fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Wonderful Counselor

Wonderful Counselor by Julie McAllen

Who is Jesus to you? Did he deliver you from a hopeless situation? Do you praise him for the hope you now have in a good future? Deliverance from the past, vision for the future….what about your present? In what way is Jesus the promised Immanuel “God with us?”

By God’s grace you have been saved. A gift given devoid of any effort on your part lest you should boast. Jesus is Savior over you and you had nothing to do with that. What bliss to be helpless at the cross! Do you remember that moment? When you submitted to his finished work there, he became Lord. You did have something to do with that. Your response mattered. So here you are. Jesus is Savior, that was his work. Jesus is Lord, that was your response. Now what? How’s that Lord thing going? In what way is Jesus Lord in your life right now? Are you giving him all your decisions? Your anxieties? Your joys? How much time do you spend talking to him? And do you listen when he talks back?

Jesus, where are you?

I was thinking about the grief of the disciples when they were told by their Lord that he would be going away. They were accustomed to walking and talking with him on a daily basis. Faith was so easy in his presence! Sadness filled their hearts when Jesus revealed that he would be taken from them. But the promise given them is the same as to us. It was necessary for him to go away so that he could send the Helper or Counselor.

Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.  But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:6-7)

In what way is the Holy Spirit our Counselor? In today’s world we are all quite familiar with what a counselor is. In fact, many of us have probably seen one at some point in our lives. How do you view counselors? Are they just sounding boards for us to rant our troubles at? Are they supposed to cure all our problems with a magic pill or wave of some grand psychological advice?

I’ve listened to people talk about their counseling experiences. Some are keen to tell you they told their counselor this, that and the other thing (which they are now droning on about yet again to you) but when asked, “and what advice did the counselor offer?” they stumble at the question. I don’t know if the counselor failed to give some practical steps to change or if the person just failed to listen, but I doubt any change can occur by just babbling on about the same problem week after week. If the counselor isn’t offering any advice, I’d get a new one. If you’re having trouble remembering what help was offered, I’d start taking notes.

Jesus is said to be a “Wonderful Counselor” (Is 9:6) I have to wonder if some people approach him as they do their earthly counselors? Do they just complain and never listen for advice? Does he offer it and yet they fail to take note? Then there are the people who sought counsel from pastors or psychologists and are able to retell the advice they heard but refuse to take it. Isn’t that like paying for medicine and letting it sit in the cabinet? Gee, this penicillin is supposed to cure my ills but I don’t notice it doing anything! Um…take it out of the bottle and see if it does. Reminds me of what we’re told at Palms 34:8, ” taste and see that the Lord is good.”  Try the counsel.  They talk to the counselor, even hear the advice, and yet no change takes place because nothing is applied. What? Something is required of me? Yes.

Jesus is your Savior, that was required of him. Jesus is your Lord, that is required of you in your daily decisions to follow his lordship. And the Holy Spirit is your counselor leading you to understand your choices. Helping you in other words. You have the final choice when you can see the options laid out. A counselor can only help you see your choices, but YOU are the one who decides. Jesus is not going to wave a magic wand and make the problems in your life disappear, instead he sends the Counselor to guide you into the path that aligns with God’s will. He trusts you enough with that. He actually thinks you’re smart enough to follow. He designed us and knows our self-worth is at stake. Remember free will? We were designed to participate in the course for our lives, not sit back and wait for miracles. Look at the pattern. There were two trees in the middle of the garden. Choice! God put blessings and maledictions before the Israelites. Choice! He puts life and death before us and asks us to CHOOSE life. God delights in giving us choices.

If you went to a paid counselor every week to retell your woes, he gave good counsel and you failed to follow it, what’s the point? Why spend that kind of money? Do you tell people, “I go every week and he isn’t able to help me!” What are you expecting? Is the counselor supposed to prescribe a magic pill? Is he supposed to change you or are you? He is there to COUNSEL you. He is there to HELP you see your choices. He can help you understand patterns of behavior and thinking in your life that are contributing to your current problems. You, however, are the one who has to do the work! Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor, not your magic pill. And what did he promise this Counselor, the Holy Spirit would do?

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: (John 16:8)

Guilt? The Holy Spirit’s job is not just the blissful blessings of contentment, he is also helping us win our battle against sin by convicting us of wrong patterns. A good counselor listens to you as you unleash your problems. But it doesn’t end there. He has the job of helping you identify your part in it. That’s conviction. A good counselor will convict you. What can YOU do about it? How can you view the situation? Is there a way to change the situation? If not, is there a way to view it differently so that it no longer is lord over you? A good counselor brings you to the point of recognizing your error and then gives practical steps to gain victory. A good counselor wants to empower you. Jesus is such a Wonderful Counselor. And yet, some of us just go to him to complain and ignore his advice. Expecting overnight miracles, some of us just leave in a huff claiming the counselor was a quack! And some of us overuse the copout “I’ll just leave it to the Lord” and actually believe he has to do all the work while we sit on our hands waiting for the promised land to arrive not realizing we are IN it! Victory lost. Though the phrase is not found in scripture, the concept is there, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Counselors are expensive and if I were seeing one I’d want to make the most of the visit and the pay I give him. I’d want to see results. When I came to Jesus Christ, I willingly offered my heart, soul, mind and strength to him to be my Lord. Yes,  I paid with my life. As Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ.” And Jesus thought my life was well worth it too. He paid good money for me–with his own blood in fact! He was crucified for me. We both paid a lot then didn’t we? I don’t like to waste money do you? I don’t want to waste what he paid, I don’t want to waste what I paid. I’m not going to use his qualified role as my highly paid Wonderful Counselor as a mere sounding board for my complaints. I’m not going to waste his wisdom by ignoring it. And I’m not going to negate the gifts he paid to give me by expecting him to fix all my problems by waiting for heaven or his return. He paid to give me an inheritance right here, right now, and I’m walking in victory!

