Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wisdom...It's Here For Us

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

I remember Granny’s supper. It was there for me. That was what she told me when I came in after playing out on the farm. Oh, I had heard her call us for supper. But we were busy trying to squeeze the last of the daylight out of the day. So we ignored her until it became too dark to play. When we came into the kitchen, the table was cleared and dishes were being washed. “Granny, where’s our supper?” I asked. As I asked the question, I could see the dogs in the yard, eating what appeared to be the scraps from the table. “Son, it was here for you,” she said.
Often we are faced with decisions that require wisdom beyond our capacity and we delay coming to place where wisdom is found. How many times have I prayed as a last resort, knowing while I am praying that I should have sought God sooner? I often wonder if I ignore God's call to feed me wisdom as much as I ignored my Granny's invitation to supper...taking for granted it would be there whenever it suited my purposes.
The good news is that we can ask God for wisdom. The Bible says so. If our pride keeps us from asking God for wisdom, our pride is keeping us from God. The writer of the book of James talked a lot about wisdom. He thought it was something that we need. Do you need wisdom? Or do you have all the answers?

I. WE ARE NEVER WISER THAN WHEN WE KNOW WE LACK WISDOM. The person that knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. The person who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is teachable. When we admit that we lack wisdom, we are ready to receive it.

II. WHEN WE KNOW WE LACK WISDOM, WE SHOULD KNOW WHERE TO FIND IT. The next logical step after acknowledging our need for wisdom and admitting our lack of it is to find out where wisdom is found. God is the source of wisdom. Wisdom is applied knowledge. It is not only knowing the right thing to do, it is knowing how to do it. It is not only knowing what to say, but knowing when to say it. Only God has the wisdom to use in different situations. It seems wise to ask Him.

III. THE WISEST REQUEST WE CAN MAKE IS FOR SOMETHING WE LACK AND KNOW THAT WE NEED. The Bible says we have not because we ask not. It also tells us that we should make our requests known to God through prayer. God wants us to know His wisdom is available, abundant, and sufficient for the asking. He wants us to sense our lack, our need, and be dependent on His provision. Like Granny’s supper, it is there for us! Have you received wisdom beyond your own? Will you tell others where to find it? Or are you still trying to squeeze all the joy's out of the world's pleasure and seek to find answers to the complexities of life without God's wisdom? For then we can claim that we can solve our own problems and live on our terms without God's inconvenient interruptions. Don't be a fool...seek the wisdom of God. It is there for you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Contented In The Circumstances

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need...And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:11-13, 19)

My heart goes out to the parent who promises their children that if they are good, the child will get to choose what kind of toy they get at the store. The lesson is usually learned during subsequent trips to the store that the toys become bigger and more expensive to the parent and less and less satisfying to the child.
Often we operate on a similar rewards system with God. We think if we are good enough, God will bless us with what we want. The problem is that we really cannot be content with what we want. Want is always found wanting. Wanting is never satisfied. When we view God as some kind of cosmic benevolent grandfather who gives in order to reward good behavior, we have set ourselves up for disappointment and dissatisfaction with God. We will be painfully disillusioned with Him.
Once we understand that God gives because He loves, we are not the same. His measure of grace is not measured by our merit. He gives more of His grace to us who seem the least deserving. Paul was one of those who learned how to be content. He believed that contentment began with our acceptance of God’s grace. Some thoughts on today’s passage:
I. WE ARE NATURALLY DISSATISFIED. We are born wanting. We want because we do not have all we need inside ourselves. We are born without our greatest need being met...a personal, intimate relationship with God. So we strive all our lives to find that which we lack. And all but God Himself does not satisfy. Paul wrote that he did not speak from his position of wanting. This is because he was no longer a natural man, but a supernatural one. He had found Someone who satisfies.
II. CONTENTMENT IS A LEARNED CONDITION. We must practice contentment. We do this when we practice gratitude. When we examine what we have been given, what we share with Christ, and evaluate the grace of God, we will find ourselves humbled and in most cases contented. The more we practice gratitude, the more contented we will become. Contentment comes with maturity. It comes with the knowledge of God’s nature and intimacy with Him.
III. SATISFACTION IS KNOWING THAT GOD IS ALL WE NEED. Conversion comes before contentment. The old saying, “When all you really have is God, you’ll find you have all you really need”, is a truth we can all live by. Jesus satisfies. If it does not come from God, it’s probably something that we don't really need. We need to be like God.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Planning My Work, Working My Plan

Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
(Proverbs 16:3)

A construction company I’m familiar with has the words, “established 1988” after their name. For the founders of the company, the year they were established was the year of their beginning. The company believes they exist for a specific purpose and they exist to achieve that purpose. Sadly, some companies begin and never become established. They just exist. Our lives can be lived in much the same way. We celebrate birthdays year after year. But sometimes we are only celebrating an existence, not an establishment. We never live with a purpose. We never understand that we are established. Built with a plan and purpose in mind.
The saddest thing I continue to see is people dying without knowing why they lived. The despair hangs heavy around people who do not know the reason they were formed. Living life without living on purpose is only marking time. It is painful to endure the trials of aging and face the reality that our years have been squandered.
When we give our lives to God, He never wastes it. No matter when we give them. He has a purpose for me being established. The purpose extends beyond my generation. He is building a Kingdom. And to be a worker in the Kingdom, I must surrender my plans. It’s not my kingdom that we build.

I. MY WORK MUST FOLLOW AN ESTABLISHED PLAN. Planning your work and working your plan is a man’s method of working. If God is working, then He is following His plan and not mine. I should be intentional in discovering God’s plan and working With Him.
II. WHEN I COMMIT MY WORK TO THE LORD, HE HAS ALREADY ESTABLISHED MY PLAN. Once I know God’s plan, I am to join in His work. This is the only way my work ever has eternal value. God establishes His plan and puts His desire into my heart. Then He extends an invitation. When God’s plan becomes my plan, it is established.
III. GOD ESTABLISHES MY PLAN AFTER HE EXAMINES MY MOTIVES. God is not interested in establishing my plans for building my kingdom. He is interested in establishing my plans for building His kingdom. He is interested in building His kingdom in accordance with His workable plans and His purposes. God knows the reason we work for him. Is it a labor of love? Do we love the recognition of being a kingdom builder? Whose kingdom are we building? Do we love God and desire what is in His heart?


Monday, December 12, 2011

Seeking To Support

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His… (2 Chronicles 16:9)

In a recent summer season, in the murky waters of several North Carolina waterways, a diver was submerged, according to a newspaper article. He was diving around bridges and searching in the dark waters, feeling around the pilings and columns for signs of instability caused by the undermining currents. Beneath the surface, bridges are in need of shoring up. Someone is seeking to provide support before they collapse under the weight of daily traffic flow.
Sometimes the amount of stress that daily living brings can bring about a total collapse if the supports are not strong enough. The damage can be quite heavy when we are broken. Even today, someone hearing this message may give off no visible signs of cracking under the strain of intense emotional pain. It may be a surprise to someone close to you that you are on the edge of emotional breakdown. Deep inside, you know that the pain of enduring another disappointment may be the one thing that brings you down. And you wonder if there is any help.
The good news is that there is Someone who cares and Someone who sees our stress and strain. He comes when we give it all to Him. The pain, the chaos, the anxiety, the fear, the feelings of inadequacy. God wants it all because He wants our hearts. And all that is in them.

I. THE EYES OF THE LORD IS SEARCHING IN THE DARKNESS FOR SIGNS OF STRESS AND OVERLOAD. God’s eyes are better than a cat’s eyes are rumored to be. His vision is better than the night vision equipment that our military depends upon. He can see us in the darkness. And He loves us when He finds us there. The good news is that God calls us out of the darkness, out of the hopelessness and brokenness of our human existence. He calls us out of the darkness and into His love.

II. THE SEARCH IS ALL ABOUT STRONGLY SUPPORTING THOSE WHOSE HEARTS ARE STRAINING UNDER THE LOAD. God looks for our hearts that are breaking under the stress of living. He is seeking to bind up the broken hearted and help us. All of His resources are available to those who make their heart available to Him.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden…” This is our invitation to bring our stressed out and overburdened hearts to Jesus. He wants it. We need it. He is our life support.