Jesus is Counselor

Jesus is Counselor


When I say the word prophecy the general
reaction among non church people and a lot of church people is skepticism.
Mostly because of all the so-called prophecies that haven’t come true.
You might remember some of them, according to the Mayan calendar the
world is supposed to end in 2012. We’re still here! In 1988 Edgar Whisenant sold four
and a half million copies of his book, 88 reasons why the rapture will be in 1988.
When that didn’t happen he wrote the Final Shout,
rapture report 1989. That was followed with 23 reasons why a pre-tribulation
rapture looks like it will recur on Rosh Hashanah in 1993. And we’re still here!
But those prophecies and I kind of prefer the word predictions aren’t
unique to our time. In 500 AD theologian Sextus Julius Africanus predicted the
return of Jesus in 1179. A guy named John of Toledo calculated there’d be an
alignment of the planets in seven years. He printed pamphlets and created
hysteria when the time arrived seven years later people hid in caves. The
Emperor of Constantinople boarded up his windows. The Archbishop of Canterbury
called for a Day of Atonement and nothing happened.
You know the stories about the Boston Tea Party and the Declaration of
Independence and Paul Revere. What you probably haven’t heard is all the
end-times hysteria that was going on at that time. Prophet said the Stamp Act was
the mark of the beast, that King George was the Antichrist. When the war ended
some preachers declared the United States was Jesus’s Millennial Kingdom.
1809 in England there was a highly esteemed fortune-teller named Mary
Bateman who had a magic chicken that laid prophetic eggs, grunts, quacks, squeeze and out popped a
egg with a message written on it. Eventually, an egg said Jesus was coming
soon! Chicken got a lot of attention until someone peeked in before the
curtain rose and saw Mary trying to shove an egg up inside the chicken. May
1980 Pat Robertson said in a broadcast of the 700 club, I guarantee you by the
end of 1982 there’s going to be judgment on the world. He forecasts a Russian
invasion of Israel which would Domino into a nuclear Armageddon resulting in
the death of two billion people. September 23rd of this year planet
Nibiru, which by the way, doesn’t exist was supposed to crash into the earth and
end the world. And I’m concerned that because of all those wacky predictions
people will lose sight of the fact that Jesus really is coming soon could be
tomorrow, could be 10 years from now. My advice is live like Jesus is coming
today, that it could be any moment, work and
share like Jesus is coming tomorrow. Plan like you have years. My other concern is
that because of all the self-proclaimed prophets and their false prophecies that
the word prophecy has become a joke. In Bible times it was different. There
wasn’t social media but there was great accountability. If a prophet was wrong, he
was stoned. Not, not stoned like high on drugs, I mean like stoned rocks thrown at
him till he died. So you didn’t get a second chance to be wrong. If that
happened today we’d have a lot fewer books and crackpot theories about the
end times. and people would take profits much more
serious. God still speaks through the gift of prophecy. When by his Holy Spirit
he communicates things concerning the future.
Those things should always every time be tested against God’s written word
against the Bible. And if someone is wrong. Then you shouldn’t listen to them
the next time they claim to have a prophecy. They only get to sell that book
once. Isaiah was one of the greatest Old Testament prophets. His prophecies
weren’t crazy or crackpot they came true. And we’re studying one of his most well
known prophecies about Jesus written approximately 700 years before his birth.
It was a time of moral, political, financial, social, spiritual, upheaval in
Judah. People were rejecting God’s ways and living in spiritual darkness. The
country was falling apart. People were afraid. Their future was uncertain. That
sound familiar? There’s no doubt we live in uncertain
times, wars, terrorism, nuclear threat from North Korea, racial tension, political
turmoil, violence, hate, people living in spiritual darkness, people are afraid and
they’re uncertain in the future. There is hope for Judah and there’s still hope
for us. There was and is hope because of Christmas. I’m not talking about the
holiday. Sometimes all the trappings around Christmas seem hopeless. I’m
talking about the real Christmas. The simple yet incredible story of God’s Son
sent on earth to be born as a baby. The King of Kings first came to earth as a
child. In an encouraging word to Judah, Isaiah predicted Jesus is coming. There
was hope because a baby was coming who would be much more than an ordinary baby.
Isaiah chapter 9 and verse 6 for to us his child is born to us. His son is given
and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called
wonderful, counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, Prince of Peace.
