Step Towards Transformation
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Illustration: One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried pitifully for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey So he invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off.
Moral: Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!
So far, we have examined in the book of James, How To Respond To Trials,
He told us to consider it pure joy when we have problems of various kinds. He’s trying to teach us how we should be profiting from our problems. So you might say — fine, “I understand that trials are my test and I understand that I need to have certain attitudes during the problem so that God can accomplish what he wants to achieve. But that doesn’t mean that I always know what I’m supposed to be learning, or how I’m supposed to be responding.” When you are confused what do you need? Wisdom right ? — clear direction.
You might understand that your problems are times of testing and you might have adjusted your attitudes to bring them into conformity to what James says here but still need some guidance or direction.
James is addressing Christians who are relying on themselves and not really wholeheartedly seeking after God. He implores us to literally beg for wisdom because we are empty in of ourselves. If we do not seek wisdom, but remain in our own thinking, we will be un-chained like a small boat without an anchor in a storm, tossed and tumbled in the waves of stress and life.
We will be literally unstable mentally, relationally, and spiritually without our Lord’s direction!
Illustration Of Red Flags: The house looked like a fairy tale come true. Though my friend had a nagging feeling about the owners, she ignored it and went to inspect the house. It was spacious and full of sunshine
with a big tree in the front yard. She wanted it more than she had wanted anything in a very long time and she immediately made a deal to get it for a good price. The nagging feeling continued, but the woman pushed aside her doubts and began moving in. Within a short time, she realized in horror she had made a terrible mistake. Several things in the house not only did not work, but, after many visits from various repair companies, she learned they could not be fixed. The owners had promised everything was in working order; surely they wouldn’t lie to her, would they? As time went on, she realized the owners had known about the problems, and had indeed lied to her.
It is always good to have a dream or a goal, but how often in work situations or in business dealings do we run past the red warning flags that something is amiss? How often do we sacrifice our character as our consciences scream “No!” in pursuit of our dream or goal? How often do we fix our eyes on the prize and ignore the red flags of what it will cost us to get there?
Looking back later, the woman realized all the red flags had been there warning that the people she was doing business with were not people of integrity. The wise thing to do would have been to walk away when the doubts came. Too many of her questions had been brushed aside, too many concerns treated as unimportant. But she wanted the house too badly, and she ignored every red flag that popped up in her pursuit in order to have it. She focused only on her goal. In the end, it turned out to be an expensive mistake.
Just as smoke warns us there is fire nearby and pain warns us there is illness in our bodies, the warning sign of a lack of integrity in others we are involved with is not something to be ignored. They are signs that if we ignore the warning, something worse will happen.
Every time I’ve done something that doesn’t feel right, it’s ended up not being right. – Mario Cuomo
Why do we need wisdom when we go through tests and trials?
Tests can be confusing. The question that always arises when we go through trials is ‘WHY This Trials’? But it should be ‘HOW to RESPOND in OUR TRIALS’?
The Greek Word for wisdom is “SOPHIA.” Biblical wisdom is the ability to see things from God’s perspective, and to apply knowledge in practical ways.
We ask: what is God doing?
Proverbs 1:7 Says: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of KNOWLEDGE; fools despise WISDOM and instruction[UNDERSTANDING].
Proverbs 9:10 Says: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of WISDOM, and KNOWLEDGE of the Holy One is UNDERSTANDING.
The Spirit of Understanding is God’s supernatural revelation-His secret insights to His Word. Understanding simply means a “putting together” or a comprehending or a grasping of His Word. The Spirit of God illuminates our hearts and gives us understanding of His Wisdom. In other words, He “turns on the lights for us.”
Note: Unless I immediately write down what the Lord is showing me, I won’t remember it. If it’s a supernatural revelation from God, then it’s not something that is registered in my own mind yet. I know myself-I know if I don’t write down the supernatural wisdom and understanding that God is giving me, I’ll lose it. I’ll bet it’s the same for you!
Illustration: Often when I’m in the shower, supernatural revelations and answers pop into my mind to questions that I’ve been asking God about for months. Again, so I won’t forget it, I’ll get out of the shower dripping wet, tippy-toe to where I can find a pencil and paper and write down what God has shown me. See, I know it’s not “me” that has “turned on the lights” at that moment, but God’s Spirit of Understanding.
Proverbs 4:7 says Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
Those with wisdom know which principle to apply in a given context.
NOTE: Understanding without wisdom can appear contradictory (Proverbs 26:4-5). Here the wise are given instruction on how to deal with fools. Instructing a fool is pointless because his speech is full of foolishness (Proverbs 15:2,14) and he does not want wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 18:2).
