The Principles: Why We Counsel from the Bible

Sept. 21, 2013 Elyse Fitzpatrick

Session Transcript

Elyse Fitzpatrick: Heavenly Father, we thank You. We come to You, Lord, first of all repenting that we so often preach ourselves, we so often think that it's up to us, we so often think that we should have the glory. As Paul said, we are glory robbers. We pray, Lord, that You would help us. Please help us to continue to follow hard after You. And in all the ways that we fail to do so, would You please continue to encourage us and give us hope and faith to believe that You are in fact using broken people to help broken people. May we never put ourselves up as the hero but that we may always be pointing to the hero, our sweet Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

I'm going to read to you from 2 Timothy 3. Let me just start off by saying just a little bit about what I know about counseling. In about 1983 or 1984, I began to sense a call from the Lord to help women in my local congregation because they were coming to me for counsel. But I knew I didn't know what to say. Do you know? They were coming to me for counsel, and I knew that the Bible ought to say something about what they were asking me but I didn't have any idea what that might be.

And so about that time, in the early 1980s, I began to get training in biblical counseling from CCEF in California. And I will say that that transformed my life. It was one of the transformative events in my life. I came to Christ in 1971, or I should say Christ came to me in 1971. And then early '80s, I started taking courses in biblical counseling and began to understand that Scripture really does have the answer for all of the things we struggle with. And so I began to do that training thinking, of course, that the Lord would use me solely as a person that other women in the congregation could come to.

And I'm sure you find yourself in that same position, don't you? Women coming.... And that's basically what women do. We get together for a cup of coffee, and it's not three minutes until we're counseling one another. And you know we can get together and hardly know one another at all, but it won't be long until we start talking about the deep issues of our heart and what's going on. It's just very much part of our lives.

And so the Lord began to use me in that way, and I got training and then I went on and got a master's degree in biblical counseling—still never thinking that this would be the future that God was preparing me for. I thought what God wanted me to do was basically just counsel the women in my local congregation.

At this point I do very little counseling of the women in my local congregation, although I am in a small group. And I want to make this really clear. I don't detach myself from my church. When I go speak, I do not generally stay over a Saturday night. I'm usually, almost always, at home on Sunday. And that's because I'm part of a local congregation, and I need to be at that congregation with those women every Sunday. We have a small group that my husband leads, and he and I in that small group have relationship with people to whom we are confessing sin and they are confessing sin and we are counseling one another. And those are the women that I am personally pouring out my life with.

Now I just want to say this, and I hope it doesn't sound hard in any way. But I don't do any counseling of anyone with whom I don't have a relationship. And that's because I'm not magic. And our counsel is not magic. And you, as women's ministry leaders, will have women come to you and expect, particularly if you have a staff position at your church, that somehow you will say something to them that will make them instantly better.

I want to be in relationship with the people I'm giving counsel to and so that they are also counseling me and we are knowing each other. We are in a "knowing" relationship. One of the problems with what's happened with counseling in the last hundred years is that counseling has become a profession instead of counseling flowing out of relationship. And so I have women ask me frequently for counsel over the Internet to which I always reply "no," because I don't want to counsel anybody I don't know. And counseling is actually the sort of mentoring, discipling, loving relationship where I am bringing grace, the grace of Christ, to you in a relationship, in a context where we are going to be relating to one another over a long period of time.

So I do want to say, though, that our counsel comes from the Scripture, and the Scripture is sufficient for every form of counsel that any of us needs. So I'm going to read to you now from 2 Timothy 3, and I will start with verse 10 and then we'll end at 16–17.

You, [speaking to Timothy, this of course is Paul] however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. [Such good news.] Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, [You know that already, right?] while evil people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings (2 Tim. 3:10–14).

What are those sacred writings that Paul is talking about right there? What was that? You can say it. Yes. The Old Testament, the Torah, the prophets. Those are the sacred writings that spoke about Christ. It was very important what Paul was saying that the whole Bible was about Jesus. The Old Testament, which is basically what Timothy would have had—and by the way, Timothy had a believing mother and an unbelieving father, which is also good news for those of you who counsel or are in that sort of mixed marriage where you have an unbeliever and a believer and you think, Well, there's no way in the world my kids could possibly serve Christ. Or you'll have a woman come to you and say, "How could my kid serve Christ? My husband's an unbeliever." You say, "Let me talk to you about Timothy." See Timothy's father wouldn't even let him be circumcised. That's why Paul had to take him and have him circumcised later on. So God saves people out of the most difficult circumstances to glorify His power to save.

