Robert Jeffress - Who Speaks For God? - Part 2
Hi, I am Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. It's been said that no man is an island unto himself, but when it comes to making tough decisions, sometimes it feels like we're all alone. Today I'm going to explain how to listen for God's voice through the words of other people. Sometimes God sends wise individuals to speak truth into our lives. My message is titled, "Who Speaks for God?", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
You know, Rehoboam's sad experience kind of points out to me at least four principles about seeking wise counsel I want you to jot down on your outline. First of all, when faced with a difficult decision, seek advice from experts. Now, I know we're all kind of wary of so-called experts. You've heard the definition of an expert. Ex could mean has been, spurt could be a drip of water, an expert is a has-been drip, some people think, and sometimes we don't want to seek experts. We think we're qualified, but when you're faced with a difficult decision, you need to go after people who've been down that road before. Find an expert who can help you with your problem.
Number two, when faced with a difficult decision, seek advice from many counselors. Now, we need to give Rehoboam some credit here. Again, he just didn't go to one group, the older counselors. He brought in a second group as well. Proverbs 15, verse 22 says, "Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed". Don't just listen to one person. Listen to many people.
Number three, consider the motivation of your advisors. When you go out to get counsel, try to determine the motivation of your advisors. Could it be that that financial planner, the reason he wants you to buy that stock or invest in that annuity is because of the commission he will receive? Could it be that that attorney is encouraging you to go to court because that will mean more billable hours? You need to consider the motivation of your advisors. frankly, this is where Rehoboam fell short. You see, had he thought about it, he would've realized that these older men who told him to listen to the people, they didn't have anything to gain from Rehoboam. They were advanced in years. They had done their government thing. They were retired. On the other hand, these younger counselors, they were out to get something from Rehoboam. They wanted to ingratiate themselves to the new king, and so they told him what he wanted to hear.
Number four, follow wise advice. That is, once you have sought counsel, make sure you act on the wise counsel you have received. Has that doctor told you you need to start exercising? Then do it. Has that attorney advised you to draw up a will? Then do it. Has the pastor encouraged you to reconcile that relationship? Then do it. The most tragic words of Rehoboam's epitaph begin with these words. "And so the king did not listen". You see, ladies and gentlemen, to hear good advice and not to act on it is really not to hear at all. What do we learn by seeking the counsel of others? Remember I said that from authority figures, we develop that quality of obedience, obeying when we don't feel like obeying. From wise counselors, we learn discernment, how to weigh good advice from bad advice.
Now, there's a third group of people we need to consult whenever we make a decision, and that is fellow Christians. From fellow Christians, we develop that character quality of dependence. Now, quite frankly, you've probably never thought of seeking advice from other members in this church, but you see, one way God speaks to us is through fellow members of the body of Christ. We live in this western mindset that says we're all individuals before God. Each one of us, all that really matters is our individual relationship with God, so we're a bunch of individuals, thousands of people coming to first Baptist Dallas focusing on our individual relationship, vertical relationship to God. But the Bible says not only do we have a relationship with God, we are accountable and dependent on one another in the body of Christ, and the image that is used in the Bible that illustrates that is the human body.
We read the passage just a few moments ago in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 14. Paul says the church is like the human body. Look at verse 14. "For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, 'because I'm not a hand, I'm not part of the body,' it's not for this reason any less the part of the body". The eyes, the hands, the feet are not only connected to the head, that is, to Christ. We are connected to one another, and just as a hand that's severed from the body will wither and die very, very quickly, so when we are not connected to a local fellowship like this fellowship, we're going to wither away spiritually. We are dependent not only on the head, but on one another. You say, "Well, what is it? What kind of guidance can fellow Christians in the church give me"?
Let me mention three. First of all, fellow Christians can offer us insight concerning our dilemmas, insight concerning our dilemmas. I remember reading about the first president Bush, George H. W. Bush, and it is said when people would come to him with unsolicited advice, they would say, "Well, Mr. president, we think you should do this and this," or, "We think you ought to do this". President Bush had a habit of saying, "If you're so smart, why aren't you president of the United States"? Now, admittedly, that's a natural reaction, but it's not necessarily a wise reaction, because many times, some of the unsolicited advice we get from fellow Christians can be exactly what we need to hear.
