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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

“And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven….”  Ecclesiastes 1:13

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter.  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all”  Ecclesiastes 12:13

I must admit that, in the past,  I have found the message of Ecclesiastes difficult.  Why? Because in a more common vernacular I found it kind of a downer or a bummer.  It seemed Solomon was pretty down on life.   It gave us a great classic rock and roll song by the Bryds:  Turn, Turn, Turn, but besides that it seemed very somber.

Yet lately I think I’ve been blessed by God with a much greater, much more upbeat, deeper spiritual inspiration concerning this book.  For this is a book about doing, about human action and interaction, a book about the search for satisfaction and fulfillment.

The main character is King Solomon, son of the Great King David.  Under what auspices does Solomon undertake his journey and why should we listen to his report?  Well, when it comes to wisdom, short of Jesus Christ (well short I might add), it is hard to find a human to which God imparted more wisdom.  You see when Solomon took the throne, God asked him what he desired the most.  Solomon answered that he desires wise judgement to be able to lead the people.  God is so pleased with his not choosing power, fame and/or riches that He grants him not only very great wisdom, but also riches, fame and power.

So in his wisdom, Solomon believes that God has put it on his heart to search all that a person can do and be that would bring contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment.  Now here is when I got bogged down in the negativity and frustration of Solomon.  Because remember, Solomon was a person who had it all.  He had education.  He had riches.  He had popularity.  People came from all over the world just to meet him; in other words he had fame.

So off he goes.  First he starts with what he knows best, wisdom; that is a person who is wise must be happy.  Not so he finds.  For even with wisdom there are so many things wisdom doesn’t solve.  Okay riches then.  Nope.  Rich people still die and/or their family members die.  The rich are so often targets for evil.  Partying and getting drunk.  Solomon threw some knock down drag out all out parties.  But one couldn’t stay drunk all the time and hangovers were a bear not to mention drunks were fools.  Sex.  Solomon had many wives and concubines.  Yet there was no fulfillment there.  Solomon traveled, he built great palaces, he tried it all.  Thus, after many years of searching and understand this, Solomon truly believed that satisfaction could be found, that somewhere in the worldly pursuits, triumphs and victories rested the foundation to contentment.  His was an honest attempt.  And if anyone had the mental, physical and worldly resources to successfully find the human based happiness; Solomon was that person.  Though search as he did, Solomon did not find it among the world.  Darn!

Where does that leave us?  The world hasn’t changed.  Sure there is different technology, depth and breadth of worldly knowledge, a greater diversity of destinations to explore than Solomon had available.  But that is only variation on a theme.  The world is telling us today that satisfaction, fulfillment happiness rests with:  our level of education, the greatness of our wealth, who our spouse(s) is, how many admirers we have, the amount of our fame, how many victories we can claim, how we can alter our consciousness with drugs or other substances and countless other pursuits.  Here’s the thing, most of us don’t have the resources to chase after all those things.  However, there is one who did; who went before us searching all those things and utterly failed to find the happiness he sought.  Why would we ever want to follow in Solomon’s heart breaking, deeply frustrating journey, only to arrive at the same conclusion.

One would think that we could or at least should be able to make our own or find completely within ourselves the meaning to true happiness.  That would be correct if we had been the ones to create this world.  If we were the creator we would perfectly know where and how to create happiness.  We only have to look around at so many lives utterly shattered by wayward pursuits of earthly happiness to know we are ill equipped to determine or make our own happiness.

So hear is where the positive aspect of Ecclesiastes comes in; the uplifting message of eternal fulfillment and contentment.  Solomon did find it.  It just wasn’t in the world.  God didn’t leave Solomon frustrated and bitter in his searching.  God showed Solomon that satisfaction and justification rests with Him; with God.  Solomon declares that God makes everything beautiful in its own time.  Solomon testifies that there is rejoicing and joy in eating and drinking and enjoying the work that God has given each of us to do.