Timothy, however, from childhood had been acquainted with the sacred writings—the Old Testament—"which are able to make you wise for salvation through Christ Jesus" (v. 15). Isn't that interesting? The Old Testament is able to make you wise for salvation through Christ Jesus. And here are the verses that we will be talking about primarily today. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (vv. 16–17).

The times in which we live are times that are filled with counsel. And I think that perhaps more than at any other time in history we have more sources of counsel available, don't we? I mean, the Internet—anytime you want to know anything about anything you can go to the Internet. And there is a lot about the Internet that is very dreadful. But there's a lot about the Internet that's wonderful as well. And the way you can connect with people and the way you can learn things, and you know if you want to find out who Cyprian is you can look it up on Logos or you can look it up on the Internet.

I mean, the Internet is wonderful in some ways, but in other ways it's simply dreadful because it's filled with every kind of worldly wisdom. I mean, the stuff that people are told to do in response to the difficulties of their life. There are media gurus who spend all of their time giving their worldly wisdom, and it is not wisdom that would not make one wise for salvation. It is wisdom that would force you to look to yourself.

How much counseling goes on on social networks? I mean it's just ... the women whom you're going to be talking with, and I know that you already know this, the women whom you counsel, it's a continual stream perhaps as never before. I mean, can you get away from your Twitter feed for five minutes? You see, that Twitter feed or Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook, that's a continual voice into the lives of the women that you're talking to.

Do you know that among Gen-Xers, that generation Gen-Xers, you are more likely to die from suicide than you are from a car crash? And sociologists have been yelling about this for some time and are continuing to do so, because what's going on in the social media of people posting all of this great stuff that they're doing and other people reading it and thinking, My life is really awful because look at how exciting her life is. And then reading the counsel that's there, people are becoming so hopeless, aren't they?

I am on Facebook because I'm told that that's what I need to do. But I promise you that on Facebook I never post, "I tried a new shampoo today." I try to share gospel thoughts. I try to use that medium on Twitter and on Facebook to share gospel thoughts. I know that's how the Lord can use it but again ... and then just think about when you're in the grocery store and you're trying to get through that checkout line and that woman that Paul was talking about last night is in front of you. And you know, it's like "wrehh, wrehh, wrehh" (makes stabbing motion).

Think about all those magazines. I mean, they are right at eye level, aren't they? And they're right there and they are telling you you're fat, you're ugly, you have a bad sex life. Everybody else in the whole world is getting it better than you. You're doing everything wrong. This is how to decorate. This is how to bake. This is how to be skinny. This is how to do yoga. This is ... Seriously, isn't that what it is? On and on and on.

Those magazines. You see, we get the law telling you how you can approve of yourself by doing this and this and this. That law comes into your women's hearts as a condemning voice. "This is how you're going to get better. These are all the eighty things you need to do."

And then in the source of bad books. Christian women—this is a statistic, actually, that Scott Lindsey told me. Christian women buy ten times more Amish fiction than study helps for reading their Bible. I'm going to say that again. Christian women buy (are you listening?) ten times more Amish fiction than study helps for their Bible. Now, do you want to know why the women in your church need help?

Now, before anybody comes up to me and says, "I like Amish fiction," I love fiction. I read fiction. I always have at least one fiction book going, sometimes two. I think good fiction, and not necessarily good Christian fiction, but good fiction is a good. I want to be a wordsmith. I want to learn how to use words, so I read fiction. I don't have a problem with fiction. When I was about thirty-five, I had probably never read a book cover to cover until I was in my early thirties. I decided to read through all the classics of the whole world. (laughter) And I did, and I discovered why they were called the classics, because they're so marvelous. So I love fiction. I'm not making a comment about fiction. I'm just telling you that women in your churches are reading books, material that will impoverish their souls.

