“The Good Shepherd, our Wonderful Counselor”, from Bob Hoekstra (Psalm 23, Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus)

Counseling God’s Way
by Bob Hoekstra

Throughout time God will guide us with His counsel, if we let Him, if we look to Him, and if we trust Him to do so. In Psalm 23. The Lord is the Counselor, The One who is the Wonderful Counselor is also the Good Shepherd. The One who wants to counsel us, look what He is and is able to do, as He counsels.


1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.


I’m glad the church of Jesus Christ has shown such great interest in giving attention to this psalm at the death and passing and funerals. Praise God, that’s a great time for it. But it was designed especially for the living. I mean it’s great at that time. I’ve taught out of that at moments like that too, and been comforted at moments like that. But this is a psalm for everyday living. We’re the sheep, He’s the shepherd. That day is now. The One who is our Wonderful Counselor, He’s also our shepherd, our guarder, our provider, our caretaker, our helper, our protector.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”


And because the Lord is our shepherd we shall not want. We’ll have everything we need if we walk under His shepherding care. So many people out seeking counsel and do you know what they really need to be reconsidering? Who is their shepherd? Therefore where and how are they going to get everything they need? It’s right here in Psalm 23. Our Wonderful Counselor is also our shepherd, therefore we shall not want. We shall have what we need.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures.”


He who is our Wonderful Counselor, if we let Him counsel us as He counsels, then He will shepherd, provide, and care for us. He’ll make us lie down in green pastures. A lot of people seeking counsel, you know what they really need?—just to lie down for a while, spiritually speaking, in green pastures. Just slow down, lie down, and let the Lord feed you for a while. A lot of people seeking counsel, they’re just in a frantic frenzy, undernourished, weak and on the edge of a panic. Now the Lord understands and He cares. And many of them can have the deepest of their needs met just slowing down, lying down as it were, just resting a while with the Lord in green pastures. I mean, spiritually speaking, here are the green pastures.


There are a lot of weed fields out there. Not wheat fields, weed fields. You know, with a
lot of humanistic thinking, you know. Not fields of grain but just fields of weeds. You know, wild things, non-productive things. Not nurturing, just growing but not helping. The Lord loves us to lie down in green pastures. Just rest a while and get fed.

“He leads me beside the still waters.”

Our wonderful counselor who is also our shepherd, He leads us beside the still waters. A lot of people seeking counsel, they just need some quiet times of refreshment. They need quiet times of refreshment with the Lord or with another brother or sister, depending on the situation. Brother getting with brother, sister with sister, being refreshed with the still waters, the peaceful work of the Holy Spirit in our lives; abiding in Christ, walking in the Spirit. Considering again what the Christian life is all about.

“He restores my soul.”


Verse three says, “He restores my soul.” Is it God’s restoration projects or man’s recovery programs? Oh, they’re popular these days. You know, restore my soul. Recover me. Put me back into what I should be. Hey, how about the Good Shepherd? He restores my soul. He can put our soul, our inner life back into the state it ought to be in. No one can do it like He can do it.

“He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”


And He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. How many people seeking counsel—are just driven with a passion or a panic, they’ve got to find the right path to take in life. Decisions. Choices. Options. I mean, here it is in the Bible. He leads me in the paths of righteousness, the right paths are the righteous paths. And not just for a feel-good experience for me or a, “Whew, that takes care of that decision!” It is much bigger than that, it is for His name’s sake. He’ll put us on the right paths and it will end up honoring His name. Boy, how’s that for counsel? We’re not talking about a quick fix here. We’re talking about a life path that the Shepherd is leading us on. This is the same One who is our wonderful counselor. How about just hanging out with


Him? You say, “Yeah, but I need help in that.” He knows that, that’s why we are to counsel one another, as we’ll see later down the road. He uses instruments of sheep ministering to sheep. But sheep only have to give what the Shepherd gives them. How can a sheep help another sheep? Here comes a wolf! Hey, no problem, I’ll take care of you. Bahh! Why am I not comforted? But the Good Shepherd, oh hey that’s another matter!

