Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wisdom is Sincere

Note:  The next  post will be Monday, November 18th.
Chuckle:  "If Noah had been wise, he would have swatted those two flies." --Helen Castle
Quote:  "The kindling power of our words must not come from outward show but from within, not from oratory but straight from the heart." --St Frances de Sales 
THE WISE PERSON IS SINCERE (Without hypocrisy):

    "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV). "It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30 NIV). 

Today, let's focus on the word, "sincere," as it relates to Godly wisdom  The Greek word for "sincere" can be translated as an absence of "hypocrisy."  The word "hypocrite" means to play many different roles.  It's like an actor who wears a different mask in several separate roles in a play.  Each mask used in the part represents a person other than who the actor really is.  The actor appears to be someone he isn't.  He isn't genuine.  He puts on his church mask on Sunday and takes it off during the week. 

Sincere persons have no disguises nor deceits.  They are real, open, truthful, trustworthy, and consistent in their identity.  Oh that each of us could be guided by such wisdom as this.  Then we could say with the apostle Paul, "Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace" (2 Corinthians 1:12 NIV). 

    "A father complained about the amount of time his family spent in front of the television. His children watched cartoons and neglected schoolwork. His wife preferred soap operas to housework. His solution? 'As soon as the baseball season's over, I'm going to pull the plug.'"

We all are in the same boat - we all need God's wisdom to be real and authentic to those who are looking to us as an example of what a Christian is like.  Let's don't pretend to be Godly - let's be Godly!  Relationships really aren't of much value until we take off our masks and ask forgiveness from both God and others.  When you stop trying to be super dads or moms; when your children and grandchildren see your vulnerabilities and weaknesses, they will love you and support you because you are being real and not wearing a mask.  What God wants is 
Christians who are real and genuine, with real needs, confess real sins, develop real relationships, and live out a real relationship with Him.

As our study of wisdom from above comes to a close, the most important question is how can we get such wisdom?  The Bible says that wisdom is found in a person, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Listen to Colossians 2:3: ". . . . in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge."  When He came into our lives, wisdom from God became resident in us and He wants to release it to us every day if we are willing to listen. The Bible further says: "Reverencing (fearing) God is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). He wants us to trust Christ as Savior and the Lord of our lives, then his wisdom will follow.

Love, Jerry & Dotse            

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wisdom is Impartial

Chuckle:  A man traveling in southern Oklahoma was heading toward Texas.  He saw a sign reading, "Last chance for $3.00 gas."  So even though he still had a quarter tank, he stopped to fill up.  As he was paying for his gas, he asked the clerk, "How much is gas in Texas?"  The clerk answered , "2:75."
Quote:  "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."  --Albert Pike

    "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV).  "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right" (Acts 10:34 NIV). "Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism" (Colossians 3:25 NIV).

The Dictionary defines "impartial" as being unbiased, just, and fair in our dealings with others.  Being impartial with people is the opposite of showing favor to some at the expense of others.  Several places in Scripture, including our passages, we are reminded that God has no favorites and is impartial when it comes to showing His love, grace, and mercy.  Every person is equally precious in God's sight.  Jesus died for that unkempt homeless person asleep under the bridge just as much as He died for you and me.  However, this is often lost on us as "Christians." 

We have our favorites and are much more comfortable around people who look, talk, act, and maybe even smell like us.  We are sometimes tempted to reach out to only certain people with the gospel message, and to invite to church only people we think will "fit in" with our congregation.  Jesus reached out to the poor, sick, hungry, and others who were shunned by society.  In light of Jesus' actions, what should be our attitude?  "My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others"  (James 2:1 NLT).

If we find ourselves being partial to the wealthy, well-dressed, and influential over the poor, needy, and powerless, we sin.  God views all people as equals, and if He favors anyone, it is the poor and powerless.  Being partial to some people may be much more subtle than between rich and poor, powerful and powerless.  Our partiality can raise its ugly head because we just like some people more than others.  Maybe they have done special favors for us; or maybe they are just pleasant people to be around -- fun to be with.  But if our partiality causes us to withhold our love, benevolence, and sharing the love of Christ, I believe we sin.  The Bible says, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins" (James 4:17 NIV).  Ouch!! 
Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wisdom is Merciful

Have a wonderful Veterans Day as we remember, honor, and thank those past and present who have made our freedoms possible.
Chuckle:  "Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again!"
Good Quote:  "Teach me to feel another's woe, To hide the fault I see; That mercy to others show, That mercy show to me." --Alexander Pope 
    "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV). "It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30 NIV).  

