COMMANDED TO BE WISE

Hosea said, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6, NIV).  Sometimes we Christians believe that God is not going to allow us to suffer. Sometimes we believe that God is always going to protect us from life’s pains. And it is true that God will fight our battles for us when we are viciously attacked and vindicate us when we are wrongly accused. But God will not reward stupidity. In fact, the entire book of Proverbs was written to drive home this point: If you make wise decisions, you will be rewarded accordingly. But if you make foolish decisions, you will face the consequences of your own uninformed choices.

 

 

So God will protect you from the enemy, but he won’t always protect you from yourself. Sometimes, the only way he can teach us the difference between right and wrong is to let us taste the fruits of our own actions and drink the wine of our own ignorance. Through life itself, God reminds us every day that wisdom is essential and that we should value it and pursue it with all our might.

Christian people are not immune to the pains of life, particularly the self-inflicted pains that result from unwise actions. Without wisdom, therefore, even “my people” can be destroyed. Even the strongest and most committed believers can be negatively affected if they reject knowledge and despise wisdom. Consequently, wisdom is exalted in the Word of God, and the lifelong pursuit of knowledge is highly encouraged. In fact, it is commanded.

 

 

THE VIRTUES OF WISDOM

With knowledge comes responsibility, and with responsibility we need wisdom. With wisdom comes success, and with success we achieve our goals, find purpose, and experience the happiness that God created us to know. Wisdom, therefore, is a proven pathway to joy. It is one of God’s most preferred mechanisms for elevating a person’s spirit and enhancing his or her self-worth.

In fact, wisdom is the most important quality for success in life. With it, all other virtues can be acquired. Without it, no other virtues really matter. According to the Bible, wisdom will “keep” you as long as you follow her instructions (Proverbs 4:6, ESV). She will “rebuke” you when you go astray (Proverbs 1:23). She will “enter your heart” when you need her the most (Proverbs 2:10). She will “save you” when troubles threaten (Proverbs 2:12). Wisdom will “prolong your life” (Proverbs 3:2), “bring you prosperity” (Proverbs 3:2), “win you favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:4), and “make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6, all references NIV).

Wisdom will increase your confidence and strengthen your resolve. Wisdom will undergird your life with focus and your relationships with substance. Wisdom will elevate your soul. Because wisdom fortifies every aspect of life and sets everything in life on a firm foundation, wisdom can definitely impact the quality of one’s life and the state of one’s mind. Wisdom can also give you patience when endurance is required and motivation when action is needed. Nothing is more valuable than wisdom.

When Life Stinks

When life hands you a pile of sour grapes, just do the following four things:

REST. Stop placing blame. Stop trying to pin your problems on God, on other people, or even on yourself. Stop finding fault. In fact, stop everything and ask God to show you how you should handle the problem from your end while he takes care of the things you can’t control.

REGROUP. Take time to breathe and think. Some problems need urgent attention. If you find a member of your family unconscious on the bathroom floor, you don’t need to pray about that situation. Just call an ambulance. But the vast majority of our problems should not be addressed with a knee jerk reaction. Instead, we should think and pray. We should ask God to systematically walk us through the problem one step at the time until the problem is resolved.

RELAX. Put your emotions on hold. The first response of the average person to any unforeseen challenge is almost always an emotional response. We are inclined, therefore, to make decisions that are based on internal chemical overloads rather than rational thinking or purposeful faith.

RETREAT. Before you do anything or say anything, find a solitary place where you can pray, and then seek the Lord regarding your problem. As you do, you will find that God will take these weighty things off you and take them upon himself. You also will find that God will start working right away to guide you through your dilemma.

GOD’S SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

God allows his children to face obstacles so they can learn the reliability of his promises. Even in the midst of a challenge, God never abandons his children. He never forsakes them. And he eventually brings them through. In fact, he brings them through triumphantly. And along the way, he develops faith in their hearts and character in their souls. He makes us better people and better disciples by allowing us to navigate the storms of life.