Whether we use the principle of verse 4 and deal with a fool by ignoring him, or obey verse 5 and reprove a fool depends on the situation. In matters of insignificance, it’s probably better to disregard him. In more important areas, such as when a fool denies the existence of God (Psalm 14:1), verse 5 tells us to respond to his foolishness with words of rebuke and instruction. To let a fool speak his nonsense without reproof encourages him to remain wise in his own eyes and possibly gives credibility to his folly in the eyes of others.
In short, in negligible issues we should just ignore fools, but in issues that matter, they must be dealt with so that credence will not be given to what they say.
Another example, the statement, “He who hesitates is lost,” is true, but so is the idea that “haste makes waste.” Which principle to use depends on the context. Those with wisdom know what actions to take next. They do the right thing in the given situation. In contrast, there are many who have great knowledge and understanding but who consistently do the wrong thing.
The Following Table May Help You Visualize The Difference Between These Three Terms:
|Facts||Meaning||What to Do Next|
Proverbs 3:13 says Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding.”
Proverbs 16:16 says “To get wisdom is better than gold; to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” It is a matter of life and death.
Wisdom is the ability to see things from God’s perspective and apply it in practical ways. This is what we need in our trials. If you lack wisdom or I should say if you don’t lack wisdom [because some people don’t think they do], the first step is to realize that you don’t have it and then to figure out where to get it.
How Can We Get Wisdom? Wisdom is found in the Word of God, we must apply ourselves in study and meditation to know the Word and do it.
Psalm 19:7…”The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” Therefore, we must devote ourselves to know and understand the Word of the Lord. And here I commend not only faithful Bible study, but also regular reading of great books on theology and biblical interpretation.
Now, I know what you are thinking: I don’t have the time or the ability to get anywhere in books like that. So I want to show you something really encouraging. When this was shown to me about some years ago by one pastor, it changed my life. Most of us don’t aspire very high in our reading because we don’t feel like there is any hope. But listen to this.
Suppose you read about 250 words a minute and that you resolve to devote just 15 minutes a day to serious reading to deepen your grasp of biblical truth. In one year (365 days) you would read for 5,475 minutes. Multiply that times 250 words per minute and you get 1,368,750 words per year. Now most books have between 300 and 400 words per page. So if we take 350 words per page and divide that into 1,368,750 words per year, we get 3,910 pages per year. This means that at 250 words a minute, 15 minutes a day, you could read about 20 average sized books a year!
Since Wisdom comes from God and His Word, TAKE TIME in reading and studying His Word
Illustration: A story is told of a hermit that died in his little shack in the mountains of Colorado. Distant relatives came from the city and searched the cabin for some sort of inheritance. They found cooking pots, a cracked three legged table, a kerosene lamp and a few other odds and ends. They could see no use for anything so they decided to leave. A friend of the old man came by and asked if he could have anything that was left. They said it’s really no use to us, take everything. As they drove away the old man lifted up the table and pulled up the lose floor boards where the man had hid all the gold he had found in those mountains. The friend looked out the window as the car rode out of sight and said, “I sure wish they would have taken the time to get to know Him.”
That’s how it is with God. It takes time in reading and studying His Word and so few people ever spend their time wisely to get the wealth of wisdom God has for us.
Four Things To Know Regarding Wisdom:
1.Wisdom Required [NEEDED]—“If any of you lacks wisdom.” (v.5a) A person can be very smart and not be wise.
Illustration Of Parachutes: Intelligence is not the same as wisdom :
“There was a flight that had only four people on it – the pilot, a young boy scout, an elderly pastor and a scholarly looking gentleman. During the flight the pilot came back and said that they were experiencing engine difficulties and that the plane was going to crash. The good news was that they had parachutes, but the bad news was that there were only three. Explaining that he had to make a full report of the situation to the authorities he quickly slipped on the parachute and jumped. The scholarly gentleman stood up next and explained that he had studied at Oxford, Harvard, Yale and other such schools and that he was one of the most intelligent persons in the world. He said that the world needed his wisdom and great learning. So he grabbed a parachute and jumped. The pastor considered his age and the fact that he had lived a full life and told the boy that he should use the last parachute. The boy scout calmly said, “Don’t worry, we’ll both be okay.” The most intelligent person in the world just put on my backpack before he jumped.”
A person can also have worldly wisdom and have no spiritual wisdom. The principle behind this type of wisdom is Godly wisdom. Learning what God’s will is and what He wants to do in our lives. We all need Godly wisdom.
Illustration: I got a note from one of our men this week, who is going through a particular trial at work. He is seeking what God’s purpose for this trial might be. He asked: “How will this trial be resolved?
