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Posts Tagged ‘Wisdom’

Wisdom that wins

April 13th, 2011

James 3:13-17

Life is a race to be won, a battle to be fought and a legacy to be built. This can only be achieved through wisdom.

 

(1) Wisdom is supreme

Look at some of the ways that scripture describes wisdom.

Proverbs 8:11 – all that you desire cannot compare with wisdom!

Proverbs 4:7 – the beginning of wisdom is – get wisdom!

We tend to think of wisdom in terms of the intellect, however, in scripture, wisdom is of the heart, and the heart is the seat of desire and reason. Joy is bound up with wisdom, it is something for which we were made.

Biblical wisdom is best defined as insight into true reality, thinking God’s thoughts after him.

It is God-centred. In scripture, only those in relationship with God are described as being wise.

Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. Disciples (or students) of Jesus are meant both to study him and to know the times in which they are living.

We show our wisdom by good conduct (the Greek could be translated as “beautiful life”). Jesus is the perfect example of living in wisdom, always watching to see what the Father is doing.

 

(2) That which is not wisdom

Anything good will be counterfeited.

v. 14 speaks of the heart being orientated to self. Folly starts with a rejection of God and plays out in bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. There is something corrupt in the human heart which desires to see the downfall of others. Haman, in the book of Esther, is a good example of this. Jesus was put to death due to the bitter envy of the religious leaders.

James describes this kind of wisdom as demonic. We should remember that there are two falls, the fall of man, and the fall of Satan, which led to the fall of man. Satan is the world’s greatest example of sin corrupting thought.

Earthly wisdom is a form of religion, trying to provide for God with outward obedience, yet empty in the heart.

The result of these two false wisdoms (the earthly and the demonic) is disorder in life and every vile (that is “worthless” or “trivial”) practice.

True wisdom is found in humbling ourselves before God and receiving wisdom from him.

All of us are building for eternity. This life is not to be toyed with, it matters.

 

(3) Wisdom from above

Wisdom from above is undefiled.

Proverbs 1:7 and Psalm 111:10 both assert that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

To fear God is to recognise that God is God. Yet, for those who believe in Jesus we can approach the Father as beloved sons, because we are in Christ, and the fear which has to do with punishment (1 John 4:17-19) has been taken away. God’s way of bringing his wisdom to us is through the sacrifice of his Son.

Wisdom is a gift. We can receive wisdom by humbling ourselves and committing our lives to God. It is not worth holding on to anything in our lives which will stop us from receiving his wisdom.

