by Pastor Jack Matheis
by Pastor Jack Matheis
God as Comforter
by Abbey Drury
I will not claim to understand the comfort of God at a level that some of His children understand it, because I have not yet experienced the pain some of you now know. But I can say that what little I do know of it has helped me better understand “the length and width and height and depth of His love.”
Because the interesting thing about comfort is that it does not fix the problem that caused us to seek comfort in the first place. When we lose a member of the family and turn to a friend or a sibling or a parent looking for consolation, we do not expect them to breathe life into our lost loved one. They cannot undo what has been done. In fact, most of the time all they can do is sit quietly with us.
Instead, comfort does something else: it becomes a source of joy and lessens the distance between the comforted and the comforter. Although in our pain we know a friend cannot solve the issue at hand, in comfort our burden is somehow lightened, and our relationship with our friend, our comforter, is deepened.
So what does that mean in the relationship with a “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort?” (2 Corinthians 1:3) How much more joy, that joy that draws us closer to our comforter, will we find when we seek comfort in Him?
His Word tells us:
“Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people,
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.” -Isaiah 49:13
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me
out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place
to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” -Psalm 40:1
Comfort will not erase our afflictions, but when it is sought in the Father of compassion it can replace our song of sorrow with a hymn of praise, praise to Him. For the more we receive His comfort, and find such joy, the more we will want Him and His unfailing love to be its source (Psalm 119:76), and the more the distance between the Comforter and the comforted will be lessened.
Jesus “The Vine”
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock
I’ve seen a lot of grape-vine wreaths! In craft shows, hobby stores, and in the homes of
“crafty” friends, there they are: branches trimmed from grape vines, woven together and
decorated – transformed from dead branches into works of art.
But as beautiful as grapevine wreaths can be, they cannot compare with the live branches of a grape vine: covered with rich green leaves and loaded with clusters of ripened grapes.
So, what is the difference? The branches used to make grape-vine wreaths have no life in
them; they are dead sticks gathered after the grape vines were pruned. But the branches
bearing grapes are alive – growing and receiving nourishment from a living vine.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine,” and then used this contrast as a metaphor to describe our
relationship to him. According to Jesus we are either connected to him and therefore
bearing fruit for the Father, or we are cut off from him, unable to bear any good and
lasting fruit, and soon to be destroyed.
We are quick to see the value of ourselves and others, based on talent, intelligence, and
training. But Jesus indicates that one thing trumps all our human assets: our connection
to Him, the True Vine. For, “without me, you can do nothing.”
John Michael Talbot wrote a song to communicate this truth:
Jesus as “Mighty God”
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock
As Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah Jesus (in Isaiah 9:6), he identified him by
means of four names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of
But, undoubtedly, the most interesting of those titles is “Mighty God”. For, the Hebrew
word translated “Mighty” has a different meaning than our English word. It most simply
means “Hero”. So “Mighty God” would accurately be translated, “An Heroic God” or
“A God of a Hero”.
Since childhood we have picked up heroes – some real, some imagined – but too often
they are unworthy to be heroes.
Some are over-paid, self-centered, single-talent sports figures.
Some are angry, out-of-control, exhibitionist rock singers.
Some are politically-correct Disney creations.
But Jesus is the Hero worthy of the title! He is not a wimp in a white dress, as he is often
portrayed. But neither is he the latest, fantasy action hero.
-Jesus is a strong, uncompromising, man of principle, who loves truth, justice and
-He is a man self-controlled and fearless enough to stand up against evil authorities –
unafraid of the ruthless Pilate or the gutless Herod.
-He is a man with incomparable inner strength and integrity.
-But at the same time, He is boldly compassionate and unashamed to be tender.
-He delights in children; shows mercy to the fallen; cares about the broken-hearted;
identifies with the weak; and touches the outcast and diseased.
Jesus is the God-Man Hero, and He came to make us like Himself – which, after all, is
what heroes always do!
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness, from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this”
Isaiah 9: 6-7, NASB
Zeal, a noun, is defined as intense, high-wrought emotion that compels to action.
What is your first thought when you hear the word zeal? Is it these verses written by Isaiah, God-breathed by the Holy Spirit? Or, perhaps, it is the fact that our Lord is a zealous God, as well as a jealous God. (Exodus 20: 1 – 6)? Or do you think, “My zeal for my Lord is exactly what I want it to be?”
Although “Zeal,” is not a name, per se, that is ascribed to Jesus, it is an inherent characteristic, that is vigorously expressed on certain occasions. A similar reference is found in Isaiah 37: 32, concerning God’s destruction of 185,000 Assyrians, in protecting Jerusalem, as he had spoken to Isaiah: “The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this.”
God spoke through Ezekiel, explaining His planned judgment against Jerusalem, “Thus My anger will be spent, and I will satisfy My wrath on them, and I shall be appeased. Then they will know that I, the Lord, have spoken in My zeal, when I have spent My wrath on them” (Ezekiel 5: 13, NASB).
Certainly Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, was a demonstration of zeal (Luke 19: 45 – 46).
But His greatest zeal was demonstrated in obedience to His Father on Calvary’s cross, where He paid with His life the cost of atonement for our sins (Philippians 2: 5 – 8).
The Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 9: 6 – 7, is yet future. In His first Advent, Jesus came as the “Suffering Servant” described in Isaiah 52: 13 – 53: 12. When He said, from the cross, “It is finished,” He had completed His Father’s will for the redemption of sinful mankind. Then He stepped from the tomb, having conquered death. Returning to the Father, Jesus established the way into the eternal presence of God.
Jesus’ promised return (Acts 1: 9 – 11) still holds mystery, but will take place as explained in Matthew 24: 1 – 51; Revelation 19 – 22, and other passages. I believe the Isaiah 9: 6 – 7 prophecy pertains to the kingdom which Christ shall finally establish, and over which He will reign for all eternity as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace –
Jesus, on David’s throne, there’ll be no end to His government’s increase.
He will establish and uphold it, with justice and righteousness forever assured.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this, as promised by God’s word.
– Pastor Neil G. Thompson
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.
1 Corinthians 3:10
Our family had the privilege of being able to rebuild a 100+ year old cabin in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. As we peeled back layers of outer wall and flooring we were amazed at the hidden craftsmanship. Walls were made by hand-woven meshes of bamboo and twine, each small square perfectly sized and spaced. The floors were built on rough hewn posts floating on rocks, and in areas not damaged by time or this massive earthquake still perfectly straight according to our modern laser level. The bones of the cabin, logs and beams mortised and tenoned together using hand saws and hammers, had flexed as designed under the spectacular stresses of what they call a 1000 year earthquake and remain strong and safe. In fact, most of the damage we repaired was because of modifications made later that undermined part of that masterfully built structure. As much as possible we tried to work with the existing craftsmanship rather than just replace it.
To fully appreciate this verse we have to keep it in the context of the chapter. Jesus is the foundation already laid (11), and we are all builders from that point forward. All of us are part of, and responsible for, the building of the Kingdom. From that firm foundation Paul talks about the materials of building in a way that quickly brings to mind the three little pigs: gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw (12). The craftsmanship will be “revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work”(13). But then we get a glimpse of incredible grace and acceptance when we are told that, even if our efforts are burned up, “the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved…”(15).
I also find great comfort in this chapter’s emphasis that we are not in this by ourselves but “co-workers,” and that we are “God’s building” (9).
If you are a worrier as I am, you might find yourself asking too often: “what have I really accomplished” or “am I up to the task”? The concepts of grace in the face of failure and being part of a larger team and scheme then come as welcome assurance.
~Brian Vander Haak