Faithlife Sermons

Wonderful Counselor (2)

HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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This sermon's purpose is to persuade the hearers that as humans there will be times when we all may need the service of this counseling. In such a time there is a counselor above all others.

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A REAL TIME PROBLEM

Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 22.1 percent of Americans, ages eighteen and older—about one in five adults—suffer from a diagnosible mental disorder in a given year.
According to the The Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling:
Four of the ten leading causes of disability in the U.S. and other developed countries are mental disorders—
major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive/compulsive disorder. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time.
These are some common types of mental disorders:— Psychotic disorders are those that result in bizarre, paranoid, or delusional thinking. The most common one is schizophrenia. Individuals with psychotic illnesses manifest the symptoms most often thought of as “crazy”—seeing or hearing things that aren’t there, making bizarre connections between unrelated events, or showing grossly inappropriate responses to ordinary occurrences.— Mood disorders are those that primarily affect a person’s emotional stability. The most common are depression and bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depression). Individuals afflicted with depression feel discouraged and hopeless almost every day, have lost interest in activities in which they used to take pleasure, and sometimes consider or attempt suicide. Those with bipolar disorder exhibit cycles of wildly changing emotions and behaviors.— Anxiety disorders are characterized by extreme nervousness, panic, or phobias. Persons suffering from anxiety disorders cannot calm down, feel panicky much of the time, and have physical symptoms of constant nervousness. Those with post-traumatic stress may experience flashbacks of trauma and may react to loud noises or other reminders of the precipitating event.— Personality disorders are disturbances in thinking and behavior that are a part of a person’s basic character. They result in lifelong patterns of counterproductive behavior. Unlike the above mental disorders, personality disorders do not often respond to medications or short-term therapy.— There are many other disorders, some associated only with children, but there is not enough space here to deal with them all.

See the Biblical Text Isaiah 8:22-9:2

Isaiah 8:22–9:2 NASB 2020
22 Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness. 1 But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish. In earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He will make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. 2 The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.

Mental Disorders Affects Everyone

What we find in this text is God’s discipline upon his people for their consistent disobedient. They have sown the wind and now they must reap the whirlwind. God’s chastisment is never pleasant when it is being administered. It can cause distress and darkness as well of gloom of anguish. These descriptions are emotional expressions of sadness, hopelessness, despair. The blessing in this text is that the Lord has an answer for the mental disorders of humanity.

More than half of U.S. adults have a mental or physical condition that prevents them from working or conducting their usual duties (for example, role disability) for several days each year, and a large portion of those days can be attributed to mental disorders.

But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.

1 Samuel 16:14

King Saul, who reigned in Israel before David, displayed classic characteristics of mental disorder, including wide mood swings and fits of depression and anger. A person can develop such debilitating emotional symptoms for many reasons. In this case, Scripture indicates that “a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled” Saul.

Saul’s heart had turned from God, so God permitted affliction by a spirit of distress—possibly a demonic influence—to occur. Not all mental disorders are a result of direct demonic influence, but like any sickness or disease, the battle for our minds is a result of the fall and Satan’s presence in this world.

That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

Daniel 4:33

We are spiritual beings, created by God and incomplete without Him. Also we are physical beings, and a physical disease can lead to psychological or spiritual problems, and vice versa. And then too we are psychological beings, meaning that each person has a mind, emotions, and a will. The interrelationships among these three realms in our humanity mean that specific problems may have many symptoms and causes behind them.

If believers face some form of an emotional problem, they should seek counsel from wise, qualified Christians who can treat them with a comprehensive approach. During such a time, other believers must surround the hurting brother or sister in prayer. God promises to help His people through even the most difficult times.

Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs.

Luke 8:26–27

In this case, the man’s situation was caused by demon possession. Usually, however, mental disorder has other causes, such as genetics or hormonal imbalances.

People who are afflicted with a mental disorder need assurance of their worthiness before God, as well as Christian professional help. Jesus has the power to heal but He may not always choose to do so. God’s people must trust His wisdom through any difficult time.

IN TIMES LIKE THESE

Holiday Depression. Holidays suggest a picture of festive celebration and family gatherings, expectations of joyful exuberance. Self-worth, acceptance by others, and popularity are often read into holiday festivity and rituals. Holiday depression, and emotional reaction to holiday events and rituals, may involve pessimism, sadness, internalized anger, indecisiveness, lingering unpleasant tension, anxiety and insecurity, melancholic rumination, and in the extreme, suicidal gestures and suicide. With the felt dejection and rejection, self-blame and guilt may be evident. Somatic problems, gastrointestinal disturbances, fatigue, insomnia, loss or increase of appetite, and moodiness may be experienced. Alcohol or drug abuse may add to the difficulties.
Pastoral guidance for persons experiencing holiday depression needs to focus on the true meaning and significance of the holiday rather than personal assessment of individuals’ faults and shortcomings or attractiveness and charm. Planning the celebration of holidays on several alternative levels will help to ease the pressure—social, psychological, and physical—that individuals sometimes put themselves through at holiday times. When people place too-high expectations on themselves and on the holiday events to help them prove how worthy they are, the effort most often fails and feeds disappointment, anger, and depression.
C. A. Rayburn, “Holiday Depression,” ed. David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill, Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 566.

Conclusion

Counsel, Counselor. Advice; adviser, especially on legal matters (such as a lawyer). In Bible times a counselor in a king’s court was like a U.S. cabinet member today. A counselor might at times have been in line to succeed the king. Ahithophel, counselor to David and Absalom, gave advice as sound as the “oracle of God” (2 Sm 16:23). The elders of Israel counseled King Rehoboam (1 Kgs 12:6), as did the friends with whom Rehoboam had grown up (1 Kgs 12:8), although his friends gave poor advice. The Bible mentions official counselors in Egypt (Is 19:11) and Babylon (Dn 3:2, 3).

A wise person seeks counsel when making plans: “Without counsel plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prv 15:22). One’s counselors may be one’s parents (Prv 1:8), older people (Ez 7:26), prophets (2 Chr 25:16), wise men (Jer 18:18), or friends (Prv 27:9 KJV). Some counselors are evil, giving deceitful advice (Prv 12:5).

According to the Bible, God also counsels. He frustrates the counsel of “the nations who oppose him” (Ps 33:10 LB), but his own counsel endures for many generations (Ps 33:11). No one may counsel the Lord (Is 40:13). His Messiah is called “Wonderful Counselor” (Is 9:6).

In the NT the Spirit counsels or comforts believers (Jn 14:16, 17). Christ sends the Holy Spirit to his people (Jn 16:7), and the Spirit, also called the Spirit of truth, bears witness to Christ (Jn 15:26). The ascended Jesus Christ is seen as a counselor in God’s heavenly court (1 Jn 2:1, advocate).

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