Be Careful Where You Seek Advice :: By Nathele Graham

Most Christians have at least one favorite Psalm. When we face hardships or challenges, it’s usually Psalm 23 which we turn to. Psalm 42 speaks to our desire and longing for God, and Psalm 51 is a cry out to God for His forgiveness. It’s easy to skip around through the Psalms, but they will all strengthen us. Let’s take a look at Psalm 1 and see if we can find some wisdom there.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1).

Instead of listing things a man (or woman) can do to be happy, the psalmist tells us what not to do. We all need to walk in the ways of the Lord, and secular people can’t help us to walk according to Scripture. I learned at a young age who to go to in order to get the advice I wanted. If I didn’t want to walk the straight and narrow path, I would go to secular friends. On the other hand, I also knew who would give me advice that was based on Scripture. I’m sure you’re much the same. As I’ve aged and have drawn closer to my Lord, Scripture is my guide. I do have a dear friend I turn to if I need advice, and I’m confident she will give me honest help based on Scripture. It’s important to choose friends, spouses, and partnerships wisely. We will be much happier if we don’t follow in the footsteps of nonbelievers.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).

If your friends don’t know Jesus, there’s a good chance they will mock Him and make you embarrassed to follow Him. Does that make you happy? It shouldn’t. You’ll be much happier fellowshipping with Christians. We all need advice once in a while, but if we go to someone who doesn’t base decisions upon God’s ways, we’ll get ungodly answers.

The Apostle Paul wrote many letters, including one to a pastor in Crete named Titus. Crete was a rather wild place, and the letter advised Titus on how to be a better pastor. Paul advises Titus to encourage the congregation to walk closer to the Lord.

“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience” (Titus 2:1-2).

This is the kind of advice Christian men need to take to heart. What about Christian women?

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5).

This isn’t advice you’ll get from secular friends, but this is solid Christian teaching. Next, Paul tells how to advise the young men. Should they sow their wild oats, or honor God?

“Young men, likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Titus 2:6-8).

People who don’t know God cannot give Godly advice, so to be happy one must “…walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.” How many of you gather around the water cooler at work and grumble about your boss? Is that where you’ll find godly advice?

“Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things: not answering again; not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:9-10).

If you need advice, you’ll be much happier if you talk with a friend who follows Jesus rather than the world. A person who fears and honors God isn’t happy if he, or she, makes choices that aren’t Scriptural.

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2). 

Although the word “meditate” is used, this isn’t talking about eastern religions that encourage you to empty your mind and allow whatever demon happens to be passing to fill the void. This means to study God’s word and think about it day and night in order to understand it, apply it, and take delight in it. If you’re following worldly ways, you’ll never be truly happy. When you please God you find His peace.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

It may look as if worldly people are happy and think they have things pretty well figured out, but do they have God’s peace? Many celebrities have fame and fortune, but the reality is they’re not happy. Most take many drugs or drink to excess, always searching but never finding the happiness they think money can buy. They are walking in the counsel of the ungodly. It would be so much better to “delight in the law of the LORD.”

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3).

Trees grow strong and tall and need water to thrive. A tree that’s near a river has an abundant supply of water and nutrients and will thrive. People can take shelter under its limbs and be cooled by the shade of its leaves. Christians have a source of Living Water that will never fail.

“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4:10). 

The more we drink from the Living Water, the more fruit we will bear for Him.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

If we stand in the way of sinners or sit on the seat of the scornful, we’ll never be like the tree planted by the rivers of water. We won’t bear the fruit of the Spirit.

“The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away” (Psalm 1:4).

Chaff is the part of the wheat that’s useless. Before wheat is able to be used for flour, the chaff has to be removed. John the Baptist used chaff as an example when he was asked if he was the Christ.

“John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:16-17).

The day is fast approaching when Jesus will call His followers Home. Those who do not know Him as Lord and Saviour will be left behind and eternally burned in the fires of damnation. It will be their own choice. Jesus doesn’t force anyone to choose to follow Him, but the consequences of rejecting His free gift of salvation is eternal damnation. Today is the day to make a decision to accept Christ’s gift. The offer is there for everyone, but each individual has to make his or her own choice. If you were baptized as a baby, that only shows your parents had good intentions to raise you in the admonition of the Lord. Baptism doesn’t impart salvation, so you must make your own confession of faith.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).

