True wisdom

We’ve discussed wisdom before. It’s pretty difficult to read through the Bible and avoid the subject entirely. It’s all about wisdom and obtaining it. It is wisdom.

I tried a quick search on where people believe wisdom comes from. Here are a few interesting responses I discovered:

Wisdom is a belief that’s not only true but that in the fact of our believing it leads us to feel and act in such a way that makes us suffer less or feel joy more.

Alex Lickerman M.D.

While I see the merits of this explanation, truth must first be defined and absolute. Different people believe different things to be true and acting on them with full belief can lead to varying results—some wise, but some unwise.

I truly believe that wisdom comes from experience. You can not fully understand people, things events or even situations if you don’t have life experience. If you haven’t lived through an event or heard the story of how other lived through this event you can’t possible understand it. You cannot know what it’s like to be a mother or a father until you’ve been one.

Sophie

Thanks Sophie, but I have to disagree with you here, too. While there are some things in life that must be experienced to fully understand, I’ve heard very wise words from people who’ve never experienced it at all and, on the other side, watched the fallout from very bad decisions made by people who have already experienced the situation.

Wisdom is the imprint a life has made on other lives.

Krista Tippett

Really? I hope there was more to that explanation somewhere because I can say with absolute certainty that there are many people who have been left with imprints made by very bad choices. Wisdom had nothing to do with those.

There are a lot of different ideas out there about the origin of wisdom. We can keep pondering those or we can just go to the Bible. Paul put it rather simply.

To God, who alone is wise, be the glory forever through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Romans 16:27 (NLT)

Done and done. The world can search for and explain away about wisdom all they want, but we—the Church—have access to the source of true wisdom.

Reverence for the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.
The rewards of wisdom come to all who obey him.

Praise his name forever!

Psalm 111:10 (NLT)

True wisdom begins and ends with God. We can search everywhere, but true wisdom can be found nowhere else than in the presence of our Holy Father. Only there will we discover the foundation on which we can put our knowledge to proper and prosperous use. Seeking, honouring, and obeying God are the first and only steps required to obtain wisdom.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:5 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 109-111, Romans 16

Honestly

Honesty is becoming a rare commodity. The places where you were once assured of finding truth are fast becoming dens of falsehood. Everyone is declaring their own personal truth and spurning the existence absolute truth. As Christians, it is just as easy for us to get caught up in partial truths and complete lies. Yet all God wants from us is honesty.

But you desire honesty from the heart,
so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.

Psalm 51:6 (NLT)

In order to be honest, though, we need to know what it is exactly.

HONESTY: In fact, upright conduct; an actual conformity to justice and moral rectitude; fairness; candor; truth.

Honesty is the first step toward gaining wisdom. Wisdom is not something that can be obtained through deceit. Whether you are being untruthful with others or yourself, where lies lie, honesty cannot exist. And where honesty isn’t, wisdom cannot be, either.

Sounds hard. But it’s not.

If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.

James 1:5 (NLT)

Imagine that, God wants His people to be wise! In having a wise people, it means He will also have honest people. And if He has honest people, He will have humble people. All of these attributes go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. A humble person is wise and a wise person is honest, and so on. All it takes is a little humility to be completely, absolutely, thoroughly honest. When we bare ourselves to God, that is when He is best able to work in us. A little effort on our part produces great results.

…but those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing.

Psalm 34:10b (NLT)

God will gladly give us wisdom. He wants to. Wisdom is a good thing. When we can put our trust in God, we won’t be lacking those good things. God is just looking for honesty from the heart. He is looking for us to put ourselves in a place where we are teachable, moldable, useable.

It’s a good thing. Honestly.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 50-52, Acts 27:1-15

Lead

How often do you ask to be lead rather than to lead? Who really wants to follow when you can be a leader?

How often do you ask what you should be doing? Who really wants to be told what to do when you can tell someone else what to do?

Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
or my enemies will conquer me.
Tell me clearly what to do,
and show me which way to turn.

Psalm 5:8 (NLT)

Life isn’t all about being the one in charge. Sometimes—and even more often than we think—it should be about asking for direction and instruction. It’s about letting someone else be in charge. God’s guidance isn’t there to stifle us. He doesn’t want to lead us like a dog on a leash.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Protect them,
so all who love your name may be filled with joy.
For you bless the godly, O Lord,
surrounding them with your shield of love.

Psalm 5:11-12 (NLT)

We don’t have to listen to God’s directions and instructions, we get to. When we put ourselves into God’s plan, not only is it His will that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28), but He surrounds us with His shield of love. We can take refuge in Him. He will protect us.

Submitting to God is not a trial. It’s a joy. A privilege.

I will lie down in peace and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

Psalm 4:8 (NLT)

Submitting to God leads to joy. It leads to peace. It leads to love. Who else can you follow that will lead you to all of that?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 4-6, Acts 16:16-40

The price of wisdom

How much would you pay for wisdom? 10% of your paycheque? An entire paycheque? What about an entire year’s worth of paydays?

