YOU ARE A BIBLICAL COUNSELOR

Dear Christian Sister,

We are all called to be Biblical Counselors.

What Do we as Biblical Counselors do?

We Help women apply the Word of God to their life situations.

Peter was very clear in 2 Peter 1:3: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.

We have what we need to live godly lives and to help others in their walk with Jesus.

God is so good to give us the Holy Spirit to help us.

Holy Spirit’s Work in Biblical Counseling

We have hope from the Holy Spirit.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

In John 14:16-17 Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

The Holy Spirit is our Counselor and He gives us the ability to speak into other’s lives with His power. Counseling is the work of the Holy Spirit. He chooses His own times, means, and occasions for His work, always in accordance with Scripture.

If Christian counseling is not carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit it is not Christian counseling.

The Holy Spirit is the source of all true change in a believer’s life. Sanctification doesn’t happen without Him.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from one degree of glory to another. For this come from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians. 3:18).

The Holy Spirit expects Christians to counsel using the Word of God.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God maybe adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In 1 Corinthians 2:12-14, Paul tells us that we need the Spirit to understand the works and words of God.

The Word’s Work in Biblical Counseling

Hope from the Word.

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

“Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47).

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

And lastly,

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17).

This is not an exhausted list of Scriptures that speak about the word’s work in our lives, but it is a marvelous sampling.

So, dear Sister, you are a Biblical Counselor. What are your tools? The Word of God, applied by the Spirit of God through your words to another.

Sharpen your tools. Make sure before you speak to another the Word of God and the Spirit of God have done their work in you. Which means time in the word and prayer.

Know that when you speak the Word of God through the Spirit of God you speak precious words, powerful words, life-saving words.

And really, Biblical counseling is discipleship. It is walking with one another through this life to the next becoming more like Jesus as we go together.

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So go forth in faith. Jesus said He will go with you. What better company could you have?

You are loved!

TRUTH

John 8:31-32
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

My aim in this four part series is that we, dear Christian sister, not be swept away by the cultural deception that there is no absolute truth.

We have been looking at John 8:31-32 where Jesus makes it plain if we are abiding disciples we will know the truth which leads to a truth liberating freedom.

The only way to know this truth is to know the one who is Truth.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).


Jesus is the truth. He is the Gospel. What makes the Gospel true is Jesus. He is the Good News. On the Cross he bore our sins, becoming our bloody sacrifice, absorbing the wrath of God for his people. Now, Jesus walks by our living graves and says, “Live!” And we come out a new creation who knows the one who is Truth and he gives us the ability to be set free by the truth of his word.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

Through the Cross. Through the Gospel. Through Jesus Christ, God has bestowed grace and truth upon us who believe.

Pilate asked the question, every generation asks.

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him (John 18:38).

What is truth? Sadly, truth was standing right before Pilate and he could not, would not, recognize it.

So, too the truth stands before all men and women and they ask the same question oblivious to the Eternal Truth.

Now our culture has gone so far as to do away with the question. No absolute truth is the only way they can avoid asking the question and needing to deal with the only answer that will every satisfy us. You can do away with the question, but the answer is still before you and if not here and now, then in eternity you will have to face the one who is truth and the question will be answered for you.

To know the truth is not just to know something is true, but to understand it and apply it to our lives.

The definition of the word Jesus used means:
To learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel. It is the Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.

So, it is an intimate knowing, just not knowing about, but knowing deeply.

The way we do that is reading the truth in God’s word and applying to our lives. Get into a good Bible Study. There is really no excuse for not studying the Bible.

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Open it up; pray for the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom, knowledge and discernment to understand what you are reading.

There are wonderful resources on line. But, be discerning. Desiring God.com is a good place to start.

But, dear sister, you are an abiding disciple, so just what have you been set free from?

That is for next time. What is this glorious freedom?

Remember, you are loved

DISCIPLE

I began this series with the statement that we don’t want to be swept away by the cultural deception that there is no absolute truth. Christ followers know there is because they know the one who is Truth.

We are looking at John 8:31-32 so we can understand truth and be set free.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I said that the order of these words are important and can’t be changed.

You can’t be set free unless you know the truth and you won’t know the truth unless you are a disciple that abides or continues in Jesus’ word.

