“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:5 (NASB)
Too often perhaps if even once, we are prone to expect to receive what we are “owed” or “due.” The faulty thought that leads to this includes the idea that we don’t need to ask to receive what we are entitled to. We speak out only when we feel disenfranchised. Continuing the lessons and promises from the book of James, we find this command is a necessary part of the believer’s prayer life. When we need wisdom we are to ask God to give it to us for God has wisdom in abundance available and He is eager to provide it for those who seek it. God intends that trials will drive those who believe to a greater dependency on Him. They show us our own insufficiency. James’ Jewish audience recognized this as the understanding and practical skill that is necessary to live life to God’s glory. It was not wisdom of philosophical speculation, but wisdom contained in the pure and peaceable absolutes of God’s will revealed in His Word and lived out. It is only this divine wisdom from God that enables believers to rejoice and be submissive in the trials and testing of our lives.
“(I) do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him..” Ephesians 1:16-17 (NASB)
We can imagine that one of the greatest blessings we might experience in the first century would be the Apostle Paul praying for us. Paul was devoted to prayer just as his Lord Jesus set the example for his apostles. These words by the are from a prayer he wrote and sent to the Christians in Ephesus. Paul says that he did “not cease giving thanks” and it became a habit to pray for the young churches and to keep praying for the believers in all cities. He requested that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in order that they would grow to know God better. They were believers who knew God but like us all, they needed to continue to know God in a deeper way. This prayer is given to us in the Bible applies to our lives as well if we have believed and come to know God. We too want to know God better. We can each ask God to give us wisdom and revelation and to teach us by His Holy Spirit more and more of God’s great truths for our Christian lives each day.
18“The wicked earns deceptive wages,
but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.
19 Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live,
but he who pursues evil will die.
20 Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord,
but those of blameless ways are his delight.
21 Be assured, an evil person will not go unpunished,
but the offspring of the righteous will be delivered.” – Proverbs 11:18-21 (ESV)
In the book of Proverbs are found many promises. Proverbs has a concentration of parallel lines, or antithetical parallelism. These proverbs look at the same truth from opposite perspectives. One line promises results of blessings and the other line promises the converse results of loss and even death. All the verses in Chapter 11 are such proverbs. Each one promises results from righteous living compared to results from the ways of evil living.
- Verse 18 – The efforts of the wicked deceiver do not yield the riches his deception seeks, but the righteous receive a reward from God.
- Verse 19 – Righteous living is rewarded with life and the wages of sin is death.
- Verse 20 – The abominations defined throughout Scripture and especially in Proverbs, involve attitudes and behaviors which God hates*.
- Verse 21 – Individually or in collaboration, the wicked cannot be freed from duly and just punishment, while the unassisted children of the righteous find deliverance because of their relationship with God.
God gives us here and in other passages the clear promise that wicked living has a losing result. However, righteous living is what He wants and will help us have. The wisdom is easy to see.
*What are the abominations? Proverbs 11:20; perverse living, (means crooked or distorted); Proverbs 12:22; lying; Proverbs 15:8; hypocrisy; Proverbs 15:9; wicked conduct; Proverbs 15:26; wicked thoughts; Proverbs16:5; pride; Proverbs 17:15; injustice; Proverbs 20:10, 23; dishonesty in business;
“ And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” – Luke 2:51-52 (ESV)
The Bible gives us a good amount of detail about the birth of Jesus and who witnessed the Son of God coming to earth. Angels, shepherds, VIP’s from far East, and others became aware of the birth of Jesus. However, we have very little detail of his life between His parents’ presentation of him at the temple and the beginning of his ministry thirty years later. But we have one account when Jesus was twelve years old. His parents brought him to Jerusalem for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus is not in the caravan back to Nazareth and it is discovered he is missing after the first day’s travel. Returning to Jerusalem Joseph and Mary find him in the temple with the teachers of the Law. It was logical to Jesus that He would be where He was for it was His Father’s house and He knew who He was. Other than today’s verses, nothing is said of His life until John the Baptizer announces him and Jesus is baptized by John. We know that Jesus was submissive to his parents and in favor with God and man.
“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and caught; Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, And what kind of wisdom is in them?” – Jeremiah 8:8-9 (NASB)
Throughout Scripture God makes promises that are either judgments or warnings of the same. That is what we find today in our passage. One of God’s prophets delivered a grave warning. It was a critical time for the Kingdom of Judah. Even the scribes and religious leaders were spinning the Word of God into lies and led the people deceitfully and away from God. Pretending they were wise; God promises shame and dismay and exposes their foolishness. Why is this happening in Churches today? Because preachers of the Gospel are rejecting the Word of the Lord. They deny inspiration by God the Holy Spirit, and they deny its authority. picking and tossing bits and pieces from it away they choose to disbelieve God. It’s simple, for those who reject the Bible and claim it is not the infallible Word of God do so to avoid responsibility to live by its truth. God says to them, “So, exactly what kind of wisdom do you think you have now? For you have none.” All they have is promised shame. Let’s be forewarned, if we have a weak view of Scripture, God promises we will have a weak interest in it.
