Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

David Mathis had a really good (like all of us should read it) post yesterday on the fool.  He draws from the deep well of biblical wisdom literature in Proverbs to paint a picture of wisdom versus folly.  An excerpt:

Folly is not just silly, but sinful (Psalm 69:5107:17Romans 1:22). Fools desperately need to “learn sense” (Proverbs 8:5), but instead they hate knowledge (Proverbs 1:22). They are complacent (Proverbs 1:32), easily frustrated (Proverbs 12:16), reckless and careless (Proverbs 14:16), and crooked in speech (Proverbs 19:1). Fools are prone to “a hasty temper” (Proverbs 14:29), “anger lodges in the heart of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9). Fools “walk into a fight” and invite a beating (Proverbs 18:6).

The fool despises instruction, even from the ones who love them most (Proverbs 15:5), and thus brings misery to his own biggest fans (Proverbs 17:21).

While the wise have learned the beauty and value of righteousness, “doing wrong is like a joke to a fool” (Proverbs 10:23). While the wise are able to hold back quietly, “a fool gives full vent to his spirit” (Proverbs 29:11). And as Jesus taught, while the wise are “rich toward God,” the fool presumes on “many years” and “lays up treasure for himself” in this life (Luke 12:19–21).

A fool is “like an archer who wounds everyone” (Proverbs 26:10) and “like a dog that returns to his vomit” (Proverbs 26:11). It is better to meet up with “a she-bear robbed of her cubs” than a fool in his folly (Proverbs 17:12).

Read it all, bookmark it, and re-read it often.

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Here are a few links to several free columns and articles from this month’s TableTalk magazine from Ligonier

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Praying for wisdom

Here’s a model from Scotty Smith of how to pray for something we all need and something we all need a lot of–wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30

Dear heavenly Father, I’m in need of what you so generously promise to give… wisdom. I have no doubt that you’ll come through for me, especially when I consider that you’ve already given me the quintessential wisdom of Jesus—who is my righteousness, holiness and redemption. How to I measure that generosity?

It’s only because of you that I’m in Christ—the fountain and personification of all the wisdom I’ll ever need. And only because I’m in Christ, I don’t fear your finding fault-finding gaze. I only anticipate your grace-giving hand. So here’s a few situations for which I need some practical wisdom…

Father, please give me wisdom about the difference between gospel peace-making and conflict-avoidance.  What’s really worth fighting for? When do soft answers turn away wrath, or when are they a sign of selfishness and cowardice? When do I lose sight of the real issue and simply refuse to lose? What does it mean to fight fair and to conflict redemptively?

Father, please give me wisdom about the balance between being spent and poured out for the gospel, and stewardship of my body, mind and heart. Show me when I’m living more of a driven rather than a called life. What’s the difference between a living sacrifice and a depleted workaholic?

Father, please give me wisdom about loving our children at different stages of their lives. When do I show up? When do I shut up? When do I offer advice that’s not being asked for? When does my help not really help? What’s the difference between parenting by faith-n-grace and manipulating by guilt-n-grit… even when they’re adults?

Father, please give me wisdom about the next season of my life. What does growing older in the gospel look like? I don’t see the category of retirement in the Bible, so what would you have me invest in for the rest of my days this side of heaven? Of all the things I could do, what is most in line with the truth of the gospel, and most in keeping with how you’ve made and gifted me?

I’m anticipating hearing from you, Father, because you are so very generous and so very faithful. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ matchless name.

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Wisdom: how to get it (pt 2)

Yesterday I wrote, based on Proverbs 2:1-4, that if you want to get wisdom you have to first be attentive to it and then earnestly pursue it.  Here are three more things we must do if we want to get wisdom from God. These come from my message I preached about wisdom recently. You can access audio and manuscript of this sermon here (scroll down to 1/17/10) entry)

  • Pray for it

Another action step in seeking wisdom is to pray for it.  “Call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding.”  Plead with God, “Open my eyes that I behold the wondrous things out of your law.”  (Psalm 119:18).  Like a newborn baby insistently cries with a need that only a mother can satisfy, so we ought to come to God’s Word for wisdom and seek it from godly people.  We must appeal to God to supply the blessing of wisdom in the place of bankruptcy of our foolish hearts!

