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But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. James 3:17

What does it mean to be wise? How can you tell a person who is full of wisdom? The answer is found in the person of Jesus.

Wisdom is shown by our reactions in the time of storm. When the storm blew and the boat was being torn apart, the disciples feared for their lives. Jesus slept peacefully in the bow of the ship. When the woman caught in adultery was brought before him, even though she was guilty of death, he gently restored her faith in God, and in herself by telling her that she was not condemned and encouraging her to live a new life. When the soldiers came to the garden to arrest him on trumped up charges he could, Peter was prepared for war. Jesus healed the very person who was sent to destroy him. When he was disgraced and beaten and humiliated on the cross, even though he could have called legions of angels to deliver him, he endured to the point of death so that I can live.

Jesus’ example is a lesson each of us should strive for in our daily lives. The wisdom of the world says to stand for your rights; to hate those who oppose you; to grab for everything you can on earth because it’s the number of toys you have that really matters. It’s what you can get from relationships that fulfills. Feeling good now is what is important.

But worldly wisdom leads to despair and heartache. Following your heart is fine until it’s broken. Going after all the toys you can is fun until the money runs out. Building your life on relationships lasts as long as the relationship is good, but human relationships are almost certain to fail. Living to party is fun until the party ends and you are left looking in the mirror and realize the best years of your life are gone and you have nothing to show for it.

That’s when the wisdom of Jesus reaches out to you. He’s gentle. His word is always true, his motive always in your best interest. His ways lead to peace and mercy. His heart is full of mercy and forgiveness. Your past mistakes don’t matter. He’s not interested in excuses. He’s not into the blame game. He simply wants to reach out and hold you, to tell you that you aren’t condemned, to bring peace to the storm in your life. Godly wisdom destroys man’s wisdom and brings peace in the midst of adversity.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I’ve tried following my own wisdom and it hasn’t worked.  In the process I’ve made a mess of my life. I’ve hurt others with my words and actions. I’m tired of living in constant despair and frustration. Forgive me for the mistakes I’ve made. Empower me with your Spirit to live a life of wisdom based on your example. In your name I pray, Amen.

For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;  but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Proverbs 1:32-33

It happens all the time. We see it time and time again as parents, grandparents and teachers. We tell those under our tutelage to do this thing or we tell them not to do that thing. We turn our backs for a moment and disaster strikes. They did EXACTLY the opposite of what we told them. Now they are in trouble and wondering why this happened to them.

And…our response is? “This happened because you didn’t listen to me”

They respond back with all sincerity, “But I did listen to you. I just didn’t do what I heard!”

So, we shake our heads in love (or frustration or disappointment or perhaps even anger) and say, “No, you may have heard me but you did not listen to me.”

A minor point but one that makes all the difference in the world! King Solomon warns the reader of Proverbs that hearing isn’t enough. We must listen to what God says. To hear and not act is like the wayward child who wanders off in the store, woods or crowd and gets lost, some tragically so. Others hear but don’t act because they are comfortable where they are. Complacency breeds apathy and destroys progress.

The Apostle James says, “Don’t just be hearers. Be doers!” or perhaps another way of saying that would be to say, “Don’t just hear what God says. Prove that you have listened to His words by carrying out the things He tells you.

When we listen to what God says we live in peace. We live in peace because we listen to what He says about us,  that He loves us, will provide for us, will keep us, will guide us. We live in without fear of harm because we have listened to what He says about Holy Living. As we grow in our relationship with Him we learn to live lives that are compassionate, strong, loving and holy. We are patient with those we love, forgiving of those who hurt us, and compassionate with those who have lost their way.

God loved you enough to send His Son to die for you. Like a lonely lover He longs to tell you how He feels about you, to hear your feelings on life and to guide you along the rugged roads of life’s journey. Listen carefully for He is not a yeller. His voice is soft and gentle, compassionate and caring, loving and kind. His calling is easily drowned out by the empty noise of this world.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many times in my life when I have heard your voice and neglected to listen. Time and again I find myself far from you, struggling in the wilderness of my own making and longing to return to fellowship with you. Thank you for being so patient with me. Help me to not only hear but act on what I’ve heard so that I can enjoy all the benefits of listening to your wisdom and guidance. I give you all the praise and honor and glory. In the name of your Son Jesus, Amen.

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