Come To God As A Counselor

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I’ll bet you have “go-to” people in your life. The ones you immediately call when you need computer help, relationship insights, household or car repairs, Bible questions, or even cooking instructions. 

We love having these go-to people in our lives, but I’m also going to guess that none of us has someone who possesses all of these go-to skills. After all, all of us are only human, with limitations and deficiencies. 

We’ve learned that in prayer we can come to God as a Father—calling Him our Abba Father. We can also come to God as a Brother—knowing that Jesus has walked every path we will ever walk, and He intercedes to the Father on our behalf. 

In fact, we saw last week that Jesus was never at a loss of what to say, what path to take, or what prayer to pray. He spoke what He did, and did what He did, and prayed what He did because of the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

This is the same Holy Spirit that is in us as Christians. It’s because of this that we can come to God as a Counselor. The Holy Spirit is THE Go-To Resource for everything! 

Jesus said that both He and our Father love to give us the Holy Spirit as our Counselor, and then the Holy Spirit loves to reveal our Father and our Brother to us (Luke 11:13; John 14:26, 16:15; Galatians 4:6; Matthew 16:17). 

Andrew Murray wrote, “Prayer is simply the breathing of the Spirit in us; power in prayer comes from the power of the Spirit in us as we wait on Him. Failure in prayer is the result of a spirit that is not yielded to the Spirit of God.” 

What does it mean to yield to the Holy Spirit? It means that we don’t look for other go-to people for certain situations, but we trust the Spirit to be the Go-To Resource for everything. This is what Jesus did. 

As Jesus relied on the Counselor, so must we. As the Counselor helped Jesus, so He will help us. 

Let’s break this down. 

First, Jesus was never at a loss of what words to say, and the Holy Spirit will give us the right words to say as well (John 12:49; Matthew 10:19-20; Luke 1:67; Acts 2:14). 

Second, Jesus was never at a loss of what path to take, and neither do we have to experience any confusion about what to do and when to do it (Matthew 4:1; Luke 2:27; Acts 16:6-10).

Finally, Jesus was never at a loss of what prayer to pray, and so too will the Holy Spirit help us go deeper into our prayer time (Luke 10:21; Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 3:14-21). 

In addition, there is not one issue we will ever face that God hasn’t already addressed for us in Scripture (Ephesians 3:4-5). We see Jesus being totally reliant on Scripture (Luke 4:4, 8, 12). In an identical way, the Holy Spirit will help illuminate and apply the Scripture to our lives (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13). 

Let me repeat this vital truth: The Holy Spirit is THE Go-To Resource for everything!

  • We are vulnerable to temptation without the help of our Go-To Counselor. 
  • We are limited in our understanding of Scripture without the help of our Go-To Counselor.
  • We have a shallow prayer life without the help of our Go-To Counselor. 
  • We will be frequently confused about words to use or paths to take without the help of our Go-To Counselor. 

Let us learn to rely on our Counselor, as we keep our eyes on our Brother, and as we go together to our Father in childlike prayer. This is what leads to true intimate conversation! 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our prayer series Intimate Conversation, please click here. 

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Triumphant King

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Have you ever noticed how many of our Christmas carols celebrate the dark night giving way to the bright light? For instance, the hymn O Holy Night contains the line, “long lay the world in sin and error pining until He appeared.” 

English historian and theologian Thomas Fuller was the first to put into print what has now become a cliché that so many people use: “It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth.” Indeed, Micah paints a very dark scene just before the Messiah makes His First Advent (Micah 5:1). 

The Light of Jesus that burst onto planet Earth in a Bethlehem stable revealed Him as our Great Shepherd, our Prince of Peace, and our Mighty Deliverer. And there is also one more title that Micah foretells: our Triumphant King! 

What does our Triumphant King do? He confronts and defeats the darkest foes. Check out the words in Micah 5:9-15: destroy (5x), demolish (2x), tear down, uproot, take vengeance. 

Christ’s birth in Bethlehem is our proof that God’s plan prevails. God always gets the final word, the decisive word, and the best word! 