Those who have been granted divine wisdom are not simply possessed by pity and sympathy but are actively compassionate. They are inwardly disposed to every thing that is kind and good, both to ease the discomfort of those who are in need and to forgive those who may offend them. They see and love people as our Lord sees and loves them. They are Christ-like in their understanding and application of mercy.

The wise Christian loves people in spite of their mistakes and shortcomings. They don't constantly remind others of their deficiencies and errors. If we take such a legalistic and critical approach toward people, it will sour our fellowship with them and will hinder others in their growth toward maturity in love and mercy. Being merciful is to show sensitivity to the feelings of others.

The wise Christian just forgives people and says "God loves them and I'm going to love them." The writer of Proverbs 17:9 (NLT) says, "Disregarding another person's faults preserves love; telling about them separates close friends." Picking at the faults of those around us will never build great relationships.

    "It is our misery that calls forth God's mercy. A parent knows how this is. When a child is suffering from a severe cold with a sore throat, runny nose, severe congestion, and assorted aches and pains, and all he can do is throw his arms around your neck and cry -- what does this evoke in you as a parent? It awakens your pity, and you reach out and try to relieve the child's distress in any way you possibly can. Why? Because his misery has called forth your mercy."  --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Edited by Michael P. Green

Similarly, the plight and distress of others should evoke all the love, mercy, and wisdom that God has placed within our hearts. Jesus said to us, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34 NIV).  "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse        

Friday, November 8, 2013

Wisdom is Submissive

Chuckle:  Senior basketball player at a major university: "I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes." (now isn't that beautiful?)
Quote:  "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." --Proverbs 16:18 NIV
    "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV). "It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30 NIV).   

Have you heard the old saying, "You would argue with a sign post and then take the wrong road?" Oh how difficult it is sometimes to submit ourselves to the persuasion of others; to realize that it is a virtue, and a sign of heavenly wisdom, to be persuadable -- to be open to reason. Sometimes, our pride stands in the way of our being open to reasonable counsel from God and other people.

Sometimes, we continue to defend our position even after we come to realize we are dead wrong. Our pride just won't let us admit we are wrong and that someone else may be wiser in a given situation. A person who is open to reason is able to absorb the ideas of others, make judgments concerning the wisdom of those ideas, and, when appropriate, modify their own thinking and attitudes accordingly.

How approachable are you? Are you one of those who says: "Don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up? Are you open to discussion - open to reason? Are you prone to accept advice? Can your spouse, children, or grandchildren come to you and have you listen with an open and mind? Or do your prejudices and biases render you unable to listen and be open to reasonable persuasion?   

Some people are more prone to believe gossip and rumor than the truth. They never check the source - never check for accuracy - just get all upset about something that is untrue. Being open to reason will allow you to make Godly judgments about the accuracy of what you hear. Perhaps no other characteristic is more indicative of Godly wisdom than being open to reason. For example, such wise Christians submit themselves to the spiritual guidelines of the church and do not demand their own way. If you become involved in a dispute with a fellow Christian, sometimes it is wise to swallow your pride and give up if there appears to be a good reason for doing so, and where a greater good may come from such submission.
Being open to the advice and wisdom of others is a sign of spiritual maturity and wisdom from God. Proverbs 12:15 tells us "A fool thinks he needs no advice; a wise man listens to others."

Love, Jerry & Dotse      

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wisdom is Considerate

ChuckleAfter watching her first football game, her boyfriend asked a girl how she liked the game. "I liked it, but I don't not understand why they were killing each other for twenty-five cents." What do you mean?" he asked. "Everyone kept yelling 'get the quarter back!'"
Quote"Hail the small sweet courtesies of life, for smooth do they make the road of it."  --Laurence Sterne
    "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV). "It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30 NIV). 

