James Merritt - Heavenly Guide
I don't care how successful you may think you are. Let me tell you. Nobody hits on all eight cylinders in every area of their life. It's impossible. You can't do it and the truth of the matter is we just don't have it within ourselves to make life work the way life ought to work. That's why I know people they know how to make a business work, but they can't make a marriage work. They know how to raise revenue, but they don't know how to raise children. I've met people who they know how to climb the ladder to the top and they've gotten there, but they don't realize it's leaning against the wrong wall. We just don't have it within ourselves to make life work the way life ought to work.
As a matter of fact, another prophet by the name of Jeremiah said this, and he's right. He said, "Lord, I know that people's lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps". What Isaiah said was, "Lord, here is one thing I know. By ourselves we can't make life work the way life ought to work. We can't direct our steps". Let me tell you just one reason why. You know why you can't make your life work the way it ought to work? Because you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. You don't even know what's going to happen in the next five minutes. You don't even know what's going to happen in the next two seconds, so how in the world can we really know how to make life work the way life ought to work?
That's why we all look back on our life, and here is what I know about every one of us in this room. We've all made mistakes. We've all made missteps. We've all had mishaps. We don't always get it right, and you know why we don't always get it right? Either it's because we get the wrong advice, or we don't seek the right advice. We either get the wrong advice, or we don't seek the right advice. And, by the way, you know what's amazing to me? This one thing does make me shake my head. It's amazing to me to see the kind of people that people go to for advice. It's amazing to me how many people go to the most unqualified people about their problems. For example, you're having marital problems, so why do you go talk to the lady that's been married six times? I mean, how's that gonna work out for you, right? Or, for example, you need financial advice. Your finances are a wreck, and you're talking to somebody that's maxed out on 14 different credit cards.
Now, the guy that I'm talking about today doesn't just give advice. He gives wisdom. He gives guidance straight from heaven. You say, "Wait a minute. How in the world can this counselor, this guide, how can he give me advice straight from heaven"? It's real easy. Because he is from heaven. Listen to what Isaiah says about him now in this verse. Isaiah 9, verse 6, "For unto us a child is born". We talked about that last week. He was human. "To us a son is given," he was also divine, "and the government will be on his shoulders". Now, watch this. "And he will be called," let's say these words together, "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God". He said, "This is what I want you to call him. This is his name. He is Wonderful Counselor. He is Mighty God".
Now, think about that. He is not only a wonderful counselor who gives us godly advice, he is a God, the God, who gives us wonderful counsel, so he gives us wonderful advice, godly advice. He's a wonderful counselor who gives us godly advice, but he's God who gives us wonderful counsel, and we're gonna take those two names just today and those two names actually tell us two things that we should do and we can do with this one-of-a-kind Christmas baby that was born 2,000 years ago. Now, think about it. If Jesus is wonderful counselor, if Jesus is mighty God, that tells us two things we ought to do with Jesus not just this Christmas, but every day. You ready?
Number one, we should follow Jesus as our guide. If he's Wonderful Counselor, we should follow Jesus as our God. Now, let's look again at that first name. "And he will be called Wonderful Counselor". Now, grammatically in the Hebrew language those two words go together. He's not just wonderful, and he's not just a counselor. He actually is the Wonderful Counselor, so he's not just wonderful, though he is wonderful, and he's not just a counselor, though he is a counselor. He is the Wonderful Counselor. Every week I talk to people, every week. Never fail. Either they come to my office, or they send me an email, or I talk to them over the phone, or they'll see me outside in the lobby when I'm here out and about.
Every week I talk to people. I'll be in a Walmart or I'll be in a Kroger's or I'll be shopping. Had this happen the other day, and a person came up to me who doesn't go to our church but recognized who I was and stopped me and wanted to talk about a problem that they had, which is okay, and every week goes by, never fails. I talk to people who they either need counseling or they need to see a counselor. Matter of fact, I didn't know this. Listen, there are 552,000 mental health professionals in this country. Did you know that? People got problems. There are 552,000 mental health professionals in our country, and people are going to them in record numbers looking for answers to some of life's greatest problems, so let me tell you why we're in such... one of the reasons we're in a big mess in our country right now in many ways that we are, 'cause we got 2 things going on in our country at the same time.
