Monday, January 7, 2019

Seeking Wisdom: Introduction

A speaker began his presentation by showing an exciting clip from the climax of an action movie. At the end, the audience roared and cheered. He showed it again. They roared less. He showed it again and less still. After six times, nobody said a word. Once the excitement wore off and the scene had become common, there was nothing left to cheer about. His point? Familiarity can make even the exciting common.

Can that happen to Scripture? How many times have we heard: Pro 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. 

There was once a day when we would read that promise and be filled with hope that whatever we were facing, by lifting it to the Lord, He would show us what to do or where to go.

Then, on another occasion, we’re struggling with a life issue and someone reminds us of that verse and we brush it off. Instead of believing as we once did, we actually deny what it says is true:
  • That won’t work in this situation; this is too difficult. 
  • I can figure out what I need to do; I just need a little time and luck.
  • I smart enough to find a way out of this.
  • I don’t really know how to trust God like that.
  • That’s for religious problems. This is real life.

Depending on how fresh God’s word is in our hearts, we either do what the Scripture says, or dismiss it. We decide if it fits or not. We choose to use it or push it aside. Or, we add it to the list of other options we have, where it becomes nothing more than a suggestion. 

How do we refresh God’s word? By reading it faith first.

Chuck Swindoll did a study years ago called: You and Your Problems. He asked some simple questions:
  1. Is it correct to think that once we become a Christian, all our problems are solved? Is there a solution?
  2. Is it correct to say that all our problems are discussed in the Bible?
  3. Is it correct to say that having problems is a sign of spiritual deficiency or because you did something bad?
  4. Is it correct to assume that merely listening to Biblical truth will solve your problems?

Matt 7:24-27 Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.

Hearing alone is like reading the instructions. Instructions tell us how to accomplish what’s possible. Acting on those instructions is what gets what’s possible put together and brings the benefit that it’s designed to produce.

God provided the Proverbs as instructions for practical living. Solomon, King David’s son by Bathsheba, felt the wisdom God had given him should be shared. So, He wrote a series of sayings, usually with positive and negative applications.

If you are wise, this is true. If you are foolish, that will be true. He basically said pick the outcome you want, and this action is how you get there. Or look where you are. This choice explains why you’re there.

Remember, when Solomon was in that transition mode from son of the king to becoming the king, God asked him in a dream what he wanted to help make him successful. Instead of wealth, power and fame, he said he needed wisdom.

Solomon was a brilliant man and demonstrated that brilliance by admitting there were things beyond his grasp. He needed insight to understand how to be who he was. So, God gave wisdom. Do you ever find things beyond your grasp and lack insight into how to live as a child of God in whatever’s going on?

James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 

Like Solomon, when we see the gap between what we know and how to apply that knowledge to our lives, we need wisdom to fill in that gap. Wanting it is simply acknowledging a need. Asking for it and accepting it by faith makes wisdom work.
  • Wisdom is the GPS that gives us direction for how to maneuver through confusing times.
  • It is the grasp of difficult choices and the ability to know what’s best.
  • It is the knife that cuts through the congestion of circumstances to find the clear way.
  • It is the hand that reaches for the light switch to dispel the darkness.

·       Wisdom is God directing our paths.

Prov 1:1-7 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. 

Wisdom is choosing life from God’s perspective so we might discover how to live out the truth of God’s Word.

Solomon realized that some of us will naturally take the best side of the proverb and adjust our lives accordingly. He also knew that others of us would need to see what happens if we take the other side. We are more deterrent-based truth appliers.

Prov 1:20-23 Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: "How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. 

Prov 1:24-31 Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel and did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices. 

Why so harsh? Solomon was rather black and white. Good and evil. Wise and foolish. He had very little gray. To Solomon if you weren’t seeking God’s ways you were going the wrong way. He knew the wise, when made aware of that, would correct their direction.

The Apollo missions to the moon were off course 97% of the time. How did they make it? Mid-course corrections. The Proverbs are intended as mid-course corrections to get us back to the right road.

Solomon draws a clear line between the wise who seek God and the foolish who serve their own selfish desires. Why can’t we do both? They are incompatible. Why?

Paul said: Gal 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

The things that I want to do that please me are not necessarily the things that please God. So, I need help seeing the difference.

In training FBI agents to detect fake money, they make them study real money until they can spot the counterfeit because it doesn’t look like the real thing. Knowing the real makes recognizing the counterfeit easier.

Solomon’s doing the same thing. He holds up the wise choice which makes the foolish choice obvious. His plan is simple:
1.      Wise people want to hear the truth. He writes: A wise man will listen.
2.     Wise people want to know the truth. He writes: He will increase in learning.
3.     Wise people will seek counsel to find out the truth. He writes: Where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.

An arrogant young man who came to Socrates and said, "O great Socrates, I come to you for wisdom." Socrates led the young man through the streets, to the sea, and chest deep into water. Then he asked, "What do you want?" "Wisdom, O wise Socrates," said the young man with a smile. Socrates put his hands on the man's shoulders and pushed him under. Thirty seconds later Socrates let him up. "What do you want?" “Wisdom," the young man sputtered, "O great and wise Socrates." Socrates immersed again. Thirty seconds passed, thirty-five. Forty. Socrates let him up. The man was gasping. "What do you want, young man?" Sputtering for breath, he said, "Wisdom, O wise and wonderful..." Socrates jammed him under again. Forty seconds passed. Fifty. "What do you want?" "Air!" the young man cried. "I need air!" "When you want wisdom as you have just wanted air, then you will have wisdom."

1.      The beginning point for life as God designed it is wisdom.
2.     Wisdom takes what we know and shows us what to do with it.
3.     Whenever we elevate our own understanding above God’s, we identify ourselves as among the foolish.
4.     A fool says there is no God. The foolish says I don’t need God.
5.   Even Christians who know God become foolish when they don’t acknowledge Him as God. 

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