“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”


Verse four says, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” Many people are in the deep valley of darkness, the shadow of death. It’s like death is casting a shadow over them. Many people live daily in what you could call the valley of the shadow of death. Just in a deep place of darkness, confusion, fear, apprehension. Here’s the great thing—“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”—and we all get our treks through there. I know that from the Word of God. I know that from watching Jesus in the Scriptures. I know that from watching great men of God like Moses and Paul and others. And I can bear witness by my own testimony. We all get our treks through the valley of the shadow of death. Where everything just looks like it’s dark and dying and impossible, with no way through. And fear threatens from every side. I’ve been there and I may be there again. But praise God, the more we walk with our Shepherd, we can say this—“Yea, though I walk through that valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” I’m not going to dread all the evil that lies around me.

“I will fear no evil.”

Why? “For You are with me.” This is not whistling by the graveyard. This is not the “unpower”
of positive thinking. This is faith based on fact. I will fear no evil. Why?—because “You are with me.” Because the Lord’s there! Not because we’re somebody. Not just because we just refuse to be afraid. All those things will run out sooner or later. Someone big enough, with a big enough “Boo” will just bring that to the end. No, I need more than that. I’ll fear no evil right in the valley of the shadow of death, when all looks like darkness and dying.

“For You are with me. Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.”

Why?—“For You are with me.” And He is with us, as a Shepherd. “Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.” The rod is to beat off the enemy, the wolf. The staff with the crook is to pull us out of the pits, out of the mess.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”


Verse five says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Yes, in this world we have a vicious enemy. Whipped at the cross and by the resurrection, but he won’t stop fighting until he’s thrown in the pit. But right in the presence of our enemies the enemy and all those who are cooperating with him, wittingly or unwittingly, the Lord prepares a table before us right there. All the way from food to eat to spiritual nourishment when all around is the enemy.

“You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.”


“You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.” Of course, this is the picture of a shepherd anointing the injured or needy sheep. But it is done in such a way that there’s just overflowing blessings. Apply this to New Testament believers who could walk in the fullness of the Spirit. The Lord anoints us, the Spirit upon us, until the cup of our life just overflows.


A lot of Christians that are seeking counsel, really need nothing other than just letting the Wonderful Counselor, who is also their Shepherd, just anoint their head with oil. That is, pour out the Spirit upon them until the cup of their life just overflows with His presence and His work. Boy, I’ll tell you, when the Lord is doing that, you can have a hundred counseling problems being dealt with simultaneously by one work of God, by the filling of the Holy Spirit.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all of days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”


And look at the assurance we can walk in as we walk with our Shepherd. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” What a great assurance that all the way through this life, we have this assurance, that God’s goodness and God’s mercy will be right there with us. In His goodness to supply what’s needed, it is with a loving intention. And His mercy—to be sure we don’t get what we deserve! What a Shepherd.


And He’ll do it all the days of our lives. Yes, even today! He’ll also do it all those other dreaded days. Yesterday He was doing it, whether we saw it or not. And tomorrow He’ll do it. And then when that’s all done we’ll just live in God’s house forever. That’s the path of walking with the Good Shepherd. Who also is our Wonderful Counselor. If the sheep of God’s pasture would just, as it were, cuddle up close to their Wonderful Counselor and find out He is their Good Shepherd and walk with Him day by day, I think we would be blown away at what a Wonderful Counselor He truly is.

Source: Blue Letter Bible : Bob Hoeskra

“Insights from The Spirit of The Disciplines from Dallas Willard”, Introduction from L.Willows (Power of the Spirit, Discipleship)

Insights From The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard teaches that discipline works by indirection. A discipline is something we can do that enables us to do what we haven’t yet been able to do by our own direct effort. We train and enlist a new skill using a power greater than our own. In the disciplines we use the Spirit of God that raised Jesus Christ, to lift us to greater ability.

