Wisdom and Well-Being – Proverbs 3:1-4

Wisdom Will Bring Spiritual Well-Being As Well As Long Life

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

Cherish Commandments

Solomon urges us to keep God’s commands in our heart.  This is a calling to accept them as more than mere moral teachings or wonderful ideas.  Ideas are worthless unless they are put into action.  Solomon encourages us to embrace the teachings and commands of God and put them into action.  When we do not put into practice the teachings of the Bible, they are like a sports team’s trophies put on a shelf, looked at in admiration, while the players gorge themselves in food, gaining pound after pound of fat, refusing to practice, and expecting to triumph over the team who has been diligent in training and practice.

Prolong Presence

By putting the teachings of God into practice, they will guard your life against many of the pitfalls that are caused by careless and dangerous living as God views such lifestyles.  This is not a blanket guarantee that says that if you do A, then B will result.  This is rather a generalization that, all other things being equal, will have the TENDENCY to prolong your life.  Drunk drivers still kill people via vehicular homicide.  Earthquakes and Tsunamis and Floods and other natural disasters occur.  Yet over time, the commands of God will help a person to live in such a way that they will benefit their life with longevity.

Peace and Prosperity

When a person lives according to the commands and teachings of God, they will find themselves at peace with others (generally).  There are always going to be people who, no matter what you do, no matter what you say, will have it in their heart to despise you, be angry with you, abuse you, torment you, and otherwise be in conflict with you.  But for the rest of humanity that surrounds you, they will see a life lived in Godliness and will praise God for it, or desire the peace that you have.  They will see the prosperity in joy that you have, even if God has not blessed you with financial prosperity.  To the millionaire that is miserable, depressed, suicidal, and otherwise miserable, being poor and happy may appear to be a significant blessing.  Money cannot buy happiness, nor even rent it.  It can merely assist with some of our physical needs.  But who needs to be concerned with that when God is sovereign, owns everything, and will provide for your every need?

Labor in Love

Love and faithfulness go hand-in-hand.  Both love and faithfulness are commitments towards others.  They are inextricably wound together, forming two strong cords that hold each other steady in the storms of life.  God is love.   We are to be image-bearers of God.  To bear the image is to outwardly show the same characteristics.  Since God is love, we too ought to love others in the same manner.

Noble Name

When we labor in love and faithfulness, we will win a good name in the sight of God and man.  People honor the noble ones among us who labor for our good.  Love does exactly that – it labors for the good of another.  When we do this, we please God by obeying what He has commanded us to do.  We also gain a good name among men who recognize the good that we do in the light and in the sight of God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I embracing the wisdom of God so that it transforms my life?

A short prayer of preparation

Father in Heaven, You are able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.  And You give us a good name when we honor You by heeding Your teachings and wisdom through the practical application of them in our lives.  Teach me to live according to Your will and Your way through Your word.  Help me to embrace You in a greater way so that I can honor and glorify Your name before men.  Help me to shine Your light before all so that they may see how good You are.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moral Value of Wisdom – Proverbs 2:1-11

Morality Is Rooted In The Wisdom Of God

1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding-
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

9 Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

Desire Discernment

Each of us is given the opportunity to seek God.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.  We are to seek out wisdom and accept the commands of God.  Without the desire to be wise, we will act in foolish ways.  Each of us should desire wisdom and discernment so that we can grow in Godliness.

Wisdom is to be desired like silver or gold.  We are to place an even greater value on it than on any Earthly possessions.  Men will go to great lengths to find and extract precious metals from the Earth, but will they take the same time and energy to seek wisdom from God in prayer and through His word?

It is important to realize that without God as the source of wisdom and morality, our understanding of wisdom AND morality will be greatly skewed.  We will be subject to the whims of those who would try to convince us that their ideas of what is good and right is the truth.  However, the holy word of God clearly says that Jesus is the embodiment of truth.  We need to embrace the revealed truth of God as wisdom, and not the subtly or radically altered versions of morality that come from our fallen nature and the activity of the enemies of our souls.  Only in God will we find true wisdom.  Any source apart from God is suspect.

Wonderful Wisdom

Knowledge and understanding come forth from the mouth of God:

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

We will find success and fulfillment as we pursue a life of Godly wisdom.  It is in the instruction of the Lord that we find contentment concerning living our lives in ways that please and honor God.  It greatly pleases God when men are living in accordance with His ways.  Like finding a friend who shares your inner core beliefs in whom you can freely and openly be yourself, God desires to reveal through wisdom more of His character and ways so that we can draw close to Him.

Powerful Protection

Wisdom also provides us with protection.  It keeps us from engaging in evil ways, and helps us to avoid the pitfalls of certain temptations that can cause ruination in our lives.  King Solomon, son of King David, helps us to protect our lives from certain influences, such as promiscuity, financial indiscretion, and spiritual darkness.   Wisdom provides a shield to those who embrace her.  God guards the live of those who are just in their dealings and faithful to Him.

Divine Discretion

When we embrace Godly wisdom, we be able to rightly know the difference between good and evil. Discernment and discretion will be hallmarks in our lives.  We will be better able to answer others, and to refrain from doing and saying what is not Godly.  While this seems simple and evident, look at the state of the world.  When God’s people begin to accept worldly wisdom, their Godly discernment begins to fade, and they seem less able to make good judgments when presented with subtly skewed situations that may look OK, but lead to ruination.  Discernment and discretion protect the Godly from the wiles of the enemy.  The word of the living God shows the basis of wisdom, and His Holy Spirit reveals the unknown to those whom have given their lives to God and seek His guidance in their lives.

Umbrella of Understanding

Discretion protects us from wrongdoing if we are willing to accept the consequences of doing what is right.  There are times when we are forced into corners by the actions of evil people.  What seemed innocent becomes evil and ruination may result.  Understanding provides us with the ability to see where something will lead.  It is said that good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.  With discretion and knowledge, a lot of bad judgment can be avoided.  God has provided His word to give us instruction so that we can learn from those who have come before us.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I embrace wisdom as I should?