Last time we discovered that abiding means to continue to believe and obey His word. It means to grab hold and cling to His word. It is grabbing and clinging to the end. It is persevering through life’s storms and peaceful times with the same tenacity of grabbing and clinging until you leave this earth and meet Jesus face to face.

Who can abide? Disciples of Jesus.

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Disciple

What is a disciple?

Jesus said in Luke 6:40:
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.

The Greek word Jesus used for disciple means to learn and become attached to your teacher and follow their teaching and conduct of life.

For a follower of Jesus that means to be attached to him and follow his teaching and conduct of life. In other words, to be conformed to his image which is what you were born for (Romans 8:29).

To be a disciple, you must have been born again. As Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3:3:

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

And Peter wrote about in 1Peter 1:3, 23-25.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1Peter 1:3).

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Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you (1Peter 1:23-35)
.

It is through Jesus’ word, the Gospel, the Good News, that we are born again. It is through his word, all that is recorded in the Bible, that we are to abide or continue in, as we journey the disciple’s road through this life.


John said in John 8:31 if you are a disciple you will abide or continue in Jesus’ word.

The abiding disciple can expect a exceedingly great reward: truth that sets us free.

Next time we will study the word truth. What is this truth that has such great power?

EMBRACING LIFE’S SEASONS: THE EXAMPLE OF RUTH

Lesson Three

This has been fun. Have my coffee. Let’s go.

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Chapters Three and Four

Please take the time to read Ruth 3 and 4, if you have not. We are just considering the seasons in Ruth’s life and how she dealt with them, but this book is so wonderfully rich.

In Chapter 3 Naomi sends Ruth to ask Boaz to fulfill his role as Kinsman-Redeemer and he agrees, but first he must offer this role to a closer relative. Boaz assures Ruth if the closer relative will not redeem her, he will. Ruth tells all of this to Naomi and she says:

Ruth 3:18:

  1. She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”

Boaz meets with the other relative who declines to redeem Ruth. Boaz then performs the duties of the Kinsman-Redeemer as we see in:

Ruth 4:9-13, 17

  1. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon.
  2. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.”
  3. Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem,
  4. and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.”
  5. So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.
  6. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Discovery

In these passages, what seasons do we see in Ruth’s life?

Ruth’s season of waiting, although a short one, must have been a nail-biter. From all you have read about Ruth, how do you think she spent this time?

What common thread runs through all of Ruth’s seasons of life?

Summary

Wow! What a story. In Chapters 3 and 4 you might come up with several answers to the first question, what seasons do we see in this time of Ruth’s life?
.
The big one I saw was waiting. I hate waiting. Ruth must have been pacing the floor waiting to hear if Boaz the kind and trustworthy man she had come to know would redeem her or would it be a stranger she didn’t know. Maybe, could it be, when Naomi told Ruth in verse 18 to wait until you learn how the matter turns out, she was quoting Genesis 49:18 to her?

“I wait for your salvation, O Lord.”

I see Naomi grabbing Ruth’s hands in her’s and pulling her to the couch. “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out.”

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I have waited many years for some prayers to be answered and I am still waiting. Sometimes, I cry out with the Palmist: “My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord—how long” (Psalm 6:3)?

But then, I remember all the answered prayers and knowing that God is working all things for my good, I have learned to rest in God’s kind Providence.

We also see Ruth in the season of remarriage and motherhood. Ruth has learned that God provides redemption and restoration for those who trust and follow Him in good seasons and bad seasons.

Through all the seasons of Ruth’s life we see her fulfilling the vow she made to Naomi while still in Moab.

Ruth 1:16-17
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

Marriage, Childlessness, Widowhood, Working, Caregiving, Remarriage, Motherhood

Through it all Ruth displays love and loyalty, commitment to the LORD and people, faith and trust in God that allowed her to lay down her life for others, and also enabled her to wait patiently for the LORD to work on her behalf.

This is a beautiful story with a happy ending. We sigh with relief when we know Ruth and Naomi are happily under Boaz’s care.

Application

How do you survive in seasons of waiting? If you were in Ruth’s place would you be pacing the floor? Rush down to the city gate to see for yourself what was going on? Preparing a plan B?

Think about the season you are in now. What are your main concerns? What occupies the largest chunk of your thought processes? How does Romans 8:28 fit into your life?