Most of the Old Testament prophets foresaw both the first and second advents of Jesus simultaneously. The mountains of prophecy look like they are on top of each other, so it’s very common for the prophets to see events of both advents happening simultaneously. So Micah sees both the coming of Jesus in Bethlehem and His coming at the end of time as King.

There is a spiritual battle that has been raging since before Time began (Ephesians 6:12). It started when Lucifer became satan by his rebellion against God, and then he began his agenda of the destruction of God’s people (Ezekiel 28:12-17; Revelation 12:7-9, 13, 17). 

Into this dark battle, Jesus enters the scene. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo—destroy, loosen, and dissolve—the works the devil has done (1 John 3:8 AMP). 

I already talked about how the death of Jesus on the Cross meant the death of Death, and Jesus became our Mighty Deliverer! The resurrection of Jesus means satan’s time is nearing an end. It may be dark now, but the darkness has to give way to the Light of the King of kings (check out these verses in Revelation). 

“It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth” should assure us of the victory of the King of kings! Jesus assured us that darkness is only afforded an hour, and then the Light will completely overwhelm it. The Light dawned in Bethlehem and is returning soon to completely vanquish every last bit of darkness!

If you missed any of the messages in our Advent series, you can find a list of all of those messages by clicking here. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Christians Shouldn’t Be Lazy

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Christians Shouldn’t Be Lazy 

     A man who wastes his time and his strength in sloth offers himself to be a target for the devil, who is a wonderfully good rifleman and will riddle the idler with his shots: In other words, idle men tempt the devil to tempt them. …  

     The Lord Jesus tells us Himself that while men slept the enemy sowed the tares. That hits the nail on the head, for it is by the door of sluggishness that evil enters the heart more often, it seems to me, than by any other. … 

     All are not hunters to wear red coats, and all are not working men who call themselves so. I wonder sometimes that some of our employers keep so many cats that catch no mice. … 

     I wish all religious people would take this matter under their consideration, for some professors are amazingly lazy and make sad work for the tongues of the wicked. I think a godly plowman ought to be the best man in the field and let no team beat him. When we are at work, we ought to be at it and not stop the plow to talk, even though the talk may be about religion. For then we not only rob our employers of our own time, but of the time of the horses, too. 

From John Ploughman’s Talks of Plain Advice For Plain People

I couldn’t agree more with Charles Spurgeon! 

Christians should show their dedication to Jesus by giving their very best effort at work and around their homes. Don’t give unbelievers a reason to say, “If that’s what a Christian is like, I don’t want any part of Christianity!” But instead, as the apostle Paul reminds us, do your work well, as if you are working for Jesus (Ephesians 6:5-8).

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God’s Pleasure In Our Work

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

A couple of weeks ago I asked a question about a fictitious job. Which job would you rather have: a job that’s (a) boring, not utilizing your skills, where you’re treated as a cog in the wheel, or (b) energizing, calling out your best talents, a place where you are making a difference? 

As a follow up I asked, “Which of those jobs are you more likely to be happy to go to? Which job is going to inspire you to give your best work ethic?” 

We all want that ideal job, but the reality is that in this fallen world there are no perfect jobs, so it’s very likely that we’re going to have the challenging jobs. Even when we have that kind of job, Christians are called to work with excellence and to find joy in that work (Colossians 3:23). 

Work originated with God. At the conclusion of every day of Creation, God looked at His magnificent handiwork and pronounced it good. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them instructions to work, and even after their sin, He repeated the call to work (Genesis 2:15, 3:17-19). 

Whether we are called to be gardeners or evangelists, plumbers or salespeople, teachers or doctors, we are to work well. William Tyndale wrote, “There is no work better than to please God; to pour water, to wash dishes, to be a cobbler, or an apostle, all are one; to wash dishes and to preach are all one, as touching the deed, to please God.” 

Let me give you two examples of good workers. 

