Paul's Ponderings

Thoughts about following Jesus

Tag: Wisdom (page 1 of 2)

Live as Wise

Live as Wise

One characteristic that separates successful people from people who have limited success is the way they use time. People who are successful have the ability to use the majority of their time productively.

For us on the outside it can feel like they can accomplish in a day what it would take a week for us to do. Successful people understand that time is a valuable resource that needs to be used wisely.

On the other side of the spectrum, people who have limited success usually see time as a limitless. For them time is less valuable. Their mantra is, “There is always tomorrow.”

I have come to the conviction that many of us need to change the way we view time. Time is one of the most  valuable resources God has given to us. Just as we are called to be good stewards of our money, we need to be good stewards of our time.

The apostle Paul addressed the issue of time in Ephesians 5:

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,  redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16; NKJV)

Notice they way Paul describes our days: they are evil.

This reality is the reason we need to be mindful in the way we use our time. Living in evil days means that if we are not wise in the use of our time we allow evil to win. Since the days are evil we need to live with wisdom, and this requires that we are good stewards of our time. Only by living with wisdom can we hope to redeem the time that we live in.

To redeem something is to reclaim it. Our days are lost to evil, but we can reclaim our time by living with wisdom.

This brings us to this question: How do we live with wisdom?

At the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told this short parable:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27; NKJV)

According to Jesus the key to living with wisdom is to follow his teachings.

For us to do that we have to first believe that his teachings contain the wisdom we need for life. If we do not believe that truth, then it doesn’t matter how much we study what Jesus taught, we will not obey it.

The second step that we must do is we must obey the teaching. In his letter James wrote:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25; NKJV)

When we come to Jesus we realize that something is wrong in our lives. Like the rich, but moral, young man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, we come to Jesus because we know something is missing in our lives.

One of the purposes of God’s Word, according to James, is to act as a mirror. It shows us what is wrong and what we need to fix. It is foolishness to know that something is wrong, to know what that something is, and then fail to fix the problem. We wouldn’t leave the house if the bathroom mirror revealed that our hair needed to be combed, our face needed to be washed, and our zipper was down. We would correct those issues before we went out the door.

This means we need to commit to obey the teachings of Jesus. Obedience is the way we will experience change in our lives.

My belief is that the more we obey Jesus, the more we will experience his teaching as wisdom, which will lead to us have greater confidence in the wisdom that he has to offer to us. The more confident we are in the teachings of Jesus the more likely we will apply those teachings to our lives.

We live in evil days. The one way the Bible gives to reclaim our days for God’s kingdom is to live with wisdom.

The wisdom that we need is found in the teachings and example of Jesus. That is why the only way to live as wise people in this world is to follow him.

 

Light My Life

{Philippians 2:14-15; NLT}

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

Father God, You are my Creator and Provider which makes You worthy of my eternal praise and worship. Thank You for loving me and taking the steps necessary to make reconciliation possible. May Your patience, compassion, and love be the example that I follow.

I confess that I don’t like to be inconvenienced and I tend to grumble and complain when things don’t go my way. Teach me to do things without complaining and to show Your love in all circumstances. I want my life to be an example of what it means to follow Jesus.

Lord, I need Your wisdom and guidance to navigate this world with all of its temptations and trials. Fill me with spiritual wisdom and understanding so I can live a life worthy of Jesus and become a light in the darkness. Apart from You I have light to shine. Light my life so I shine brightly for You.

It is in the name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, I pray. Amen.

Make the Most of Opportunities

{Colossians 4:5-6; NLT}

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Dear God,

I ask for forgiveness because I haven’t been a good steward of the opportunities that You have sent my way. Fear has held me back from connecting with other people and sharing Your love with them. Not only have I missed out on experiencing You at work in my life, but I have also disobeyed You. I have acted like the wicked servant who buried his talent in the sand. Forgive me Father for being foolish.

