How To Grow Your Wisdom

wisdom-brings-harmonyDr. Luke is a great “noticer.” Twice he notices and records something about the early life of Jesus that gives us great insight for growing in a wholly healthy way.

First of all, Luke tells us how Jesus grows (check out my thoughts on this by clicking here), and then he begins to zero-in on the four areas in which Jesus grew. The first thing Dr. Luke notes is Christ growing in wisdom (see Luke 2:40 & 52).

Knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom. In fact, lots of people have knowledge without ever having wisdom. But we have to remember that you cannot get wisdom without getting knowledge.

The Greek language as a couple of different words for knowledge:

  • ginosko = head knowledge; information; belief that something is true
  • oida = experiential knowledge; belief in the knowledge you have

Let me give you a quick example. One time my facilities team was overseeing the reinstallation of our zip line from our 30-foot-high ropes course. This zip line stretched some 500 feet from the platform on top of the ropes course all the way down a big hill. After the zip line was replaced, our facilities guys believed that they had successfully connected the zip line. But only Phil believed in their work enough to put on a harness, connect to the zip line, and jump off the platform!

In order to grow in wisdom, we have to have good information (ginosko) to work with. Then we have to test this knowledge in our personal lives (oida). Only this will help us develop wisdom that can be applied to our every-day lives.

Otherwise, Oswald Chambers notes this: “We do not think on the basis of Christianity at all. We are taught to think like pagans for six days a week and to reverse the order for one day, consequently in critical moments we think as pagans and our religion is left in the limbo of the inarticulate.”

Often times the Holy Spirit will use the Bible, or a sermon, or the advice from a friend, or even a “slip of the tongue” to alert us to thoughts that aren’t healthy. Jesus tells us that the so-called “slip of the tongue” is actually a tip off to what’s really in our hearts (see Matthew 12:34). Solomon counsels us to guard our hearts and minds (Proverbs 4:23), and then Paul builds on the guarding theme to tell us to capture our thoughts and make sure they line-up with God’s Word (2 Corinthians 10:5).

This is what develops God-pleasing wisdom. If we don’t constantly grow in this area, we will hold back growth in every other area of our life—physical health, spiritual health, and emotional health, but growing in wisdom brings harmony to all of these areas.

So ask yourself:

  • Am I getting good information?
  • Am I capturing my thoughts to make sure they are healthy?
  • Am I applying what I am learning?

God wants to grow wisdom in you! May He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him (Hebrews 13:21).

How To Be Wholly Healthy

healthy-growthA man named Luke recorded a couple of amazing things about the life of Jesus. As both a doctor and an historian, Luke was an excellent “noticer.”

In first-century biographies, a person’s early life usually wasn’t mentioned. So it’s not uncommon that two of the four Gospel writers don’t pick up Jesus Christ’s life story until He was about 30 years old. Even Matthew, who did record something about the birth of Jesus, didn’t go into much detail.

Luke, however, notices two important things.

First, in covering the first 12 years of Christ’s life Luke says, “The Child grew and became strong…” (Luke 2:40).

healthy-growth-001The Greek word Luke uses for grew means a continual process of increasing. Sometimes we mistakenly think this means a continual movement on a graph upward and to the right. But I’ll give you one instance where this is not the case—when we record someone’s height, we do so in feet not in years. In other words, we say someone is 6’4” tall, but we don’t say they are 6-years and 4-months fall. We understand there is a limit to that sort of growth.

What Luke is referring to is a different kind of continual increasing. All of us go through four quadrants as we learn:

  • unconscious incompetence—we’re no good in an area but we don’t even know it
  • conscious incompetence—we know that we’re no good in an area
  • conscious competence—we’re good in an area but we still have to think about what we’re doing
  • unconscious competence—we’ve gotten so good in an area that we no longer need to think about it

healthy-growth-003When Luke said Jesus grew, he meant not upward and to the right, but a continual cycle of learning what He didn’t know and increasing His competence in that area. When Luke said Jesus grew and became strong, he was saying that Jesus learned how to apply the lessons He was continually learning.

Second, in covering Christ’s next 18 years Luke says, “Jesus grew” (Luke 2:52), but he uses an entirely different word. This Greek word means to be hammered out, as a blacksmith hammers metal into shape. Notice that Jesus is not the One doing the hammering, but He is the One submitting to His Father’s hammering. He is letting God the Father shape Him into what He needs to be.

Luke says that Jesus grew in…

  1. …wisdom—mental health
  2. …stature—physical health
  3. …favor with God—spiritual health
  4. …favor with men—emotional (or social) health

In other words, Jesus was growing in a wholly healthy way. God wants us to be wholly healthy too. He wants us to continually allow Him to point out areas where we are lacking, and then submit to His guidance on how we can improve in those areas.

