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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Matt Messages - Help!

“Help!”
April 23, 2006
Proverbs 15:22, 27:6 & 9

Since we’ve now ended our almost five month study of the Gospel of Mark, I would like to take a few weeks to preach on a couple of items which have been recently laid upon my heart for our church family.

The first item I want to take up is the Bible’s call for us to humbly seek the godly counsel of others.

I’ve noticed in my own heart and life and in the lives of many in our church family a reticence, a hesitance, and even a resistance to seeking godly counsel.

So I want to address that from the Bible and apply the Bible’s teaching on this topic to our lives.

I’ve entitled the message today, “Help!”

And let’s begin by asking God for His help. Let’s pray.

[prayer]

I will have 3 applicational points this morning. The first is this:

1. ASK FOR HELP HUMBLY.

Proverbs chapter 15, verse 22 says very simply: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Proverbs are general truths that explain how things work in God’s world. They are not straight promises or “case law.” They are general explanations of how God has “wired His world” so that those who learn these proverbs can successfully navigate God’s world.

And this proverb says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Now, the general point of this proverb is clear. Seek counsel to get success.

What kind of counsel? Well, what kind of plans?

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

It doesn’t say. I love how this proverb doesn’t say what kind of plans are in view.

Other similar proverbs talk clearly about military plans.

Proverbs 20:18, “Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.”

Or the plans of a ruler or a nation.

Proverbs 11:14, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.”

So, probably there are military plans in view here, but it doesn’t say that directly in Proverbs 15:22.

I think that this refers to just about any kind of plans.

“Plans [in general] fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Do you catch what I’m trying to do by reading it to you again and again? I’m trying to get us to memorize it. Proverbs are great for memorizing.

And then for chewing on.

What kind of plans might you seek counsel on?

Military Counsel, of course.

How about Financial Counsel? Should we take out another loan? Should my wife go back to work? Should we buy that piece of ground?

How about Marital Counsel? How do we work out our conflicts? How do we increase intimacy in our marriage? How do we work out our sexual problems? How do we grow closer together spiritually?

How about Pre-Marital Counsel? How do we prepare for marriage? What do we need to be getting ready for? What’s around the corner?

Or how about Pre-Engagement Counsel? It seems like almost nobody ever seeks that out. Should we get married? Do you think we are compatible? Is this a good match?

Or how about Parenting Counsel? Do you think we’re doing the right thing with little Johnny? Do you think we are too harsh or too lenient with young Sue? How should we relate to our grown kids?

What about Vocational Counsel? Is this job a good fit for me? What should I do about my relationship with my supervisor? Am I doing the right thing with my employee here?

How about Interpersonal Counsel? Family conflict. Neighbor conflicts. What are my responsibilities in this relationship? What should I be doing?

How about just plain old Personal/Spiritual Counsel? My wife has recently counseled me that I have some glaring problems with a perceived lack of joy and humility in my life. And they sometimes get in the way of my seeming approachable as a person.

I need that kind of counsel.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Now, we’ve listed some of the kinds of plans that we might need counsel for.

Here’s a big question, “Why don’t we ask for counsel?”

Is it because we want to fail?

Why don’t we seek godly counsel on these issues?

There can be some good reasons for not seeking godly counsel.

You don’t know someone who is godly.
You don’t know someone who seems to have any expertise in a given area.
That sort of thing.

But the biggest reason we don’t is pride.

That’s why I said that point #1 is Ask for Help Humbly.

It takes humility to ask for help.

In military counsel, a general has to stoop to listen to some other person give their opinion.

In financial counsel, you have to divulge your financial situation to someone else. That gets in the way of your pride. Right?

Last year, Heather and I were struggling with a cash-flow problem that tends to show up about the same time every year. And I was struck by this and similar Bible passages that the reason I hadn’t solved our problem yet was that I had been too proud to ask for help. So I called Keith and asked if I could lay out our financial situation in front of him and have him give me some counsel.

That was hard to do! I know Keith loves me, loves the Lord, and has some expertise in that area. But it was still hard to open up my books and show him how I go about doing cash-flow.

It was helpful, though! Just doing it was helpful even if he didn’t ask me good questions and give me good advice! Which he did.

Marital Counsel. When do people go to see a marriage counselor? When it is almost too late.

Why? “We thought we’d try to work it out on our own first.”

9 times out of 10 that’s pride speaking.

More people do Pre-Marital Counseling, but that’s because it’s fun and lots of pastors require it.

Unfortunately, almost no one seeks out Pre-Engagement Counseling. Tom and Stacey, however, were a wonderful exception to that general rule and sought out advice from multiple godly counselors in their courtship stage before they decided to get married. Very wise.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

It’s pride that gets in the way of Parenting Counsel, too. Who wants to possibly be told that they are doing something wrong? I don’t enjoy that myself.

What will people think if they find out that “The Pastor” doesn’t know what he’s doing with his kids?

I can get too worried about what people think and not about what is wise.

Vocational Counsel, Interpersonal Counsel, and Personal/Spiritual Counsel all suffer from the same pride problem, as well. We don’t seek out godly advice about our work, our relationships, and our character because we think we know what we’re doing.

Americans value their independence. We don’t like people telling us what to do. And we don’t like admitting weakness.

But guess what? We are weak! We all have limitations. We all have different giftings and different abilities. We are all fallen, finite creatures. We are sinners, for crying out loud!

We need help!

And not just God’s help. We need each other. That’s how God designed us. That’s why He designed this thing we call “the church!”

