Have you ever gone to someone for counsel? Advice? Direction? Most of us have. Have you ever wondered what the criteria was for going to that particular person? Was it their expertise? Their friendship? That they would agree with you? Sympathize with you?
If you’ve ever gone to a professional therapist, I could ask the same questions. What made you pick them? Was it how they looked? That they really “got you”? Maybe they were the cheapest? Perhaps someone recommended them to you?
We don’t always pick the best people to be our counselors, either because of our own hang-ups or because of the problems with the counselor. One of the names for Jesus that I looked at recently talks of him being the best one to turn to when we need help.
COUNSELOR: In a famous bible verse from the book of Isaiah, Jesus is called the “Wonderful Counselor.” (Is 9:6) It got me thinking – what makes a good counselor in general and what makes Jesus a wonderful counselor? There might be more, but a good counselor does several things.
As you go through this life, make regular appointments with your heavenly counselor. Tell him your stuff. Listen to his questions. Follow his guidance. You will find that as he guides your life that he truly is the wonder counselor.
In one of the books I was reading this week, I was struck by a comment that what we think about shapes our spiritual and emotional growth almost more than any other thing. In an era when we are bombarded daily with messages from a multitude of sources, there is a great temptation to think about what the world around us wants us to think about. Yet one of the few things we have control over is what we allow our minds to dwell on and mull over. That’s one of the reasons that spending time focusing on the names of God has been so beneficial for me. The name for God that is going through my mind this week is this:
TEACHER: God was called a great teacher in the Old Testament (Job 36:22). Jesus was called teacher by those who followed him and he acknowledged that this was a correct title for himself (John 13:13). The Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would live in those who follow Jesus and he would teach us (John 14:26). It is clear that one of God’s clear names/titles is a teacher.
During this coronavirus pandemic, teachers have received a lot of attention. They have been (appropriately) praised, lauded and encouraged. They perform a difficult role at the best of times and even more so when forced to teach in a virtual environment. They are doing yeoman’s work. It got me thinking that if God is a teacher, and he is the best possible teacher, then what does this look like? What does it mean? What does a great teacher do? I could think of a bunch of things and I am certain you could think of more.
There are two more implications from this:
One – God is the perfect teacher because he knows what he is doing and talking about. A teacher can only teach what they know, not what they don’t. God knows all things. He has experienced this life. He knows all information, all motivations, all the details of your life and mine. He knows completely and utterly and is totally qualified to teach.
Two – We choose whether we will let him teach us. A student always has the freedom to ignore the teacher, to do things their own way, or walk out of the class altogether. That choice is yours and mine. But when we ignore the teacher and walk away, it never ends well and we will not become all that the teacher is looking to help us be and achieve.
So let’s trust our perfect teacher. Let’s listen well and do the assignments that he gives us, knowing that he will walk along side us as we do.
As I continue in this series of blogs on the names of God and the implications for belief and practice, the one today is particularly applicable to our current situation in the world.
ALMIGHTY: This name for God is found well over 300 times in the bible. It is usually translated from a Hebrew word Shaddai, which means strong, powerful and impregnable. It is more than just being one who is mighty but is the most strong and the most powerful. It used often paired with another word to give God the name, “The Lord Almighty.” If you have been in church much, you have probably used this term used often in music, prayers and from the preacher. I wonder though, what would change if we really considered the implications of this word.
If God truly is the Almighty One, then he is more powerful than anything in existence. It makes sense if he is the creator, then me must be the most powerful one because everything owes its existence to him. There is nothing that can baffle or hold him powerless. He is in control of all the world’s governments and systems. There is no country or ruling authority that exceeds or gets around his power. All of weather is at his beck and call. All of nature (including this pandemic) is under his control and authority. No circumstance or problem is too difficult for him. He sets up the times and seasons for all things and arrange circumstances to accomplish what he wants. The power of the strongest hurricane or largest bomb is nothing compared to him.
For some this breeds cynicism. If he is that powerful, then why doesn’t he exercise that power to fix everything? His agenda is far more reaching and more intimate that we can grasp. As parents we don’t often fix things for our kids that we are powerful enough to fix but we don’t because we love them and know there is something better for them. And in the end, he IS going to fix everything and put it right. He has promised and is powerful enough to do it.
Instead, knowing God is Almighty means I can bring any and every problem to him, knowing that he can heal any disease, help me with any relationship problem, help me with any money issue, and deal with any problems or hang-ups in my heart and soul. There is so sin pattern or habit beyond his help. This leads me to trust him and engage with him in any situation. Whether he does it the way I think he should does not change that he can.
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