Counseling One Another

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Counseling One Another

September 29, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Three Sleep Aids from Psalm 3

It’s 4:00 a.m. and I’m awake, my body still recovering from jet lag. This is to be expected after teaching Common Issues Addressed in Biblical Counseling in Ukraine, last week. Unexpectedly, however, counseling people with sleep problems generated more class discussion than many other topics. And surprisingly, the very next day William Varner, a Bible teacher at Master’s University, posted on Facebook his outline for Psalm 3, which he entitled “Advice for Insomniacs.” Therefore, I decided to borrow Dr. Varner’s outline for the skeleton of this article, while filling it in with thoughts from my class notes, my students, and commentary from Alec Motyer’s Psalms By the Day.

First, let’s read Psalm 3.

O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah

Here we find 3 unchangeable truths that act as spiritual sleep aids when we—by deliberate faith—focus our attention on the Lord.

God Surrounds You like a Shield.

Verses 1-2 establish the setting of David’s trial. Absalom’s cunning deception of some in the kingdom through his smooth speech turned David’s peaceful reign into wartime terror (see 2 Samuel 15). As a result, fear overtook David’s heart as the dissenters mocked him and God’s “so-called protection.”

When the circumstances of life become fertile ground for fear and anxiety to flourish in your heart, make a decisive shift in your focus—turn from the accusations of the wicked to rock-solid truth about God. Say to God, “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Fight fear with the greater fear of fearing God above man. Know that, in Christ, God is not against you, but He is for you (Rom. 8:31). He will never leave you, nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5). The Lord has proven Himself faithful to me more times than I can count. He will do the same for you. Trust Him.

God Sustains You by Your Sleep.

David’s child-like trust in God as Protector led to constant prayer: “I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill” (v. 4). Cry. Cry aloud. Cry to God. Tell Him all your fears. Hide nothing from Him. He knows it all already. Find comfort and security in His gentle, loving arms.

When the trials of life threaten to overtake your faith then run to the Lord. Do not cease to cry out to Him for help regardless of the verbal taunts of the ungodly people who surround you. He will answer you, as He answered David, and will sustain you with peaceful sleep. Verses 5-6 will then become your personal testimony, “I lay down and slept [literally, “And how I slept!”]; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” Alec Motyer translates this “The Lord my pillow!” This kind of rest in the Lord produces confidence: “I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.”

God Secures You with His Salvation.

Verses 7-8 reveal David’s confident assertion of the Lord’s ultimate salvation. He knew that no matter what his enemies attempted to do to him that God always gets the final word. It was the Lord who would strike down David’s enemies; God would break their teeth. Alec Motyer says “strike the cheek” signifies rebuke, and “breaking teeth” signifies God’s rendering of David’s enemies as harmless in the end. In God’s hands, they are merely toothless tigers who make a lot of racket, but ultimately cannot harm the one whom God protects.

All of this is to say, finally, that “Salvation belongs to the Lord.” It is God who cares for those who belong to Him. Though He often leads us through deep waters and dark valleys, His blessing is on His people. There is no reason to fear. Look to Him. Go back to bed, my soul, lay down and sleep.

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September 29, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS [9/29/16]

Here’s a few articles I think are important for you to read:

Therapeutic Praise – I was working on an article on this very subject. Now I don’t have to write it. Here’s why emotionally honest people love the Psalms.

For the Bible Tells Me So: Biblical Authority Denied…Again – Al Mohler confronts the unbiblical and, therefore, very dangerous teaching of Andy Stanley.

That’s It! – Andy Farmer talks about his new book, Trapped: Getting Free from People, Patterns, and Problems.

Me…Pray with Others? – Erin Davis shares how her view of corporate prayer has changed.

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September 23, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS

The Struggle of Rejoicing with Those who Rejoice – “You may not think of opening your mail as a prime time for temptation, but it can be if your life has not panned out exactly the way you hoped it would.”

The Immense Value of Missionary Biographies – “I want to commend to you the practice of reading missionary biographies by highlighting just a few reasons why they are so valuable.”

Historic Conference for Spanish Speakers Just the Beginning – Here’s the report of a historic TMAI conference.

The Beginner’s Guide to Conflict Resolution – “It’s simple: As believers we are not permitted by God to have open, unaddressed quarrels with other believers.”

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September 21, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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3 Reasons We Must Deal with Anger Biblically

It’s the third day of teaching here at Kiev Theological Seminary and we just finished up our class notes on anger. We learned how to biblically define anger, as well as the difference between righteous anger (which is extremely rare in human beings) and sinful anger. In contrast with the self-centered teachings of the unbelieving world, the Scriptures do not call us to “manage” anger but to recognize it as a fruit of the flesh (old man) that must be constantly put it away and, in its place, practice self-control and others-focused love.

We wrapped up this topic with three reasons we must deal with anger in a God-pleasing manner. The following outline is from Uprooting Anger by Robert Jones. I encourage you to work through these points and their corresponding Scriptures in your personal and/or small group study.

