Asking for God’s wisdom: Part III

This is the third part of the Asking for God’s Wisdom trilogy. Of course if I think of some more things to say, I’ll probably just make some “prequels,” and then this would end up being the 6th part, like in Star Wars
Anyway, I’ll proceed to share what I think is the third way we ask for and receive God’s wisdom: listening to other Christians. There are two specific ways I’ve learned to ask and receive God’s wisdom from others.
1.) Listening to sermons or lectures (that sounds academic but can include any topic). We are the most resourced nation in the world when it comes to opportunities to grow in our faith and receive wisdom. Most countries drool over the opportunities that we have, and yet most of us, including myself, don’t take enough advantage of what we have. God does speak through His word, even when His word is preached at another church and you can only access it by the internet.
In addition to other sermons, we have tons of free seminary resources. Here are some free seminary and sermon resources: R.T.S., Covenant Seminary, Tim Keller, Jean Larroux.  If you’re not a reader, then take 30 minutes of car riding time, or mowing the lawn, or just relaxing and learn something new. You’ll be glad you did.
2.) Listening to others. The most under-tapped resource I think Christians often overlook is each other. While I don’t believe that anyone can offer wisdom and say, “Thus says the Lord” (and actually speak with prophetic authority), all of your brothers and sisters in the faith have the Holy Spirit inside them. As a result, they can actually be conduits of wisdom from above to help assist you in everything from developing convictions, to job changes to purchasing a house or a spouse (sorry, it rhymed, though in some places in the world, this is still pretty accurate). Do yourself a favor and seek wisdom from above by asking God and finding wisdom in several mature Christians. 
Sometimes God may not confirm in your heart what you should do in certain situations because He wants to use others. He likes that kind of thing! While others can’t say “Thus says the Lord,” neither can we. Our hearts are deceptive and will often choose what we want, under the guise of wisdom from above. Asking and seeking wisdom from others can help us know the difference between subjectivity and Holy Spirit confirmation.

Asking for God’s wisdom: Part II

This is the 2nd post on James regarding the wisdom that God grants to us when we ask for it in faith. What does asking and receiving that “wisdom from heaven,” actually look like today? 
Sometimes it comes directly to our hearts through prayer, as I mentioned in my last post. Sometimes there is a delay, so that the Lord may teach us something we didn’t think we needed to know. Both of those I dealt with here in Part I.
But another way that wisdom comes to us when we ask in faith is through reading. Let me suggest two ways God has answered my prayer for wisdom through reading.
1.) His Word. This is so obvious that it often gets forgotten. Protestants, more so than traditional Catholics (though I’ve met numbers of Catholics who can espouse grace by faith and read the bible for themselves), have traditionally fought for the freedom they have in Christ to read the bible for themselves. Many other evangelical traditions will fight to the death about the bible’s infallibility, but rarely touch the good book during the week. Do you see the irony here of what such actions are actually saying: “It’s God’s Word, without error, true on all it claims to be true, and is relevant even today, but I’m not going to actually read it.” Hmmm…..It’s worth defending, and even more so, it’s worth reading.
Yet so much of the wisdom we need today for parenting, honoring Christ at work, living among our neighbors is found in God’s Word. Sometimes you can use a reference bible and look up particular verses on particular issues you feel more pressing. But for the most part, regular reading, just simply reading through books of the bible, and asking God’s blessing through His Spirit (we call that “illumination”), is a normal way in which God answers this prayer for wisdom.
2.) Books, articles, etc… 
Some folks may go overboard and become “biblio-philes” (lover of books) and only rely on books for knowledge, and skip prayer and simply reading God’s Word. However, many folks can also fail to receive God’s Wisdom because they fail to read other books or articles. Whether its early church fathers, Reformers, Puritans, or writers of today, there is a plethora of wisdom out there if we’d ask God to show it to us through His People. I recommend keeping a rotation of books/articles which graciously (not angrily or legalistically-I just wonder if such writers are really writing with the Spirit of Christ) covers all areas of wisdom: the “Head” (theology), the “Heart” (personal devotional wisdom), and “Hands” (how to live that wisdom out in life). 
The book of James emphasizes the latter component of wisdom, as does Proverbs.
In summary, there’s lots of wisdom out there. Just ask God, pray, read, and believe. One thing that Proverbs teaches us is that while we ask for wisdom, we must seek it out, and reading is a great way.

Asking for God’s wisdom: Part 1

During my personal devotions in James last week, I came across this verse: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (1:5).”
I’m always interested in what that actually looks like in life. Here’s a few thoughts from my experience the past week of how the Lord provides wisdom.
Ask and Act
Someone asked me for advice this past week, and I didn’t have a clue how to answer them. In my heart, I asked the Lord for some wisdom, thought about it for a 10-15 minutes, and then the solution came to me. I was encouraged directly by this person for the wisdom I offered. I relied on the Lord and He gave me some good counsel to share. I asked, received, and then  acted.
Ask and Wait
Another opportunity availed itself where someone asked me how to break the proverbial evangelistic ice with a young parent. How should this person begin to discuss spiritual things with someone who definitely doesn’t have it on his/her radar?
This time I asked, and acted, and pretty much got the opposite response: “That’s really not any help at all.” You have to love honesty! I asked the Lord what should I say, and pretty much got nothing. But the wisdom I soon realized was, “Geoff, you’re out of touch with evangelism, and need to start seeking more opportunities, and taking advantage of those opportunities when I give them to you.” Now this wasn’t audible, but after I waited, and waited for some good counsel to give, this is the counsel I feel the Lord gave to me. 
I still need to answer the person’s question, but I also need to ask more and wait more. It was good to not get an answer right away. Tom Petty, who’s lyrics seem to always pop into my head for sermons and blog entries (which is strange b/c I don’t think he’s really known for his clever lyrics, at least on paper), sang, “The waiting is the hardest part…you take it by faith, and take it to the heart, the waiting is the hardest part.” Asking and Waiting can be hard hard, and times you may not look wise at the moment, but asking and waiting will indeed make you wiser with, as James writes, “the wisdom that comes down from heaven (James 3).”

Instead of making one long post-since I don’t read any long posts myself-I’ll break this up into several posts.