Wisdom: Knowing God better

Here’s a question for you: What’s the point of desiring wisdom?

Does that seem like an inane question? (Yes, just one letter away from insane.)

Of course we want to live wisely, to make good decisions and choices that honor our calling as God’s children and Christ’s representatives on earth.

But there is an even greater longing that sends out a cry to our Creator Father, asking for wisdom.

It is the longing to know Him better, to understand His “deep secrets,” and to see ourselves and this world as He sees everything.

This is part of the Spirit’s work in us. The world will never know the Creator through human wisdom. Only the Spirit living in us gives us the connection that pulls us ever closer into His thoughts and into knowing our Father.

May our prayer for ourselves and each other be this:

We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. (Colossians 1:9-10)

Let’s desire the pure wisdom from above, children of God.

Ask. Knock. Seek Christ.

Our God gives generously and abundantly as we get to know Him better and better.

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
(Psalm 119:34)

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MORE to ponder:

Psalm 19:7-8; Psalm 19:8; Psalm 81:8-16; Psalm 86:11; Psalm 111:10; Psalm 119:98-104; Psalm 119:130; Proverbs 1:1-33; Proverbs 2; Proverbs 8:11; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 16:16; Proverbs 17:24; Proverbs 29:3; Isaiah 8:20; Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 48:17-18; Matthew 7:24; Matthew 13:11-12; Luke 6:46-49; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:12-15; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2; Ephesians 1:16-17; Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:14; James 1:5-8; James 3:17; 1 John 2:26, 27; 1 John 5:20

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Amazing wisdom

If the pure wisdom from above is being able to see things as God sees them, to think His thoughts, and to act and speak accordingly, how is such wisdom going to come to my mind—a mind and will bent on its own selfish ways?

Transformation. Or—to use a term that has much meaning and promise for me—through what I think of as a second creation.

You remember how God “breathed the breath of life” into the sculptured dust, and Adam became a living soul. When we come to Jesus and become, like Him, sons and daughters of God, He breathes His own Spirit into us … and a new creation comes alive. The transformation begins.

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For his [God’s] Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11)

“I know exactly what you’re thinking.” You probably have heard that, or said it yourself. Two people may know each other so well that they’ve learned how the other’s mind works.

But we have an even more intimate connection with God. As those first breaths from God gave man life, so the breathing of His Spirit into each of His children gives them a connection to Him—a connection to His very thoughts, His secrets even!

Amazing.

The mercy of God that brought us to this place is amazing.

The connection He creates with us through His Spirit is amazing.

His plan for our transformation is amazing.

This is part of the Spirit’s work—to help us understand the mind of God. The Spirit teaches us, reminds us, mold us. His most important tool is the Word of God. He even gives us the power to act and speak according to the wisdom He is teaching us.

God is aiming at a truly complete transformation.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (Romans 12:2)

That’s the only way pure wisdom from above is going to permeate my mind and my will—by the Spirit of Christ connecting me to the Father’s thoughts, changing me, creating a new me.

The second part of that verse is the hope we children of God can be certain will happen:

Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Then we begin to see and understand how God sees things. Then we start perceiving God’s reality. Then we grow in the pure wisdom given from the heavenly Father.

Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

 

Psalm Prayer:

Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
(Psalm 119:34)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

What is wisdom?

Here we are, thinking all week about wisdom — and what exactly is wisdom? 

Scripture makes it clear that there is a false wisdom, touted by the world. Then there is true wisdom, with God as its source, embodied in Jesus, and, yes!, available to God’s children.

James, who writes so much about how our faith and hope show up in daily living, gives us vivid pictures of how these two “wisdoms” act. (There are some pretty strong words here!)

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.

But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
(James 3:13-17)

His description of the pure wisdom from above sounds a lot like the agape love in 1 Corinthians 13, doesn’t it?

And as I reflect on both this description of wisdom and Paul’s description of love, I see how far from the mark I am. Those attributes of wisdom are not describing me.

At least, not the me that God first adopted and took under His wing and gave His name to.

But, as His child now, I am learning His ways. Did you see that clue in the first sentence? If you are wise and understand God’s ways …

How about this as a definition of wisdom: The ability to see things as God’s sees things, to think His thoughts, and to act and speak accordingly.

Is that presumptuous? Sacrilegious? Is it too bold to hope that we can understand God’s ways, when He has said that His thoughts and ways are so far above ours?

I don’t think so. Not if God keeps His promises.

And I’m convinced He does.

Come back tomorrow, and I’ll tell you about the certainty of my hope.

