Counseling One Another

Helping you grow in God's all-sufficient truth and grace

Counseling One Another

April 23, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Is God Enough?

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalm 16:5-6)

Today, if you lost everything you hold dear in this world, would God be enough? Would your heart be peacefully content? Joyful?

The only way for you and me to walk through this temporal life with hope that endures is to find our fullest joy and satisfaction in God himself. If our relationship with God is not our highest treasure then our faith will not endure all the unforeseen troubles that lie in our path. This is the key lesson from Psalm 16.

“The Lord is my chosen portion” is David’s testimony and the theme of his song.

To encourage you to come to the same resolution, the Holy Spirit reveals four indications from David’s life that the Lord was enough for him and, likewise, should be enough for you.

First, your most-valued community should be God and his people. The Lord is the only one whom David could rely upon for his well-being, ultimately. But David’s faith was not private, not isolated from others. Instead, he knew his spiritual health was partially dependent upon living in community with other “saints in light…in whom was [his] delight” (v. 3). In other words, he chose “the excellent ones” to be his closest companions, not those “who run after another god” (v. 4). Along with David, can you say, “Lord, I have no good apart from you” (v. 2)?

Second, your contentment needs to be in God and his providence. Again, David says, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup.” But he goes on to say to God, “you hold my lot” (v. 5), and “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places,” which are reminiscent of the boundaries of the Promised Land allocated by God himself. By keeping divine wisdom and goodness connected to the sovereignty of God, in his own life, David was able to acknowledge that he, too, had “a beautiful inheritance.” Are you content with the arrangement of matters in your life?

Third, your commitment must be to praise God, and follow his Word, at all times. Like David, say, “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel,” and “I have set the Lord always before me.” As a result, David can say, “I shall not be shaken” (v. 8). As a spiritual discipline, praise keeps your mind and emotions fixed upon God, instead of the trouble that threatens to shake you. Are you praising God, and heeding his Word?

Fourth, your greatest comfort will be from God and his presence, both here and in eternity. David looked beyond the troubles of the present to the hope of future glory in the presence of God (v. 10). The wellbeing of your mind and heart come from intentional reminders that God not only makes known to you “the path of life,” but also will one day bring you into his very presence where “there is fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” (v. 11).

            Is God enough for you?

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April 23, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

When Truth Doesn’t Seem to Work – “Ultimately, it is God’s Word that transforms as the Holy Spirit does His work, but we must make it our goal to fuel faith in Christ and worship of Christ by bringing truth to bear on people’s lives at a level that is understandable, practical, and personal.”

What Does “Coram Deo” Mean? – To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God.

Guarding Against Gossip – An ACBC podcast with Caroline Newheiser.

Previous Post: Two Right Ways to Respond to Gossip

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April 22, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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God Does Not Delight to Grieve the Children of Men

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men. (Lamentations 3:31-33)

Feelings of rejection may accompany loss. Sometimes you may even think God has set his heart against you. But “the Lord will not cast off forever” those who belong to him, even when his holiness and dedication to your growth in faith and godliness activate his fatherly discipline.

According to Lamentations 1:5, it was the Lord who afflicted Judah “for the multitude of her transgressions.” But God did not simply chastise her, and then cast her away. In humbling Judah, he also reminded her of his great faithfulness, mercy, and promise of future restoration. In essence, the Lord said, “Remember, I love you. But I am bringing this pain into your life because I want the best for you, because I want to change you. Submit your will to me. Learn and grow.”

This serves to remind us that there are times in which grief and loss enter our lives as the result of our sinful choices. Not always, of course, as pain and suffering are an unfortunate part of living in this fallen world, and “many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19).

The Bible does not support the idea that all personal suffering is the consequence of personal sin. Nevertheless, we will not be biblically-balanced in our thinking if we fail to acknowledge that sometimes we reap what we sow. Still, when this is the case, Scripture assures us that God “does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.”

God does not take pleasure in your pain.

He does not delight to grieve you, but he desires for you to walk closely with him, in the path of blessing. And this desire is greater and more valuable than an easy or pain-free life.

If you have repented of your sin, and trust in Jesus as your sin-atoning Lord and Savior, then God has already punished your sins (1 John 2:2). As a result, the punishing Judge is now your disciplining Father. Therefore, God will allow pain and sorrow as temporary means to bring you back to pleasant fellowship, and train you in righteousness (Hebrews 12:3-11). But when he does so, Jeremiah says, he will also have “compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.” God will never default on any of his promises, or act outside his integrity and character. You can be sure of that.