Do not be dismayed by the biblical use of the word fear.  For there is the dread of earthly fear and there is the awestruck, reverence of the Godly fear.  The Godly fear is not about dread as much as it is about being in the presence of the overwhelming Perfect Power.  Even though that power is Love; His love is still overpowering; as is His power of Justice and Righteousness.  God is the Creator.  As Creator, He created the ability to be fulfilled, to be content, to be happy.  Solomon found what it was or more accurately Who it was.  Love, life, fulfillment, contentment, happiness, all start with, are all sustained by and all end with God Almighty.  And as He gave His Son, Jesus Christ for our salvation; these other things He will give as well to those who believe on His Name.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we thank you that You do not keep Your Wisdom hid from us.  Thank You that You have given wisdom to men like Solomon and then shared that wisdom through Your Word that we might learn from his experience.  Forgive us, Most Merciful Father when we search in the world for fulfillment.  Show us the blessings, joy, peace and contentment that comes from seeking You first and following Your Commandments.  That our work, our lives would praise Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“But the Lord said to Samuel: ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him”  1Samuel 16:7

“So the last will be first and the first last”  Matthew 20:16

Practically all of us have been there.  The quintessential example is the playground or school recess sporting game.  There is a group around and normally two people, captains of some sort, get to pick who is on their teams.  And the agony for those to be chosen begins. Though sometimes the situation may not be so immediate but still very personal.  You may be waiting for the phone call that says you got the job or the new position.  The email that says yes I want to meet with you.  It is that basic of human desires; to be wanted for something; to not be the left over, someone has to take him or her person.

Yet, especially in the story of the anointing of David by Samuel, there is also a story that sometimes gets overlooked.  The story of the chooser and how he (and we) make our decisions.  Because by the very nature of the process; there are more choosies than there are choosers.  With that angst that those waiting to be chosen go through, the assumption is that the ones doing the choosing have the easy, stress free part of the process.  After all they’ve already been picked haven’t they?

So why is Samuel at first so reluctant to go see Jesse, the family from which the new king would be chosen.  Well he feared for his life for one thing.  You see, Samuel had chosen before, at least from the human perspective.  God had told Samuel that he would meet Saul and would anoint him as the first king of the Israelite people.  Samuel did as God commanded but because Saul strayed from God’s instruction through Samuel, Saul’s reign did not turn out so good.  And Samuel now believed if Saul found out that he was going to find a new king, that Saul would have him killed.  Secondly, Saul did not turn out to be a successful choice.  Now Samuel was at it again.  He was finding it difficult to put his heart into this second search for a king having experienced the failure of the first choice.

Samuel acquiesces to God’s command and goes to see Jesse, whom God has revealed has a son who will be the next king.  Saul was described as the handsomest man in all of Israel and also significantly taller than any other man.  So using that as starting point, it was natural that when Samuel was introduced to Jesse’s first son, Eliab, who was tall and very handsome, that Samuel again thought: “this must be the one.”  Yet God in effect tells Samuel:  “been there, done that and it didn’t work”.  For God tells Samuel to not trust his eyes to determine who should be chosen.  God wants this king to be successful.  For that success to happen, it will not be based on the external, what the eye can see; but on the internal, what the heart can feel.  Left to his own wisdom, his own measurements upon which to make his choice; Samuel would have chosen wrongly. Thank God for His intervention.

Fast forward to today.  You and I make choices about people all the time.  It may not be about who will be a king but, nevertheless, they can have amazing and/or devastating consequences.   Some choices are momentous:  Who am I going to date or marry? Who am I going to hire or promote?  Some seem more trivial:  Who am I going to eat lunch with? Whose phone call do I return first or at all.  Yet again understand, all of these decisions have consequences.  In the bestselling book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, he describes how we, often unconsciously as well as almost instantaneously, make snap decisions using things like a person’s height  and overall attractiveness; their ethnicity, color of their hair, the pitch of their voice; all outward characteristics that tell us little or nothing about their heart within.  One of the saddest aspects to this is we tend to use characteristics which the person has little to no control over versus things like their character; their capacity to love; internal things which will make the greatest difference.