The first is Joseph whom we meet in the first book of the Bible. Out of their jealousy of their father’s preferential treatment of Joseph, his brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph ended up in Egypt working for a man named Potiphar. I don’t think anyone would have blamed Joseph for grumbling about his condition and giving the least effort possible, but instead, Joseph so excelled in his work that Potiphar promoted him over all his household. 

After being framed for a crime he didn’t commit, Joseph found himself in prison. Once again, this innocent man could have sulked and complained and shirked his work responsibility. But once again, Joseph did such excellent work that the warden promoted him to a trustee position over all the other prisoners. 

Eventually, Joseph was promoted to second in command in all of Egypt, where he continued to do excellent and innovative work. Joseph’s good attitude and impeccable work ethic allowed God to place him in a position where he could save his people from starvation (see Genesis 39-50). 

What about the example of Jesus? He was fully God, yet He gave up His divine prerogatives to work as a carpenter and to eventually perform the most important work of all: the willing sacrifice for the sins of all humankind. Paul describes the servanthood and willing attitude of Jesus in Philippians 2, adding an important “therefore” when he tells us that the excellent work of Jesus allowed God to place Him in a position where He could save His people from eternal separation from God (Philippians 2:6-11). 

But Paul also has an important word for us in the verse preceding this passage: “Let this same attitude and purpose and humble mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus” (v. 5 AMP). 

I may not be able to choose my job, but I can always choose to have a God-glorifying attitude about my job. When I choose this attitude and live it out with an excellent work ethic, God is pleased. 

So allow me to give you four attitude-checking questions about your own work ethic:

  1. Do I feel like I have to go to work? I should so crave God’s glory and God’s rewards that I have a get to attitude about my work. 
  2. Do I complain about my work? The Bible makes it very clear that God disapproves of grumbling, and uses our good attitude to point others to Himself (Numbers 11:1; 1 Corinthians 10:10; Philippians 2:14-15). 
  3. Am I “quiet quitting”? This should never, ever be said of Christians! Our work ethic should be as exemplary as Joseph’s and Christ’s (Ephesians 6:5-8).
  4. Am I living for T.G.I.F.? We shouldn’t be focused on just getting things done, but we should make the most of every day of work that we have been given. We should be living out T.G.I.T.—Thank God It’s Today (Psalm 90:12, 17)! 

Let me repeat an important principle: I may not be able to choose my job, but I can always choose to have a God-glorifying attitude about my job. When you have this kind of attitude, you will experience the joy of a fulfilled craving that God has put in all of us—the desire to do meaningful and God-honoring work. This is the attitude and work ethic God delights to reward. 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our series called Craving, you can find a list of all of those messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

God Longs For You

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

There’s a misconception that many people have about God’s laws: they think that they are intended to rob us of enjoyment, that they restrict our lives and remove our pursuit of happiness. 

In actuality, the exact opposite is true. God is love (1 John 4:8). That means everything God does is rooted in His love for us. Including the laws He gives us. He loves us and wants us to stay in the place where we don’t experience the heartache, pain, and disappointment of missing out on His blessings. 

God is also happy. Paul calls it “the glory of the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:11). The word “blessed” can easily be translated as happy. God is happy and He wants us to share in this ultimate happiness. 

Consider the blessings that are in first and last of the Ten Commandments: 

  • The first commandment says there is only one God. Far from this being restrictive, it’s a huge blessing. I don’t have to search and compare, I don’t have to make a list of pros and cons and then settle on the best option, but I can enjoy the one and only true God. 
  • The tenth commandment says I don’t need to crave anything outside of what God has given me. Again, this is a huge blessing because it tells me that my loving Father has given me all that I need, that He alone satisfies my cravings. 

John Piper gave the essence of idolatry in this line: “Preferring other things above God.” This is why God delights for us to delight in Him. When we do, He is our sole focus. When He is our focus, we enjoy Him immensely and we reject anything that would remove our gaze from Him. 

That’s why there is a continuous linkage in all 176 verses of Psalm 119 between God’s laws and our delight—between obedience and satisfaction. When we obey God, we experience His happiness. 