A short prayer of preparation

Father in Heaven, You are generous with Your wisdom to all who ask in faith.  Grant me the wisdom, discernment, and discretion needed to protect me and my family from the pitfalls of error that accompany bad judgment.  Help me to rely more upon You and less upon myself as I am faced with situations that could have immense consequences in my life.  Grant me the wisdom and knowledge to avoid that which will cause harm, and help me to be vigilant when the Holy Spirit guides me to be tested, that I may be victorious.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Developing Discernment – Proverbs 1:10-19

Don’t Gain The Whole World Just To Lose Your Soul

10 My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them.
11 If they say, “Come along with us;
let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,
let’s ambush some harmless soul;
12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
14 cast lots with us;
we will all share the loot”-
15 my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;
16 for their feet rush into evil,
they are swift to shed blood.
17 How useless to spread a net
where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.

Wicked Works

Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the Earth (with the exception of Jesus Christ), penned these words to help his son, and us, to glean from the supernatural wisdom that God imparted to him.

While it may be obvious to many that aligning ourselves with wicked men (and women!) is to be avoided, the wicked acts of men are readily seen and understood.  It is the more subtle acts of men that do not seem on the surface to be wicked that we are to avoid as well.

Wicked Words

Men (and women!) have learned how to play on the fears of others to get them to do what they want them to do.  The modern term is social engineering.  Most people will respond to someone who speaks in an authoritative voice to them, because they have been taught by their parents to be respectful and obey authority.  Although that may no longer be the case with our youngest generation, we react this way naturally.  Other types of psychological manipulation are used by these people as well.

Men (and women!) will also try to lure us into doing evil things by making good sound evil, and evil sound good.  They will play on our desire to “get ahead”, or fulfill a need in a way that does not honor God.  Humans have a natural capacity to justify our actions when our consciences bother us.  We avoid pain as much as possible, and we are then placed in circumstances where we will have to make a (often life-altering painful) decision to honor God, or go another way.

Wondering Why?

There are many reasons why we should avoid the advice of wicked people.  Solomon lists several:

  • Their feet rush into evil.
    • Rather than seek God to honor him with their minds and hands, they rush headlong into evil, both ignorant of its eventual outcome, as well as the consequences here in the physical realm.
  • They are swift to shed blood.
    • These people care nothing about each other, nor others.  They are swift to shed blood, as long as it benefits them somehow.  They do not have any concept of the value of human life, and may even traffic in it so that they can gain wealth and power.
  • The consequences are that others will see our actions plainly.
    • These people think that they are operating in darkness, when their deeds are made plain to the world!  But the question becomes, does the world even care?
  • The outcome is that they figuratively (and sometimes literally) shed their own blood!
    • Rather than do harm to their intended victims, they harm the very people they are attempting to protect – themselves!  Like Esau, they spurn their inheritance and gladly trade it for a little physical comfort.
  • Their eventual end is that they have ambushed themselves towards a specific end.
    • Their eventual outcome is that when they die, they cannot take their ill-gotten gains with them.  They must then face Almighty God before the White Throne Seat of Judgment, and pay at that time the most steep price imaginable – their eternal soul – for what they have done in the flesh.

Death and Destruction

The eventual outcome of these people is that they face death and destruction of their souls.  Discernment is required to avoid the schemes that others use to try to entice us into doing what they want us to do:

The only way to avoid these schemes is to put on the full armor of God, spend time with God in His word and prayer, and learn to discern when to spurn that which will burn.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I rightly discerning good and evil?

A short prayer of preparation

Father in Heaven, You are pure, holy, without blemish or spot.  You greatly desire all people to walk in holiness and righteousness before You.  Help me to rightly discern when others are trying to do me harm.  Help me when I inadvertently find myself cornered by the deeds of wicked men intent on destroying me, my family, my career, or my character.  Father, protect me from the wickedness of others, and help me to see Your wisdom, will, and way so that I may keep myself and my family from harm’s way.  And when You do allow wicked men and women to place me in circumstances that I did not willingly choose, I pray, Father, that You would deliver me from them just as You delivered Peter from the jailers.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Spiritual Blindness – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

If Satan Had Understood The Purpose Of Christ, He Would NEVER Had Tried To Crucify Him

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
the things God has prepared for those who love him-

6 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Worldly Wisdom

There is a worldly wisdom that pervades our culture.  It reveals part of the truth, but ignores the truth about the spiritual activity that goes on around us.  The world desires that the rest of us follow its lead, hoping that we will not be “duped” by the truth of the One who is all-wise who came among us.

Wonderful Wisdom

God’s wisdom has been and, for many, is still a mystery that they are unable to unfold and comprehend.  The world seeks God “in the box” – the known universe – but ignores the Spiritual realm as “something spooky filled with ghosts and other benign and malicious creatures”.  God instead greatly desires to reveal the mysteries of the Spiritual realm to us, but in His way.  His wisdom has been recorded in His word, but even now is ignored by many due to the strongholds that prohibit them from seeing the truth.

Reigning Rulers

The reigning rulers and wise people of this world are blinded by their inability to properly discern Spiritual truths.  Even Satan, who once was with God in Heaven, is unable to properly discern spiritual truth.  If he had understood the purpose of Christ coming to Earth in the flesh, Satan would NEVER had placed the hatred in the hearts of men to crucify our Savior.

If man had not crucified our Savior, Jesus would not have received the punishment that we were intended to receive.  Jesus would have had a wonderfully long ministry on Earth, but our sins would not have been atoned for by His blood, because it was necessary that man shed Jesus’ blood for the plan of God to succeed.

Particularly Prepared

God reveals His wisdom through His word and the Holy Spirit who helps us to understand the truth as it was, and is, being revealed.  We need to rely upon the Spirit of God for this revelation, because we simply cannot comprehend apart from Almighty God’s help the depth and beauty of His wisdom in all that He does.

Salvation was a mystery from the very beginning.  It is something that the angels of God sought out, but did not know either, until it was revealed.  This was done to glorify God, as well as to ensure that God’s plan would be fully fulfilled in its proper time and by the proper vessels.

Spirit Searches

The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of all reality, including the thoughts of God and men.  We cannot even begin to fathom what God is doing because His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways.  It only makes sense that He would need to reveal to us these things, for they cannot be ascertained apart from spiritual insight provided to us by Almighty God Himself.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I listening to the revelation of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your word reveals Your will and Your ways to me.  Help me to learn these lessons, and to keep my heart attuned to Yours.  Help me to listen to the Holy Spirit as He unveils the truth about life and Godliness, and reveals Jesus to me.  Help me to remember that spiritual blindness can occur if I am not seeking You with all of my heart, mind soul, and strength.  Guide me in the ways that I should go, and prepare me for what is to come.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Motivation for Discipline – Proverbs 13:24

Spoiled Children Are Like Spoiled Food – They Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Worldly Wisdom

Everyone seems to have a word of wisdom.  Time-honored advice that has worked for them, and others who passed it on to them.  Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge for the betterment of mankind.  And the world, the flesh, and the devil seem to constantly pour out their versions of wisdom.

