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Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Proverbs 2:3

“She’s leaving for home tomorrow. I don’t want her to go. I love her, but she says we’ll never work out. What can I do?”

Slide1That phone call happened over ten years ago but I still hear the panic in his voice. My friend Bill (not his real name) was several years younger than I was. He was just starting out in life and had finally met the girl of his dreams, although she may have referred to it as a nightmare, not a dream.

Bill had a heart of gold but his youthfulness often got him in trouble because he would often act first, think later (and rarely listen). The woman of his dreams had moved to the Midwest for the summer to stay with a friend and see if things could work with Bill. Obviously, things weren’t going well.

As Bill and I talked on the phone I gleaned a few more details about the situation. His girlfriend told him that the summer had been one of frustration and futility. She was going home because it was obvious things would never work out between them and she didn’t want to waste her time trying to get Bill to listen to her.

I’m no ‘Abigail Van Buren’ but I told Bill that if he really loved her he needed to sit her down, ask her to tell him what needed to happen to make things work, and keep his mouth SHUT. This was not an easy skill for Bill. He would often revert to making excuses, or defending himself or pointing out other people’s weaknesses. Silence and listening weren’t a skill he excelled at.

My advice must have worked. Ten years and three kids later Bill and his bride are happily married. I’d like to take credit, but my advice really wasn’t magic. Each of us need to learn the skill of listening in our relationships with each other and especially with God.

Proverbs 2:3 tells us to “Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.” If you are like me, my prayers are often a list of requests for myself or others. I pray for things and events, but not insight and understanding.

It’s interesting that Solomon would pen this proverb. He chose insight and understanding over power or wealth because he knew that with insight and understanding the rest would probably naturally fall into place.

Bill learned a valuable lesson each of us need to learn. We serve a God that is all-wise and all-knowing and his desire is to share with us what he knows so we can make wise choices in life. We will learn far more about God by listening to him than talking to him. Using his word as a foundation be deliberate and passionate about coming to him. Hebrews says we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, not timidity. (Hebrews 4:16)

PRAYER: Father God, life at times confuses me. Other times it scares me. Help me learn how to listen to you so that I can gain the wisdom I need to approach the issues I’m facing in life. Thank you for your passionate desire to help me through. Amen.

 

 


Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. Ecclesiastes 7:11

Small town logic is brutal but often true. This was made evident to me path of wisdomduring a conversation I had at a local coffee shop. Our discussion turned to a local tragedy. A young adult had been killed in a single-car rollover. Reports were that the victim was under the influence at the time of the accident that claimed his life.

One of the men sitting at the table asked the name of the deceased. When he was told who it was, he shook his head and responded something like this, “Yeah, it’s a tragedy, but you know, his father was a drunk.”

His statement bothered me at first. It didn’t seem fair to minimize the accident by pointing to something that happened to someone else in the past. The more I thought about that conversation, the more I realized that while my feelings of injustice were true, the reality was, the reaction of the older gentleman at our table also carried truth to it.

Like it or not we are, in a sense, victims of our past. We’ve learned certain habits, thoughts and tendencies from our parents or others that went before us. We really have two choices in life. We can learn from those who have gone before us, or we can fall victim to the negative things we’ve gleaned from them.

There is a lot of truth to the old adage, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

King Solomon said it a different way. “Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun.” We all hope to leave our children a big inheritance. We want them to be better off than we were. But the reality is, leaving them an example of Godly wisdom will be of a bigger benefit in the end.

Don’t just spend your entire life striving to provide your children with an inheritance that can be easily squandered. The wisdom you leave them will be of far greater value than any material possession you have.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine the kind of inheritance you are preparing for those who go behind you:

  1. What do you worry most about? Spiritual growth or physical/financial health?
  2. Where do you spend your time? The golf course or your knees in prayer for your kids and grandkids?
  3. Will those who come behind you remember you for being an encourager or a judge?
  4. Do you talk about the weather and sports more than you do topics of faith and grace?
  5. Does your Bible suffer from dust or worn pages?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us to strive daily to leave an inheritance of wisdom that others will be able to use to guide them through life. Amen.


Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever. Daniel 12:3

“Would you rather have wisdom, or knowledge?”

Some may say knowledge. In fact our society is enraptured with the idea that gaining more knowledge will solve our social ills. Millions of dollars are spent each year in the United States on studies to see how we can increase the knowledge of our children.

Ironically, the more money we spend on education, the worse society seems to be. Even within the church we see a plethora of resources to guide Christians in a closer walk with Christ. Yet Biblical illiteracy is at an all time high and church attendance in many areas is sagging. Knowledge alone is obviously not the answer.

Perhaps that’s why Solomon, considered to be the richest King in history, didn’t ask for money or knowledge, he asked for wisdom.

Daniel says that the wise, not the knowledgeable, will shine like the light of the heavens. Here in the northern hemisphere we look forward to the no-so-frequennorthern lightst appearance of the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights. On a good night, the sky seems to be aflame with lights dancing and waving across the heavens.