Lord, grant me the wisdom to use of the oppportunities You have given to me. May they see You fingerprints on my life and experience Your love through my actions. Teach my to be gracious and accepting of people, especially those people I disagree with.

Use me Father to build for Your Kingdom. It is in the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

More Than Good Advice

More Than Good AdviceThere are plenty of people out there willing to give you good advice. From Dear Abbey to Dr. Phil to Dr. Oz we have plenty of people in the media who will give us advice on how to live. The problem is that it isn’t God’s advice. Sure we can find Biblical passage to support some of it, but that doesn’t mean that it is Godly wisdom.

In an attempt to be relevant and to meet the needs of their congregations too many preachers build their messages around the good advice of people like Dr. Phil rather than building their sermons on the text of God’s Word. Haddon Robinson wrote a chapter entitled The Relevance of Expository Preaching for the book Preaching to a Shifting Culture. In it he writes:

“It is one thing to find insight and direction from a text and to demonstrate how it gives God’s perspective on the current approaches to a problem, but it is another thing to find one’s basic ideas in the humanistic disciplines and then baptize those insights into the faith unconverted. A sermon urging care for the environment, for example, may look to the natural sciences to make us aware of what is happening to the air, forest, seas, and animals, but also turns to the same sources for the diagnosis of the problem, and the motivations for acting to solve it. We’re sure that Christians should be concerned about polluted air and depleted natural resources so any verse or two about creation being God’s handiwork is all the scriptural support we need for what we want to say. The Bible is actually incidental to the sermon.

“Other sermons on more personal issues such as grief, guilt, anxiety, or loneliness often depend on the insights of counselors or psychologists to analyze the situation and to show how they should be handled. We too easily buy into the assumption that the members of the social sciences can give us all the help we need. Of course the Scriptures work well enough for religious matters, but when it comes to the business of living they aren’t much help. When it comes to those issues we want to believe we can fix things ourselves; there is no need or use to call in God” (pg. 81; emphasis added).

There is no doubt that we can find good advice from the wisdom of this world, but are we called to offer people good advice? To be honest with you if I am called to offer people advice on how they can have a better life or purpose in their life then I am in trouble. Dr. Phil does that far better than I can, and people don’t have to get off their living room couch for what he has to offer.

Preaching has to be more than offering clichés and advice about finding our best life now. The wisdom of this world is incapable of making sense of the trials and hardships of life. Consider what James wrote in his epistle:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

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 1:2-5; NASB).

Life is not a walk in the park. Everyone experiences hardships and struggles. These are an universal experiences. James points out, as do other Biblical writers, that trials serve a purpose: they help us become the people God created us to be. James says for us to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, we need trials.

In the very next verse James writes; But if any of you lacks wisdom. Why is wisdom important? Why not strength? hope? or relief? Isn’t because only through wisdom can we discover how to use these hardships in our lives? Simply enduring hard times isn’t what we need, rather we need wisdom to know how we should respond to those trials. That wisdom only comes from God.

The pages of the Bible contain God’s wisdom. If we neglect the study of it and the preaching of it then we cut ourselves off from the wisdom God wants us to have. So the purpose of preaching isn’t to impart good advice to people so they can have the life they always wanted. Preaching is about sharing God’s wisdom to empower people to make the right choices in their journey to become the people God created them to be.

The Continuing Influence of a Faithful Life

Yesterday one of my spiritual mentors died.  I didn’t personally know Dallas Willard, but he has influenced my life through his books and his teachings.  Today I want to bless you with some of his wisdom.

 

If we as Christ’s people genuinely enter Christ’s Way of the Heart, individuals will find a sure path toward becoming the persons they were meant to be: thoroughly good and godly persons, yet purged of arrogance, insensitivity, and self-sufficiency.  Christian assemblies will become what they have been in many periods of the past and what the world desperately calls for today: incomparable schools of life —life that is eternal in quality now, as well as unending in quantity.

Dallas Willard, The Renovation of the Heart, p. 25

Rest in peace Dallas and thank you for being faithful to the call God placed on your life.

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