In those days it was common for a king to take a new name. Those names were were
titles meant to talk about the qualities and the successes of the person. In this
case the name was given to the king before he ever came. The prophecy was not
just about coming but also about the qualities he would possess. He will be
called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, Prince of Peace. Last
week we looked at the first name, wonderful. Jesus is wonderful. Meaning he
is extraordinary. He exceeds all expectations. He is marvelous and
miraculous. He is beyond anything we could imagine or hope. There is nothing
too hard for him. His name is wonderful. And today we look at the second name in
the list, counselor. If there’s ever a time you need a counselor, it’s the
holidays. Over the next six weeks you’re going to deal with a lot family. How long
are the in-laws staying? You know what they say their schedule is but about how
long are they really going to be at your house? Many of you have unrealistic
expectations. You want everything to be perfect, the food, the decorations, the
gifts you give, the gifts you receive, everyone gets along, it’s probably not
going to happen. Add to that the financial struggle, this is an expensive
time of year. Isn’t it? And you struggle with guilt when you can’t buy or do
everything you want for your kids or for your spouse or you’re friends. I think
what the biggest challenge is, what do you get your spouse? You know how it goes,
you’ve asked her and she won’t tell you what she wants. She says it’s fine, you
don’t have to get me anything this year. Which means you’re dead. And so you’re supposed to sense it and
feel it and you’re supposed to surprise her with the perfect gift. Because if you
love her you shouldn’t have to ask. Can I get a witness, Anybody? Uh-huh yeah I’m
living there. The problem is you don’t know what she’s getting you. If you did
this be, it’d would be easy but what if you get her a beautiful handheld vacuum
for her car and she gets you a brand new shotgun. I mean that’d be a disaster and
so you wonder is your gift going to be enough. Is it going to be right? Is she
going to like what you get her? I’m feeling that pressure. I I know exactly
for many of you this is a time of increased stress. Just thinking about it
makes you ready for an appointment with a counselor. Three and a half years ago I
lost a friend in a plane crash. Jake was not only a good friend but a
lifelong member of this church. His wife Jamie is our deaf church pastor. His dad
Rick is on our board. His mom Pam worked for many years, as our membership
services director. Jake’s sister Ashley is associate pastor at our Vilonia
campus. Jake’s plane went down January 31 and
the search for the wreck took 12 days. For 12 days we focused on one thing,
finding Jake. Ultimately, I was on the helicopter that identified the crash
site. I’ve never shared my perspective on this story publicly and I don’t plan to
now. I’m not ready. I don’t know if I ever will be but this isn’t the day. Couple
weeks after Jake’s funeral I sat down with my good friend missionary Greg
Biggs and we talked and prayed and at the end of our time together Greg said
Rod I think you need to see a counselor. You need to talk through all your
feelings and emotions. If you don’t at some point you’re gonna have a wreck and
so I did. I’d never been to a counselor in my life. When I sat down in her office
and and talked for a solid 45 minutes and at
the end she asked some clarifying questions and she gave me some good
advice it helped me a lot. I’ve heard people preach and teach
against counseling I’m not in that camp. It helped me. Solomon the world’s wisest
man had a lot to say about advice in counsel. Let’s look at a few verses
proverbs 12, 15 the way of a fool seems right to him but a wise man listens to
advice. Proverbs 11, 14 for lack of guidance a nation falls but many
advisors make victory sure. Proverbs 19, 20 listen to advice and accept an
instruction and in the end you’ll be wise. Proverbs 24, 6 in a multitude of
counselors there is safety. It’s biblical and it’s wise to seek counsel and advice.
Many of you have gone to a counselor at some point your life to work through a
struggle in your marriage or to help you negotiate finances and that may be to
deal with a profound hurt in your past or to address low self-esteem or
depression or cutting or problems at school. When you’re struggling to work
through something on your own it makes sense to seek help. I sat down with a
group of friends and I asked them what’s the first thing that comes to your mind
when I say counselor? And here were their definitions, they said someone who
listens, someone who speaks wisdom in a troubling situation, wise counsel that
helps you through situations when your emotions blind. You a counselor learns
everything about you but doesn’t hold it against you.
They don’t judge you because of what you confess. They hold your confidence. Who I
go to when I don’t know how to process something on my own.
Those are great definitions when choosing a
counselor. You look for someone who’s wise and caring and truthful and
confidential. Jesus is all that but he is much, much, more. You read the verse, for to
us a child is born, a son is given. The government will be on his shoulders and
he will be called wonderful, counselor. You read that and you imagine Jesus as a
counselor patiently sitting, maybe taking notes in his notebook, offering wise
advice but the biblical meaning of that word counselor goes far beyond that. The
word counselor meant one who has plans in those days. A counselor was a
government official who told you the plans for what was ahead. A counselor had
inside information concerning the future. He knew where roads are going to be
built. He knew what buildings were coming now.
He knew the battle plans. He knew what decisions the king was
going to make before they were announced. A counselor was a valuable ally. With the
help of a counselor you can make decisions not on what used to be or even
what currently was but you could base your decisions on what was going to be.
