Joseph, Mary and Marvin Gaye

It’s hard for us to imagine what it must’ve been like for Joseph in the Bible when he found out that his ‘wife’ was pregnant… and they had never been together. 

During Bible times, Hebrew marriage customs were much different than today. Marriages were ‘arranged’ by parents and after the contracts were negotiated and agreed upon… the couple were officially ‘husband and wife’, even though they were not sexually intimate. In fact, they were not intimate for the course of entire year! (Now that’s commitment). 

What was the purpose of this?

The waiting period was to demonstrate the faithfulness of the pledge of purity concerning the bride. If she got pregnant in that year, she was not pure and the marriage could be annulled. If she wasn’t pregnant, there would be a grand processional march back to the groom’s home, he would put on some Marvin Gaye and the rest was history.

Within that first year, Mary became pregnant.

I can imagine the pain in Joseph’s heart when he found that out. He loved Mary. He had envisioned a life together with her. He cared more about ‘her’ than himself.

You see that in his response. 

When he could have gotten even…

When he could have embarrassed her…

When he could have decided to run her name through the mud…

The Bible tells us: 

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” Matthew 1:19

This is before an angel shows up. This is before he understands what is taking place. This is before God fills in all the blanks. This is before every answer has been given.

Joseph was a ‘just man’. 

Joseph, in that moment, had a choice on how he would respond. He could choose one way or the other. But, because of his character as a ‘just man’, he chose grace.

Jesus said this about our Father in heaven…

“…For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45b

You have a choice on how you are going to react when the rug gets pulled out on you. You have a decision to make when things don’t go your way or you are dragged down the dark road of despair because of the decisions and actions of another. I want to encourage you today…

Choose Grace. 

Choose to be that ‘just person’. Choose to be the ‘bigger person’. Choose to hold your head high and believe that a God who is greater than your current situation may even use it for His glory in your life.

Say this prayer: “God, help me to be just. Help me to choose grace. Help me to forgive. Help me see your fingerprints on my life even when things don’t make sense. I choose today to trust you. Help my heart follow my head. I love you. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

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5 Keys to Common Sense Biblical Counseling

Now, I’m not talking about the kind of counseling where you need a plaque on the wall to do it. I’m talking about the “‘down and dirty’ representing Jesus to help someone” kind of counseling. As Christians, we are called to be available to help others throughout life.

Let me give you five quick keys to making sure that your Biblical Counseling time is fruitful:

Key #1: Keep Christ First and Last

If you are going to sit down and provide someone with counsel, make sure that you start and end the time in prayer. This is the moment where you can invite the Holy Spirit to be part of the conversation. Ask Him to lead the conversation and help you hear what needs to be heard. Too often we just dive right in without taking time to pray. Take a few minutes to focus on God… it will make all the difference in the world.

Key #2: Listen More Than You Talk

This simple key has revolutionized my ability to counsel. There is something about silence that makes us want to fill it. I get uncomfortable when no one is saying anything so I try to fill it with words. When counseling, you need to embrace the silence. Sometimes, the silence allows the opportunity for the person you are counseling to say what they normally avoid saying. Don’t be afraid to sit, be silent and let THEM fill the void.

Key #3: Don’t Excuse Behavior or Make Excuses for Them

In the past, I would find myself trying to defend or “make sense” of people’s situations. This is not my responsibility. Trust me… people can make enough excuses for themselves and they don’t need my help. I am not here to justify mistakes or actions that they have done, but simply hear them through. Bite your tongue next time and don’t let yourself make excuses.

Key #4: Delineate Between the Need for an Ear and the Need for Advice

Sometimes people just want someone to listen to them. In fact, I’ve found that some people can actually come up with great conclusions for their lives by simply hearing themselves speak. Others, however, need an action plan or steps to apply to their lives by you. As you are counseling them, try to keep an ear open to what their need is. This can happen by asking them near the end of your time, “What are you going to do with what we talked about?” If they don’t have an answer, this may the moment for your two cents.

Key #5: Don’t Tell Them What to Do, But Allow Them to Search Scripture and Pray to Make Decisions

In Biblical Counseling, I want to point people to the Bible and Prayer. God wants to speak to His children. He wants to lead them in their decisions. The more that I can get someone to focus their heart, mind and attention on God… the more wisdom they will be able to attain from Him. This will happen, sometimes, by opening up the Bible and pointing to verses that deal with the subject of the counseling time. It can also come from giving them portions of scripture to read, think about and commit to memory. Point them towards spiritual action and you allow them to develop strong, healthy habits.

There it is! A few keys to help you help others. Now, get out there and get busy helping people make great decisions and find wholeness in their hearts and lives.

GP

Sermon Illustration: Shopping Carts and Discounted Food

I can take absolutely no credit for what I am about to give you, however I will promise you that I will use it one day soon… because IT IS SO GOOD! By “SO GOOD” I mean that it makes perfect sense and has a profound purpose and is something that people will relate to. In my opinion, that is how I define “SO GOOD”. 

Anyways, I heard this illustration from Lincoln Brewster who either gathered it through divine guidance… or stole it from someone else. If you want to ask him, click here.

So, here’s the illustration. Imagine a shopping cart filled with all of the “discounted stuff”. You know… the pumpkin colored lipstick from halloween and the “holiday cupcakes” from Christmastime. It is filled with stuff that is priced cheap and deeply discounted because the store wants it to go.

Now imagine Jesus coming into that store and, not picking through the cart, but pushing that entire thing through the checkout line. As the lady starts to ring it out He stops her.

“Wait. Don’t discount these things.”

She says, “But Sir (she would call Jesus sir), these are all deeply discounted.”

Jesus responds, “Oh no. For these… I pay full price!”

It’s an illustration about us. I often feel “less” than worth full price. I wouldn’t blame anyone for putting the “deeply discounted” price tag on my forehead. I often see myself as less. However, when Jesus sees us… He doesn’t see us as discounted goods. He says, “I’ll pay full price for all of them.”

That “full price” was His perfect blood laid down for each and every one of us.

Take the illustration. Use it. Make it your own. Take stuff out or add stuff to it. If you use it, let me know how it goes.

I promise you that when I get to use it, I’ll be going for a ride in that shopping cart. When I do, I’ll post a pic so that you can see!

Have a great one and feel free to add any “shopping cart” illustrations that you may have below in the comment section.

GP