7
INTRO – Turn to passage
ILL – English language evolving; new technology, producing new words, turning nouns to verbs
-technology verbs – Google – Ebay – text msg – Facebook – Twitter
How many of you have ever googled, ebayed, texted, facebooked, twittered?
-Twitter church; Facebook church
-Facebook – status
-Twitter “What are you doing?”
Paul’s status 2 Corinthians 7:4b
-posted his status
- Inward status – I’m totally encouraged
EXPL – “I am filled with comfort”
What is comfort like? Literally means to have someone who has been called to your side – it is like having someone beside you who cares, who provides friendly encouragement & help
-“filled” - not lacking, complete, all he needed
-he had many problems but he also had received a full measure of encouragement & help
-I’ve had it to here; I have it to here
The encouragement I am receiving leaving no room for discouragement, despair
- Outward status – I am super ecstatic
EXPL – “I am exceeding joyful” – literally to be overflowing with joy; rapturous, euphoric, jubilant, seventh heaven, cloud nine Latin superabundo
-visible, verbal; obvious to everyone
ILL – s/o walking and singing, etc.
2 Cor 6:10 “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing”
Paul – status – I’m totally encouraged. I’m super ecstatic
TRANS – What is strange about this? “in all our tribulation”
Epi– position – in
2. I’ve had some problems
- The degree of these problems
-heavy, burdensome problems – “tribulation”, “troubled” – pressure, stress, burden; press on, weigh down
-what causes stress?
Top Ten Stressful Life Events
|-marriage problems-problems with kids, teen, grown-problems with parents, in-laws-financial problems-diff stant, ________-old age-national & global instability, ________, threats|
#. Spouse’s death
- Marriage separation
- Jail term – direct, indirect
- Death of a close relative
- Injury of illness
- Marriage - getting, being
- Fired from job
- Marriage reconciliation
-problems with kids, teen, grown
-problems with parents, in-laws
-diff stant, ________
-national & global instability, ________, threats
Christian life, ministry – people, responsibilities, labor, _______
(Source: The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory)
-extensive, complex problems – “all our tribulation” (4)
-not an isolated incident; repeated, ongoing, far-reaching
-besieging, surrounding problems – “on every side” (5)
-everywhere he looked, anyway he turned, wherever he went he could not get away from them
-chronic, recurring problems – “no rest”
- unremitting, no relieve
- Physical & psychological - “flesh” cf. “spirit” in 2:13 I had no rest in my spirit because I found not Titus my brother
-problems that affect all parts and the whole person
-affected his whole being, physical and psychological
Physical – high blood pressure, headache, backache, upset stomach, exhausted, pain
Psychological – irritable, hard to concentrate, worry, insecurity
Pain probably ex some or all
- External & internal problems – “without … within”
-Conflict – “without were fightings” -clashes, conflicts
-could mean physical threats and attacks but also could include verbal attacks and rumors, also spiritual warfare,
-notice multiple situations – “s”
-Anxiety – “within were fears”
-Paul’s first trip to Macedonia – was arrested, beaten and imprisoned
-you can understand his anxiety in returning to the same place
-Paul being very intimately transparent
What Paul experienced is was causes many people to become discouraged, angry, bitter, depressed; quit, lash out, take psychiatric drugs, pursue affairs, scream into a pillow, check out on the Christian life, church, God, etc.
TRANS - Paul certainly could have done this and might have even thought about it. What made the difference for Paul? What will make the difference for you? Two words that represent great news
Look at verse 6. “but (nevertheless) God.”
Paul could be encouraged and ecstatic while weighed down, surrounded and his life infested with problems simply because of God.
God encourages and helps Christians with problems.
- | Why? |
Because He wants to
EXPL – literally “but the one who comforts the downcast comforted us – God”
-his identity, nature, personality; an expression of his love, compassion, mercy and long suffering
-He has to; He delights in it; He can’t not do it
APPL – Therefore, you can ask for it, expect it and take it for granted
Therefore, your problems are an opportunity for God to demonstrate and display this facet of His glory.