More importantly, he emphasizes that the greatest asset to discipline is a joyful attitude! Imagine that your heart is smiling through it. Your most true part longs to be where this is leading you. We are encouraged to connect to the perspective of love and joy. Why are you drawn to the disciplines? Because you love God and desire the intimacy of Spirit filled-living. It is a loving reunion with the One that has always been faithful to you. We fill ourselves with the goodness that has always been There. Our own hearts and lives need the disciplines, or the chance to develop new perspectives and patterns of seeing and living so that we experience intimacy with God and walk in His Spirit.

Discipline also works when developing new habits of body, mind, and heart. In daily living, we are faced with a multitude of choices at every turn. Developing a new habit means opposing a force that has “learned” to cope with these choices in one way and formed a set response.

A discipline asks that the pattern is broken. It asks that we “wake” from the habitual way of living long enough to purify and permit a new “aspect or perspective” to be born in its place. This will be by the power of Spirit, led by God. We joyfully walk in the discipline praying that we will re-form, emptied of what was needed to be left behind,  forward renewed by The Spirit of God. We pray that our new perspective bears the fruit of Spirit-directed living.

Here are some main disciplines of abstinence and engagement that have been helpful to Christ-followers over the centuries as offered by Dallas Willard.

This Spiritual Disciplines List features some main disciplines for life in Christ with concise definitions for each. You will notice disciplines of abstinence and disciplines of engagement.

Disciplines of Abstinence (Self-Denial)
These are ways of denying ourselves something we want or need in order to make space to focus on and connect with God.

Solitude: Refraining from interacting with other people in order to be alone with God and be found by him. (Solitude is completed by silence.)

Silence: Not speaking in a quiet place in order to quiet our minds and whole self and attend to God’s presence. Also, not speaking so that we can listen to others and bless them.

Fasting: Going without food (or something else like media) for a period of intensive prayer — the fast may be complete or partial.

Sabbath: Doing no work to rest in God’s person and provision; praying and playing with God and others. (God designed this for one day a week. We can practice it for shorter periods too.)

Secrecy: Not making our good deeds or qualities known to let God or others receive attention and to find our sufficiency in God alone (e.g., see Matthew 6).

Submission: Not asserting ourselves in order to come under the authority, wisdom, and power of Jesus Christ as our Lord, King, and Master. (If you think of this as submitting to a person as unto Christ then it’s a discipline of engagement.)

Disciplines of Engagement (Christ in Community)
These are ways of connecting with God and other people, conversing honestly with them in order to love and be loved.

Bible Reading: Trusting the Holy Spirit-inspired words of Scripture as our guide, wisdom, and strength for life. (Related disciplines include Bible study, Scripture meditation, and praying God’s Word.)

Worship: Praising God’s greatness, goodness, and beauty in words, music, ritual, or silence. (We can worship God privately or in community.)

Prayer: Conversing with God about what we’re experiencing and doing together. (As we see in the Lord’s Prayer the main thing we do in prayer is to make requests or intercessions to our Father for one another.)

Soul Friendship: Engaging fellow disciples of Jesus in prayerful conversation or other spiritual practices. (Related spiritual disciplines or practices include small groups, spiritual direction, and mentoring relationships.)

Personal Reflection: Paying attention to our inner self in order to grow in love for God, others, and self. (The Psalms in the Bible model this.)

Service: Humbly serving God by overflowing with his love and compassion to others, especially those in need. (Also tithing and giving.)

Dallas Willard – Wikipedia

“Living in Joy; Secured by God”, from L.Willows (Near to Christ, the Spirit of God, “this world”)

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The Joy of The Lord is Near, He Secures Each Heart

Living in degrees of confinement because of the threat and dangers co-vid 19 gives us new opportunities to refine the ways that we each find joy in life.

For me, my first sense of the loss of joy (after not meeting directly in church, of course) was not being in nature, in parks with blossoming trees, and watching the smallest details of each new flower that rose up every day from the ground. I missed hearing particular birds sing, even watch familiar ones make nests and prepare for the season and fly by. Each color and hue was appreciated as God-made. I could be found with my nose in a  fragrant blossom just like a busy bee, fortunate not to be stung. The parks are closed. I don’t have a private garden to tend to right now. I loved it when I did.