Thinking about the future, what or who are you putting your faith in to get you to the great eternal season? Your good deeds or are you falling upon the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ and what He did for you on the cross?

William Cowper’s hymn, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” fits so well with the book of Ruth. Sing it often.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Embracing Life’s Seasons: The Example of Ruth

Lesson Two

Got coffee? Donut? Let’s go.

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Chapter 2

In Bethlehem, Ruth gleans (walking behind the harvesters and collecting the leftover grain – very hard work) in Boaz’s (a very close relative) fields.

Ruth 2:5-7

  1. Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”
  2. And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.
  3. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

Boaz extends his protection over her.

Ruth 2:8-9

  1. Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women … Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”

Ruth is amazed! She is a foreigner – a MOABITE at that, a historical enemy of Israel. She asks him why he is being so kind to her. And Boaz says:

Ruth 2: 11-12

  1. But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.
  2. The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

He gives her food to eat and he makes sure his workers drop extra grain for her. Ruth tells Naomi about him and Naomi is thrilled.

Ruth 2:20 – 22

  1. And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”
  2. And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’”
  3. And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.”

So, we close this section of Ruth with the last verse of the 2 Chapter.

Ruth 2:23

  1. So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

Discovery

Ruth is still in the season of widowhood, but what other season or seasons do you see in these passages?

In her season of taking care of Naomi, what enabled Ruth to lay down her life for another? What enabled her to put their concerns before her own?

Ruth was a hard worker according to verses 7 and 23. She gleaned from sunup to sundown to feed herself and Naomi. No whining, moaning, or swooning. What impression do you think this make on Boaz and the other workers?

Summary

Ruth has now entered at least two new seasons of life. Last lesson we saw her go through marriage, not able to have children, and widowhood. Now, once in Judea she is living with Naomi and has taken the role as caregiver and bread winner. She has entered the work force probably for the first time. Seeing a way that God is providing to care for Naomi and herself, she initiates going to work. God providentially leads her to the field of Boaz, a relative of Elimelech to glean the leftovers of the hired pickers. This was God’s law to provide for the poor or those passing through who needed food. She is well treated, but it is hard physical, back-breaking work.

Everyone seems to be impressed with Ruth’s work ethic. The foreman, when asked by Boaz who Ruth was, said, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest” (Ruth 2:6-7). And later we are told she gleaned until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. This wasn’t just a part time job. Gleaning wasn’t something she did when they were low on food. She worked diligently to store up food for the future and her work ethic was a witness of her character. Would she have found favor with Boaz if she was lazy and griping about the hot sun or her feet hurting? No, she would not.

Caregivers are those who lay down their lives for another. They set aside their own agendas, feelings, and needs for the welfare of another. This is what Ruth is doing for Naomi. Their neighbors, friends and family are witnessing Ruth’s godly character through her sacrificial love for Naomi.

Ruth is learning and obeying the word of God. Surely, this commandment was foremost in her mind.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12).

Also, as we covered in Lesson One, she was surely meditating on Deuteronomy 6:4 and Leviticus 19:34: loving God and loving people.

Her descendant would say, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

The people in Bethlehem are seeing Ruth as a kind, loving, and hardworking daughter-in-law through these hard seasons of working outside the home and taking care of another.

Application

Marriage Childlessness Widowhood Working Caregiver

Many of us have been in each or all of these seasons. We all have our own stories to tell. My prayer is that your story includes love and loyalty to God and family, and faithful commitment to those who rely on you to care for them, and a strong work ethic. If your story is like mine, it took some time to reach a fully committed heart that could say: “Life is hard, God is good, glory is coming, so I will stand fast in Your grace” (my paraphrase of John Piper’s quote).

Friends, if you are widowed or divorced, and have the responsibility of being the caregiver and provider for your children or your parents, remember Ruth’s story. Face life in the presence of God, in faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit, lay down your life for them and God who is rich in mercy will repay you.

What does it mean to lay down your life for another?

If you find yourself in a season of caregiving, what have you learned from Ruth that might help you to lay down your life for another?

How is your work ethic? Is it a witness for good in your work place?

If you are not already laying down your life for another, what plans can you make now to prepare for that?

Jesus will care for you as you care for others. Lay it all down at his feet.

You are loved

Lesson 3 out soon