The Best Counselor…

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(Isaiah 9:6, NIV)

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Do you need wisdom or direction in your life today?

The scripture tells us that Jesus is our Counselor. And He’s not just any kind of Counselor, He’s a Wonderful Counselor.

When something is wonderful, it means it is unusually good, marvelous or astonishing.

Think about that for a moment. God is a marvelous, astonishing, unusually good Counselor — the very best you could ever have!

Today, no matter what you may be facing, no matter what kinds of decisions you have to make, consider God. Ask Him to direct your steps and confirm His perfect will for your life.

Remember, He is the best counselor there is.

Let Him direct and guide your path.

Seek Him with your whole heart, put Him first, and let Him lead you in blessing and victory in every area of your life.

TODAY’S PRAYER

Father in heaven, You are my Wonderful Counselor.
I submit all my ways to You.
I trust that You have a good plan for me.
Thank You for giving me wisdom and direction in every area of my life in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

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No Challenge Is Insurmountable…

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John 16:7-15

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

God’s presence with mankind has become progressively more intimate…

from a cloud of glory in the temple, to the incarnate Son of God living with men, and now to the indwelling presence of His Spirit within the hearts of Christians.

That’s why Jesus said it was better for us if He went away so that the Helper could come.

While on earth, Christ was limited by His humanity.

He could be in only one place at a time. But after His ascension, the Holy Spirit came to live within His followers, imparting divine wisdom, insight, and power.

If you want to see the difference this made, just compare the disciples’ lives before and after Pentecost. They were transformed from fearful men hiding in a locked room to bold preachers ready to suffer for the gospel of Christ.

The Lord wants to do more than just live among men in the person of His Son; He desires to accomplish His will in our lives.

But without His supernatural indwelling presence, we can never become the people He wants us to be or accomplish the tasks He’s called us to do.

Through His Spirit, Christ lives His life in us, producing His fruit and empowering His work.

If we really believed this, we would live like the victorious children of God that we are. If you are a believer, think about the amazing opportunity and blessing that is yours: even when you feel helpless to change or inadequate for a task, God’s power resides within you.

No challenge is insurmountable, because the Holy Spirit is greater than any obstacle you’ll ever face.

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From Rebellion To Obedience…

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Hebrews 5:7-8 (KJV)

7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to suffer so much when He came to earth as a man?

One might expect that the Son of the living God would live a comfortable life and die a peaceful death. After all, wouldn’t His blood have paid for our sins whether it was shed painlessly or torturously?

But Jesus took on human flesh and came to earth not just to die for our transgressions but also—with the exception of sin—to identify with us in every area of our lives. And that includes suffering (Heb. 2:17-18).

How would a Savior who had no experience with pain help us when we hurt?

Also, when it’s difficult for us to obey the Lord, we need the help of One who learned obedience from the things He suffered.

Unlike us, Jesus didn’t move from being rebellious to becoming obedient.

Rather, He learned by personal experience the pathway we have to walk when God calls us to do something difficult or painful.

In His humanity, Christ struggled with the assignment that lay before Him: death on the cross. Even though the Father heard His cries, the plan was not changed, and Jesus walked through all of it in complete submission, just as He had done with every divine “assignment” throughout His earthly life.

The only reason you and I have salvation is because Jesus always did what pleased His Father—had He rebelled in that one area, all hope for lost humanity would be cancelled.

If His obedience in suffering resulted in such a great benefit, just imagine what is in store for us when we do what God wants.

 

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Strengthened By Your Dependence…

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
19 Quench not the Spirit.
20 Despise not prophesyings.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

 Is there something God has told you to do that seems just too difficult?

You can be sure that if He has called you to carry out His will, He’s going to be faithful to accomplish it through His Spirit living and working in you. So if you tell Him, “I can’t do that, Lord—what if I fail?” you’re really saying, “God doesn’t keep His word.” And yet, our total expectation should be in Him—not in our own energy, ability, or experience.

When you doubt God’s trustworthiness, that unbelief becomes a gap in your spiritual armor, and you can be sure that’s exactly where Satan will attack you.

You’ll begin to doubt even more about God’s character, such as His goodness—and that distrust will become a heavy load of baggage you’ll needlessly drag through every area of your life.

You might feel that you do not have enough faith to obey, but the Lord isn’t asking you to have faith in favorable circumstances. He’s asking you to trust that He is who He says He is. Do you believe that God is a liar? It’s really that simple: either He is truthful or He’s not. But if you believe that faithfulness is His character, then you can do anything He requires. You’ll be strengthened by your dependence on Him—whether a deluge or trials or a flood of blessing comes.

It’s actually when life gets rough and rugged that the sweetness of God’s faithfulness makes itself real in your heart.

As you walk through those storms in complete reliance on His strength, your trust in His character becomes part of who you are and strengthens from within.

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The Importance Of Commitment…

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1 John 1:3-6

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

Starting at age five, many children are enrolled in school and given lessons to learn each year.

We are students too.