But, I realize that our lives and the world around us have seasons (not of this world) that we do not control that God alone predestines.

 

I realized that I did not lose anything. Everything that I just described is still there, still growing and blossoming in God’s timing. I just cannot see it or touch it. I can’t smell it. My senses have been removed from the experience. My senses have been removed from the experience of “going to church” as well. There are beloved people that I long to see and be with. Voices that I wish that I could hear “LIVE”; sparkly faces that tell me a thousand things just by looking into Expression up close. It is all still there, but it is preserved by God’s deepest loving care and protection.

I believe that there is a gift of joy that is being offered at this time to each of us that is greater than the losses that we are experiencing. He offers intimacy with Himself. He extends His own Heart and invites us into the Aroma of His Spirit.

Every day we each have countless opportunities to know God in new ways. We need to recognize these invitations in our lives, the lives that we are leading in our homes in isolation and protected spaces. First, we need to remember that we are protected by the Lord. We are not isolated from God, especially not from one another. We are and always have been connected by His Spirit. This is a gifted opportunity to enhance the ability to be strong in Spirit and to heart-fully connect in that way. The more that we pray together and feel Unity as one body in Christ, the greater our sense of joy will be.

1 Timothy 2:1 -First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.

The first path to joy is Unity by the call of the Spirit of God.

We also have unique individual opportunities to discover joys in our hearts and in our lives (right now). Heart joy is spiritual. It starts with Prayer. Prayer begins with being connected to God’s Word. We have a special gift of time now. Each day needs to begin and end with the joy of meeting with God in scripture, contemplation, and worship. We can’t find unity with one another before we each have personal peace with God. The “verticle” relationship needs to line up first before the “horizontal” one can flow and the point of Meeting is at the heart.

 Prayer leads us to know the Spirit of God. It fine-tunes our hearts to be sensitive to His Calling not only during prayer but throughout the day.  It changes our hearts. We look at the world and life around us with spiritual vision and a perspective of love. When you live in personal worship, you “see” goodness. When you live in fear and despair you experience the same.

Acts 4:13 –And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Joy is like a spectrum that is There. It is living with the Spirit of God.

Living in this kind of closeness with God gives a sense of true security. It is possible to withstand the shakable circumstances of this world and though we do and will still mourn, weep, and know great loss- the heart’s security remains with God. In times when we witness or may have personal suffering, we need to remember that nothing in this world can separate us from the love and protection of God.

Wherever we are and whatever state our mortal bodies are in, God is able to hear our individual prayers. More, they are answered. His Mercies never cease. We call upon Him by Name. Lord Jesus Christ, hear my prayer. Calling Jesus

Romans 8:38-39 —For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 55:16 –As for me, I shall call upon God, And the LORD will save me.

We are Secured by God.

Sometimes we need to remember and be grateful for all of the ways that God has secured us in the past. Gratitude is not only a way of replenishing joy, but it also restores our worship and places value on what is most important to us. Times like this are a good chance to view what we value most and to be grateful for all of the good that God has given. Remember that “where your treasure is, there will be your heart”. (Matthew 6)

 One way to experience the Security of God’s Presence is to read His Promises to us in Scripture. We are secured by His Love. We have nothing to fear. The Joy of the Lord is Near.

As I read through what I have written, I realize that I valued nature (in this world) much. I loved what I received through my senses. But there is a greater treasure that God wanted me to find. He gave us each “Senses of The Spirit”. They are far greater riches. I value them so much more. God’s Garden is greater than any worldly splendor. He asks that I explore and roam through the beauty and majesty of His Kingdom. What a breathtaking invitation!

Thank you, Lord, for this time with You.

© 2020 Linda Willows

Psalm 27:1 -The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 4:8 -In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

and the one that we all need to keep near to our hearts~

The Lord Is My Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.