332:  The Deeper Things of God

332: The Deeper Things of God

You know, there’s more to our life in Christ than most of us realize.  And that’s because most of us are satisfied and content with far less than what God has planned for us.  Consider one of the primary purposes of acquiring wisdom:

A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, (why) to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles – Proverbs 1:5-6.

The climax, the zenith of wisdom is to be able to understand an “enigma” (or, a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand, also a riddle, a symbol or parable, a discourse requiring an interpretation) and the words of the wise and their “riddles” (or, difficult questions, perplexing sayings, statements with double meanings, or dark or obscure utterances).  It is the ability to comprehend the deep, dark sayings of the Lord. The hidden truths, the obscure meanings of His Words.

Yes, that is our inheritance in Him via His wisdom.  So how are you doing in the wisdom arena?  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study of Proverbs 1:5-6.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

I’m No Longer a Slave to Fear

I’m No Longer a Slave to Fear

This is one of the most powerful videos I’ve seen in a long time.  For some reason, it moves me everytime I watch it.  And I hope it will do the same for you.

big_lines

big_lines

Enjoy and be blessed.

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

331:  The Stuff Life Throws at Us

331: The Stuff Life Throws at Us

Sometimes, life throws us a curveball.  Scripture tells us to expect “trials and tribulations” (James 1:2) and even “persecutions” (2 Tim. 3:12)— but what seems to knock us down the hardest are the things we don’t see coming, just the bad stuff that happens to fallen people living in a fallen world.

All people, both good and bad, sometimes get cancer, lose their jobs, or suffer from broken relationships.  No one is promised an easy road this side of heaven.  Which, if you think about it, should make heaven more appealing.  But often it doesn’t. Instead, we get overwhelmed and depressed by daily life.

Did you ever wonder why?  And have you ever wondered why your prayer life gets overwhelmed by the problems of life when it should be the other way around?  If so, this message is for you.  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on Prayer and Luke 18:1-8.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

Are You a Wise Guy?

Are You a Wise Guy?

A wise man will hear and increase learning,
and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.
Proverbs 1:5-6

As we learned from our last study together, Solomon has some pointed words to say to the simple and to the impetuous young men. Remember?

To give prudence to the simple (and to give) to the young man knowledge and discretion (Prov. 1:4).

But he also has much to say to those who lived on the other end of the continuum: the wise, the learned, the men of understanding who seek wise, Godly counsel.  You see, Proverbs is a book given to us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16) and is for all of us: the young, the old, the dedicated as well as the apathetic, the hot, the cold, and the lukewarm (Rev. 3:15-17), the theologically trained and the ones who only know one thing, “that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25).  It’s for everyone.  And regardless of our sinful, broken past or our life of privilege and opulence, the wisdom of God revealed in the Proverbs calls each of us, no matter who we are, wherever we are, into a deeper relationship with Him.

And in the closing two verses of the preamble to this grand gift to us, Solomon lets the pendulum swing hard to the other side and turns his attention to the opposite of the simple and naive.  He now addresses the wise and astute, the ones who should know better, who do know better, and shows us how to understand the book we are now reading.

Let’s take a look at what Solomon had to say to those who live on the other side of the spiritual track.


The Wisdom of the Wise

In Proverbs 1:5-6 we read:

A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.

As you can see, Solomon is addressing two categories of people in this passage: a wise man and a man of understanding.  But who are these people and what about their character draws us to them?

The term wise man is used to describe “one who is skilled or experienced.”  The Proverbs expand this definition by showing a wise man is one “who continues to learn and is teachable (Prov. 9:9, 13:1), is one who heeds and accepts a rebuke (Prov. 9:8, 15:31), and one who speaks properly (Prov. 14:3, 15:2, 16:23).”1  But there’s much more.  For Solomon continually contrasts the life of the wise man with the not-so-wise man to show us the inevitable results of the choices we make.  For example:

Proverbs 3:35 – The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools.

Proverbs 10:8 – The wise in heart will receive commands, but a prating fool will fall.

