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November 16, 2021 12:01 am
No matter how far along we are in our Christian pilgrimage, we will never be reprimanded by God when we ask Him to grant us wisdom. Today, Stephen Nichols encourages us to come expectantly to the Lord in asking Him to make us wise.
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We all know that the more complex life becomes and the more complicated situations we face all the more urgent as her need for wisdom and now we can go back to James 15 if any of you lacks wisdom past year and 1/2 is shortly brought new and unique challenges to our lives. President we've had limited social upheaval and health concerns, and those things are required is the thing deeply about life, about what matters most about where we turn to find wisdom today on Renewing Your Mind Reformation Bible College president Dr. Steven Nichols, Texas, to James chapter 1 to show is that divine help is available to everyone who asks for this one verse. In particular that I'd like to discuss with you back when I first became president of the college. Should I see a few months before we made the move down here and began the work received a letter from an older friend of mine.
He was just passing on some advice and ended up writing out a number of points. Some of those points were just sentence long. Some were a whole paragraph. One of those points stands Alton and I often go back and read that letter and as I do my eyes are just sort of drawing almost like a laser guided missile right to that point and that point simply said James chapter 1 verse five. Well, that's the verse that I'd like to look at with you in this time that we have together. So let's look at God's word. This book of James in order to set the context here for verse five. Let's just pick it up at the beginning to James 11. I hear we read James servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to the 12 tribes in the dispersion greetings, count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him was. We spent some time together and God's word.
Let's just spend a moment in prayer, asking God to bless her time to guide our steps or father or God. We are so grateful for your many good gifts and we are grateful for the gift of your eternal and abiding word as we think about this verse together and as we think about this moment in which we live.
This urgency that we all sense to be wise to have wisdom may you guide us. You guide our steps.
May we see what is only truth. As we look into your words.
May we not only hear it, but as this very book instructs us, may we be doers of it as well and may that be pleasing and honoring to you are loving and holy father pray these things in Christ's name.
In these first four verses of chapter 1. I think James is actually demonstrating wisdom. He has wisdom when we see him reflecting on who he is and his own self understanding. Many commentators I'm sure as you read this verse. It just jumps out to you in verse one. James introduces himself as a servant. My that strikes me as wisdom. We could easily see James and I think if it were up to us. We would want to say I am the brother of Jesus Christ. That's where we would start, we would introduce ourselves as the brother of Christ, but not James is this incredible view of himself, doesn't he.
And what a self understanding. To simply say servant is not lording over his audience is not lording it over us his readers that he is the very brother of Jesus.
No, not James. He's a servant that's wisdom and then look at verses 2 to 4. He talks about counting it joy when you fall into trials.
James is able to do that because as his verses unfold. He shows us that he has the long view in mind he's able to get out from under the weight in the burden of the current circumstances, he can sift through the rubble, as it were he can get past the noise and the clutter and he can have that perspective. These trials that come upon us that no one wants. I don't want them, you don't want them, but these trials produce steadfastness and one that steadfastness has its full effect.
Well, that's Christian maturity for James to see that and for James to say that I believe that's wisdom so here even in these first four verses James is demonstrating wisdom and then we come to verse five if any of you lacks wisdom, let's talk about wisdom for a little bit nearly every culture has a sense of wisdom of the pursuit of wisdom. Cultures have depositories of wisdom, be they written texts or oral traditions.
There are individuals who are seen to be wise or a collective group that is seen to be wise.
That is certainly true of the Greeks, and if we go back to the ancient Greeks. We see them as lovers of philosophy. In fact, all those who teach philosophy. I teach philosophy over to RBC. I know Dr. Strohl has mentioned this often back, both when he was a college student studying philosophy and as a professor of philosophy will you start with writing the word philosophy on the board and then you break it down, don't you, it's a compound word comes from two Greek words for let O which is that wonderful word of love, and then Sophia and that's what philosophy is the love of wisdom, the pursuit of wisdom.
We go back to those first philosophers to Socrates in his pursuit of wisdom and ease wise because he knows that he doesn't know.
He knows what he does not know and that's his wisdom. We also see that this pursuit of wisdom is true of the Old Testament effect.
We have a whole significant portion of the Old Testament that we call wisdom books.