Number one, there has never been more counselors available than there are today and, number two, we've never had more people with more problems, so you got two things going on. We've got all these mental health professionals, and we got all these people with all these problems. Now, let me stop right here. I wanna make something very plain. Any counselor can give you advice. That's why they're out there, to give you advice, okay? Any counselor can do that, and any counselor can give you their personal opinion, and they'll be more than happy to do that. However, here is what you need to remember. They can be wrong. They're not infallible. They can give you bad advice.
Listen, one of the things I've had to do in my ministry is help straighten out people who went to the wrong counselor and got wrong advice, because there are counselors out there, there are people out there, they don't have a biblical perspective. They don't have a Christian worldview, and they'll actually counsel you and tell you to do exactly the opposite of what you really need to be doing, and so they can be wrong, but Jesus, we're told, is the wonderful counselor. Let me tell you why. The reason why he's not just a counselor, the reason why he's a wonderful counselor is he doesn't just give you human advice, he doesn't just give you a secular opinion. He gives you divine wisdom. He gives you heavenly guidance. He never steers you wrong. As a matter of fact, earlier in this same book Isaiah wrote these words. He said, "This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom".
Now, that word "excellent" can also mean perfect. That is, you come to Jesus, and you say, "Lord, what should I do"? His advice is always spot on. He's always right. It's always what is best. It will always take you down the right path. He will never steer you wrong, so here is to put it very simply, make it real easy. Whatever Jesus counsels you to do, take it to the bank. Whatever Jesus tells you to do, just do it because, see, some people can give you good advice. Some people are more qualified and can give you better advice. Other people even higher up the food chain, they can give you the best advice, but only Jesus gives you perfect advice.
Now, I know you're asking this question right now. "Well, if he's such a wonderful counselor and he's always got the right advice and he's got time to talk to me, I have a simple question. How do I get his counsel and where do I find his advice"? I'm so glad you asked, so glad you asked, because let me tell you three ways he gives us counsel. Now, one of 'em you already know if you've heard me preach any time at all. The first way he gives you counsel is right there. See that book right there? That's his advice. That's his counseling manual right there. The first way he gives you advice is the Word of God. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 119, verse 24, "Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors".
I think, I tell you it surprises so many people how many of their everyday problems they face just on a daily basis, how many problems are addressed and somehow solved in God's Word, so the first way he gives you counsel advice is his Word, the Word of God. The second way he does it is through the Spirit of God, because, again, Isaiah wrote this little bit later in his book. He said, "The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and the fear of the Lord," so here is how this works.
Watch this. The Spirit of God will take us to the Word of God and as we read the Word of God show us in the Word of God the Word we need from God to show us what we need to do. That's how it works. The Spirit of God will take us to the Word of God and show us in the Word of God, as we read the Word of God, the Word we need from God and will tell us exactly what we need to do, so the first way he gives counsel is through the Word of God. The second way he gives counsels is through the Spirit of God and then the third way he does it is through the people of God, so the wisest man who ever lived, who was a great counselor, said, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed".
One of the things that God does for all of us is this: he will bring godly people into your life. He'll bring people that have far more wisdom than you have, and they will give you godly counsel. Now, before I go any further this is important. I want you to notice the order I follow this in, because a lot of times we reverse it. The Word of God is first, the Spirit of God is second, and the people of God is third. Now, let me tell you why that's so important. When we are in a situation we don't know what to do. We don't know where to turn. We don't know which path to take. We don't know whether to go to the right or the left. You know what most of us will do? We'll either just kinda maybe almost in our mind flip a coin, or we just kinda make up our own mind and hope it works, or we will talk to somebody. Maybe it's a buddy, maybe it's a friend, or whatever. We'll talk to somebody.
