Posts Tagged James 1: 5

Wise Counsel

James 3: 17

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Learning to hear and recognize the voice of God is a skill and like all skills, it can be learned. One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, “How do I know that I hear is God speaking?” That is a good question. Brother James gives us a good response today. If what you hear in your head (or heart) contradicts any of the godly characteristics he lists above, then it is not God. When you ask God for advice and/or wisdom, He will always answer with pure, peaceable, reasonable, merciful, unwavering, non-hypocritical answers which are full of good fruit. One caveat, however. What God tells us does not always sound reasonable to our human minds but when you look at it through the eyes of the Spirit, you will see the reasons for it.

You can extrapolate a bit further with this advice from James. What if you have asked another person for advice or wisdom? Run whatever they say through this machine. If it does not pass the test of James 3: 17, then it is not “wisdom from above.”

Okay, now take it even one step further. What if a person runs a business in which its guiding principles are not as enumerated above? It does not mean the owner is not a Christian but it does mean that God’s wisdom is not being employed in that business. We are all on a learning curve so don’t judge the owner. They, perhaps, have just not learned how to run a business in partnership with God yet. However, you should ask yourself if it is a business you are comfortable aligning yourself with. And, if you really want to hear something radical, watch all of the businesses you deal with. You may actually find a non-Christian who employs more of God’s wisdom than the Christian.

James told us that we are to ask God for wisdom and that the Lord gives it freely (1: 5). Now you know how to check it to determine if it really is wisdom from above.

Seeker

Matthew 7: 7 – 8

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you for every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.

I have a question for you today. Does or did Jesus have the capacity to tell a lie? Did Jesus ever tell one lie in his life? We need to know because he is the one who spoke these words we read today. Here is another question, is it possible that when Jesus said these words he meant them only figuratively? In other words, are the words in the quoted verses for today meant to express their literal meaning or are they some figurative, allegorical or metaphorical representation of another meaning? We need to know! Does Jesus mean what he said or was he speaking in nuanced riddles?

I looked up simile, allegory, metaphor and figurative and from the meanings I see there, none of them apply to these two verses. Still, many people excuse the literal meanings of Jesus’ words claiming that they represent some other ideas which are not actually spoken. Because Jesus sometimes taught by using parables, some people discount all of his speech as representative rather than literal. Okay, so let me ask you another question. Why would the Son of God, he who came to set us free and to lead us into truth and fullness of life, play cloak and dagger with his beloved? He came to earth to die for each and every one of us; he came to give his life a ransom so that we might be saved. Why then would he hide the ball from us? And yes, that was figurative language I just used and it was obvious and understood.

That is the point of figurative language. It is not meant to hide the truth. It is used to illustrate and make clear difficult concepts. Finally, if we intend to have a relationship with Jesus, one that is based on truth and trust, then we must believe his words have actual meaning. He spoke so that we could hear and be free. When he said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10: 10) we must assume and understand that those words mean exactly what they say. Otherwise they do not have meaning and frankly, the whole Bible is undermined. If Jesus wanted to communicate that the purpose of his coming to earth was to give us life, how else would he say it other than to use the words which have the meaning which normally and customarily mean just that? Do you see what I mean? Once a person reduces one of Jesus’ literal statements to fantasy or figurative poetry, then all meaning for all his messages is lost. Who can say which of his statements are mere figures of speech and which ones he actually meant as spoken? Honestly, it is beyond intellectual integrity for one to adopt this posture. It is the height of arrogance. People who excuse away Jesus’ words and meanings replace them with themselves and their reasoning. It is foolishness!

The point of all of this is that Jesus said that if we seek, we shall find. There is no figure of speech in that statement so really, the choice is whether or not we choose to take him at his word. Do we believe the Father of us all sent His only begotten son to earth to lead us into truth, wisdom, and freedom? Why would Yahweh, Abba Father, sacrifice His beloved on a cross for people He intended to mislead? Does that really make any sense at all? Jesus’ brother, James, said that we should ask God for wisdom promising that God would give it to us freely and without reproach (James 1: 5). Why, then, would God offer to give us all His wisdom yet cloak every word Jesus said while in the earth. It is illogical and unreasonable to believe that so, trust that Jesus came to open eyes and doors. Believe him when he says that if we ask, we shall receive. When we seek, we will always find. Knock on the door because Jesus is on the other side waiting to open it to you.

Jesus has so much for us. The Father invested everything He had to bring us into a personal relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit is hovering today with creative power in his hands. They long for us. Let our yearning reach out and take hold of the love offered. Ask, seek, knock . . . receive, find, be welcomed in.

Knowledge, Wisdom & Understanding

Proverb 1: 7, 22

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. How long, O naïve ones, will you love simplicity? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing. And fools hate knowledge.