And that's just the fiction. They are also reading self-help books that are not based primarily in the gospel, but are primarily books about the seven steps or the fourteen steps or the thirty-two steps that they need to take in order to be a better "them." And those books, while they may give you a hint or two about how to live life, most of them don't point to the Redeemer. And as Paul said, "If it's not pointing to the Redeemer, you're not getting grace. And grace is what we need."

So these are the times in which we live, and I mean I'm not even talking about talk shows on television. The Bible has different answers. The Bible has different answers from what the world will give us, because the world on one hand will tell us that we are wonderful and we should just love ourselves more and on the other hand will tell us the 42,000 things we need to do in order to be better women. Right? Is that right?

The Bible has a different answer. The Bible tells us that there is a God who has revealed Himself to us. That's really good news. That's very good news. The Bible tells us that God is living and personal—that He's living and personal. Personal means that you can get to know Him. See, your counselees or the women that you minister to—however you want me to phrase that to you—the women you mentor, those women need to know that there is first of all a God who is alive and who is a person whom you can have relationship with.

He's also transcendent. What that means is that He is ruling. He is high and lifted up. He is not only transcendent, however, He is also imminent. What that means is not only is He high and lifted up, but He's also right here. He's close to us. He's our brother. Christ is our brother. Christ is our husband. And He is in fact so imminent that the Word became flesh to dwell among us. He's right here.

And women need to understand that about God, because they're going to be coming to you with all sorts of ideas about who God is. Ideas from the culture. Ideas that basically say, "Well, you know, there's a man upstairs, there's this man upstairs and so if you do good stuff, good stuff happens to you." I mean, that's the message of the culture. What we need to tell women is that there is a God. He has revealed Himself. He is transcendent. In other words, He's not my teddy bear. But He's also imminent. In other words, He's my husband. He's close.

He's holy. But not only is He holy, He's also loving. He's wise. He's ultimately wise and that tells me that anything I need to know about anything I should do, I can go to Scripture and get answers. The Bible has answers for how I should live my life, and they are wise answers. He is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and eternal. That's what the Bible says about who God is.

This is how God revealed Himself to Moses, and I love this story particularly because here is Moses and he's up on the Mount and he receives God's law written by His own hand, written by the finger of God, undoubtedly a reference to Christ. Written by the finger of God, he takes those stone tablets down the mountain and he finds the people having a party. And he takes those stone tablets, and he shatters them basically in demonstrating what the people are doing. They are breaking all the commandments. And God wants to wipe the people out. Moses intercedes, begs for their lives, undoubtedly also a reference to our intercessor, Christ.

And then Moses asks for something. He says, "Show me Your glory. Let me see Your glory." It's really an audacious, really audacious request. And the Lord in His kindness says, "I will show you My glory, but no one can see My glory and live. So I'm going to have to hide you from Me." So Moses goes back up on the mountain and is there, and God places him in the fissure in the cleft of a rock. Who is the rock? Christ. See, Rock of Ages cleft for me. Let me do what? Hide myself in Thee.

So there is Moses, and he's hiding from God in God. And God proclaims His character to Him. God wants Moses to know who He is. He wants Moses to know what He's like. He wants Moses to have a personal relationship with Him, and He proclaims His own nature. And this is what He says. "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious." Is that how you think of Him? Is that how the women you minister to think of Him? Is He primarily merciful and gracious? "Slow to anger." Somebody better say, "Hallelujah!" (laughter) Aren't you glad? "Slow to anger, abounding." Right? Abounding. "Abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving" (Ex. 34:6–7). This is how He talks about Himself.

You ought to take this passage and so commit it to your heart that when someone comes to you to talk to you about the problems they're facing, the first thing you would remember is how forgiving and loving God is. "Forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and fourth generation" (Ex. 34:7). Listen, if you are in Christ, He has already visited the iniquity that you have committed and He visited it on His Son. He poured out all His wrath on the Son.

So the Bible tells us that we have a God who is living and loving and personal and who hides Moses, loving Moses, but revealing Himself to Moses. God now has revealed Himself to us through Christ. That's what the beginning of the book of Hebrews says. "In times past, God spoke to us through the prophets. But now, but now He has spoken to us by the Son." If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus.

So the Bible tells us that there is a God. And the Bible tells us that God is not a figment of our imagination—that He is real. And that He is not a man, which means that He is very different from everyone I know. He never lies. Can you imagine? Everything He always says, everything the Lord Jesus said was truth from the time He was two years old. From the time He was first forming words, He was speaking the truth.

