Episode 1. God's Heart for Wisdom
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Wisdom. There’s real wisdom, godly wisdom. And then there’s the false wisdom that many in this world hold out to be true wisdom. God yearns for you to be filled with real wisdom. Wisdom from …
Wisdom. There’s real wisdom, godly wisdom. And then there’s the false wisdom that many in this world hold out to be true wisdom. God yearns for you to be filled with real wisdom. Wisdom from above.
A Different Kind of Wisdom
Let’s be honest. Sometimes we do the dumbest things. We don’t mean to, we just do. And there comes a point where you think to yourself: “Why am I making this same mistake over and over again?” I’m guessing you’ve been there.
For some people, it’s constant worry. Sure you’ve heard the bit where Jesus says “Who, by worrying, can add a single hour to their lives?” (Matt 6:27). Maybe you’ve heard it a hundred times before, but you still can’t stop worrying.
Perhaps you’re someone who carries anger and bitterness around in your heart. Sure, you know that the Bible says – “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph 4:26) … but that anger keeps bubbling away.
Or maybe your someone who is constantly trying to impress other people. You know it’s a pride thing. You know that pride comes before the fall (Prov 16:18) but, well, you know …
There are so many things that hold us back in this life. There are so many things that we hang on to for dear life, that are in fact ruining our lives. We all have our Achilles heel. We all have blind spots. We all have circumstances in our lives where “doing it my way” – as much as that may be the way we’ve always done it – just doesn’t work.
If I asked you, in those circumstances, “Do you want to be wise?” I’m sure your answer would be, “Absolutely!”. But then, if I asked you, “So, are you prepared to make the changes you need to make to get that wisdom; to live out that wisdom?”
Well, most of us, at that point, would hesitate; equivocate. “Change? Really? Change? Well, I’m not so sure about that.”
If we’re going to talk about wisdom then, we have to start at the beginning.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
Now maybe that’s a verse that you’ve heard many times before. But let’s just get a grip on it for a minute. The fear of the Lord means an awe, a respect; a realisation of the terrible outcomes of the judgements of God.
My father loved be and I loved him. But let me tell you, when I was a lad, I knew that if I did something wrong, there was going to be a reckoning with my dad. And if it was bad enough, I knew that it would involve punishment.
We just toddle along through life as though anything goes. If it feels good do it. I wonder though, if we thought a bit more about the terrible judgement of God, if we questioned our thoughts, our motives, our actions, if we asked ourselves “What would God think about this, really?” … I wonder if that wouldn’t open our hearts to God’s wisdom.
A few years ago, I recorded a radio program about the fear of God. Now, I remember thinking to myself “No one wants to hear about the fear of God these days.” But I just felt God nudging me towards that message.
So, I did it. I wrote it, I recorded it. And a few months later, I received an email from a man in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is what he wrote:
I was at a peace conference in Goma and in my hotel room I turned on the radio. I heard a program about the fear of God. And I realised that with no fear of God in the hearts of people there will be no peace! No peace at all! I don’t know if this was a revelation from God … but my heart was beating, coming far away, God was speaking to me. I have been on the battle field for 13 years now and I don’t know how many people have died because of my gun, but what I know is that I decided to lay down my arms in that hotel room.
I’ve never forgotten that email. He gave his life to Christ and ended up fleeing to another country in fear of his life. The bit of his email that keeps ringing out for me is where he says, “without the fear of God there can be no peace, no peace at all!”
You know what, he’s absolutely right. When we just carry on as if anything goes, when we live our lives for ourselves without any respect, without any awe, without a right sense of the fear of God in our hearts, we are going to make a hash of it. A complete mess of our lives and a complete mess of the lives of the people around us. The people we hurt through what we say and do. Through the expression of anger and disapproval on our face. Through our failure to love them, the way they need to be loved.
And the crazy thing about this ‘fear of God’ thing, is that once we yield our lives to God, once we say “Lord I’m sick of making mistakes. My way doesn’t work. I want your way. I want your wisdom. I want your help. Once we do that, all the fear in fact goes away.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (1 John 4:18)
Yes there is a terrible judgement that awaits those who rebel against God. A terrible But when we come to a turning point, as Safari Murinzi came to a turning point in that hotel room, the fear goes away.
When we choose to live in God’s love, that perfect love casts out all fear.
God wants to impart to you, His wisdom. The wisdom of the ages. My dad had a lot of wisdom. He wasn’t perfect of course, but he took the time and made the effort to impart much of that wisdom into my life.
And to a great extent that wisdom has made me the man I am today.