 

Psalm Prayer:

Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
(Psalm 119:34)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Whose wisdom?

Jesus said that following His teaching is wise and results in gaining even more understanding (see yesterday’s meditation).

BUT ….

The thing is, Jesus’ teaching is often in direct opposition to what the world says is smart, wise, realistic, or practical.

The enemy would have us believe that we have the ability to judge whether or not the Creator’s instructions to us are sound.

Stop a moment and think about how ludicrous that suggestion truly is.

Now, if you don’t believe in the Creator Father, then you might as well stop reading here.
But if you do believe, think about it —

If we toss out God’s instructions—His wisdom for the best way to live our lives—then we are tossing out reverence and awe of the one who created us.

And that reverence and awe, or “fear of God”, says Solomon, is the very foundation and beginning of true wisdom.

God will let us go our own way. He will let us build our own little castles of grand ideas and schemes. But Scripture is filled with warnings. We’ll end up “eating bitter fruit” and choking on our own schemes (Proverbs 1:31). We’ll spend our lives groping in the dark, always weary and hungry, looking everywhere but always finding trouble and anguish and despair (Isaiah 8:20). Jealousy and selfishness motivate us then, and those give rise to all kinds of evil (James 3). Those warnings are not God’s threats of punishment to keep us in line; those warnings simply state the consequences of following our own imperfect and poisoned ideas of “wisdom”. You can look around and see those results everywhere in our world.

I can look at my own life and heart and see those results.

But if we choose to pursue God’s wisdom for living? That way has different results:

The instructions of the LORD are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The commandments of the LORD are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are clear,
giving insight for living.
(Psalm 19:7-8)

You’ll make your own choice as to whose wisdom you will build on. But me, I want joy and insight for living. I want revival and refreshment for my soul. I want wisdom.

Go back to Jesus’ words. Those who listen to Him and follow His teachings are wise, building on a solid foundation. Those who refuse, are building on shifting sands that will never withstand the storms of life.

God doesn’t wave a magic wand and shower us with wisdom. Wisdom is built on the foundation of knowing and honoring the Creator. Then, as we follow His instructions, His wisdom grows in us.

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Psalm Prayer:

Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
(Psalm 119:34)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Even more understanding will be given …

From Genesis to Revelation, the fact keeps popping up: God’s view of things is quite different than ours. I’m still thinking about those words spoken by Jesus to Peter, when He admitted that He was greatly tempted to look at things from a human point of view instead of God’s point of view. (See Matthew 16:23 if you missed it last week.)

It’s very clear in Scripture that there is something the world calls wisdom and there is true wisdom—that wisdom given by our Father. Scripture is also emphatic that the “wisdom” of the world amounts to nothing; in fact, it will only lead us astray and keep us blind to the truth and wisdom of God.

Oh, my! How do we avoid that? Our culture is constantly pressing in on us, shaping our thinking, focusing and limiting our sight to a very earthly level.

No, let us not say it is our culture. That makes it seem much too benign. Let’s be clear: it is the enemy at work, trying to destroy us.

How do we escape the enemy’s tricks and twisted perspective? How do we learn to see things from God’s point of view?

The first thing we do is ask. As James wrote, ask for wisdom. I love the words James includes—our generous God. We bring our need, our emptiness, our nothing, to our Father and ask Him to fill it. I believe the Father is not only generous, He’s also delighted to grant these requests.

And today we hear Jesus’ words to His disciples:

“To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” (Matthew 13:12)

I’ve always been overwhelmed with the depth of Colossians 2:3 which says that in Christ we’ll find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It’s one of those verses that I try to grasp and feel as though it’s so big and so deep and so … impossible for my mind to understand … it’s almost like trying to understand eternity. Yes, that verse is a difficult one for me.

But these verses in Matthew 13 speak clearly: Listen to Jesus’ teaching. And I think that listening here means more than just letting the words fall on your ears. It means doing. Those who are following Jesus, who are taking His words into their heads and hearts, who are living out His words in their actions and speech—these people will gain even more understanding.

We will grow in our understanding and wisdom as we follow Jesus’ teaching.

You know the story of the wise man and the foolish man, building their houses on rock and sand. When telling that little parable, Jesus prefaced it by saying, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on a solid rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

Could He be any clearer? These verses are much easier for me to grasp. He is truth. When we believe that, when we look to Him as truth, when we listen to His teaching and follow it—we will also grow in our wisdom.

Seek out Jesus and His words. Follow His teaching! And we’ll gain in wisdom.

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Psalm Prayer:

Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
(Psalm 119:34)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)