With children, wisdom from the world and the devil appears to be hands-off parenting.  “Be their friend; give their opinions, no matter how bizarre, the same weight as your own, and let them guide the way; after all, they are the future!”

The world does so at their own peril.  For children learn by observing and doing what pleases them.  The implied morality that human beings supposedly have – that we are inherently good – is believed and embraced.  And any correction to the natural learning cycle of children is no longer the imparting of wisdom, but rather considered an impediment and abuse.  After all, should not the child be able to decide for itself how it should think, act, and respond to the world?

Learning Love

The first fallacy of hands-off child-raising is that children, by their very “innocent nature”, implicitly know love and how to love.  But observe any child left to his/her own devices, and watch just how manipulative, conniving, scheming, self-centered, self-absorbed the child will become.  Rather than Timmy on the classic “Lassie” TV show, the child instead begins to resemble Damian in “The Omen“.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Children need training.  They need to both be trained through instruction and correction, as well as having a solid example of behavior in the form of character that is congruent with what is being said.  Children are natural hypocrisy detectors.  Their “radar” is tuned to check what they hear against what they observe.

Love does not come naturally.  It makes no sense to love anyone else if there is no direct benefit to yourself.  Self-preservation and self-fulfillment are the goals of the untrained, undisciplined mind.  Even in adulthood, the world behaves in the same way:

  • Get as much of the pie as you can, because no one will help you out
  • Be concerned with yourself first and everyone else later (if it is convenient for you and your plans)
  • The strong should rule over the weak

Godly love does none of these things.  Godly (agape) love is

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Does not envy
  • Does not boast
  • Is not proud
  • Is not rude
  • Does not insist on its own way
  • Does not rejoice at wrongdoing
  • Rejoices with the Truth
  • Bears all things
  • Believes all things
  • Hopes all things
  • Endures all things
  • Doesn’t fail

Children, left to their own devices, will not embrace this type of character.  They must be taught character.  The first part of learning is accepting the correct role of authority in one’s life

Accepting Authority

Correction helps us to accept the rightful authority over our lives.

An old friend of mine had a nephew whose father was wild.  In a stunning, emotional scene where the child’s mother was allowing the father to see his son one last time (she had won full parental responsibility and the court ruled that the father would no longer have any rights [or financial obligations] towards the child), the father’s parting words to his son were astounding.  He basically said, “Son, you don’t have to listen to anyone, not even me.  Be your own man.”  His parting words were calculated to do the maximum damage that he could so that the child’s mother would have the most difficult time raising him up.

Years later, the uncle of that child and two of his friends took this child on their annual pilgrimage to a famous amusement park.  There were three sets of hawk-eyes trained on that young man, now just a little before the teenage span of his life.  Rather than hold the young man’s hand (and embarrass him in front of strangers), these three men kept a watchful eye on the young man.  The child, who had never had the opportunity to visit this amusement park, was in wonder at all of the sights before him.  The three men watching him were diligent in keeping their eyes on this child.

About three hours into the first day of this weekend-long trip, some sound caught the attention of all three men.  They looked away for a mere second or two.  But that was all that was needed.  The child, who was watching the men carefully, realizing his opportunity to be free from the control and authority of these men, bolted into the thick crowds.  Almost an hour later, the young man was found, greatly enjoying the freedom from oversight by those who had been placed in authority over him, unaware of the dangers that his “dash to freedom” placed him in.  Because this young man had the tendency to bolt like this, corrective action needed to be taken.  In this case, the weekend-long trip was cut short, as the risk was just too great.

When we refuse to accept the rightful authority of the ones who have been placed in charge over us (not only men, but also God), we set ourselves up for the opportunity to be placed in a situation where the outcome is less than desirable.  And like the young man’s story above, not every “dash to freedom” results in dire consequences.  But we fail to recognize the danger that we are in, because we are unable to see every aspect of life as it unfolds around us.

Readying for Responsibility

Correction readies us for greater responsibility.  As we accept correction of those who are in lawful authority over us, we begin to be prepared for greater responsibility.  Just as you wouldn’t give the keys of the $500K Ferrari to the 14-year-old wild-child, neither will God give us responsibility when we are not ready.

When God calls us, He then equips us.  But this is after careful preparation:

  • Joseph was prepared as a slave for more than a decade before God called him to save the entire world from famine
  • Moses was prepared for forty years as shepherd before God called him to shepherd his people into the promised land
  • The twelve disciples of Christ were prepared for three years (including Paul, who had his own three-year preparation with Christ in the desert before being released) by Jesus Christ Himself.

We need to be open to correction in order to grow and be prepared for greater responsibility.

Careful Correction

The manner of correction is just as important as its intensity and timing.  The strong-willed child will defiantly say, “I would rather DIE than have to submit to you!”  And the child is truly fully prepared to make good on that statement (it is NOT an idle threat).  What to do?  How do you prepare a child such as this so that they will be ready to be released from your care and supervision and then solely under the supervision of Almighty God?

God Himself will provide the manner, attitude, words, and consequences for training such a child if we allow Him to and invite Him to do so.  Some children appear completely compliant.  Those are the dangerous ones.  They seem OK, but what is really going on inside?  Are they compliant to get their way, or are they compliant because they desire to accept the authority over them?

God sees our hearts as they truly are.  And He is more than capable of applying the “rod of correction” to each of us in such a way that we will not soon forget it.  What works for you wouldn’t necessarily have any impact on me.  And what works on me might just irritate and turn you away from God rather than have the desired effect.

In any case, correction is necessary, for if we are permitted to continue on in our ways, we will surely pass the point where our consciences are seared, and we won’t even realize the deep depths of darkness that our lives slip quietly into until the terrible moment when circumstances reveal the true depravity of our souls.