Imagine though, God who is perfect, God who knows all things for all time, God who loves you beyond measure, wanting to impart His wisdom into your life. Surely, we have to stand back from that, you and I, and think to ourselves, “WOW! That’s amazing!!” And it is. Totally amazing.
Just think for a moment of the things that you have going on in your life right at this moment that are causing you grief. The things that are complicated, that you just can’t sort out and fix. Imagine now, that God is prepared to speak His word of wisdom into that one situation that’s driving you to despair.
Would you want to hear that wisdom? Would you want to receive that wisdom? Probably out of frustration, out of a desire just to get that thing sorted, the answer is a big, fat “Yes!”
But then let’s say you open your Bible and you read this verse:
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)
And you realise that actually it’s your pride and your arrogance, the way you’ve been talking to other people, that’s the biggest factor in this dilemma in which you find yourself.
Now let me ask you again. Do you want to receive that wisdom? It’s not easy is it.
There’s this thing inside each one of us that wants to blame everyone and everything else for our problems, except our selves. And yet so often, the getting of wisdom involves owning up. It involves being honest with ourselves. It involves making the changes that we need to make in order to bring peace.
And that’s where the fear of the Lord comes in. It’s this heart attitude that says, “You know God is right. The alternative here is continuing in this mess. The alternative here is facing God’s judgement for this one day.”
Receiving the wisdom of God into our lives isn’t always easy. In fact a lot of the time, it’s incredibly tough. It’s something that we don’t want to do, because we want to wallow in our immaturity, in our pride, in our … let me call it for what it is … sin.
But your Father in Heaven has, sitting ready and waiting for you, the wisdom of the ages. A wisdom that will utterly transform your life. A wisdom that, day by day, will set you free to be all He made you to be.
Yearning for Wisdom
Wisdom is something that I think, we all desire. I mean, I don’t know anyone on this planet, who, if asked, wouldn’t want to be wise. But I wonder just how high it is up our priority list of wants and desires.
We long after different things in our lives. Sometimes we yearn for love, acceptance and companionship. Other times it might by something more basic – like enough food to eat. There are plenty of people on this earth who simply don’t have the basics – food, clean water, shelter.
But in affluent places, we yearn, frankly, for silly things. A new pet dog – nice, but not essential. The latest hair style, the latest fashion accessory, a new dress in this season’s colours, a new car – shiny and bright, just like the one on the TV add.
Right now, given what’s going on in your life, what do you yearn for? What’s the object of longing that’s dominating your heart and mind right at this moment. Does godly wisdom even feature in, say, your top three desires? If you’re like most people, the answer is: probably not.
When Solomon, the son of King David, was still a young man, he became the king of Israel. What a huge responsibility. Ruling a country, that young, that immature, with so little experience. He knew it was way beyond him, just like many of the things that you and I confront in life are beyond us.
One night he had a dream. And in that dream, God said to him:
Ask what I should give you. (1 Kings 3:5)
I wonder … I wonder if God appeared to you and me in a dream one night and said that to us, what we would ask for. Well, here’s what Solomon asked for:
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people? (1 Kings 3:9)
And then, we’re told in the very next verse that:
It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honour all your life; no other king shall compare with you. (1 Kings 3:10-13)
So asking for wisdom, it seems, asking unselfishly for the right thing, is an act that pleases God and releases great blessing into our lives.
Just imagine what your life would look like if you yearned for the wisdom of God. Imagine what your life would look like if, like King Solomon, you petitioned God for the wisdom to do the things that He has set before you, the things that in your heart of hearts, you know are way before you.
It would please the Lord no end. It would bring you rewards that go way beyond anything you could ever have imagined.
When we ask God for wisdom, we’re asking Him for something that’s not so much about us, as it is about serving Him and other people.
Think about the things that you need wisdom for in your life right at the moment. What are the things that are going on in your relationships that are beyond you? What decisions do you need to make that are going to have an impact on your life and perhaps the lives of others, that you’re just not sure about?
The young and inexperienced King Solomon wanted wisdom to govern God’s people. So when he asked God for an understanding and discerning mind, instead of wealth and honour as king, the longing in his heart was for his people, not for himself. He could have asked for great riches and honour, but instead He asked for wisdom.
You know what I think. I think that all too often we ask God for things that are about us. Our needs, our Now, just as Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” there’s nothing wrong with asking God to meet our needs.
But if that’s all we ask of Him, then it’s a pretty selfish little prayer life that we’re having isn’t it? It’s a pretty narrow life that we end up leading.