If you have made the confession of faith and believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, follow Him. Don’t follow ungodly people down the path that leads to destruction.

“Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5). 

Sinners cannot stand before God Almighty and enter Heaven based upon their own good works. We are all sinners. Judgment will come all too soon, and saint and sinner alike will bow before Jesus Christ.

“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11).

As Christians we know that our righteousness is only through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Everyone has a choice whether to accept Him or reject Him. The sad truth is that many will choose to reject Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and will be as the chaff thrown into the unquenchable fire. Christians must stand strong in our faith and allow our example to influence those who haven’t found salvation. The lost people of this world need to come to us for answers rather than us going to them. We need to take our advice and guidance from God’s word.

“For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).

Jesus Christ is our example. He made it very clear that He is the only Way.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

That means that a guru cannot lead you to Heaven, nor Mohammed, Joseph Smith, or any New-Age lie. There is only one Way. Jesus is the Way. Do you know Him? If you’re concerned about where you’ll spend eternity, don’t walk in the counsel of the ungodly. Their counsel will only lead you to choose to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Turn to God for guidance; seek the counsel of a Christ-centered Christian. Our righteousness only comes from Jesus, and our joy is sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Be careful where you seek advice. If it’s not godly advice, then it’s useless.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos” – God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.

 

What’s the Joke? :: By Nathele Graham

Why is it that so many pastors refuse to preach the pure word of God? This is a trend that’s been growing over the course of many years. Today it seems that preachers are more worried about being politically correct rather than Biblically correct. Instead of preaching God’s truth, it’s more important to appease the congregation rather than pricking consciences and bringing sinners to a right relationship with Christ. It’s a sign of the times, but nothing to be proud of.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Jesus never patted anybody on the back for their sin, but forgave them and told them to stop sinning. He never got angry with the common people, but had many confrontations with the religious leaders who compromised God’s truth. Maybe the religious leaders today should take a look at Scripture and learn from Jesus. A good lesson in preaching is seen in the Book of Acts.

Pentecost occurs a few weeks after Passover, and Jewish men were expected to celebrate it in Jerusalem; and so the Apostles were gathered there. They had no idea what was about to happen. There was a sound like a mighty wind, and what looked like tongues of fire sat upon each of them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. Things have never been the same since! The Holy Spirit gave them power and boldness to share the Gospel. The people who saw this didn’t have a clue what was happening.

“And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:12-13). 

It was Peter who explained. He didn’t joke or cite worldly “authority,” but quoted Scripture as his authority. That sermon brought 3,000 people to salvation. Maybe today’s preachers should learn from Scripture rather than seminaries that teach psychology and give lessons about how to build a congregation rather than how to share the Gospel.

Peter recognized that prophecy was being fulfilled and used Old Testament Scriptures to teach the crowd. “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16).

Joel 2:28-32 foretold a time when God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh and people would prophesy and have visions from God. We always think that prophecy will be fulfilled at some other time, but today we are seeing prophecy being fulfilled. Unfortunately, most preachers don’t teach it, so most Christians are as ignorant of prophecy as the crowd to whom Peter spoke. Peter had more to say, and none of it was politically correct. He spoke God’s truth to the crowd.

Peter explained who Jesus was and that He had been crucified, but rose from the dead. “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:23-24).

Peter didn’t sugarcoat what had happened, and he directly blamed those who were listening. How many in the crowd had seen the miracles Jesus had performed? How many had received healing from Him? I also wonder how many of them had been in the crowd a few weeks before yelling “Crucify Him.”

Brothers and sisters, remember that Jesus died for your sins and my sins, just like He died for the mocking crowd around Peter. It was not a joking matter, but very serious. There were souls at stake, and Peter spoke through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He not only quoted the prophet Joel, but he also quoted from Psalm 16 where King David stated that he knew that the Messiah would come and conquer death.

“Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption” (Acts 2:30-31).

Because Christ conquered death and sits by the right hand of God, the Holy Spirit was poured out that day. God promised this, and we still have that promise today. It’s too bad it isn’t spoken of from our pulpits. Christians might be more aware of the power we have through the Holy Spirit, and we might win more souls to Christ.

Peter ended with a declaration of Christ. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

Those powerful words brought conviction to the sin-filled crowd who listened. Peter’s sermon was so intense and convicting that the listeners were cut to the heart and pleaded to know what they needed to do to be saved.

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

Good question. Peter had the answer. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39).