-uncomfortable – comfort er
-God can be glorified through your times of great difficulty and need.
People notice, encourage – limited awareness, contact
-God and His encouragement are available everywhere, all the time
God encourages and helps
- When you need it most
EXPL – “those that are cast down”
-in a low place, rock bottom, flat on your back, humbled and humiliated
-Are you there? So it God.
-down circumstantially, emotionally, psychologically
God encourages and helps
- In very personal ways
EXPL – “God comforted us” Notice how personally Paul describes his relationship with God and God’s activity in his life.
ILL – times when you feel like God paid special attention to you and did something special for you
-verse better check
-Faith “You’re the best.”
ILL – two stories lately – someone giving money and God giving it back
-in each case, both the giver and the receiver experienced a special touch from God
God encourages and helps
- Sometimes through other people
EXPL – “by the coming of Titus” – v. 7
-Paul and Titus were supposed to meet in Troas. There were no personal communication devices like we have today. When Titus did not show, there was no way for Paul to know what had happened to him or why he had not come. It was a great comfort to Paul to be reunited with his friend and fellow worker.
Titus also brought good news of the Corinthians’ change of heart.
-“he told us” anangello – to inform, report, announce
-“earnest desire” They wanted to see Paul again and resume their relationship with him. - Friendship
-“mourning” – they were sorrowful over their sin and the breach is had created between themselves and Paul. - Repentance
-“zeal” – they were willing to defend Paul against those who sought to harm him. -
(JMACSB- put in own words)
Pr 25:25 [As] cold waters to a thirsty soul, so [is] good news from a far country.
Paul had a network of people who encouraged one another:
Ephesians 6:21-2 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
Col. 4:8 Tychicus … Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts
1 Thessalonians 3:7-8 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 16:17-18 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.
Just the sight of Paul’s friend caused him to be encouraged and to celebrate.
-just seeing someone who cares come to your home or into your place of sickness or grief or need is encouraging.
Encourage and help one another. You are doing God’s work.
Paul did not receive encouragement or relief in Troas nor in Macedonia until he met Titus. God does not always give us immediate relief.
Many, deep, complex problems; God makes the difference
Verses – “but God”
Jacob to Rachel – family, in-law problems
Genesis 31:7 And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.
Joseph to his brothers – family, unfair circumstances, abuse
Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
David’s choir director Asaph - prosperity of the wicked
Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
Asaph also – proud leaders
Psalm 75:6-7 For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
Acts 13:29-30 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead:
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
& 2 Cor. 7:6 – problems & pain
CONCL – How can you access this comfort, this encouragement, this special help from God?
How did Paul?
1:9 – Union with Christ – I am dead – nothing can hurt me
– Trust in God – My confidence is not in myself, but in God who raises the dead.
ILL – Last April James Buck’s friends taught him to Twitter (send messages to Twitter site – “What are you doing?”); about a week later, he was in a city in Egypt; he happened to be near where a protest was taking place; police thought he was part of the group causing disturbance and took him into custody. On his way to the police station, he took out his cell phone and sent a message to his Twitter site. - “Arrested”
-friends who were following his posts got the message
-“The most important thing on my mind was to let someone know where we were so that there would be a record of it, so we wouldn’t disappear. As long as someone knew where we were, I felt like they couldn’t do their worst to us because someone at some point would be checking in on them (those who arrested him).” Twenty-four hours later, Buck was released. As he left the police station, he sent the message “Free”.
-the world is just catching up with Christian technology
Psalm 139:1-10 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
Jeremiah 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
God is tracking you. He knows where you are. You won’t drop off His radar. You’re never off His mind. You have instant, direct communication to Him. You don’t have to text or Twitter – just talk, or think – He is listening to you right now.
This is a Thanksgiving message!
- God ______ for ______ and help