Posts Tagged advice

Wise Counsel

James 3: 17

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Learning to hear and recognize the voice of God is a skill and like all skills, it can be learned. One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, “How do I know that I hear is God speaking?” That is a good question. Brother James gives us a good response today. If what you hear in your head (or heart) contradicts any of the godly characteristics he lists above, then it is not God. When you ask God for advice and/or wisdom, He will always answer with pure, peaceable, reasonable, merciful, unwavering, non-hypocritical answers which are full of good fruit. One caveat, however. What God tells us does not always sound reasonable to our human minds but when you look at it through the eyes of the Spirit, you will see the reasons for it.

You can extrapolate a bit further with this advice from James. What if you have asked another person for advice or wisdom? Run whatever they say through this machine. If it does not pass the test of James 3: 17, then it is not “wisdom from above.”

Okay, now take it even one step further. What if a person runs a business in which its guiding principles are not as enumerated above? It does not mean the owner is not a Christian but it does mean that God’s wisdom is not being employed in that business. We are all on a learning curve so don’t judge the owner. They, perhaps, have just not learned how to run a business in partnership with God yet. However, you should ask yourself if it is a business you are comfortable aligning yourself with. And, if you really want to hear something radical, watch all of the businesses you deal with. You may actually find a non-Christian who employs more of God’s wisdom than the Christian.

James told us that we are to ask God for wisdom and that the Lord gives it freely (1: 5). Now you know how to check it to determine if it really is wisdom from above.

Good Advice

Psalm 37: 7 – 9

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.

The most difficult thing about Psalm 37 is choosing a passage to write on because the whole psalm is so good. The idea which occurred to me as I read this psalm was about receiving advice and from whom we choose to take advice. This psalm was written by David, who is one of my personal heroes. He learned how to live in a daily relationship with the Lord and I guess his trust in God was unparalleled until the time of Jesus.

David began as a humble shepherd boy but that boy defeated a real giant because he knew the Lord and the power of His might. He was chosen by God through the prophet to be the king of Israel, he was a faithful servant to Saul, and even when Saul persecuted him and chased him across the desert, David never took advantage of a situation to harm Saul but instead remained loyal. His rule is considered the golden age of Israel. The nation prospered under him and throughout it all, he remained devoted to his God. He knew what it was to be persecuted and hunted but he also learned how to hide in the shelter of the Father’s love. Of all of the Old Testament people, no one shows us the Holy Spirit to any degree other than David. He was truly a man after God’s own heart and I believe I can learn a lot from him.

Therefore, when I read these impassioned passages from David I find my spirit energized and I am inspired. When David tells us to wait upon the Lord without become envious of the prosperity gained by unholy, even wicked people who use ungodly means of acquiring wealth, I feel I can trust this advice. David is not speaking from the point of view of a philosopher. He teaches us from his experience with God. How many people can give us such first hand experiential knowledge and wisdom?
Look at what David says about anger and wrath? Don’t you suppose he wrote that sentence from his experience as well? Wrath and anger will only lead us down roads we do not wish to travel. The way of peace is what the Father has chosen and provided for us.

I did not mean for this to be a piece on David. I liked the message the passage conveyed. However, the messenger can add weight and credibility to the message through their life experiences. When God describes someone as a man after His own heart, then I dare say that is a pretty good referral. David’s relationship with God is an example we all can learn from. Additionally, I think that when David shares his wisdom and advice with us, it is advice we can trust. We too show wisdom when we hearken to David’s words. I think if you will spend time in David’s life and words, your own relationship and trust with the Father will be increased.

 Why the Golden Rule?

Matthew 7: 12

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

God spent the entire Old Testament pointing out the way we should go. He gave us rules which were meant to guide us and keep us from harm. I think of these statements from God as very similar to when we tell a child not to touch the burner on the stove. That instruction is not meant to rob the child of any liberty but rather to protect him. This is what the Law and the Prophets did for us. Those words point out the safe and also lucrative paths.

So, with that background, we reach the question of why we should adhere to the Golden Rule. Another way we have heard the Golden Rule stated is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat people the way you want to be treated. Well, why? The answer is because it is in your best interest. When we truly understand that the Kingdom of God operates according to the principle of sowing and reaping then so many of the Bible’s admonitions make sense. Father God gives us specific directions because He knows what the outcome will be for us. As you have undoubtedly heard many pastors teach, forgiveness of someone is not for their sake but for your own.