He never fails to keep His promises. Are you glad? You can have confidence that when you minister to women, you can know that He will never fail to keep His promises. And what that means is not necessarily that she will be transported out of the difficulty that she may be facing, but rather that God has promised to steadfastly love her and preserve her even in that difficulty. The promise that we have is that our faith will not fail. And that's such good news, because if it were up to me, if it were up to me and my strength, my ability to somehow keep it all together, I would be lost. But it isn't up to me.

So God never fails to keep His promise. That's Isaiah 40:8, if you're taking notes. He never regrets His own actions. Can you imagine? How many times today have you regretted your actions? It's like, "Why did I say that? Why did I say that?" He never regrets His own actions. That's 1 Samuel 15:29.

He never changes. Isn't that good news? See, some days I wake up and I'm really happy and spiritual and just a blessing to be around. And then of course there's the rest of the time. There's a word called "impassability," which means that God never changes. He doesn't have one good day and one bad day. We do, but He doesn't. And He has already proclaimed His disposition toward His people. And His disposition is "steadfast love, forgiveness." That's His disposition toward His people, and it doesn't change from day to day. He doesn't get cranky. That's Malachi 3:6 and James 1:17.

And His counsel stands forever, Psalm 33:11. His counsel stands forever. Now, I've been counseling, as I've said, I guess that makes it about thirty years or so I've been counseling people. I will tell you that generally speaking, my counsel won't stand forever except in the times when I am talking about the Word. That counsel stands forever. See, He's never wrong. He never has to go back and say, "Oh, you know, I shouldn't have said that." He never does.

The Bible has different answers than the world does. The Bible also tells us who we are, and this is really where ... You know, the world gets this so wrong. The world says, first of all that well, if there is any kind of supreme being, it's kind of like the principle of karma. Our culture is saturated with "what goes around comes around." Bono, you know, You Tube Bono, said "You'd better hope that karma's not the way the universe works." He said, "I choose grace." Would that the church would say that. Our culture is awash in a sea of moralism and karma. You do good, and good things will happen to you. The reality is, good things have happened to you and you don't deserve it. That's grace. And that's what your women need to hear from you.

The Bible tells us who we are. We are created. We are derived. We are finite. The Bible tells us who we are. We are created by Him and in His image. Now, being created in the image of God is very important for all sorts of reasons, but one reason primarily that I want to highlight very quickly which is that God is in relationship. God is a trinity. So God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is a relationship. God is in trinity. By His very nature, God relates to others. Because we are made in the image of God, we're the same way. Which is why if you're stuck like Tom Hanks on an island in Castaway, you have to get a volleyball and name him "Wilson" because you can't be alone. It's not good to be alone. It's not good to be alone, because God created you in His image and God is in relationship. God's all about relationship.

We are created by Him and in His image. We are made for Him, that's what Revelation 4:11 says. Revelation 4:11 says we are made for Him—for His glory, for His pleasure. Why are you here? Boy, if you ask that to most women, they think they're here to try to be happy or get stuff done. You are here for God's pleasure, and the amazing thing is He takes pleasure in you.

That's kind of surprising, isn't it? We are here for His pleasure. And when you walk into any sort of counseling situation, that's sort of the bedrock things, because a lot of women will come to you who are having problems, let's say, in their marriage and they think that the point of their marriage is for them to be happy and have a husband who is romantic, a good provider.

I used to think that Phil would be a really great husband if he was a really strong leader and would do everything I told him. (laughter) The Lord very kindly disabused me of that view. See, marriage is not primarily about us getting our needs met. But that's something the culture will tell you. Can I tell you that up until 100 or 150 years ago, women never thought about marriage in those ways? I don't care what your Amish fiction book says or your historical romance.

The reason that people got married, even if they weren't Christian per se, was for the good of the society. Marriage is all about learning to wash another sinner's feet. That's what it's about. I thought marriage was about making me know how wonderful I was. Marriage actually worked in just the opposite direction. And then I had kids and I thought, Well, that'll do it. And it did. But not what I was hoping. I thought, Oh, if I have children, then what children will do is help me be a really great mom. And what having children did, in fact, was teach me what a great sinner I am. Our relationships are meant, in one sense, to humble us and help us flee to Christ—force us to flee to Christ. And in another way, that we might be dispensers of grace.

