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     Seek Wise Counsels--- Blind Intersections

 

All the passages below are taken from Max Lucado’s book “Facing Your Giants” published in 2006.

          http://www.maxlucado.com/

 

     I CAN GET LOST anywhere. Seriously. Anywhere. The simplest map confuses me; the clearest trail bewilders me. I couldn't track an elephant through four feet of snow. 1 can misread instructions to the bathroom down the hall. Indeed, once I did and embarrassed several women in a fast-food restaurant in Fort Worth.

     My list of mishaps reads like comedy ideas for the Pink Panther.

 

 

     If geese had my sense of direction, they'd spend winters in Alaska. I can relate to Columbus, who, as they say, didn't know where he was going when he left, didn't know where he was when he got there, and didn't know where he had been when he got back.

     Can you relate? Of course you can. We've all scratched our heads a time or two, if not at highway intersections, at least at the crossroads of life. The best of navigators have wondered, do I...

 

 

     One of life's giant-size questions is How can I know what God wants me to do? and David asks it. He's just learned of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. Suddenly the throne is empty, and David's options are open. But before he steps out, he looks up:

 

It happened after this that David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?" And the LORD said to him, "Go up." David said, "Where shall I go up?" And He said, "To Hebron." (2 Samuel 2:1)

 

     David makes a habit of running his options past God. And he does so with a fascinating tool. The ephod. Trace its appearance to David's initial escape from Saul. David seeks comfort from the priests of Nob. Saul accuses the priests of harboring the fugitive, and, consistent with Saul's paranoia, he murders them. One priest by the name of Abiathar, however, flees. He escapes with more than just his life; he escapes with the ephod.

 

     After Abiathar took refuge with David, he joined David in the raid on Keilah, bringing the Ephod with him.

... David got wind of Saul's strategy to destroy him and said to Abiathar the priest, "Get the Ephod." Then David prayed to God: "God of Israel, I've just heard that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the city because of me. Will the city fathers of Keilah turn me over to him? Will Saul come down and do what I've heard? 0 God, God of Israel, tell me!"

     GOD replied, "He's coming down."

     "And will the head men of Keilah turn me and my men over to Saul?"

     And GOD said, "They'll turn you over."

     So David and his men got out of there. (1 Samuel 23:6, 9-13 MSG)

 

     David dons the ephod, speaks to God, and receives an answer. Something similar occurs after the destruction of Ziklag. With his village in ruins and his men enraged,

 

he ordered Abiathar the priest, son of Ahimelech, "Bring me the Ephod so I can consult God." Abiathar brought it to David.

     Then David prayed to GOD, "Shall I go after these raiders? Can I catch them?"

     The answer came, "Go after them! Yes, you'll catch them! Yes, you'll make the rescue!" (30:7-8 MSG)

 

     What is happening? What is this ephod? What made it so effective? And are they sold in department stores?

     The ephod originated in the era of the wilderness wanderings. Moses presented the first one to Aaron, the priest. It was an ornate vest, woven of white linen, in-wrought with threads of blue, purple, scarlet, and gold. A breastplate bearing twelve precious stones adorned the vest. The breastplate contained one or two, maybe three, resplendent diamonds or diamondlike stones. These stones had the names Urim and Thummim. No one knows the exact meaning of the terms, but "light" and "perfection" lead the list.

     God revealed his will to the priests through these stones. How? Ancient writers have suggested several methods. The stones

 

 

     While we speculate on the technique, we don't need to guess at the value. Would you not cherish such a tool? When faced with a puzzling choice, David could, with reverent heart, make a request, and God would answer.

Will Saul come after me? He will.

Will the men capture me? They will.

Should I pursue the enemy? You should.

Will I overtake them? You will.

Oh, that God would do the same for us. That we could ask and he would answer. That we could cry out and he would reply. Wouldn't

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          The God who guided David guides you

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you love to have an ephod? Who's to say you don't? God hasn't changed. He still promises to guide us:

 

The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." (Psalm 32:8 NLT)

 

Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. (Proverb 3:6 NLT)

 

 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21 NIV)

 

My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

(John 10:27 NLT)

 

     The God who guided David guides you. You simply need to consult your Maker. I wish I'd sought counsel before I made a recent decision. I awoke early one morning for a meeting. When searching for some breakfast, I spotted a plastic bag of cookies in the kitchen. Denalyn and our daughter Sara had just attended a school bake sale, so I thought, What great luck! Breakfast cookies. Denalyn must have set them out for me.

     I ate one and found it very chewy, almost gummy. Interesting texture, I thought. Reminds me of pita bread. I ate a second. The taste was a bit subtle for my preference, but when mixed with coffee, it made for an interesting option. I grabbed a third for the road. I would have grabbed the fourth, but only one remained, so I left it for Denalyn.

     Later in the day she phoned. "Looks like someone has been in the bag."

     "It was me," I admitted. "I've had better breakfast cookies, but those weren't bad."

     "Those weren't breakfast cookies, Max." "They weren't?"

     "No."

     "What were they?"

     "Homemade dog biscuits."

     "Oh ..." That explained a lot. That explained the gummy texture and the tasteless taste. That also explained why all day each time I scratched my belly, my leg kicked. (Not to mention my sudden interest in fire hydrants.)

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          You have a Bible? Read it.

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     I should've consulted the maker. We need to consult ours.

