comfort

DARE TO BE A BLESSING IN THESE DARK TIMES

(November 29, 2022) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share …

It seems so obvious to many that we live in dark times, depressing days because again and again we hear of the latest sad news. And not just more about war between Russia and Ukraine, uncertainty about China and north Korea’s intentions, covid and other health threats, rising anti-Semitism, increasing crime… but now we learn more and more that kids – mere teenagers – are hitting the headlines as the cause of serious crimes,  and that youngsters are longing for help from someone from a Peer Chat type group.

Yes, some good news does come through that we’re glad to hear… huge drug bust, some new medicine breakthrough, our favourite footy team or other sports star winning. Or something that makes us smile like cute new born babies, or a happy well-presented TV show such as Better Homes and Gardens.

But… there is a darkness hanging around many individuals and it is so evident that many people need encouragement, even a meaningful thank you!

Even some in ministry will openly admit they’re troubled, that although they’ll readily confess God is still on the throne, something has happened that has ‘got to them.’ Some uncertainty, lack of assurance, disappointment, illness, something they can’t put their finger on… and they’re feeling low in spirit.

Everyoneneeds encouragement at times! Our blog is called Encouragement and we would encourage every Christian to be an encourager!

Friendship
Proverbs 12:25NLT reads, ‘Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.’ 

  • Paul knew that… he was a great encourager as he spread the gospel, and taught churches. A good example is 1Thessalonians 2:11-12Mge, ‘… we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own  children,  encouraging…’
  • Acts 20:2Mge is another: ‘Travelling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits…
  • Guess what he was asked for in Antioch synagogue on arrival? ‘…do you have anything you want to say? A word of encouragement, perhaps?’ (Acts 13:15Mge).

Encouragement here is paraklēsisto comfort, console, exhort. A major part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry – in John 14:16,26, 15:26 and 16:7MKJV Jesus referred to Him as the Comforter. Other versions name Him helper, counsellor or advocate. We particularly like what the Message calls Him… the Friend.

And what does a good friend do when someone is ‘going through the mill’ – experiencing harrowing times? Reaches out to comfort! And when they do, the troubled friend is usually blessed as a sense of relief wafts over them. No wonder comfort basically means ‘a pleasant feeling of being relaxed and free from pain.’

Encouragement
Dark times have always been around in one form or another, hence encouragement has always been a joy to hear! We Christians need to know that in this current dark time, we can bless individuals with a comforting word that even goes beyond the natural response to exhort someone with a heavy heart.

1 Corinthians 12: 6-10 lists nine supernatural gifts of the Spirit that Paul wrote about. In outworking, three spoken gifts link together… words of prophecy, wisdom and knowledge. The word gift itself is charisma… indicating a divine gratuity, that many times may not only be a verbal blessing but a deliverance from some danger.

Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 14:3 that ‘… the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.’ In simple terms, biblical prophecy is a word that comes from God and we speak it to someone for their benefit… and often about something about which we couldn’t possibly know.

Just recently we were counselling – consoling – some pastors who were going through a dark patch and Maureen shared an incident that happened many years ago when we were ministering in a Baptist church. Praying with those who had responded to the altar call, she was strongly laid to approach a particular lady who appeared lonely and harassed.

She looked at this person for a few moments, sensing that the lady needed to hear something from God… but what? Then Maureen said quietly and hesitantly, ‘I don’t know what this is about but all I’m sensing in my spirit is “Washing machine, washing machine, washing machine…”. Does that mean something to you?’

That lady gasped, then said in amazement, ‘Gosh! Why, all week I felt so depressed, all I could think of was putting my head in the washing machine!’

Maureen prayed over her and what joy filled her heart and mind to know that God cared so much for her to reveal that unusual scenario to a stranger. Her spirit had been lifted, freed… and she had indeed been strengthened with encouragement and comforted!

Back to those troubled pastors… we both shared other incidents of the goodness and supernatural of our loving God towards His children. And they were blessed and encouraged to soldier on for the kingdom!

Opportunities
No one is immune from troubles! Life is life and things go wrong for anyone! So let’s be aware of something important here… God can use this gift of encouragement to uplift strangers in the street as it were! Especially in these days when people don’t go to church as they used to.

We often talk about Jesus commanding ‘love thy neighbour’… but Christians can be as self-justifying as that Luke 10:29 ‘self-religious expert in the law’ who said, ‘And who is my neighbour?’

A neighbour can be some stranger in the very marketplace, someone who needs to know that God knows all about them and cares! Here’s an example…

At the back of an Asia bargain shop last week, Maureen spotted an item that she like to check – but it was way up high on a top shelf. As no assistant was around I asked a tallish lady nearby to reach up for it, which she willingly did.

I thanked her, and she commented that it was the right thing to do. So I thanked you again and as we started to move to the checkout, I added, ‘God bless you’ to which she smiled and thanked me.

As I turned to leave, suddenly I was led to turn back to this stranger and move in a prophetic word that included wisdom and knowledge. No one else was in that narrow isle so I did not embarrass her in any way.

Her face shone brightly as she listened to my quiet, assuring voice. Yes it was me speaking, but it was the blesses Holy Spirit directing me. As I continued encouraging her, the lady paused me, and said softly as she smiled widely, ‘Oh, you going to make me cry.’ Then I completed God’s encouragement for her.