Reason #1: Avoiding injury to, and promoting the well-being of, your physical and spiritual health

Proverbs 14:29-30

Reason #2: Avoiding damage to, and promoting growth in, your interpersonal relationships

Ephesians 4:26-27

Reason #3: Avoiding God’s displeasure and bringing Him honor and delight

Colossians 3:5-11

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September 20, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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10 Things That Are True When I Confess My Sin

What is sin? One definition is that sin is anything within me, or an action produced by me, which fails to bring glory to God (Romans 3:23). Whenever the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of your heart to see your sin, it is healthy to turn to the Scriptures to fill your mind with truth. One of the most helpful portions to deliberately meditate on is 1 John 1:8-2:2.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Here we discover ten significant truths that you and I affirm every time we acceptably confess sin to God. Ponder these thoughts concerning God, sin, grace, forgiveness, and the sufficiency of Christ and his sacrificial work on your behalf. When I confess my sin…

  1. I acknowledge my innate sinfulness, not merely my “sins.” This is a very important reminder. I am not a sinner because I sin. Rather, I sin because I am a sinner. My sinfulness is directly linked to my connection with Adam (Romans 5:12). If I ever get to the point of believing that I “have no sin,” then I have deceived myself.
  1. I demonstrate that God’s truth is at work “in me.” To deny my innate sinfulness, or guilt concerning my sins, is to deny God and his truth and to admit that neither is in me.
  1. I fully agree with God that my thought, word, deed, motive, attitude, or any combination of them falls short of his glory. To “confess” means to say the same thing, that is, to agree with God that his judgment concerning my sin is accurate.
  1. God’s faithfulness and righteousness go to work on my behalf. When I agree with God concerning my sin, then he acts according to his promises that he made on my behalf. When he forgives, God manifests that he is faithful and just.
  1. God releases me from my debt. To “forgive” me means he lets go of my sin as an offense to him. He no longer holds it against me or seeks to punish me because he has already punished his Son, which displayed his amazing love (see Romans 5:8).
  1. God washes my sinful heart and conscience. He “cleanses” me from all sin. That is, he washes me again—in a fresh way—in the blood of Jesus, which was shed once for all (see Hebrews 7:27).
  1. I testify of God’s truthfulness. When I stubbornly refuse to humble myself and agree with God, then I “make Him a liar.”
  1. I confirm that God’s Word is at work “within me.” Dealing honestly with my sin before God and others is one of the evidences of my “new creature status” as a regenerated believer (2 Corinthians 5:17; James 1:18).
  1. Jesus steps up to be my righteous “advocate with the Father.” Jesus acts as my defense lawyer, bringing forth his wounded hands and feet as proof that my sin has already been paid for.
  1. I rest in the astounding sufficiency of the blood of Jesus, my propitiatory sacrifice. Each and every time I rightly agree with God concerning the accuracy of his assessment of my sin, my wearied soul finds rest in the wondrous truth that my Jesus has already satisfied the righteous demands of the Father and absorbed his wrath. I also testify that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is sufficient for the sins of every man, woman, and child who ever has been or will be.

Excerpted from my book Reasons for Unanswered Prayer by Cruciform Press, available at Cumberland Valley Bible and Books and WTS Books.

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September 16, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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NUGGETS [9/16/16]

Here’s a few links. Some have been around for a while, but I finally had a chance to read through a pile of articles while sitting in airports.

Is Your Church Messy Enough? – “What if one of the marks of a good church, a blessed church, is that it’s a messy church?”

Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD – “As a therapist who works with children, it makes perfect sense to me that French children don’t need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives.”

What Does the Bible Say About Self-Pity? – “At the heart of self-pity is a disagreement with God over how life—and He—has treated us.” I needed this.

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September 16, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Flashback Friday – Two Sides of Confession & Forgiveness

[Here’s a flashback from 2011.]

Here at the blog we have been thinking much the past week about forgiveness and the root of bitterness that grows in its absence. Today, let’s think about what may be the two most important New Testament passages concerning horizontal forgiveness (forgiveness between people) that should flow from vertical forgiveness (forgiveness from God). I recommend you walk through this study in your own personal Bible time and/or your small group. We will answer two questions:

  • What is my responsibility when I have sinned against another person?
  • What is my responsibility when I have been sinned against?

WHEN YOU HAVE SINNED (Matthew 5:23-24)

1.     Keep reconciliation of relationships in the body of Christ a high priority. Resist hypocritical worship and service to the Lord. Be willing to alter your schedule to make things right with another believer. See also Ephesians 4:1-3. We are called to preserve the unity that exists between believers in Christ. Also note Colossians 3:14, which calls us to love (which forgiveness flows from) as the perfect bond of unity.

