Saturday In The Proverbs—Wisdom (Proverbs 1)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).

Would you like to see things others don’t see? How about if you could have insight that others don’t have? What if you could keep on getting more, and more, and more knowledge that really mattered? That’s what this entire Book of Proverbs is all about, and the opening chapter sets the tone for the rest of the book.

You have to decide: do you trust God’s knowledge, or do you trust yourself more?

God is to be revered above all else.

God is to be delighted in above all else.

God is to be listened to above all else.

That is what defines pure knowledge: God’s knowledge.

The path to wisdom, then, is to accurately apply God’s pure knowledge.

Lady Wisdom—thankfully for us—makes herself readily available IF we will listen to her. If we do, we will have the best insights into how to use this purest-of-pure knowledge which God gives. When we operate in God’s wisdom and God’s knowledge, He is pleased and He is glorified.

There is always another option we could choose. We could listen to things that others say is “knowledge,” and we could try to figure out things on our own. But if we do, we also have to be willing to accept the consequences for applying that “knowledge” (see vv. 29-31). Ummm, no thank you, I’d rather not be called a fool! 

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 Make New Communications Habits

Making new habitsPreviously I wrote about NOT trying to change our bad behaviors. That’s because our behavior is a natural outcome of several other factors (read more about that by clicking here). The important progression goes like this: Thoughts → Values → Attitudes → Behaviors.

The two areas we can address are our thoughts and attitudes. When it comes to interacting with other people, notice carefully the words Jesus said: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

Jesus says that our thoughts about ourselves can limit our thoughts about others. If your thoughts are limited, your value on people and healthy relationships will slide. If those values drop, your attitude about others will begin to sour. And with those thoughts, values and attitude dropping, isn’t it natural to expect that you will struggle getting along with others?

So you must get this clear—

  • God had a plan for you from before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10)
  • God knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-18)
  • God put just the right gifts and talents in you to change the world (Romans 12:3-6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
  • God made you unique (you-nique!).
  • You are a one-of-a-kind masterpiece!

Because you are you-nique, you hear and see the world uniquely, and you respond uniquely. You and I respond mostly by habit.

Habits are good when they are healthy. But unhealthy habits create assumptions and blind spots that can hinder our relationships.

To make new relationship habits requires three things:

  1. Knowledge (what do I need to do)
  2. Skill (how do I need to do it)
  3. Desire (I really want to make this change)

If you want to make some new communication habits, get knowledge from people who love you and from reading the Bible. Then read some books or attend some seminars that will give you new skills. Then combine those with your sincere desire to want to improve your relationship habits, and watch for great things to happen!

I am leading our church through a training on our communication styles. Please join us on Sunday as we learn how to better get along with others. I’d love for you to join us either in person or on our Periscope broadcast.

Thursdays With Oswald—The People God Can Do Nothing With

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The People God Can Do Nothing With

     We say, “It seems out of all proportion that God should choose me—I am of no value”; the reason He chooses us is that we are not of any value. It is folly to think that because a man has natural ability, he must make a good Christian. People with the best natural equipment may make the worst disciples because they will “boss” themselves. It is not a question of our equipment, but of our poverty; not what we bring with us, but what He puts in us; not our natural virtues, our strength of character, our knowledge, our experience; all of that is of no avail in this matter; the only thing that is of avail is that we are taken up into the big compelling of God (1 Corinthians 1:26-28). His comradeship is made out of men who know their poverty. God can do nothing with the men who think they will be of use to Him. 

From The Place Of Help

God cannot impart wisdom to a know-it-all, but He can impart it to someone hungry to learn.

God cannot use someone who believes the world revolves around them, but He can use someone who believes the world revolves around Him.

Which are you?

5 Differences Between Wisdom And Folly

Parallels between law and wisdomIn Proverbs 9, Wisdom and Folly are both personified as women. And both of them call out the same thing to their would-be followers: “Let all who are simple come in here!” (vv. 4, 16). They both claim to have ‘the goods’ for those searching for truth, but here are five things that separate them.

  1. Wisdom has built her own house (v. 1); but Folly merely occupies someone else’s house (v. 14).
  2. Wisdom has like-minded “maids” who support her (v. 3); but Folly has no supporters.
  3. Wisdom serves what she has prepared herself (vv. 2, 5); but Folly steals from others because she has nothing original to offer (v. 17).
  4. Wisdom corrects, and that correction leads to deeper knowledge (vv. 8-10); but Folly lets people do whatever they wish, which only leads to deeper suffering (v. 13).
  5. Wisdom offers life (vv. 6, 11), insight (v. 9), the fear of God (v. 10), and rewards (v. 12); but Folly only offers suffering (v. 12) and death (v. 18).

How ironic that some people respond to Folly’s call, “Let all who are simple come in here,” and yet they act like they know it all already, not wanting to learn anything new.

Bottom line: If you are willing to learn, Wisdom has much to teach you. But if you know it all already, best to just hang out with Folly.

Poetry Saturday—The Rock

T.S. EliotThe endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust. —T.S. Eliot

Are You Grace-full?

The order that words and phrases are listed in the Scripture is not haphazard nor random; each word is divinely inspired, even the order in which they appear. So look at the order in these verses:

  • But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)
  • The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Do you see it? Grace then truth/knowledge.

FullOur human tendency is to switch this order: we want truth and knowledge first. But the Bible never teaches this, and the One Who delivered the greatest words ever spoken never said this. Our tendency is to want to get the facts, and then choose which ones we’ll embrace because they “fit” with what’s comfortable to us. Then we argue with others over what we claim to be “truth” and get labeled as judgmental and haters.

Bottom line―We cannot know what “truth” is without first having received grace. 

To fix this, we need to pursue grace, not more knowledge. We need to pursue Jesus. Look at the order again: IF you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. THEN you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32).

Why can’t we know what truth is without having first received grace?

  • Jesus said this about the devil, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
  • The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Jesus never talks about grace. Why? Because He IS grace.

For IN Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form giving complete expression of the divine nature. (Colossians 2:9, AMP)

...I am IN My Father, and you are IN Me, and I am IN you … Remain IN Me, and I will remain IN you… (John 14:20; 15:4)

And you are IN Him, made full and having come to fullness of life IN Christ you too are filled with the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature… (Colossians 2:10, AMP)

You grow in grace by growing in Christ. You grow in truth by growing in grace. When you are full of Christ―when He is IN you and you remain IN Him―then you are grace-full, and therefore you can also be truth-full. This is how you can reach full spiritual stature.

So here’s a question for you: How grace-full are you?

If you are around Cedar Springs this coming Sunday, I would love for you to join with us as we continue our series answering your questions with the greatest words ever spoken.

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