Posts Tagged counsel

Night and Day

Psalm 16: 7 – 8

I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

I have to dedicate today’s Word of the Day to my friend Dr. Charity Kayembe (https://www.glorywaves.org/) who has taught us to pay attention to the guidance the Lord gives us in the night. God uses dreams to communicate with us at night as Dr. Kayembe explains in her book, Hearing God Through Your Dreams.

I think this shows God’s passion for leading us. He doesn’t leave us out in the cold, on our own, trying to forge our way through life’s blizzards. He wants to make our lives less challenging by directing our footsteps. Jesus lived every day of his life walking in step with the Father. The reason this ministry’s slogan is “Intertwined with Jesus” is because I believe it epitomizes this synergy between our lives and Christ’s. In these two verses, David points to a life which exists, at all times, intermingled with the Holy Presence.

Our beloved is with us day and night. He speaks to us in our waking hours and whispers in words and images in the dreams of our sleeping hours. He is before us continually, at our right hand. We choose to put Him in the frame of every picture of our lives. David says, it is the Father’s presence in his life which makes him unshakeable. The God’s Word translation reads, “When he is by my side, I cannot be moved.” David’s level of resilience came from keeping Yahweh present at all times. It is not a skill everyone developed but you can certainly see the fingerprints of God on the lives of people who have chosen to live in stride with Christ every hour of the day, and night.

Let the Lord be your constant companion. Listen to the still small voice speaking in your ear daily and be attentive to the messages in the night. This I know and can attest to, God is speaking to you. The needful thing is to learn how to listen.

Blessed Counsel

Psalm 1: 1

How blessed is the . . ..

Psalm 1, a very good place to start. Most of you realize the psalms are songs. As such they have a different tone and complexion from the rest of scripture. The psalms contain many special messages and they often minister straight to the heart, completely bypassing the intellect.

I am struck by the first words of the first Psalm. I participate in a conference call where we are learning about the blessing. How interesting that the first words of the first psalm are about the blessing. The songwriter is going to tell us how people live in the blessing of God. What comes next? How can we each be amongst the blessed of God?

Here is the first verse in its entirety: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” The first thing we learn about walking in the blessing is what not to do. So, what is this bit of wisdom. First, don’t take your advice from the wicked. I used to think this meant not to take advice from non-Christians. So, I endeavored to hire Christians for everything. However, I made a dazzling discovery. Some of the non-Christians were more ethical than the Christians I was working with. Jesus said we will know the wicked by their fruit. So now I have learned to be a fruit inspector. I would prefer to work with Christians but sometimes my light is better displayed by its exposure to those who need to see Christ alive. Also, the salvation prayer does not include a transformation button. We all have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2: 12). That means that our transformation isn’t automatic. Romans 12: 2 reads, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Transformation is a process. It would be wonderful if there was an automatic transformation but there isn’t. Everyone has to work on becoming the Christ like person God ordained. Checking people’s fruit is a check on their journey so far and their ethics is a part of that journey. So, we are instructed not to take our counsel from the wicked which means we must be certain that the people we look to are worthy to lead us on a right path.

That is true of the next statement as well. Do not conspire or plan with sinners. Who are the sinners? Does that mean limit us to Christians? I wish. Don’t hang out with people who practice sin regardless of their Christian affiliation. Choose to be with people who are endeavoring to live above sin. Jesus gave us his life and victory so that we can be free of the chains of sin but not all who have asked Jesus into their lives have broken the chains of sin. Be wise. Check their fruit.

Last, do not be a scoffer nor associate with people who are. This is a pretty big deal, actually. Scoffers are those who jeer, mock, are contemptuous, and speak derisively. These are people you need to stay away from. I think also of people who are generally negative, contrary and critical. We all have a tendency towards being scoffers at times, but you know there is a difference between occasional slipups and a pattern of behavior.

This first psalm points us towards the blessing. In so doing it alerts us to some easy missteps. If you want to live in the blessing you can’t take your advice from wicked people, scoffers or sinners. Of course, this makes sense. These people cannot point you to the blessing. They cannot teach you or counsel you in how to walk in blessing. They can only teach what they know which is scoffing, wickedness, and sin. None of those are in the blessing. Don’t hire these people, don’t take their advice, don’t let them lead you – even if they do have a fish on their business card or are related to you. Take your counsel from people whose fruit would please Jesus.