As believers in Christ, we are called to be wise. It’s not an option. It’s not set aside for those who have been more blessed with riches and resources. Wisdom isn’t measured by what I have, but how I use what I have. I know many people of simple means who are by far wiser than those with fancy titles after their names.

So, how can I be wise? Here are some tips go gain wisdom.

First of all, ASK. That may seem too simple, but James tells us in James 1:5 that “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” It may seem too simple, but who better to ask than the creator of the universe. Growing closer to Him helps us to see life as he sees it which, by the way will be markedly different than many ‘experts’ of the day.

Secondly, SEEK out those who seem to have wisdom glean from them by listening and learning. Don’t simply seek out the people with fancy cars and fancy titles. Seek those who exhibit on a daily basis the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. There is no real wisdom aside from Christ.

Lastly, and this is the most difficult, KEEP ON! Teachers can teach you knowledge. Preachers can teach you Godliness. Only life can teach you wisdom. As you seek a closer relationship with God; as you learn from those who have gone before you, be patient with yourself. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Soon you’ll find you are shining like the very stars in heaven and people will Give God the glory for who you are.

PRAYER: Lord God, there as so many times when I fail. There are so many times when I live according to my own expectations or the expectations of others. Empower me with your Spirit so that I can live according to your wisdom so others will see you in me. In Jesus name, Amen.


“But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his. Job 12:13

Jerry rarely missed a service. He was always early and, during the winter months, was more than willing to grab a shovel to clean up the sidewalks and walkways where the plow missed. He was a simple man and I use that as a compliment. Years of drug abuse mixed with mental health issues and a dysfunctional upbringing had taken its toll on Jerry. As a result he lived solely on his disability check. He was a prime example of surviving, but not really living.

One day I Jerry stopped by the church and I realized (quite to my shame) that I’d never really sat and talked with Jerry much. I was new to the church and had gotten taken up in many other things related to the ministry. That day was different. I pulled up a chair and sat down with Jerry to talk, or should I say, listen.

Our conversation turned to the ministry and I asked him, unaware of where it would lead, how he felt about how things were going at the church. That question was like a floodgate that opened to all sorts of ideas Jerry had about how we should ‘grow the worship services’ and ‘build the youth group.’ It didn’t stop there. I found out Jerry had ideas about virtually every aspect of the ministry.

But that wasn’t a surprise. Anyone in ministry knows that everyone has ideas about ‘how to do ministry.’ What caught me off guard is that many (if not all) of Jerry’s ideas were very good! This ‘simple man’ had loads of wisdom that no one chose to listen to.

When I asked him why he didn’t tell people his ideas, he bowed his head and said softly, ‘Aw, they don’t care. None of them listen to me. I’m just an old druggy.’

Jerry was an example of having wisdom but no power to act on his wisdom. Our churches are full of people like that. We tend to look past them because we are too busy fighting fires set by those who have the power but lack the wisdom. Wisdom without power is futility; power without wisdom is tyranny.

Job knew about those people. He knew all too well what it was like to be barraged with people who knew ‘just what to do’ but either plowed ahead recklessly leaving wounded lives in their wake and what it was like to see those people with great wisdom that weren’t listened to because of past poor choices.

What a blessing to realize our God had both the wisdom and the power to make things happen in our lives. When people fail you, remember that God has everything you need to succeed.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you that you have the power and the wisdom to help me make a difference. Give me courage to speak when I know your way and a listening ear for those who may not have the power but have wise words for me. Amen.


Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. Ecclesiastes 7:9

When I was in high school many years ago, I remember a game our school played against one of our rivals. We knew each other well. Perhaps too well as a matter of fact. The opposing team had a player who was one of the best, if not the best, player in our area. He had one flaw though and that flaw evened the playing field considerably.

Even though he had the skills to beat any of us, he also had a temper. The coaches never told us to take advantage of that of course, but we all knew that an occasional push under the basket or a derogatory comment made under our breath would rile him up. If we could get him angry he would likely foul out or his anger would force him to make mistakes.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Those words reflect nicely the wisdom of Proverbs 7:9. Once we allow others to influence our attitudes it can affect how we function in our workplace, families or any other relationships.  Once that happens, it’s often ‘Game Over’.

The Bible is full of constant reminders and examples of people and situations that can attack our attitude. Once that happens we have a decision to make. Are we going to respond to the situation or react to the situation. Responding has the idea of taking the time to plan and wise and timely action. Reacting is more about quick (and often inappropriate) action.

Responding may require you to take time to think about next steps. The silence when you are pondering next steps may cause others to think you are a fool for not acting quickly. But it’s better to take your time and think things through than to prove to others that you are a fool by acting too quickly!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I have to confess to you that there are times I’ve hurt others, my reputation and most importantly, you, but rash actions. Forgive me for not taking the time to think wisely. Help me, by your Spirit, to show patience, mercy and grace in situations where wisdom is needed. Amen.

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