I am most certain I would have chosen Eliab.  Also, I doubt I would have chosen the same path as the landowner in Jesus’ parable as told to us in Matthew.  Who promises all the same reward although some seem to have been with Him longer than others.  So when I am the chooser, what am I to do?  To be the fairest, the wisest, the chooser with the greatest chance of success; I must do as Samuel did; and listen to God.  Ergo first, I must go to God in prayer.  I/we must ask God to help us to overcome our worldly processes of choosing and ask for His perfect guidance, understanding that He has a plan in play in our choices.  I/we must think beyond how easy our choice will make things for us versus how much overall good will our choice outcome be to those who are chosen.  We must put aside our beliefs in our own wisdom; our own ability to play God and turn to the one who is the One True God to lead us.  It is then and only then will we find the confidence to say this one and not that one; yes to you but no to you and know that we are doing this in the love and trust of the One whose choices are always perfect.  The One who chose His Only Begotten Son, to come to our earthly existence and to give His life for our transgressions.  The One who has chosen Mercy and Forgiveness over Judgement and Separation.  I’m fairly certain, I would not have chosen so wisely.  Thank God that He did and does.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, thank You for choosing us.  We know, Dear Father, that we are also faced with making choices about others each day.  Give us the wisdom, Everlasting Father, to turn to You first for Your counsel and Your wisdom.  Through the Holy Spirit, give us Your Eyes to see as You do, into the heart and not primarily the physical.  Grant that we would make our decisions in concert with Your Plan and Your Will, not relying on ourselves.  That the choices that we make would be a testimony to our love, worship and praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen

“Son remember in your lifetime you received your good things and likewise Lazarus evil things but now he is comforted and you are tormented”  Luke 16:26

“I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.”  Luke 16:27

“If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”  Luke 16:31

 

As I sometimes have done in the past, I have to start this post out with a disclaimer.  I am going to use a math process of proofs in my discussion in this post.  As I am not a biblical scholar, I am even the lessor, a mathematical scholar, or barely an adequate practitioner.  So to go much behind the initial point I will try to make, in some mathematical reasoning, would sadly be beyond my competence.  Having stated that:  here we go.

As I remember back to the heady days of geometry, there was a process called a “proof” and part of that proof was made up of statements called “if-then, statements.” The logic being if this is true, then this also must be true.  If p then q.  Yet the truth is, that this process goes far beyond just the process of mathematical equations.

At least for me, I have found that the process, and the logic beyond it, has often filtered into my prayer life.  God, if you will x, then I will y.  God, I want to do x, will you please show me y, that means x is okay.  God, I am lost and in a quandary, if I could only see x from you, then I would know y (or why.).  Am I saying here, that to ask for guidance is wrong or against God?  Hardly.  What I have to watch out for in my asking, is thinking that I have no resource available to help me and have to wait for some divine sign, some burning bush, some thunderous voice from above.

Jesus is telling a parable to the Pharisees, whom the bible says were lovers of money and things that came with it.  God, through the Mosaic Law and the prophets had given people guidance about how to live:  Deuteronomy 30:6, ….to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.  Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Deuteronomy 15:11  The man in  Jesus’ Parable who is rich, does not follow the law while alive so is in eternal torment.  He begs that, a poor man Lazarus, whom the rich man ignored in life, but who now is in eternal paradise, be allowed to go back and warn his brothers to follow God’s law so that they use their riches as intended and not end up in eternal torment.  It is the end of the reply that Jesus says that Abraham gives to the man, that chills me to the core.  If they do not hear..neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead! (bold and underlined added)

Jesus Christ came to earth, He lived, He died (for us) and He rose again and lives even today.  While He was on this earth, He taught us how to live.  When He returned to heaven, Our Heavenly Father sent the Holy Spirit to us, to help us to understand what it is that Jesus Christ taught.  But how often have I gone to God; crying I have no idea what it is that You want.  If You would just give me a sign!!!!!  Then I would know and believe!  God I am having trouble with someone……have I forgiven?  God what should I do about this job offer? This promotion? Please these six numbers be the lottery winning numbers?  Whom are you serving; God or mammon?  Dear God, do I really have to go here…or help there? Do you love the Lord Your God, with all your heart, soul, mind and body?  Do you love others as you love yourself?

There is an enemy and he tries to get in the way, anyway he can.  He tries to confuse.  He definitely tempts us to try paths, not intended by God.  He is powerful and we do need God’s help.  We are not sufficient in ourselves.  That is one of the reasons that we have the gospels to read and the Holy Spirit to help us interpret.  I believe God does want an active relationship with us and within that relationship there is an allowance, even a desire for the asking of questions; the asking for guidance.  Yet, I also know my motives.  And if I’m honest with myself, I know that I want to get something for my own glorification here on earth; money, someone with the perfect worldly body, a prestigious title, earthly popularity, earthly power.  Even if I achieve some of those, I want more.  So I pray.  In my prayer I say, show me a sign either specifically for or against what I want.  Might God ponder and say in His reply:  “My Son, who has risen from the dead, has answered this already.  Why will you believe this sign, when you did not believe the sign which is Jesus Christ?”