We are studying the definition of wisdom that comes from God as opposed to the "wisdom" of the world (James 3:13-18).  In summary, We saw in James 1:5 that "If any of you (us) lacks wisdom, he (we) should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault. . ." We have found that divinely given wisdom reflects itself in the way we live -- "by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom" (vs. 13). Such wisdom is first of all pure (vs. 17). A wise  person lives a pure life; uncorrupted, undefiled, genuine, real -- a life of integrity. A wise person is also peace-loving. People with divine wisdom seek to live in peace and to be peacemakers (vs. 17). 

Today, we see that wisdom from God will make us considerate (reasonable, gentle, kind), and mindful of the feelings of others. The wise will forego the right to be right. From the human standpoint, we all like to be right in our opinions and assertions, but with divine wisdom, given us by the Holy Spirit, we learn that being right is not worth destroying a relationship. Consideration, gentleness, and kindness are the building blocks of lasting and warm relationships.

It's not important for us to be right, but it is important that we understand and do what is right in God's eyes. You, the husband, might come home at the end of a long day and ask your wife: "how was your day sweetheart?" Instead of being sympathetic and considerate when she tells of her bad day, you say: "You think that's tough - let me tell you about a really bad day!" Such remarks are hurtful, unkind, insensitive, and inconsiderate. Sometimes we are blind to the needs of others because we are so preoccupied with ourselves and our needs. God can give us both the wisdom and the will to overcome such tendencies if we ask in faith. He can make us kind and considerate people. . . .

Please join me in praying for the hundreds of people who receive these daily devotionals. God knows each of them by name even though you don't. We all need the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ. . . . "The prayer of a righteous man (person) is powerful and effective" (James 5:16b NIV)

Love, Jerry & Dotse           

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wisdom is Peace-Loving

Chuckle:  I heard of one man who was so argumentative that he only ate food that disagreed with him!!!  
Good Quote"A good deal of trouble has been caused in the world by too much knowledge and too little wisdom."  --Unknown source
    "Wisdom that comes from heaven is first pure; then peace-loving . . . Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness" (James 3:17-18 NIV). "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace" (Galatians 5:22 NIV).
People with divine wisdom seek to live in peace and be peacemakers. They produce harmony between people. Such a person never looks for fights, arguments, etc. Some people are always ready for a fight or an argument. We want to steer clear of these types of encounters if we possibly can. However, this does not mean we should compromise on Godly principles. We are not to pursue peace at the expense of purity or truth. God certainly wants us to defend vigorously what is right, and be true to our God-given convictions. I'm talking about peace at God's price -- not peace at any price. . .
How do you react to conflict? Do you have the desire and skills to quell conflicts -- to be a peacemaker? Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons (children) of God" (Matthew 5:9). If being a peacemaker is important enough to be addressed specifically by our Lord, it certainly should be equally important to us. It will be if we have received wisdom from God. There are several potential causes of conflict. Here are three:
      Comparing people: To a wife: "If you could only cook like my mother." To a younger child: "Why don't you act like your older sister?" If we are wise, we will understand the destructive nature of such comments and avoid making them.
      Condemning people: Always picking at people - finding fault - saying that little critical remark. Jesus addressed this subject in Matthew 7:3 as he tells us not to judge or condemn others. He said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye." Finding fault with others is easy, but unless we have true wisdom, seeing our own faults is much more difficult.
      Contradicting people: No one likes to be interrupted in the middle of a sentence or be contradicted. William James has said: "The secret of wisdom is knowing what to overlook." Some things are not worth fighting over. Look back at your relationships and consider those things which have caused you conflict. Most likely they were small and insignificant but blown all out of proportion.

Being a peacemaker is another sign of spiritual maturity that comes from wisdom granted to us by God's Word and the Holy Spirit of God. The "harvest of righteousness" James talks about in verse 18 means the reward or result of doing what God demands -- to follow divine wisdom is to be led into righteous and holy living. If you are living in conflict, ask God for wisdom and the will to love peace and to be a peacemaker.       

Love, Jerry & Dotse                

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wisdom is Pure

Chuckle:  A police recruit was asked during the exam, "What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?" He answered, "Call for backup." 

Quote:  "Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more." --William Cowper  

WISDOM IS PURE          

    "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17 NIV). "It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30 NIV).

