How many times do we come to crossroads in our lives? When they come up, I imagine the ending scene of “Castaway” where Tom Hanks character is sitting at one. He gets out of the car with his map and looks at all directions in front of him when a lady pulls up and says, “You look lost. Where are you headed?” He replies, “I do? I was just about to figure that out.” She then tells him where each road heads, gets back in her truck and drives off. We can get advice on which path to take at the crossroads, but ultimately, it’s our decision to make, so we must choose wisely. It’s not wise to stay there long, but it is good to seek God for the right decision before you choose.
Jeremiah 6:16 says, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.’” (NLT) Being at a crossroads is an unsettling and stressful place. It has the potential to be a moment of great change in your life and you want to make the right decision. That’s why the Lord says in this verse that we are to ask others for godly advice. Which is the old, godly way? Which way does God want me to take? When I ask and can’t find an answer to those questions, it’s good to fast and to seek God for peace in the path He wants you to take. Peace doesn’t mean there won’t be a difficult road ahead. It means that you will have the assurance that no matter what happens, you’re on the road God told you to take.
It would be nice if the roads were marked and the choice were easy, but that’s rarely the case. If you happen to make the wrong choice, and you don’t have peace, fail fast. Don’t let pride keep you on the wrong road. Turn around and go down the one that gives rest to your soul and peace in your heart. God has a plan for your life, and Psalm 37:23 says that the Lord orders our steps and He delights in the details of our life. Don’t be afraid to seek His will asking Him to show you or to seek godly counsel from others who have been there or who can pray with you. God has a peace that passes understanding in these times and will use it to lead you down the right road.
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We all need counseling from time to time. We need the wisdom of a trusted friend, advisor or professional. Whoever we get it from, it’s important that the counsel we receive lines up with God’s Word. The Bible is full of wisdom that can provide insight and give direction in just about anything we face. The book of Proverbs alone is full of wisdom and great insight into how we should think and make decisions.
As King, David was often in need of counseling. He wanted to make the best choices. If he couldn’t find someone to give him godly advice, He went straight to God for help. In Psalm 16:7, David wrote, “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me” (ESV). David took what God said and put it in his heart so that even at night he dreamed about what to do.
The thing about counsel is, it’s worthless unless you follow it. You can listen to it, dream about it and think about it all you want, but nothing in your life will change until you do something with it. So many times, we get good, godly advice, but we are afraid to act on it. People who are like that are like those who admired the Brooklyn Bridge when it was built. They stood on the edge and admired it, but were afraid to walk across it. It wasn’t until P. T. Barnum walked his elephants across it that they started using the bridge.
God’s Word, like the Brooklyn Bridge, is strong and can be trusted to handle whatever you’re going through. Listen to the advice and counsel that comes from Him. Put it deep in your heart so that it becomes a part of you. Trust your heart too. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us discern what is right. It’s not a sign of weakness to need or to get counsel. It shows strength to admit you don’t know everything. Just make sure the people you’re getting it from know God’s Word.
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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Has anyone ever given you bad advice that you’ve taken? In my life, I’ve accepted plenty of bad advice because it sounded good, and rejected a lot of good advice because of pride. I’ve taken advice on investing, trying to affect change in an organization, in my career, and in handling relationships. Most of the time when we seek advice, it’s because we are in a situation where we unsure what to do. Who we get advice from matters because the wrong advice can really mess things up.
The first part of Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm]“ (AMP). Getting no advice, or just the wrong advice, can set you back from your goals in life. Before seeking any advice, I like to pray and ask God for wisdom in choosing the right advice as well as whom to seek it from. I don’t like set backs, and sometimes the wrong advice can seem wise. I want to make sure I’m not relying on my own feelings or the words of a misguided friend.
The rest of that verse says, “But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.” We don’t need to seek wisdom from one source. We need more than one person giving us advice because most difficult decisions have many facets with many different outcomes based on our decisions. If you’re looking for victory over a situation, pray that God would help you find godly counselors who will see the things you can’t, and that He would help you make the right decisions. Don’t let pride and ignorance keep you from victory. Stay on the course God has for you and look for godly counselors along the way.
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In 1 Kings 12, Solomon’s son Rehoboam became king. The people asked him to lighten the load that his father had put on them. He asked for time to talk to advisors and would answer. He went to his father’s advisors first. They agreed he should lighten the load so the people would be loyal. Then he went to his friends who were younger. They advised him to make things harder. He rejected the advice of the older people, and the nation revolted. The kingdom split in two and he only ruled a small portion of Israel.
We all need advice from time to time, even Solomon did. Who we listen to determines how life is going to go for us. Good advisors don’t just tell us what we want to hear. They give us wisdom and see things we can’t. The best advisors are people who are older than us because they’ve been down the road and know where the road bumps are. Ultimately, every decision we make is ours, and we have to bear the responsibility for those choices. So when you’re looking for advice, lay down your pride and get it from people who are wiser than you.
Here are some verses on getting advice.
1. Sensible people accept good advice. People who talk foolishly will come to ruin.
Proverbs 10:8 GNT
2. People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed.
Proverbs 13:13 NLT
3. Without consultation and wise advice, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they are established and succeed.
PROVERBS 15:22 AMP
4. Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice.
Proverbs 12:15 MSG
5. Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.
Proverbs 13:10 NLT
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If you know the story of Esther, you know that after she had been made queen, Haman plotted to kill all of the Jews. Since he was the kings closest advisor, the King agreed to what he suggested. In Esther chapter 4, her uncle Mordecai found out that his race was being targeted for genocide. He responded by mourning and fasting. Somehow Esther had not known about the news. It wasn’t until her maidens saw her uncle weeping they told her about it. She then sent someone to find out why he was in distress.
When Mordecai sent word back, he also told them to tell her that she had a responsibility to go before the King to save her people. Her first response was fear. She told him that she couldn’t go before the King or she would be killed. She must have felt that since she was queen she would be saved from the massacre. Mordecai wouldn’t have any of it. He very frankly told her that if she didn’t respond to the challenge so done else would, but she and her family would perish.
Just like her, you and I face situations in our life that we’d rather ignore and hope they go away. The problem is that they won’t in most cases. The longer we wait to respond to them, the bigger they can get. Our ability to respond has to overcome the fear of the situation. Mordecai also sent the encouraging word, “Who knows? Maybe you’ve been put in this position for such a time as this.” He pointed to God’s providence in her life. He began to see why things had happened the way they had so that she could be the answer.
Where you are today and the situations that you’re facing are not an accident or a surprise to God. He has groomed you and placed you where you are because you have the ability to respond the way He wants you too. You could say it’s your respons-ability. You can say, “But I don’t know how to handle this.” James 1:5 says that if any man lacks wisdom he can ask God for it. Proverbs 15:22 says there is wisdom in a multitude of counsel. You can ask God and or others what to do. Mordecai gave excellent advice to Esther.
We never know why we have the burdens of being in difficult situations. Not responding isn’t the right choice. We have the respons-ability to seek wisdom and to respond in a way that pleases God. Difficult situations require difficult choices. In my own life, it’s been those times that have grown my faith the most. I’ve had to step out in faith and trust that God had my back. Esther did too and her people were saved. Life isn’t easy, but you were made for a purpose and are where God needs you right now in order to respond accordingly. Trust what He says and step out. It may be difficult, but doing what He says is less difficult than the results of disobedience.