Counsel from the Lord

Joshua 9:14: So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. (ESV)

child-428690_640In that story, a nation Gibeon were afraid of the children of Israel and they decided to disguise themselves as if they are from a far country (Joshua 9).

But in the focus verse, the writer was careful to note that not asking counsel of the lord was the reason for their error of judgement. It was because they did not seek God. They were presumptuous. They followed appearance, and they were deceived.

Samuel standing before the first son of Jesse, was as sure as sure can be, but he was wrong (1Samuel 16:1-7). He was sent on an errand by God, but even for the execution, he needed counsel from God.

When God gives you a matching order, he also delivers to you a strategy. David was a man who had mastered the art of asking counsel of God. He had been anointed to be king, but he was not going to be king on his own terms, it has to be on God’s term all the way.

When he wanted to prosecute war, he did not lean on his own understanding, but he acknowledge God in all his ways (Proverbs 3:5-6).

You cannot say that you have committed the year to God and fail to listen for his decision at each juncture along the way.

Joshua committed that offence. He was given the charge of leading the campaign to conquer Canaan, but along the way he thought it was his intelligence that will deliver the victory to him, and he sent a small number of the army of Israel to battle Ai because it was a smaller city than Jericho which they just conquered (Joshua 7:1-8).

A few in the army of Israel was killed as Israel turned its back and ran away from the enemy. That taught him a lesson that winning the battle was not so much about strategy as following God’s counsel.

The bible says ask and it shall be given (Matthew 7:7). Asking is a step of faith that helps open us up to receive counsel, direction from God.

David prayed: for your name sake lead me and guide me (Psalm 31:3). As part of the Psalm 23, he said God leads him besides the still waters, restoring his soul.

Jesus said we need to learn from him and with that we will find rest for our soul (Matthew 11:28-30). Rest is not about doing nothing, but walking with God following him every step, experiencing his accompanying grace, which was what Jesus modelled is it. He is full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

We cannot afford to do whatever occurs to us. That means we assume we are the personification of wisdom, which is actually pride.

Pride is what will stand in the way of our getting direction from God. King Saul was proud (1Samuel 15). He rejected the word of God and disqualified himself from getting further direction from God.

Getting direction, counsel from God is an expression of his grace to us. The bible says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1Peter 5:5).

God, the bible says, dwells with the one with a contrite heart but looks at the proud from afar off (Psalm 138:6, Isaiah 57:15). The humble inherently expresses dependence on God. He does not claim any smartness, but says to God: everything good, great, about me comes from you (Psalm 16:2); I need you.

We need to have our heart opened to God to receive his counsel. That is when change will come. Empowerment starts when we embrace the counsel of God. To seek counsel from God is to lay hold on his power (Isaiah 27:5) because what he releases is not just words but also his ability.

Jesus said the words that he speaks are spirit and life (John 6:63), and he also declared that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Luke 4:4), as he delivers counsel to us.

Joshua was told that the scriptures must not depart from his mouth but he must meditate in it day and night for him to have success (Joshua 1:8). It should be his focus for counsel. The question is: how will we do the right things if we are ignorant of the words of God (Psalm 119:9, 11)?

Are we going to depend on what people are saying and doing all around us, when the bible says that in the last days, men shall be lovers of themselves (2Timothy 3:1-4), that the love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:12)?

Would we allow the expediency of the moment to dictate our action as king Saul did? He said that he had to make a sacrifice that he was not meant to make because he was under pressure, with judgment coming on him because of that.

Rather the word of God should be our compass, in the stormy world. Eve left the word of God and was shipwrecked on the island of death (Genesis 3).

There is a way that seems right to man but the end of it is destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Because it smells right, feels right does not mean it is right. Because it makes you feel good, it is convenient, it gives reprieve does not mean it is the right action. The end does not justify the means.

There is a path of truth, which we should be committed to. It demands leaving our own ways to follow the ways of God, leaving our own thoughts of doubt to engage with thoughts of faith, leaving religion for a relationship, leaving lies to follow truth, leaving self-effort to embrace the power of God, leaving human strength for divine grace. It is a matter of choice.

Just as Joshua said, we should say: as for me and my house we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15). You do not serve the Lord on your own terms, but his. You do not run on your own ideas, but his. Realise that you are helpless without him, and empty too. We need God to pour into us. What do you think Adam was when he was made prior to the introduction of the breath of God into him? He was nothing (Genesis 2:7).

Everything that God made, to serve their full potential, must function according to his determined purpose in the mind of God for there to be fulfilment (Revelation 4:11).  Anything that hinders full-blossoming should be removed from the way. That is why Jesus came, to restore us to our full purpose in God by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, coming into us, which is the Spirit of counsel (Isaiah 11:1-2), which we will do well to yield to at all times, for our path to be marked with success.

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