Proverb 9: 10 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Interesting. So, knowledge and wisdom come from a relationship with the Lord. Further, knowing the “Holy One” brings understanding. We, therefore, have access to wisdom, knowledge and understanding through our relationship with the Holy Trinity. Would you think it fair to say that the closer we are in our relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit, the more easier it will be for us to tap into their knowledge and wisdom? Will it be easier for us to gain understanding? I think that is a reasonable conclusion.

Jesus’ brother, James wrote an encouraging passage in his letter. It reads, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1: 5). James points out that God is the source of wisdom. That is not difficult to believe. He also reveals us, though, that God gives us His wisdom and that He does so freely.

Today’s verse also points out that fools hate knowledge. Well, it is no surprise that anyone who hates knowledge is deemed a fool by God but what is perplexing is why anyone would hate knowledge. Why would anyone revel in scoffing rather than gaining knowledge, wisdom and understanding? The answer seems to be in the word “scoff”. Synonyms for scoffing are: jeering, sneering, ridiculing, and deriding. It seems that some folks would rather sneer at others rather than invest the time and energy in seeking God and His wisdom. Let’s be frank. It takes time and energy to get to know God. It takes effort to open your heart and mind to His guidance. It takes faith to believe what you hear. All of this is so worth the small amount of effort but fools scoff at the idea instead of trusting that God will really meet them in the solitude of quiet time.

The really good news is that God honestly does give out knowledge. He really does dole out wisdom and He really does bestow understanding. The bad news is that these priceless gifts rarely come from the prayer, “God give me wisdom.” As soon as you pray that prayer He will try to lead you into time with Him where He can reveal His fullness to you. The reverence of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. The respect, admiration and veneration of the beloved is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom, knowledge and understanding are the by-products of a life lived with God. As we open our hearts to Him and pour our lives into Him, we find all good things. Holding God in high esteem is the path. Time spent with Him yields all.

Godly Wisdom

James 1: 5

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

We all need wisdom. And we know where we can get it. What great news that he gives to us all generously. You can trust that if you need wisdom for a problem, he will give it to you. He has promised and he is not a man that he should lie (Numbers 23: 19).

We do not have to live our lives like the unsaved, wondering what to do all of the time. We can simply ask the Father. That is how we are able to live a life without worry. We role the cares of the problems over to our Father God and we ask him to give us insight and wisdom into the things we should do. We pray, “Show me what I should do in this situation,” and then we enter into his rest. It could be that he does not want you to do anything. His wisdom will guide you. In every situation, ask God for his wisdom on the matter. Don’t worry yourself to death trying to come up with the answers. That is really not your job. God does not want you burdened down with all of those issues. Just ask for his wisdom and his guidance and then let it go. Do all that he instructs you to do and nothing that he doesn’t. He is the one person we want advice from and He is always available to give us sagely advice from the reservoir of His infinite wisdom.

Fountain of Knowledge

Proverb 1: 7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I have been blessed to sit under a teaching where we are learning how great men of science have relied on God for their scientific inspiration and discovery. We have learned that we can be as brilliant as Einstein if we will avail ourselves of the same tools he used. No, perhaps we won’t have an IQ as high as Einstein’s but we can receive the knowledge of God through meditation and reliance on the Holy Spirit just like he and others have.

Revering the Lord is what connects us to that unlimited source of wisdom and knowledge. It is almost like hooking up a water hose to the faucet. There is constant availability for each need. All we have to do is turn on the tap and the knowledge flows. Interestingly enough, there is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit called the word of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12: 8). The same verse tells us that there is also a word of wisdom. The point is that God isn’t withholding wisdom and knowledge. He is trying to get them to us. So much so that part of the Holy Spirit’s mission in the earth is to help us to receive them.

In James 1: 5 we are told if we lack wisdom we should ask of God “who freely gives to all men generously and without reproach.” There is no reason we should go through our days, our jobs or our lives lacking the knowledge and wisdom we need. In fact, Solomon tells us that only fools despise wisdom and instruction. Which brings up another point, although the beginning of wisdom and knowledge is a reverential attitude towards the Holy One, there are multiple avenues through which God will deliver wisdom and knowledge. We have already seen that the Holy Spirit is equipped with multiple tools for conveying God’s wisdom but we must recognize that those gifts are exercised by the Holy Spirit through a human being. The anointing of God speaks through people just as God spoke through Solomon when Solomon wrote this proverb. God has also set teachers and others in the body for our edification and instruction. The Lord has given wisdom to people who can transfer those divine insights to us if we will not be foolish.