Pain is an effective teacher. So much so, that, when you come out on the other side you will affirm the psalmist’s testimony:

I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,
    and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” (Psalm 119:75)

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April 18, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

What Is the Day that the Lord Has Made? – An excellent 3-minute Wordboard video explaining the meaning of Psalm 118:24.

More Truth About Self-Care – Part two of an important article from the True Woman blog.

When Churches Can’t Do Everything – Valuable insight from Kevin DeYoung.

Is the Church Breeding Loneliness? – An insightful interview with Rosaria Butterfield.

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April 17, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” (Psalm 22:1-2)

Life hurts, and sometimes God seems far away. But if you feel forsaken or forgotten, know this: You are not alone. Jesus not only experienced feelings of being abandoned, He actually was forsaken. The Father turned away from Jesus when our guilt and sin were placed upon the Lamb of God, and he was punished. Jesus endured real abandonment from God, so that you and I would never have to be turned away. This is a major takeaway from Psalm 22.

The opening cry is the most well-known verse in the Psalm, since it was fulfilled when it became Jesus’s own cry of abandonment while he hung upon the cross (Mark 15:34). But there is more here.

These were first the words of King David, as his cry echoed the intensity of suffering in a fallen world. It paints a portrait of life in the darkest tones of gray. Here we see the reality of hurt, and its effects. But we also find hope that transcends pain and loss. The transparency of Psalm 22 allows us to enter David’s painful world, and then see the one to whom the Holy Spirit ultimately pointed—the Man of Sorrows, and our coming King, Jesus Christ.

For our sakes, the Holy Spirit recorded David’s real-life experiences in such a way that they also perfectly foreshadowed the Savior’s suffering. As David’s greater Son, the trouble and abuse our Savior endured are thoroughly described.

Today’s meditation is more like a personal Bible study. To get the most out of it, you will want to open your Bible to Psalm 22, and let me help you see Jesus. Consider how David’s laments are brought to completion in the sufferings of our Savior.

Consider the sufferings of Jesus.

  • Deep sense of abandonment, loss of relationship (vv. 1-2). Compare these verses with Mark 15:33-34.
  • Despised by others (v. 6). Meditate on Isaiah 53:3.
  • Looks of contempt, mocking gestures (v. 7). Read Mark 15:27-30.
  • Verbal assault and insult (v. 8). See this fulfillment in Mark 15:31-32 and Luke 23:39.
  • Alone and in trouble (v. 11). For one example, read Matthew 26:38-40.
  • Surrounded by enemies (vv. 12-13). Compare Matthew 26:43-46.
  • Crushed spirit, physical exhaustion to the point of death (v. 14-15). Meditate on John 19:28-30.
  • Intense pain, physical abuse (v. 16). John 19:1-3 describes some, as does Luke 23:33.
  • Humiliation (v. 17). For one example, read Luke 23:35.
  • Shame of nakedness (v. 18). See its fulfillment in Matthew 27:28, 35.
  • Need for outside help (vv. 19-21). Read Mark 14:35-36, 15:20-21.

Nevertheless, mingled throughout the horrific suffering described here are truths about the character of God. He is the ultimate source of hope and strength.

Consider the strength of God.

  • God is holy and sovereign (v. 3).
  • God is trustworthy (4).
  • God is dependable (v. 5).
  • God is near (vv. 9-10).
  • God is our helper (v. 19-21).

As the psalm winds down to its ending, you see more and more glimpses of King David’s faith in the coming Messiah. God’s kingship is declared (vv. 27-28), while David continues to seek the tenderness and love which flow from God’s sympathetic heart.

Consider the sympathy of God.

  • God is aware of your suffering (v. 24).
  • God will take care of you (v. 26).

Life hurts, but God heals. He heals through Jesus. Because of Jesus’s suffering, you can be assured there is no grief or loss you experience that is outside his understanding or compassion. Nothing beyond his redemption.

So when your heart is broken, and your soul is disillusioned, turn your eyes upon Jesus. He truly understands and cares. And he is the lover of your soul.

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April 16, 2019
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on Your Faith Is More Precious than Gold

Your Faith Is More Precious than Gold

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6–7)

Intense, prolonged suffering can bring believers to the point of despair; filled with protest and, like Job, wishing they had been carried directly from the womb to the tomb (Job 10:19). This is the constant reality of suffering. The Apostle Peter understood this and counseled his afflicted readers with the above encouragement. From these verses you should be encouraged by five truths.