2.     Take the initiative to go to the one you’ve offended. Don’t wait for the other person to come to you. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I looked someone in the eye and said, ‘I was wrong. Will you forgive me?’” If it’s been a long time then you have a problem with pride. Remember that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Study James 4:1-10.

WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN SINNED AGAINST (Matthew 18:21-35)

1.     Stop your record-keeping (vv. 21-22). See 1 Corinthians 13:5. Keeping a record of the sins of others demonstrates a shortage of biblical love. Destroy your sin lists.

2.     Remember how much God has forgiven you (vv. 23-27). The ESV Study Bible approximates that 10,000 talents is equivalent to $6 billion in our day, while 100 denarii equals about $12,000. What’s the point? God has, in Christ, forgiven us an incomprehensible sin debt. Therefore, the extent to which God has forgiven us is the new standard of our obligation to forgive others. The sin of another person against us has no comparison to our sin against God. See also Ephesians 4:32.

3.     Extend that same grace to others (vv. 28-30). Notice that the forgiven slave who refused to forgive another is called “wicked.” Do we view an unforgiving spirit in ourselves as that serious? See also Colossians 3:12-13.

4.     Be prepared to be confronted by others if you are unforgiving person (v. 31). An unforgiving person will stand out like a sore thumb in a forgiven community (local church). We must love each other enough to address this. See Galatians 6:1-2.

5.     Take God’s warning seriously (vv. 32-35). This passage ends with one of the most serious warnings in Scripture, which is also taught by Jesus in Matthew 6:14-15.

In conclusion, meditate on Romans 12:18-21. How does this Scripture passage apply to the problem of bitterness and the need for the ongoing practice of forgiving one another?

If we are in Christ then we have been forgiven. Now, it’s time to get serious about becoming forgiving.

Listen to related audio sermon.

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September 15, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Seven A’s of Confession

My week has been pretty crazy as I prepare for a teaching trip to Ukraine. So, I trust you will pardon me for cutting and pasting from my class notes. The following is a bite-sized portion from the lesson entitled Guilt, Repentance, and Forgiveness.

As God opens our eyes to see how we have sinned against others, He simultaneously offers to us a way to find freedom from our past wrongs. It’s called confession. Many people have never experienced this freedom because they have never learned how to confess their wrongs honestly and unconditionally. Instead, they use words like these: “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Let’s just forget the past.” “I suppose I could have done a better job.” “I guess it’s not all your fault.” These token statements rarely trigger genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. If you really want to make peace, ask God to help you breathe grace by humbly and thoroughly admitting your wrongs. One way to do this is to use the Seven A’s of Confession from Peacemaker Ministries.

  1. Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)Conflict
  2. Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
  3. Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
  4. Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
  5. Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
  6. Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
  7. Ask for forgiveness

See Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: HELP! I’m In a Conflict

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September 14, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Nuggets of Wisdom [9/15/16]

Here’s a couple links I found encouraging..

Eye-Rolling Is Not Discipleship – “A good shepherd leads the sheep to good food. He doesn’t drive them there. He doesn’t browbeat them there. He coaxes them forward.”

Emotions Are a Language – “Figuring out the message in someone’s emotions may take time and commitment, but it is a great work of love and leads us in that process of knowing and being known, which is a key feature of the Kingdom of Heaven.

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September 14, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Top Security for the Anxious Heart

Psalm 18 is an example of the emotional honesty of the Scriptures, which is something the church needs. Over the 32 years that I’ve been a believer, I’ve noticed a pattern among most Evangelicals; that is, that the only emotional expression that is perfectly acceptable for a “good Christian” is happiness. If we don’t portray ourselves as happy, happy, happy all the time then something must be wrong with us. Right?

Wrong. On the contrary, we find in the Scriptures, especially Psalms, every emotion that is part of the experience of serious believers. Psalm 18 is just one example. As David’s heart is gripped with fear, he prays to the Lord and exalts him as his “top security” (Alec Motyer’s translation). Here is Psalm 18:1-2,

I love you, Yahweh, my strength.

Yahweh, my crag [cliff, secure hiding place] and my fortress and my rescuer; my transcendent God, my rock in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my top security.

In the battle against anxiety, prayer is absolutely essential. Take note of verse 6: In the adversity I had I kept calling on Yahweh, and to my God I kept crying for help; from his temple he kept hearing my voice, and my cry before him for help kept coming into his ears.

Did you see the repetition of the word kept? Read the verse again. David’s battle against fear did not consist of zipping off a quick prayer to God once in a while, but it was a habit of his life. When anxious and under attack, David kept calling and kept crying for help; his cry kept coming before the ears of God. In response, God kept hearing. It was through the practice of prayer that God the Rock, fortress, and rescuer became—in David’s life experience—his top security.security

Any battle plan for anxiety that does not keep constant prayer near the top of the list is inadequate and ultimately powerless against the fears that regularly rise up in our fleshly minds and hearts. Let us become people who truly pray without ceasing in order that the peace of God may secure our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

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