Lastly, let us not forget two other important ways God conveys His knowledge and wisdom to us. One is meditation. As we meditate on God and His Word the Holy Spirit speaks directly to our spirits giving us precise information for our specific need. Secondly, God speaks to us through His Word. He will lead you to a scripture that speaks to your situation or cause a scripture to practically jump off of the page at you. The main point to appreciate is that God wants to get His wisdom and knowledge to you. It all begins with a heart turned to God, seeking Him, seeking His face.

Who is it?

Job 9: 24

If it is not he, then who is it?

You know the story of Job and of how great his suffering was. Job was a godly man so when calamity struck his house he was bewildered. The book of Job records conversations he had with his “friends”. In today’s passage Job is answering Bildad. He makes the assertion that so many Christians make which is essentially that God is the source of our trouble and misfortune.  

I was guilty of this myself. In my early years I, like everyone, suffered some hardships. My religious training had not taught me that there was a source of evil in the world. I remember saying to someone who was a Christian, “It must be God who is causing these bad things to happen to me.” It was a horrible thing to say to a believer but do you know what? He didn’t correct me. He didn’t explain to me how wrong I was and about the goodness and love of our God. Surely he believed in John 3: 16, who doesn’t? How, then, do we reconcile this God of love who gave everything to save us with the ideology of a God who inflicts pain and suffering? We cannot because the two are irreconcilable.

The devil has done quite a number on the church. He has reduced his image to that of a cute Halloween costume. He has shifted our understanding of him to fantasy and make believe. However, we have the means to learn and know the truth. James 1: 5 is the pronouncement of a major theme of the Bible, that being that the Lord, our God, gives us wisdom. The wisdom of God reveals all truth, so, the devil cannot hide in his lies when wisdom has come upon the scene. He is always exposed for the liar that he is.

When bad things happen, we need to understand that the devil is our enemy (1 Peter 5: 8). However, we can take comfort in knowing that our Lord has already defeated the enemy which means that we are no longer subject to the devil. We can overcome all of his machinations through the victory of Jesus. The first step, however, is in not being deceived that there is no devil or that our benevolent Father is the source of the bad things that happen in life. Believe me, when I thought that God was the source of trouble in my life I could not receive relief. It is only in our Father that we can triumph. 1 Corinthians 13: 8 says that love never fails. Well, here is an example of that non-failing force. Love always wins so we take the love of God, which is God’s very substance, and we apply it to the problem and love wins every time.

Your Father loves you more than you can imagine and He would never inflict harm on you. He only wants good for you and since He is love and goodness that is all that He has to give you. Give the devil his proper due and put him back under your feet where he belongs.

Free for the Asking

James 1: 5

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

There is not one among us who does not, at some time, lack wisdom but we have good news delivered to us by Jesus’ brother, James. James walked out his beliefs through experience with God and Jesus. James wasn’t always a believer. Once James, along with Jesus’ other brothers went to seize him and take him home because they thought he was out of his mind (Mark 3: 21). But James watched and listened and he became a pillar of the church. He learned the ways of God even though he began in doubt and unbelief. Therefore, when James speaks, we can trust that he came by his knowledge through experience with the Christ. When he tells us that we can receive wisdom freely from our Father then we can trust that he knew what he was talking about because James lived it. The first step to receiving wisdom from God is believing that God will give it to you. Hopefully having James the unbelieving tell you from his own experience that God gives wisdom freely resolves the first problem.  

The second part is hearing God. Sometimes our receptors malfunction and though God is giving His wisdom freely and generously we can’t receive it. Here is a technique that I use to help me see through God’s eyes. I counsel myself. More accurately, I imagine someone else with my problem and think about what I would tell them if I was advising them. In this way I advise myself but with the wisdom of God because with this technique I find it quite easy to receive the wisdom of God. Another method I use is to picture myself seated at a table with God. I explain the situation to Him and then I look at Him and hear what He says about it. This level of focus helps me to receive His wisdom because it takes the pressure off of me to “hear” the voice of God. I just look at this scenario I have set, see myself there with Father and just listen to what He says to the me in the image. 

One other thing that helps me sometimes is to get a new perspective. Move out of yourself and see yourself and your situation through someone else’s eyes or from their view. It’s like stepping back from the situation and viewing it from a third person perspective. Sometimes we are so close to a situation that we cannot see, so it helps to move away. And here is one last little trick that I often use. Picture yourself standing on the moon looking down at the earth. What do you see? Do some global issues take on a different appearance from out there? Now, can you zoom into your world? Look at your environment. What is really important there? Are you spending your energy on the things that are most important? If you and God could sit there together and look at your life with this perspective what, if anything, would you do differently? Which problems no longer look so big?

I believe these techniques will help you to relax and gain the Father’s perspective and wisdom. We try so hard to hear Him sometimes that we block the flow. He is happy to lead you by His wisdom so take every little and large situation to Him and let Him show you His way.