These are excellent questions, and the very questions that many of us should be asking in our trials, because there are different things God may be doing:
In many areas of life, realizing your need is the first step towards getting help. So it is with wisdom. The first thing you need to do is recognize that you do not have the wisdom you need, which should then drive you to ask God for it – which bring us to our next point:
2. Wisdom Requested [ASKED]—“let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach,” (v.5b) The Word ask means to ask for something to be given.
Liberally means without bargaining. God says here you ask and I will give it. It also means God gives wisdom unconditionally and generously. God has no favorites. He will give wisdom to everyone and anyone who asks.
We should Pray[Ask] to get wisdom.
Illustration: Everything is not what it seems: There were two young ladies in their early 20’s. They had travelled from their home in Southern California down to Tijuana, Mexico to go Christmas shopping for the day. When they returned to their car, they noticed what looked like a little puppy, looked just like a little Chihuahua. It was squirming there in the gutter, and they could tell it was in a lot of pain.
Feeling sorry for it, they picked it up and put it in the trunk of their car. They were going to take it home and didn’t want the border patrol to see it. One of the girls took it into her apartment, gave it some milk, trying to nurse it back to health. She tried to feed it, but it wouldn’t eat anything. That night, she wrapped it in a blanket and put it in her bed with her all through the night, making sure it was okay.
The next morning, it was doing worse than ever. She rushed it to the emergency animal clinic, handed it to the veterinarian, and began to describe the symptoms. The doctor stopped her and said, “Where did you get this animal?” She thought she was in trouble for bringing it across the border, and she finally said, “Well, Doctor, my friend and I found this little Chihuahua in the gutter in Tijuana.” He said, “Young lady, this is not a Chihuahua. This is a Mexican river rat.”
Everything is not what it seems. You better consult with the Lord. You don’t want any rats living in your house. I’m asking you today to go to God for daily direction. You’re not going to make the best decisions if you’re not consulting with the Lord.
Proverbs 3:5 Says: “Do Not Lean On Your Own Understanding” – Instead, Ask God!
Solomon was not born a wise man. He prayed for wisdom and God said, “Because you have asked this and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold now I do according to your word” (1 Kings 3:11).
And Daniel admitted that in himself he had no wisdom (Daniel 2:30), but he said, “To thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for thou hast given me wisdom and strength, and hast made known to me what we asked of thee” (2:23).
And we have seen how Paul prayed that the churches might be given “spiritual wisdom” (Colossians 1:9) and that they might have “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God” (Ephesians 1:17).
And finally, James puts it as clearly as we could wish: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God” (James 1:5).
The Wisdom Of God is not natural or inborn. It is supernatural. It is a gift of God. Therefore, if we would “get wisdom,” we must pray.
3. Wisdom Received—“and it will be given to him.” (v.5c) It will be given. God gives wisdom to all who seek it.
NO! James says “He gives to ALL generously and without reproach”! This should give hope to every one of us here: whoever you are, YOU can ask for God’s wisdom for your situation, and be confident that He WILL give it to you.
Illustration: Welcome God’s Personal Voice in All Its Forms.
Be open to all the ways the Lord may speak. Once upon a time, a great flood struck the Mississippi Valley. Maurice clung to the chimney on the roof of his house. As the turbulent waters inched past the second story, he cried, “Oh God! Please help me!” A rowboat came by, but Maurice refused to let go. A Red Cross motorboat stopped. “No, thanks,” he gasped. “God is going to help me.” The waters churned around his waist, then his shoulders. A helicopter took one last run over the devastated neighborhood. The pilot hovered over the doomed and desperate straggler, pleading with him to grab the rope ladder. “No, thanks! I believe God is going to save me.”
Finally a nearby wall collapsed and deeper, more violent waters rushed forth and drowned Maurice. He came before the Lord in heaven. “Hey, God,” he complained, “How come you didn’t help me when I prayed to you?” God leaned toward him and replied, “Maurice, Maurice. I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter. What more did you expect?”
4. Wisdom Refused—(v.6-8)
Illustration: In 1981, Norman Shirk of Dallas, TX, wrote:
“Let me meet you on the mountain, Lord, just once. You wouldn’t have to burn a whole bush. Just a few smoking branches And I would surely be your Moses.
“Let me meet you on the water, Lord, just once. It wouldn’t have to be on White Rock Lake. Just on a puddle after the annual Dallas rain and I would surely be your Peter.
“Let me meet you on the road, Lord, just once. You wouldn’t have to blind me on North Central Expressway. Just a few bright lights on the way to chapel and I would surely be your Paul.
“Let me meet you, Lord, just once. Anywhere. Anytime. Just meeting you in the Word is so hard sometimes. Must I always be your Thomas?”