Thus, may it be that we are wise enough to use the resources given to us by Our Heavenly Father.  May we take time to read the Word mercifully supplied to us by Our Heavenly Father.  May we ask for wisdom and help in interpretation through the Holy Spirit as we read and contemplate.  Please, dear brothers and sisters, it is not about us being self sufficient in our understanding of God’s Will and Jesus Christ’s teachings.  It is about understanding, that God has mercifully and abundantly supplied help for us; including, sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to come and be our personal Teacher and Savior.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we thank and praise You for the Word, which you have so abundantly given for our wisdom.  We confess that we often do not utilize those resources or want to disregard them, instead seeking some sign from You.  We further repent, that we want to do opposite of Your teachings and ask You for permission to do so.  Pour out Your Wisdom on us, that we will take the time to read and study Your word.  Help us, Dear Father, to connect with Your wonderful Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to illuminate those things that are beyond our earthly comprehension.  That through that study, we will come to See You more, in all things in our lives, and become even more joyously dependent on You and Your wonderful Guidance.  In the name of the one who came to Teach and Save us, Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen.

I send you out as lambs among wolves.  ……..  Luke 10:3

He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts…and not to put on two tunics.  Matthew 6:8

…returned with joy saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.   Luke 10:17

“I thank You, Father of heaven and earth that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.”  Luke 10:21

Wisdom is greatly extolled in the bible, especially in Proverbs, so understand I am not trying to speak against all wisdom per se.  Although even in the book of Proverbs it states that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  It is the conflict of our earthly wisdom, when it comes up against Christ’s and Our Heavenly Father’s dictates where the problems arise.

Our earthly wisdom is so often built around calculations.  We weigh the pros and cons and look for return on investment.  Before we get started, can we see the end and is that vision something we want to be a part of.  If so, we are all in, if not we say no thanks.  Jesus sends his disciples out to go before Him into the villages where He is going to be travelling to.  Maybe this was to give practice to His disciples, maybe as well it was to give credibility to their message, giving them the power to heal and cast out demons.  And as they proclaimed that the Son of God was coming to them; Jesus did come.  The bible does not give the exact reason, but it does clearly spell out Jesus’ directions to them as well as the environment that they were entering.

This is where earthly wisdom would kick in.  Hmmm, we’re to be sheep among wolves; sounds dangerous.  If that is the case, it would be good to have extra provisions.  The wolves won’t be feeding us so we better take extra food and something to carry it in……do not carry a bag, no bread.   I bet we’re going to need some money along the way, wolves are not going to take us in……do not carry copper.  I bet we’re going to need some extra clothes for protection……do not wear two tunics.  Really??? Really???  That is how you expect me to go out?  AND  you expect me to be successful in that journey???  I don’t think so.  Let’s negotiate.  Listen to me, because, based on my experience, I think I have a better idea.  Jesus, I don’t really think you have thought the journey through.

That, of course is not what happened.  Those whom he sent…..went.  And they came back rejoicing, seemingly incredulous at how great their journey had been.  They recounted how they were able to heal and even cast out demons, adding most importantly, that they accomplished these things in Jesus Name.  Jesus responds to them:  “blessed are the eyes that have seen what you have seen…….” .  Just think at what those who refused the journey would have missed out on because they thought the journey a fools errand, destined for failure.

I was eight maybe ten years old.  At that time I was getting into springboard diving because my older brother was an accomplished diver.  I had just successfully completed doing a flip, when my earthly dad said; “Try a one and a half.”  Without a second thought, I got out of the water and jumped off the board and did one.  If he said do it, he must think that I could so why should I doubt him and not try?  Had I been many years older, closer to an adult, my reaction would have probably been very different (I can tell you it would greatly be today).  What are the chances that I am going to fall flat on my face?  Will it hurt if I fail?  Will I look foolish in trying?  What is my reward if I succeed?  Is it worth the risk?  Naah better not.