And a counselor wasn’t guessing, he knew. A counselor was an advisor who had the
plans for the future. This world’s counselors as wonderful as
they are have a profound weakness. They’re only as good as the information
you give them. They can’t help you unless, unless you tell them the whole truth now.
I can’t tell you how many people lie in counseling. It’s unbelievable I don’t do
much marriage counseling because I’m not good at it and because I’m not good at
it I don’t enjoy it. I don’t like doing things I’m bad at. And if you’ve ever
come to me for marriage counseling, you probably would only come once because you’re like we’re not doing that again.
But on the rare occasions I do it. One of the questions I love to ask couples is
okay let’s start here, what did you agree not to tell me. It’s crazy but
it really happens. Couples talk before they come and decide what trues not to
tell because they don’t want to make the other person look bad. Now how in the
world can you help anyone when they do that? That’s like going to a financial
adviser and lying to them about your debt. There’s no way they can help you if
they don’t have accurate information. Even the best of counselors only know
the right questions. In fact, a good earthly counsellor won’t tell you what
to do and they they won’t pretend to have all the answers because they don’t.
And they can’t know what’s ahead but Jesus is different.
Jesus is the counselor who not only knows your past. He’s planned your future.
He doesn’t have an opinion, he has the answer. Your heavenly counselor knows
exactly what you should do because guess what he made the plans. Jesus knows your
future and Jesus knows your past. You can’t shock Jesus he already knows. And
if you’re struggling to deal with your past that should bring you great comfort.
Jesus knows the mistakes of your past and he loves you in spite of it. Jesus
knows the hurts of your past and he can lovingly guide you through them. Jesus
knows how your past affects you. How it affects your outlook on life. How it
affects your relationships with others. Jesus knows all that you may feel doomed
by your past but Jesus sees far beyond that. Jesus will help you deal with the
past but he also knows the future because he’s the one who planned your
future. He sees and he knows your entire story from the beginning to the end. When
you go to Jesus your counselor you don’t just get, get an opinion from someone
who’s been there you get direction for the one who made there. David
said it this way Psalms 139 for you created my inmost being you knit me
together in my mother’s womb I praise you because I am fearfully and
wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful.
I know that full well my frame was not hidden from you. When I was made in the
secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth your eyes saw
my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before
one of them came to me. How precious to me are your thoughts Oh God. How vast is
the sum of them. Were I to count them they would
outnumber the grains of sand. God’s thoughts about you are more than the
grains of sand that’s a lot. I keep a small vial of sand in my office. It’s
about this big, little blue vial and it’s from our very first deepening our camp
for students. At the end of the camp we have prayer together on the beach and we
each reach down that vial and filled it with sand to remind ourselves when I’m
feeling lost and insignificant I look at that vial. I have no idea how many grains
of sand are in that little vial, probably tens of thousands and that’s just one
little piece of one little beach. God’s thoughts about you are more than all the
grains of sand. God’s constantly thinking about you. You’re always on his mind.
David finished the thought by saying, when I’m awake I’m still with you.
In other words even when I’m asleep Lord you’re thinking about me. You were always
there and always available. I want to reread that passage to you in the
message because I think it’s really beautiful. Oh yes you shaped me first,
first inside then out. You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you high God
you’re breathtaking body and soul. I’m marvelously made I worship in adoration.
What a creation. You know me inside
you know every bone in my body. You know exactly how it was made
bit by bit. How I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book
you watched me grow from conception to birth. All the stages of my life were
spread out before you. The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived.
One day your thoughts, how rare how beautiful. God I’ll never comprehend them
I couldn’t even begin to count them any more than I could count the sand of
the sea. Oh let me rise in the morning and live always with you. He designed you
and created you he knows your past and he knows your future. Jesus knows what
path you need to take. He prepared the path before you were born. Jesus knows
the outcome of your choices. Jesus is counselor. You say Rod that’s
that’s wonderful and encouraging but practically how is Jesus my counselor
what do I do? Well if Jesus your counselor prepared
the path for you then obviously for you and me the challenge is I want to take
that path and thankfully God doesn’t hide his path or hide his plan. Here’s
how you know, start with his written plan the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word to you.