I’ll be exploring these four areas—mental, physical, spiritual and emotional—over the next few weeks. But in the meantime, why don’t you pray the prayer David prayed and ask God’s Spirit to search out any areas where you are falling short of optimal health. And then submit to God’s work of helping you get wholly healthy in every area of your life.

 

Wholly Healthy

wholly-healthyHave you ever been tiptoeing through your house in the dark and stubbed your pinky toe? When that happens, is it only your pinky toe that hurts? No! It seems like your whole body gets into the action!

This is a simple way to understand that what affects one part of our life affects all parts of our life. We can’t simply quarantine one part that is having difficulty because that one part will eventually spread its pain everywhere else.

Humans were created as beings with several integrated parts. We have a physical body, we have a mind, we have emotions, and we have a God-breathed soul. If one of these parts becomes diseased, eventually all of the other parts will be affected, unless something is done to bring healing.

If we are dis-eased in any area, our health will be compromised in all areas.

Fortunately for us, Doctor Luke noted something about the health of Jesus during His earthly life. What Luke shows is how God intends for all of us to live—wholly healthy.

Modern medical science and psychology show us what the Bible pointed out long ago: We are integrated beings, and every part needs to be functioning optimally so that our whole being can function optimally.

Join us this Sunday as we begin a new series called Wholly Healthy. You will not only learn the importance of being aware of your health in four key areas, but you will also learn some practical thoughts for maintaining your optimal health.

Praying With The Authority Of The Creator

pray-boldlyJesus had a way of praying that sounds unusual to our ears because He didn’t pray “normal” prayers. His prayers were bold statements! But Jesus also taught us to pray just like He did.

Most prayers that Christians pray sound like they come from the same formula. We may start with something like, “Heavenly Father” or “Dear God.” Then we probably spend some time praising God for His greatness before we make our requests of Him. Often our requests include something like “If this is Your will, I ask You to please heal/help/answer/etc.” And then almost always the prayer concludes, “In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

When Jesus prayed, His prayers sounded more like commands than requests. He would say things like, “Be clean” or “Rise up and walk” or “Blind eyes, be opened.” He usually didn’t ask His Father if it was His will to heal/help/answer/etc. And He never concluded a prayer by saying, “In My name, Amen!”

In Luke 6 there is a story about a man with a withered hand. Jesus healed him by speaking to the man, not to God. He said, “Stretch out your hand,” and when the man did so, his hand was completely restored. Jesus spoke with the authority of the Creator. 

I believe this was possible because Jesus had an unbroken conversation with His Father and the Holy Spirit. Certainly He had set times of prayer (see Mark 1:35, Mark 6:45-46, and Luke 6:12-13 as examples), but Jesus also told us that He only did what His Father told Him to do (John 5:19), and He only said what His Father told Him to say (John 12:49).

I know sometimes people want to say, “Yeah, but this is Jesus we’re talking about! C’mon, He’s the Son of God, so of course He could do these things.” But remember that the miracle of Christ’s Incarnation is that He chose NOT to do these things out of His Deity while He was on Earth, but restricted Himself only to His humanity. That’s why the Bible says that everything we face, Jesus also faced in the flesh (Hebrews 2:14-18).

But perhaps another example from someone who had no Deity in his nature might help. Consider Joshua—this man spent more time in God’s presence, listening to His voice, than even Moses (Exodus 33:11). So when the time came, Joshua could pray an incredibly bold prayer: He actually spoke to the sun and the moon and told them to stand still in the sky, AND THEY OBEYED HIM!

Just like Jesus spoke to the man with the withered hand in the authority of the Creator, Joshua spoke to the sun and the moon in the same authoritative voice. How could these men do that? Because they were familiar with God’s voice, and when He told them to speak out boldly, they simply obeyed.

Jesus said we could pray the same way—Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it (John 14:12-14, emphasis added).

How can we learn to pray this boldly? We need to spend more and more time in dialogue with God. We need to become increasingly aware of the His abiding presence with us. Then we, too, can pray in the Creator’s authority.

Praying this way glorifies God!

Get together with a friend this week and work through these application questions:

  1. Am I spending time in planned prayer and Bible reading?
  2. How can I make myself more aware of God’s perpetual presence?
  3. What’s holding me back from praying more boldly?

How Do You Start A Conversation With God?

pray-through-the-bibleLast week I asked you to imagine how your relationship grew with your best friend. You probably found that this special friendship was formed during hours and hours of talking.

I’m going to guess that at first your conversation was a little on the superficial side. You talked about “tame” topics like sports teams, or your job, or the city you lived in. But at some point you took a huge riskyou became vulnerable by sharing something really personal. Perhaps you shared a time that you got hurt, or something that makes you anxious, or maybe a big dream you carry around in your heart. But if that friend is still your friend, that means they treated what you shared reverently. They didn’t laugh at you, belittle your hurts or dreams, nor did they share with others what you said.