If we become better as a result of our struggles, God moves us along to the next level of spiritual growth. But if we become bitter, we will be forced to repeat the class. If we become joyful even when things are difficult, God promotes us. But if we become angry, we must go back and repeat the grade. If we learn to forgive, we graduate with honors. But if we become sullen and vengeful, we will just have to get back on the bus and take part in that field trip one more time with the hope of finally learning the lesson we missed the first time around.

We are in this school of discipleship for life, and God is in no hurry. As long as it takes, he will keep teaching us, first through instruction and wisdom and then, if necessary, through the harsh experiences of life. It’s up to you and it’s up to me how we choose to complete the educational requirements that God has set before us.

Faith & Fear

Faith Fear.jpg

If you really think about it, faith and fear are similar. While faith is the inner confidence that good things are going to happen, fear is the inner confidence that bad things are going to happen. In reality, nothing has happened yet. But as you peer into the future and try to visualize the outcome of your current situation, you will either see a positive picture of your future (the result of faith) or you will see a negative picture of your future (the result of fear). So which picture do you see most often?

The Bible tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV). Well, I suggest that fear is the same thing. Why is it, then, that most people can believe for the negative outcome, but not for the positive outcome? When the last chapter of their situation has not yet been written, why do most people lay out a plot within their own minds that takes them to the worst possible conclusion to their story?

It is typical human behavior to anticipate the worst in our lives, and I must confess that I have often fallen victim to this universal mindset myself. But now that the Lord has taught me to place the circumstances of my life in his hands, fear and depression don’t control me the way they used to. And you can learn to enjoy this same freedom by submitting your challenges to God.

 

LIKE, COMMENT, & SHARE BELOW

Under The Circumstances

Our challenge as human beings is that we allow our emotions to rule us. We find it difficult sometimes to release things to the Lord. We find it difficult to trust him. He might mess up our plans or rewrite the script to our lives that we have spent years outlining in our own minds.

But God showed me some time ago that this kind of mental anguish is unnecessary. He showed me that he has a plan for my life. And as long as I don’t hinder God’s will for my life through my own rebellious actions, nothing is going to happen to me that is not approved by God or planned by God. And whether God causes those things to happen or simply allows them to happen, everything that happens inside me and around me is going to work to my benefit (see Romans 8:28).

So Christians should make use of their problems, not run away from them. In fact, I have found that seasons of testing can end up becoming some of the most positive seasons of life when our attitudes are right. For instance, if I choose to lay my problems at the feet of Jesus instead of despising those problems, rebuking them, or worrying about them, I get to see God’s love demonstrated in my life in a whole new way. I get to see what the Lord can do to change a bad situation and to accomplish his will in spite of challenging circumstances.

LIKE, COMMENT, AND SHARE BELOW

Parting The Waters

When God parted the Red Sea, most of the people were in a state of panic. They looked in front of them, and there was the sea. They looked behind them, and there was the Egyptian army. They looked to the right and to the left, and there they found more Egyptian soldiers covering their escape routes. So they began to cry out and to blame Moses for their plight.

But Moses refused to panic. He just gave the problem to God, and God found a solution to the problem. And believe me! Even though there were probably more than 2 million Jews there that day and thousands of Egyptian soldiers, not one person anticipated what God was about to do. Nobody except Moses expected the waters to part.

How can you possibly know that God is able to part water until you have a problem in your life? Until you have a problem, you can never know his power, his love, or his level of commitment to you. So stop cursing your problems, and stop wilting in the presence of difficulties. Instead, accept life’s challenges as a natural consequence of living in an imperfect world. Give them to the Lord. Ask him to take care of those parts of the problem you cannot resolve, and ask him to help you take care of the parts that you can resolve. Also ask him to help you soak up all the benefits that the trial was devised to bring to your life when he approved it.