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Wonderful Counselor

Isa 9:6 ”For a Child is born; to us a Son is given; and the government is on His shoulder; and His name is called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Col 2:2-4 ”That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”

Jesus, Himself, is our wonderful counselor. We can sometimes forget that He alone has the purest motives and purposes for us and He alone cares for us more deeply than anyone else and is able to lead us according to His plans and purposes perfectly. Where are you going for counsel for life, for wisdom, for knowledge and understanding in how to order your life each day, and for true peace? Who can give us a greater understanding of this than Jesus Himself through His Word and the Holy Spirit Whom He has given to us?

2 Cor. 11:3 ”But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, so your thoughts should be corrupted from the purity which is due to Christ.”

Jameison, Faucett, and Brown: Where Eve first gave way, was in mentally harboring for a moment the possibility insinuated by the serpent, of GOD not having her truest interests at heart, and of this "other" professing friend being more concerned for her than God.

It is so easy for us to turn to other counselors before we turn to Christ, listening to another, as though he is more concerned for us than Christ Himself. I think that's because we want a person we can see and touch - someone who will take our side of the matter. But nobody can take up our side more perfectly than Jesus can. If we need correction, He will give it. If we need direction, He will give it. If we need comfort, nobody can give it better. He lives in our hearts.... the deepest place within us… and the most intimate. Can anyone know our secret thoughts and feelings like He can? If we need wisdom, He Himself becomes wisdom for us…

1Co 1:30 ”But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”

We can be led astray from God's pure counsel if we go to other counselors first and fail to seek His face - even Christian counselors. The question is, do we just want counsel, or do we want His counsel, His purpose, His heart in the matter? God puts wise teachers in our paths, and others who have been through the fire and can certainly give us guidance, but if we ourselves are not also going to God first how will we know if the teaching, counsel, or guidance is from the Lord? How will we know if it is what His will for our lives is personally? Are we actually seeking someone else to take the place of the Holy Spirit in our lives? It is easy to do that. It's a hard thing to wait on God and learn to listen to His Spirit. It's so much easier to just ask someone who we think is closer to God! But how do you suppose that one got closer to God? It was by waiting on the Lord, seeking His face, studying His Word and walking in it. Our counsel comes from personal relationship with our counselor. Do you want to know your Counselor intimately? Do you want to know His very heart towards you and have His understanding for your circumstances?

Yes, you too can know the Wonderful Counselor...the Prince of Peace. Don't short change yourself by always running to someone else and never learning, yourself, to know God's heart. Before you turn to anyone else, turn first to His Word, and to His face in prayer, waiting on Him, trusting that He will answer you.

There are many counselors in the world. Some of them may proclaim another Jesus, or another gospel. If you are in a vulnerable place it is easy for you to be deceived by them. It’s easy, if you are not going to His Word to understand His heart, to have no discernment when another comes in His name using His Word to give you a different counsel than that of Jesus. Even satan himself is very good at using the Word of God for his own purposes.

2Co 11:4 ”For if, indeed, the one coming proclaims another Jesus, whom we have not proclaimed, or if you receive another spirit which you have not received, or another gospel which you never accepted, you might well endure these.”

Whether or not you go to someone else for counsel, it does not abdicate your responsibility to go to God and seek His counsel in the matter. In fact we should take all counsel and teaching we hear to God's Word and examine it there in light of His Word and seek His face and heart in the matter, waiting for His Spirit to show us if it is truly from God. We should be learning at His feet daily, studying His Word, which is His very heart revealed to us, so that we will immediately recognize any counsel that does not come from Him.

God is able to counsel you! Do you believe it? Do you truly believe in, adhere to, rely on, and trust in Him as your Savior to the uttermost? If you do, than it is His counsel that you will seek, and not that of another. Look to Him to be your life, and that life dwelling within you will guide you through all.

Abba, Father, You have given us the perfect counselor and comforter to dwell right in the deepest place of our hearts. Forgive us when we forget to trust You to be all the counsel and provision for life, and godliness that we need. Lead us with Your perfect counsel and show us Your heart each day as we seek to walk through the darkness of this world with all its problems and all our weaknesses. In the name of Jesus our perfect counselor and Lord, Amen!


