Wise Guys 

Proverbs 2:6-11
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path. When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, . . . “

Wisdom can be defined as the proper application of knowledge in any given situation, or simply knowing what to do. We have all felt, at times, that we do not know what to do. We are faced with a problem, and are crippled with indecision. It is comforting to know, God promises to give wisdom to His children. The question that remains is, how do I get my hands on the wisdom He has? There are at least three simple steps.

First, we must understand there is a difference between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of this world. Not all advice is godly, and not every direction will lead us closer to Him.

Second, we must cry out to God for His wisdom. James wrote that if we lack wisdom we must ask Him for it and He will give it to us (James 1:5). Solomon wrote that we should search for it as you would for a precious treasure (Proverbs 2:4). When we do not know what to do, we should look up to Heaven and cry out for help.

2 Chronicles 20:12 “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

Finally, wisdom is acquired by asking God, and looking into his Word. Since the wisdom of God differs from the wisdom of the world, the means by which we find it, will also differ. Heaven’s wisdom is not found on the TV screen or at the box office. It is rarely listed in the advice columns, or even in university text books. Instead, the wisdom of God is found in the pages of His Word. When Israel was about to enter the Land, God told them, if they followed His Word, the nations around them would be stunned by how brilliant they seemed. They would ask where they acquired such know-how and wisdom. Their answer is recorded for us:

Deuteronomy 4:6 “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”

When we apply the Word of God to our lives, we will find that our own lives are better, and we become a witnessing tool to those around us. Let’s be careful to seek wisdom as a precious treasure.

Pastor Jim

 

Wisdom

Proverbs 1:7
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

We often find ourselves in the middle of situations where we do not know what to do. Arriving at a fork in the road, without road signs, we feel lost and confused. Often, the most difficult concern is the fear of making a bad decision. The Bible promises, in those times, the believer can call out to God, who will give us a liberal serving of wisdom. No matter what you are facing, the Bible will direct you to a good and godly decision. The purpose of the book of Proverbs, is to provide heavenly wisdom for earthly living. Solomon begins this long journey, consisting of hundreds of nuggets of godly advice, with the secret to obtaining wisdom. He tells us, all wisdom and knowledge must begin with a healthy fear of the Lord.

The fear of the Lord might be best defined as simply desiring to be pleasing to the Lord. The first step to problem solving is to ask ourselves, “What is most pleasing to the Lord?” If you are facing a problem in your personal life for which you need heavenly direction, the first step is to ask what God wants you to do. It is vital to remember, the answer to that question will be found in the pages of your Bible.

One of the most important of all the proverbs Solomon penned, is a word of warning found in Chapter 14.

Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Instead of trying to figure things out on your own, or doing only what you think is best, take the time to look into the pages of God’s Word and do what He says.

Pastor Jim

 

Add To Your Faith . . .

2 Peter 1:5-7
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”

Building a healthy relationship with the Lord is made up of a number of elements, the first of which is faith. In Hebrews 11, we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. We might say, faith is the currency of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the means by which we receive from God. The gift of eternal life, the promises of the Word, and the work of the Spirit are all received by faith. For anyone to begin a relationship with God, it must start by entrusting your life to Christ, and becoming His follower.

Just like Matthew rose from his tax office and began to follow after Jesus, we must leave our old life behind and trust our lives into the care of Jesus. When that is done, a relationship with God begins. But notice, Peter makes it clear that receiving Christ is not the finish line, but the starting gate. He exhorts us to add to our faith. His list is not exhaustive, there are certainly other things that can be added to our relationship with Christ, that will ensure our spiritual growth, but these seven things are a great place to start.

These 7 Things:

To faith add virtue – Virtue was defined in ancient times by Socrates as “doing something as well as it can be done”. Paul wrote, we should “do all things heartily as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). The Christian should seek to do all things well as a testimony to the world, and as an offering of worship to the Lord.

To virtue add knowledge – Knowledge is both information and experience. As Christians, we should be good students of the Bible, seeking to get to know the Word of God. This does not mean, we are searching for hidden meanings in the Bible, but we are learning to take the Bible at face value, and apply the truths to our lives. This word ‘knowledge’ also carries the idea of experience. It is not just information about the Lord that is important, but that we are getting to know Him better, by walking with Him day-to-day.

To knowledge add self-control – To exercise self-control, the Christian must learn to deny or say no to himself. Not everything we desire is healthy for us, or helpful in walking with the Lord. There are times when the flesh is tempted toward things that will lead us away from Christ. We must resist the devil and draw near to God.