The Bible is the highest source you can consult. It’s got more wisdom than any
counselor, greater things to say than any speaker. If you want to be on God’s path
you have to follow it and obey God’s plan. One of our core values is, the Bible
is our guidebook for living. In the pages of this book you find God’s plan for
your finances. You find God’s plan for your relationships. You find God’s plan
for your marriage. You can read his instructions for your attitudes, for your
words for resolving conflict. You can discover how God sees your past. If
you’ve never really read the Bible I’ll give you a couple of
suggestions, first find an easy-to-read version don’t let people guilt you into
specific version. Somebody say well I read the King James because that’s the
Bible Jesus used. Okay well, no, read a Bible that’s written in a way you can
understand. I put some suggestions in your outline that are good. They’re still
true to the original text but is just easier to understand language. Start
reading in two places, the Gospels that’s what the Gospels is what we call the
four books that tell the story of the life of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
those are the first four books in the New Testament. The Bible is divided into
the Old Testament and the New Testament. If you don’t know where that division is in
the front of your Bible it divides it for you. And so you can go there on say
New Testament, Matthew Mark, Luke, John is the Gospels the first four books of the
New Testament. And then at the same time start reading in the book of Proverbs,
proverbs filled with practical advice for everyday problems and decisions. If
you want a more detailed plan to follow I’ve got a plan for you. There’s a 31 day
Bible reading plan at the activity counter. Don’t wait til January 1st to
start reading your Bible. Don’t make it a New Year’s resolution. Make it a plan
right now. If you want to know God’s plan to your life, start reading this plan. One
of the reasons attending church is important is because we study the Bible
together and my goal every week is just to show you what’s here and help you
apply it. So to find God’s path, read the Bible and spend time in prayer. When you
don’t know what to do turn first to Jesus. He’s your counselor who can be
trusted. Spend time every day talking to your counselor. You don’t have to say
fancy words, there’s not a right way or a wrong way to pray, just tell Jesus what
you’re feeling and where you’re struggling. Talk to him like you would
talk to me and then listen, be quiet and sense what he might be saying to
your spirit. Experience the peace that comes from being in his presence. Read
your Bible, pray, then talk to his people. Talk to
God’s people, listen to good godly people who will be truthful with you and who
will point you to God’s plan. Some of you have gone to all the wrong places for
advice. It’s unbelievable the people you ask for advice. You go to people for
advice whose own life is a wreck. How could you ever think that makes sense,
they’d be like asking me for directions. It’s just not gonna work if you find
someone who knows all the answers. They know everything you should do. Run like
the wind. Talk to other people who recognize they don’t have the answers
but that God alone is the source of answers. A great place to find those
people is Church that’s one reason it’s important to stay connected. Proverbs
13, 20 says walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers
harm, good godly counselors will point you to the counselor. The ultimate source
of truth. Here’s the cool thing you don’t need an appointment with Jesus he’s
always there. He takes your insurance (crowd laughs). When you come to Jesus you’re fully
covered and here’s a great thing no deductible so awesome (crowd claps). And on top of that you get free
unlimited daily visits you have 24/7 access to Jesus.
He’ll never point you to voicemail (crowd laughs). Isn’t it a wonderful thing to know that Jesus
is always available? He’s your counselor who can be trusted.
It’s not just advice you get from Jesus he has the plans and he made the plans.
When you leave today the ushers have a gift for you it’s an ornament that says
counselor. I hope you put your tree up this week, did you? If you didn’t you’re a
sluggard and you need to put it up you got some days off this week so put up
your tree. Hang it on your tree or put it somewhere you’ll see it and every time
you see the word counselor remember God has a plan for me and he’s planned my
future. I want to pray for you would you bow your heads with me? Maybe you’re in a spot in life we are
struggling to believe that God has a plan because everything seems to be
going way off of your plan listen he formed you and created you he’s always
thinking about you. And he has a plan for you and he has a
plan for your future and even though looking at what’s happening right now
it’s hard for you to imagine that God could have a plan he does. And so often
the things where you said just don’t see how this could ever be trust him. I want
to pray for you and I want to pray that you’ll trust his
plan and follow that plan. (praying) Heavenly Father I pray for people in this
room people watching online whose life is off plan, not what they ever expected,
not what they ever hoped for. And in their looking and saying I it’s hard for
me to imagine that God could have a plan for me when all this is going on.
Lord we we pause right now and make the simple decision to trust you Lord.
Forgive us when we follow our plans and then doubt that you could have a plan.
Forgive us Lord for foolishly going our way our direction our plan and expecting
it to ever turn out. Lord thank you that even if we’ve done that even if we’ve
gone exactly the wrong way and we’ve completely deviated from your plan you
still have a plan just like you did for the nation of Judah. You had a plan and
you sent Jesus and just like you do for us you have a plan and you sent Jesus so
we could follow your plan. So Lord we, we ask your forgiveness. And we make a
commitment we commit to follow you. Thank you that you sent Jesus to earth as a
baby to become one of us, to live a perfect
life ultimately to die for us so that we could live in your plan. So we take time
today Lord to remember, to remember that precious gift and to remember your
incredible sacrifice in Jesus name, Amen.

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