We need to humble ourselves and to ask for some help.

Even in areas where we are already strong, we can use help.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Now, let’s make this personal. Which of the areas I’ve gone over is an area in which you have some plans or you need to make some plans and you should seek out some godly counsel?

Maybe it’s not an area I’ve mentioned. But you know what it is.

I’d like to ask you to write it down on the back of your bulletin.

And I’d like for you to list a few people that you might ask for their advice.

Did you notice that the verse is plural?

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Write down something you should be asking a godly person or three for advice on and what godly persons you might ask.

And then, pray that God would humble you to do it.

And don’t fall that false-humility that says, “Oh, I’m not worthy of their time!” That’s just pride in another dress.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Ask for help humbly.

#2. RECEIVE HELP HAPPILY.

Turn over to Proverbs chapter 27 and look at verse 6. Proverbs 27, verse 6. Pew Bible Page #652.

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (3x)

That’s a good word.

This is not always easy, but it’s good.

An enemy might look good on the outside and make you feel good by the way that they talk to you and “kiss you.”

But they are just buttering you up. They are your enemy.

But a friend might say something that hurts but they are doing so because they love you.

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

So, if you have a friend, be glad and receive their help happily.

It may not always hurt! Lots of good, godly counsel isn’t a “wound!”

But even if it does hurt, be glad and receive your friend’s help happily.

This last week, I got a call from Wally Kephart on Tuesday. And he said, “Matt, are you free for breakfast on tomorrow? I’d like to get together with you. Have a few things I want to talk about with you.”

But he didn’t say what!

I said, “Sure, I think I could do that. What are we going to talk about?”

And Wally says, “Oh, I have a personal matter I want to talk to you about, and a few other leadership details we need to cover.”

Okay. I said, “Is there anything I need to do to prepare for our meeting?”

“No. It’s nothing earthshattering, don’t worry about it. See you tomorrow.”

So, of course, I did worry about it for a day or so and then we got together for breakfast on Wednesday morning. And he paid, by the way!

Wally needed to rebuke me on something I had said and how I had said it.

I had spoken rudely and bossily to a group of people the other day and possibly offended them, and Wally wanted me to know what kind of an effect my words had had.

And he was right.

It hurt to admit it. It was a wound. But it was right.

It was a faithful wound. And Wally, I am thankful that you gave it to me.

And for the gentle and loving way that you delivered it. Thank you.

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

Skip down 3 verses to verse 9.

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.”

What makes a good friend? Earnest counsel. Loving advice. Painful at times, but you know that they love you.

It’s like perfume and incense. It’s sweet and joy-giving to have a friend that cares so much that they will give you earnest counsel.

Be happy if you have godly friends that give you godly advice.

Even if it’s stuff you don’t want to hear.

Kids, this applies to you when your parents give you counsel. Be happy that they do!

Adults, this applies to you, too, whenever a godly friend, parent, pastor, elder, teacher, supervisor, roommate, whoever gives you some counsel. Be happy that they do!

Receive Help Happily.

I mentioned earlier that my wife has been telling me that I sometimes come off as depressed and proud.

Man! Not what you want to hear about yourself.

I’d rather she just gave me kisses! And told me how wonderful I am.

But would she be my best friend if she did?

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

[We kiss, too, don’t worry!]

I have no one in my life more pleasant, more to be happy about than my wife.

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from [her] earnest counsel.”

Have you received some counsel recently that you have been unhappy about?

Take some time right now to repent of that sulking and that pride and rejoice that you have a friend who would love you enough to speak into your life.

O! That our church would marked by the humility of seeking and receiving godly counsel with joy!

O, that my life would be the same.

#3 (and last). OFFER HELP LOVINGLY.

This is the flip-side of the other two.

If we are going to be seeking out godly counsel about finances, marriage, parenting, relationships, work, character, etc, we also need to be willing to offer counsel to others, as well...in love.

Are we pleasant enough as friends to give earnest counsel?

Do we love others enough to deliver a faithful wound?

Do we love others enough to speak the truth in love?

Those two things have to go together. Truth and love.

We can fall into the ditch of truth without love which is harsh and offensive and wounding without healing. And it’s not really truth without love.

Or we can fall into the ditch of love without truth which is soft and “caring” but doesn’t help the other person where they really need it. And it’s not really love if it doesn’t have truth.

We need to speak the truth in love for others.

And offer them counsel, advice, and help.

Is there someone in your life where you see a need of theirs for godly counsel?

Is there a chance that you are the one God has in mind to talk with them?

It may not be a hard discussion. It might, though.

Do you love them?

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.”

We need to be real friends with real pleasantness.

We need to speak into others’ lives truth with love.

That’s what God did isn’t it?

God gave to us the gospel, the good news.

But the good news came, at first, with bad news.

We are sinners deserving of the wrath of God.

But Jesus Christ died on the Cross to save us from our sins and bring us to God.

Imagine if God had not told us this good news!

Imagine if God had not counseled us that we need to turn from our sins and turn to Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord.

If you don’t know Jesus as your Rescuer and King, you need that good news right now.

The Lord Jesus is inviting you to turn and trust in Him and what He did on the Cross for the forgiveness of your sins and for eternal life.

And all of us here who claim Jesus as our Lord are being called by Him, as well, to:

Ask for Help Humbly

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

And Receive Help Happily.

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

And Offer Help Lovingly.

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.”

Speaking the truth in love.

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