First, trials are temporary. They are “for a little while” in contrast to eternity with Jesus. More than that, your “light momentary affliction is preparing for [you] and eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Remember, the “sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed” to you (Romans 8:18).

Second, trials only come to us if they are “necessary.” God, in his infinite wisdom, knows exactly what kinds of trials must be designed to stimulate the growth necessary for our own spiritual health. For example, God permitted Satan to give Paul a “thorn in the flesh.” But it was for his own good, and for a specific purpose, to stunt the growth of cancerous pride (2 Corinthians 12:7–10).

Third, trials are distressing. The word “grieved” does not refer merely to sorrow in trials, but to the mental effects of suffering. The psalmist knew and admitted this: “Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 69:20).

Fourth, trials are diverse; they are “various” in form. They come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they afflict our bodies and other times our minds. Sometimes they disturb our comfort zones and other times our loved ones. No matter their source, trials provide opportunities to be trained in godliness as God uses them to discipline us toward Christlikeness (Hebrews 12:6, 11).

Fifth, trials are refining to your faith, “though it is tested by fire.” God does not ordain trials to set you up for failure, but to prove the “genuineness” of your faith. Trials heat up the furnace of your faith, giving God the opportunity to purify it, and prove to you that it is “more precious than gold” (Cf. Job 23:10). As this process takes place, and you continue to believe in him whom you cannot see, the ultimate outcome of your faith is your salvation (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Trials not only prepare you for eternity. They make you ache for it. And that is a good thing.

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April 15, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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“Joy Beyond the Sorrow”

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody! (Psalm 57:7)

Singing infuses strength to our inner person, as it gently applies healing truth to our hurting hearts. However, sometimes our emotions don’t seem very cooperative. We don’t always feel like singing. When this is the case we need to make a conscious choice to sing to the Lord, even when we don’t feel ready.

David wrote Psalm 57 during one of those times. Most likely he was fleeing from King Saul, and overtaken by fear. His mind multiplied, maybe even exaggerated, the number of his enemies. Regardless of the number, though, to him they were like “lions” and “fiery beasts,” describing them as men “whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords” (Psalm 57:4).

Listen and learn from David. Notice how he works through his hurts and fears. In the face of real and potential hurts, he pleads with God for mercy, and determines to hide in the shadow of God’s wings until “the storms of destruction pass by” (Psalm 57:1). But as he waits for God’s deliverance, David is not passive. Instead he feeds his faith by determining to sing to God. “I will sing and make melody.” His choice to sing flowed from his faith, but also fed into his faith. It was a circular motion. Singing to and about the Lord helped his heart to remain steadfast, anchored to the God of joy.

For the Christian, this is the way it is. Joys and hurts are mixed, mingled together on life’s journey. Sorrow moves us toward the source of true joy—hope in Jesus. And the reality of hope in Jesus keeps our joy afloat in times of sorrow. Because of this connection, God-centered music can be a conduit for healing grace. Kevin Twit, a writer and producer of modern worship music, describes this well.

I suppose joy and sorrow are the two great inspirations for song in our world. It has long been this way. Suffering is real and grievous, and it is an obscenity of sorts to deny it in our preaching or our songs. But Christians believe that while suffering is real, it is not ultimate. We believe there is a “joy beyond the sorrow” and we sing to mold our hearts around this reality.[1]

“We sing to mold our hearts around this reality.” What he means is this: The discipline of singing to the Lord conforms our hearts (thoughts, emotions, and will) around reality, what is actually true. Like David, we must choose to sing in order to realign our emotions with biblical certainties.

Affliction and the grief it produces are part of living in a fallen world. Yet, as a Christian, you have a hope that the world does not have. Therefore, heavenly joy can always be mingled with your earthly sorrow. You can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). Singing is a God-given means to maintain this connection.

            Are you singing?


[1] From the back of the lyric sheet from the album Joy Beyond the Sorrow from Indelible Grace Music, 2012.

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April 11, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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Relief from Bitterness of Soul

The Lord will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the Lord. (Isaiah 38:20)

Hezekiah, the king of Israel, was 39 years old when he heard the diagnosis, terminal illness. The prophet Isaiah delivered the news. “Set your house in order,” he said, “for you shall die, you shall not recover” (Isaiah 38:1). But the king wasn’t ready to die. He wanted more time. So he pleaded with the Lord. God answered, “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears,” and gave him 15 more years.