Proverbs 10:14Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

Remember, a wise man is only wise because he has received the wisdom from God that makes him wise.  His wisdom does not come from within himself, or from some university degree, or his apparent success in this world.  Scripture tells us that all the wisdom this world can offer is “foolishness (or, moronic, folly, absurdity) before God” and will soon fade away (1 Cor. 3:19).  It means nothing.  Zilch.

Proverbs 1:5 begins by telling us the “wise man will hear (or, listen, be attentive, understand, obey) and, as a result of hearing, increase (or, to do again, to add, to continue) learning (or, receive teaching, insight, instruction).”  The wise man thirsts for more, wants more, craves more.  He will not be satisfied with trifle tidbits of information designed to placate his curiosity.  He’s inquisitive, with an insatiable appetite for more than what he’s already received.  “If there’s more to Christ than I know right now, I want it!  And I won’t be satisfied with anything less.”

The wise man, the one filled with the wisdom of God, with Christ Himself (1 Cor. 1:30), will hear, listen, understand, and then obey what he receives from the Lord.  He will be loyal and trustworthy, faithful with the small, what he now has, knowing Christ will soon reward him with greater truths (Luke 16:10).  And the more he sees of Jesus, the more he understands about Jesus, the more he lives in the unbroken presence of Jesus, the more he wants Jesus.  Nothing else matters.  Nothing else can satisfy.

This wise man will hear from the Lord and then increase or continue in what he has learned.  He wants to know more, to experience more, to understand more.  He will study the Scriptures to “present himself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).  He will diligently memorize Scripture in order to “hide God’s word in his heart, that he might not sin against God” (Psalm 119:11) and he will work hard to grow in the wisdom God has provided him (Prov. 9:9).


A Man of Understanding

A “man of understanding” (biyn), on the other hand, is a man of “comprehension and discernment, one who exhibits righteous actions with a strong moral and religious connotation.”  He’s a man who strives after the things of God and who can discern the difference between, not only the “good and the bad”— but also the “good and the best.”

And it says “a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Prov. 1:5).  The word attain means to “get, buy, possess” at all costs and is reminiscent of the Kingdom parables spoken by our Lord.  Remember?  A man finds a treasure hidden in a field and joyfully goes and sells all he has to purchase the field (Matt. 13:44).  Why?  To attain the treasure, no matter the costs.  Again, a merchant seeking beautiful pearls finds what he’s looking for and sells all he has to buy the pearl, the object of his search and obviously the passion of his life (Matt. 13:45-46).  Why?  Because he would not let anything keep him for attaining the pearl, even if it costs him all he has.  And so it is with the “man of understanding” when it comes to getting wise counsel.

The phrase “wise counsel” means wise “guidance, direction, or good advice” and the importance of that virtue is taught many places throughout the Proverbs.  For example:

Proverbs 11:14 – Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.

Proverbs 13:10 – By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.

Proverbs 20:18 – Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.

Proverbs 24:6 – For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

As you can see, a “man of understanding” seeks the wise counsel in order to learn from others who have also received the wisdom of God.  Why?  Because they lead to collective wisdom, for no one man can know everything there is to know about all things.  After all, “he who walks with wise men will be wise” (Prov. 13:20) and “a wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength” (Prov. 24:5).  Need we say more?


Riddles and Dark Sayings

But what about the last part of this passage?  What about the “riddles and dark sayings”?  It seems the “wise man” and the “man of understanding” will “hear and increase learning” and “attain wise counsel” for only one reason: “to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles” (Prov. 1:6).

“But what’s an enigma and the words of the wise and their riddles”? you ask.  Great question.  And one we will look into next time.

Until then, enjoy some wise sayings from our own culture.

“Two minds are better than one.”
“Many hands make light work.”
Or, how about this one: “When spider webs unite they can tie up a lion.”

