HAVE A COMFORTER? A Devotion for 27 June 2018 Anno Domini
St. Andrews Anglican Parish Church
If one watches TV any time at all in the winter months, you will be bombarded with advertisements for various kinds of comforters to keep you warm during the cold, wintry days. Comfort is important to add joy to our lives during the snows and blustery winds of winter. How pleasant to crawl onto your sofa with a down blanket with a good book, a cup of tea, and a fire in the fireplace.
There are different kinds of comforters – warm blankets on cold days, a cold drink in the heat of summer, and a great meal on Thanksgiving Day. Even the memories of these are comforts to us. In his wonderful book, “Pearls, Points, and Parables,” (1908) F.E. Marsh gives us this little account:
“A poor woman, who was not able to get out to a Church service as she was wont, sent her little boy with the instruction that he was to bring home as much of the sermon as he could. When the boy got home he had forgotten all he had heard.
“Well, do you remember the text ?” queried the mother.
“Yes,” the text was, “God says, He is going to send us another bed quilt.”
“An additional bed quilt was sorely needed, for the only one the mother had was worn and thin, and it was not sufficient to keep her and the boy warm. The mother could not remember such a text as the boy mentioned, so she asked one who was present at the service what the text was, and she replied, “I will send you another Comforter.” The boy knew the bed quilt was a comforter to him when he was cold, so he concluded the Comforter was a bed quilt.
“What a number of believers there are who need this bed quilt, namely, the comfort of the Comforter. They are cold because He does not possess them in power.”
This worn, old globe has grown colder as the warmth of love has gradually faded in the hearts of its inhabitants. We need a Comforter to awaken us from the nightmare of the modern age and point to the beauty of God’s Sunrise. I have often prayed that God would send that same Spirit to brood over the face of the waters of the deep of America just as He had done on the first day of Creation in Genesis: “ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2; all scripture quoted is King James Version only) Only the Holy Spirit can illuminate the darkness that is descending upon that formerly glorified nation founded by God in the days of our ancient fathers. Only the Holy Spirit can put Light in the place of darkness. The darkness in our nation, and in fact the world, is smothering and quenches the fires of love and compassion. How do we reverse this insidious darkness? We cannot! It is a work of the Holy Spirit moving in the hearts of the people.
If you will remember your ancient history, there was little compassion on any other than the members of one’s own family. The most barbarous murders of innocents occurred routinely through invasions and migration of masses of people and tribes. It was during this excess of terror, that our Lord was born in the fullness of time. His death divided Eternity Past and Eternity Future at the very Crux (root word for cross) of Time. His coming had a calming effect and influenced the world toward a more gentle society. Before Christ, there were no orphanages or hospitals. There were no schools available to the public. There were no charitable organizations to care for the disadvantaged. This may seem like a gift of civilization, but that would be a mistaken assumption. In nations that have not been touched by the grace of Christ, these atrocities still occur. No one cares for widows or orphans. Stoning of women and the severing of limbs still occur in the dark religion of Islam.
How important is the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent following His ascension, to you? “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:15-17)
In the formerly blessed Nation called America, daily school prayer, a reading of the Psalms, a posting of the Ten Commandments, and the Pledge of Allegiance were daily fare from the days of the Founders until the early sixties. Suddenly, the ‘Supreme Horde’ decided that the Founders who wrote the Constitution did not mean today what they had approved in our ancient founding as a nation. God was expelled from every public place and forum. Look at the downward spiral our nation has experienced since that time!
WHO IS THE HOLY GHOST (COMFORTER)?
He is our Friend and Counselor! “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)
He counsels us to make up the deficiency in our spiritual character: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Eph 5:18 (KJV) When one is filled with the Holy Spirit, his joy may appear groundless to those who do not believe. How can a bag lady on the cruel streets of Harlem be filled with joy? They wonder. We know a secret do we not? It is our Lord who is in fellowship with us through the agency of the Holy Ghost.
The major function of the Holy Ghost is to conform us to the image of God. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30) Though we were created in that image in the Garden at Eden, that image was marred by sin. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:19-26)
The Holy Ghost will mold us into One Body which is the Body of Christ. When we are One in Christ, we are One in God the Father, and God the Holy Ghost. When we are all One in Body, Mind, and Soul, there will be not the slightest division in the Church. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
The Holy Ghost purifies and cleanses us in sanctification: “For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29) The process occurs over time as one grows in spirit and in truth. “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2-3)
It is the Holy Spirit that makes alive and feeds that life: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) While we were yet dead in trespasses and sins, and unable to decide or reject, we were chosen in Christ and made alive by the Spirit. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:1-9)
When did God choose you? “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) This is the Word of the Lord! Do not doubt it: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16) You may not agree with these scripture verses, but beware about disagreeing with the Lord.
As the cold world grows even more cold, gather the Comforter to your breast as Preserver, Protector, and Counselor, and about your soul, and feel joy even in times of bitter deprivation in the world.