Wisdom can wait

Today brings me to the last two excerpts from Nancy’s reflections on wisdom.

“Wisdom is connecting the dots between cause and effect in our lives.”

“It’s making choices– before I speak, before I act, before I choose– not just based on what I feel like doing at the moment, but instead, it is making choices based on the long-term outcome.”

Wisdom can say no to immediate gratification or reward. Wisdom can stand up under prolonged trial and keep working diligently when your effort might appear to go unnoticed. Wisdom can wait for God’s reward, His blessing, even if the wait is long and even if the blessing does not come until we meet Him after this lifetime.

I think we need to be lifting one another up and exhorting one another to walk in His wisdom because there will be times when it is so tough to keep on in His ways when the long-term outcome seems too far away or we can’t really picture what God’s good for us would amount to. The body of Christ can urge one another on.

By God’s grace, even in times when I didn’t actively seek to be wise, God often protected me from opportunities to be lured far from Him. Ever since I graduated from college, I have thought time and again about how much the decisions I made, the lifestyle I forged in my teens and early twenties, has shaped the path I am on now and how much that is true for other friends and acquaintances that I know, who are either on the paths of wisdom or the road to folly.

We are a testimony to a watching world when we choose God’s wisdom. We are also a reminder of God’s faithfulness, His light, and His life for the people who walked in His way for a time and have now turned from Him to follow after something or someone else.

It is my prayer that if there are deep desires of my heart that God, in His wisdom, decides never to fulfill, that He would still use that then as a testimony for people in my life who don’t know Him or who have chosen another god. I don’t want all of that struggle and surrender to be wasted. I long for it to be purposeful and I do think that if God says no to the things I’ve been waiting for that there is some glory to be gained for Him in a life that submits to His leading in a world where people often allow the desires of their hearts to run their lives into the paths of destruction.

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Wisdom leads to worshiping God

“Wisdom is orienting and ordering every area of my life around God, around His ways, and around His Word. It’s aligning everything in my life, my thoughts, my speech, my relationships,  my work, my worship, and my play. Everything I do must be ordered around God. Wisdom is living a godly life so that every part of my life is aligned around God and His Word.”

“Wisdom is always asking the question: ‘What pleases God?‘ It’s always checking with God. Living life in the constant air and atmosphere of what God thinks.”

These next two quotes point out how God-centered wisdom must become. There is a measure of discernment needed to keep examining where we are, who we are, and what we are doing to sort out whether our wisdom is man-centered or God-centered. It’s beginning to trouble me how much ‘wisdom’ is out there that seems good to man, but actually leads to our destruction. This is a good time to remember that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Acknowledging who He is in all things and recognizing that He is worthy of our worship and our allegiance helps us to separate His wisdom from the world’s wisdom.

I really appreciated Nancy’s insight that wisdom asks, “What pleases God?” I haven’t thought of it quite in that way before now, but it is a really helpful question for checking in with God and seeing where our hearts are at. It is also a very positive way of thinking about some of the difficult or costly things we may be asked to do or become. In those times, we need the reminder that following Him is a sacrifice of praise, a fragrant offering, and pleasing to Him.

Wisdom takes faith

Let’s take this first quote I mentioned yesterday and mull it over a bit.

“Wisdom is seeing every season, circumstance, and situation of life as God sees it. We have to ask God for wisdom because we can’t see what He sees or know what He knows, so we have to ask Him to help us see life as He sees it.”

That first sentence really caught hold of my attention and reminded me that sometimes I still struggle with sorting out the difference between worldly wisdom and God’s wisdom. It can be so subtle at times. I have had some seasons, circumstances, and situations for which I wring my hands and cry out to Him because I am stuck seeing them from my point of view.

Wisdom that comes from the Lord is not something we attain apart from Him and it can take time and training. I know this is straightforward enough, but then look around you at how others are responding to their lives or even consider some portions of your own life. Friends, we aren’t naturally bent towards God’s wisdom.

It takes faith. Believing in Him for what we cannot see (past). He’s pressing me on this lately and showing me that as much as I strive to think about how my actions and attitudes will influence the future and seek to honor Him in that, there are holes in my armor where other aspects of wisdom are concerned, like seeing where I am positioned and who I am from His perspective.

I suppose I’m being confronted more and more with how integral our Christianity must become with our thinking and living. That runs contrary to my inclination to gather information and then think I can proceed a certain distance on my journey independently. What I am trying to say is that I believe that there are occasions where, even as I seek counsel, pray, read scripture and attempt to walk in wisdom, I somehow still end up trying to do it in my own strength or defaulting to my understanding when the going gets tough.