Adveho quis may.
Come what may.

big_lines


Getting Serious

1.   How would you describe your quiet time with the Lord?
2.  Do you have a special place where you meet daily with the Lord?  Does He meet you there?  And, if so, what is your time with Him like?
3.  Do you have a group of fellow believers who speak wisdom into your life?  If so, how did you meet them?  How has your intimacy and trust with them grown over time?
4.  If you don’t have those in your life who can offer you wise counsel, why?  And, are you a person who is in a position to offer wise counsel to others?  If so, how did that relationship come about?  If not, why?
5.  On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process?  What was it yesterday?  Are you growing in the wisdom of God?  And, if not, why?


Next Step Challenge

Take a sheet of paper and write down 5 people you know to be wise and ones you would trust to receive counsel from.  What about their lives leads you to trust them?  What character traits do they possess that you admire the most?  What single thing in their life speaks loudest about their relationship with Christ?

Do you have the same character traits in your life that you admire in theirs?  If not, what are you prepared to do about that?  Are you willing to humble yourself before the Lord and ask Him to change you into the person He wants you to be, no matter the costs?  Have you asked Him for His wisdom, for His Son, and have you received Him on His terms?

Finally, make a list of 5 people you would never go to for wise advice.  List the reasons why.  Then compare the two lists and see which one most describes your own character traits.

Is the news good or bad?  And what are you prepared to do about it?

big_lines

1. Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 336). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

Four Verbs, Part Two

Four Verbs, Part Two

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Proverbs 1:2-4

As we discussed yesterday, in digging deep into the preamble of Proverbs 1, we came across a few intriguing verbs: know, perceive, receive, and give and also the nouns associated with those verbs: wisdom, instruction, understanding, justice, judgment, equity, knowledge and discretion.

In Proverbs 1:2-4 we again find:

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity
To give prudence to the simple (and to give) to the young man knowledge and discretion.

As a reminder, notice again the natural progression of action.  To know, then to perceive something, then to choose to personally receive and embrace what we now know and perceive, and finally to share, to give what we have now received to someone else.

We’ve already looked at the first three verbs.  Now let’s spend some time trying to see and understand what the Lord expects us to do with what we’ve now received from Him, in Christ, by grace.

And the answer to that question is found in one simple word: give.

But a few questions remain.  What are we to give to others?  And who are the others we are to give something to?


To Give

So what are we to do with what we have received from Him?  We are to give it away, we are to give our very lives to others.  This is the meaning of: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39).

Question:  But what are we to actually give to others?
Answer:  What we have received from Him: grace, love, understanding, hope, and wisdom.

Question:  And who are we to share and give His wisdom to?
Answer:  Everyone. But specially the “simple” and the “young man.”

Look again at Proverbs 1:4:  To give prudence to (who) the simple, to the (who) young man knowledge and discretion.

Four words stand out in this verse: prudence, simple, knowledge and discretion.  We are to give prudence, or shrewdness, cautiousness to the simple.  In fact, prudence can also be translated as common sense, care, or good judgment.  The word simple means naive, foolish, gullible, inexperienced, or simpleminded— pretty much the opposite of prudence.  It describes someone not firing on all cylinders, or someone who doesn’t have it all together, or someone lacking wisdom and common sense.

The Proverbs speak much about the simpleminded person.  For example:

Proverbs 1:22 – “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?” For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.

Proverbs 7:7 – And saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of understanding.

Proverbs 8:5 – O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart.

Proverbs 14:15 – The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.

Proverbs 14:18 – The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

Proverbs 22:3 – A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.

Therefore, we are to give, or place before, the simple, the naive, the gullible, those lacking common sense, good judgment and discipline, prudence.  We are to give to those lacking wisdom the very wisdom from God that we possess in order to help them make good, God-honoring choices with their lives and not be led astray into sin and its consequences.  And we can only do that by opening our mouth and speaking truth to those who may, or may not, appreciate what we’re about to say.  But that doesn’t matter, does it?  All we should be concerned with is our obedience to give what we know and perceive and have received, by grace, from Him.