There's Job, which is that epic tale, there is the Psalms which prayers and hymns. There's Proverbs which is considered a wisdom book with its aphorisms. This Ecclesiastes with all of it stacked up many narratives that ponder what is the meaning of life and up and conventional wisdom and point us to that life under the sun. And where we can find meaning only right by fearing God and then the wisdom books. These five books of the Old Testament and with the song of Solomon that that great love poem. The Hebrew word for wisdom is hokum. Can you say that with me, it's one of those words that you got a start from the back of your throat. It means skillful living. It's this idea that we not only have knowledge but we know exactly when and exactly how to apply that knowledge in the situations that we face if you were to look up wisdom in the dictionary you would see that it is the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment. We could put some of this together and say that wisdom is thinking, deciding and acting upon knowledge, which of course we would say is truth, so it's the thinking deciding and acting upon truth and experience what we have learned in the past so that we can make and execute sound judgments.
Well we all know that we need wisdom. We all know that the more complex life becomes and the more complicated situations we face all the more urgent as our need for wisdom and now we can go back to James 15 if any of you lacks wisdom, you put yourself in that category of lacking wisdom. I certainly do fact, I think it might almost be more appropriate for James to say since all of us lack wisdom. I think that's probably more appropriate, but the idea here is, you almost need to feel your inadequacy. It's important for us to know our limits to know our deficiency.
There are those in and we've met them folks who think they have it all together and they think they now have everything they need to know what they don't see themselves as lacking anything well is really nothing that can be done for that person is there. But if if you feel if you intimately know that there is a breach there in your defenses that you have a weak link somewhere. Well, if you feel that if it's palpable. James comes alongside us and says I can help you is in this fundamental really to to all prayer, even to the Christian life to maturing in the Christian life to to recognizing that we come to the end of ourselves and that we have a true neat will.
This is James 15 of us, if anyone lacks wisdom. I want to read that say yes I lack wisdom.
Now, what I do, will James has an answer, he says, let him ask God decorate the simplicity of that the straightforwardness of that how clear that is, let him ask God. We know this is the right answer because first of all, God is the source of all wisdom. We go back to that Old Testament wisdom book Proverbs 3 go back to Proverbs chapter 2 we find here in verse six of Proverbs chapter 2 for the Lord gives wisdom from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright.
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity guarding the paths of justice, and watching over the way of his saints. We ask God for wisdom because God is the source of wisdom. He is perfect and infinite in wisdom. This is truly a bottomless supply of wisdom makes perfect sense to go to God. He's the source and not only is he the source of wisdom, but he is the subject of wisdom flip back a chapter to Proverbs chapter 1 that great verse.
So many of us you I'm sure have it memorized. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, so we ask God. This God who is the source of wisdom of this God who is the subject of wisdom to remember that opening line from Calvin's Institute. Nearly all the wisdom that we possess that is to say true and sound knowledge is comprised of this knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves and so we ask God. We also find out. Going back to James chapter 1 verse five we find out there in verse five that we should ask God because of who God is and this is what James says he gives generously to all without reproach. One of the wonderful characteristics of God that I just find overwhelming and I'm sure you do to is how gracious our God is. We don't often use the word liberal Jewish. We like to call ourselves conservatives but God is liberal God freely gives God is generous God is generous to all. Interestingly, Calvin commenting on this very verse says that even he who has made the greatest progress in being wise is yet far from the goal is not the great thing about this this prayer. This this notion really of growing in wisdom that no matter where we find ourselves on the continuum a new Christian who who is just beginning. That track of maturing in wisdom. And maybe, and it's not always linked up chronologically, but even a young person who just recognizes there's so much life ahead of them, that they realize that their only on the beginning path of wisdom. And then there are those closer to the other end of the continuum aren't there who who have a great deal of experience behind them, and God has taught them many things and has shown the many things and through that they've been open to to learning and have asked and repeated this prayer many times throughout their Christian journey and so they have wisdom and here's the beauty no matter where we are on that continuum. All of us have room to grow in his Calvin reminds us a great deal of room to grow.
So God gives generously to all to all who may be just starting out and have a great need for wisdom and to all who been at this for a while and yet they too remain with a great need for wisdom and notice what is said here to without reproach.
If I ask too many times.
What if I ask for too much of my am I coming back to the well too many times. You know you since this with other people. You've perhaps been in the presence of someone you know their time is precious. You have a lot that you would like to ask of them. Are you a lot that you like to put in front of them and you have to sort of parcel it out, don't you, and you have to prioritize and you almost wonder, am I asking too much.
You'll have to worry about that when you ask God for wisdom do not have to fear being reprimanded for asking for too much you can keep coming back to this well as often as you like.