To self-control add perseverance – This means simply to press on. Wherever you are currently in your relationship with Christ, it is not the end. Paul reminds us, there is a day when we will complete the race and be in the presence of God, but until that day we must keep pressing forward.

To perseverance add godliness – There are many aspects to godliness, one of which is the idea of reverence. This is a word which has sadly lost its place, not only in our vocabularies, but in our culture. It is rare to see people acting with proper reverence. The word carries the idea of having a healthy fear. When people enter the ocean without proper fear, they are often swept away by large surf or caught in rip tides. When we do not have a healthy fear of God, we will toy with sins that should have been cast aside long ago.

To godliness add brotherly kindness – It always amuses me when the New Testament writers have to encourage Christians to be nice to each other. You would think we would realize we are all saved by grace, all are adopted into the family of Christ, and we should be kind to each other. But just as a parent has to break up the bickering between siblings, we must be reminded to be kind to one another. Don’t forget the world is watching how we treat each other.

Finally, to brotherly kindness add love – As faith is the starting point of a relationship with the Lord, love is the chief evidence. Paul stated, upon receiving Christ, the love of God would be shed abroad in our hearts. As Christians, our lives should be marked by love, and that love should be categorized properly. First, love is toward God. We are to love Him with our heart, soul, mind and strength. Second, love is to be toward others, Finally, we are to fall in love with the things that God loves.

Pastor Jim

 

Treasure 

Colossians 2:3
“. . . in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Knowledge is a word which speaks of information. We increase in our knowledge of God as we read the Word of God and walk with Him daily. However, wisdom is another thing all together. We might define it as “the proper application of knowledge,” or more simply as, “knowing what to do.” How many times have you faced decisions in life where you were not sure what to do, because you have not been that way before? Wisdom is acquired by experience, by careful observation of the experience of others, or by receiving it from heaven.

Notice, Paul writes “All wisdom is hidden in Christ.” We can find great comfort in knowing, while we might not know what we are doing, Christ has been that way before and can provide direction through the fog of life. Notice also, Paul says this wisdom is hidden in Christ. It is not something hidden from us, so we cannot have it, but something hidden so we will seek after it. The primary purpose of salvation is to know God, and wisdom is hidden in Him so we will seek Christ more. The question is, how do we access the wisdom that is hidden in Christ?

James 1:5
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

The first step is to pray. We are exhorted to understand, that through prayer, we can cast all burdens at the feet of Jesus. Sometimes, the greatest burden can be facing situations for which we have no answers. Parenting can certainly be like that. As the children grow, we are constantly walking down roads we have never traveled before. We want desperately to make decisions that will positively impact our children for the kingdom of heaven, and ensure they have a bright and successful future. The problem is, we often do not have a clue as to what we are doing. It is encouraging to know, “in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom”. The secret to receiving His wisdom through prayer, is to be willing to do things His way. Sometimes, we do not seek the mind of God, because we have already determined we do not want to do what He says.

Deuteronomy 4:6
“Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”

Prayer is where we ask questions, and the Word of God is where we find answers. Sometimes, we will pray for things, then spend our time thinking up a solution, without considering what God has written to us in His Word. Israel was told, if they followed the teaching of the Word of God, it would lead to wisdom, and the people around them would be shocked at how smart they were. You see, doing what God says, even when it might not make sense, will always lead to the wisest roads. Other people, when the fruit of those decisions come to light, will be shocked at how smart you seem, all because you chose to do things God’s way.

If you are in need of wisdom because you are on a road you have never traveled before, or perhaps you went the wrong way in the past, the key is to lay your life out before the Lord in prayer. Then sit before His Word, and allow Him to write your road map for you. Using a concordance can be helpful to look up the subjects you are facing, and is a great way to learn to think and act Biblically.

Pastor Jim

 

Where Are You Headed? 

Ecclesiastes 2:24
“Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.”

A few years ago, I stumbled across a pretty cool website designed to help create photo albums. In a few minutes, I was able to design a picture book capturing a recent family trip. Ecclesiastes is a bit like a photo album, capturing the travels of Solomon, in pursuit of the meaning of life. Solomon had the unique combination of great wealth and intellect. As a result, nothing was beyond his reach as he searched for the meaning of life, in the midst of living. His journeys took him down many different roads. Sadly, he found no matter what road he traveled, he seemed to end at the same destination. A place he called “Vanity of Vanities.”

