Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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God wants His people to counsel one another. He does not want us receiving advice from unbelievers if that counsel goes contrary to God and His desires. Christians are to provide biblical advice to one another about God’s ways to handle life and its difficult situations. Such counsel is to come only from carefully considered biblical knowledge and wisdom.

Counseling one another, then, is passing on God’s wisdom. It is advice that is guided by what we know about God and His ways from the Bible. It requires that together in our Christian Inner Circles we search the Bible to know God and how He wants us to handle things.

Counsel now before death has two different purposes, one problem-focused and the other focused on challenge. Both prepare us to do only the second in heaven. There will be no need for counsel regarding problems in heaven. Thankfully, predicaments related to sin will be a thing of the past.

However, heaven will likely have thousands of challenges in the way of new opportunities for which we are not yet prepared. (Talking with angels is just one of millions of adventures awaiting us.) Counsel from one another will be wonderful to help us face these new adventures in heaven with the wisdom another has that we do not yet possess. (Many who have arrived in heaven before us will have already had many conversations with angels.) If we have had a history of seeking godly advice as well as giving godly advice before dying and entering heaven, then we will be more apt to ask for as well as give counsel in heaven for wonderful and unending exploits.

This will magnify our quality of life forever. Those who did little to seek counsel about God’s wisdom will miss many trips, engagements and enterprises in heaven because they will be prone to not seek counsel about opportunities. They will also miss the joy of helping others find more of the opportunities in heaven because they did not develop their spirits to readily offer counsel. Fortunately, these citizens of heaven will not recognize they are missing anything because there will be no disappointment or pain in heaven. They will be happy with their more limited experience in heaven because the “more” others will be doing will be above their understanding and further than their desire.

When we take the wrong route to somewhere we are going, that is not sin. Yet, advice can help in those situations. Some of us ask for directions from someone who knows the way we should travel. It will be the same in heaven. Some of us will be more than willing to ask for counsel about the good things we don’t fully understand. This will open up many opportunities.
Then, some of us notice those who seem to not know where they are going and jump at the chance to advise them. They see those tourists, for example, on a street in New York City who appear confused and ask if they can be of help. (This has happened many times with Jean and myself. The subways can be confusing.) In heaven, these quick-to-advise will counsel so that others can discover new joys they might otherwise miss.

Therefore, in our Christian Inner Circles we want to be eager to give counsel. We especially do not want to defer to people who seem to be leaders or wiser. We want to prepare for heaven and must get into the “counseling business” ourselves. If we do not have much to advise, we need to get deeper into our Bibles to learn more of the wisdom of God. But, the last thing we should want to do is sit back and let others give all of the godly advice.

Furthermore, in our Christian Inner Circles we want to ask for counsel for ourselves frequently. We must guard against thinking that we know everything and how to handle most situations. And, we must not ever think that we are not important enough to impose our situations on others for their counsel.

How many opportunities available in heaven do we want to have? If there are a billion, and we have forever, don’t we want to experience most of those billion adventures? Not knowing everything, we will need to ask for counsel in heaven about these fantastic opportunities. If, before death, we have prepared ourselves for heaven by counseling one another, we will not be hesitant to ask for advice.

Consider also the great benefits of being spontaneous in giving counsel. Every day of eternity we will be able to give advice to open up the heavenly experience for others. Since there is great joy in service, this will be even more wonderful than seeking counsel and going on our own adventures. Let’s try to grasp how good it will be in heaven to have a spirit that enjoys serving God and others and giving advice so that others might enjoy heaven more.

Here is another thing to consider: Those of us who before death took seriously the need to offer godly counsel and worked to know God better with regard to His nature, character, and wishes will have a stronger sense of His presence in heaven. It will be kind of like smelling the apple pie by being in the kitchen rather than the lesser fragrance from being down the hall.
So important to giving counsel is the aspect of searching the Bible to learn more and more of God’s character and the way He would counsel. This will create a greater sensitivity to Him in heaven. There, we will be conscious of Him to the extent that we know Him. We will be more aware of God the more familiar we are with Him.

For example, when we have a sense of revulsion at some injustice, where does it come from? Often it comes from knowing God and how much He detests injustice. If we do not know Him well, we will think that the revulsion comes from our morals, just like it does with unbelievers.
Unfortunately, there are those believers who pay little attention to how God wants life lived and things done. Their spirituality is based on reading the Bible, perhaps studying it, but not really folding it into their daily lives. Then there are those whose pursuit of knowing the Bible stops with the benefits it can provide for them.