A great illustration of that is found in the Old Testament, the story of Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro, not from the Beverly Hillbillies, the other Jethro. Turn over to Exodus chapter 18 for a moment. Remember, Moses was the leader of the 2 million-member nation of Israel, and one day, Jethro, the father-in-law, saw something that deeply disturbed him in Moses' life. Look at Exodus 18, verse 13. "And it came about the next day that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from the morning until the evening. Now when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, Jethro said, 'what is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening'"?
Translation, "Moses, you are out of your mind. You're going to kill yourself if you try to handle all of these problems on your own. You're killing yourself". And then Jethro prescribed a course of action. He said, "Moses, it would be a lot smarter if instead of trying to handle everybody's individual problems, instead of trying to counsel with all these people, if you would simply teach them the principles of God's word, they could solve a lot of the problems on their own".
By the way, pastors listening to this message, don't miss that word of counsel. I don't care what size your church is. You can fill up your calendar from morning until night with counseling appointments, if you want to, and never even make a dent in the problems in your church. A much more effective way for a pastor to counsel is from the pulpit, to teach his people the principles of God's word so that they can apply them to their own situation. That's what Jethro said to Moses. He said, "And not only that, you need to break these people down into smaller units and put judges over them to handle the concerns of these smaller units".
Again, a great principle for how the church is to run. You know, there are some churches that have tens of thousands of people coming to them and sitting as spectators in the pews, but there's no way to minister to those individual needs. No pastor, no staff, no group of deacons can minister to every individual need in the church, and that's why the Sunday school is so important. That's why I'm so glad we have a Sunday school-oriented church. In our church, the Sunday school is the church broken down into smaller sizes, smaller groups, so that individuals can minister to one another as God intended.
Jethro gave this piece of advice to Moses, and how did Moses respond? Did he say, "Jethro, if you're so smart, why aren't you the leader of Israel"? No, look at what he did in verse 24. It says, "And so Moses listened to his father-in-law and he did all that he had said". Fellow believers can give us insight concerning our dilemmas.
Number two, fellow Christians offer us guidance concerning our decisions. They can give us guidance concerning our decisions. Let's say, for example, you've been concerned about your own life. You've been concerned that you're spending so much time on work and other temporal things that you're not doing things of eternal value, and you want to have a life that counts for eternity, and so you've been praying, "God, I want you to show me how my life can make an eternal difference". And one day, the telephone rings. They say, "You know, we've got this special place of service available on this committee, or this class needs a teacher, or this department needs a leader, and we think you're the person to do this. Would you consider doing this"?
Your first thought probably is, "Who's sucker list am I on that I would be getting this telephone call"? But in truth, God very well may be speaking through those leaders in the church, showing you what you need, giving you the guidance for the decision you need to make. We find a number of illustrations of that in the Bible. In acts chapter six, verse five, you know how those first deacons came to be? It was because the whole congregation selected these men to serve in that important function. Or in acts 15, verse 22, it was the whole church that decided to send Paul and a small group of men to the city of Antioch.
Again, Christians, fellow Christians can give us guidance in our decisions. And number three, fellow Christians sometimes offer us correction in our behavior. If you are going down a road in your life that you shouldn't be traveling down, how will God get your attention? How will he bring correction into your life? Sometimes it will be through fellow Christians in the church. I remember many, many years ago, there was an elderly woman in the church who came to me, and she said, "Robert, I believe God has his hand on your life. I believe there are many great things he wants to do with you, but there's one area in your life you need to correct, and if you don't correct this area in your life, it will destroy your ministry".
Now, I'm going to have to admit to you, my first response, at least inwardly, was not a good response. My first thought was, "Who are you to tell a man of God how he ought to be acting and what he ought to do"? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was telling the truth. And even though that woman is in heaven today, I praise God for somebody who loved me enough to tell me not what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear. Do you have people like that in your life? Do you have people who know they won't get their head bitten off if they come to you and give you some unsolicited advice or counsel? Are there people in your life who care about you enough who will tell you when you're going the wrong way? And when they tell you, do you listen or do you rebel?
