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“Give me an understanding heart that I can govern Your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.”  1 Kings 3:9

“The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you.”  John 14:25

“For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

I have stated before and this post is not meant to in any way shape or form be anti-science, anti-academic, or anti-intellectual.  Science and medicine and those who are well versed in those topics and subjects have done great personal feats for me and I give thanks to God for them.  This post has more to do with our mindset as we pursue greater intellectual knowledge and how we think about the process of attaining it as well as how we feel about ourselves once we’ve attained it.

Prizing education and academic learning is nothing new and seemingly today the demand for it, those seeking to obtain it, the costs associated with attaining it and the thoughts about those who don’t have it are ever more in the forefront of our societal consciousness.  Academic institutions, especially those for profit and their marketing are a significant presence in all of our media today.  The having of a degree, several degrees, advanced degree or degrees is more frequently a requirement or at least preferred characteristic that many employers are seeking out for their organizations.

While none of those current societal trends are troubling or secular in themselves, I believe we have to be very careful about how we see ourselves both in the process of attaining “higher” education and once the degree or certification has been obtained.  For the way that it is too often portrayed is that the attaining of higher level of learning is a testament to our own talents, desires, “work ethic” or vision.  Also, once we’ve attained the higher degree, we are somehow more worthy, entitled to some greater reward for our efforts, should be sought out and listened to more.  In a word we are “better”; not only better than we were before attaining the degree but also “better” than those who don’t have our level of learning.  It is all too easy for our pride to swell through the process and attainment of higher education.

Let’s take a look at this for a moment starting with the process of attaining higher learning.  Isn’t the process a testament to my desire for self improvement an accolade to my diligence and self motivation, proof of my desire for self fulfillment? As I take my classes, isn’t this a compliment concerning my tenacity?  Aren’t the grades I receive, truly and solely, “my grades” worthy of acknowledgement and glorification?  Here are some self-reflection questions I might need to ask and answer to validate those opinions.  At what point during my development in the womb did I decide and take steps to insure that my brain would function in such a way to allow me the understanding and capacity to seek this higher learning? As an infant or a toddler, what plan did I conceive and implement that allowed me to have sufficient prerequisite learning to continue into an advance state? Let me review my complete plan of all the parents, educators, administrators, mentors and many others that I perfectly put in place that led to my successfully being able to further my education.

Upon completion of this increased education, I am entitled to some or much personal glory, perhaps depending on the level I’ve achieved.  I am deserving; deserving of higher pay, greater promotions, more plush offices.  I deserve to not only be sought out for my opinion, also listened to with less questioning and my opinion should always be given greater weight than those lessors who have not achieved the education that I have.

Yes these are the fruits of “my” singular labor.  Woe to those who are not willing to give me my dues.

Solomon, known biblically and in even general lexicon (i.e. many speak of “The wisdom of Solomon) as one of the wisest living persons knew about the need for wisdom/learning and his lack of it.  His Father David was one of the greatest kings of Israel and upon his death, wanted Solomon (as was God’s plan as well) to reign after him.  The challenge was that Solomon was very young.  He knew he didn’t have the knowledge to satisfactorily govern such a vast and powerful kingdom.  So when God asked Solomon what he wanted from God, Solomon could have asked for riches, a long life, many excellent wives and children; Solomon asked for a wise heart.  He asked for knowledge to lead God’s people well, knowing good from evil.  God was very pleased with Solomon’s request and granted it to him.

Jesus Christ had been extremely diligent in teaching His disciples.  Yet at the last supper, He knew that His disciples still lacked the critical understanding that they would need to carry Christ’s message into the world.  So Jesus promised to send a “Friend”, a “Helper”, the Holy Spirit who would provide all the necessary knowledge and insight needed to carry forth the Gospel of Christ.  Jesus went on to say the Holy Spirit was not just for the disciples but for all who would come to Christ and, through Him, seek the wisdom of the Father.  The world, otherwise could never receive the Holy Spirit because they would not believe that Christ asked for Him to be sent.

Thus it would seem that, while we may indeed know, understand and desire the attainment for a greater knowledge, a higher degree, the fulfillment of that desire is more of a gift of Grace from God, than it is solely a result of our own efforts. I do not contend that it does not take effort, yet that effort builds on God given talents.  Even to have the opportunity is a blessing from God. It may take some humility to come to that understanding but it will align us more accurately with He who provided us the talents in the first place and Whose plan our gaining in wisdom is fulfilling.

Also, having attained some greater learning/education, we need to understand that it is not about being served as a reward for that attainment but finding a way to serve with the gained knowledge.  We need to remember what Christ stated that to one who has much given, much is required.