So we are made for Him, Revelation 4:11. We are made for relationship, Genesis 2:8. But we have a problem, and the problem is we are fallen. And that again, is something that our culture is not telling women. They're not telling women they're fallen. They're telling women that if they work hard enough they can be perfect. You can have the perfect abs. Here's the reality (I'm an old lady and I get this): You're not going to do anything perfect. And can I tell you, that's good news. I mean, seriously. You don't have it. There's one perfect person, and it's not you. And that's good news for us because I can stop pretending. I can stop playing like.

Our problem is that we are fallen. And we think that we are made for ourselves and for our own glory. And I think that I'm married so that my life can be filled with my husband sort of worshiping me nonstop. And then of course, the reason that I have children is so that, you know, people can look at my children and think what a good mother I am, which of course was—my children are all grown now—but was really at the core of and the genesis of so much of my anger toward my children, because they were messing up my reputation. Do you know what I mean?

I mean, I would walk into church and have one of those situations where I look at my kids and I think, Are you kidding? Where did you get those clothes? (laughter) You know, sort of in the parking lot going, "Oh, wow!" And then you sort of do the whisper yell. (laughter) You know the whisper yell? "I'm going to ..." The whisper yell is actually more terrifying than the "yell yell." That's the whisper yell. And then you walk into church and your friends say, "How are you?" And you go, "Oh, I'm fine." And you wonder why your children think that you're a hypocrite.

When our son, Joel, who is now at Westminster Seminary—really lovely, lovely young man, and his daughter, Eowyn, is with me here. When Joel was in high school, he had this sort of very curly long hair. And he was doing well. For our family we decided not to fuss about anything that could be changed immediately and didn't have anything to do with deception. I mean, you're going to have lots of hills to die on with teenagers. Hair wasn't going to be one of them for us.

And we live in Southern California, and Joel was a surfer boy. And Joel was hygienically challenged. (laughter) So he's got this hair, you know, and he's surfing and sometimes he'd come home at I don't know, what is that? Seaweed? And we would walk into church, and I would see people look at him and sort of snuff. And honestly it would make me so angry. But I wasn't angry at them. I was angry at him because I thought, You're messing with my good reputation.

A lot of the times when you're going to talk with women about problems that they're having with their children, you need to get to that. Whose reputation? And you know what? I'll tell you we can slide that over into, "Oh, well, I'm concerned about God's reputation." Excuse me? Really? Is that why you're sinning against your children, because you're concerned about God's reputation?

So what does the Bible tell us about us? The Bible tells us that we think that we were made for ourselves, for our own glory, and that it also tells us that every relationship we have has been shattered by sin. That's why people have trouble in their relationships, because even relationships with Christians have been shattered by sin. And women will come to you and they'll say, "I'm having problems with my husband." And you really ought to say, "Of course you are, because you're a sinner." That's helpful, isn't it? (laughter) "And so is he. And you're both out for your own glory. And you want what you want when you want it. Don't you?" And we all do.

But that's not all the Bible tells us about who we are. The Bible also tells us that we have a Redeemer. And this is such great news, because that Redeemer can step right into that marriage and humble our hearts. And give us grace to be transparent. Give us grace to humbly confess sin. Give us grace to give grace to our husbands when again and again and again they struggle.

How can I have grace to give to Phil or my children or my children or my grandchildren or my friends or my pastors, how can I have grace to give them? Only when I remember that I have a Redeemer who loves me and has given me grace. And He sees all of the ways when again and again and again I have sinned and yet He pours grace out on me. So, who am I, who am I to withhold grace from someone who sins?

That's the passage Paul was speaking about this morning from Colossians 3. You forgive because you've been forgiven. You love because you've been loved. You give grace because you've been given grace.

The Bible tells us that we are not like God naturally. This is how the Bible describes us before the Redeemer. "For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another" (Titus 3:3). You want to know what the world is? That's it right there. Right there, that's the diagnostic. Now, people will try to diagnose what's wrong with other people. And culturally they will do it and they will say, well, they had a bad environment or they had bad parenting or bad education or bad genetics or bad brain chemistry or any of 20,000 reasons that people are like this. The Bible says we are like this by nature. You want to know why the women you deal with have problems, it's because that's our nature. "Foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our day in malice and envy."