It’s all fine and good if you’re willing to pay for wisdom, but it can’t be bought.

Wisdom is far more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold. Coral and valuable rock crystals are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above pearls.

Job 28:17-18 (NLT)

Before we get too far into how much it is worth, what exactly is wisdom anyway and why should we be trying to get our hands on something that is seemingly unattainable?

WISDOM: The right use or exercise of knowledge; the choice of laudable ends, and of the best means to accomplish them. Profitable words or doctrine.

Let’s be clear—wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing. A person can be a walking encyclopedia and still be lacking in wisdom. Having all the knowledge in the world doesn’t mean that a person knows how to use it. In short, wisdom is the proper application of knowledge.

If having knowledge doesn’t mean you’re automatically wise, where does wisdom come from?

And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’

Job 28:28 (NLT)

Until God enters the picture, all you can ever have is knowledge. What use is knowledge if you don’t know how to use it properly? Wisdom is a byproduct of a healthy relationship with God. It is not something we can purchase or come across by any other means other than to walk with the One from whom wisdom flows.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:5 (NLT)

There you have it. Ask God. It’s the only way to attain the otherwise unattainable. The price tag on wisdom is your humility.

Daily Bible reading: Job 26-28, Acts 11

The golden ticket

I grew up watching the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I still get the golden ticket song stuck in my head:

I’ve got a golden ticket
I’ve got a golden chance to make my way
And with a golden ticket, it’s a golden day

Charlie dances around singing a song and his bedridden grandfather miraculously hops out of bed to join him.

Jesus gave us a golden ticket.

The truth is, you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will grant your request because you use my name.

John 16:23b (NLT)

Jesus wouldn’t have told us that we can go directly to God if it were a difficult thing. His name is our golden ticket to access the Father.

On my last mission trip, there were several older people on our team. Apparently grey hair gets you the golden ticket—literally, they got a yellow slip of paper—that allowed them an easier time through the security line. They got to leave their shoes on and only had to go through the metal detector, not the full body scan. They had the closest thing to a free pass the airport could give them. And they (and their aching knees) were happy about it.

You haven’t done this before. Ask using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

John 16:24 (NLT)

Comparing our prayer life to an airport security line may seem trivial, but it can help to see the simplicity of Jesus’ words. Christianity is not complicated. Access to God is not difficult. Jesus gave us the use of his name as our golden ticket to God, all we have to do is use it—without hesitation. Those people in the security line with their yellow card didn’t hesitate to reap the benefits of what they’d been given and neither should we.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 23-25, John 16:16-33

Anything

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, Ask anything in my name, and I will do it!

John 14:13-14 (NLT)

This verse almost sounds like Jesus is giving his disciples carte blanche to do whatever they want whenever they want to do it. Many people today look at this verse that way and then end up bitter and disappointed when Jesus didn’t give them the boat they’d been lusting after for months.

While Jesus didn’t place stipulations on what anything means, the next few verses offer a little more clarity.

If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth.

John 14:15-17a (NLT)

The anything Jesus talks about in verses 13 and 14 is part of the truth that is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus isn’t a genie in a bottle waiting for us to rub the lamp and invite him to perform a few magic tricks. He’s telling his disciples that, as Jesus has been speaking the words of the Father, so we—with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit—will also be able to speak the words of the Father.

The Spirit leads us in all truth. Jesus is the Truth and the Truth is the way to the Father. We are able to do the greater things Jesus spoke of in verse 12 because we have the full power of the Truth living inside of us. Greater things come when we align ourselves with the Truth. When we are one with the Truth, we can ask anything in Jesus name and he will do it because the words we speak are not our own. They are His.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 13-16, John 14 

Knock three times

When you approach someone’s house, how many times do you knock without receiving an answer before you leave? Once? Twice? Three times?

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

Luke 11:5-8 (NLT)

So, in even simpler terms, the friend in the house isn’t going to help you because you’re his friend; he is going to help you because you’ve annoyed him with your persistent knocking and won’t stop until he gives you what you need.

All of this because one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach him to pray.

The only time one-and-done is sufficient when it comes to praying about our needs is if we see an immediate response. When Jesus healed people, He didn’t need to keep petitioning God because, as soon as He prayed, it was done. If you have the faith to see immediate results every time you pray, you need to be in full-time active ministry preaching to the masses. For the rest of us, we may need to be a little more like the man visiting his neighbour.

And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

Luke 11:9-10 (NLT)

I think many have arrived at the conclusion that God doesn’t want to be bothered by our little prayers. But the truth is quite the opposite! Jesus himself told us that, in prayer, we should be like the annoying neighbour and not stop asking until we get what we’ve asked for. Not only is God not bothered by our perseverance in prayer, He welcomes it. He wants to fulfil our needs, but He also wants us to be dependent on Him.

If you don’t get your answer immediately, knock again. Knock twice. Knock three times if you have to. Don’t stop knocking until God opens the door.

Daily Bible reading: Judges 20-21, Luke 11:1-28