Author: Categories: General Tags: , , ,

Process and Crisis

March 20th, 2011

1 Samuel 2:12-26

  • It was a bleak time in the history of Israel – the nation had missed its calling, to be God’s pure people. Even the people in charge of religion were corrupt, stealing and sleeping with the temple women. The end of the book of Judges paints a similar picture.
  • God’s desire through the book of Samuel is to set up the right kind of kingdom and the right kind of King.
  • All God seems to be doing at this time is sending one little boy (Samuel) into the centre of Israel’s corruption. God uses the most unexpected people for the His work – He uses the weak people for great things to show His great strength.
  • None of us have fully obeyed God – we all need rescuing. And God sent a little baby boy to accomplish this – His own Son, Jesus – to achieve the greatest victory in history.
  • God’s power and greatness is made perfect in our weakness. Part of knowing God is that we come to know and see how weak we are. A Christian is no more weak or needy than anyone else – they have just come to realise it. We are all weak and needy whether we feel it or not.
  • God GROWS us.
  • When Samuel was older, he would speak and everyone would listen. He had great authority. But v.21-26 simply says he grew and continued to grow – in stature and in favour with God and man. It speaks of God’s pattern for people He wants to use.
  • God has saved us for a purpose – Ephesians 2:8-10.
  • Samuel achieved the purpose that God had for him, but he had to grow. It took time – it wasn’t glamorous or exciting.
  • We have to accept the process.
  • There’s a big difference between process and crisis (dramatic moments). Process takes time; here are things you can only have or achieve if you submit to the process.
  • Luke 2:52 – Jesus went through the same process of growing as Samuel.
  • Hebrews 12:11 – we need to be trained in God’s “gym” – it’s not pleasant at the time but it is essential and produces fruit.
  • Discipline brings freedom. God wants us to be liberated not oppressed.
  • Our generation prefers crisis to process – we want dramatic moments, crisis solutions, shortcuts and quick fixes.
  • We barely look at the Wisdom books of the Bible, e.g. Proverbs. We need to be learning a life of wisdom in the day-to-day – this is where we truly grow, and not so much in the dramatic/emotional moments.
  • We want instant success but it can take years and years.
  • Proverbs 13:4.
  • We need a plan, to get to grips with God’s plans. Proverbs 13:12.
  • It’s wisdom to not only to plan to achieve something for ourselves, but for our children and our grandchildren – to build a legacy.
  • You have to take the stairs – there is no elevator option. One step at a time.
  • How do we build a life for ourselves and the generations to come? Psalm 1:1-3 – God’s word has to be our foundation, immersing ourselves in it daily, trusting that it will do us good – then we will be truly happy and will be like a tree planted by streams of living water.
  • Samuel also grew in his reputation with men as well as God – same as Jesus. It’s important that we reflect well to others, representing God well.
  • Jesus worked hard in the day-to-day life of carpentry. He grew in wisdom and submitted to His parents. Why? Because He was living the life we should have lived in our place, and also showing us how to live.
  • Submission scares us – we think it’s going to be hard, tough and unpleasant. But we need it – or our hearts will end up sick.
  • Both submitting and not submitting will exhaust us – but Jesus came to give us rest as we submit under His yoke (Matthew 11:28-30). It makes us free, not oppressed, the closer we get to Him.
  • The Christian life is both hard and easy.
  • Jesus is the most gentle and patient with us – so different to what we expect.
  • Jesus took the worst burden for us. He became obedient even to death, on our behalf. Now we can be obedient to Him.

Romans 3: 1-8

February 16th, 2011
  • At the beginning of Romans Paul is teaching about why we need the Gospel
  • Later on in Romans, he is sharing the joy of the Gospel
  • Romans 1: Paul explains to the Gentiles that they are sinners
  • Romans 2: He is explaining to the Jews that the law itself won’t save them
  • Romans 3: He answers three questions:
  1. The faithfulness of God
  • The Jews had been given the oracle of God
  • There is great advantage to growing up in a Christian home – you get off to a flying start, but this isn’t enough – we need to encounter God
  • The Jews thought the problem was God – in today’s world the objection is to sin, war, sex trafficking etc.
  • Vs 4: Paul’s response is from the Greek translation of Psalm 51
  • King David was judged for his sin with Bathsheba – God is just and His will be done
  • Revelation 4 & 5: key theme – the throne of God à however messy and chaotic the world is, God is sovereign – we need to look up and see God
  • God’s purposes and promises come to pass as God is faithful
  • God is in control – He is always on the throne
  1. The righteousness of God
  • Argument: God is being unrighteous because He could just forgive us – people ask: what gives God the right to judge me?
  • Vs 6: how then can God judge the world?
  • People want justice and judgement, just not for themselves
  1. The grace of God
  • God seeks us out
  • People think that more evil is needed so God can do more good – this is not true! – Paul says if you think like this than your condemnation is just
  • Romans 6 – Paul asks the same question and his answer is “by no means!”

What they teach us:

  1. We are not the first people to face objections and challenges
  • Even Jesus faced trouble – people tried to trick Him and catch Him out
  • The Gospel demonstrates the wisdom of God
  • 2 Corinthians 4: 2-6 – we understand the Gospel because God let the light in
  1. Take care how we speak
  • Sometimes we are logical not Biblical
  • Titus 2: 11-12 – grace teaches us to say “no”
  • Don’t abuse grace
  1. We need to be clear on the principles
  • God is faithful
  • God is righteous
  • God is full of grace for us
  • Jesus Christ is sovereign over all and one day every knee will bow to Him

1 Corinthians 16 – Life on God’s Mission

September 27th, 2010

Some passages of Scripture are ordinary, administrative and practical – but they are still God’s word and they will do us good if we really receive what they have to give to us. The theme of this passage is mission – God’s mission. When we meet Jesus and become a Christian, we join in on God’s mission. Every day of Paul’s was spent on mission and ensuring that the churches were sharing in the global mission, playing their part. We too want Jesus to be famous everywhere and for all nations to be excited about Him. God wants to bless our church so that we can bless the city around us and other nations.