The Weak And Foolish Things of the World

1Co 1:23-29 “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.”

I see a pattern throughout the Bible as I read, from Old to New Testament, in which God time after time chooses – not the strong, the talented, the mighty – but instead chooses the weak, the despised, the lowly. He uses the few against large numbers. He uses things that look foolish to us and make no sense. He takes nothing and makes something out of it.

Are you feeling insignificant in God’s plan? Ordinary? Useless? Insufficient? Perhaps you’ll benefit from meditating on the stories of heroes of the Bible, who also were very small and insignificant – until God got a hold of their lives.

We all know the story of David who was the youngest and most insignificant in his family. He tended the sheep. But when Samuel came to choose from Jesse’s sons, a king, because God told Him to, one by one he turned away Jesse’s strong handsome noble sons, and said, “don’t you have another?” It was David, the youngest – tending the sheep – that Samuel knew was a man after God’s own heart. What did God say to Samuel? …”for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b

When all the mighty warriors of Israel shrunk away in fear from Goliath, little David with his slingshot and a stone slew Goliath. (1 Sam. 17)

Then there was Gideon – who considered himself “least in my father’s house”. Yet the Lord sent an angel and spoke to him – Jdg 6:12 ”And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.”

Gideon was no mighty man of valour, but God saw him that way because of His own power that He would give and what He would do in Gideon. Whenever God gives us something to do, God sees what He will do in us also, not what we will do in our own strength. God was about to make Gideon a mighty man of valour.

Again when Gideon had has army what did God do? He whittled down that army to a very small size… Jdg 7:2-7 ”And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.

All throughout the Old Testament, we have story after story – Moses, Joshua, and others, where the small, the weak, the insignificant, were chosen of God and used mightily by God against impossible odds…

Heb 11:34 ”Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

Why does God work this way? So that we may know that it is of God and not of man. If we are strong, our strength is nothing unless given to God. If we are weak, we can take heart because God is able to work through our weakness to show His strength. One of the most profound lessons I learned in my early Christian life was from a mildly retarded man who had the love of Jesus flowing out of Him in such a pure and simple way, that he touched all those around him. We must learn that it is God and not us that matters in accomplishing His will and purpose. Only what is of His Spirit and life and power flowing through us is what counts. And this God again and again demonstrated to His people, and wants to demonstrate to you in your every day life in this earth if you will give up living in your own power and trust in His to live in you.

Paul, though he had a mighty experience with the Lord, was given a thorn in the flesh so that he would not think too highly of himself. He learned that it was out of weakness that God’s power worked the best. Because when we are weak we must depend on God. We must rely and cling to Him as we know we cannot do anything on our own. In truth even when we are strong in ourselves, our own strength only hinders God’s moving through us if we rely on that instead of Him. We must learn in our strong points, our talents, and our weaknesses, to give all of them to God and see that our strengths are really weaknesses if they hinder us from doing that, and allowing God to move in us in His power. Man wants independence! God teaches us dependence. This is our strength.

So why do we despair when we see ourselves weak, helpless, and seem to have nothing to offer God? If you see yourself so, offer yourself to Him trusting in His purpose and power and see what He does. Perhaps God has taken away your strength, your resources, and all that gave you independence from Him so that you would learn that in your weakness He is strong. In your insufficiency, He is sufficient. In your helplessness, there is power in Him.

Jesus Himself offered Himself in weakness…. 2Co 13:3-4 ”Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.”

You also can live by the power of God. Jesus showed you the way. We are crucified with Christ – in weakness – yet we live by the power of God. It is no longer we who live but Christ Who lives in us. We are weak because we have this treasure in earthen vessels…

2Co 4:7 ”But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

May the Lord reveal this to our hearts each day as we walk with Him!


Sanctification

1Th 5:23-24 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

Sanctify - to render or to declare holy, to consecrate, to separate from things profane. God Himself, is the One Who declares us holy because of His Son Jesus Christ, Who died on the cross for us and purchased our redemption. He sanctifies us wholly - every part of us, body, soul, and spirit – through and through. There is to be no deficiency in any part of this sanctification. We are preserved blameless before Him unto His coming. As our position in Christ is one of having this sanctification, Jesus is continually working it into our experience in this life, until our complete redemption, body, soul, and spirit is final. What a perfect salvation!

