Advent [Session 2]
Last week we looked at an excerpt from Session One of a four session Advent Bible Study from J.D. Greear. The material is available from RightNow Media and you can join for free. Dr. Greear provides an excellent short video for each part of the study, and a family study guide is provided as well. We'll look at Session 2, “Wonderful Counselor” this week, and you can go ahead with Session 3, “Everlasting Father,” provided below, or save it for next week.
Christmas can be a very difficult season for many people. It can highlight the loss of a loved one, reawaken old family arguments, and make us painfully aware of our loneliness. But even in that darkness, we can have hope because Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor.
In Isaiah 9:6, God calls Jesus our Wonderful Counselor. In Hebrew, Wonderful Counselor roughly translates to “a guide whose goodness goes beyond words.”
J.D. taught us that while God cares about our immediate problems and is ready to help us for our good and his glory, he is more concerned with taking care of the root of all of our problems: our separation from him. Think about the way you pray. Sometimes, we only pray when we need temporary, situational help from God.
It is easy to think of a counselor as someone who simply listens to and sympathizes with our problems. But, as J.D. taught us, Jesus is much more than a sympathizer—he is an authoritative guide. Jesus not only hears and sympathizes with you, but is also able to guide and rescue you.
J.D. pointed out that all of Jesus’s miracles were meant to fix problems. These weren’t small problems either—he fed hundreds of hungry people, healed incurable diseases and conditions, and silenced a storm that threatened to kill his disciples. There is no problem too big for Jesus.
J.D. asked three questions we need to answer before approaching our Wonderful Counselor. The first is: Are you ready to be honest with him, even about the painful and secret parts of your life? What worries you about talking about, or even praying about, your secret sins or problems?
There is no problem Jesus cannot deal with. He has authority over all of your problems. On top of that, there is no sin too dark, no secret so bad, that he will turn you away or stop loving you. He wants to step into your problems.
The second question J.D. asked was, “Do you want to be healed?” Many of us want to be healed but may not want to change. The final question J.D. asked us was, “Are you ready to do what Jesus says?” Jesus is our guide, and he will lead us by his Word and his Spirit.
Jesus has more to give us than we often imagine, but we must give up doing things our way. It may be intimidating to approach God with your problems. What if he ignores you? What if he rejects you? What if you only receive judgement instead of mercy? These questions may seem reasonable, but they stem from thinking that God is like an angry boss, not a Wonderful Counselor. When we approach God with our problems, our sins, and our hopes, he sympathizes with our weaknesses and is eager to help us.
Read Hebrews 4:12–16.
Verses 12–13 teach us about God’s omniscience. God knows everything, including our motivations.
For some of us, Jesus is the last person we want to talk to after we sin. He knows everything, even our selfish motivations for doing good. But when we approach God’s throne, we don’t find disappointment or judgment. Verses 14–16 show us a very different picture of Jesus than we might expect.
Jesus came as a person, just like us. He knows what it means to be tempted, to struggle, and to suffer. As a result, he sympathizes with, or suffers alongside, us and extends mercy and grace whenever we need it.
Jesus is not waiting on his throne to smite us. He invites us to his throne so that he can give us grace. He knows what you are going through and is eager to meet your needs. He is our God and our Wonderful Counselor.
Jesus wants us to come to him with our problems, our joys, our questions, and our hopes. He is both willing and able to help and heal us. But we have to come to him in full honesty, be willing to change, and be ready to do what he says. In him, we have a guide better than words can describe.
Loosen your grip on your secrets, your fears, your determination to follow your own counsel and allow Jesus to guide you. When you hand over your life to Jesus, light will dawn in your darkness.
Read John 5:1–15.
Examine the way Jesus treats the paralyzed man. Think about your problems and ask yourself, “Do I want to be made well?”
Pray Pour your heart out to God. Tell him what scares, bothers, and concerns you. Confess your sins to him. Then take time to read his Word and listen for his guidance.
Memorize Memorize Hebrews 4:15–16, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. Instead, we have one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet he never sinned. So let us keep on coming boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Watch the Session 2 video: Wonderful Counselor (10 minutes).
Review the study guide for Session 2. This excerpt was taken from this guide and includes the complete lesson with questions and additional insights.