Often our life takes a sudden turn when we meet God – although this doesn’t necessarily mean we will move; we may just be caught up in God’s mission in the place we’re already in. Is your life just about you or is it about Jesus’ mission for your life? His mission will change every aspect of your life. Yield your life to His mission without qualification.

Paul demonstrates the wisdom that godly leaders use to make decisions: although there is uncertainty about what to do, he just makes a decision and goes will it, and leaves the details to God. Maturity in godliness means more freedom to make choices and decisions through what we feel is wise and the best. We mature through childlike obedience to God and then He is able to trust us to make up our own minds – but only when our hearts are surrendered to God. God also wants us to seek wise counsel and use our brains, and we know that He can interrupt our course at any time and change our direction. Be attentive to where He wants you to go.

Often we get so anxious and caught up trying to discern the great specific “will of God” for our life, that we become paralysed and won’t do anything until we hear direct instruction from God – but God’s call on our life is already quite clear in the Bible: love God, love people and spread the gospel, to begin with. God gives you a compass rather than a detailed map. As you follow this call that has already been made clear in His word, God will give you more specifics. So do something! Start obeying and going where you believe you need to go – God can steer a moving ship but he can’t steer one that’s on the land.

Verse 2 – Paul talks about there being ‘a wide door’, a massive kingdom opportunity where God was clearly moving, and so he decides to stay. And then he says ‘and there are many adversaries’ – not ‘but’ but ‘and’. Paul knew pain, hardship, difficulty, disappointment and persecution is all part of the mission and the growth of the church – and it is part of our life and our ministry; it’s how we grow up. Just because things turn difficult, doesn’t mean that God is no longer in it or with us – sometimes it is a sign that God is in it. We are guaranteed trouble in this life because we have an enemy who hates God ans hates us. Be prepared for challenges.

Finally, verse 23 – Paul finishes the letter with grace and love. We need the grace of God to do all these things – to strengthen us for the fight and to live on His mission, finishing well at the end.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Alternative Confidence

October 14th, 2009

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Dangers Of Improvement
The Corinthians had got seriously unbalanced in their idea of themselves. The culture of the city had crept in. Self-aggrandisement was causing infighting and entrenchment. Antidote: the gospel, which reminds us we are nothing special in ourselves.
Get real about yourself. The worst someone can say about you is not as bad as the truth. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You would not want God telling everybody what he had to save you from, right?

That None Might Boast
The more conscious we are of ourselves and our accomplishments the less conscious we will be of God’s work. So he has a tendency of especially choosing and using the weak so that he receives more glory. Many stories from scripture bear this out. Those who are ‘strong’ are usually brought to a place of weakness by God’s grace, to make them less self-exalted and more dependant on his mercy.

Glory In Your Weakness
If you are wealthy or highly educated, thank God for the letter ‘M’. it says ‘not many’ rather than ‘not any’. But do what it says in James – ‘glory in your low position…’
Growth and maturity begin when we recognise the sufficiency of Jesus for all that we need – wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 Alternative Wisdom

October 5th, 2009

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You could take the entire history of human philosophy and religion – subjects which have filled libraries, and centuries of intense thought and discussion on the part of everyone, from the educated to the simple – and the bible’s summary of the whole is found in these verses.
 
Man may ‘search for truth’ all he likes – but God has appointed a means of revealing himself (and he IS truth), which undermines the proud ideas of flesh – in every culture.

