Monday, December 22, 2008

“Counsel of God!” (Psalm 73:24; Jeremiah 23:5-6)

S‑1085 12/10/2008 2MIA/3B Hymns: (O)#427; (S) #74; (C) # 75

Texts: Psalm 73:23-28; Jeremiah 23:1-8; Romans 11:33-36; John 14:15-21

Theme: “Counsel of God!” (Psalm 73:24; Jeremiah 23:5-6)


Question: “What is easier to give or take counsel?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from two Old Testament Lessons: “You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory” (Ps. 73:24), “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).

Saints in Christ, as you know the Bible is full of stories—stories of God’s people and how the Lord dealt with them. These stories are there to help us in our walk of faith. These stories are there to guide us on our journey to eternity. These stories are not merely stories; but stories that points to the coming of the Savior, who will save us from eternal damnation. The whole counsel of God is to bring about salvation and redemption to mankind.

Tonight, we want to consider two specific stories: The first one is found in 1 Kings 3. At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “…Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern Your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this Your great people?” (3:5-9)What a blessed and beautiful request by Solomon. And the second story is about Solomon’s son Rehoboam. Almost immediately after the death of Solomon, the people of Israel came to Rehoboam to ask that the burdens placed on them by Solomon might be relaxed a bit. Rehoboam took counsel in two places, one with his father’s old advisors, and the other with his young friends. The old men counseled him toward servanthood. The young men counseled him to demonstrate his authority and power. Unlike his father, Rehoboam ignored and forsook the counsel of the elders. He was king. He had authority. He had power. And He would use it on his people.

To have the right counsel is of the utmost importance. We give counsel to our children as they grow up, go to school, begin to consider a mate, and going to college. You hope in time they would seek your and your counsel so that they may benefit from your life’s experience.

This past Monday, after the BOD’s meeting, I had the privilege along with President Sattgast and Pastor George Saggisor to sit at an interview of a young man who is considering enrolling at one of our Seminaries in preparations for the Office of the Holy Ministry. Pastor Saggisor on more than one occasion said, “Let me give you a little counsel!” Pastor Saggisor has many years of experience in the ministry and was trying to help this young man in being fully prepared for what he might face.

Not only do we as humans give counsel. But so does the Lord. Tonight, we hear the counsel of God from two different books of the Old Testament. The first is from Psalm 73: “You [God] guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory” (73:24). Here Asaph the author of this Psalm tells us the most important counsel is from the Lord who knows all things and desires the best for us. And the second is from Jeremiah: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which He will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness’” (Jer. 23:5-6).

In these portions of the Lord, we receive the proper counsel and comfort from God. Through Asaph we are given a beautiful picture of a wonderful two-part summary of our lives: our lives here on earth, and our lives in glory. Here on earth, we have been given the Holy Spirit as our Counselor and Comforter. And this is not an end to itself. Its divinely planned purpose is to set us and keep us on our journey toward eternal glory and bliss. The two are integral part that will help us and guide us throughout the life we face. We should not expect the heavenly glory if you do not want God’s counsel here on earth. If we do not want to taste some of His goodness and glory on the earth, then will we desire to dwell in the full banquet of God’s glory?

God’s very counsel to us flows out of His grace to us. We do not deserve it. We deserve to be stuck on this earth in a place above the artic circle that does not see daylight 6 months out of the year. We deserve darkness and death; condemnation and coldness; punishment and persecution all the days of lives on earth.

But God did not leave us that way. As we read in Jeremiah, God promised something wonderful. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. And again, Isaiah gives us this beautiful picture: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

This Wonderful Counselor, who will deal wisely with His people, is none other than the Babe of Bethlehem. For this reason, God out of His love for us sent the glory of His Son upon the earth, who walked fully in God’s grace, counsel, and glory. He took the counsel of God faithfully all the way to the cross. In His life from the cradle to the cross He obeyed the counsel of God. When He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Jesus didn’t listen to the counsel of the devil, but was guided by the Word of the Lord.

While on earth, Jesus taught us not to put our hopes in man’s counsel , but in the Counsel of God. For God’s Counsel is life-giving. God’s Counsel is best for us. God’s Counsel is the greatest because God wants what is best for us. Because Christ would not listen to the counsel of man to stop teaching the truth of God; because Christ would not cease living for the glory of God; because Christ came as the righteous branch; He was put to death on a cross outside of Jerusalem.

And when Christ rose and ascended, He promised to send us His Spirit, our Counselor and Helper, who leads us to all truth and guides us in the way we should live in obeying the Counsel of God all the days of our lives. Even as God’s beloved children we know the truth. We know His counsel, yet we at times act as Rehoboam did, and disobey the counsel of God. Because we have not kept the counsel of God all the time, we are doomed to death and destruction. But our Counselor Jesus stands before God our judge and declares us not guilty because He took our punishment instead. Our Counselor Jesus Christ assures us that because He died, we will live. Our Counselor Jesus guarantees our forgiveness of sins, in His shed blood. Our Counselor Jesus comes to us even now tonight in His Word to guide and guard our hearts. Our Counselor Jesus loves us with an everlasting love. And that is why the hymn “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” is such a comfort to all believers.”

God’s counsel leads us to see way beyond the ups and downs of a shaky world economy. In fact, it empowers us be steady through economic storms, because the Holy Spirit works in us to keep our eyes fixed on the Author and Perfector of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is God’s righteousness restored upon the earth. In this period between His First Coming and His Second Coming, it is restored through the Gospel, which in turn is spread through its proclamation. At the end of days with Christ’s coming again, He will completely restore righteousness upon the earth.

So what counsel do you listen to? I hope and pray that you will continue to be guided by the Word of the Lord. For His Word is the greatest counsel we need. As the Apostle Paul said to his spiritual son Timothy: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:14-17).

Saints in Christ, the Counsel of God is best for us (hold the Bible up in hand). Here it is. We live by it, because it points us to our Counselor, the Wonderful Counselor, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Now the peace…

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