I’m finding that I will need to surrender my strength and understanding, placing them under His full authority, if I want to truly gain wisdom and have faith.

Gaining wisdom

I’ve been listening to a radio series by Nancy Leigh DeMoss on wisdom and I wanted to pull out a few quotes regarding wisdom that we need to be reminded of over and over as we seek to prioritize the Lord over the other things that compete for our time and attention.

“Wisdom is seeing every season, circumstance, and situation of life as God sees it. We have to ask God for wisdom because we can’t see what He sees or know what He knows, so we have to ask Him to help us see life as He sees it.”

“Wisdom is orienting and ordering every area of my life around God, around His ways, and around His Word. It’s aligning everything in my life, my thoughts, my speech, my relationships, my work, my worship, and my play. Everything I do must be ordered around God. Wisdom is living a godly life so that every part of my life is aligned around God and His Word.”

“Wisdom is always asking the question: “What pleases God?” It’s always checking with God.”

“Wisdom is connecting the dots between cause and effect in our lives. We make certain choices and those choices have certain effects. Wisdom helps us to connect those dots to see the relationship between certain behaviors and certain outcomes.”

“You reap what you sow (Proverbs 22:8, paraphrased). It’s making choices—before I speak, before I act, before I choose—not just based on what I feel like doing at the moment, but instead, it is making choices based on the long-term outcome. What can I expect long-term to come out of this behavior?”

Since there is so much rich content here, I hope to spend a couple of posts this week teasing out these quotes and reflecting on how they apply to our lives.

Oh, Lord, in a world where we can find ourselves quickly turned about with all of the conflicting messages we see and hear, may we invest ourselves in relationship with You and in reading Your Word so that we can grow in wisdom about how to handle the people, resources, talents, circumstances, blessings, and challenges You have sovereignly placed in our care. To God be the glory!

Fear of the Lord

In this post, I want to address some of the major definitions and effects of the fear of the Lord.

First, I’ll take a moment to explain why I would think this is post-worthy. The more I dig deeper into the Word and consider what deters us from being all that we are made to be in Christ, the more I recognize that it often boils down to lies we believe. These insidious lies can be with us for so much of our lives that we don’t even realize they are there and as we try to grow, we might be struggling to fix some of the outward problems unsuccessfully because we haven’t resolved the root of our sin. I believe one of those fundamental places we can be hung up is understanding and applying the concept of the fear of the Lord.

So, what is the fear of the Lord?

Fear of the Lord is often defined as ‘respect,’ ‘reverence,’ or ‘awe’ which points us to an attitude of worship. One who fears the Lord in this manner rightly understands the relationship between God and man and this requires humility and a keen awareness that God’s thoughts and ways are above our understanding. This individual learns obedience by submitting to God’s discipline (sometimes in the form of training or instruction, not just ‘punishment’) and discovers the wisdom that accompanies faith in God, despite what we might see with our eyes that seems to contradict His truth, His character, and His promises. Believers who grow in their fear of the Lord likewise find themselves loving Him more and experience His peace and protection as they practice being still and quiet before Him.

1 Samuel 12:24: “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”

Psalm 34:7:“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

Proverbs 2:11: “Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”

Proverbs 15:33: “The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

Isaiah 33:6: “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.”

Wisdom at the Movies display

I’m interrupting my series on family to highlight the ‘Wisdom at the Movies’ display we have at the library.

One of the technical services staff members has pulled together a wide variety of excellent films that portray aspects of wisdom.

Here is an excerpt from Everett’s reflections on wisdom: “Wisdom, the skillful application of knowledge and insight to daily life, begins with the fear of the Lord. We begin by recognizing our life as a gift that is dependent on the mercy and grace of God. By trusting in the Lord and acknowledging Him in all our ways we are able to recognize the meaning in the order and patterns in the world he has given us and then to apply that knowledge as we seek our way in that world.”

The following list represents a sampling of some of the films on our display. Feel free to come and check them out!

Amazing Grace– political wisdom in the service of right

Becket– live faithfully the calling you’ve received

Chariots of Fire– live for the glory of God

Death of a Salesman– life can be wasted

Empire Strikes Back– the power of a wise mentor

Giant– gain the world, lose your soul

Jesus of Montreal– the wisdom of an outsider

Matrix– wisdom as revelation

Power of One– wise mentor and the wisdom of perseverance

Shawshank Redemption– wisdom of hope

Stranger Than Fiction– wisdom from mortality

Tootsie– wisdom through changed circumstances