I will like to talk about receiving counsel. In proverb chapter 11:14 we read: "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety."
It is wise to receive advice or counsel from outside sources sometimes. But in this exhortation I will point out that as Christians, we need direct counseling from the Lord. It is expected for the Lord to lead us through life if we have given our life to the Lord. In the Lord's prayer he purposely said we should pray: "lead us not into temptation". Notice he is expected to lead us. Only that he should lead us not into temptation, because God is not scared of the temptations. But for our sakes, we should not be led into them.
However what I want to discuss today is the error
people make when they come to ask counsel from the Lord.
If you have already made up your mind in what you
will do before asking God for counsel, you are more or less asking
HAVE AN OPEN MIND
I personally usually don't want to go anywhere unless the Lord tells me it's okay. Even if I plan to go on a trip. I love to hear from the Lord that it's okay to go. That type of counsel is what I am talking about. Counsel from the Lord is essential. When we walk with his leading, we will escape a lot of evils.
Remember Joshua and the Israelites forgot to ask
counsel from the Lord and were deceived by the Gibeonites. (Josh.9:14).
But if you have already made up your mind before asking for counsel from the Lord it will be difficult for you to accept any contrary counsel. In fact it may make you doubt if the instruction is from the Lord. I will give the example that follows from the life of Jeremiah the prophet.
In Jeremiah 42, you will see the story of the Israelites who had made up their mind in what they would do, before asking Jeremiah to consult God on their behalf with a lot of promises that whatever the Lord told them they would do.
As a background to this story, these Israelites were
the remnant of the people left in the city of Jerusalem after
Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed
"Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, came near, and said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the Lord thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:)
That the Lord thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do."
Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the Lord your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the Lord shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you.
Then they said to Jeremiah, The Lord be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the Lord thy God shall send thee to us.
Whether it be good , or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the Lord our God." (Jer.42:1-6).
Jeremiah preached for many years that the people should turn back to God and that God was bringing the army of the Chaldeans to destroy the city. They didn't believe him. In fact Jeremiah was thrown into prison for his prophecies. There were other "false" prophets contradicting what Jeremiah was telling the people, and those false prophets were popular. (Jer.28). However, it happened as Jeremiah had forewarned. Nebuchadnezzar came and took the people away to Babylon and the city was destroyed. By now they had recognized that Jeremiah's prophecies, which they all disliked previously, had been fulfilled to the letter. That was why they came to Jeremiah for counsel.
But these people had made up their mind in what they
would do. That is the error which I want to point out in this
story. If you want to seek counsel from the Lord, have an open
mind. Don't choose before you ask the Lord for his choice. You
are simply asking for approval. This is important especially for
singles when they are seeking a future partner in marriage.
Don't ask for counsel from the Lord after you have
already fallen in love with the prospective spouse. The Lord's
answer sometimes may be hard to swallow. You ought to ask for
counsel before you are committed. That may not be easy to do in
Hence you ought to be walking in the Spirit so that it is the Lord who is leading your life.
The same goes for students when choosing the right college after your high school. If you want the Lord's counsel, don't choose and then ask him to bless it.
Going back to the story of Jeremiah, these people had seen what happened to their city. They knew that Jeremiah prophesied for a long time and he was put in jail. They knew his prophecies fulfilled. They also knew that Nebuchadnezzar heard about Jeremiah and he commanded his captains to treat the prophet well. Jeremiah was allowed to go wherever he wanted. He remained with the remnant of Judah.
Now these people were asking for counsel from God through Jeremiah. If you ask you will receive. But are you prepared for what you will receive because the Lord will tell you the truth? The truth hurts the human ego most of the time. That is why I said, if you have made up your mind before you come to God for counsel, forget it. What you are seeking at that time is approval and not counsel. However if you walk in the Spirit as expected of a Christian, the Lord can guide you away from the wrong choices so that they do not even show up in your path.
"It came to pass after ten days that the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah.
Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captain s of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, and said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him;
If ye will still abide in this land, then will
I build you, and not pull you down,
and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.
Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the Lord: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.
And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.
But if ye say , We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the Lord your God , Saying, No: but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell:
And now therefore hear the word of Lord , ye remnant of Judah: Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt and go to sojourn there; then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die. ..... .
The Lord has said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day.
For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the Lord your God saying, Pray for us unto the Lord our God; and according unto all that the Lord our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it." (Jer.42:8-20).
But these people had made up their mind before asking counsel from God through Jeremiah. They definitely had decided to go away from Judah and to run into Egypt.
Let's see what these people answered Jeremiah.
This is why I said if you are going to ask for counsel
from the Lord, don't make up your mind first, otherwise the counsel
which does not approve of your decision will be hard for you to
receive. It will tend to make you doubt if the counsel is from
That was why Jeremiah said "ye dissembled in your hearts when ye sent me."
"And it came to pass that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people, all the words of the Lord their God for which the Lord their God had sent him to them, even all these words, then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the Lord our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there:
But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon." (Jer.43:1-3).
These people did not seem to understand that God watches over his prophets that they do not tell lies. These people generally had problem with accepting Jeremiah as the voice of God to their generation. They were believing the lying prophets all along, until Jeremiah's prophecies fulfilled upon them. One will think they had, by now, recognized Jeremiah and were ready to listen to whatever he had to say. But they had their own agenda. Human nature is dangerous. The man that lives in the flesh will also behave no better than these folks. If men have made up their mind, it is hard for God to get through to them.
For example, they had believed that God was on their side against Nebuchadnezzar, when God was not on their side!
God said they were sinful and idol worshippers, but
they said "No!" They never believed that they were far
away from God as Jeremiah was painting the picture to them before
Nebuchadnezzar came against them.
Similarly, multitudes in this generation are deceiving themselves that they are following the Lord. Try to preach to somebody, he may tell you "I am catholic!" Ask him if he is born again? He may say "Yes!" Yet, he may be smoking cigarette right before your eyes! Ask another person, he may say "Yes, I am Presbyterian, or Methodist", yet still in sin. Some people even claim to be Christian homosexuals!
They have heaped to themselves teachers of their liking, which teaches them what they like to hear. It was so with those Israelites in the days of Jeremiah. There were other prophets and teachers in the temple confronting and contradicting what Jeremiah was preaching, and they carried the crowd.
Those Jews thought they were all right contrary to what Jeremiah was preaching. Over the years, they had added other idols to the worship of Jehovah, and they did not believe they had been wrong. God was telling them they had forsaken him, but they couldn't see it. They had made idols under every tree, they have added the worship of a queen of heaven to whom they offer incense!
Compare this with the false churches of today! Tell that to the Roman catholic that the worshipping of Mary is similar to the Jews worshipping a queen of heaven, they will say "No, she is the mother of god, she must be worshipped!" Idolatry!
Read Jeremiah 44 by yourself.
God told them it was one of their many idols which caused them to be removed from the land "for they provoked God to anger".
Yet they thought they were in line with God.
Tell some Protestants that they need to be baptized in the Holy Ghost, but some will say "we have been filled with the Holy Spirit when we were baptized in water." They don't believe that they need anything. "Thou saith that I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, but knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." (Rev. 3:17).
Jeremiah told them that they were far away from God, but they said they were okay, until the prophecies fulfilled. Even then, they still thought they knew better than Jeremiah when they accused him of counseling them in the flesh. They had listened to the false prophets for too long, who by this time were all carried away captives to Babylon.
Remember, those prophets were also prophesying - but through demons, or from their own mind! Those false prophets were hoping for good things and claiming it with a "thus saith the Lord", to confuse the people.
An example: some folks are said to be "name it, and claim it". If you name it and claim it, it is still you, who wishes for it. You cannot tag the name of God to it as if to say "God has prophesied that you will get it."
"The prophet that has a dream, let him tell a dream, and he that has my word let him speak my word faithfully". (Jer.23:28).