Properly Prepared

God is the one who knows best how to guide, correct, and instruct each and every one of us at any age or stage in our lives.  We need to go before Him to receive instruction and correction.   The hyper-grace community of believers may be just as surprised as the legalists when they go before Almighty God saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?”  And our Lord Jesus Christ will reply, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

God disciplines us as His childrenAnyone who is not disciplined by God is NOT one of His.  Surely, if God disciplines us, should we not then discipline our children as well?  And what then shall we say of our motivation behind discipline?  Is it truly “child abuse”, as culture tell us, or is it loving care as we use it as a preparatory method for bringing about the fruit of righteousness?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I accept discipline properly?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, may Your holy name be praised.  Thank You for disciplining me so that I would not bring dishonor to Your name.  Thank You for showing me, through Your discipline, that I am one of Yours.  Thank You for the opportunity to grow in truth and righteousness.  Thank You for the opportunity to bear fruit in accordance with righteousness rather than selfishness.  Thank You, Father, for Your many lessons, painful as they are.  And I pray, Lord God Almighty, that should I be in the position of administering these lessons to others in a parental, governmental, judicial, and/or business environment, that You would guide me as to the best way to do so.  Help me to adhere to Your word, and to reject culture where culture conflicts with the truth.  Give me courage, resources, and assistance where necessary to defend Your tried and true methods against the rebellion of society towards You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Wisdom and God – Psalm 111:10

Wisdom Is The Practical Application Of Knowledge In Truth To Determine The Right Course Of Action To Take

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

Awakening to the Almighty

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  When we come to realize that there is a God, and He is not us, we begin on a journey of developing wisdom – the practical application of knowledge in truth.  Obtaining wisdom should not merely be an academic pursuit; it should guide us into a greater understanding of ourselves, God’s creation, and God’s character so that we can be more fruitful in His service.

God gives us faith so that we would recognize that He exists and is working in our lives.  Fear, in this sense, is not merely relegated to the dread of reaping the consequences of our actions, but moving from a clear understanding of God’s Holiness to God’s Faithfulness.  Wisdom teaches us that God is not ONLY holy, not ONLY just, but also that He is love, and full of grace and mercy.  His perfect holiness is tempered in love through mercy and grace, and is evidenced by His willingness to allow His one and only Son to die on the cross for sins so that we could be reconciled to Him.

When we fear God, we begin to trust God.  And as we trust God, He joyfully moves in our lives to bring about His plan and display the beauty of His character through His wisdom in how He made everything and interacts with His creation.

Spiritual Strength

Wisdom is greatly to be desired.  Knowledge without wisdom is a trophy on a shelf.  A savant may be able to recite every fact known to man, but without the ability to collate that information into practical, useful direction, it is merely an interesting aside.

Spiritual growth and strength occur when we practically apply our knowledge of God’s word in wisdom in our actions.  As we being begin to be obedient, God reveals the reasons behind why He does what He does.  It helps us to better discern what actions to take when faced with difficulties, and to choose rightly in the moment of action.  Wisdom tells us that God knows everything, so we should FIRST go to Him if we need it.  Wisdom tells us to how and why to avoid evil, and how to embrace and engage in truth and righteousness.  And it is only as we are willing to apply wisdom in our own lives that we being begin to truly understand the benefit of it as we reap her rewards.

Wealth of Wisdom

As we grow in Godly wisdom, we are able to honor God in a way that pleases Him.  It has been said that we have two beasts within us.  And whichever one we feed will grow stronger, and the one we don’t feed will grow weaker, yet will grow more desperate in its cries in our life until it grows so weak that it quiets down.  We choose which beast to feed.

We can feed the evil nature within us, or we can feed the godly nature within us.   As we spiritually mature, God gives us not only the wisdom and knowledge to act, but also provides us with the strength to ignore the cries of our sin nature and our cursed bodies as we strive to walk more closely with God.  Paul likened this to an athlete’s training:

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

We are to use what we learn so that we are not being hypocrites before the world.  Who wants a doctor who weighs 350 pounds, has a terrible cough, drinks alcohol on the job, smokes in the office, and then tells someone who weighs 200 pounds that they need to lose weight and exercise more so that they can become healthier?

Wisdom has great practical application in what is truly important – our spiritual growth and intimacy with our Creator.  But is also has wonderful application in other areas of our lives that appear more practical and have more immediate consequences.

Practical Protection

Wisdom tells us that we should lock our doors in areas with high crime.  Wisdom tells us that we should avoid physical intimacy with people other than our spouses (and to avoid it until we have a spouse).  Wisdom tells us that we should drive sober.

Why?

The answers seem obvious to people who have wisdom, but to those who do not, these general statements of conduct may seem genuinely odd, but make perfect sense once a person who has gleaned wisdom explains it:

  • Those who grew up in areas where there was great trust in their neighbors because they helped one another, and who don’t pay attention to the news, may find that living in Chicago or New York City or Baltimore to be a new experience…
  • Ask anyone who has AIDS, HIV, or any other number of terrible diseases that have a tendency to spread through physical relations with others, and they will tell you their wisdom in the matters of physical intimacy with others
  • Ask the man who lost his job, his family, his car, his home, and everything else he found dear in this life after he has taken the life of another human being while drinking and driving

It has been said that good judgment comes from experience; and experience comes from bad judgment.

Potential for Prosperity

When we apply wisdom to our finances, we may stop spending money on unnecessary items (or re-prioritize what is necessary and what is not) so that we have more money to save or invest.  Proverbs 31 tells of a woman who has great wisdom in many areas of her life.  She applies that wisdom in how she conducts the household while her husband is off at the city gates being an elder (the modern equivalent is being on City Council and the local Judge)

The practical application of knowledge in how life works helps us to make important decisions concerning how we conduct ourselves.  It is only valuable when we are willing to put the lessons that wisdom teaches us into practice.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to make the necessary sacrifices to employ all of the wisdom that God has provided for me in daily living?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You know the beginning from the end.  Nothing is hidden from You.  Even before a word is on my lips You already know what it will be.  With all knowledge, and Your perfect character, You are all-wise as well.  Father, help me to navigate through this day so that I honor Your name in all that I do.  Help me to make the necessary changes to how I act, think, and speak so that I can grow in wisdom and knowledge.  Show me how to better conduct myself through Your word so that it would benefit me, my family, and everyone around me.  Provide for my every need, and guard me against all influences that would seek to derail my efforts living for You.  This I ask in the precious name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


This blog has been edited for spelling and grammatical errors.