At salvation, we became participants in the Lord’s school of obedience. There, we are discovering the necessity of trusting Him and waiting for His direction.

We are taught the importance of commitment and learn to search His Word for guidance.

God also wants us to learn these lessons:

• Listen attentively to the Spirit’s promptings.

Our God does not speak in an audible voice, but He makes Himself heard quite clearly through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said the Spirit is our Helper who will bring to mind Scripture passages we have studied and show us how they apply. (John 14:26)

• Obey the next step.

Abraham was called to leave his home and journey to an unknown destination.
He obeyed even though the way was unclear to his human mind. We, too, must step out in faith even when we do not know all the details of the itinerary. (Gen. 12:1)

• Expect conflict.

We can’t live obedient lives without having trouble with the world (John 16:33). Our friends or family may drift away when they realize certain interests of ours have changed. Some may hurl criticism our way or call us unkind names, while others may reject us completely.

Practicing a lifestyle of obedience doesn’t mean we’ll never make mistakes.

But it does require diligence if we are to succeed.

Obeying the Father was Jesus’ priority and purpose in life, and we should make it ours as well.

Which of these lessons do you want to tackle first?

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He Lived On Earth, Walked Among Men…

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Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Throughout ancient human history, heaven was God’s dwelling place, and except for a few personal encounters (as with Abraham, Hagar, and Jacob), He seemed far away to most people.

Then He came to be in the Israelites’ midst, first in a pillar of cloud and fire, then in the tabernacle and temple. But now, He was about to do something totally new. His presence would be with them in the form of God’s Son, a man who’d literally live among them.

Even before Jesus was born on earth, He was given two names, which both indicated His identity and ministry. Immanuel tells us who He is—”God with us.” Christ took on human flesh while retaining undiminished deity and became the perfect God-Man.

He lived on earth, walked among men, and suffered the weaknesses of humanity.

Yet He also displayed the power of Almighty God as He healed the sick, cast out demons, calmed the sea, and raised the dead.

Jesus means “The Lord is salvation,” which describes what He came to do—to save us from the bondage of sin through His death on our behalf. This explains why He had to become Immanuel. Since the Father is immortal and cannot die, His Son had to take on a human body in order to offer Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind.

But what do these two names of Christ mean for you today? Through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus still lives with you and has the power to deliver you from the grip of any bondage.

No sinful habit, painful past, orpresent struggle is too difficult for the God-Man to overcome.

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Experiencing Christ’s Christmas Peace…

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John 14:27-31

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

My peace I give to you – John 14:27  Jesus spoke these amazing words just hours before His crucifixion.

His peace isn’t dependent upon external circumstances, but rather, it transcends them. Although He gives His peace to every believer as a gift, our experience of it is related to our faith in the following truths:

God is in control of everything.

Without this assurance, the world is a scary place.

He loves me and will see me through every circumstance, no matter how difficult or painful it may be. To have Christ’s peace, I must surrender my life to Him. When I hold onto my ways and plans, I’ll experience turmoil. I have a limited perspective and understanding of my circumstances and God’s purposes for allowing them.

His goals for me are greater than my immediate comfort.

The Lord promises to work all things out for my good. He is continually working to transform my character into Christ’s image.I must live in sync with God, walking in the Spirit and promptly confessing and repenting of sin.

Scripture is my foundation for peace.

It increases my trust in the Lord’s goodness, assures me that He keeps His promises, and reminds me of His sovereignty over every situation.

Sadly, many Christians live their whole lives without consistently experiencing this incomprehensible peace. Perhaps faith and submission are the most challenging issues.

But only as we surrender control of our lives to Christ and trust in His plans for us will we discover tranquil rest for our souls.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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The Tranquility We Desire…

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Isaiah 9:6

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

 The Christmas rush is here. There are plans to make, gifts to buy, and parties to attend.

Sometimes these activities leave us exhausted and cranky—instead of peace and joy, we may feel inner churning because there’s too much to do. Or perhaps this time of the year brings nothing but sad memories and loneliness. Unrealistic expectations and conflicts with loved ones often leave us depressed and discouraged.

How can Jesus be our Prince of Peace when our expectations and traditions fight against the tranquility we desire?

To understand why Jesus was given this title, we must first understand what it means.

First of all, God’s Son did not come to do away with all conflicts—not yet, anyway. One day He will return to earth and rule as King in an environment of external harmony, but that was not the purpose of His first coming. So while we’re on earth, we’ll have trouble -John 16:33

When Christ left heaven to become a human baby, His goal was to bring us peace with God by reconciling us to the Father.

His death on the cross paid our sin debt in full, and our relationship with God is restored. Now He offers us divine peace —an inner serenity that fills our hearts and minds no matter what is going on in our circumstances.

Is your life characterized by a quiet assurance that guards your heart and mind all day long-Phil. 4:6-7, or have stressful circumstances left you feeling depressed or agitated?

Try setting aside time each day to fix your eyes upon Jesus. Then let Him heal your heart and calm your spirit.

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