God is the source of all wisdom. “God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned the waters by measure, when he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then he saw it and declared it; he established it, and searched it out. And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” ” (Job 28:23–28)

So James tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. ” (James 1:5–6)

  • Keep at it

Here’s something else we must do!  Keep at it!  Keep at it!  Keep listening, keep praying, keep pursuing it. Don’t give up finding out how God wants you to skillfully live your life in His world by applying His truth to your life.  You are never too old to gain more wisdom!  Keep at it.  Maybe you aren’t growing in wisdom because you haven’t been really putting the effort in that is necessary to gain it. Maybe you just expect the gold to be lying right on the ground in front of you instead of being willing to dig for it. Or maybe you have been valuing other things, thinking you had what you were seeking, but now you find it to be fool’s gold.  Well, repent and keep seeking true wisdom.

  • Seek wisdom in Christ (I acknowledge Anthony Selvaggio’s Proverbs-Driven Life for these seminal thoughts)
  1. Jesus lived wisdom (Luke 2:41-50)

“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. . .And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.  ” (Luke 2:46–47, 52 ESV)

2.  Jesus is wisdom (1 Cor 1:30; Colossians 2:3)
“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God. . . ” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

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

3.    Jesus is the way to wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)

“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  ” (1 Corinthians 2:6–8)

One man has written, “As Christians read the book of Proverbs in the light of the continued revelation of the New Testament, they are confronted with the same question as the ancient Israelites, but with a different nuance. Will we dine with Wisdom or with Folly?  The Wisdom who beckons us is none other than Jesus Christ, while the folly that attempts to seduce is any created thing that we put in place of the Creator” (Romans 1:22-23).

4.   Jesus supplied wisdom (Ephesians 1:17; James 1:5; Matthew 12:42)
Through the Father, Jesus gives us a spirit of wisdom and revelation.  He is the one who is greater than Solomon.

So, what do you need to do in order to more intentionally and consistently pursue wisdom?

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Proverbs 2:1-4 is a father’s call for his son to pursue wisdom. In chapter 1:8-33, we hear the first impassioned call to wisdom as this father warns his sons about evil companions who lure youths with the promise of power and easy money. “Lady Wisdom” cries out in the streets for the earnest attention of simple youth.

What do we have to get wisdom? This one was of the questions I answered in my message on Proverbs 2:1-4 (audio and manuscript available here–1/17/09.)  Here are the first two action steps we must take to get wisdom.

  • Be attentive to it

To seek wisdom, you must first be receptive to it. You must throw out the welcome mat and receive wholesome words and biblical truth.  You must passionately embrace truth, like the man of Psalm 1 who delights in the law of the Lord, like Joshua who won’t let the book of the law depart out of his mouth or mind, like Job who treasured God’s Word more than his necessary food, like the Thessalonians who diligently received the Word as it was indeed the Word of God, and like the Bereans who diligently searched the Word after hearing it preached.  Your spirit must be attentive to godly wisdom!

  • Earnestly pursue it

Then you must earnestly pursue it. How? Well, you treasure it up which implies advance preparation.  That is, you consistently pursue wisdom, you consistently study God’s Word so that it is readily accessible when you need it later on. You don’t wait for the crisis to hit!  No, you prepare in advance and store it up like Joseph stored up the grain for the times of famine.  “Treasuring it up” implies memorizing with deep affection the “sound bites” of wisdom that you hear from Scripture and from godly people so that when the occasion arises, you are more than ready to meet a need.

Secondly, you earnestly pursue it by “making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart toward understanding.”  That is you bend your ear and your heart to truth.  Both speak of obedient attentiveness to wisdom.