One particular false prophet by the name of Hananiah (Jer.28) confronted Jeremiah, and told the people that within two years God said he would break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar and return all the Jews, contrary to seventy years which Jeremiah prophesied.
The people couldn't believe what Jeremiah was saying due to conflict of opinions. As I said, those remnant Jews who came to ask for counsel from God, had made up their mind to flee to Egypt before Jeremiah came with words from God. They couldn't accept it.
Go to any denomination where they had believed that their religion is the right way, and tell them they must be born again, and they must be baptized in the Holy Ghost, or they must seek for more of the Lord. They will say they are okay. They will say "that is your own interpretation". They have their mind closed.
These people were telling Jeremiah: "O Jeremiah, even though you have been prophesying from God all along and your prophecies came to pass, but this one you just told us is false." That was how they rejected everything he said previously until it all happened to them.
Human beings! When will some people learn? They wanted counsel but they would not receive it!
Can you accept counsel when God gives it to you? If you are open minded, you will be able to accept counsel. We need God's counsel especially in this days when a lot of evil is occurring everywhere. We must be counseled by God, especially with bomb-blasts in so many corners. We need to walk with the Lord and hear counsel in our goings and comings.
Take for example the recent plane crash which occurred in New York on the way to Paris. Imagine if someone has made up his mind that he has to go to Paris and he planned to go in that flight.
If the Lord tells him not to go, he will find it hard to accept it! Because he is set in his heart for the trip. We ought to be very sensitive to the Holy Ghost.
This is no time, in a family, for the husband to say, let's go and the wife refuse to follow. If the Lord is leading the family, all must begin to be sensitive to the Holy Ghost in these days.
I heard this testimony on the radio. A pastor and his wife went to a restaurant to eat. While waiting for the meal to be served, the Holy Ghost began to move heavily upon the heart of the pastor. He said he became restless in the spirit, and felt a leading to go home immediately. He told his spouse let's get out of here, we must go home immediately. They left the restaurant without the meal and rushed home. As they drove into the garage of their home, the house air-conditioning or something exploded and they were just in time to shut it off. The pastor then realized why he had the urge from the Spirit to go home immediately. If they had waited some minutes longer, their house could have burnt down.
That is an example of why I said we must be sensitive to the Spirit of God nowadays.
Suppose the couple had problem of power struggle between husband and the wife? Some wives who like to control might say "No, let's show some respect to the waitress. We just have to finish our food faster." Their house may burn down while they tarry. Remember the pastor did not know why the Spirit made him feel like going home immediately. Therefore learn from the testimonies of others. Move when the Lord says move. Don't argue!
It is essentially important for the end-time Saints, because the Lord will put pressure gauges in our spirit. We may not know why, but we will sense something is about to occur. We ought to step aside and inquire from the Lord in prayer, or change direction as the Spirit leads without delay. And in a family, it is essential that "wives, obey your husband". If the Lord is in your family the quickening will come to the head of the house often, from the Lord.
The Lord will wait till the last moments before bringing the quickening of the spirit to lead us out of a trouble, many times, instead of warning us hours or days before, so that we may learn to depend upon the Lord every moment of the day.
Remember the bible says, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of the Lord, they are the sons of God." (Rom.8:14).
Terrorists are blowing up buildings every now and then. This is the time when the Saints of God should be so sensitive to the Lord. If you are in a building and you have just taken a number waiting for your turn and the Spirit moved upon you to step out or go home, this is not the time to argue nor to resist the leading of the Lord. You may be escaping a disaster. The Lord doesn't have to warn you by a dream or vision days before. He loves to walk closely with his children so that we can feel his heart beat, close enough to get us out of trouble, in the nick of time, to confound the devil.
May the Lord give us understanding and the right
heart to walk successfully with the Spirit of the Lord in these
last days, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Bro. Julius Adewumi
Gospel Distribution Ministry
(From a recorded sermon of Bro. Julius Adewumi, 7/19/96).