To encourage him even more, the Lord turned back the sun ten steps on the dial to symbolize how he had turned back the clock on the king’s life (Isaiah 38:2-8). When he recovered, Hezekiah wrote a poem (Isaiah 38:9-20). From this poem, you learn more about how to cry out to God in both lament and praise.

You may honestly voice your thoughts, fears, and disappoints. In raw honesty, the Bible records the king’s first response to the bad news. He was in the prime of his life: “In the middle of my days I must depart.” He would not see God’s promise to return Israel to their land: “I shall not see the Lord…in the land of the living.” He felt like his home was a shepherd’s tent about to be “plucked up and removed.” His life had become a mere weaver’s cloth to be rolled up and carried away. Like a lion, God was breaking the king’s bones. As a result, the king moaned like a dove. Like an injured bird, he chirped. But his complaining was directed at the right person: “O Lord, I am oppressed; be my pledge of safety!”

Again, be reminded.

Complaining about God, impugning his character, is sin. But complaining to God about your pain is an act of faith. It is a God-given means for you to grieve your loss, to walk through your valley with God.

So allow your heart to be refined by suffering.

In the bitterness of his soul, the king interacted with God. The bitterness mentioned here is not stubborn resentment against God, or a refusal to forgive others, of which a true believer in Christ must repent (Ephesians 4:31; Hebrews 12:15). It’s the bitterness of soul, the inner pain resulting from prolonged, multi-layered suffering which becomes distasteful. It’s what Proverbs 14:10 speaks of, “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”

This is what Hezekiah felt.

However, in time, the king came to realize his illness was for his spiritual wellbeing. “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness.” His health challenge was from God, given “in love,” in order that he might know more deeply the deliverance of God’s salvation. Infinitely more important than deliverance from death is his recognition of God’s salvation from sin: “for you have cast all my sins behind your back.”

For this reason, his poem ends with a confession of faith: “The Lord will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the Lord.”

Who is your soul talking to?

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April 11, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

How To Weep With Those Who Weep – “Just as we are commanded to weep with God’s people, so we are commanded to weep with him. God gives us grief in order that we may share his heart for his people, his kingdom, and his glory. “

I Was There – This is one of the most important articles you can read concerning today’s Social Justice Movement.

Hospital Viruses: Face Cancerous Nodes in CT Scans Created by Malware – Interesting and scary.

Tell Me Again, Why Am I an Elder? – Twelve reasons.

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April 10, 2019
by Paul Tautges
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ANNOUNCING the First Two Disability-Themed LifeLine Mini-Books

Here is exciting news for those affected by disabilities, and those who minister to them. In partnership with Joni & Friends, many have been working diligently to begin a new category within the LifeLine Mini-Books. The first two are now available.

HELP! Disability Pressures Our Marriage

Disability enters families in many different ways. Perhaps a genetic abnormality results in a child being born with a disability. Or perhaps a work injury renders a husband or wife unemployable or in need of 24/7 care. The possibilities are endless. Regardless of the cause, however, disability adds pressure to the marriage relationship. This mini-book is a gift to couples who are looking for biblical help to learn how to respond to their “new normal.”

Authored by Ernie Baker, DMin, Westminister Theological Seminary, has served in pastoral ministry since 1980. He currently serves as Pastor of Counseling at First Baptist of Jacksonville, Florida, where he helps to oversee pastoral care and the Grace Center for Biblical Counseling.

HELP! My Grandchild has a Disabilty

Kings and queens wear crowns, but the Bible says grandkids are crowns to their grandparents (Prov. 17:6). But what if your crown is not what you expected? What if your grandchild has a disability? This mini-book offers grandparents their rightful place as kings and queens to their families. If the Lord has blessed you with a grandchild that has a disability, then roll up your sleeves and get ready to polish that precious and beautiful crown!

Authored by Dave Deuel, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow – Policy and Publications, the Christian Institute at Joni and Friends, and Academic Dean Emeritus, the Master’s Academy International. In addition to serving in seminary and pastoral ministry he also serves in advisory and policy roles for disability organizations including the State Council on Disability for California.

Order these encouraging little books, or any of the other 33 Lifeline mini-books from Shepherd Press by clicking here.

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