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

February 19, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Armor of God

j0178865Each day we’re caught in the middle of an ongoing spiritual warfare – whether we know it or not. Satan and his demons manifest themselves in one way or another. We can’t see them and we don’t know how, but they are there – delighting in helping make wrong choices. They strive to help us to disobedience and rebellion. This is ongoing – everyday…the “norm” for the enemy. Eph 6:10-12 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers and against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 

 The apostle Paul spoke about a spiritual armor we must put on so that we can be prepared to fight back. Just as we wake up in the morning, brush our teeth and get dressed, our morning routine should also include gearing up with the spiritual armor. In fact, gearing up for the day is an act of obedience. Just as a loving parent orders her child to wear a warm jacket before going out to play or school, God also directs us to put on the armor for protection. Eph 6:13 – “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm”.

God’s Spiritual Armor – Ephesians 6:14-17 – “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the work of God.” 

The first three pieces of armor (girdle, breastplate, footwear) were worn continually on the battle field. The last three (shield, helmet, sword) were kept ready to use for when fighting began.

 “Girded with Truth” (Verse 14) – girding involved pulling up the loose material as preparation for the battle. The tunic (underneath the armor) the soldiers wore was loose and a potential danger if hanging material was not girded. Imagine a soldier being tripped by loose material hanging? This armor symbolizes truthfulness; how many times have we “tripped” in our walk with God for not girding ourselves with truthfulness?

Breastplate of Righteousness” (Verse 14) – the breastplate was made of heavy leather or other heavy material that covers the full torso, thus protecting the heart and vital organs. Righteousness is synonymous with holiness; God is Holy (Rev 4:8). Holiness is a chief protection against the enemy because unrighteousness and righteousness cannot co-exist.  John 3:20 – “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that he deeds will be exposed.”

Shod with Gospel of Peace” (Verse 15) – soldiers’ boots had nails on the bottom of the sole to grip the ground while in combat. The gospel of peace pertains to the good news that, through Jesus, believers are reconciled or at peace with God. When we’re at peace with God, we feel an assurance of being in union with Him. This assurance, in itself, is cause for joy and contentment. It in this assurance that we can stand firm with our feet anchored in the ground, knowing God is on our side.  It is through this gospel that we also draw unbelievers to God’s message of salvation. 1Peter 3:15, 16

 “Shield of Faith” (Verse 16) – a size of a shoulder’s was about 2 ½ by 4 ½ feet, which covered the entire body. Heb. 11:1 defines faith as, “the assured expectation of things hoped for though not yet beheld.” This piece of the armor refers to complete trust in God, his word and his promises. It’s through trust in God that we choose obedience over temptation to sin. Part of fighting a spiritual war means that we battle with things that are unseen; when the obvious doesn’t appear before us, do we fight with “an expectation of things hoped for?” Trusting in God means that we surrender all control to Him, knowing He will lead us to victory in all circumstances.

 “Helmet of Salvation” (Verse 17) – the helmet protected the head, which was a major target for the enemy. Opponents know that one blow to the head can cause a soldier his life. This verse is not talking about attaining, but rather having the assurance of salvation that has already been achieved through grace.  The enemy wants nothing more to discourage or cause doubt our own salvation. A believer’s feelings about his salvation may be damaged by doubt, confusion or discouragement (satan’s weapons). Having the assurance of salvation is an essential part of the spiritual armor one must wear daily because blows of doubt and discouragement to the head may be fatal.

 “Sword of the Spirit” (Verse 17) – Heb 4:12 “The word is alive and exerts power and is sharper than a two edged sword). The sword is the only weapon a soldier actually uses in combat, all the other parts of the armor are only used for protection. It is with the sword that a soldier can pierce through the enemy and stop the conflict. All conflicts, hostilities, battles and confrontations can be put to an end with such a weapon as God’s Word. God’s word also helps in the offense to overcome strategies that promote untruth, confusion and separation from God.  Jesus himself demonstrated how important it is to know scripture in Matthew Chapter 4.

 Our assailant is going to take advantage of all opportunities to attack; sometimes he doesn’t wait for an opportunity, but creates ones. In obedience, let us put on the spiritual armor before we go to carry on our daily lives. Praise the Lord, who equips us with all we need to come out victorious.  May your spiritual armor daily include Truthfulness, Righteousness, Gospel of Peace, Faith, Assurance of salvation, God’s word.

August 10, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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