But, there are those who go further and help others see God’s wisdom for the situations in life that they face. They consider God and what He wants in the other Christian’s life. For example, does He want a retired couple to use their money more for the work of the Kingdom and wait for heaven for the luxuries, or does He want to reward them now with multiple cruises around the world?

Suppose a Christian woman is sexually harassed at work. Does God want her to leave and find a job in a more respectful work environment? Does God want her to work with the human resources department to rectify the situation? Does God want her to sue the company, knowing full well that success is unlikely but that it might make the company more careful about the treatment of women in their workplace? Does the Lord want the woman to stay and talk to the offending men about their need for Jesus as their Savior, either changing them through conversion or driving them away because she is a devout Christian?

As we can see, giving counsel is not a matter of simple Christian rules in many cases. It involves seeking God, His ways as recorded in the Bible, and His direction as a result of our prayers.

Sometimes a period of teaching might be needed prior to giving counsel. After that, giving counsel needs to be gentle and sensitive. Since a person’s individual situation is being addressed, emotions might be unstable. Counsel requires a lot of listening to a person beforehand and usually follows hurting with and comforting, two other Togethers.

When our counsel sounds more like popular culture or secular psychology, we have not prepared enough. Christian words and actions are to be far superior. Our counsel is different than the world’s because it is motivated by God’s purposes and guided by the Bible.

Giving counsel is best done by more than one person. It is difficult for any one Christian to keep in mind all 65 of the Togethers and pick out those that might be helpful to a situation. A collection of Christians giving counsel is always best.

It truly is best when a Christian faces a serious situation that he or she call together his or her Christian Inner Circle for a meeting. Those who can come will best fulfill this expectation that God’s people counsel one another. Since everyone may not be able to come and give counsel, a few meetings might need to be held.

It is easier for us to dismiss the advice of one person. It is much more difficult to reject advice agreed upon by a small group of those who care about us the most. Even if there is initial resistance, it will usually break down over time with the consistent counsel of a group of one’s closest Christian friends and family members.

There is a lot of power when a group of Christians who know one another well gather in the name of Jesus. Jesus’ promised presence in such small gatherings plus the proven trust of each other leads to more carefully considered advice. After praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit, everyone can recall and introduce different portions of Scripture into the discussion in order to come up with the true counsel of God.

Often a Christian Inner Circle will give a few biblical options to handle a troublesome situation, all of which would meet the requirement of God’s counsel. Then the Christian seeking and receiving counsel can pick the one he or she thinks matches personality and outlook on life.
Counsel from those in our Christian Inner Circles should be quite welcome. If it is not welcomed from Christian friends, members of a Christian family, or a Christian husband or wife, these might not truly be Christian relationships.

In seeking counsel from those Christians close to us, we need to be careful. It may be that not all of them are good sources for the wisdom of God. Since we are close to them, we can evaluate if those available to counsel us walk the faith well and not just talk the faith. If the person is a good source for godly counsel, there ought to be aspects of their life that seem especially faithful to God. Another test is if they tell themselves, “no” from time to time and keep themselves from going down paths with secular values.

The best way for Christians to get one another to take advice is for everyone to sincerely seek advice themselves. Any Christian who, quite mistakenly of course, thinks he or she knows it all and does not need advice will not help others be open to counsel. Those giving counsel need to know and act like they are just in need of counsel as anyone else.

Giving advice to those who do not seek it is difficult. But, if seeking counsel is a frequent event in Christian Inner Circles, it will be much easier for a person to ask for advice. It will be the thing to do rather than be embarrassing. And giving advice will flow without fear of offending.
In giving counsel, it is important to be tuned in to what other Christians are going through. Tuning in involves thoughtful consideration of what situations they are facing. Then, it requires careful consideration of what might be their thoughts and feelings about these situations with which they must deal.

Careful listening helps to understand how to present counsel so that it is welcome rather than resisted. For a person to want advice, he or she needs to know that those counseling understand the situation as he or she sees it. For people to be receptive to counsel, the advice needs to be fairly accurate to their problem as they think and feel about it.

Perhaps a ten-year-old girl wants something her friends all own. But, neither she or her family has the money to spend on such an item. Just advising her that she does not need it will not help, no matter how true. She will probably burst out of the room crying and protesting, “You don’t understand.” While her parent will be correct, her accusation may also be right. Unless time is spent to understand why she feels she needs the unneeded item, the parent truly does not understand.

