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Living a Good Life: Wisdom Gets the Edge, Part 3

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
March 25, 2024 10:00 am

Living a Good Life: Wisdom Gets the Edge, Part 3

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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March 25, 2024 10:00 am

We are working through a study in the book of Ecclesiastes called “Living a Good LIfe: Making Sense of the Journey”.  In the last message, we saw from Ecclesiastes 9 that, in spite of our best efforts, we are not in control of our circumstances.  But we will see today from chapter 10 that there is an advantage in life for those who live with wisdom.


Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. We're working through a study in the book of Ecclesiastes called Living a Good Life, Making Sense of the Journey. In the last message, we saw from Ecclesiastes 9 that in spite of our best efforts, we're not in control of our circumstances. But we'll see today from chapter 10 that there is an advantage in life for those who live with wisdom. Let's listen in. This is part three of a message titled Wisdom Gets the Edge. It was originally preached on July 8th, 2018 at Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. If you would like to hear the whole message or other messages from this series, visit us at Why were our children put at risk?

And I will never forget his answer, Kirk Ogden, the executive director of South America Mission. He said, ministry involves risk. It's true, isn't it? But life involves risk. Unless you plan on sitting as a couch potato all day or lying in bed, but that's not life, is it? Where is the ship safest?

In harbor. But it wasn't designed to stay there, was it? You see, if safety becomes my main objective, my main desire, then that will inhibit me from a life well lived. But by the same token, we need to be thoughtful and reasonable.

Here's the point. You need to think through your actions. Think through your actions. That's exactly what a fool does not do. A fool is one who thinks or acts without understanding consequence or impact. Wisdom is the opposite of that.

A wise person is one who thinks through their actions. For example, the church here is growing. That's why we have two services and as it continues to grow, we're needing more classroom spaces and fellowship spaces and different things like that. The church is under contract with an architect and it cost us an investment to hire that architect to give us wisdom in terms of what direction we should take. Because if, for example, we were to build a new auditorium, you're looking at several million dollars. Would we want to make a three million dollar mistake?

That's why we have somebody who has the wisdom and the experience to help us think through these things to keep us from making a three million dollar mistake. Paul says it very well. Peter says it, I'm sorry, very well.

First Peter 2.9. You are called out of darkness into his marvelous light. A life of wisdom, a life well lived doesn't live in the shadows, doesn't live in darkness of ignorance and naivety and dullness. A life of wisdom pays mindful attention, thinks through the actions. And there's many, many people today who just simply act impulsively.

And that's what happens when you follow your emotions. You don't think through, you don't think through your actions, but we are called to that. And then lastly, for today, a manifestation of wisdom of a life well lived is prepared action, prepared, not just action, but prepared action.

Look at verse 10 and 11. If the iron is blunt and does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed. You need to sharpen the edge of the axe. The team that just came back from Bolivia, they were talking about a chainsaw and that chainsaw had been used a lot of times like a stump grinder. That doesn't work well with a chainsaw. It might grind the stump, but it's going to do real damage to the chainsaw. And if you have a dull chainsaw, believe me, I know you can sit there and go, you know, you might as well just be going back and forth with a chainsaw like this.

You're going to get about as much work done. You're going to have to work extra hard and you're going to have to, it's going to be very frustrating if you are not adequately prepared for the action that you need to take. He says in verse 10, wisdom helps one to succeed. Wisdom helps one to, this is prepared action. I want you to be careful with what you do with that statement because what is your definition? What is the definition of success that you're going on? You've been inundated, inundated with message after message after message that success means having a lot of stuff or having high position.

And if you have a high position, of course, you're going to have a lot of stuff and a lot of privileges. That's not success. Fools can reach that state in life. A fool is not successful. So as we take the statement in verse 10, wisdom helps one to succeed. What is wisdom?

Wisdom is a life well lived. And what is success? Realized purpose. What is your purpose? What were you designed to do as a human being? You were designed to know God and walk with Him and enjoy Him.

That is success. Being rich toward God, as Jesus said in, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. So we could paraphrase this statement to reword this statement in verse 10 when it says wisdom helps one to succeed. Don't read that as saying wisdom helps one to become rich. Riches and wisdom are not related. The statement says this, living well helps one realize purpose. That's what Solomon is saying.