The relationships became deeper and more special because you now knew each other on a more intimate level.

Prayer is a conversation with a Friend. Of course that Friend is God, so some people wonder, “What do I talk to God about?” The simple answer is anything and everything!

Time and time again God calls us to come closer to Him (see Isaiah 55:1-3), to discuss with Him things we don’t understand (Jeremiah 33:3), or to be assured that He is intimately tuned in to what’s happening in our life (Psalm 139:17; 1 Peter 3:12).

How do we get there? A good place to start is with our Bible. Dwight Moody said:

“The two first and essential means of grace are the Word of God and Prayer. … If we read the Word and do not pray, we may become puffed up with knowledge, without the love that buildeth up. If we pray without reading the Word, we shall be ignorant of the mind and will of God, and become mystical and fanatical, and liable to be blown about by every wind of doctrine.”

Scripture was written to point us to Jesus. So we don’t read the Bible just to read it; we read it to get to know God.

We don’t want to know the Word of God; we want to know the God of the Word. 

A great place to start is in the book of the Psalms. Many of these were written as prayers, so it’s a good way to start our conversation with God. You can also search in the New Testament for all the places that biblical writers said, “I pray…” or “This is my prayer….”

I share a personal example of this in this video, especially if you want to fast forward to the 36:00 minute mark.

Don’t just read through the Bible this week—pray through the Bible. Use it as a means to have a conversation with the very Best Friend you could ever know!

I encourage you this week, as you think about this topic, to get together with an earthly friend and discuss these questions:

  1. How can I use my Bible as a “conversation starter” with God?
  2. How can I get into the regular practice of talking to God as a Friend?

Talking With Your Best Friend

john-14-16I would like for you to get a really clear picture in your mind of your best friend. This is someone you have opened your heart to, and they have opened their heart to you as well. This is the friend that encourages you when you’re down, but never when you’re on a self-destructive path. This is the companion that cries with you when something is broken, but who also challenges you to accept responsibility if you are the one who broke it.

Do you have that friend clearly in mind?

Now I’d like you to imagine if your interaction with your friend went something like this. Every day around 7 o’clock in the morning, you call your friend and say…

“Good morning! I’m so grateful you took my call. Listen, I’ve got a few things that I’d love for you to help me with today. I’ve been fighting a cold and I’d really like you to help me feel better. My Aunt Sally is in the hospital, and it would be great if you could stop in to see her. Also, that guy at work has really been on my nerves lately and so I need some insight on how to deal with that. It would so great if you could help me with all of this. If you do, I’ll be singing your praises to everyone I meet. Have a great day. Thanks!”

And then you hang up and never talk to your friend again until the next morning when the exact same scenario is repeated. How do you think your relationship would progress? Do you see your relationship getting deeper over time, or becoming more distant? I’m guessing that, like me, you don’t see a future in this relationship.

Sadly, this is how many people treat prayer! We come to God once a day with our list of concerns, ask Him for His help, then say “goodbye” and never think about Him again until the next day. Or until we find ourselves in desperate need.

But we forget: God never leaves us!

We also forget something even more vital—God wants us to talk with Him, and He wants to talk with us, as a friend to a friend.

Abraham was called a friend of God—Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend (James 2:23).

Moses, too, was also God’s friend—The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend (Exodus 33:11).

This isn’t something that was just for them, but it’s relationship that’s available for ALL of us—For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God (Romans 5:10-11).

From the moment we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit took up residence in our heart. Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He promised us, “I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16).

Amazing! Astounding! Mind-blowing! But totally true—Prayer is conversation with a Friend!

How would your day go differently if you kept up a conversation with your Best Friend all day long? How much more wisdom do you think you would receive? How many mistakes could you avoid if He was telling you which way to go and what to say?

You don’t have to live with the “what ifs.” He IS your constant Companion, your most loyal Friend, your wisest Counselor. All you have to do is keep the lines of conversation open!

Application questions:

  1. How can I know God wants to be my Friend?
  2. Have I been introduced to God?
  3. How can I make the time to deepen my friendship with God?
  4. What does it mean to me to have God as my Friend?

Practical Prayer

Practical PrayerI remember when I was searching for my first job, and I kept getting turned down because I didn’t have any “experience.” And I kept thinking, “How am I supposed to get any experience if you won’t hire me?!” It’s frustrating being in a place where the only way you can get the job is to have experience, which you can’t get because you don’t have the job!

Sadly, I think this is how many people—even many Christians—feel about prayer. Read the rest of this entry »

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