This promise was meant for the people listening that day, as well as people in distant lands and distant times. It’s meant for you and me. Peter said to “repent.” The Greek word “metanoeo” translated “repent” means to change your mind about something. For the sinner who comes to Jesus, it means that you must change your mind about sin. The worst and deadliest sin is rejecting Christ. Because Peter spoke frankly, many people came to salvation that day.

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:41-42).

Notice that they didn’t say a few words, get baptized, then return to their previous way of life. Once you accept Jesus for salvation, other sins should begin to repulse you. Anger is a sin, and you should change your mind about it. Sexual immorality is a sin that you need to repent and stop participating in. Pride is a sin and needs to be removed from your life. There are more, and the Holy Spirit will guide you in a closer walk with Jesus. They continued to fellowship with the Apostles who taught them God’s ways. It’s important to fellowship with Christians and encourage each other to grow in faith.

So, what about today? How many times do you sit in a pew and hear one joke after another? Or else Scripture takes second place to a secular book, and very few Scriptures are quoted. When your pastor quotes John and Paul, is he quoting the Apostles or the Beatles?

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). 

Sound doctrine is only found in Scripture. Christians have been forgiven of our sins, but we need to be encouraged to continue to turn from sin that compromises our witness to the world for Christ. Unfortunately, the “feel-good gospel” taught by Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, and others have compromised the truth, and people get upset if their own sin is brought to mind.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

That time has come.

I admire Peter. He sinned by denying Christ, but when Jesus restored him, Peter had no fear in serving Christ. His sermon on Pentecost should be an example to preachers today. He didn’t tickle ears nor did he appease the government. He spoke the truth in a way that convicted 3,000 people of their sin, and they understood their need for Jesus. Peter would not be silenced from preaching God’s truth even when faced with imprisonment for preaching about Christ in the Temple. The high priest had forbidden the apostles to preach the Truth, but the apostles knew who their true authority was.

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey them” (Acts 5:29-32).

Too many pastors today keep silent on certain subjects in order to stay tax exempt. They’re more afraid of offending “Big Brother” than they are of offending God. The silence in the pulpits has led to professing Christians looking and acting like the world rather than reflecting Christ as we should. It’s not only pastors who are to blame for letting the congregation starve, but also deacons who allow Scripture to be subordinated to the government gag order. How many people have been led astray in order to remain tax exempt? If you allow the gospel of big government to be taught rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then woe to you when you give an account before the Bema seat of Christ.

“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1, NKJV).

Think about that, pastor, when you choose to water down your teaching.

Can we blame the pastor and deacons alone? Brothers and sisters, you can read. You have no excuse for not knowing Scripture. Christians are afraid of being judgmental if they confront sin, so many condone it. That leads to bad doctrine and sin within the congregation being accepted. Because many pastors joke about Scripture and don’t call sin what it is, sin, Satan is sneaking into congregations. Satan is on the inside of our hallowed halls, and Christ is on the outside.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

That’s the epitome of Christianity in the final days. Guess what? We’re there. Sound doctrine isn’t tolerated, and preachers don’t care. Christ is on the outside while jokesters are on the inside. Brothers and sisters, don’t sit around waiting for your pastor to feed you the pure word of God. You can read…you can study…you can pray for understanding, and the Holy Spirit will open God’s truth to you. Scripture is our guide

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

We’re living in the end times, and if you’re not living by the word of God, then you’re in the crowd that mocks Him. Scripture, not the latest self-help book or psychology article, is your guide.

Today we see the evil influence of Satan filling people with hatred. Mobs of people spew hatred, burn businesses, injure and kill people while calling for an end to law enforcement. The savagery has grown to the point of frenzied hatred. Let me ask a question. What if a man who was empowered with boldness of the Holy Spirit would preach the truth to these deceived people? Would 3,000 of them turn from their wickedness? Would those 3,000 people share with others? It’s not the people who are the enemy but the satanic force that drives them. It’s really nothing to laugh at. Souls are being lost, and Christians keep silent.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul talks of putting on the full armor of God. He ends with a prayer request. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).

You have to know the Gospel in order to share it, and that takes serious study. Scripture contains words of edification, encouragement, and reproof. It needs to be held in authority.

So, what’s the joke? There is no joke. Teach against sin, but teach about the forgiveness that only comes from Jesus Christ. Sin isn’t funny, and God’s truth isn’t to be laughed at.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos” – God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.