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,…” – Colossians 1:9 (ESV)
Paul the Apostle was a man of prayer and filled with love for those who had come to know the saving faith of Jesus through his ministry. One of the servant messengers had brought to Paul a good report. This is Epaphras (Epaphroditus), Likely the same one who carried messages and support to Paul from the believers in Philippi (Philippians 4:18). Because of this good report of them from Epaphras, he continued to pray for them. Paul’s ceaseless prayer does not mean that he prayed without ever stopping but that he never forgot to pray for them when he regularly prayed each day. Paul’s primary petition was that God would fill them with the knowledge of His will. There are two key words, “fill” and “knowledge” which Paul used. The first suggests a filling out to entirety, and the latter is a full, deep understanding. Knowledge of this kind, and of God’s will, does not come from a natural or fleshly mind, but from the Word of God through the Holy Spirit who, dwelling in us enlightens our spirit. That is our promise ⸺spiritual wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” – Colossians 1:9 (NASB)
The believers in the assembly of the church in Colossae were up against false teachers who were co-opting the truth of the Gospel with fabricated rules about eating, drinking and religious traditions. This false teaching developed into the heresy called Gnosticism. The Colossians, like us, needed to know and understand the deity and superiority of Christ. Paul writes that he prayed for them without ceasing. It means that in his prayer times, they were always included in his prayers. He writes this letter from his prison in Rome and stressed two primary requests. That they, and us, would know fully and be filled with the knowledge of God’s will; that they would be enjoined with spiritual wisdom and understanding of who Jesus Christ truly was. This perverse heresy taught that Christ was not God. It takes believers with spiritual maturity in faith to overcome false teaching and fully embrace the truth of Christ’s deity as taught in the Bible. Paul wrote this for us as well so that we too will learn to hold fast to the truth of Jesus Christ who is, the Son of God, our Savior. And acknowledge Christ as sovereign head of the Church.
Understanding What Gnosticism Is
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,…” Ephesians 1:15-17 (ESV)
When the Apostle Paul wrote his letters to the people in the churches he had established, he would often fill the sentences with teaching and truth that run very long. In the first chapter of this letter, verses 3-14 and 15-23 are one sentence each in the Greek. The Apostle is sharing the reasons for the thanksgiving he offers on behalf of the saints in Ephesus. What Paul says about the Ephesians becomes a promise for us. He writes, “For this reason” which references what we believers possess and is every spiritual blessing—including election, predestination, adoption, grace, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, understanding, knowledge of the mystery of His will, the sealing of the Holy Spirit, and their inheritance—Paul now prayed that his readers might know God personally and intimately. Also, because of their faith and love for other saints, he continued to give thanks for them and makes more requests for them. Although some versions start a new sentence at verse 17, there is no break in the Greek. He asks God to give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. These are solid promises worth our giving thanksgiving to God and love for each other.
“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7. (NASB)
We read in yesterday’s post to not consider ourselves to be wise. A wrong attitude about our own capabilities, thinking we are greater than we are, is a dangerous practice. But wisdom is honored and is a good thing. We are instructed to seek out wisdom. Wanting wisdom is good. Today we learn what the starting point of wisdom is. And, it is the acquisition of wisdom. It makes sense. Nothing can compare with wisdom and Solomon learned from his father, King David, how important it is to get wisdom. It’s so simple that we overlook the depth of this truth. With wisdom we gain more wisdom and that is the very nature of having wisdom. Seeking wisdom is the first step. With wisdom, when we find and get it, comes understanding. Understanding guides us onto the wise path that God makes straight before us. Do we ever think we know better than what we read in the Bible? Yes, we do that all the time. We resist wisdom by trying to conform it to our own reasoning instead. The danger is that our reason is built on our human nature. Remember, Eve and Adam’s reasoning was fatally flawed.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 (NASB)
A Hebrew word is used here, in the original language Proverbs were written in. The “beginning” of knowledge more literally is translated “the start.” The start of knowledge in our lives in Christ is ‘the fear of the LORD.” This kind of ‘fear’ is having ‘awesome respect and reverence’. The fools in our verse are those characterized by a slow and closed mind. They are thickheaded and stubborn and in their arrogant, coarse ways, reject God and His wisdom. One cannot gain knowledge of spiritual things unless one begins at the correct point. The word used for ‘beginning’ is also used to mean ‘the capstone’ or even ‘the essence.’ The essence of true knowledge is fearing God. Apart from Him a person is ignorant of spiritual things. In contrast, those who fear God will have wisdom and gain knowledge. It is fools who despise wisdom and discipline. They despise by trusting their own reasoning and hold in contempt, and ridicule something we experience and might make us shy of proclaiming Christ. The promise is, possessing proper fear the Lord, is to recognize God’s character and respond by revering, trusting, worshiping, obeying, and serving Him
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