Sunday Night Live Sermons
THE PROMISE OF A HELPFUL COMPANION
John 14:15 - 21
15th September 2002
This week we re-lived the tragedy of what happened after the terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade centre in New York, the Pentagon and the crashed aircraft in Pennsylvania. The last person
rescued from the Twin Towers collapse was a young woman, Genelle Guzman-McMillan. Genelle's friends in her office are all dead. Genelle has two scars, on her right leg which doctors virtually rebuilt in surgery. Though she has recovered from her injuries, Genelle spends most days reading the Bible and watching TV.
Genelle has received some financial aid, rent from the Red Cross, and lost wages, but she doesn't plan to go for big dollars with a lawsuit. She met with a lawyer, but she decided to apply for the victims' compensation fund. "I'm a Christian now. I don't think it's really
anybody's fault." Genelle explains that her new faith has freed her of earthly concerns that used to preoccupy her. "There's a million changes in me. I used to be this fun person, laughing, going out. Now I spend most of my time talking about the Bible, giving the glory to God. Before, I worried so much-about money, about looking good. Now I'm walking around with a limp, and I have these scars. And I don't worry about that; it's not
important." She spent a month in hospital after Sept. 11, where doctors discovered signs of cervical cancer and a heart condition. "I let the Lord lead me. He's my
doctor." It would be presumptuous to tell someone touched by a miracle that she should not count on God again. But a recent biopsy showed no cervical cancer. Genelle knows that if she had died that day, she would not have been ready to meet her Maker. However, she is
frustrated when people say she was merely lucky.
"This is not about luck. This is about God having a plan. He will reveal it to me one day. I think God will give me a sign." Genelle worked on the 64th floor of the World Trade Centre. She was born in Trinidad and had come to New York for a better life. Genelle planned to marry her boyfriend Roger with whom she was living. That worried her sometimes, but she had left God back in Trinidad. As she was in the office the huge building shook
violently from the impact of the aircraft plowing into the floors above. The elevators did not work. She rang Roger who said, "Get out of there." Genelle and
fourteen others started down the stairs.
Then Tower Two was hit. "I don't think we are going to make it out of here" her friend cried. They counted the floors as they went down: 47,46, ..40, ..35. Their legs ached. Suddenly there was a tremendous explosion, the concrete floors buckled, walls caved in, the whole
building was coming down on their heads. Genelle was pushed face down and concrete blocks crushed her leg and grazed her face. She was unable to move. Dust choked everything. She called but no-one answered. All was silent. She could not move her head as her long hair was trapped. She yanked her head round and felt the hair tear out of her scalp. Blood streamed down her face. The pain in her leg was intense. She started to pray: "Lord, I know you are there. I haven't always trusted you. I blamed you for Mom's death. Now I am asking you to help me. That's what Mom would have prayed. (I could hear no sounds. It was pitch black.) "Lord be near me, stay by my side." I talked to God like Mom talked to Him, as if He were right there with me and knew what it would be like to be alone and afraid.
"I knew that without food or water I would not stay alive much longer. I slept. I prayed: "Lord, I might not get out of here, not without a miracle. But I have found you and that's the only miracle that matters. Thy will be done". I heard a voice "Hullo is there anyone down there". "My leg is caught I can't move." "I'm shining a light down, can you see it?" "No. I can't see your light. Can you see my hand?" "No". Once more I stretched my hand out, just as I had stretched my hand out to God in prayer. I felt a hand close around mine, strong and sure. I heard a man's voice say "Don't worry, my name is Paul. Just hang on. They are going to get you out of there." Paul kept talking to me as the rescue team methodically broke through the wreckage. Fear surged through me every few minutes as I thought there would be another collapse but each time Paul squeezed my hand and I felt peace return. They took the concrete off my leg and worked until they got me out. I lost track of Paul. It had been 27 hours since the Towers collapsed. I was the last person pulled out alive. In hospital one thing was clear in my mind: I had reached out to God and He had reached back - first as a Presence, and then in flesh and blood, in the person of Paul, the rescue worker who had held my hand. The rescue team came to meet me in the hospital but Paul wasn't with them. I asked them why Paul hadn't come with them. One of the men looked puzzled "There is no-one on our team called Paul." I kept asking and they said there was definitely no-one working there that day called Paul. They said "Do you think it was a dream?" I know it was not. I felt that strong grip on my hand; it was the touch of God's hand on my life. Since September 11 that touch, that hand, has never left me."