Because this well is bottomless and what does God do when we make this request before him.
When we ask God for wisdom.
Well, it's very simple. He gives it a look at how verse five ends and it that is wisdom and wisdom will be given him is very clear what we need to see their first false wisdom that will be given and secondly it will be given.
This is one of those promises that we can claimant we need to claim but notice that it's a wisdom. I find this very fascinating.
It's not saying that Satan knowledge will be given to this person you know we actually have an obligation to acquire knowledge. No way.
We all wish we could learn by osmosis to remember the old trick of sticking the physics textbook under the pillow the night before the exam and then you wake up and you are all set to go.
Aced the exam because all of that knowledge just migrated from between those covers and into your brain know that doesn't work, we have an obligation we have to acquire knowledge and that requires diligent study and even when it comes to experience.
We need to learn from our experience don't week that we need to be observing, evaluating, and reflecting and we need to be remembering but into all of that is we acquire knowledge. In this we seek to learn from our experience, what do we find God gives wisdom in God helps us he enables us to apply that knowledge in that prior experience in this new situation that we face to this new decision that is in front of us. What a promise.
This is for us to claim that this generous God gives us wisdom. What a privilege we have that we are invited to pray and ask for wisdom will it's just think through two applications of this one is very simple and that is we should pray for wisdom for others and we are obligated to intercede for one another in prayer. In fact, I like to think of it, not as an obligation, not really. It's a privilege is not what a blessing it is that God invites us to pray for one another. What a way we can care for one another, and so we must pray for our leaders, our political leaders, we need to pray for our presidents are legislators or governors or local officials. We need to pray that they have wisdom that as they sort through all of these data points that are coming at them and as they make decisions that affect hundreds and thousands and millions of lives that they would have wisdom that we need to pray for pastors no way that they have wisdom that is they commit themselves to the study of God's word into shepherding God's flock that God would grant them wisdom. I call upon you to pray for the leadership team here at Lincoln near that we would have wisdom as we navigate moving Lincoln near through these tumultuous and challenging times and as we think about their so many ministry opportunities that are before us and as we try to honor you.
Our ministry partners and those friends and donors who come alongside of us and we try to think about the ministry resources that we have the dollars that we have and the opportunities that are there before us that we would have wisdom as we make these decisions for the ministry in a sweet think about moving the ministry forward should pray for your employers and the executives at your company is and for your managers that they would have wisdom in the decisions that they have to make to make and as they make decisions that do impact people's lives. We need to pray for family don't week for spouses, center children and our loved ones, that as they grow and experience life that they would be wise so we need to pray for wisdom for others and then we need to pray for ourselves and I heard it, you've heard it many times that we can have knowledge but not have wisdom. I member back when I started teaching. Back in 1997 when I started teaching college that I noticed something almost noticed that there was sort of a step. Even before knowledge that students as they were just coming into the information age and flooded with with billions of bits of data at their fingertips. It was almost as if they were focused on data and information and and before they could get to wisdom date they just needed knowledge they needed some way to arrange and hierarchical lies in an prioritize and systematize all of that data. All of that information they needed knowledge, let alone wisdom and now I wonder if we find ourselves in a moment where we even need just data and information. It's hard is it to know what's reliable, what's trustworthy. What's a good source. So what can we count on as we hear just information data points coming at us what we need to have good data. Good information and we need to to have knowledge to organize all of that data into a coherent and cogent whole and then on top of that, what do we need well we need wisdom, like you, I feel this every day.
Our lack my lack my deficiency. And so, let's remember James 15. Let's remember if any of you.
If any of us can affect. Let's just say that since all of us lack wisdom. Let us ask of God, and what will our gracious and generous heavenly father do for us.
Well, he will give us wisdom. I pray that for you. I pray that for us here at legionnaire.
Thank you for this opportunity to spend a moment with you. Pray that you will pray for wisdom and thank you as we often so often like to say thank you for helping us here at legionnaire ministries in a Reformation Bible college. Please know that we could not do what we do here without you standing with us in this great fight is Dr. Steven Nichols with the convicting yet comforting message from James chapter 1 your list and Renewing Your Mind.
I'm Lee Webb, thank you for being with us this devotional was recorded and distributed exclusively through our special ministry, partner, archives or collection of messages available only to those who sought to give a monthly gift to the ministry or ministry partners are a special group and we serve them with exclusive resources at other benefits their stable monthly generosity also fuels everything we do here on Renewing Your Mind. And through legionnaire.
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