The apostle Paul called Christians to live this way: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). Gospel literally means “good news.” What good news are we supposed to proclaim? The good news that God is happy and that He wants to say to us, “Come and share your Master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:21)! 

When I was a kid I struggled with this question: Do I love God just because He first loved me? I thought, “That seems like a cop out. Am I really saying that the only reason I have for loving Him is that He went first?” But then I realized it couldn’t be any other way. How could I love an angry God? How could I ever expect to approach a God who knew all my sins and had the final say on my punishment, and was just waiting for a chance to get His hands on me? 

I can only love a loving God. I can only love Him because He first loved me (see Romans 5:8). 

In a similar way, I can only crave God because He first craved a relationship with me. Otherwise I’m setting myself up for unimaginable heartbreak and disappointment! 

Jesus said it was His Father’s “good pleasure” to reveal Himself to us. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son. Our heavenly Father craved a relationship with us, so He revealed His Son Jesus to us so that Jesus could reveal the Father to us (see Matthew 11:25-30; John 14:7).

Just as we could only love God because He loved us first, we could only crave a relationship with God because He craved a relationship with us first. It was always His plan to adopt us into His family—this is what gives Him great pleasure (Ephesians 1:5). Then God works in us to fulfill His craving for us, which empowers us to find our deepest longings satisfied exclusively in Him (Philippians 2:13). 

Sometimes we get a small taste or experience of earthly pleasure that quickly fades away. C.S. Lewis reminded us, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” 

Our craving for God is only satisfied in the knowledge that God first craved a relationship with us. Only the intimacy of our Savior will fulfill our cravings. Anything else will end only in utter disappointment. 

If you have missed any of the message in our series called Craving, you can find a list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Go Deep—The Fruit Of The Spirit

We have been studying the different sets of gifts listed in the New Testament. These gifts are to bring maturity and health to the church. Previously we have looked at:

In this lesson, we discover how the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5) shows our Christian maturity.

You may download the participant’s study guide here → Go Deep – fruit of the Holy Spirit handouts

Near the end of this lesson, I shared something that I hadn’t included in the handouts, but I promised to share it—

LOVE for God fill us with love for others → there is JOY in knowing His nearness → PEACE comes in the face of anxiety-causing tribulations → which gives me PATIENCE with others who are anxious without God → then I can have KINDNESS to draw them to God → and GOODNESS that is expressed in kind deeds → and my FAITHFULNESS that creates a sense of stick-to-it-iveness → and GENTLENESS that gives me courage to stand up for what’s right → my SELF-CONTROL keeps the fruit of the flesh in-check → which gives me greater LOVE for God and others… 

Links & Quotes

“This is one of the rewards of reading the Old Testament regularly. You keep on discovering more and more what a tissue of quotations from it the New Testament is; how constantly Our Lord repeated, reinforced, continued, refined, and sublimated the Judaic ethics, how very seldom He introduced a novelty.” —C.S. Lewis, Reflections On The Psalms 

I have shared quite often about the historicity of the Bible. Here is some additional evidence for that: Top 10 discoveries related to the Book of Daniel.

The folks at Fight The New Drug provide excellent research on the dangers of pornography as well as many helpful resources for folks to break free from a porn addiction. Pornography often attracts people when they are emotionally drained, but viewing porn actually increases feelings of loneliness and isolation.

If we ever start to think the Church is one or two ministers and a whole bunch of parishioners, it really won’t be a Church. According to Ephesians 4, all Christians should be ministers. 

You can check out the full message that this clip is from by clicking here.

Here is a word of encouragement for anyone in a time of spiritual warfare—

Check out my regular Monday Motivation series.

Wow, this post from T.M. Moore on how we respond to God’s “call” is a much-needed reminder. In the post, he wrote,

“Probably most Christians treat the calling of God as a kind of punctuated equilibrium. He breaks into their lives to ‘call’ them to some activity or task, but only from time to time, and only for that activity or task. He ‘calls’ us to believe the Gospel, and we do. He ‘calls’ us to this or that church, and we go. He ‘calls’ us to some ministry or other Christian activity, and so we participate. He ‘calls’ us to make a special gift, go on a mission trip, send a note of encouragement to a friend, and so forth. Our lives run on their own schedules, so whenever God ‘calls’ us to do something, we’ll try to get it done.