The Perfect Plan of God – Isaiah 28:23-29

Use The Right Tools And Methods To Accomplish Any Purpose

23 Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.
24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
25 When he has leveled the surface,
does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
barley in its plot,
and spelt in its field?
26 His God instructs him
and teaches him the right way.

27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
and cumin with a stick.
28 Grain must be ground to make bread;
so one does not go on threshing it forever.
The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it,
but one does not use horses to grind grain.
29 All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
whose plan is wonderful,
whose wisdom is magnificent.

Magnificent Methods

God shows us in these verses that there is a very discernible method to His ways.  He asks several rhetorical questions that would be been easily answered during the prophet’s time, as they were a primarily agricultural people.  Perhaps we could rephrase the question for today’s world and say, “When we prepare concrete for pouring, do we mix it forever?”  There is a time (chronos) and a season (kairos) for all things.  Just as a farmer doesn’t work the field all season (he must eventually plant seeds or nothing will grow), God shows us what we should be doing as well

Tremendous Teaching

God teaches us the way we should go.  Since everyone is a different part of the body, each of us must be instructed on what we are to do, where we are to do it, and when we are to do it.  It is God who provides the instruction for each of these steps.  We are to be submitted to the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus was, so that God can use us as His tools to accomplish His purposes.  It is God who teaches us all of these things, and in doing so, prepares a generation of people who can help instruct and guide the next generation through their sovereignly assigned duties and tasks

Process and Procedure

God uses some very interesting agricultural examples to show us the necessity for using the right tools in the right way to accomplish our goals.  Have you ever tried to insert a screw into wood with a hammer?  I do not recommend ever trying this method.  It is beyond frustrating, and will most likely damage whatever project you are working on.  Everything has its proper tool and process to use it correctly.  Though many of us, upon receiving brand new technology, just open it up and start using it, they come with instruction manuals to help guide us with their use, diagnose what is wrong when it doesn’t work right, and provide solutions to address any issues encountered.

When faced with difficulties as the plan of God unfolds, remember that God has given you an instruction manual – His holy word, the Bible.  And when you need tech support, feel free to call upon God for assistance in prayer.  Additionally, it never hurts to confirm what You have been shown with some of the experts in their field who have been down the path before you.

Expert Extraction

God uses the threshing of seeds as a prime example.  If you were to use a sledge-hammer to attempt to extract the seeds of caraway, you would completely destroy the valuable part of the seed.  Each seed requires its own method of extraction.  Some use the same methods as others, but each requires a specific method.  The people of that time would have recognized this, and understood the greater underlying spiritual truth that God is revealing to us – that God knows EXACTLY how to handle each and every situation that we encounter.

Perfect Plan

God has a perfect plan.  His plan was crafted before the first matter in the universe was created.  His plan was thought out and crafted before time was even a construct.  Each and every detail of His creation was laid out and examined, perfectly placed, and is being perfectly executed.  Nothing escaped His attention, and God accounted for every contingency.  Even the issue of sin was taken into account, and the remedy to bring that which would be lost to sin back in harmony with the Creator was carefully planned, and when implemented, was perfectly executed.

God shows us, through His creation and the fulfillment of all of the prophecies that He has provided to us, that we can trust Him implicitly.  God is incapable of failing, and His perfect plan is working exactly according to His plan and purpose.  What appears to us to be chaos, setbacks, and failure is merely a launching pad for circumstances that will bring about even greater glory to God.

Wonderful Wisdom

God reveals to us through His perfection – the perfect display of His character – that He has all wisdom.  We can trust in God, for God is omniscient – He knows all things.  Knowledge, however, is not wisdom.  God, however, is all-wise.  Seeing all things perfectly without the lens of sin to distort reality from His perfect gaze, God has perfect wisdom to match His perfect intellect and knowledge.  And when we look back over how our small part of His larger story plays out, we begin to see the magnificent wisdom of the Lord God Almighty, and how His perfect plan is being perfectly executed.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What lessons are God trying to teach me about His perfect plan and the part He has assigned for me to accomplish?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You reveal Your character in how You treat each and every one of us here on Earth.  Thank You for Your continued patience and prodding, and for revealing Yourself through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank You for revealing Yourself through Your word.  And thank You for providing me an opportunity to play a part in Your perfect plan.  Show me, Father, what You would have me do.  Call me, equip me, and strengthen me to do all that You desire to accomplish.  Help me to remember that You are sovereign in all things, and that my perception of loss and difficulty in events and circumstances that are painful and difficult are all part of Your plan to bring about Your perfect will in all things.  Guard my heart against impatience, pride, and bitterness, as trials and tribulations abound in this life.  Give me peace and joy in knowing that You have everything under Your control.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Weakness Before God – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

God Uses the Weak To Shame The Strong

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Poor Position

Most of those called by God have been called from lowly positions.  God did not call Pharaoh, but rather Daniel.  It is noteworthy that even His Son, Jesus Christ, was born into this world in such lowly circumstances as among animals.  God generally calls those of simple circumstances because when He uses us, it is recognized that it is His power working through us rather than anything special about us.

Superior State

God chooses the simple over the wise.  He chooses the insignificant over the influential.  He chooses the common over the noble.  God reveals that He cares about all people, and uses the simple, common, poor, ignored, and otherwise passed over in the eyes of the world to do the most amazing things.  Moses, chosen of God, wasn’t useful to Him in Egypt, but only after he had become a shepherd for forty years.  Shepherds were considered the lowliest of professions.  It was only after finding himself in these circumstances that God used him mightily.  While many of us desire wealth, fame, or rank in society, the superior state for being called and used by God is to be ordinary:

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Becoming Better

God is able to use the ordinary to do the extraordinary.  When we are in Christ, He becomes our wisdom – our righteousness, holiness, and our redemption.  We no longer operate through our own power, but rather through the power of Him who called us.  God uses the lowly and the despised to shame the powerful and important, for all glory belongs to God and God alone.  When we begin to believe that we alone are responsible, we begin to become prideful.  Nebuchadnezzar discovered this at his own great peril.  Even after being warned by Daniel the prophet, Nebuchadnezzar still believed in his heart that everything that had been provided to him was of his own strength and doing.  After being humbled by God by living as a wild creature for seven years, God restored Nebuchadnezzar who then gave glory to God:

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I content being seen as weak in the eyes of men?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are able to use the despised and lowly things of this world to shame the powerful and desired.  Thank You for giving me the opportunity to be used by You for Your purposes.  Help me to be strong in You, for Your strength is provided to me when I am weak.  Help me to boast only in You, for it is You who enables me to be strong in the face of adversity.  Help me to be the person that You desire me to be, so that I would be able to be used by You.  Anything done in my power is tainted by sin, but anything done by You through me will last the testing of time and fire.  Help me to yield myself completely to you so that all that You desire to do through me will be accomplished.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – 1 Timothy 4:1-5

Not Everyone Who Claims To Be Of God Truly Is

1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

Deceived by Demons

It would appear that many today have abandoned their faith to listen to the teaching of demons.  They seek to enslave the people of God by placing restrictions upon them that are not required of God, and thus leading them into bondage.  This does not bode well for the people of God, who are looking for good shepherds who will protect, feed, and care for the flock.  Great care and discernment must be used to recognize the dangers of allowing leaven to be introduced to the bread.  We must remember that a little leaven will affect the whole lump of dough, causing every part of it to be infected and affected.

Lauded by Liars

These individuals who are wreaking havoc among God’s people are those who refuse to love the truth, and so have been given over to a great delusion so that they would believe the lie.  They themselves become very skilled liars, seeking to deceive any that they can.  Lies become their trade, and they perfect their craft using their skills to get dishonest gain.  Scripture says that their consciences are seared as though they have been burned by a red-hot iron.  What could drive a person to such a place?  The only conclusion is that they never did know who God was, and therefore could never really trust Him to be alongside them in their trials and difficulties.

Powerful Prohibitions

Some of the prohibitions listed by Paul are reminiscent of the ones that we have read about in cults.  Several of the more recent cults have forbidden men and women to marry.  Only the leader of the cult can marry women and have relations with them.  These cults have a tendency to fall apart.  Nevertheless the damage is already done.  Additionally, they restrict the types of food that people can eat and beverages people can drink.  Everything that God has created is good for consumption (with some exceptions that could kill or hurt us).

God’s Goodness

When God created the Earth and everything in it, He declared that it was good.  It was the fall of Adam that brought the curse of sin, and the sacrifice of Jesus as a man hung on a tree and declared to be cursed to break the power of the curse of sin.  Now, everything is good again. People can now live their lives with the power of sin broken in ways that will honor and glorify God through submission to the Holy Spirit.

Paul has said that all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  It is up to the children of Almighty God to have discernment in choosing the things that are profitable rather than the things which are merely lawful.  Either way, all of these things have been declared by God to be good.  We need not worry about what we put into our mouths.  For it is what comes out of our mouths that defiles us.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I being a Berean and vetting what I hear from people against scripture before believing it?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your Son Jesus Christ was sent to us to free us from the bondage of sin.  Help me to have a wise and discerning spirit so that I will not become entrapped by sin and the teachings of demons into a state of bondage ever again.  Guide me to Your word every time someone tells me something, and especially when it does not sound right.  Give me a heart of wisdom and may I seek You and Your counsel to verify all that I hear before I believe it.  Give the will, the time, and the ability to research these things so that I can be firmly convinced in my heart that what I hear from people who claim to be from You are truly from You and speaking Your truth.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Seek After God, Not Signs And Wonders Nor Worldly Wisdom

22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Seeking Signs

The Jews would often look for signs in the person who claimed to be a messenger from God.  In the past, God would use signs and wonders to confirm the validity of the prophets’ ministry.  However, many people desired the signs and wonders more than the message.  Jesus rebuked the people who were following Him after he had fed thousands with a few loaves of bread and small fish because they were seeking the gifts of the giver, and not the giver Himself.

Even today, there are Christians who seek after the manifestation of the gifts of God in the form of miracles, signs, and wonders.   They will go to any length to be present when the gifts of the Giver are given to bear witness to the power and glory of God to the unbelieving generation He is trying to reach.  It has been said that signs and wonders should follow Christians, rather than Christians following signs and wonders.  If a disciple of Christ is yielded to God, and is doing His will, God will provide whatever is necessary to bring about the results that He desires.  The disciple won’t need to follow signs and wonders:  God’s power and presence will be present in the disciple’s faithful execution of ministry.

Worldly Wisdom

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  When we seek wisdom, we need to first consult with the One who created the universe, and in whom all things in the universe are held together.  Only God knows the beginning from the end, how the laws of the universe were placed, and why all things that are taking place are doing so.

When we seek worldly wisdom, we eventually put aside the wisdom of God and, believing ourselves to be wise, become fools in His sight:

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

When we seek wisdom only in the creation, and not the creator, we exchange the glory of God for what has been created.  Look at the detrimental effects of Secular Humanism.  Those who engage in this begin to worship human leaders rather than God because they believe that humans are capable of achieving moral and ethical righteousness apart from religion and God.  Paul, seeing this almost two thousand years ago, penned a letter to the Corinthian church.  And even now we are seeing the fulfillment of it.

Sweet Salvation

The message of the cross is a stumbling block to those who seek signs because the miracle has already happened:  God has raised His Son from the dead to everlasting life, and gives the amazing gift of salvation to anyone who believes.  Rather than believe the miracle, the Jews still seek Messiah of God to rescue them from the oppression of their enemies.  Two thousand years ago, it was the oppression by the Romans.  Now, it is the oppression by the fundamental adherents to Islam.  The players keep changing, but the situation is still the same:  Satan, the greatest of deceivers, is always after the chosen ones of God.

For those who are not direct biological descendants of the line of Israel, the message of the cross is foolishness.  After all, in life, everything must be earned or stolen to be gained.  It makes no sense that an all-powerful God could be the embodiment love, and give the gift of salvation freely to any who believe, given the effects that sin has brought upon us.  It appears either too fantastic to them (because they are too busy studying the creation for clues to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything that they are unable to look up to God for answers) or that it is far to simple to be plausible.  God has provided the answers to the big questions in life through His word so that we could focus on living in the present in relationship with Him.