If we are then being sanctified by God, we must also “sanctify God in our hearts” – 1Pe 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

To sanctify God in our hearts…

“Yahweh's holiness is His supremacy, His sovereignty, His glory, His essential being as God. To say the Holy One is simply to say God. Yahweh's holiness is seen in His might, His manifested glory; it is that before which peoples tremble, which makes the nations dread (Ex 15:11-18; compare 1 Sam 6:20; Ps 68:35; 89:7; 99:2,3). Significant is the way in which "jealous" and "holy" are almost identified (Josh 24:19; Ezek 38:23). It is God asserting His supremacy, His unique claim. To sanctify Yahweh, therefore, to make Him holy, is to assert or acknowledge or bring forth His being as God, His supreme power and glory, His sovereign claim. Ezekiel brings this out most clearly. Yahweh has been profaned in the eyes of the nations through Israel's defeat and captivity. True, it was because of Israel's sins, but the nations thought it was because of Yahweh's weakness. The ethical is not wanting in these passages. The people are to be separated from their sins and given a new heart (Ezek 36:25,26,33). But the word "sanctify" is not used for this. It is applied to Yahweh, and it means the assertion of Yahweh's power in Israel's triumph and the conquest of her foes (Ezek 20:41; 28:25; 36:23; 38:16; 39:27). The sanctification of Yahweh is thus the assertion of His being and power as God, just as the sanctification of a person or object is the assertion of Yahweh's right and claim in the same.” – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

In all circumstances in our lives we are to acknowledge or bring forth God’s supreme power and glory within us. Just think of the difference this would make in our trials and our daily walk, if we remember always to “sanctify God in our hearts” at all times, through all things. Could we fail to come forth victorious? I think of the life of Paul and how He sanctified God in all His circumstances. If we would only remember God is supreme in our hearts, and that He is supreme over all our lives!

All that happens in our lives is to bring us to this place. When we fail to do that God is made to look weak in the eyes of the world around us. Though God is not weak, and has all power and nothing is too difficult for Him – in our lives, to others around us, if we claim to be Christians but fail to sanctify God in our heart, and in all our circumstances, He is dishonored in us, and made to look weak.

We may look weak as we are! We may be cast down, we may be persecuted, we may be made to look foolish, and this is ok. We are seen as we are - our flesh as the grass of the field that today grows and tomorrow withers - but in our weakness, if God is sanctified in our hearts, His power and glory is seen and others around are drawn, not to us, but to Him.

God will continually be sanctifying Himself within us and revealing Himself – His power and glory to us - as we walk with Him. He continually shows us our weakness, exposing our flesh for what it is, causing us to turn from reliance on it, to reliance on Him, and His power, that He may be sanctified through us to the world. All the hardships we face and weaknesses we endure, are for this purpose in our lives, that we might sanctify God in our hearts, realizing the weakness of our flesh for what it is, and turn in complete dependence on Him – His power, wisdom, and goodness; and that we might see His glory through it, revealing also that glory to those around us.

Too often though, as Christians, we have forgotten what we are called to, or it hasn’t been taught in our churches, what we are called to, and instead our attitude is as though we are here only to live for our pleasure, and our fulfillment in life, and our happiness. God is there to help us accomplish this, we suppose. We become disheartened when we face trials and hardships and feel as though God has abandoned us, or we turn to the worlds counsel and philosophy to try to achieve the success, and happiness we look for, with the attitude, “if it works it’s good”. We look for ways to strengthen ourselves rather than ”strengthen God in our hearts”.

God has a much greater plan for us – one that is not temporal, but eternal. As we sanctify God in our hearts, we are always ready to give an answer to those around us for the hope that we have. Others are made to see past this life, and it’s troubles also, and to see Jesus in us, and the hope of His calling. With meekness, realizing our own weakness, and a fear and awesome respect of God and His power in us, we are able to truly show Him to others. There is no haughtiness or anger, arguing because we are “right”, but there is a humble knowing of the power of God within us, that we have experienced, and an awesome fear of Him. There is a genuine love for others that they would see His glory also.