God has marked out the path. He has advised us of actions specifically to do, as above and acts to intentionally avoid, such as judging others. His motivation in giving these guidelines is the same for each. He is attempting to bring us into a good place. He has demarcation lines which, if followed, will lead us to the land flowing with milk and honey. We fail to follow the correct path sometimes because it looks like a path of rules and restrictions. Nothing could be further from divine reality. In absolute truth, these pathways lead us to greater freedom, victory and success. All the ways of God are filled with His glory and goodness. His aim is to lead you in the way you should go so that you avoid pain and experience success. So, when you read the Bible and see what looks to you like a rule, refocus your eyes and see advice from the wisest of all, advice which will always lead you into abundance and joy. Such is the Golden Rule. Be kind to others. Treat them as you wish they would treat you because God wants to nurture and fertilize your good seed.

Healed by Grace

Psalm 107: 20

He sent His word and healed them.

Query – does this mean supernatural, divine healing? What comes to your mind as you carefully ponder this verse? I believe in the supernatural power of God to touch you such that your healing manifests instantaneously. I have also learned, however, that there is an additional type of healing that our Father provides.

This type of healing is spiritually significant in that it takes prayer and communication with the Father to effectuate it. As you spend this extended time in the presence of the Lord you begin to learn about changes you can make in your life which will speed your healing on its way. Maybe in your quiet time with the Lord the thought floats upon your mind that you need to drink more water. Perhaps there are dietary adjustments Father would like to make with you. If you begin to feel better; if your joints work better from implementing God’s advice, does that make the solution any less spiritual? I think sometimes we want to continue in abusive patterns but expect the healing power of God to flow anyway. Is it possible that we, by our habits, are interfering with the healing power of God which is flowing in our veins? Worse still, do we pray on Sunday, have God start His flow of healing power and then quench it on Monday morning?

Speaking for myself only, I used to skip breakfast Monday morning, get to the office and start drinking coffee, drink coffee all day, rarely drink a glass of water and if I did it was not from a good clean source; then I would have junk for lunch and sit at my desk for 8 – 12 hours straight. Now, why was I surprised that I was physically challenged? My joints felt like they had concrete in them. It took me several minutes to straighten up after sitting or lying down. Was my problem that God’s healing power doesn’t work? Was it because when He sent His Word and healed them, He skipped me. And now that I have made many changes and feel amazingly better, is it because of my brilliance, my effort or is it simple obedience to God’s Word and guidance? Did He in fact heal me or did I?

Believe me, it has been a long journey back from the precipice and I am not done but I am so relieved not to be where I was. There is healing in the Word. God told us to give Him our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice (Romans 12: 2). Surely, He has also provided the means by which we can do so. He also told us that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth (John 14: 13). Now all truth must mean truths even beyond spiritual things, although, I am not sure that our Father would consider your health anything less than a spiritual matter. In fact, when it comes right down to it, is not everything ultimately a spiritual matter? My point is that the Holy Spirit has wisdom from the Father on every single thing in the world. So, the answer you need for your physical health and well-being may be found in prayer, no doubt, but do not be surprised if God gives you practical, earthly things to do.

You were meant to live a long, healthy life. This rubbish about beginning to fall apart at age 40, 50 or whatever arbitrary date people use is just that, rubbish. Moses was climbing mountains at age 120. I can make you this promise, God’s vision for you includes a healthy, well-functioning body. Now, let’s get in line with His Word and His counsel and grow strong in spirit and body.

Reverential Awe

Psalm 25: 12                                   Index Card 4

Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.

First, let us remind ourselves that the kind of fear written of in this passage is more akin to reverence. It is reverential fear. I personally think of it as awestruck wonder and veneration. For those who revere the Lord, who admire and respect Him, there is a multitude of blessing. Among the myriad blessings is that God will instruct you and lead you. 

Understand, though, that God is not withholding any blessing now. His desire is always to help you to choose wisely and to lead you according to His ways. The only reason He does not do so more often is because of our attitudes. He cannot advise a person who does not turn to Him asking for His advice. We fail to seek Him and to seek His advice.  

