“…his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor….” Isaiah 9:6
There’s nothing like having no clue what to do, especially when people are counting on you to make the best decision. Ignorance can create panic, and there has to be a better solution than faking it till you make it. Thankfully, if you know Jesus you don’t have to panic or pretend. The Christ of Christmas is a wonder of a Counselor! It was His plan all along to be there to guide you when you need Him (John 16:13). He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between, so you never have to brief Him on the situation or give Him time to weigh the facts (Isaiah 4:6). Who else knows what you need before you ask (Matthew 6:8)? He has invited you to come boldly and find grace to help in your time of need; therefore, at every moment, your Counselor stands available to point out the exit signs your temptations don’t want you to see.(Hebrews 4:16; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
Wisdom is one of the gifts most unopened in His storehouse. Do you recall your Counselor’s promise to be generous with it when you ask (James 1:5)?
Do you find that you do a lot of worrying before remembering you have a Wonderful Counselor?How many times have you sought counsel from everybody else or tried to figure it out yourself before coming to Him? Your Wonderful Counselor loves you! May you experience the wonder of that love whenever you don’t know what to do.
“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
The first time I read Luke 1:5-35, it looked like God had a double standard; one for Zechariah and another for Mary. The angel told Zechariah he and his elderly wife would produce a child. Zechariah responded with a question and a factual statement: “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years (Luke 1:18). The angel responded with an invisible muzzle of sorts that left the priest mute for about nine months.
The same angel came to Mary with news harder to believe than old folks having a baby: she, a virgin, would bear a Child. Didn’t she do the same as Zechariah- ask a question followed by a factual statement? She inquired, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Gabriel responded with an explanation and clarification. No fair! Right?
We are wise to look at the business between God and these two people with respect for God’s verdict; recognizing His omniscience and our lack of it. The missing ingredient in Zachariah’s question and heart was faith that God’s message was true. We humans can see the outward evidence of faith by a person’s actions, but faith itself is invisible to the naked eye of everyone but God. We must view His response to these two people with the understanding that we never have enough information to declare God unfair. The same is true with any of life’s circumstances where we think God should’ve prevented this or He should have intervened in that. God knows what He’s doing. His unfathomable generosity in giving His Son should silence any doubts about His motives toward us and should make trusting Him a reasonable response when circumstances seem unreasonable. Humility and trust are the bifocals through which to view what we don’t understand. Are you wearing yours today?
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care…. you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29,31
I’m baking like crazy, right? I let myself get distracted watching a YouTube video while measuring the flour in a cookie recipe and lost track of how many cups I’d already put in. When I rolled the dough into balls and mashed them into shape, I discovered I’d put too much flour in because the consistency wasn’t right. This is not good for a perfectionist like me, but butter is expensive so I had to suck it up and keep going. By accident, I left one cookie ball un-mashed when I slid the pan in the oven, but God allowed me to catch it a couple of minutes into the baking time. When I mashed it, the consistency was perfect! I was able to remedy my problem for the rest of the batch! God is good and kind, isn’t He? I was the only one having a conniption about those crumbly cookies, but God showed He cared because I cared. He’s got dying children to save, terminally sick people to heal, and wars to end, but He took the time to stop by my kitchen and love on me. (Tears!)
Whatever is weighing you down today, My Friend, is not a triviality to God. Bring it to Him. Sometimes He gives a solution, sometimes something else, but He always gives a care. Let yourself feel loved by Him today!
P.S.-I would love to hear your story of a personalized kindness you’ve received from God. Thanks!
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
Have you ever had that feeling? You know, when you need to start on a project or follow up on an opportunity that could move you forward, but you feel paralyzed? Maybe you were knocked down and are hesitant to try again. Some call it resistance, others call it fear, but I call it the roar. A lion roars at its prey in hopes of making the hunt easier. Paralyzed prey will stand still and save its predator the trouble of the chase.
The enemy who walks about as a roaring lion specializes in exhaling the lies that can kill your dreams. Listen to that roar and you’ll never get anything worthwhile done. His roars bluster out, “You can’t do this! It’s too hard and you’re not ready! Quit now before you embarrass yourself! Who do you think you are?” If any of this sounds familiar then you, My Friend, have experienced the roar.