Again, note the progression:  First, we know God’s truth by experience and acceptance.  Next, we perceive by our senses the impact of this profound truth concerning God’s wisdom.  Our eyes are now opened to the truth in a new and unmistakable way.  Then, we must make it personal by choosing to receive what we know and now see into our lives.  This demands obedience, an all-or-nothing commitment to what we know to be true.  And finally, we are to be willingly spent on others, as Oswald Chambers would say, “like broken bread and poured out wine.”  We are to give to others what we have received by grace, especially the most vulnerable of all people, the “simple” and the “young men.”


The Young Men

Why did Solomon single out the “young men”?  Because they tend to be the most zealous, the strongest, the easiest swayed, and the people who need the most guidance.  When we use the phrase, “He went off half-cocked” we are not usually referring to an older man or any woman or a child.  It’s the young man, the punk, the headstrong, the “better get out of my way” man.  It’s “zeal without knowledge” on steroids.  “Don’t try to confuse me with the truth, I’ve already made up my mind.”  Remember?

Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who (zeal) hastens with his feet (Proverbs 19:2).

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:2-3).

So what are we to give these excited, passionate, yet sometimes misguided young men?  The Proverbs say knowledge and discretion.  Or, understanding, insight, wisdom and a purpose or a plan in which to apply what they now understand.  It’s the antidote of going off half-cocked, or saying, “I’ve just got to do something, even if it’s wrong!”  It’s the opposite of “calling your own shots” or “doing what seems best in your own eyes” (Jud. 21:25).  Having “knowledge and discretion” is being able to think clearly, without being overwhelmed by strong, confusing emotions, and then following the truth and the facts to a course of action that is “true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy” (Phil. 4:8).  It’s being “in Christ” and living in the wisdom of God.

It’s also the one thing that can save our younger generation today:  wisdom, an understanding of life and the things of God, and a purpose or plan in Him, God ordained, that gives life meaning. After all, Proverbs 7:7 says, “And (I) saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of (what) understanding.”  Yes, understanding.  And it’s up to us to give to these He loves what we’ve already received in Him, by His grace.

Would you join with me in this?


The Four Verbs

Having wisdom, having the “mind of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:16), and having Christ Himself, who “became for us the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:30) involves responsibility.  It’s not for us to hoard or keep selfishly, miserly to ourselves.  We are not independent contractors, free agents or lone wolves.  Remember, we are the “light of the world” and a “city that is set on a hill.”  So “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).  We are, like our Lord, to live for others and not ourselves.

The Proverbs reveal to us the process of receiving the wisdom of God and then show us how to give it lovingly to others.  We first know, then perceive inwardly, then choose to receive on His terms, and finally determine to give, no matter how uncomfortable that might make us feel.  And in doing so, we imitate the life of Christ to others (Eph. 5:1) and bring the Father glory.

Which is the main point, isn’t it? Bringing God glory. It’s what Jesus lived for and it should be our passion, the driving, pulsating purpose of our existence. Will you join with me in this lifelong endeavor of receiving wisdom from God and then gladly, joyously giving it all away? Will you spend your life, like our Lord, serving others?

Adveho quis may.
Come what may.

big_lines


Getting Serious

1.  How would you describe your ministry to others?
2.  How would you describe your ministry to others that are not family members or friends or members of your own church?
3.  Is there a difference between your answer to Question 1 and Question 2? And, if so, why?
4.  Do you believe the Lord has given you His wisdom? And again, if so, why? Did He bless you with His wisdom for you to be wise only to yourself or those you love? Or, could there be something more He has in mind?
5.  On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process? What was it yesterday? Are you growing in the wisdom of God? And, if not, why?


Next Step Challenge

Take your Bible and look up the following verses, in order to read them in context, and see what you can learn about your responsibilities to others as a Christian. Do any of these apply to you?

Mark 16:15 – And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Does this mean you?

Psalm 96:3 – “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.” Again, does this verse apply to you?

Are you to declare His glory and wonders among the people?

Revelation 14:6-8 – “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth— to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.'”

If God proclaims His Word by angels in the future, how will He use you today to do the same?

big_lines

            podcast-25-25