Friday, November 20, 2015

The Gift of Good Counsel

            This Sunday, we’re wrapping up our series called Decision-Making 101.  Our lives are the sum total of the decisions we make.  All of us can look back over the course of our lives and think of very good decisions we made, and see the happiness that we are experiencing because of those decisions.  For me, choosing to follow Christ when I was a young boy, and choosing to marry the person I married, and choosing to go into full-time vocational ministry were all great decisions.  They have set my life on a trajectory that has led to untold joy and purpose.  At the same time, we can all think of decisions we made that we’re still paying the price for, years later.  “Why did I stay so long in that relationship?  Why did I trust that guy with my money?  Why did I quit that job?”  The comedian Jeff Foxworthy talks about how tattoos are bad decisions we can’t hide.  He says the girl with the cute hummingbird on her shoulder doesn’t realize that someday that bird is going to expand and fly south.  Her future grandchildren will ask, “Grandma, why do you have a buzzard on your back?”  Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to always make the right decision?  Actually, there is.  The Bible says there is a skill to choosing the right path, and it’s called wisdom.  There is an entire book of the Bible about wisdom, called Proverbs. Near the beginning, it says Wisdom calls out in the street; she raises her voice in the public squares. She cries out above the commotion; she speaks at the entrance of the city gates: “How long, foolish ones, will you love ignorance? How long will you mockers enjoy mocking and you fools hate knowledge? If you respond to my warning, then I will pour out my spirit on you and teach you my words (Proverbs 1:20-23). 
            The book of Proverbs imagines, “What if wisdom became a person?”  If wisdom took on flesh and bone, she would stand in the streets calling out, practically begging for people to come to her and make the right decisions.  She would call us fools for not listening, because she would rather hurt our feelings than let us keep making bad choices.  Wisdom is there for the taking.  How do we come to her?  That’s what we’ve been talking about in this series.  And here’s what we’ve said so far:  If we want to be wise people who make good decisions, we will seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.  We will study His Word daily.  We will pray, seeking His will, not our own.  We will ask God to help us understand and interpret our circumstances.  And we’ll listen to the counsel of God’s people.  If you’re not currently doing those things, Wisdom is calling you a fool.  If you are doing those things, when you have a decision to make, they will all come together.  The Bible, God’s answers to your prayers, the way God helps you interpret your circumstances, and the counsel you get from God’s people will all agree on what you should do.  Then you’ll know which path to choose.  So this Sunday, we'll talk about that final way God speaks: Through the counsel of His people.
              Proverbs 11:14 says Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance.  This is a constant refrain in the book of Proverbs, and we’ll look at several of those verses in this message.  The more wise people you have advising you, the more likely you are to make good decisions.  That’s a truth all of us can agree with.  But there’s a problem.  Most of us can’t afford to employ consultants and life coaches.  So most of us make our decisions all by ourselves.  Or we take the advice of the wrong people.  How can we be sure we’ll be surrounded by wise counsel?  I hope you'll be there this Sunday, to find out!

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