Time for a true confession. I must confess that not only do I struggle with doubt, but I struggle with the thought that it is possible to not doubt. Doubting seems so natural.
Doubt Is What Happens At The Edges Of Our Faith.
It is what happens when we reach the limits of our faith.
Illustration: Charles Simpson said, “I met a young man not long ago who dives for exotic fish for aquariums. He said one of the most popular aquarium fish is the shark. He explained that if you catch a small shark and confine it, it will stay a size proportionate to the aquarium. Sharks can be 6 inches long yet fully matured. But if you turn them loose in the ocean, they grow to their normal length of 8 feet.
That also happens to some Christians. I’ve seen some of the cutest little 6 inch Christians who swim around in a little pool of little successes. But if you put them into a larger arena – into the whole creation – only then can they become great.”
But if we never face doubts, is our faith really being tested? I think doubt is natural when we reach the limits of our faith. If we do not face doubts, our faith is not really being tested.
Pushing against doubts, fighting them, conquering them, requires us to exercise faith. Our faith becomes stronger with the exercise. The easy thing to do is to not face our doubts, to not struggle with them, to simply say we believe when we really are not sure.
Our Faith Will Either Grow Or Shrink In Response To Doubt.
A doubter marries, only to divorce. He gets a job, only to quit. He joins a church, only to leave. He makes promises, only to negate them. He moves to one location, only to relocate to another. He does everything in doubt.
God says ask in faith. Believe me and I’ll do it. Trust me and settle the fact that even though you can’t see me, I’m in your corner.
Illustration Of A Lawyer: I heard a story about a defense lawyer that was giving his closing argument. He was defending a man on trial for murder. However, they had never found the body of the missing man. The lawyer said, they have no body but I know where the man is. Any second now he’s going to walk through that door. A minute goes by and the lawyer said, actually I made up what I just said, but I noticed all of you men and women of the jury looked at the door, and that is reasonable doubt. The jury went out and came back in 15 minutes with a guilty verdict. The lawyer spoke to some of them after the trial and said I don’t understand all of you looked at the door, you must have had some doubt. They said, Yes we all looked at the door, but your client didn’t.
Folks we don’t have to guess if God is for us, He said He was. We don’t have to wonder if He loves us He said He did. And when we can’t see what He’s doing He still is working for our good.
V 7 What is the point of asking without faith?Allow me to illustrate this point: Why don’t you ask for a Ferrari for your birthday? The reason is that we do not think we will get one. If you do not think it is possible to receive what you are asking, why ask? This is basically what James is saying. If you don’t believe that God can accomplish the things he has promised, then why ask? What is the point of asking without faith?
V 8 Double-minded :
Illustration Of Double Minded – Driving in country at night when headlights showed up a field mouse dead ahead. He first started toward the left, then right, then left, and finally stood still as the car passed over him.
Caught Between Two Worlds – Once when the Cleveland Symphony was performing The Magic Flute by Mozart, an electrical storm caused the lights to go out. Undisturbed by the difficulties, the members of the orchestra knew the music so well that they completed the performance in the dark. At the end of the performance, the audience burst into thunderous applause, and a stagehand illuminated the orchestra and conductor with a flashlight so that they could take their bows. It is much the same in the spiritual realm. If you know the Master, you can play His music even in the dark. You can live a holy life in an unholy realm. When caught between two worlds, the secret is learning to see beyond the style of this world to the substance of the next.
Illustration: There was a man who was having some very serious financial problems. He went to his pastor and told him of all his troubles. The Pastor told him that if he would pray then God would provide for his needs. So the man went home that night and prayed “Dear Lord please let me win the lottery so that I can pay all my bills. Thank you. Amen.” So the lottery came and went and the man did not win. So he went back to his pastor to ask why God hadn’t answered his prayer. The pastor told him that you must have faith; if you have enough faith then God will always answer your prayer. So the man went home and prayed even harder. “Dear Lord Please let me win the lottery. I believe that you can hear me and that you will answer my prayer. Thank you. Amen.” The lottery again came and went and he still did not win. He went back to his pastor and asked why God had not answered his prayer. The pastor told him that if he would repent of your sins and ask God for help, He would surely help him. So he went home and started praying, “Dear God forgive me of my sins, I want to live for you Lord, Lord just please…” All the sudden a loud voice came from heaven “WOULD YOU PLEASE BUY A TICKET!” Sometimes God is waiting for us to take the necessary action [like repentance] so that He can bless us. (Now note : buying a lottery ticket is not one of those actions, but it makes the point.)
ASK God For Wisdom And Then Act Upon The Answer He Will Give.
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