I'm going to take a shot at Facebook. I think one of the primary functions of Facebook is to make other people envious of your life. And please, I'm not bashing social media. I understand it and may God help me use it as a tool of grace. But honestly, isn't it? "Here's the great food I'm eating." Seriously? So it makes everyone in the world an exhibitionist and all of the people who follow them voyeurs. We used to think that there was a problem with that. See, this is what the Bible says about us. This is who we are outside of the Redeemer.

What is the source of our troubles? Women will come to you and say, "I don't know, my life is just not working out. This isn't how I planned my life. I didn't see myself here." You say, "Well, of course, because you need to start thinking about yourself the way the Bible describes you." We live in a sin-cursed world. That's Romans 5:12. We live in a sin-cursed world. Do you know what that means? That means everything in the world is not as it should be. And why we think that if we just marry the right person or have the right kids or find the right pastor or get the right women in our groups or find the right study that somehow everything will be fine. It will never be fine here. We live in a sin-cursed, fallen world touched by death on every single level.

We ourselves are sinners. That's not news. Thanks, I paid to hear that. (laughter) Ephesians 2:3 tells us that we ourselves are sinners. We are sinners. We are sinners now. I am, praise God, by His grace, not the sinner I was forty years ago, and yet the closer I get to the Lord the more I know I am so sinful. I'm a sinner. Let's not pretend.

And not only do we sin, but others sin against us. People are always surprised by that. "I can't believe they would treat me that way." Really? What world is it that you are living in? (laughter) Or you say to your children, "I can't believe you'd act that way." Seriously? They're your children. How do you think they're going to act? (laughter)

In addition to all that, we have an active enemy. You understand that. We have an active enemy. And that's 1 Peter 5:8 and Revelation 12:9. First Peter 5:8 tells us that he goes around like a roaring lion, and he wants supper and you're looking pretty good. He can't touch you, of course, but you must resist him.

We have an active enemy also who wants to accuse us. And I want you to really understand this. One of the primary ways Satan works in your life is by telling you that you can't do what God's called you to do. You're not good enough. You're an imposter. You're a sham. You're not holy enough. You didn't pray enough. You don't have an Ebenezer. You don't have a prayer rock. You're not as good as these other people. You're not qualified. See, that's what Revelation 12:9 says. He accuses you.

You know when he says that ... It's said that Luther had an occurrence one time when Satan was coming to him and writing on the wall all of his sins and Luther said, "You're missing some." (laughter) "You're missing some." So when he comes to you and accuses you, you say, "Right. But I have a Redeemer. And my Redeemer says that I am forgiven and I'm righteous." That's what you say. "I am forgiven, completely forgiven. And I am completely righteous in God's sight. So you may be right, and I need to flee to Christ all the time. Thank you for reminding me."

And, of course, even nature is not our friend. You understand that. I live in southern California, and these people are crazy. (laughter) Nature is not our friend. I don't care if your nature is organic or not. Nature is not our friend. Nature is cursed. Nature is groaning. She's not our mother. She's our unruly younger brother. Romans 8:20–22.

So the Bible has different answers then. Where should we look to help? Well, first of all we look to our Father. We don't look to the Internet. We don't look to Oprah. We don't look to Dr. Whomever who happens to be the doctor du jour. We don't look to them. We look to our Father. Jesus said in Matthew 6:8 and 32, "Your Father knows what you need." Flee to your Father. He loves you, and He knows you.

We look to Jesus who is our Brother, our Redeemer, our Husband. Get that picture of Jesus as your husband. When I am gone, and I am sadly frequently gone. When I am gone from home, one of the major conversations that my husband, Phil, and I have is he says to me, "Honey, I'm praying for you." He's doing that because he's a good husband. Can I tell you you've got Jesus and He's praying for you? He knows you and He bears you on His heart.