Ecclesiastes 1:13 “I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven…”

His first pursuit was to acquire knowledge. He thought if he studied more, he would understand more, and that would make him happy. Solomon became a student of life. His pursuits gained him great knowledge and prestige. People traveled great distances to hear him speak on a variety of subjects, including botany, biology, zoology, philosophy and astronomy. While knowledge is a good thing, and education has great value, Solomon discovered the meaning of life was not found in being the smartest guy in the room. He learned knowledge could not satisfy the craving of the heart; and the more he knew, the more it hurt.

Ecclesiastes 2:1 “I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure’; but surely, this also was vanity.”

When knowledge didn’t satisfy him, Solomon chose to pursue pleasure. Because of his great wealth, he denied himself nothing he thought might make him happy. He had any woman he wanted, threw lavish parties with the most exotic themes, drank, partied, and sought to have as much pleasure as money could buy. Sadly, at the end of that road, he found life was empty, and in his wake, he left a trail of devastated lives.

Ecclesiastes 2:4 “I made my works great…

If wisdom and pleasure could not make him happy, certainly stuff would. He decided to live by the motto of “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Solomon built palaces and stables throughout the land to house all the stuff he had acquired. The more he got, the more he wanted, and the less he was satisfied. He took a long hard road that ended in the realization, “life is not found in the abundance of things that one possesses.” (Luke 12:15)

Ecclesiastes 2:17 “Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.”

Poor Solomon. All his wealth, intellect, parties, and possessions could not satisfy; and he was left hating life. Solomon is not alone. History is filled with men and women who spent all they had in pursuit of life, only to come up short. Even today, with all the modern advances, people are coming to realize, there must be more to life.

1 John 5:12 “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Since we were created to know God, the true meaning of life will only be found when we are in a relationship with God, through Christ. Instead of spending your life in pursuit of something you will never find, come to Christ and experience abundant life.

Pastor Jim

 

You Should Know Better

Psalm 100:3  
“Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “you should have known better?”  We use it when we view evidence so compelling that a particular conclusion is obvious. “I didn’t know that would happen!” This statement, a response to throwing a firecracker into the barbecue pit, or bringing a handgun through airport security, is an unreasonable response, “You should know better.” It seems equally as surprising to me, that the Psalmist would need to remind us that man is a creative work of God  and did not spring into being as a result of his own innate ability. As surprising, and even preposterous as it may be, we hear all of the time, how highly intelligent and well-educated people will choose to believe that man is not a byproduct of an intelligent and loving Creator, but the consequence of random chance.

How good it is to be reminded, that God created us, and did so with a devine purpose in mind. He created us to know Him. We live up to the height of that relationship when we walk in step with His Word. Each day, as you read your Bible and seek to put it into practice in your life, you are working towards the purpose for which you were created. On the other hand, each time you choose to ignore His word and do things your own way, you are one step farther from His design for your life. It is possible to step so far away, and be so removed from His presence in your daily life, as to begin to doubt His presence and even existence. Let’s take steps toward Him today, and everyday, until our faith becomes sight, and we reap the great reward of trusting Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Pocket Size

Judges 18:24
“So he said, ‘You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and you have gone away. Now what more do I have? How can you say to me,’What ails you?'”

Israel had forsaken the Word of God and fallen into a place of spiritual confusion. We read of “homemade religions” with their own gods, priests and theology. As the story unfolds, we will see this spiritual confusion leads to social chaos and immorality.

In the current chapter, we find one of the many follies of creating your own god based upon your experiences and imagination. Micah paid good money to have a silver image built, and his own priest on salary. When a large group from the tribe of Dan, passed through town and saw his priest and god, they decided to confiscate them for their own use. Because they outnumbered Micah, he had no choice but to comply with their demands. As he watched them parting, he unwittingly declared the folly of false religion,

“You have taken away my gods which I made…

Any god that can fit in the saddlebag of the enemy, is not the true and living God. Jehovah God demanded no images be made of Him. The reason for this is that no likeness could do Him justice, and He is infinite. To reduce Him to a silver statue that fits in your purse, is to lose sight of His very nature. Solomon described God as the One who “. . . the heavens cannot contain. . .” (2 Chronicles 6:18).

Sometimes, we reduce God to a manageable size so we can understand Him. I think it is much better to realize there are things about the nature of God which are too big for me to get my head around, than to reduce Him to fit into my limited knowledge. After broaching the subject of the sovereignty of God, Paul dropped to his knees and declared,

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33

Pastor Jim