Counsel That Leads Us Forward

“I don’t know what to give her.”
“I can’t decide whether I should let him go to that–or not.”
“I don’t know how to have this conversation.”
“I not sure how to handle this situation.”

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9.6)

Wonderful Counselor.
God desires that we know Him as Counselor—and He doesn’t specify ‘only for the big stuff.’

Any time of year, we have decisions to make, circumstances to deal with. Some are big; others are small. Yet sometimes the smallest matters stress us out or keep us up at night. Or, we think about it so much, that mental exhaustion plagues us.

Maybe we unintentionally categorize things that warrant prayer and things that are too trivial to ask God?

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4.5b-6)

“In everything” includes the trivial and every category of life. When we talk and listen to God, we practice having relationship with Him. We draw nearer to our Shepherd and learn to discern His voice. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10.27)  Relationship.

Instead of only thinking about something, ask God and learn to listen for His guidance. This season can be extra-busy.  Pause to practice prayer—to seek God’s counsel—as you drive to work, take a walk or jog, wash the dishes, shower, wait in line, sit on hold on the phone . . .

Practice with the small stuff. Consider this:  Your friend or child seeks your counsel or advice for a small matter like: Which shirt should I wear?  Do you think I should go to that? What should I give him for Christmas? Your availability communicates value, support, faithfulness. How much more does God desire that we experience His steadfastness?

The simplest of counsel is sorta like a recommendation: Lord, which would be the best appointment date? . . . Please show me who I should ask to lead this committee? . . . When is the best time to tell them the news?

When I began to practice praying about the small or trivial, God grew my confidence that He really is with me all day and all night. Plenty of times I didn’t receive a clear answer, but His peace guarded my heart from worry as I made decisions or moved through a long hour. He became my Wonderful Counselor, sometimes providing a person as His tangible vessel for me to talk with at just the right moment. He grew my understanding of his love as Father—He doesn’t grade what we seek His counsel about; rather, He delights that He is the One whose counsel we seek.

Practice. Then, when the big decisions or circumstances come, discover that God has built a solid foundation of faith in your heart. Your relationship is intimate, and your dependence is strong.

When we seek God, we decide to believe that God’s way is the wise way. And even if we aren’t sure of his answer, we trust that He is with us and leading. He grows us to know Him as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Dear God,

You know our need before we ask. Thank you for counselors that you provide in our life—professionals, family, friends, acquaintances—who seek you and serve as tangible vessels of your counsel and point us to you. Especially, prompt us to pray as we move through our day, to trust that you want us to come to you in everything, that we will know you personally as our Wonderful Counselor. Amen.

Overwhelmed?

Circumstances can overwhelm us.
People can overwhelm us.
Responsibilities can overwhelm us.

WE CAN ALSO OVERWHELM OUR SELVES.

Trying to satisfy our self expectations.
Trying to be (like) someone else.
Getting tangled up trying to please others.

Have you ever considered what your self expectations are?

As a wife.  As a mother.  As an employee.  As a friend.  As a daughter.  As a sister.  And on and on….

For me, this is an insightful prayer exercise.  When I feel scattered, overwhelmed or wrestle with feelings of inadequacy, this is usually my cue to seek God about whose desires I’m aiming toward – His, mine, or someone else’s.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  (Jeremiah 29.13)

“God, show me my self expectations in this relationship, currently.”

I wait.  Some emerge rather quickly; they’re familiar.  Other times I’m surprised… why am I putting that expectation on myself?  Down deep I usually know, or God shows me.  Eagerly, earnestly I release to God all that surfaces.

Emptied, I pray, “God, show me what YOU desire of me and for me in this relationship, currently.”

Again, I wait.  Faithfully, He reveals.  Amazing.  His desires always give me  peace – even when they’re challenging – because He promises to go before me.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.  (Psalm 73.24)

Discouragement

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Ps. 27.14)

My kids don’t listen to me.  Our child is being bullied.  We can’t agree on anything…  Our son has stopped communicating with us.  Our daughter is depressed.  They fight all the time.  I think she has an eating disorder.  He’s failing 3 subjects.  She has no friends.  He’s making so many bad decisions…

Discouragement.   It’s the enemy of courage and confidence.

“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” (Ps. 31.24)

First, there’s a minor incident but we ignore it or try to convince ourselves that we’re making something out of nothing.  Or there’s a major issue, but we think, “I’m not going to let this get me down…”  Perhaps we pray about the circumstance, that it will change.  Then the issue begins to increase, or there’s no change for the better.  We grow more discouraged and, as a result, heavy of heart.

Hard circumstances can really pack a punch.  The good news is God is sovereign over ALL of them.  If it happens, He knows.  He knows before hand. This is hard to get our minds around, especially as trials drag on.

God faithfully counsels us.  He tells us to take courage, to let our heart take courage.  His courage. He gives it to us for our journey.

God is with us and wants to tend our heart – if we’ll let Him in.  Too often when I’m discouraged, I don’t remember this right away.  As a result, I dump onto my husband by taking it out on him, whine to a friend, or take on a complaining attitude about … well, everything.

The wise way to deal with discouragement … take it to the Lord.  I’ve taught this to our kids, too.  First, I ask the Lord to show me ALL that I’m discouraged about, every detail, because I want to EMPTY this closet!  Next, I pray, “Lord, I give you ….”, naming every single detail.  I imagine Him taking these into His hands or onto an altar.  Then I invite the Lord to fill me, “Lord, fill me with Your Holy Spirit.  I need Your encouragment.”  As we invite the Lord to walk with us – unloading our feelings, the circumstances, the people – He meets us with HIs comfort and peace.

Jesus prepares His disciples that difficult times are ahead, while at the same time comforting and exhorting them, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16.33)

We’re not to bear up and be strong on our own.

Trusting God to be faithful, depending on Him to meet us where we are, as we share our heart with Him … He enables us to be strong, to take courage and place our confidence in Him.