You have two ways to overpower his bellow that harmonizes so perfectly with your worst fears. First, drown out the roar by surrounding yourself with a plethora of positive praying people and saturating your spirit with a stockpile of Scripture. The second part is my favorite: defying the lion by doing exactly what he says you can’t do in. his. lying. face! This particular lion was defanged by our Deliverer and all he can do is roar. A roar is only noise and it can only cripple if you let it. In other words, his lie only has power if you choose to believe it. Resist him and he will leave you alone. It’s not easy, but you can execute God’s plan as if you never heard a single roar. Even the tiniest step is a powerful move!
Move forward in power. Get back in the fight! Resist the roar!
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
A situation. A relationship. A difficult decision. Feelngs about the way someone treated you or yours. Your response to a verdict or tragedy, or just your view of the world in its present state.
Like a tangled ball of Christmas lights the size of a city, life can be complicated. Sometimes you cope by avoiding the mass altogether. Most times, the tangle cannot be ignored but just the thought of untwisting all of those knots overwhelms you.
There is one fool-proof method for straightening out any mess: start small. For example, don’t try to understand and conquer every negative emotion you have. Pick just one and leave the rest for another day. Forgiveness for a wrong, especially a big one, usually happens in layers anyway. God knows this and wants to help you detangle the labyrinth one day at a time.
Relationships have complicated written into their DNA. Still, the solution is the same. Start with one broken part like communication and focus only on that for a while. You might work on just the listening part of communication or on keeping calm when it’s your turn to talk.
Christmas time is a reminder that God tackled our biggest problem when He “started small” in the form of a tiny baby Who strung together a life of thirty-three years. Weaving Himself into the calendar of human history straight to your heart, He invites you to roll all your complications onto Him because He cares for you. Nothing in your past is too complicated for Him to heal; no present situation He can’t simplify, but it doesn’t usually happen in one big save. He starts small, and in powerful ways He unfurls a beauty and clarity in you that is incomparable even when it’s complicated.
What small start will you make today?
“he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Psalm 103:10
“Girl, your behind couldn’t stand the whippin’ it needs!” Truer words never came from the mouth of my mother. Who knows which of my mischiefs provoked those words, but she made a good point about me and all of us. Whatever may have gone wrong for you this year, the dam of God’s grace held back what you deserve. Because of His great hand of generosity, even life-long troubles are only temporary.
This is a wonderful season to itemize all the good He’s done, not the least of which was to provide you with a choice on how you want to pay for your sins. You could pay in cash, if you will, by trying to be good enough; however, the interest keeps you in debt because God requires absolute perfection. Trust me, credit is much better (Romans 4:24). All your sins were paid in full by Jesus and He offers His perfect credit to you. When you accept it, God sees you like He sees Jesus. If you haven’t already, you can click the link to learn how to obtain that standing with God today.
God is good and the giving of thanks is due Him in abundance. May your praise to Him be as sweet as your favorite dessert and your adoration pile as high as your holiday dinner plate. Offer Him the sweet smelling savor of a grateful heart for a salvation you could never earn and love you could never deserve.
Happy Thanksgiving, My Friend!
“I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it… I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
Have you noticed no matter how hard you try, a little voice inside you finds fault? Sometimes it sounds like your own, or it may be the voice of someone impossible to please. You must learn how to handle that negative commentary, or it will drain the joy out of your present and plant spikes under every step in your future. You are daily aware of how far short you fall from God’s standard, and that keeps you humble, but the condemnation part has nothing to do with Him. Growth is what is pleasing to the Lord! No, you’re not as far along as you’d like to be (who is?) but if you have moved forward and improved in any way, God is pleased with you.
Don’t get the idea that Jesus saved you from Hell, but the rest is up to you. This is not about acquiring a holy hernia trying to please God. Jesus did the heavy lifting at the cross. Like a steroid, His Holy Spirit empowers you to accomplish what you never could without Him. The approval you want from God is already there, but the pleasure of God is a daily cultivation; not a giant beanstalk that sprouts overnight. Perfectionism will tell you otherwise, but don’t you believe it! Spiritual laziness is the other extreme, it’s a liar too. The balance is not easy to find, but it’s address is always at the feet of Jesus where He’ll center you while communing with you, but never chide you.
