Tehilim is the Hebrew word for Psalms which means “Praises or Hymns.” Here, treasures are hidden in plain sight. The wonder and mystery of this book is that when life is pressing in around us, we can grab our bucket in childlike faith, take off our shoes, and run into this river of Praise. It is our safe place. These treasures come from my own bucket and the discourse that often follows my coffee time with the Lord.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly...
Do You Know the Sound of Your Father's Voice?
Is your inner dialogue for Psalm 1 flawed? Mine was. Growing up in Christendom, the unspoken rule was, “Make friends with believers inside the church and stay away from sinners outside!” Yet, I couldn't help but wonder why Jesus didn't model that position? I admit, this way of thinking had permeated my soul long before I was aware and my greatest challenge has been in discerning where this theology ends and Christ in me begins. Though I am decades into this journey, I continue to interrogate the rote within me.
And so it was one morning over coffee and the Psalms that I asked the Lord, “What is ungodly counsel?”
He responded, “Any counsel that does not come from Me.”
In that light, I had to admit, I had walked in the counsel of the ungodly many times.
Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns," Matthew 16:23. Ungodly counsel can come from any source.
“Mark this: in the last days perilous times will come, for men will be lovers of self...” 2 Timothy 3:1&2. Truly, the church has segregated it's people to the point of isolation and yet, we are living in a time when no one would accuse us of being full of Love. Rather, we are known for our anger, our gossip, for being easily offended, and for so many other sins of the flesh. We are known for greed. Selfishness. Lovers of self. Instead of crucifying the flesh, keeping the flesh happy is the agenda in many churches. John 3:6, “Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Thank God for Peter. If he had been today's thin-skinned believer, he probably would have thrown a tantrum and walked away from his discipleship training. The future of the church hung in the balance of this moment. What would he do? Just moments before, he had been brilliantly used by God. Matthew 16:16&17, Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.'”
If Peter couldn't understand the critical difference between his first response and the second, the church would be in trouble. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” “Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Matthew 6:24 & Romans 6:16. In other words, God spoke through Peter the first time because he yielded to Him, but now he was yielded to a different spirit, to fear which is of Satan. Therefore, the counsel he was giving was ungodly! The early church was built upon that difference.
Though Peter still had to face some struggles with his flesh, he became very careful about which voice he followed. My question is, are we? Ungodly counsel can come from anywhere. For Job, it came from a spouse. For David, it came from a father, from brothers, and from a king. For Jesus, it came from a friend. Satan doesn't send ungodly counsel from an expected source. Only those who know the intimacy of the Father's voice in the secret place will be able to discern the voice of the enemy when he tries to trick them in the public place.
When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice," John 10:4&5.
Several years ago, a leader was manifesting a wounded spirit on the platform. Two other leaders were helping her gather herself before a large meeting that evening. Unaware, I approached the group to ask a question, triggering her offense a second time. The two leaders gave me a serious scowl. The next day, as I prepared a lesson on forgiveness for Women's Ministry, I couldn't get this incident out of my mind. I was furious! Leaders should have spiritual maturity! I put my lesson aside, called my own spiritual leader and vented. No matter how well I argued my point, she refused to be intimidated by my self rightness. Instead, she pointed out my own fault in the matter. She gave me godly counsel. Her refusal to agree with me forced me to humble myself and get alone with the Lord. This gave Him the opportunity to tell me that I had to apologize to the woman before I could teach the next day.
I was fuming as I took the long, torturous walk through the sanctuary, out the foyer and into her office. I was still convinced of my rightness, but I knew I had to obey the Lord. I humbled myself and said, “I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I was wrong.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, the craziest thing happened! Suddenly, my sin of judging her was the only sin that had been committed! I did not need her to see her fault or lack of maturity. I didn't need her to repent for her wounded spirit. A powerful love and understanding filled my soul. I had been the one walking in the counsel of the ungodly, my own counsel. Godly counsel, though it was offensive to my flesh, saved me from falling deeper into the deception of my own pride and offense.
Proverbs 10:21&22, “The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for lack of wisdom. The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.”
Who doesn't love Todd White's testimony? For months after he was saved, he followed God's voice alone. Many believers from his church thought the worst of him. Words were spoken against him and even his wife became embarrassed by the things God told him to do. He walked in Love, however, always obeying the voice of the Father. Never arguing or railing against those who oppressed him, or disagreed with him. He loved his wife. He worked harder to meet her needs and lift the burden from her shoulders while never compromising what God told him to do. He obeyed the voice of his Father month after lonely month. The man we see and love today is a result of the man who walked out the sacrifice of obedience when no one was looking or cheering him on. All he knew was that he had to obey his Father's voice.
Many believers today are dying on the inside, suffering from wounds the world can't see. They look blessed on the outside, but there is great sorrow inside. Offense. Pain. Weariness. We need to recognize the difference in godly counsel and the counsel of the ungodly. The blessing of the Lord adds no sorrow. We need to know the sound of our Father's voice.
So how can we know the difference, you ask? Here are five ways to spot ungodly counsel.
1. Ungodly counsel is any counsel that has an agenda.
2. Ungodly counsel comes from our flesh, meaning our emotions are involved.
3. Ungodly counsel comes from opinion. Opinion resists faith and is “anything other than fact.”
4. Ungodly counsel often comes from fear as in Peter's case and fear is the opposite of faith.
5. Ungodly counsel will always lead us away from the Presence of God. Our fire dies out.
Ungodly counsel causes our heart to grow cold. Cold love is insincere love and insincere love eventually leads to a stony heart; a heart that has lost the tenderness of His presence.
Like Peter, a godly man or woman can speak out of the flesh. They can give ungodly counsel, but they can also be corrected. They know their Father's voice when He speaks and their only desire is to follow Him.
This is what truly sets us apart. Not segregation, and not that we always get things right, but that we are always following the voice of our Father. Our Father's voice sounds like Love. Perfect Love. “There is no fear in Love…” I John 4:18. Whenever my kids come to a crossroad, I tell them to get still. Get in a place where they can silence the voice of fear. I tell them, “Find peace. Wherever there is peace, that is your Daddy's voice. Follow it.”
My oldest son honored his dad and me for years by asking our advice when making major decisions. One day he had a decision to make and I definitely had an opinion about it, but the Lord told me, “I will not give you the answer this time. This is between him and Me. He cannot follow you any longer. He has to hear Me now.” When I told my son what the Lord had said, he gave a “Whoop!” He already knew where his peace lay. He did the very thing I did not want him to and in the course of following that road, he received a college degree and met his beautiful wife. This far, they have blessed me with two amazing grandchildren and many wonderful testimonies of the goodness of God. How different might his life be if I had ignored the voice of God? I shudder to think.
The voice of our wants is loud. The voice of our will is louder. The voice of those we admire may be louder still, but if we Love our Father, there is no contest.
And let me add that while you're contemplating the fact that ungodly counsel can come from the most well meaning sources, remember that godly counsel can come from surprising places as well. Just ask Balaam; a donkey saved his life. The only question you really have to answer today is, “Do you know the sound of your Father's voice?”