In a example with many more far reaching and dire consequences, I have, not infrequently, found myself in discussions about the bible and faith.  I have had people ridicule my beliefs or try to sway them based on their facts that what the bible says about a certain thing can’t be that way, because a “Loving Father, wouldn’t do that sort of thing.”  I am not too proud to say that I have, in the past, sometimes briefly been swayed by some of those arguments causing me to question my faith and what is said in the scriptures.  What now keeps my grounded is the fact that what Our Heavenly Father asked of His Son and what Jesus Christ obediently carried out makes no “earthly” sense.  In what earthly plan, would You send Your Son to people who You knew would hate Him AND ask Him to die, as a completely innocent person, taking on the crimes of us guilty people that deserve judgment; especially when You have the power to completely wipe them out and start over?

Thank God that He is not confined to act within our earthly wisdom.  For I know that I would be condemned if He did.  What was Jesus Christ’s reward for dying for us?  He is now at the right hand of God, receiving the Glory as the King of Kings.  I would be only to happy to be truly counted as being a fool for Christ; following Him unquestionably with whatever I am asked, by Him to accomplish.  We should have faith, that He will be with us, both in what we are tasked to do and will receive us joyously into Heaven to bring before Our Heavenly Father.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, please give me the strength to discount earthly wisdom along with the faith to completely follow You.  Make me a babe when it comes to completely following You and not questioning the wisdom of Your Plan. That I might be confident of receiving the reward of blessings in this life and the eternal reward of an existence with You forever.  In Jesus Christ name we pray.

Amen

There we saw giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants) and we were like grasshoppers in our own site, and so we were in their sight.  Numbers 13:33

Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims?  Numbers 14:3

With men it was impossible; but not with God, for with God all things are possible.  Mark 10:27

Fear, probably one of the most paradoxical concepts that we will ever deal with.  Roosevelt, famously said that “All we have to fear is fear itself.”  Is it really as simple as that?  Doesn’t our culture exalt the person who is termed “fearless”?  Yet don’t we also have thrill seekers who are completely untrained, who leap into the habitats of wild animals and get mauled to death.  And much more common and tragic, are those who do not fear texting while driving and become involved in horrendous car accidents?

Fear!  Can it stand in our way?  Sure.  The Israelites had seen the plagues wrought on Egypt by God and they had been spared.  They watched as God destroyed the Egyptian Army.  They watched God provide for all their needs day and night in the wilderness.  And now on the brink of ending their epic sojourn and crossing into the promised land, and lest we forget the land promised was promised by God, they stop in their tracks.  Why?  A few men.  In their eyes the report of a few good men.  For the spies, Moses had commanded to go and look at the promised land and report back, gave a good report of the land.  It was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey.  And at first they were ready to go in and possess the land as God had intended.  Then came the but……. But there are strong men and strong cities their….Giants.  We can’t go in there because they will squash us.  Joshua, one of the spies tries to change their minds.  Yes, we saw mighty people but no people is mightier than God, He will give us this land.  Do not fear!  And as we know, they didn’t listen to Joshua.

So we see that fear can keep us from acting.  Yet there is a story in Samuel, where King Saul acts because of fear.  He was facing a great battle and Samuel was nowhere to be found.  Saul was not supposed to be the one to actually offer sacrifices to the Lord, but because he could not wait, Saul did so anyway.  Samuel does arrive and hears Saul’s explanation for disobeying God’s commandment.  He was more afraid of the immediate threat of the Philistine Army, than God’s commandment, so he acted.  As a consequence, Samuel advises that the kingship will be taken from him and given to another (that other was David).

So there you have it; to fear or not to fear, to act or not to act.  Should I feel no fear whatsoever or should I face each new thing with fear and trembling?  If we look to men/our society for the answer, we will find very numerous and very contradictory answers.  Yet when we look at the universal reference for answers; they are few and they are consistent.  Proverbs tells us that to fear the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Jesus tells us that with God all things are possible.

Okay, I can hear the big question out there:  If God is a loving God why should I fear him?  It is very hard (at least for me) to find words adequate enough to thorougly explain (and also please understand, I do not presume to say that my understanding is truly adequate).  But if you have ever found yourself in a situation where the circumstances were completely out of your ability to control (it could be a natural event like a hurricane or maybe even slowly riding up to the top of a crest of a tall roller coaster) and seeing or experiencing the power and awe of that circumstance is but a glimpse in the concept of the fear of the Lord.  I believe we have not the ability to accurately grasp the concept of God’s power; even His power of love.  God; through His Love has graciously decided to enter into a relationship with us.  But He does not just share a tiny portion with us that we can handle; He is in it 100 percent.  And that power, the wisdom, the omnipresence, that…….perfection, should instill great awe and yes fear in comparison.