James identifies several characteristics of a wise person. Today, we will begin to study each of them in turn. keep in mind the source of such wisdom.

Wisdom is first of all pure. A pure person is uncorrupted, undefiled, genuine, real, and lives a life of integrity. Sadly, many who claim to be Christians are not authentic as evidenced by their lifestyles. They try to portray themselves as something they aren't. If you have wisdom from above, you do not lie, cheat, or deceive people. You do not use people for selfish purposes. Instead, you seek to be used in the lives of others for their benefit. This humble attitude comes from the Holy Spirit working in our lives as we seek wisdom from God. "Let this mind (attitude) be in you that is also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).

To many, lying, or distorting the truth, is a normal way of life. Television programs and movies glamorize such conduct as a normal, acceptable, and preferred way of life. Proverbs 10:9 says, "The man of integrity walks securely." If we are truthful and honest in all our dealings, we don't have to fear that our lies will catch up with us. We are secure because we are forthright. Such purity gives us security and peace of mind. I'm thankful that God has given me wise Christian friends whose lives are marked by purity and integrity. "Words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook."  --Proverbs 18:4 

    In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbaric hordes to the north. So they built the Great Wall of China. It was too high to climb over, too thick to break down, and too long to go around. Security achieved!  The only problem was that during the first hundred years of the wall's existence, China was invaded three times. Was the wall a failure? Not really -- for not once did the barbaric hordes climb over the wall, break it down, or go around it.  How then did they get into China? The answer lies in human nature. They simply bribed the gatekeeper and then marched right in through a gate. The fatal flaw in the Chinese defense was placing too much reliance on a wall and not putting enough effort into building character into the gatekeepers." --Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Edited by Michael P. Green 

God desires to make us pure by instilling His wisdom into our value systems. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him/her" (James 1:5).

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Defiled Conscience

Chuckle:  Father: "You have four Ds and a C on your report card!"  Son: "I know. I think I concentrated too much on one subject." 
Quote:  "Most of us follow our conscience as we follow a wheelbarrow. We push it in front of us in the direction we want to go." --Billy Graham
    "Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are defiled" (Titus 1:15 NLT).
The human conscience intrigues me.  The word "conscience" describes an inner sense of right and wrong; a feeling that guides us away from doing bad things and persuades us to do the right things.  For example, "His conscience bothered him after he told a lie."  The question I want us to consider here is, how do our consciences become sufficiently trained to be reliable as a guide for righteous living? 
The definition of "conscience' that I gave in the first paragraph does not take into account the proposition that some consciences are corrupted and are not reliable as a guide for discerning right and wrong.  This is evident when evil people do terrible things without guilt or remorse.  Their lack of conscience causes them to do evil things without regretting their actions.  "He that loses his conscience has nothing else worth keeping." --Isaac Walton
When addressing false teachers in the last days, Paul writes, "They will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons. These teachers are hypocrites and liars. They pretend to be religious, but their consciences are dead (seared)"  (1 Timothy 4:1-2 NLT).  In our first passage, Paul deals with the consciences of the corrupt and unbelieving.  But Christians are also subject to having their consciences hijacked and corrupted by the evil one so that they become his instruments of destruction in our lives and Christ's church. 
I have witnessed professing "Christians" who were guilty of hateful and destructive actions toward other believers, and again they showed no regret or remorse.  It was as if they thought their actions were acceptable to God, and even directed by God.  But we know God is never the author of such actions or discord.  Obviously, it is God's Word and the indwelling Holy Spirit that trains and sensitizes our consciences to guide us into righteous living.  But when we drift away and stop praying and meditating on God's Word, Satan will begin to convince us that the world's way is better than God's way; and the voice of our consciences will become weaker and weaker and our sensitivity to right and wrong will gradually diminish. 
I believe every born again believer has at least a rudimentary spiritual conscience.  That still small voice within us is our spiritual conscience.  As we grow spiritually, God continues to sensitize our consciences -- a work in progress over a lifetime.  This progress is dependent upon our willingness to allow Him access to the innermost depths of our hearts and minds.  If we focus on filling our minds with godly thoughts and precepts, God will fine-tune our consciences and make us increasingly sensitive to His will for our lives.

Love, Jerry & Dotse