Again, there's nothing wrong with that. However, that's not the first place you ought to go. The first place you ought to go is not to a person. The first place you ought to go is to a book. That's the first place. That's the order in which you should go. Your primary counselor should be the Word of God through the Spirit of God, because the greatest counselor you'll ever have is the Son of God, and the greatest counsel you'll ever find is in the Word of God, and this Counselor's advice is always true, and this Counselor's advice never fails. He is the Wonderful Counselor, so the first thing we should do with this Christmas baby is not just sing Christmas carols to him or not just say, "Well, isn't that sweet that he was laid in a manger". It's greater than that. He is the guide that we should follow, and I can tell you this with 100% certainty.
Tell me any problem you've got right now that you created, any problem you've got right now and you created it, it's because you either did not seek the advice of Jesus, or you didn't take the advice of Jesus. So, number one, we should follow Jesus as our guide, but then, number two, we should worship Jesus as our God. We should worship Jesus as our God. Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, listen, because he's not just a good counselor. He's not even just a great counselor. Matter of fact, he's even more than a godly counselor. He is the God who counsels, so listen to what Isaiah says. "He will be called Wonderful Counselor," and then right after that Mighty God.
Now, I have no doubt that when God revealed this to Isaiah, he did this specifically in order. He said, "Isaiah, I want you to tell the people that you can call Jesus Wonderful Counselor, but right after that I want you to link to Wonderful Counselor Mighty God". Now, there is little doubt about what Isaiah is telling us right there. He's saying, "Look, there is only one who is mighty and that's God, and there is only one God that is God and that's God, and there is only one mighty God and that is the Jesus that was born 2,000 years ago". We said this last week. Jesus, listen, this is important, Jesus was not a man who became God. That's impossible. No man can become God. Jesus was not a man who became God. Jesus was God who became a man.
A human baby cannot become the divine Creator, but the divine Creator can become a human baby, and so for all you DC Comic fans out there let me put it to you this way, okay? Clark Kent can't become Superman, but Superman can become Clark Kent. A man cannot become God, but God can become a man and that's why he's called the Mighty God. Let me tell you what that means. It simply means this. Everything that God is Jesus is. Everything that God has Jesus has. Everything that God can do Jesus can do, because he is Mighty God.
Now, let me explain to you why it's so important that this Wonderful Counselor also be Mighty God, because if Jesus was just a wonderful counselor, if that's all he was, he really couldn't help us. "So, what do you mean"? I'm gonna tell you why. When you think about it, the history of humanity has always been about the story and the discovery of the use of power. Go back to the very beginning. You can trace all of human history about power. First of all, it was manpower, and then we discovered horsepower, and then we discovered steam power, and then we discovered electric power, and now we have nuclear power, so we've always been all about power, right? What do dictators want? They want power. What do people in authority want? They want power.
People are always looking for and hungry for power, and yet here is our problem. With all of this power that we have at our disposal... and there has never been a more powerful nation in the history of the planet than the United States right now, yet with all of this power that we have at our disposal, now we've got 'em all. We've got manpower, we've got electric power, we've got steam power, we've got horsepower, we've got nuclear power, and yet with all this power that we have at our disposal we can't even protect our self from a terrorist attack. We can't even protect ourself from a stray bullet. We can't even protect ourself from a pink slip or a bad x-ray and that's why we need both a Wonderful Counselor and a Mighty God.
Now, listen. Let me tell you why. If Jesus was just Wonderful Counselor, not Mighty God, he really couldn't help us. You say, "I don't understand". Let me tell you why. A good counselor can tell you what to do. That's what makes 'em a good counselor, right? A good counselor can tell you what to do. However, no counselor can empower you to do it. A good counselor can tell you the right thing to do, but no counselor can empower you to do the right thing. A wise counselor can point you to the right door, but only a mighty God can empower you to walk through it. Jesus cannot only show you in any situation, "This is exactly what you need to do," however if you will allow him he can strengthen you to do it because he is the mighty God.