So then, we look to Jesus who is the "founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy" of having you for His bride and pleasing His Father, "that was set before him endured the cross" thinking nothing of the shame. "Despising the shame"—thinking nothing of it. "And is seated ..." Where? Now? "At the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:1). Still incarnate, by the way, still wearing your flesh. When you get to heaven, it's going to be a human hand that you will see welcoming you. And it will still be bearing scars for you.

You're not alone, and your women are not alone. So where should we look for help? We look to the Father. We look to our Redeemer. We look to the Spirit. "Spirit, help me." How many times when you're talking to women are you praying in your heart all the time, "Spirit give me words now. Spirit, help me now"? You know what the most amazing thing is? The Holy Spirit loves to do that, and I so frequently forget to ask. "Spirit, help me." That's Romans 8:26, John 14:16.

I look to the Word. Hebrews 4:12 says that it's like a two-edged sword, quick and powerful and it divides, separates between the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing can get into the heart of your women like the Word does. That's why we have to use the Word, because only the Word has the power to penetrate the heart. Only the Word has the power to penetrate the heart and bring revelation of God and of self.

We look to the church. That's Colossians 1:28. "I am convinced about you that you are able to admonish one another." Romans 14:19. Colossians 1:28. "I am satisfied about you, sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another." Romans 15:14.

Where should we not look for help? To the unwise, to the systems of this world, to those without the Spirit. Why? Because the Bible says that the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile toward God for it does not submit to God's law. Indeed, it cannot. It's impossible. The Bible does, however, make us wise to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. So the Bible shows us where we can find hope. We hope in Christ, for He knows everything about us and yet loves us. That's where we find hope.

The women whom you're ministering to need hope, and they can find hope in Christ because He knows everything about us and yet He loves us. Second Thessalonians 2:16: "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace." Good hope through grace. Good hope through grace. "Comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word." That's 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17.

The Bible shows us where to find hope. The Bible shows us where to find wisdom. Because we are in Christ and He holds all wisdom, we can trust that He will guide our thoughts and words. And so when you are there involved in talking with a woman who's pouring her heart out to you, you can pray, "Lord, God, give me wisdom now." And then you can rest whether you have wisdom or not because God will work. Colossians 2:3 tells us that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

And then we can become wise helpers, wise counselors, as we drench our souls in the story of the Bible, which is the story of redemption. The story of the Bible is not Aesop's Fables. It's not be like Moses, not be like Abraham. It's a story of Jesus Christ throughout all of Scripture. That's why Christ on the road to Emmaus said to those disciples whom He called slow of heart, "This is what the Bible has to say about Me." And beginning with Moses and the prophets, He opened their minds to understand how the Bible was all about Him. (See Luke 24:27.)

So we learn what it means to really encourage one another. And how do we do that? By giving each other good news. We learn what it means to be filled with goodness and knowledge, and we learn how to speak the truth in love. That's what I want to know. It's one thing to be able to speak the truth, and it's another thing to be know how to speak it in love, isn't it?

Then, in closing, Jesus teaches us how to love one another, and how does He do that? Because He first—yes, because He first loved us. Because I have been loved, then I can love you. Because I have been loved, I can love you and I can talk to you about loving that person in your life that's difficult to love.

Jesus teaches us how to be patient with one another. We can be patient with one another because He's patient with us. How many times have you repented of the same sin? Do you have any numbers that big? (laughter) And we can lay down our lives for others. Why? Because He laid down His life for us. It's all got to be on Him. It's all got to circle around Him. And what that means is, as I close, Jesus who is the Wonderful Counselor must be your meditation. Jesus. What He's done, how He lived and died and loved and is continuing to love and give Himself for you. That needs to be your meditation, because then you're going to be able to love that woman you really don't want to talk to again. You've met her. I know. How are you going to love her? You're going to be able to love her because you've been loved and the Lord Jesus never says to you, "You know, excuse me, dear, but we've had this conversation."

Let me pray for you now as you go to lunch. Father, thank You that You have not left us alone, but that You have revealed Yourself to us and that You have not revealed Yourself to us as some cavalier sort of God who is disinterested, some deistic god who just sort of looks from time to time, but that You are intimately involved in every area of our lives and that You know us and yet You love us and we thank You. Help us to live in the light of the gospel, that word of Christ that must dwell richly in our hearts. Help us to live in the light of that every single day. And then may we give that grace to others. We pray in Christ's name, amen.