Abba, Father, remind us daily to sanctify You in our hearts, that the world may see You and give You the glory due Your name!


Radical Holiness

Heb 12:14 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”

1Pe 1:13-16 “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Eph 4:21-24 “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

"By the Spirit of your mind," that is, by your new spiritual nature; the restored and divinely informed leading principle of the mind. The "spirit" of man in New Testament is only then used in its proper sense, as worthy of its place and governing functions, when it is one spirit with the Lord. The natural, or animal man, is described as "not having the Spirit" (Jud_1:19) (J, F, & B)

Holiness is separation from the world unto God, for His purposes. How can we live this way? It is Christ Himself that has accomplished our holiness by His holiness…

Eph 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

Jesus sacrifice on the cross cleanses us, sanctifies us and makes us holy, without spot or wrinkle, as we put our faith in Him. It is only by His holiness in us that we are holy. It is not by any acts of our own righteousness that we can do, but by faith in Him. Many have the mistaken belief that the church must somehow become spotless before Jesus returns, but according to this scripture Jesus has made us spotless by giving Himself to us, cleansing us and He Himself will present us as spotless. If we were to make ourselves spotless, I fear the Lord would never be able to come for us!

In this life we are continually having to live out and learn to walk in this life of holiness, “putting on Christ” by faith in all that He is for us and to us and in us. As Jesus lives His holiness in us, separating us from all that is of our flesh and this world, we sometimes experience how radically He must deal with our flesh in order to save us from it. We have no concept, as He does, how dangerous our sinful nature is and how deadly a thing it is. Like a diseased, rotten part of our body that must be removed, our flesh had to be dealt with radically.

When a part of our body is diseased it must be cut out in order to save our lives. This is radical, and has painful consequences and sometimes life-time adjustments must be made. I am increasingly amazed as I see sometimes how radical a treatment Jesus must give our flesh. As we go through painful trials and heart-wrenching dealings in our lives, making them sometimes even unbearable, bringing us to despair and hopelessness, all the while our Lord is doing something radical that He sees must be done, yet we don’t understand. We cannot possibly see the deadliness, the disease, the grossness of our flesh as He does. To us it is a small thing – certainly nothing that demands such radical treatment. Certainly we could live with that. Why must the Lord bring or allow such harshness into my life? Yet such dealings come through the love of His nail-scarred hands.

Only He knows. Only He can be trusted with it. Only He can do so in His perfect holiness, His perfect love, and His perfect goodness. Only He can do so with the most perfect and compassionate heart beyond our comprehension. Is holiness a small thing? Is it an unimportant thing? Not to God. It must not be so to us. It must be our top priority and we must allow God to complete His work of holiness and sanctification in our hearts and our lives no matter how radical a thing He must do to accomplish it.

It was pretty radical that God sent His Son to become a lowly man of weak human flesh, leaving His glory in heaven to humble Himself and suffer at the hands of mere man, and die the death of a criminal, so that we might have His very life within us. How radical does God need to get with us, our sin, and our self-centered lives? As radical as bringing us to the cross. Will He spare us any pain? Not at all. Because of His love He cannot.

Pretty radical also that He rose Jesus again from the dead. This is His purpose also in our pain, and suffering, and death to self – that we may rise from the dead and find newness of life – a life totally separated unto God. We must never lose site of this, and never lose our hope in God’s complete, finished work. We equally partake of His death and His resurrection alike. But you cannot have resurrection without the death.

As the old saying goes, “when you cannot understand His hand, trust His heart.” Many times we cannot understand why God would allow such pain in our lives. In these times we need with all our hearts to hold onto God’s holiness - His perfect character, and all He is in His perfect love, goodness, mercy, compassion, grace, and justice and lean not unto our own understanding, or concept of His purposes or our purposes, but we need to trust in all He is with our whole heart. This is the trying of our faith, which will be purified and be made strong and steady. The dross will be removed, and only what is true faith will be left. This is more precious than gold in the sight of God. Should it not be in our sight as well?


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