Bending takes a lot of work.  Recently, I asked somebody to bend a hinge back into place that had become bent on a kitchen cabinet door.  My friend took it home and put it in a vise and worked on it for awhile and repaired it for me.  It took a lot of pressure and some time.  That is what it means to “incline your heart toward understanding”.  Our hearts, because of sin, are bent in a certain direction.  But God wants us to bend our hearts toward wisdom!  And that is a long process of un-selfing, of de-lousing ourselves of our foolish inclinations.  Of course, when Proverbs speaks of the heart, it refers to our very being—our intellect, reason, emotions, and will.  So to seek wisdom we must stretch our entire being toward God and His Word and bend it away from the godless worldviews of our day.

It is what Joshua called Israel to do:  “He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.” ” (Joshua 24:23)

So where is the bent of your heart?  Who or what are you listening to?  Lady Wisdom or Madame Folly?

And then verse 4 describes an earnest pursuit.  “Seek it like silver! Search for it as for hidden treasures.”  Have you ever searched for something relentlessly? If something is really valuable, we will search for it with great effort, won’t we?  Some people spend much of their lives trying to find someone like their birth parents or a former friend. Recently I lost something that was worth about $200.  I knew for certain that I had it just 12 hours before I noticed it was gone and I looked everywhere for it.  A few weeks afterward, I spent a lot of time searching for some medicine (small pills) that I had for our dog.  We thank God for doctors and scientists who devote their lives to searching for cures for diseases.

In 1849 thousands of men were willing to leave their comfortable homes to travel to far-away California, where they lived in tents and spent day after day in back-breaking labour, all because they hoped to find a few nuggets of gold. Would that we approached our personal Bible reading, the sermons we hear at church, and Bible classes with the same fervor. Merely going through the motions of religion will not make you wise. You must fully exert yourself and dig deeply.

Just as the gold miner had to use a pick to dig deep for the gold found in California, so you must be prepared to dig deeply into God’s Word. Slow down and meditate upon what you read. Use the tools God has given you (i.e. a concordance and Bible commentaries like this one) to dig deeper into the Scriptures.  Memorize it and fill the vault of your mind with wisdom!

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It’s not at your worst God finds you unattractive. It’s at your best. – Matt Chandler

“Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart.”- Paul E. Miller

“The key to mission strategy? Die to yourself and your own plans.”–source unknown

Truth without love is like sodium without cloride… poison! – Marvin Olasky

“I only want men who will go where the road is not paved.” Dr. David Livingstone, missionary in Africa.

“Arabia could easily be evangelized within the next 30 years if it were not for the wicked selfishness of Christians.” – Zwemer

I would as soon dream of blaspheming my Maker as of questioning the infallibility of His word – C.H. Spurgeon

God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination—Augustine

“Marriage is ministry.”–Voddie Baucham

“Before the Fall, sinless Adam & Eve still needed wisdom. God instructed, directed, guided: specifying who they were, what they were to do.”–Paul Tripp

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Wisdom in trials

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8, ESV).

Some simple observations and thoughts from this passage as I listened to Paul Tripp preach on this message recently.

  • God will take you where you did not intend to go so that you will achieve what you could not achieve on your own.
  • Trials drive you beyond the normal range of your insight—the normal range of your wisdom–because trials are designed to drive you beyond you so that you will reach out in humility and cry out for His help.
  • Trials are meant to release you from the bondage of self-reliance.
  • Your weakness doesn’t keep you from your Lord, your delusions of strength does.
  • Sin reduces us to fools.
  • Wisdom is a penetrating understanding of how things work that leads me with practical direction with how I should live. Wisdom is being able to look at life from God’s perspective.
  • Wisdom runs on the rails of sunmission and obedience
  • God is the definition of generosity. He loves to give wisdom and rescue people from foolishness and protect you by his grace and guide you by his truth! He will give you the wisdom that you need. He doesn’t throw your failures in your face or keep account of the amount of times you have had to confess sin. He doesn’t play favorites.he says, “You need. . . you come! I love to give wisdom!”
  • God has no commitment to giving you wisdom so that your self-seeking purposes will work. His wisdom is for those who are loyal and seeking His kingdom, not theirs.
  • God hasn’t given you His grace to make your claustrophobic-kingdom-of-one work. God has given you His grace to invite you a much more fulfilling kingdom!
  • Don’t run from God in your struggle. Run to Him and find the rescue that can only be found in Him.

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