The best way to understand how a person thinks and feels about a situation where counsel might be helpful is simply to ask questions before giving any advice or observation. The ten-year-old girl disappointed that she cannot buy whatever her friends have could be asked, “Why did you want one of those?” Perhaps she would answer that her friends are starting a club and the item is necessary to be included. Then it would be clear that telling her she doesn’t need it would be bad advice. And it becomes clear that she needs advice on how to deal with not being able to be in the club.

It is necessary to defy the political correctness of staying out of one another’s business. When those in our Christian Inner Circles make plans for their lives, we must be ready to give counsel with God’s wisdom. Since counseling usually comes from trusted Christians we are close to, its influence can be irresistible – so it must be godly.

And remember that growing your spirit to give and receive counsel will vastly open up fantastic experiences in heaven.

Reflection & Group Tools

With other Christians, provide biblical advice to one another about God’s ways to handle life and its difficult situations.

Ps 1:1-2; Prov 15:22; Prov 20:18; Prov 27:9; Acts 20:26-28

Prayer to Embrace this Together
Thank You, Father God, for loving us so much as to fill the pages of our Bibles with Your character and wisdom. Help me and those in my Christian Inner Circle to get to know extensively who You are and what pleases You. Help us to understand Your ways more and more and be able to give Your counsel to others for living their lives within Your will.
Help us also to glean from others godly counsel and not depend only on what we individually comprehend. If there is any pride of self-sufficiency in us, help us to eliminate it with one another’s help. In seeking Your wisdom through the godly counsel of others, may we praise You by our dependence upon You to speak through others to help us understand Your ways, rather than rely on ourselves and our individual thinking.
I and those in my Christian Inner Circle will need Your help to grow our spirits to be able to provide biblical advice to one another about Your ways to handle life and its difficult situations. Help us to yield to the work of the Holy Spirit for all of us to give You more glory in the way we help one another live for You – Your way.
Please help us all to become more like Jesus and give advice only from Your perspective. Like Him, may the Holy Spirit give us the ability to match Your wisdom to the exact predicament another Christian is facing. Help us to carefully discern the direction others need from a correct understanding of the Bible and Your character.
Dear Counselor of the Ages, may our lives worship You more because we reflect back to You in our counseling of those in our Christian Inner Circles Your loving concern and administration of the truth. Help us to honor You in passing on Your wisdom, the way You want done in each specific situation.
Make us strong in Your power to defeat the devil by listening carefully to those we counsel to discern thoughts and emotions whose origins are in the dark angelic world. Then, together with other Christians enlighten us to Your wisdom so that we can direct the person back to Your ways.
Help us all to prepare for heaven by learning to counsel other Christians carefully with Your wisdom. Provide us with ample opportunities to counsel regarding problems infected by sin as well as those challenges of life within Your boundaries. Then, when we get to heaven where sin problems are gone, we will have greater skill in counseling others on various righteous challenges.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Your Spirit is most easily transformed in community. The tools below can facilitate your growth as you gather together with those you are in close Christian relationship with.

These are some of the possible benefits in heaven we will be seeking today by opening our minds to the Holy Spirit regarding counseling one another.
We will have a stronger sense of God’s presence with us in heaven to the extent we took seriously the need to prepare to offer godly counsel by ourselves working to know God better with regard to His nature, character, and desires.

We will find continual joy by entering heaven ready to help others know more of God’s wisdom and how to apply it to living eternal life, helping others to discover new things about and from God that they might otherwise miss. This joy in helping others experience God and the beauty and opportunities of heaven at higher and higher levels will occur at the frequency we gave counsel to other Christians before death.

We will take advantage of many more of heaven’s opportunities the more we have sought counsel from other Christians to know more about God as well as what adventures are available in heaven.

Sanctification Booster #1:

Brainstorm and list various aspects of God’s character that Christians can explore and discover with one another’s help.

Sanctification Booster #2:

List many aspects of life that Christians can counsel one another with godly counsel from God’s wisdom that is clearly different than what unbelievers might counsel.

Sanctification Booster #3:

Talking the faith comes from teaching alone. Walking the faith comes from counsel and disciplining one another. Identify 3 common things that Christians too often only talk the talk and not walk the walk and what counsel from other Christians could help them integrate their talk into their way of living.