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Building God’s House
“Building a Life of Wisdom”
To Listen to the Audio: https://mega.nz/#!LEtThCYT!krWOEq22AUvfgfnf5dVriXnQk44MYAb7hP0s04CIoFk
Years ago I read two proverbs that resonated so much within me that I have lived my life and conducted my duties as a teacher of God’s word based a lot upon them.
I will never be able to get enough wisdom. Therefore, I search out from others the wisdom they’ve found from their journeys of faith, and time spent in God’s word. And while I may not fully agree with some of their conclusions, it has kept me sharp and open to learning more about God’s word, along with His will and way for my life, and the world in which we live.
And while such a search for wisdom is good, as pointed out by Solomon when he said, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV), the true wisdom we need to navigate this journey of faith comes only from the Lord.
One of the businesses I owned in Las Vegas sat on the corner of Charleston and Fourth Street. It was considered one of the worst intersections in Las Vegas. Now Fourth Street isn’t a major thoroughfare, like Charleston and Las Vegas Boulevard South, or the strip, which is just one short block away. But that is exactly what made it one of the worst intersections. People would see the green light at the Charleston and Strip intersection and gun it, not realizing that the light at the Fourth Street intersection was red.
As we drive down the road of life we come to these sorts of dangerous intersections. We refer to them as “forks in the road.” They are those moments when decisions need to be made on the best course of action we are to undertake. Do we stop or go. Turn right or left. Go ahead or turn back. Perhaps you are at such an intersection in your life right now.
The Bible speaks about a divine resource we can utilize when we come to these intersections of life. It is called wisdom. But how are we to gain such wisdom? How do we gain the wisdom to deal with life? How do we deal with the obvious shortage of wisdom in our world today?
Does God just open up our heads and pour some in when we need it?
I have found that when when wisdom is needed, I try to follow the KISS methodology, which is an anagram for “Keep It Simple Saint.” Now, some like to use the word “stupid” for the last “S”. But most people aren’t stupid, they just haven’t had the right training, or they haven’t been told how to do something.
So, in keeping with this KISS anagram, I want to use a simple method that will help gain the wisdom we need. It’s from one of its most recognizable passages in the book of Proverbs.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs. 3:5-6 NKJV)
Life creates a demand for wisdom, which God supplies when His conditions are met.
But what is wisdom?
There are various definitions of wisdom. Webster defines it as “the ability to make right use of knowledge.”
Denny, in our men’s study, used this practical definition of wisdom as the ability to make right use of knowledge when he said that knowledge is knowing a tomato it’s a fruit, but wisdom is knowing enough not to use it in a fruit salad.
Wisdom is the ability to discern what is true or right. One theological dictionary defines wisdom as “prudent, considered, experienced, and competent action to master the various problems of life.”
Wisdom, therefore, has both moral implications, discerning what’s right; and intellectual implications, discerning what’s true. Wisdom, therefore, involves the practical use of knowledge that enables a person to make right choices that honor God.
Someone said, “Wisdom is the God-given ability to perceive the true nature of a matter and to implement the will of God in that matter.”
The Hebrew word translated “wisdom” usually refers to some kind of skill or ability that had been given by God, especially as it was used of the wisdom God gave people so that His tabernacle and temple could be built. Wisdom, therefore, is having the skills to live life according to God’s plan.
The wise person is someone that patterns his or her finances, goals, relationships, and every aspect of life according to the specifications revealed in God’s Word. And what God’s word reveals is that all true wisdom begins with and come directly from God.
“The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28 NKJV)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7 NIV)
From a biblical perspective, if a person does not know God, who created all things, who has revealed truth and established absolute values, then that person cannot be wise. So, wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. That is, having reverent relationship with God, which means having a deep respect, love, and awe of God in our life.
This is at the heart of our verse in how we go about building a life of wisdom
We are faced with dozens of decisions every day. Some of them are big, some of them are small. What’s amazing, however, is how many sources the average person uses in making these decisions. They consult horoscopes, ask peers, or listen to Oprah or Dr. Phil.
But these sources are not ‘necessarily’ from God, especially wisdom from such things as horoscopes, or other mystical revelations. Instead, the Apostle James calls them earthly, sensual, and demonic (James 3:15).
There is a wisdom, however, that comes from above that James describes as pure, peaceable, gentle, and full of good fruit. This is the wisdom that we need for our journey through this life. And such wisdom comes from God and from His word. To access this wisdom, God calls for us to do it His way, and not our own, which is what our passage in Proverbs tells us. It is such wisdom that will give us clear direction in life.