Imagine if you could see your problems through God’s eyes. Imagine if you could see your circumstances, the decisions that you need to make, through God’s eyes. Imagine if you could stand on heaven’s balcony and see the view from there.
I think that’s what wisdom is. God’s wisdom gives us a completely different perspective. God’s wisdom helps us see the bigger picture, rather than our own little narrow circumstances.
A thousand or so years after Solomon, the Apostle Paul found himself in a Roman dungeon, chained to a guard, on death row. Imagine how easy it would have been for him to have a narrow view of his circumstances. But instead, he was able to write:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
There’s a man filled with the wisdom of God. There’s a man who can see his dire circumstances from the vantage point of heaven’s balcony.
Back to you. Back to your life. Your dilemmas. Your decisions. The things that are before you that you know are way beyond you. The struggles, the hurts, the situation that’s confusing you and confounding you at the moment.
Your God wants to show you the big picture. Your God wants to put His arm around you and show you the view from heaven’s balcony. Now sure, He may not show you the whole picture, but if you’ll just ask Him for His wisdom, it will please His Father’s heart and He will show you just enough to get you through.
The Getting of Wisdom
It’s a humbling thing to come to the realisation that you don’t have the wisdom, the where-with-all, the IQ, the emotional intelligence – call it whatever you want – to deal with a problem.
Pride keeps a lot of people from asking for help. Pride whispers to us “If you ask for help, you’ll be showing other people how dumb you are.” And so, many people make bad decisions because they don’t seek help from others, when they need it.
Without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:13)
The truth is that none of us has all the answers. When I was a young man, working as a pretty high priced IT consultant, I used to think that I had to show my clients that I had all the answers for everything. That there were no limits to my expertise. After all, look at what I was charging them.
How stupid I must have looked, and, let me tell you, that attitude caused me a lot of grief in the end.
No, we will need help. We all need the different perspectives that others can bring. We all need counsel from good advisers. And THE best adviser of all, without any shadow of a doubt, is God Himself. Especially, let me say, when we’re in the middle of a crisis.
Crises happen, often, without warning. They’re like earthquakes. People are going about their ordinary, day to day business. Or perhaps they’re asleep in bed and without any warning, the earthquake hits, shacking the very foundations of their lives. Reeking devastation. Throwing people into fear and panic.
We tend not to make very good decisions under those circumstances. Suffering has a way of completely distorting our perspective.
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you is lacking in wisdom … (James 1:2-5)
Now I want to stop it just there, because that last bit is the bit I want to focus on.
If any of you is lacking in wisdom … how easy is it to pretend you have all the answers? How easy is it to go on and make decisions when you’re facing trials, when your faith is being tested, when things are hurting – as though you know it all?
With all that you have going on in your life at the moment, is there a place where you haven’t admitted to yourself, that you don’t have all the answers?
Because, listen to me here, admitting to yourself that you actually need help, is the essential first step, into God’s wisdom.
And once we come to that point, once we admit that to ourselves, well the flood gates open. God steps in, in power. In a way that we could scarcely have imagined.
I wonder whether, when you go through difficult trials, through times of testing, whether you’ve ever felt as though God has deserted you.
You pray and you pray and you pray, but it feels as though your prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling. You ask God for guidance, for wisdom, for advice – but it seems as though He’s left you hear, alone in the wilderness, to your own devices.
You realise that you don’t have the power or the wisdom to deal with whatever it is, but God is silent, mute it seems … and so know despondency sets in.
Ever been there? Sure you have. Perhaps you’re even there now. There’s some huge problem in your life and you know you need help, but there doesn’t appear to be any help on the horizon.
Would you like to know what’s going on? Here it is. God has taken a step back to test your faith.
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
He does that, because your faith is precious. God knows that by testing your faith, He will grow it stronger. Is it fun, no. But perhaps He’s brought us together today, just to remind you of what’s going on here in your suffering, in your time of testing.
And now … now I want to share a powerful promise with you into the middle of that despondency. Are you ready?!
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; , for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:5-8)
WOW! So you’ve come to the conclusion that you need help. You’ve realised that you don’t have the wisdom that you need. That’s a good thing. That’s what He wants, the realisation that: “I am lacking in wisdom.” A great step of humility. A step that God will honour.
And look again at his Word, His promise is that He will give you His wisdom – generously and ungrudgingly. So stop doubting, stop being tossed to and fro, ditch the doubt, the double-mindedness, and just believe in what God says.
If you need His help, if you need His wisdom in the middle of your suffering and the testing of your faith, ask, believe and His wisdom WILL be given to you – generously, and ungrudgingly.