“But most of the time, other things have prior claims on our lives. We have jobs, families, friends, responsibilities, things we like to do or must do. We can’t respond to every calling from God because, well, there just isn’t enough time. We say, when friends press us to consider this or that Christian opportunity, ‘If God calls me to it, I will.’ But aren’t we just using the language of piety to relieve the discomfort of pressure to do something we’d rather not do?

“We are called of God. Of this there is no doubt. But for most Christians, the way they understand God’s calling is not the same as the way God issues it. And they have not yet learned to value His calling as He intends, as the defining and guiding value of our lives.”

Go Deep—The Operational Gifts In Orderly Operation

We have been studying the different sets of gifts listed in the New Testament. These gifts are to bring maturity and health to the church. Previously we have looked at the motivational gifts in Romans chapter 12, the operational gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12-13, and the leadership gifts in the church in Ephesians 4.

In this lesson, we learn how the operational gifts of the Holy Spirit must be supported by the leadership gifts that are given to the church. 

You may download the participant’s study guide here → Go Deep – operational gifts in orderly operation handout

If you would like to join us in person for our next class, here is where you can find us.

Go Deep—Leadership Gifts For The Church

We have been studying the different sets of gifts listed in the New Testament. These gifts are to bring maturity and health to the church. Previously we have looked at the motivational gifts in Romans chapter 12 and the operational gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12-13. 

In this lesson, we look at the five leadership gifts that are given to help the church grow into deeper unity and maturity. 

You may download the participant’s study guide here → Go Deep – leadership gifts for the church

If you would like to join us in person for our next class, here is where you can find us.

It’s What Shepherds Do

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

T.M. Moore shares my heartbeat for pastors to align their minds, hearts, and wills to leading as shepherds. T.M. graciously wrote one of the endorsements for my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter by saying, 

“The combination of Craig’s Biblical understanding, practical insights, and consistent personal practice make this a book every pastor should read. Unless our goals and practices in ministry line up with those Jesus taught and exemplified, we cannot expect Him to bless us with world-uprighting power.”

In a recent blog post, T.M. shared these poignant words—

     “Many pastors today seek to model themselves and their ministries along the lines of whichever pastor and whatever church seem to be the most ‘popular’ or ‘successful’ in attracting people. The result is, increasingly, worship services are starting to look alike, and pastors are starting to preach alike. And those who aren’t are wondering what they might do to become more like everybody else.

     “We ought not model ourselves on our contemporaries, be they ever so ‘successful.’ Such comparing and adjusting, Paul suggested, is not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). Jesus is our great model for ministry, and we should look to Him to wash, shape, enliven, empower, and employ every aspect of our lives and ministries for His glory.

     “In his sermon, ‘Christ the Example of Ministers,’ Jonathan Edwards offered a concise summary of the reason people submit themselves for ordination to ministry: ‘The work and business of ministers is as it were that of servants, to wash and cleanse the souls of men: for this is done by the preaching of the Word, which is their main business, Ephesians 5:26. “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” … It is the duty of ministers of the gospel, in the work of their ministry, to follow the example of their great Lord and Master.’ 

     “Elsewhere Paul talked about spending and being spent for the souls of God’s people (2 Corinthians 12:15). The challenge that faces us who have accepted the call to ministry is to follow the example of Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1) and strive to see Jesus, become like Jesus, work and serve like Jesus, lay down our lives like Jesus, and trust in Jesus to make our labors fruitful for His glory.” 

I wholeheartedly agree! 

Pastors, let’s get back to the shepherding model the Scriptures show us. This is truly the heartbeat of my book. You can get more information on Shepherd Leadership by clicking here. 

If you feel my book would benefit you (or your pastor) I would be happy to send you the ebook version free of charge. Just email me to let me know. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

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