You need to take time to do hard behind the scenes work to prepare yourself for action, to prevent error and frustration, to have the edge. For example, my daughter Anna is a lifeguard down in a camp in Word of Life, Florida. Sometimes we'll have 450 campers and she's a lifeguard in this with a big pool. Can you imagine this last week they had juniors, young kids, right? And she's a lifeguard in this.

This pool is just packed with children. You got to be vigilant. You got to keep your eye on them. You got to know how to recognize somebody who's in distress.

And if they are, you need to know what to do. You need to be able to react just like that. It doesn't come just because she wants it. It comes because of training. She had to have the training and she every day, every week, they have to continually run laps and swim laps. They have to keep in shape so that they're not overcome by fatigue when they're trying to rescue a life.

So it takes training. It takes that prepared action. And then she called me on the phone a couple of weeks ago and she says, Dad, I can't believe how hungry I am because he's having to work so hard. I go to breakfast. I don't dare miss breakfast. And by 11 o'clock, I'm already hungry again. Sounds like a hobbit, doesn't it?

Elevensies, right? So in my compassionate mercy, I ordered a box of Clif bars for her and sent them to her. But she needs to be prepared for action. What good is her action going to be if she's not at all prepared for it? You don't want a lifeguard coming to rescue you who has no idea what they're doing and they're not prepared for it. How many of you would like to go into surgery with a doctor who's not been practicing for 20 years and hasn't studied up a bit?

You wouldn't want that, would you? But so it is in the things of life. We need to be prepared. You see, we have a mission.

We are here on mission and we need to be prepared for that. He says here, verse 11, I'm sorry, if the serpent bites before it is charmed, there is no advantage to the charmer. The snake charmer, they were, you know, the snake charmer will have an instrument.

He never does it on their own. They always have an instrument and the snake doesn't hear the music. A snake sees that instrument as some kind of a weapon. They see it as a threat and so they're able to control the snake with the movement of the instrument, right? One of the main uses for snake charmers was to remove snakes from people's homes. There's a snake in the room.

Call a snake charmer, get that thing out of the house, right? And if a snake charmer is too late and doesn't know what he's doing, his skills are going to be worthless. To act without procrastination is what he needs to do. To engage his with difficulty, he needs to engage his skill or a skill can be wasted. You see, good intentions don't accomplish anything.

Did you hear that? Good intentions don't accomplish anything. For some people, it might win them a Nobel Prize, but they don't actually accomplish anything. Fighter pilots can react immediately to rapidly changing situations as they operate a 27 million dollar machine. When a threat aircraft is closing in, they have to rely on instinct, but not just natural instinct. They need instincts sharpened deep within them through years of regiment. The countless little decisions they make in the cockpit are automatic, but that doesn't mean they're involuntary. The pilot voluntarily trained for them and in the cockpit, he reaps the instinctive benefits of that training. And so it is with us like the fighter pilots hours of training, our hearts and minds are under a regimen of beliefs and values through what we put into our hearts and minds, what we receive as wisdom from other sources. All of these shape our unintentional sin or sanctification, one or the other. You're being trained.

You have been. Are you training yourself for godliness? This is what Paul says to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4 7. He says, train your self for godliness.

And that word train comes from the word from which we get in English, gymnasium. You exercise yourself, you discipline yourself, you put in the hard work for godliness behind the scenes. As the writer of Hebrews says, they are exercised by use.

They are developed through use. This is how wisdom gets the edge. A life well lived as defined by God manifests these characteristics and a life well lived will help you to realize purpose. Let me close with what Peter says, therefore, prepare your minds for action. He's writing to all Christians, prepare your minds for action, and being sober minded set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is the Word of God. Thanks for joining us here at Delight in Grace. You've been listening to Rich Powell, the lead pastor at Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. The Delight in Grace mission is to help you know that God designed you to realize your highest good and your deepest satisfaction in Him, the one who is infinitely good. We hope you'll join us again on weekdays at 10am.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-25 12:18:18 / 2024-03-25 12:22:57 / 5

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