As she thanked me, I added, ‘Now you know I’m a stranger. Only the Lord could have known all that about you and those circumstances and needs.’ She smiled again and nodded ‘I know.’ And there in that marketplace outside of any church, we chatted about Almighty God.

All that does not give all glory to me, but to the Lord! He set it up… our need was a material one, God used it to give a spiritual blessing to that dear lady!

So many need God in dark times that can cloud our thinking! May we take every opportunity to share Jesus!

Openings
Some words of that Greg Nelson and Phil McHugh hymn come to mind…
‘People need the Lord, people need the Lord
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.’

In keeping with what we’ve shared above, that open door to God could come about because you too dare to be a spiritual blessing, especially supernatural encouraging word, to some stranger in your local church or local marketplace. If they don’t know the Lord, the opening is there to share!

Dr William Barclay wrote of the Holy Spirit as the one who enables us ‘to stand up to the opposing forces, to cope with life and to conquer life.’ That the Holy Spirit is ‘none other than the presence and the power of the risen Christ.’ (New Testament Words).

We are not alone when such a key is with us! Let’s be bold, daring! Who knows where the role we play in someone’s life can lead? All glory goes to God!

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Dr Robert and Pastor Maureen McQuillan’s links: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook

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HOLY SPIRIT ‘EIRENE’ COMFORT

(July 24, 2022) Robert McQuillan encourages a young believer…

Dear Dr Robert

I’ve heard you talk about the joy of ‘falling into the arms of the Holy Spirit and knowing His peace, comfort and security.’ I’m a relatively new Christian… please tell me more. Billy (sorry, not my real name).

Dear ‘Billy’

Discovering more about our Holy Spirit is always precious, even eye-opening. Let me firstly say that He, who is the third person of the Godhead, is our friend (John 14:16Mge).

Friend… the Greek word here is paraklētos – comforter, consoler, advocate, intercessor – which tells us a lot about this great friend! We all need comforting at times! John also referred to this special friend in John 14:26, 15:26 and 16:7.

Jesus, who would be returning to heaven after His resurrection from the dead and then leaving His disciples (Acts 1:9-10), promised a new friend as He wouldn’t be around physically anymore; someone who would assist them in building His church. See also John 14:16-17, and Jesus’ words of John 15:26 and Luke 24:49. That new friend is the blessed Holy Spirit.

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SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

(July 12, 2022) Richard Winter brings a timely challenge…

History records both good and bad times that humanity lives through! And we don’t need anyone to tell us that were living in difficult days today… we know! Indeed, bad times these days offer us a perspective of worse times to come!

This was true in the times of Jesus too! And one day He gave His disciples ‘a scripture memory test’ about Noah’s times, linking it to the end of time and His return from heaven.

Most people know the story of Noah and the ark Jesus referred to. Indeed everyone should take note of His Matthew 24:37-38 warning, ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood took them all away.’

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PROPHETIC WORDS

(June 17, 2022) Robert McQuillan encourages a Pentecost enquirer…

Dear Dr Robert

Thanks for sharing last month about Pentecost Sunday. Please tell me about what’s called either ‘a word of prophecy’ or ‘a prophetic word.’ Jonno.

Dear Jonno

Either term is acceptable. In brief, prophesying means boldly speaking an encouraging, timely word from God to bless people –
a) One on one, not just face-to-face but via phone/email/Skype.
b) To your church on Sundays (as was generally expected years ago!), or at other church meetings even business ones.

As one of the Holy Spirit’s nine supernatural manifestation gifts (1 Corinthians 12) it can operate anywhere, anytime. Like the accompanying gifts word of wisdom and word of knowledge, it’s spoken in faith (itself one of those nine ‘operational gifts’).

This means that you must know the Holy Spirit personally eg through an intimate relationship of prayer, reading God’s word, trust and experience, whereby you just know that know that you know it is the Holy Spirit taking over and using you to bless, encourage, challenge some individual, or your church in general.

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THE VALUE OF A FRIENDSHIP

(March 21, 2019) Carol Round reflects on the great value of having a friend…

I still think of my friend Sonya throughout my day, relishing the memories we made through our common bonds as well as adversity. Proverbs 17:17 (ESV) says, ‘A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity’ – that’s the value of a friendship!

We bonded over our love of animals, landscaping our yards and fried chicken livers. But, our friendship grew through adversity.

Sonya, 12 years my senior, moved into my neighbourhood in 2010. After leaving Georgia, she purchased the house next door to me. I welcomed this tiny woman as my neighbour but, as so many of us are apt to do; I judged her first by her appearance.

Quickly connecting
In her late 60s at the time, Sonya dressed more like a teeny bopper, even when doing yard work. However, as I grew to know this precious woman, my spirit couldn’t help but connect through our mutual love of Jesus. (more…)

HANDLING THE BLACK DOG OF DEPRESSION (July 31, 2016)

Fred & Betty EvansFred and Betty Evans share good news…

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the western world affecting 40 million adults in the United States alone or 18% of the population.

According to Beyondblue on average, one in four people will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. Over two million Australians experience anxiety.

Recently a good pastor friend of ours, Ian Parker, preached a sermon on this subject which we thought was a succinct prescription of how to deal with this malady.

Here are some of his notes on how to deal with this often private and painful subject:

Depression is the most common form of emotional pain. There are levels of depression. Normal – Clinical – Manic. While some depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, most is caused by unfulfilled expectations. (more…)