I heard the story of the woman driving through the mountains west of Denver when she ran into a snowstorm. She was completely lost and then peered ahead and saw a pickup truck with a snow plow attached to its front. Since she was lost she decided to follow the truck and kept as close as she could while it removed snow from the road. The truck would go up the hill get to the top and make a “U-turn” and go back down the hill. Faithfully she kept following the truck. After three times up and down the hill, the truck stopped, and its driver got out and walked over to her car. He asked, “Lady, where are you going?” “I’m on my way to Denver.” she replied. The truck driver replied, “Well, you’ll never get there following me! I’m just plowing my drive-way!”
In order to get to our destinations, we must make sure we’re on the right road. And to get on that right road we need to follow God, who desires to give directions.
The Apostle James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5 NKJV)
God will give us wisdom, and He will give it generously. God is not stingy with this gift. He knows how badly we need it. The word James uses here means “without reserve,” that is, God will not withhold any of His wisdom.
Further, He will give it without finding fault. God will not insult us and make us feel badly or unworthy for coming and asking Him. It’s God’s desire for us to have the wisdom we need to stay on the path that leads to eternal life.
But before we can get more involved in our verse, there are a couple of myths that need to be corrected.
Myth #1: God’s Will is Hard to Find
Many of us struggle trying to figure out what God wants us to do in any number of situations. But much of what He desires for our lives is already revealed in the Bible. God has given to us His word to find the answers and wisdom we need for life.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV)
God’s Word, the Bible, was written to guide us and direct us. Our responsibility is to study it so that we can find out what He desires. If we study God’s word, then God is faithful to reveal His will for our lives.
Myth #2: God Wants Us to Know the Future
God does not tell us everything about the future. If He did where would faith be? God does not necessarily reveal what is coming next. In fact we do not even know what tomorrow may hold, and so we worry.
Jesus, however, said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 NKJV)
One reason that God doesn’t reveal our entire future is because He wants us to trust Him moment by moment as we take one step at a time. But, what we do know is that these steps of faith will ultimately take us into an eternity in Heaven with Him.
To know then what God wants, we not only need to take time in His word, but we also need to take time with Him in prayer. And when things get serious, or when life-changing decisions need to be made, may I also suggest fasting.
So, what must we do to make wise decisions? Our signature verse in Proverbs gives us three steps to undertake.
1. Trust in the Lord
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” (Proverbs 3:5a NKJV)
What I found interesting is that back in 1981, a survey conducted by The Ladies Home Journal that asked, “In whom do you trust?” The answers may come as a shock. Walter Cronkite received 40% of the vote, Pope John Paul 26%, Billy Graham 6%, and God came in with 3%.
We have trusted many people and many things in our lives. We’ve trusted our families, friends, even our bosses. We’ve trusted our transportation devices, our doctors and health care system, and even our government. What do all these things have in common? They all have, at one time or another, let us down and have failed our trust.
We have all felt the disastrous results of failed trust. Confidences are shattered, tears are shed, feelings are hurt, trust is damaged, and bitterness grows. Whom or what can we trust? Jesus tells us to trust God, and since Jesus is God, the second person of the Godhead, He tells us to trust in Him.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me.” (John 14:1 NIV)
Our problem is that we’ve gotten our eye off the ball. We’ve become so focused on the trials and difficulties of life, that we’ve taken our focus off of the Creator of life.
When Peter accepted Jesus invitation to come out to Him on the water, he was doing okay while he remained focused on Jesus. But when he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the waves that were coming against him, he began to sink (Matthew 14:29-30).
God can get us through the most impossible situations, but we must keep our focus on Him, and trust in Him, and not on anything else, or we will soon find ourselves sinking into despondency, despair, and depression.
And so in this crazy mixed up world, God tells us to place our trust, that is our unswerving belief, in Him, and that He will direct our lives and bring about His perfect plan.
King David found this to be true, and in a Psalm about the righteousness of God even in the tragedies of life, he said that God is worthy of trust.
“The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:9-10 NKJV)
The full resources of God are at our disposal when we place our trust in Him.
The key here is trust. If we do not place our trust in God, then there is no access to His power, His mercy, or His love. When trials arise and difficulties come, we must place our trust in God. Without trust in God there is no comfort, peace, strength, or relief.
The word “trust” in Hebrew literally means, “to lean with the whole body” or “to rest one’s full weight” upon something. The word picture carries the idea of stretching ourselves out upon a bed or sitting down in a chair with full confidence that we’ll not be let down. To trust is to put our full weight on something.