So, each day we are faced with decisions.  Where are we to go?  In this or that circumstance, what are we to do?  In the words of a rock and roll tune:  “Should I stay or should I go!”.  And often enough, it is not that we don’t have the answers; it is that we have too many answers and they conflict.  The world will tell us you would be a fool to fill in the blank; take the job, not take the job, pack up and move, stay where you are, pass up this opportunity, marry that person, invest in, on and on and on.

Dear Heavenly Father, through Your Son Jesus Christ, we were told that should we ask it will be given to us.  We know that this world will give us conflicting answers, conflicting wisdom.  So we do ask that, when are faced with decisions, that You will impart Your wisdom, such that we can handle, to us.  In addition we ask, that once You have imparted that wisdom, that You will give us the courage to overcome our earthly fears, and carry out the plan, the Perfect Plan, you have in store for us.  That our appropriate fear of You, will lead us to obedience and through that obedience the abundant blessings You have laid up for us.  That Praises of You be ever on our lips we pray, in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Amen

“Behold I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart…”  1Kings 3:12

“the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness”  Luke 3:2

There have been many posts on this blog about the Perfect Wisdom and Plans of Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  It is, of course, vital that we recognize and praise the blessings of the wisdom of God.  Yet we most also understand that wisdom does not stop there.  If we do that , then we are quite possibly missing out on one of the greatest gifts and our ability to make truly amazing impacts in the world around us.  For we can be wise or perhaps it is more accurate to say that we can share in that wisdom as well.  And as we share in that wisdom and share that wisdom with others, the benefits for all are immeasurable.

First, understand that God’s imparting of wisdom is not limited to just certain job titles, genders, or nationalities.  Jesus Christ extols the wisdom and faith of a Roman guard.  Queen Esther shows profound wisdom and she saves her people.  David’s wisdom did not start when he became king, it was imparted to him while still a shepherd.  Second, understand that it is not based on the amount and type of education that we have obtained.  There were scholarly institutions of learning even during ancient times of history.  In the time of Jesus, both the Sadducees and the Pharisees would have received education.  Though they had differing viewpoints, they believed that their learning gave them the wisdom to make judgements about the application of the Law.  To the Jews of the time, those interpretations were to be followed.  Yet we see, time after time, how that earthly wisdom, founded on what would seem to be a solid educational foundation, failed them completely when confronted with the wisdom of Jesus Christ.

So please understand this, I am not making an argument against academia, getting an education or getting several degrees.  In fact the pursuit of those things starts out with a humility that we need to have when we contemplate that wisdom of God.  For very few people, take classes or go for a degree in something they already know everything about.  No, we first say, I don’t know (or know enough) about this subject.  Then we decide this subject is important enough for us to invest time and, very often expense, to learn it.  Where the trouble comes into play is what do we do once we’ve learned it?  How do we feel we should be treated if we are the expert?  After many years of education, can it be that someone knows more than we do; especially if they can not show a greater amount of education?  What should be my return on investment for sharing this great amassed body of wisdom that I have accumulated?  What am I owed?  Who do I give credit to for my wisdom; me for all my hard work?  Jesus Christ knows all too well the folly of, not only the people who hold themselves out as the wise answer givers, but also those who come to them seeking the one true answer because they have so much wisdom.  When the man comes with the fundamental question to Jesus and starts by calling the man Jesus, wise:  “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, Jesus (who as the One True Son of God, unequivocally knows the answer) starts out chastising the man for calling Jesus wise.  Why?  Because the man, in his own mind, was asking another man, a question that truly can only be answered by the wisdom of God.

So where do we go for the kind of earth changing wisdom of a Solomon or a John the Baptist?  We of course start with God.  And as Solomon explains in proverbs, we need to understand that in comparison, our wisdom, will never compare to the wisdom of God.  So we have to come humbly; not as equals having an exchange of ideas, but as those who are completely ignorant and in need of his counsel.  We need to always be checking ourselves as to why we desire the wisdom; is it so we can raise ourselves and our own glory up, or is it to help others and Glorify the Name of our Heavenly Father.  Will we share the wisdom freely with others, having received it freely ourselves?  Finally, will we praise ourselves for having learned or Praise Him who taught us?