In this passage Paul addresses his Corinthians audience which was made up mostly of Jews and Greeks. For the Jews, the paradigm of cultural fulfillment was power (strength) for the Greeks it was wisdom. The gospel insists that both can only be found in Jesus – whose wisdom looks like foolishness and whose power looks like weakness.

Strength and Weakness
How is the cross is the power of God? It seems so weak… Because it is only through the cross that the power of sin (our most deathly and unconquerable enemy) is defeated. The powers that control us can only be subdued through the cross – the moment of ultimate weakness and shame!

Wisdom and Folly
How is the cross the wisdom of God? It seems so foolish… Because the problem of our sin was beyond anyone’s ability to solve. It needed God’s wisdom to devise a way in which he could be both just and the justifier of the ungodly.

Pleasure and Pain
The cross is a stumbling block to such people. A God who calls us to follow a crucified master cannot desire our pleasure. And yet we know that true pleasure is only found in the God embraced all of our pain (much of which masquerades as pleasure in Brighton) so that we could know the ‘pleasures ever more… at his right hand’ (Psalm 16).

Beauty and Ugliness
Our society wants beauty and yet the Cross is ugly.
in the end all human beauty will fade. The Beauty of the Lord will not.

Joy…Because of the Church

May 11th, 2009

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In this talk John uses the NIV instead of the ESV

Ephesians 3 vs 7-13 (New International Version)

7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Eph 3 vs 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (NIV).

Paul’s passion is that Christ should be made known.
In Eph 3 vs 8 Paul speaks of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ. There are infinite riches in Christ and unlimited wealth in his salvation. The Incarnation and the Cross have always absorbed the thinking of men and women and still do. For time and eternity we will be explorers of the infinite riches of Christ. Heaven will not be boring!
Eph 3 vs 9 speaks of making plain the administration of this mystery. Again this is about making Christ known. God has a plan – previously it was hidden (a mystery), but now God’s great rescue plan in the work of Christ for men and the world has been revealed. We must make it known.
Eph 3 vs 10 tells us that the manifold wisdom of God should be made known. ‘Manifold’ means multi-coloured or richly diverse. Supremely Christ is the wisdom of God. See 1 Cor 1 vs 22-24, 30. Christ is God’s wisdom as through Christ we have the answers to life, death and eternity. We should make him known.
Eph 3 vs 11 tells us that finally everything is summed up in Christ. Salvation is not just personal; it is cosmic as Eph 1 vs 9, 10 make clear. This comprehensive saving work of Christ must be made known.

Who is meant to know?
Verse 10 tells us that Christ is to be made known to rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Certainly he is to be made known to the peoples of the world and we are engaged in that mission through evangelism and church planting. But he is also to be made known to angels and demons; to cosmic powers.  But why? Again it reveals the cosmic dimensions of the saving work of Christ. Finally, all that God has created, visible and invisible will submit to Christ. Believers are saved, creation will be renewed and every cosmic power will submit. See Eph 1 vs 20, 21.

How is Christ to be made known?
The thrilling answer is given in verse 10 – ‘through the church’. God’s purpose right now is that through the church Christ should be made known to cosmic powers. How we do this implies some wonderful truths about the church.

By the church’s very existence. The wisdom of God in Christ brings down the barriers between people whether it be race, colour, language or social standing and forms them into one great community. The church is a miracle, a phenomenon, and speaks of God’s wisdom
By declaration. The proclamation of Christ changes people. Sinners become worshippers. Atheists become believers. Persecutors become church planters. Cynics become witnesses. God’s incredible wisdom!
By faith and prayer. Confident approach to God and believing him for great things and therefore doing great exploits reveals a people changed by the wisdom of God. Angels love it and demons tremble when the Church prays and believes.
By her weakness. See verse 13 – there is a link between weakness and glory. The world thinks of the church as weak and failing. Angels and demons see it differently; they see an ever increasing number of people becoming worshippers of Christ from among all the peoples. Glory!
What dignity the church has – there is nothing else like it – what a privilege to belong – Joy…because of the church.

Author: Categories: Joy Tags: , , , ,