Jesus had given the young Church a power and a presence that totally changed them. But that was not given only to a special people at that time, it was promised to everyone for all time. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you
forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:15-17 Both of those prepositions are important. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was frequently promised to aid the lives of men and women: the Spirit of God was going to be for us. In the Gospels, the Holy Spirit is promised to be with us through Christ. In the remainder of the New Testament, from the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is said to be in us. Not only is God's Spirit for us and with us, now the Spirit is willing to be in us. What does the Holy Spirit do in us?
1. HE COMFORTS.
"Another Counsellor" this is what Jesus would ask the Father to send. It is frequently translated as "Another Comforter" in old translations. 650 years ago, when Wycliffe translated the Scriptures the word "comforter" was very significant. A comforter might come beside you as you are grieving and put an arm around you. A comforter might give assurance to a little child in
trouble. The word "comfort" comes from two interesting Latin words, "com" and "fortis," meaning "with strength." A comforter is one who comes beside you with strength. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives through those who come alongside and strengthen us.
Genelle felt the Spirit of God come alongside her and hold her hand. The Apostle Paul, at his own trial before the magistrate in Rome said: "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength." 2
Timothy 4:16,17 The Holy Spirit comes into our lives to comfort us with strength.
2. HE COUNSELS.
When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives He counsels us. The word "counsel" has a legal background. The Holy Spirit comes to us as an Advocate, as a
Counsellor, not just to give advice, but to speak on our behalf, to represent us before God. It was foretold of Jesus: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor…." Isaiah 9:6 The Holy Spirit comes as a Wonderful Counsellor and advocate.
3. HE CONSOLES.
A third significant aspect is the coming of the Holy Spirit as a consoler. Someone who comes alongside in times of grief to console us and give our hearts new faith; in times of depression to give us new hope; in times of doubt to give us new faith. He consoles us in our every need, hearing our every word, and caring for us. Millie Dienert is a popular and inspiring speaker. I heard her speak about her father, a minister of a great church who had developed many new programs and new organizations. She said, "when he died, people spoke to me about him and the one thing they said more than anything else was this: 'He always had time for me. He always listened to me. He always cared.'" The Holy Spirit always has time for you, always listens to you.
4. HE CONSORTS.
The verb "consort" means to associate with, to keep company with, or to be in harmony with someone. The Holy Spirit consorts with you. He dwells in your heart and lives in your life. Jesus said, "The world cannot
accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." John 14:17 When the Holy Spirit comes into your life you have someone with you to help you to become the very best you can be, and to help you stay at your best. The great translator of the New Testament J.B. Phillips once said, "The great difference between present day Christians and New Testament day Christians was that for us it is a performance, while for them it was an
experience." What we need is the experience of God's Spirit dwelling in our hearts.
5. HE COMMENDS.
The Holy Spirit commends God's truth; He commends the Lord Jesus Christ. As John said, "He reveals the truth about God." v17 The Holy Spirit reveals the truth about God and teaches you what you must know about Him. "The Acts of the Apostles" could easily be called "The Acts of the Holy Spirit." The disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came. The leaders chosen were to be men filled with the Holy Spirit. The disciples, the seven who were chosen in Acts 6 to be the second team; Stephen, Paul and Barnabas, were all men of the Holy Spirit; decisions were to be guided by the Holy Spirit; Philip was led to the Ethiopian, Peter to Cornelius, and the Council of Jerusalem was led to invite Gentiles into the Church, all by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was teaching, leading, and guiding them in every way.
6. HE CONVINCES.
The Holy Spirit is the One who convinces us about Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "When (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." John 16:8 Have you felt a conviction about sin? That is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. Have you felt any conviction about what is really right? That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Have you felt any word or warning about the judgment of God? That is the work of the Holy Spirit convincing you. The
answer to all of these questions points to the work of the Holy Spirit, your Helpful Companion, who convinces you about God, about your sin, about the need for
righteousness, and about the coming judgment.
Genelle Guzman-McMillan today worships in the
Brooklyn Tabernacle. Since September 11th, her life has been turned right round. "I made a promise to God while I was trapped under the rubble, I would devote my life to faith. We got married in July because I knew it was wrong just to live together. Then last November I kept the first part of that promise by being baptized. I am looking forward to a wonderful life."
One of the greatest promises of Jesus was that when He returned to Heaven, He would ask the Father to send to us another Helper, a Counsellor, an Advocate, to be with us and in us. He is the Holy Spirit and all who
believe in Jesus as Saviour and Lord already have the Spirit of God within them. God's Spirit dwells within. You have more inner power and strength, greater
comfort and help than you will ever need. Just reach out and take His hand and let Him support you.
- TIME September 11th 2002: "A Miracle's Cost."
- GUIDEPOSTS Septemeber 2002 "Last One Rescued"