In one sense, the wisdom of God is very easy to obtain; all we have to do is ask.  On the other hand it is some of the most difficult wisdom to use; because the world wants to have titles behind names before they will listen, names recognizable by fame, give credit, fame and money to individuals who proclaim their own wisdom and so often these days, give the title of the most wise to those who shout the loudest and the longest.

Think about a group of very humble people.  Some fisherman, one a tax collector and the others we’re not really sure what their occupation or level of learning was.  They were called by Jesus, stayed with Jesus, listened to Jesus, understood how great Jesus was, that he was the Christ.  They prayed and received wisdom by the Grace of the Holy Spirit.  They then went out, not in their names, but in the Name of Jesus Christ and in the Name of the Father and they changed not only their world, but their wisdom echoes down to us this very day.  Be of great and wise cheer today.  God wants to impart that same sort of wisdom to each and every one of us.

May we look to their example and humbly ask and humbly use the wisdom, by Grace, that Our heavenly Father so longs to give us.

Amen

 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Provers 1

By the title you might think that this is discussion of Why God does things.  That is not the case.  The question here is why God at all. 

That is we humans tend to believe that we are the dominant species on the planet.  That because of our ability to have knowledge and use that knowledge to modify our environment in amazingly diverse ways (whether it is braking into the soil to grow specific food, channelling and daming rivers to divert water, creating devices which are the size of a couch, yet can devistate for miles and kill thousands).

Through our powers of observation of other life forms around us, I have never heard that we believe that any other animal or vegitable has any social construct that remotely resembles human’s religion.  Now if we think in terms of longevity, there are animals and plants whose genus and species have been around much longer than homo sapiens, yet none have ever seen see turtles pray.  So the argument that it is necessary for survival would seem wanting.

So, we who are the most complex believe in overwhelming numbers in a higher power.  It would not appear to be instinct.  We appear as a species to have the ability to gain knowledge far beyond what it takes for our survival.  We read, we discuss, we postulate grand ideas which will not today or tomorrow bring more grain to our mouths or security to our lives.  Again no other species seems to have that capacity in the variety of ways that we do.

So knowledge, fear, wisdom and God.  How do they relate?  Simply as a species we know that there is more to know.  We strive to find out.  At the same time we also realize that to know all is not within the possible reach of anyone and that is when wisdom comes in.  The proper striving for knowledge of value.  As we strive to know and understand it becomes clear as we observe the incredibly complex, immensely powerful, and interconnected processes that there is one who knows it all.  That there is that ability within the universe with the knowledge to truly know it all brings with it unimaginable power; which brings about an awe filled reverence and yes fear because, while we don’t understand the ability to know everything, we do understand that the one who does has the ultimate control.

Falsely, cultures have tried to manufacture their own intities with that power and they bowed down to their gods but to no avail or difference. 

So what is God to do but to in the only limited way that we can understand make his presence known.  Yes through natural processes, but also through words and thoughts but it is not His thoughts that are limited it is our ability to comprehend which makes them seem so mysterious.  In our selfcenteredness, we chafe at the thought that we completely lack the ability to know on God’s level so we rebel and try to substitute our limited knowledge for His.  We believe we know better who should live where, who should have what resources so we fight on small and large scale to impose our imperfect will.

And what would be the only way to bridge that gulf between that is perfection and those who only believe they are perfect but truly aren’t.  To come down and dwell among them.  The unfathomable thing is when God came down, it was not to destroy, not to show His power in slaughter and oppressiveness.  Alas, that is what we humans would expect Him to do.

No He came down in meekness and in the True Power that is the very essence of His Being and Reality.  He came in Love.  A Love designed to take away the barrier of our imperfect knowledge through His Perfect Sacrifice.  How could not one look toward that Love with a awesome reverence and then contemplate how I personally reject that so often and feel a dread at my own actions.  That is fear. 

Why God?  All creation and wisdom points to Him.  That given our propensity of destruction on our own, that we still exist, cries out to His Mercy and Grace.  That He Loves me, yes who He created, yet His creation so often fails Him, yet He came down and died for me, just to show His Love, begs my imperfect love in return.

May all through faith, seek the wisdom to come into God’s Love through He that came down and sacrificed all, Jesus Christ.  Amen

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