Listen to what the Book of Proverbs says. Proverbs 10, verse 17. "He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who forsakes reproof goes astray". Reproof is simply what that woman did to me. She corrected me, she reproved me. The Bible says, "He who disregards, forsakes reproof will go astray". Or Proverbs 12, verse one, "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid". That's what the Bible says. To hate correction is to be stupid. Fellow Christians can offer us correction in our behavior.
I know we've covered a lot of ground in just a few moments here, but in closing, let me just give you three real practical, final thoughts about counseling in our life and wise counsel in our life. Number one, don't use counsel as a cop-out. You know people like this. They're always seeking more advice. They go to this person, "What do you think"? Then they go to this person, "What do you think? What do you think"? They're always getting advice, but never making a decision. And there comes a time when you need to stop asking for advice and just do what you know you need to do. For most people, the real problem is not so much in discovering the will of God as it is in doing the will of God.
Secondly, remember that many times, the council we receive is wrong. When you go to ask people for advice, just Mark it down. Most of the time, the majority will be wrong. Wasn't that true of the Israelites? Remember when they sent the 12 spies into the land to see if they could overcome it? The majority report, 10 came back and said, "The challenge is too great. We can never overtake the land". Only two came back, the minority report, and said, "Yep, there's some challenges, but with God's help, we can overtake it". Many times, the council we receive is wrong.
And number three, all council must be measured against the Word of God. Any council we receive must be measured against the Word of God. A lot of times, people are seeking a new Revelation from God about a dilemma they're facing when God has already spoken clearly in his word. Every piece of counsel we receive must be measured against the Word of God. We see a great demonstration of that truth in a very bizarre story found in the Old Testament. The story is found in 1 Kings chapter 13. Let me give you the reader's digest version of the story. There was this young prophet, and God had said to the young prophet, "Go to the city of Bethel and destroy a pagan altar, and once you have done that, go home directly. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to your house".
And so the young prophet went to Bethel. He condemned this pagan altar, and he was on his way home, when an older prophet stopped him and said, "God has spoken to me, and he wants you to come and have a meal at my house," and the younger prophet said, "Oh, no, you don't understand. God spoke to me and told me I'm to go straight home". And the older prophet said, "Well, maybe that's what God told you then, but God's given me a newer Revelation, a newer word". And so the younger prophet thought about it, and he said, "Well, you know, a newer Revelation is better than an older Revelation. I'll do what the older prophet asked".
Makes sense until you read what happened. Look at 1 Kings 13, verse 20. "Now it came about as they were sitting down at the table that the Word of God came to the older prophet," the one who had brought him back, "And the older prophet cried out to this younger prophet, saying: thus says the Lord, 'because you have disobeyed the command of the Lord and not observe the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, but you have returned and eaten bread and drunk water in the place in which he said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water:" your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers'", verse 24, "And when the young prophet had left the house, a lion met him on the way and killed him, and his body was thrown on the road with a donkey standing beside it: the lion also was standing beside the body".
I mean, can't you just see the story? They're enjoying this meal together. The older prophet stands up and he says, "You have violated the Word of God," and the younger prophet says, "Wait a minute. You're the one who told me to come in here". He said, "You violated the Word of God and your body isn't even going to make it to the grave. You're going to die on the road home". He said, "What's the point of this bizarre story in the Old Testament"?
God is teaching us a principle, that we are never to contradict, violate what he has clearly already spoken. If you are facing a decision, I don't care how much you feel like God is leading you to do something or circumstances are conspiring to lead you to do something, if that something violates the clear spoken Word of God, don't listen to it. Obey what God has already said in his word. All counsel must be measured against the Word of God.
Now, in our series on discovering God's will, we've talked about different directions to look to to find God's will for your life. We said, first of all, if you're facing a decision, look upward. That is, talk to God in prayer, read his word. God directs that way. We've also said you're to look around you, look at circumstances. Could God be using those circumstances to lead you one way? Look around you at different counselors and people, and see what they say. But next, we're going to talk about a third direction in which to look when you're seeking God's will. It's one that's going to surprise you. The Bible says we need to look inwardly as well. We're going to see how, many times, the key to discovering God's will is to discover your will. That is, we're going to see how God uses our desires to give us direction in life.