If God were to visibly mark the trail your life has taken, it would not be a straight line. No, there would be detours and backtracks, places you skipped and spots you stayed in too long. It’s ok. He offers forgiveness, and He grades on how many times you recalculated and got back on track. It looks sloppy on a map, but if you’re moving toward Him instead of away, then it’s sloppy beautiful. Gag that inner critic with this truth: Good and faithful servants aren’t flawless ones nor do they aim to hear “Perfectly done,” but “Well done.”
“Do whatever he tells you.” John 2:5
Obedience to God is one of the best ways to love yourself. It is the daily bath that wards off the disease of terrible consequences. Applied to the private parts of your heart, obedience disinfects and deodorizes what might otherwise stink up your character.
The obedience to His command to forgive moisturizes dry and cracked relationships, making them vibrant, elastic, and wholesome.
Obedience to regularly attend worship has a way of realigning thoughts you didn’t realize had popped out of joint. Stubborn pride calories are burned by the exercise of denying yourself. This builds muscular faith too! Daily intake of God’s Word fortifies your spirit and builds a healthy reserve for the lean days when trials come. Aren’t you glad He commanded us to read it?
Exfoliate those nasty little habits that build up in your language. Generously apply selflessness and watch how others will enjoy the fragrance of Christ. At first, even loving your enemies may feel like more fiber than you can take in, but you’ll discover it will detox hate and make room for the flow of God’s blessing and purpose in your life.
To love yourself means to do whatever it takes to achieve maximum health in all areas. Obedience to Jesus is the perfect antidote to anything that threatens the abundant life He died for you to enjoy. Love yourself today, My Friend. Do whatever He tells you to do!
Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you.” (Proverbs 2:11)
I made a friend. Seems we’ve known each other all my life. She speaks my heart language—at least one of them. She encourages me to do things that bring me comfort, and she provides me with bursts of confidence to tune out other voices and just go for what I want. When I’m with her, I feel invincible, and she makes me forget the unpleasant challenges I face.
The only problem is that she poisons my walk with God.
Her name is Compromise, and she’s not my friend at all. She tells me what I want to hear instead of what I need to hear. We’ve been friends all my life, but she only comes around when I’m at my weakest. She speaks the soothing, familiar language of my first love (ME) and drowns out the voice of my other First Love sometimes demoted to second place. Her voice speaks only of pleasure, and her skill at rationalizing is epic. When I’m with her, I lose track of time and hardly notice the decay. Life with her is exciting until it’s time to pay the consequences.
How do I win the battle with Compromise? I can’t handle her by myself. No, she’s too skilled a liar, and I must call in reinforcements: Discernment and Truth. They are a powerful tag-team! Discernment knocks out the lying teeth of Compromise revealing the deception I can’t see on the surface. She saves lots of heartache if I give her a chance. Then comes Truth. She tells it like it is but Compromise, though toothless, still wants to argue. No matter! The voice of God rings louder and clearer, calling my name and reminding me this fight was fixed at Calvary; I need only collect the winnings by choosing to obey what is right.
This fight is not easy, but with the help of Discernment and Truth, we are more than winners. Here’s to giving Compromise, our not-a-friend friend, a daily black eye!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
I was talking to a young adult a while back when the subject of snowflakes came up. He asked if I really believed every snowflake was different from any other. When I said I did, he said he couldn’t wrap his head around that. The conversation then shifted to the uniqueness of people. “There never has been another you in the world and there never will be again.” I said, “Think of all the people born and died since the beginning of time. DNA is God’s way of proving He’s never made a copy.” His silence showed how staggered he was at this thought.
It staggers me too, but it also encourages me. I love that God made each of us unique. This frees us from the foolish task of trying to be somebody else. The intelligent design of Our Creator has given us a vast forest of uniqueness to explore and to share with the world! When I look at you, I see beauty, creativity, uniqueness, and glory worth knowing. Do you see it too? Don’t hide it and please don’t cheapen it by mimicking what you think is more admirable in somebody else. You are His masterpiece, and Your Designer is most glorified when you do you!