So, if we are so led, let us go and learn.  Let us strive and achieve.  Always being mindful of as well as thankful for, the blessing and gift that there is in the opportunity for and acquiring of, greater knowledge.  Let us give glory to the Name of Him where all glory, honor and knowledge resides, living a life of loving, sharing and serving to our Heavenly Father.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we affirm and declare that all knowledge and wisdom resides in You.  We are so very thankful that in Your Mercy, You have seen fit to share some of Your knowledge and wisdom with us.  We pray, as Solomon did, that You would guide us to use that wisdom and knowledge in Your service as a blessing to this world.  We also ask Your forgiveness when we see the achievement and wisdom in a prideful way, seeking our own glory.  Guide us we pray and allow us to use the wisdom You so freely provide in a way that will be praise to Your most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

“…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him…”  John 14:17

Que le Seigneur vous bénisse et vous garde et faire resplendir son visage sur vous.  I do not speak French.  If it were not for an online translation application, I could not have added that sentence to this post.  So if you’re like me, illiterate in French and received this message from me and were unable to translate it, you would not be sure if I paid you an amazing complement or just insulted you in an extremely crass and vulgar way.  In short, it would add very little meaning or make very little impact to your life.

I have often wondered about how Jesus Christ’s message can seemingly have such little impact to some and, at times, the greater world.  Don’t get me wrong, Christ’s message is The message for the world and I’m not inferring that it does not have power.  Those who hear and believe in the message do amazing and miraculous things.  I just find it puzzling how so many can hear it and it make no impact on their lives.  Almost as if it is being spoken in a foreign language.

There is also another aspect to the use of the word; mistranslation.  That is to say that the Word has been used as the pretense for the inflicting of excruciating pain, violence and great evil.  Again, please don’t misinterpret me.  I am not saying the Word is evil, but, at times what has been done in Its name has been evil.  The meaning of the Word as God intended has been missed.

Jesus has just finished His Last Supper with His 11 remaining disciples and they will soon be departing for the garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus knows that His Heavenly Father has given to Him these 11 brave souls and they are to be entrusted with the spreading of Jesus’ Gospel to the rest of the world.  Now the 11 have had amazing experiences with Jesus.  Through Jesus they have been able to accomplish miraculous feats.  They have learned about and perhaps (although the bible does not indicate one way or the other) actually learned to read scripture.  So this learning by Jesus teaching and actual experience should be enough for them to go out and successfully, impactfully spread His Gospel?  Jesus knew better.  For Jesus knew that there was no human learning nor experience that would adequately allow them to understand, much less, explain to others the truths of the Gospel.  They would need a helper, a translator.  They would need the Spirit of Truth; The Holy Spirit.  Also, The Holy Spirit is not one among many, a holy spirit.  He is The One and Only Holy Spirit.

Now, it might be later, after Jesus Christ arose from the dead and the disciples were given their great commission, that some would have thought how much easier their tasks would be if the world also received The Holy Spirit.  However, as Jesus was oft to do, He warned them ahead of time that the world could not receive the Holy Spirit.  For the world can not see Him nor know Him.  Thus they can not accurately hear and/or interpret His message.

So we find ourselves living in a world filled with messages; many of them mixed as to how to live.  How is it that we receive and understand the message of Jesus Christ?  Is it because we are very wise and very experienced in living a righteous life by our own strengths?  Is it because we made the first contact, asking for the Holy Spirit to be sent to us knowing that we needed Him?  To understand the amazing Grace that is the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have to be clear how He comes to us.  Jesus Christ knows His followers and their needs.  Christ prays to the Father and it is the Father who sends the Holy Spirit to us.  Finally, once sent The Holy Spirit dwells with us by being in us.

Thus, if there is any wisdom to any of my posts (and I am not claiming that there is; that is up to you the reader to decide) should I claim that the wisdom is my own doing, based on my knowledge, hard work and clean living?  As Paul would say: “Heaven Forbid!” If I were to do that then your response should be to stop reading,  exit the blog never to return, deleting all traces of it from your computer and your mind.  Likewise be very careful following any earthly born human being who claims such personal only insight.

Truthfully, in my own pondering and musing on the Gospel, I have often missed the clear message It is trying to teach me.  It is only when I humble myself and am open to listening to The Holy Spirit do I begin to gain insight into the Holy and Never Changing Truth.  Granted there is an ethereal aspect to the Holy Spirit, even including His Name, that can be more difficult to grasp.  Yet He is real.  The Truth that He wants to impart to us is real.  The only way we are to gain insight to as well as taking the correct action from the Gospel is through listening to The Holy Spirit.  Finally, like all true blessings, The Holy Spirit comes to us, not based on our worthiness to receive Him, but by the Gracious Gift of our Heavenly Father.  May we truly be open to His words for us.

(Oh by the way, I’m not going to leave you hanging.  According to the online translator app, the sentence that I started with, written in French is translated: May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you.  I know from prior visitors, that some do speak French.  So if the translation is in error, please leave a note correcting it.)

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we humbly proclaim that You provide all things for us.  You provide the physical sustenance of life, the sustaining love for our hearts and through The Holy Spirit, Your precious guidance and comfort for our souls.  Thank you Most Merciful Father, that You have not left us to our own devices and wisdom to interpret Your Word but have sent to us The Holy Spirit.  Forgive us, when we attempt to circumvent the Spirit’s wisdom with our own meager wisdom and intellect.  Through the Holy Spirit give us strength to live lives of sanctification and praise to You, Dear Father.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen.

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