Pride, Advice and Wisdom

Proverb 13: 10               NIV

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Among the unpopular topics of the day, this must be one. We have become a proud, arrogant people who value our own opinions above all others and rarely will lower ourselves to receive advice from anyone, even God. We don’t inquire of the Lord because we are smart enough ourselves. Hasn’t God given us wisdom? He has given us brains for a reason, right?

I have observed us become smarter than our doctors, smarter than our lawyers and smarter than our pastors. While no one is perfect and no one except the Spirit has all the answers, surely some people know better than we on some subjects. We have become so prideful that we do not wish to hear advice or even teaching. Learning should be a lifelong process. I heard it said one time that as soon as you stop learning, you die. The point is not that you die physically but rather the person within you begins to decay. How shall we continue to learn when we are unwilling to bow to the expertise of another? Even though the Bible is packed with the wisdom of God, Christians don’t value it very highly. We certainly are not clawing for wisdom. We worship the Bible itself but not the content.

We don’t want to be told what to do, we don’t want to be under the authority of another. To listen to the counsel of another is to raise them above us, and that we will not have. I think, “God, save me from myself,” but perhaps what I should pray is, “Father, save me from my pride.” How do we change this tendency in ourselves, much less in our culture? If we do not humbly seek our God, then how will we be able to receive the wisdom He gives others for us? We talk often about our cultural woes and bemoan how our nations are becoming less godly, but I think people have other things in mind when they decry the current state of the culture. This issue, though, is more dangerous to the fabric of our culture than some of the things people would cite. We need to understand which issues are merely symptoms and which are causes. Pride would seem to be a root cause. In fact, I believe it is embodied in the Ten Commandments in which God told us to have no gods, no idols before Him. Our arrogance lifts us up above God which is the original sin. Satan thought he was as smart as God and his insolence shook heaven. God cast him and all of his cronies out because of his insolence. Then man was silly enough to listen to the devil and elevate himself to godlike status. That is what caused man to eat of the forbidden tree.

Pride certainly does breed quarrels. It won’t allow us to listen to anyone’s thoughts so each person vies for the floor which causes friction. Wisdom awaits those who enable themselves to receive instruction. The question, though, is how to we train our egos to allow advice? What is needful? Perhaps we should throw ourselves at the feet of Christ and ask his advice?

Wisdom is for those who take advice. Therefore, seek wisdom. Inquire of God but also allow yourself to be led by those who have gone before you. If you don’t have anyone who knows more than you, you need some new friends. There is guidance available for those who will humble themselves. I pray that we all can learn this valuable life lesson.  Please think about, or even meditate on, today’s verse and email us with your thoughts.  What can we do to right this ship?  Thank you.

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.

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.

The Blessing Plan

Psalm 1: 1-3

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

3 And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

We all want to be blessed of God and that is what God wants also. That is why he gave us this passage, so that we would know how to be blessed. The first verse tells us three things to avoid if we want to be blessed. The second verse tells us one affirmative thing to do and the third verse illustrates the effect of the blessing on us which results from obedience to the first two verses.

In a nutshell, this passage tells us to turn away from the ways of the world and turn towards God. In plain language it means we should spend more time pursuing God than pursuing the world. Turn off the TV every now and again and spend that hour reading your Bible. Don’t take your advice (counsel) from the world, look to the word and mature Christians. Don’t do the things the people of the world do. That is what is meant by do not “stand in the path of sinners.” God is telling us not to be on their path. Choose a different path. That does not just mean don’t sin. That is a given. But this passage is not talking about salvation it is teaching living in the blessing. So God is telling you not to do the things the world does because it is not leading to blessing. The blessing is in God and in his word. Spend some time reading the word or reading a book by a Christian. Listen to a TV preacher right in the middle of the week. Delight yourself in His word and you will be that tree that is planted near the stream. It is taller and stronger than other trees. It bears more fruit and its fruit is sweeter. Moreover, this tree does not lose its health and vitality. All it takes is to start spending more time actively pursuing Jesus and less time in the world.