God is Greater

Because God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, He sees and knows everything that ever happened as well as everything that ever will happen.  When we humans look to ourselves or His creation for answers without first going to Him, we come up with the stupidest of conclusions:

  • The Earth is flat.  If you sail far enough across the ocean, you will fall off the world to your death.
  • The Earth sits on a great turtle, who in turn sits on another great turtle, and it is turtles all the way down…
  • There is nothing beyond this life – once we die, we just push up daisies with our dead, decaying flesh.
  • There is no such thing a God who exists outside of the physical universe.  Because man feels the need to worship, we must worship that which we see, because obviously it is the things on the Earth, beneath the Earth, or above the Earth that have power over us.

The wisdom of men is foolishness to God.  And the greatest strength and power of men is mere weakness to the God who, by speaking, caused the universe – including all matter and the laws that the created manner are to follow – to be formed in the first place.  What man cannot explain he mocks.  But be assured of this – God cannot be mocked: a man reaps what he sows.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I seeking God’s wisdom or man’s wisdom in all that I do?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have caused all things to be created and know all things.  Thank You for Your counsel in Your holy word, and for the counsel You have given those who fear Your name.  Help me to always seek Your counsel first before I undertake anything so that Your will would be done, and You would be glorified.  Keep me from the false teaching of the world and the devil so that I would solely and completely trust in You.  Guard my heart and preserve it for the day when Your Son comes in glory.  This I ask in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Blessings Of God – Psalm 25:12-15

The Fear Of The Lord Is The Beginning Of Wisdom

12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Complete Counsel

The fear of the Lord will lead one to wisdom.  When we become wise, we follow the counsel of God, for we recognize that God’s counsel is superior to all of the counsel of man.  David said that God’s word was a lamp for his feet and a light to his path.  God instructs those who fear Him in the way that they should go.  Sometimes, that means waiting.  Elijah, after declaring that it would not rain, was sent away by God to a remote location to wait.  We too may need to wait for God’s timing.  In all of this, God provides us with His counsel through His word and His Spirit.  We can be assured that the counsel of God will lead us on the straight and narrow path.

Prosperous Proceedings

David indicates in this Psalm that those who fear the Lord will prosper, and that their descendants will inherit the land.  God not only prospers us spiritually, but also financially and with our relationships.  Children are a heritage from the Lord, and are a blessing from Him.  Regardless of our financial situation, God prospers us in many ways.  Those who are monetarily poor are often rich in faith. Regardless of how the Lord prospers us, He DOES prosper us, and we need to remember His many blessings

Wonderful Wisdom

We can be assured that God greatly desires us to follow Him.  And when we believe Jesus, He makes us His children.  God confides in His children, since we are His friends, rather than just tell the servants what to do.  He greatly desires us to be a part of His life, and part of that is His sovereign plan.  He reveals wonderful things in His word to us so that we can participate in His character.

Fully Free

God desires that we be free from the bondage of sin so that we can follow Him.  When we are free from bondage, we can operate in His light to glorify His name.  When the Son frees us, we are made free indeed!  This is an incredible blessing of God – that we would be free from the clutches of Satan and the bondage of sin.  We should never forget the sacrifice it took to free us.  May we remember God’s blessings and rejoice in them!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I remembering the blessings of God in all my circumstances?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You bless us each and every day.  You pour out your grace and mercy upon us.  Help me, Father, to remember Your great generosity as I walk through my struggles today.  Lead me, guide me, and help me to walk beside You as the enemy seeks to destroy me.  Provide for my every need, and help me to count Your many blessings so that I would be encouraged when life seems bleak.  Blessed be Your Name Forever!  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Wisdom of God – James 3:17

Show Your Wisdom Through The Way You Live Your Life

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Pointed Progression

Paul takes care to show that each of these is part of a progression.  They happen in order for a reason – they are the building blocks of love.  If at any point we are stuck in a relationship, we should see where we are on this scale to determine if there is something that we are not doing correctly.  Of course, there are going to be times when the other person or nation will not respond to love.  Even so, we should assure ourselves that we are doing what is right in the eyes of God.

Perfectly Pure

God is holy, and His motives are always pure in nature, as well as other-focused.  Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, we need to carefully consider our true, deep, inner motives to determine if we are doing what we are doing for the right reasons.  Once we establish that we are properly motivated, we can then gauge how we are interacting with our neighbors and our enemies in order to determine if we intentionally or unintentionally causing friction.

Because the ways of God are foolishness to those who reject God, this dichotomy will naturally cause friction, tension, and sometimes even breaks in our relationships with others, including those who are/were closest to us.  That is why Jesus said:

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Passionately Peaceful

Peace – it is heavenly!  We say that, but do we really think about it?  Peace allows us to build and strengthen our relationships with one another.  We need the blood of Christ to provide us peace with God.  It is only through peace that we can really flourish in the endeavors that we set our minds and hands to.

And when we are not at peace, tensions rise between people and between nations.  People are then unable to completely devote themselves to what they are doing, as they need to keep one hand on the job, and one on their weapon.  And then it is only through the grace of God that we are able to get anything accomplished.

Carefully Considerate

Once we have established that our motives are correct and that we are seeking peace with others, we can then take the time to consider the needs, wants, desires, and motivations of others.  We can then be considerate towards them.  In showing consideration towards others, it will draw us into tighter relationship.

When driving, do you appreciate it when other drivers show consideration towards you when they are faced with the option of not doing so?  Has anyone recently provided you the opportunity to merge into traffic when they didn’t need to?  Have they held a door for you when your hands were full of packages or children?  Consideration towards others is the extension of the olive branch of peace towards others.

While there are some that will indignantly scoff at a considerate gesture as though they somehow rightly deserved it, most people’s hearts will soften when it is offered in good faith.  Some may even thank you.  Considering the state of the world today, depending on what era the person grew up, they may also be grateful, or surprised that consideration is being shown today.  Be a light in the world…

Singularly Submitted

Jesus said,

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

We need to be submitted to God in order fully embrace wisdom.  Paul had this to say about submission to one another and to the Holy Spirit:

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

It is through submission to others that we are able to wisely interact with them.  As we become more wise, we will become more submitted.  And as we become more submitted, we will become greater:

26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—

Moved to Mercy

It is only after we get to this point that mercy, as a life-style, makes sense.  The first inclinations of our heart is to seek justice, and for many, vengeance.  But God is merciful, and vengeance is His and His alone.  Mercy is much easier to give when you have received it yourself.  Remember the mercy that God has shown you, and replicate success.  To truly gain wisdom, and flourish in relationship, it is necessary to show mercy to others.  Mercy is often the tool that God uses to break the hearts of others.  Is that not what we want to occur?  That the hearts of others would be broken towards sin, and that they would reconcile through the shed blood of Jesus Christ?  In this, it truly is good to be the enabler!