Think about it. He's mighty in his presence, he's everywhere. He's mighty in his power, he can do anything. He is mighty in his perception, he knows everything. He can tell you what to do, he can give you the power to do it, he can tell you where to go, and he can give you the power to get there. In other words, he doesn't just point a finger and tell you what to do. After he tells you what to do, he'll take you by the hand, and he will give you the power to do what you need to do. Now, if this mighty God... think about it. If this mighty God can forgive sin, if this mighty God can defeat death, if this mighty God can overcome Satan, if this mighty God can answer prayer, and if this mighty God can take you to heaven... now, if you believe in what I just said raise your hand.
All right, now listen to me. If that mighty God can do that, he can solve any problem you've got. He can take care of any situation that you're in. You can't bring him anything where he goes, "Here is your money back. I don't know what to tell you. I don't know what to do". There is no situation you can bring him, no problem you can bring him, no predicament you can bring him that he can't look at you and say, "I know exactly what you need to do". So, here is the question. If he is Wonderful Counselor, if he is Mighty God, what's your next step?
Well, number one, you better make sure that you're on a first-name basis with this Wonderful Counselor. You better make sure that you're on a first-name basis with this Mighty God. There was a man by the name of John. He spent 3 years, almost every day, 24/7, with this Jesus, 24/7, 3 years he spent with him. Year after year after year after year he spent with Jesus for three years, day after day, week after week. Years after Jesus died and came back from the dead and ascended to heaven, listen to what John said about him. John wrote this. "He is the true God and eternal life".
In other words, he said he is the mighty God, he can do for you what you need to be done, and he's eternal life. He can, as a counselor, lead you to the place that you really want to go. Let me tell you what that means. If Jesus, if this man is true God, if Jesus is eternal life, if he is Wonderful Counselor, if he is Mighty God, let me tell you what that means. It's very simple. It means if you reject God the Son, you reject God the Father. If you reject God the Son and God the Father, you reject eternal life, so, in other words, no Jesus, no God, no life, and maybe there are some right now that are listening to me and maybe right now, you know, what you need to do is you need to accept Jesus. You need to trust Jesus as your heavenly God. You need to follow his advice. You need to follow his counsel for the rest of your life.
Now, you may be one of those you may say, "I don't need to do that. We're on a first-name basis. I've trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I've given all of my life to him". Okay, let's just say that is true. I'm gonna ask a very hard question. So, you're a Christ follower, you know Jesus, he's your Lord, he is your Savior. Here is my question: what situation are you in right now because you have not followed his advice? What situation are you in right now because you have not followed his advice? What situation are you facing right now where you need to follow his advice? I guarantee you the vast majority of you, you know it may be a financial situation you're in. It may be a relational situation you're in, it may be an ethical situation that you're in, it may be a marital situation that you're in, but you're in a situation right now, and you have messed it up because you did not follow his advice.
My question is, okay, if that is true for you where do you need to follow his advice? What advice do you need to follow? And here is my advice. My advice to you is to follow his advice. My advice to you is to follow his advice. You know, every year at Christmas, we're about that time yet, boys and girls, where, you know, we're about to open our gifts. Now, I'm gonna be honest with you. Most of the time there is one gift we get that's a little bit disappointing. Let's just be honest about it, right? There is one gift and you don't say anything, but you go, "I didn't want that. Who would use that? I don't need that".
Or, you know, we wanted one thing, but we got another thing. We got something we really didn't want, or we didn't really get what we really wanted, okay? Most gifts are hits, but if you experience Christmas long enough some gifts are misses. Okay, I get that. Let me tell you the great news. When you come to Jesus you'll find that Jesus is nothing short of wonderful. My mentor, Adrian Rogers, when he would sign a letter, here is how he would sign it: "God is love. Jesus is wonderful". God is love. Jesus is wonderful. You know why? And I've known him for over 50 years. Jesus is wonderful. He is wonderful in what he knows, he is wonderful in who he is, and he is wonderful in what he can do because he is our heavenly guide.