Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11
Yesterday we saw that the purpose of prophecy is to edify and to exhort[1 Corinthians 14:3]. From that same verse we find a third purpose.
The third purpose of prophecy is to comfort. The Greek word translated as comfort is ‘paramuthia’. The verb of this word is ‘paramutheomai’ = to speak tenderly [John 11:19], to console.
In 1969 I was preparing to go as a missionary to Indonesia, and longed that my Mum would be saved. I often attended a small meeting of Christians in Ayrshire who regularly met to pray. One evening a member of that group came across to me and said, “When you go to the place that God is sending you to, your mother will give you her blessing.” I had never spoken of my mother to this man or to anyone else in that prayer group. What he had spoken was a prophetic word of comfort, but it seemed impossible. Four years later my mother stayed with us for ten days following the death of my stepfather. Two days before we left for Indonesia she said to me, “I don’t know why you must go to Indonesia. I don’t want you to go, but go with my blessing! Eight years later she gave her life to Christ!
Yesterday I mentioned George Stormont who had spoken prophetically to me when I had been rejected by the missionary society that we felt God had called us to serve under. Many years later I was preaching at the Gospel Tabernacle in Duluth, Minnesota, and discovered that the previous minister of the church was an Englishman named George Stormont. They told me that he was desperately ill in a local hospital. We immediately felt that we should go to the hospital and pray for him. When I saw him I felt a tremendous sense of compassion and of gratitude for the way that this man had prophesied over me so many years early. I laid my hands on him and commanded him to be healed in Jesus’ Name. Remarkably, he sat up and thanked me and then prophesied about our adopted children. He said, “Great shall the peace be of your adopted children and your adopted children will never make you ashamed.” There was no way that he could have known that we had adopted children. This was prophetic and comforting, and for years that word remained firm in our hearts. Incidentally, George Stormont went on to live for twelve more years, and in that time wrote a biography of his dear friend Smith-Wigglesworth.
Can you see from these two stories how prophecy can bring comfort to the heart of a believer? Why is the comfort that prophecy gives so vital in the life of a local church?
Why is a prophecy more powerful when given by someone who has no knowledge of your circumstances?
What four gifts of the Holy Spirit can you see functioning in the story of George Stormont speaking about our adopted children?