Wonderful Works

Now that we have paved the way, we are ready to bear fruit through our works.  Our attitudes towards God and others is correct; we are properly submitted to God and others; we are now showing the fruit of the Spirit.  Since we are submitted to God, He can do all that He desires to accomplish through us.  As tools in the process, rather than the taking the role of the craftsman, the fruit will be pure and good, untainted by our hands.  These are the works that will endure throughout eternity, as they were accomplished by God through us and not our own desires, which bear the taint of our sinful nature.

Inconspicuously Impartial

Since God is not a respecter of persons, we should not be either.  This is a further refinement of character and the wisdom of God, which IS His character!  When we experience the character of God, we become more like Him, and fulfill what He purposed in us to be – His image-bearers.  There is one last thing to consider – are we being truly sincere in what we are doing?

Solely Sincere

Most people recognize when you are sincere in your dealing with them.  And most people desire – secretly or openly – that other people be sincere with them.  This breaks down the barriers that are put up when we appear to be acting in a self-serving manner.  Sincerity is respected by people.  God shows us the greatest of respect in that in everything He is completely sincere.  As God’s image bearers, this should affect our interactions with others and with God.  Reciprocity of sincerity is expected.  When we don’t act in sincerity, our witness is tarnished, and our relationship with God is harmed.  When we rely upon God and His goodness and sovereignty, we are able to be sincere in all that we do, say, and think towards others and towards God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I becoming wise as I participate in God’s character as His image-bearer?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have revealed Yourself to us both through Your Word and Your Son.  Teach me the ways of wisdom so that You will be honored and glorified by my thoughts, actions, and speech.  Help me to revere You more each and every day, and show me Your wisdom through Your word.  Help me to realize the value of wisdom, and to see its value as I participate in Your character.  And may You be glorified as I bear Your image properly.  Keep me from harm, and strengthen me as I persevere through trials and tribulations.  Please prepare me so that I will be the spotless bride, ready for the bridegroom at the appointed time.  And Father, I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would come, and come soon!  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

A Promise of God – Isaiah 54:17

17 no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

The Bible contains many promises of God.  This one is very encouraging.  It is comforting to know that we are being protected by God against all of the weapons of the enemy.  It is also comforting that anyone who says anything against us will be refuted, for we have been forgiven all sin.  This is our HERITAGE!  God will VINDICATE us!

There only appears to be one qualifier – “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.”  Who are the servants of the Lord?

Servants wait upon the master.  They are in His service to do His bidding whenever and wherever He directs them.  They direct their talents to complete the tasks assigned to them.  They are often given guidelines, and are expected to do the work when they see work to do.

There are many gifts given to believers once they accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Here are just a few ( 1 Corinthians 12:4-11):

  • Wisdom
    • The ability to understand the difference between wise and foolish things (think: King Solomon)
  • Knowledge
    • Are you able to absorb great amounts of information and then process it so that it is understandable by others?
  • Faith
    • Do you trust God to move mountains, trusting Him to do things when other people would normally give up?
  • Healing
    • When you pray, do people get well?
  • Prophecy
    • Do you know things about what is going on and things that will go on, when you have no reason to know them?
    • Does God often let you know something that you should share with a person or people He directs you to share with, even if you don’t understand the message?
  • Distinguishing between spirits
    • Do you know who’s who?
    • Do you sense the presence of angels and demons and their activity in this world?
    • Do you know when, if someone is speaking, whether or not what they are saying is Biblical, even though you don’t know why?
  • Speaking in tongues (languages)
    • Are you able to speak in a known (already existing) language but don’t understand what you are saying?
    • Are you able to speak in an unknown language and don’t know what you are saying?
  • Interpreting tongues (languages)
    • When people speak, do you know what they are saying, even if everyone else around you doesn’t because they don’t speak the language (and you may not know the language either)?

This is not an exhaustive list.  There are many others.  Here are eight more to think about:

  • Craftsmanship
    • Can you make a masterpiece out of nothing?
    • Or, can you take a box of parts and with a few simple tools, put the item back together without any instructions?  If so, you may have this gift.
  • Hospitality
    • Are you driven to constantly feed and attend to guests at your home?
    • Do you enjoy throwing parties and events?
    • Are you the first one to get up to pour drinks at an event?  If so, you may have this gift.
  • Music
    • Can you play a musical instrument in a way that inspires others to greatness?
    • or, are YOU an instrument (should you audition for “Stomp“)?  You may have this gift.
  • Leadership
    • Do people have a great tendency follow what you say and where you go?  You may have this gift.
  • Teaching
    • Can you take the most difficult subject and explain it to most people so that they have a clear understanding of it?  You may have this gift.
  • Pastoring
    • Do you constantly feel the need to guide and nurture people in their faith and walk with God?  You may have this gift.
  • Service
    • Are you the one who gets great joy from doing the jobs that no one else does, and is content that the job is done and done right, even if no one else notices?  You may have this gift.
  • Prayer
    • Does God wake you up in the middle of the night to pray about something that He then places on your heart?
    • Do you struggle (wrestle) in prayer for individuals, issues, leaders, and/or nations (or other things)?
    • Do you enjoy spending hours communicating with God in prayer about anything and everything?  You may have this gift.

There are over 30 implied and delineated gifts that the Spirit of God gives to us to use to glorify God and help the body.  Are you using the gifts that were provided to you in stewardship by the Spirit of God at the direction of the Spirit of God for God’s Glory?

If not, why do you call yourself a servant?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, we all fall short of perfection.  You have saved us from this, and give us the wonderful opportunity to know You, the only One True God.  You have given us great privileges and responsibilities as well.  Show us what gifts the Holy Spirit has provided to us.  Empower us to act in these gifts, and guide us in the way that these gifts should be used.  Father, do not let me be afraid of these gifts, but help me to embrace them that Your kingdom would grow.  I am your servant, Lord God.  Speak to me that I may do Your Will, in Your Way, in Your Time, for Your purposes, that You may be glorified.  This I ask in the the precious name of your Most Holy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?