Look, you are not going to ask advice of someone you don’t respect and God is not going to force His wisdom down your throat. He wishes to instruct you. He longs to lead you. Turn to him with a reverential attitude seeking wisdom and guidance and you shall receive.

 

Bad Advice

2 Samuel 19: 5 – 6

Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, by loving those who hate you.”

Absalom was one of King David’s sons. Though David loved him Absalom plotted against David to take the throne of his father. He was successful in usurping his father so David fled from Jerusalem. Not satisfied though, and the recipient of bad advice, Absalom pursued David to kill him. Absalom was killed in the conflict and when news of his death was delivered to David, David wept bitterly. Some of David’s followers and specifically his general, Joab, were chagrined that David wept for their enemy. David was God’s friend though and the character of God had rubbed off on him. So, although Absalom had rebelled against him and plotted his overthrow, David still loved him.

In the margin of my Bible, next to this passage I have written, “See the advice of the world.” I was struck by how this Old Testament episode marks the problems we encounter today. The world tells us we should hate our enemies but David was a Kingdom man. He knew God and had learned to see through God’s eyes. David loved his son Absalom even though Absalom was not worthy of David’s love and devotion. That is how the Father of all treats us. Although we are unworthy, he loves us unquestioningly. In David’s grief he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you” (2 Samuel 18: 33). This is an exact representation of the Father’s love for us.

One thing I have discovered about the world’s advice is that it usually sounds good. It will always contradict with God’s view though. That is why, if we do not know the Father, we can easily be misled. Here is one rule, though, that we can always go by; that is the rule of love. If you are ever in doubt and one option is love then that is the way because God is love. His counsel will always bring you back to love. Every time! Where there is hate and anger you will not find God or His will. His way is grace and mercy. David understood this intrinsically and that is why he was called a friend of God.

Let this Old Testament event speak to your heart today. You have people who are against you and situations that are challenging but if you will seek the way of truth, life, grace, love, non-judgment and mercy you will find yourself the victor every time. This is God’s way. Don’t let the world view taint your perceptions. We are called to love those who hate us just as our father does.

Advisable Reliance

2 Chronicles 32: 8

And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

Here is another significant lesson for winning spiritual warfare. Find someone you can rely on. Brother, you are a sitting duck if you don’t have someone you can rely on in the day of trouble. I don’t care who you are or who you think you are, you need someone to lean on. You may be the biggest preacher in town but the day will come when you are under attack and you will need someone’s words other than your own. You will need someone to listen to who is an encourager and a bold believer. Do I preach to myself? Sure, but I also have a plethora of people I listen to regularly and on whom I can rely in the day of trouble.

The second part of this is for goodness sake learn to rely on those who are speaking faith in the face of trouble. Jesus said, “Sure you’re gonna have trouble but take heart because I have already won” (paraphrase of John 16: 33). You are meant to overcome those troubles through the victory of Jesus. That’s the plan but when you are under the barrage of missile attacks it is often difficult to remember that. When the onslaught is heavy enough you will even forget which scriptures you know to rely upon. I will even think to myself, “Now, what do I tell other people when they are going through this?” In those times you need the advice of wise, Christian counselors; those who themselves rely on the scriptures. They will feed you the scriptures you need so don’t hesitate to call on them. In the very first Psalm King David starts us off with this advice. Verse 1 reads, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” I take that to mean “make sure that the counsel you receive is from Godly people who can speak truth.”

And then here is the real key. Make sure you are listening to these sage individuals. We want to know that they are listening God and that their advice is scriptural. And you are still responsible to God for the advice you take but the point is that you need to have someone that you can trust and listen to and you need to sublimate your ego and take advice and counsel. If you are an island then you are in error. God did not make us to be rugged individualists. He made us to be a family of believers. We are supposed to rely on one another as the collective members of one body.

If you never learn to submit to the instruction of others you will always be a target and you will never be a leader. Only those who learn how to follow responsibly ever become leaders. If you can’t quiet your ego long enough to take advice then you will never have the gentility to lead others. You will never appreciate what a good leader looks like. We learn to lead by following good leaders.

We all need those who can help us through the storm. In today’s passage the people listened to the direction of Hezekiah. They relied on his Godly counsel. And they not only weathered the storm but they came out victorious. This is the way and the counsel of God. Seek the wise, scriptural counsel of Godly counselors in the time of trouble and you also will prevail.

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