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Grace Notes

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“MY COUNSELORS”
by Philip Owen

           As we sit at the dawn of a new year, many are wondering if there is any hope of success or happiness in their future. Perhaps never before in the memories of those alive today has the future looked so bleak. The generation that went through World War II (only a very few of whom remain alive today) experienced an existential threat to the nation. But that menace was posed by external enemies who could be opposed with conventional weapons. The threat facing us today comes from within and may not inflict physical death upon us but certainly threatens both our traditional way of life and our fundamental freedoms. And our enemies seem to have confiscated most of the weapons (legal in nature) that might be directed against them.

            So what is our hope—or is there any? Well, there is certainly no hope either in the world or for the world: ultimately it will fail. But there is hope for the believer. And if you believe the preceding sentence, you understand that deliverance will not be found in natural things. Hoping for rescue by natural means is more futile than clinging to a concrete block that has been tossed into the water in the hope that it will keep you from drowning.

            The believer’s hope is the Word of God. The writer of Psalm 119 confessed: “Your testimonies . . . are my counselors” (v. 24). Yes, that is our hope—real, substantial, inerrant, and unfailing. If we believe God’s promises, they will stabilize our emotions, buoy up our minds and hearts. If we believe God’s commands, we will obey them, we will be doing His will and reaping His blessing.

            We have many potentially good counselors to choose from, including parents, friends, experts in various fields, even our own experience. But the best human counsel is fallible, whereas the Word of God is invariably correct and always perfect. Do we read it to fulfill some assignment, because our conscience tells us we should, in order to impress others with our acquaintance with it, or in the hope that it will supply some magical mantra? Or do we truly seek its counsel? Do we govern our lives in accord with its truths? Does God’s Word enter into the equation when we make decisions about relationships, where and how we will worship, where we will live, where we will work, how we will spend our money, and what we will do with our spare time? Moreover, the Word of God should be the counselor of our desires and thoughts. In short, it should govern every part of our lives.

            To allow the Word of God to direct and control our choices in those matters is to make the Word of God our counselor. In all likelihood, we will be unable to influence the major events that threaten to disrupt our lives. But in reality, the hope of the believer has never lain in his ability to take the reins of government or even to exert influence in the political realm. To do so may bring about positive temporal change, but that is superficial at best.

            No, the hope and victory for the believer will be discovered in making God’s Word our counselors. For regardless of how positive or negative temporal circumstances are, what is substantial is God’s will as discoverable in His Word. And although God is under no obligation to make our earthly life unceasingly easy or pleasant, He has obligated Himself to take care of His own and to bless believers who obey His Word. John assures us that “this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (I John 5:3, 4). The love of God, the keeping of His commandments, and the power of genuine faith (in the Lord and in submission to His Word) cannot be divorced; nor can they be separated from the promise that those who keep his commandments will overcome the world. We will not change God’s eternal plan that will allow wickedness to prevail temporarily and Satan to rule through the beast, but if we make His Word our counselors, we will live victorious lives that honor the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.

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