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Go to God First

Lisa Barry: What?s the first thing you do after someone hurts your feelings? Well, if you?re like me, you?re first tempted to pick up the phone and tell a friend or two who you know will be sympathetic. And it?s even better if that friend already has a disdain for the one who hurt you. It seems like the natural thing to do, doesn?t it? But as we?ll find out today, God isn?t calling us to our natural selves, He?s calling us to the supernatural realm, and that changes things. Elisabeth Elliot continues her series on simplifying your life with a specific challenge to bring your problems to God alone. Find out more as we begin this Tuesday edition of Gateway To Joy. Here?s Elisabeth.

Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That?s what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, continuing my talks today on how to simplify your life. Yesterday I talked about the givens and the not-givens. What great peace it brings when we realize that God is much wiser than we are. He knows how to give us exactly what's best for us. My dear friend Dorothy, an old woman who died when she was in her nineties, she was a spinster all her life. She lived on Cape Cod, and I learned so much wisdom from her. I can just still hear her saying, "Well, Betty dear, I believe that God gives us exactly what's right for us." And it was singleness for her all her life.

Today I want to talk about going to God first--another simplifying principle in your life. When you get a piece of bad news, or somebody says something to you that upsets you, or somebody looks at you funny when you go to church, or any little thing that sets you off balance--what do you do? What is the first thing that you're tempted to do? Pick up the phone and call two or three of your best friends and tell them how awful everything is? Rush off to a counselor? Try to find a book that'll take your mind off this awful thing?

How about just going to God first. I want to ask, what ever happened to the Wonderful Counselor? We're told in Isaiah that God is the Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, the Prince of Peace. And today we have thousands, I suppose hundreds of thousands, of professional counselors. I am not saying that you must not go to a professional counselor. Please do not misquote me now. But what I do want to urge you to do is to go to God first. Instead of picking up the phone or dialing and try to find out how can I get some counseling on this, because six of your friends have told you that what you need is some counseling. They may be right, what you need is some counseling, but maybe the kind of counseling that you need you can get at the foot of the cross. Chances are pretty good, aren't they, that you could get the counseling you need at the foot of the cross?

Probably many of my listeners are not aware that there was any such thing as counseling, in the professional sense, before this century. There was no such thing. In fact, most of the professional counseling has risen since the fifties. So it's really a very short span of the people who've lived in the world who have had what is called today "professional counseling."

I'm here to remind you of the ancient principle of going to God first. In Hebrews 4:14-16 we read, "Since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Many of my listeners, I'm sure, do not have access to professional counseling--perhaps because you can't get there, you don't have a car, you have too many children, you're ill, or for other reasons. You've learned that there is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God, and that place is where the Wonderful Counselor waits for you. He says, "I will help you." He says, "Fear thou not, for I am with thee. I am thy God, I will strengthen thee; yea I will help thee. Yea, I will uphold thee by the right hand of My righteousness."

How many promises do you need? Well, I have to say that I have found such peace and such wisdom when I go simply to the foot of the cross. I'm not saying that I never go to a close friend to talk about some difficulties that I've had. Certainly not! And I go to my husband sometimes with things that are bothering me. That's perfectly normal, that's perfectly natural, and I'm sure that God ordained it that way. He wants us to have good friends; He wants us to be intimate with our husbands and wives. But when we're really up against it, do you remember that there's a Wonderful Counselor? Are you tempted to run to a friend or counselor or a professional? Stop and think about it. Those people have never been tempted in every way. Who has been tempted in every way? Jesus Christ. The Bible says He was tempted in every way yet without sin.

He knows, He knows exactly what you're going through. The Bible says, "He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God's power. Likewise we are weak in Him, yet by God's power we will live with Him to serve you." Now there's a spiritual principle that's tucked away in this go-to-God-first principle. When the Lord has dealt with us in our trials and our sorrows and our tribulations, then we are--although we are weak in Him--we can live and serve Him, and He enables us, He equips us to help and serve other people.

Do you know the people are that have most helped me in my darkest times? Not a one of them has been a person who would run to a professional counselor. Not a one of them was a professional counselor. They were godly people. I thank God for godly parents to start with, and I am greatly blessed in having had that kind. I could go to my mother or my father and ask for their advice, and they gave it.

But there have been a long list of people in my life. Would you like me to read the list that I have of women alone who have influenced my life? Katherine Howard was my mother; Betty Scott Stam, whom I never met but I read her writings and I read her prayer, "Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes;" Dr. Virginia Blakesly, a woman whom I heard speak when I was about 12 or 14-years old, and she's the one who imprinted in my mind indelibly those wonderful words of Isaiah 50:7: "The Lord God will help me. Therefore shall I not be confounded, therefore have I set my face like a flint and I know that I shall not be ashamed."

I will never forget the tears pouring down the face of Dr. Blakesly as she articulated those wonderful words from Isaiah 50. I never forgot them, and I use them over and over and over again. As I'm doing my housework, as I'm sitting at my desk doing my deskwork, as I'm preparing to do Gateway to Joy talks, I say, "Lord, help me. Please help me. The Lord God will help me. Therefore shall I not be confounded."

Well, I got as far as Dr. Virginia Blakesly, then the next one on my list was Mrs. DuBois, the head mistress of the school that I went to in Florida, who said to us, "Do the Next Thing. Don't go around with a Bible under your arm if you didn't sweep under the bed." Then there was a sweet missionary woman named Carol Canfield, a woman for whom childbearing was a "not-given." She was married, she and her husband were missionaries for 50 years or so in China. They used to come, and they were just wonderful sort of surrogate grandparents to us children. I can remember climbing a mountain with the Canfields one time in New Hampshire. One of the women of influence.

Then there was Isobel Kuhn. I only heard her speak once. She's the author of many missionary books, but a lovely woman with a very womanly, feminine grace about her.

Katherine Cumming, the dorm mother when I was a student at Wheaton College. A dear, single woman who poured herself out for us single girls. Then there was Katherine Cunningham. The one that I told you about who invited me down to her little apartment, the Scottish lady.

And there was Katherine Morgan, you see I've got five Katherine's here. Katherine Morgan was a missionary in Bogota, Colombia, and as far as I know now she is 90-years old and she is still a missionary.

Then there was my colleague, Doreen Clifford, an English lady with whom I worked in the western jungle of Ecuador in my very first year as a missionary.

I could go to these people, and it was fruitful to do so. But I challenge you to go to God first. Don't go first to a human counselor. None of them have been tempted in every way, but the Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way and yet He was without sin. "He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in Him, yet by God's power we will live with Him to serve you." Go to God first.

Lisa Barry: And with that good counsel, it?s time to bring today?s program to a close. I want to leave you with a challenge to get a hold of the book Elisabeth has put together entitled Reflections that Draw us Nearer to God. In it you?ll find much of the written material that has challenged her over a lifetime. You?ll find verses, poems, quotes and sayings. Some written by Elisabeth and the rest by those she highly respects. The cost is $18.50, and to purchase it you can send that amount along with your request to:

Gateway to Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. That?s Gateway to Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. You can also purchase a copy of this two-week series by giving us a call at 1-800-759-4JOY. That?s 1-800-759-4569. And if you?re on the Internet, be sure and check out our Web site. You?ll find our on-line product catalog, weekly program topics, transcripts and much more. That address is gatewaytojoy.org.

Gateway To Joy has been a listener-supported production of Back to the Bible. Tomorrow Elisabeth talks about the true meaning of love. Find out more next time on Gateway To Joy.

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