     Maybe you have no Urim and Thummim stones, but ...

     You have a Bible? Read it.

     Has any other book ever been described in this fashion: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrew 4:12 NIV)?

     "Living and active." The words of the Bible have life! Nouns with pulse rates. Muscular adjectives. Verbs darting back and forth across the page. God works though these words. The Bible is to God what a surgical glove is to the surgeon. He reaches through them to touch deep within you.

     Haven't you felt his touch?

     In a late, lonely hour, you read the words "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you" (Hebrew 13:5 NLT). The sentences comfort like a hand on your shoulder.

     When anxiety termites away at your peace, someone shares this passage: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6 NIV). The words stir a sigh from your soul.

            Or perhaps laziness is knocking on your door. You're considering a halfhearted effort when Colossians 3:23 comes to mind: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (NIV). Such words can cut, can't they?

     Put them to use. "Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other" (Colossians 3:16 NLT).

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          You have a family of faith? Consult it.

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     Don't make a decision, whether large or small, without sitting before God with open Bible, open heart, open ears, imitating the prayer of Samuel: "Your servant is listening" (1 Samuel. 3:10 NLT).

     You have a Bible? Read it.

     You have a family of faith? Consult it.

     Others have asked your question. You aren't the first to face your problem. Others have stood where you stand and wondered what you wonder. Seek their advice. "Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith" (Hebrew I3:7 NRSV).

     Is your marriage tough? Find a strong one. Wrestling with business ethics? Seek sage advice from a Christian businessperson. Battling midlife decisions? Before you abandon your family and cash in your retirement, take time to get counsel. "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice" (Proverb 12:15 NIV).

     You don't need an ephod to wear or stones to consult; you have God's family. He will speak to you through it. And he will speak to you through your own conscience.

     You have a heart for God? Heed it.

     Christ nudges the Christ-possessed heart. "God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him" (Philippians 2:13 NCV). What does your heart tell you to do? What choice spawns the greatest sense of peace?

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          Christ nudges the Christ-possessed heart.

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     Some years ago Denalyn and I were a signature away from moving from one house to another. The structure was nice, and the price was fair.... It seemed a wise move. But I didn't feel peaceful about it. The project stirred unease and restlessness. I finally drove to the builder's office and removed my name from his list. To this day I can't pinpoint the source of the discomfort. I just didn't feel peaceful about it.

     A few months ago I was asked to speak at a racial unity conference. I intended to decline but couldn't bring myself to do so. The event kept surfacing in my mind like a cork in a lake. Finally I agreed. Returning from the event, I still couldn't explain the impression to be there. But I felt peaceful about the decision, and that was enough.

     Sometimes a choice just "feels" right. When Luke justified the writing of his gospel to Theophilus, he said, "Since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent

Theophilus" (1:3 NIV).

     Did you note the phrase "it seemed good also to me"? These words reflect a person standing at the crossroads. Luke pondered his options and selected the path that "seemed good."

     Jude did likewise. He intended to dedicate his epistle to the topic of salvation, but he felt uneasy with the choice. Look at the third verse of his letter.

 

Dear friends, I wanted very much to write you about the salvation we all share. But I felt the need to write you about something else: I want to encourage you to fight hard for the faith that was given the holy people of God once and for all time. (NCV)

 

     Again the language. "I wanted ... But I felt. .." From whence came Jude's feelings? Did they not come from God? The same God who "is working in you to help you want to do ... what pleases him" (Philippians 2:13 NCV).

     God creates the "want to" within us.

     Be careful with this. People have been known to justify stupidity based on a "feeling." "I felt God leading me to cheat on my wife ... disregard my bills ... lie to my boss ... flirt with my married neighbor." Mark it down: God will not lead you to violate his Word. He

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          God will not lead you to violate his Word.

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will not contradict his teaching. Be careful with the phrase "God led me. .." Don't banter it about. Don't disguise your sin as a leading of God. He will not lead you to lie, cheat, or hurt. He will faithfully lead you through the words of his Scripture and the advice of his faithful.

     You need no ephod or precious stones; you have a heart in which God's Spirit dwells. As F. B. Meyer wrote a century ago:

 

Each child of God has his own Urim and Thummim stone.... a conscience void of offense, a heart cleansed in the blood of Christ, a spiritual nature which is pervaded and filled by the Holy Spirit of God.... Are you in difficulty about your way? Go to God with your question; get direction from the light of his smile or the cloud of his refusal.... get alone, where the lights and shadows of earth cannot interfere, where the disturbance of self-will does not intrude, where human opinions fail to reach... wait there silent and expectant, though all around you insist on immediate decision or action---the will of God will be made clear; and you will have ... a new conception of God, [and] a deeper insight into his nature.2

 

You have a heart for God? Heed it.

A family of faith? Consult it.

A Bible? Read it.

You have all you need to face the giant-size questions of your life. Most of all you have a God who loves you too much to let you wander. Trust him ... and avoid the dog biscuits. [89-99]

 

Notes

1. George Arthur Butterick, ed., The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, (Nashville: Abingdon, 1962), s.v. "Urim and Thummin," and Merrill C. Tenney, gen. ed., Pictorial Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Southwestern Company, 1975), s.v. "Urim and Thummim."

2. F B. Meyer. David: Shepherd, Psalmist, King (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1977), 101-2.

 

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