To trust in the Lord is to rest our full weight, everything we’ve got upon Him.
Now, the word “heart” refers to more than just the place where feelings come from. In the Old Testament, the heart was considered the center of the mind, will, and emotions. We’re to trust God with the whole of who we are with all our feelings, thoughts, and decisions.
The Bible tells us, “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save” (Psalm 146:3), but rather, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Psalm 118:8).
Dwight L. Moody said, “Trust in yourself and you are doomed to disappointment. Trust in your friends and they will die and leave you. Trust in money and you may have it taken from you. Trust in your reputation and some slanderous tongue may blast it. But trust in God and you are never to be confounded in time or eternity.”
Now, with this overall understanding that trust means to lean the whole of who we are upon the Lord, we are then presented with the second step if we are to find wisdom.
2. Stop Trying to be In Control
“And lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5b NKJV)
We have been given a positive admonition in the first part of the verse to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” that is to lean the whole of our being upon Him, but now in this second part we are given a negative admonition, and that is not lean on our own understanding.
Why? Because we have limited understanding! We do not understand everything. We do not see the entire picture. We do not have all the facts.
“Understanding” refers to the mental process we use to analyze a problem, and to break it down in order to make a decision.
Most of us think we can figure things out on our own. We can do just fine by ourselves. But, if we’re serious about making wise decisions, we must fight against that internal inclination to trust in our own understanding.
Now, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use common sense, but it does mean we shouldn’t trust in our own understanding for total support. If we try to figure out our life and handle every decision that comes our way based only upon our own knowledge, we’ll be in trouble. Solomon calls it foolishness.
“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26 NKJV)
Have you ever made decisions based on limited or misinformation? What’s reassuring, however, is knowing that God doesn’t. And that’s because He is omniscient, which means He knows everything. That is why He can so generously and liberally give to us the wisdom and understanding we need.
There has been a subtle but deadly proverb that has crept into our psyches. It says, “God helps those who help themselves.” But this is not a biblical truth. It’s a lie. What the Bible says is that God helps those who trust in Him, and have found that they have no confidence in their own abilities or capabilities.
Isaiah understood this as He looked at his own righteousness as compared to the righteousness of God.
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6 NLT)
And so, if wisdom is what we need, then the answer is to first trust in the Lord with the whole of our being, and second is to quit relying on ourselves for the answers. But there’s one more step in this process, the third step, which goes back to the issue of who are we going to trust.
3. Intimately Know God
“In all your ways acknowledge Him.” (Proverbs 3:6a NKJV)
Notice that the verse doesn’t say “some” of our ways. The verse doesn’t say “most” of our ways. The verse says “all” of our ways. It means in everything we do. In every detail of our lives we are to acknowledge God. Now, we’ll get to this word acknowledge in just a second, but for now, let’s keep on this track.
We may think that whatever is going on in our lives, or the decisions we have to make are insignificant, but God doesn’t. We may even think we can handle it, but we can’t. We may think that it is something outside of God’s concern in this present time, but it’s not.
God cares about every aspect of our lives. He cares about every detail no matter how minute we think it is. That is why He uses the word “all.” God wants us to invite Him into every detail of our lives. He cares about us that much.
Now, the word “acknowledge” carries with it the idea of an intimate relationship. It is the same word used of the knowledge that a husband or wife has of their spouse. And so, a more literal translation of this passage might be, “In all your ways, know God intimately.”
Now, such knowledge only comes when we enter into that intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is when we accept Him as our personal Savior and Lord. At that moment, Jesus becomes our bridegroom, and we His bride.
And so, when we know God in such an intimate and personal way, trusting Him with the whole of our being and no longer trusting in ourselves, that is when God’s wisdom will flow into us.
Now let’s look at the outcome of these three steps.
“And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:6b NKJV)
Proverbs is telling us that life is a journey that goes up into the mountains one day and swerves down into the swamp the next. Sometimes the road is washed out or filled with potholes. But when we decide to give God first place in our lives, wholly and completely trusting in Him, and not ourselves, then He will give us the wisdom to walk this path of life.
Please understand that this is not always the easiest path to take. It is the narrow road that leads away from sin and destruction and points us into deeper fellowship with Christ.
Do you seek wisdom? Do you want to make wise decisions?
Then: Trust in the Lord with the whole of your being, stop trying to be in control and let God take control, and have that personal intimate relationship with Him, and then He will lead you on the straight and narrow road whose ending is in Heaven.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study