I understand hurt. I understand family loss, and so I know how to help people who have lost children and lost brothers and lost sisters and had accidental and unusual circumstances around deaths like this week.
And I particularly say to Christians in their grieving—and there’s nothing wrong with grieving. You’ve got to get that out of you—but the best way that Lindsay and I got through the loss of our firstborn child was to pray in tongues because the Holy Spirit is the Comforter.
All right, two more things I’m going to share with you and then I’ll quit. How does the Holy Spirit bring comfort? I’ll give you two answers. And you’ll want to write this down. We’ll take the scriptures real quickly.
How does He bring you comfort? First of all, by reminding you that He lives in you with all the power of God inherent in His being. He comforts you by reminding you that He lives in you with all the power of God inherent in His being. In other words, as a Christian, the Holy Spirit is in you. And He has all the power of God resident in Him.
Now two scriptures. Write these down—three scriptures. Excuse me, three. Romans 5:3-5. “But we also rejoice in our sufferings.” Now he didn’t say, “I rejoice FOR my sufferings,” but “I rejoice IN them.”
Paul and Silas did not give glory to God because they were in chains in jail. They didn’t say, “Glory to God, we’re chained in jail.” But in the midst of being chained in jail, they gave glory to God. See the difference?
Rejoice in our sufferings. Not because of, but in the middle of them. “Because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” That’s Romans 5:3-5.
Then 2 Corinthians 4:16 and 17. “This is the reason we never lose heart. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength.” Where do you think that comes from? It comes from the Holy Spirit. “These little troubles are winning for us a permanent glorious and solid reward out of proportion to our pain.”
The Holy Spirit is the one who comforts. That’s why whenever I’m asked to preach a memorial service or a funeral and I know that the family are Christians—and I’ve had to do funerals for non-Christians as well. I had to do the funeral for a family for a man who was put to death in the electric chair in Oklahoma. And I won several of his family members to the Lord during that message.
But if I know the family is a Christian, I always say to them that the only relief that I got when our firstborn child Richard Oral died—some of you may not know, but Lindsay’s and my first child died, a little boy. We named him Richard Oral. He lived only 36 hours, and he died in my arms in the intensive care unit of St. John’s Hospital here in town.
The only comfort that Lindsay and I got after his death was to pray in the Holy Spirit. And as we prayed in the Holy Spirit, God began to speak to us. God began to deal with us. God began to bring comfort and bring healing to the hurt.
And it doesn’t matter if your son or daughter is 18, 19, 20 years, like a number of those that were shot this week at Virginia Tech, or if your son or daughter is 36 hours old, it’s still your child. I know how parents feel who’ve lost a child because I’ve lost one.
I know what it feels like when the knock comes on the door that your sister has been killed in a plane crash, because it happened to my sister. I understand that.
I understand what happens when the police come and tell you that your brother, who was practicing a homosexual lifestyle, committed suicide—because that’s what happened to my brother.
I leaned over and said, “Would you please shut up. God is awake all night. Go to sleep.” I didn’t realize what I was saying to her. I was giving her the Bible—not the “shut up” part, although I think sometimes God wants to say to us, “Will you shut up? Will you just be quiet?”
Doesn’t the scripture say that, “I neither sleep nor slumber.” He’s awake all night. You don’t have to cry and stay awake all night by fear. He’s awake. He’ll be awake for you. Go to sleep.
And my little sister got healed. I didn’t realize I was giving her the word of the Lord, but I was.
All right—got 11 minutes. Now write down the word “the Comforter.” The word Comforter—let me give you a definition. The word Comforter means one who soothes in a time of pain or grief. I’m not talking about Pepto Bismol. One who soothes in a time of pain or grief. One who eases pain and sorrow. This could be on a test. One who eases pain and sorrow, brings relief, consoles and encourages.
In Greek, in classical Greek, the word Comforter is pictured by this—one who lays you down on a warm bed of safety. That’s the Comforter. Picture yourself—I don’t know if you like to sleep in a cold room or not. I like it cold in my room, but I like a nice down comforter. Can you picture the scene? It’s cold in the room. Your nose is cold, but you’re under that down comforter. And you’re just as warm as toast. You sleep like a baby. I like that.
That’s a picture. God is saying, “The Comforter is one who lays you down on a warm bed of safety.”
By calling the Holy Spirit the Comforter, Jesus made an infallible prediction. He was predicting that His people would be suffering discomfort and would be in need of comfort, that they would suffer pain and suffering in the last days. And that’s where we are. We’re in the last days.
Japan has some of the most toughest gun laws in the whole world, and last week a gunman obtained a gun illegally and killed the mayor of Nagasaki. So you can’t legislate morality, and you can’t legislate what satan puts into somebody’s mind, you know.
And you can’t do that with gates. You can’t do that with bars. You can go as far as you possibly can humanly, and you need to do that, you know. Faith without works is dead. You know, you can’t say, “Well, I’m just going to believe God. We’re not going to have a security system.” No, that’s not faith. That’s presumption. You have to do everything that you can do in the natural. But then there’s a time when you’re going to have to depend upon God.
And, you know, I’m sure I’m not the only college president, but I’m sure I’m one of only few who is on his face every morning in this world in prayer over this campus. Now maybe as of this week, maybe because of the events this week in Blacksburg, Virginia, there are other college presidents, more. But I didn’t just start getting on my face for you guys and for this campus just on Monday. It’s something that I’ve done for years.
And I’ve had a habit over the years of having intercessory prayer groups every day praying over this campus, walking these grounds, anointing these buildings with oil, praying in the Spirit, believing God, rebuking demonic activity from coming on this campus. That’s not something new to me. I do that on a regular basis. But there may be some more who are doing that today. I don’t know.
And the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues have been maligned, criticized, ridiculed, because some people have abused it. Okay? But don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. You heard that expression?
That expression came about in 15th century England. In 15th century England, it was a time when people took a bath once a year, usually in the spring, because that was the time when people got married. And it was a communal bath. They had large, large containers of water, and the men would get in first. And when they finished bathing, the women would get in. And when the women were finished, the children would get in and the little babies.
And by the time the babies were in, the water was so dirty that it was hard to see the babies. And so the expression came, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” That’s where that expression came from. Okay? So don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater concerning the gifts of the Spirit. Yes. (Comment) Sure, of course.
Well, that’s probably the best example I could think of, someone who decides, “Well, I’m going to stand up, and I’m going to show off, and I’m going to, you know,” (Tongues) and see what happens, you know?
But you know what? I have been in services where people have tried to do that, and God has manifested an interpretation which was stunning. Yes. (Comment) Stand up, would you, and talk real loud. (Comment) Well, I can’t answer your question. I don’t know. I wasn’t there.
But I do know that the devil has a counterpart, has a counterfeit, I should say, for everything that God has. And it could very well have been a false tongue that was being manifested that was satanic.
I do know this, the one way you can know that it’s real is when there is an interpretation that follows that’s real. And if there is no interpretation at all, then I question whether or not the tongue was real to begin with.