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Lesson 4: Real Faith Asks God for Wisdom

October 20, 2004

Real Faith Asks God for Wisdom

As we have looked at the truth about trials in the letter James wrote to the persecuted believers, we have seen that real faith endures trials allowing them to bring them to maturity and soundness of their faith. Last week I challenged you that how we approach trials is our choice –We either look for purpose and maturity or allow ourselves to become bitter and even tempted by evil. Jonah is a good example of not allowing the trial of his life to mature him. God called Jonah to Nineveh, a wicked Gentile city, to preach the gospel to them. And he ran the other way. God got a hold of him and turned his direction back to Nineveh and there was a great revival in the city due to Jonah’s preaching. Was Jonah’s heart really in it? Had he allowed God to mature him? I believe the answer is revealed to us in the last chapter of Jonah when we find him sitting outside the city hoping God would send judgment on Nineveh. Again he rejects the will of God. A surrendered heart to do God’s will is a key to allowing trials to mature us. Ephesians 6:6 says we are to do the will of the Lord from our hearts. James says "let" these trails finish their work in you. Our hearts must be surrendered to his will in order to become mature in our faith.

There is an article about a 25 year old young man named Jack in North Dakota, who has a terminal illness. He is awaiting a lung transplant – the only hope for sustaining his life. The article states the following:

How did Jack come to think of his illness without resentment, but instead, focus on God’s faithfulness? Jack says, "Right after I got the news from the doctor, I sat by myself at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. I was just thinking. I’m not the kind of person to go out and get help for my problems. I face them down, and depend on the Lord, and it all goes away. But now I was asking myself, ‘How am I going to respond to this?’ The first way of responding would be to be angry with God and blame Him. But I figured that way of thinking is not logical, if you believe Christ is who He says He is. So, then the second way would be to be thankful – to trust God." He goes on to say that He asked God for the reason he has the disease. He believes that God revealed to him that it is to show God’s power and for God’s glory. His two reasons he sees for the purpose of the disease is for God to get glory and people to be saved through his story. He wants God’s glory, in life or death, whatever God takes him through.

What a contrast between Jonah and Jack. Which will you be - a Jonah or a Jack? Surrendered to the will of God or rejecting it? It is His will that you grow through the trials of your life.

That really brings us to the next section of James. I often have looked at the truths in James as nuggets of truth separate unto themselves, but as I have been studying I see how especially in this first chapter that the truths all flow together.

Read James 1:5-8

Not only are we to "let" God work in our lives, we are to "ask" for wisdom for the trials. Verse 5 flows right along with the truth about trials. As we are considering the purpose of the trials in our lives, evaluating our trials according to their value to bring about maturity and soundness of faith, we need to ask Him what those purposes are and for wisdom to endure the trial.

Why? Verse 5 says, "If we lack wisdom". That "if" actually means "since".

Since we need to know what to do, we need to go to the source of wisdom – God himself and ask for what we need.

We do not just ask once, but since "ask" is in the present tense, we need to keep on asking. If we are to be able to let trials have there right effect in our lives, if we are to use them the right way for our growth and stability, we need wisdom. What is wisdom?

Wisdom is not just knowledge, but the practical insight with spiritual understanding to use the knowledge in the right way.

Wisdom is the right use of knowledge.

Wisdom helps us to know how to use the circumstances for God’s glory and our good.

Wisdom helps us not to waste these opportunities.

The book of Proverbs emphasizes the need for wisdom.  What does it say?Proverbs 1:1-2  identifies this book as a place where we can attain wisdom. We probably know truths from Proverbs and don’t realize their origin as being from the word of God. Proverbs 4:5 says, "get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.". Proverbs 3:13-17 says, "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom" - remember as we look intently into the word of God we are blessed – one of the reasons is that we find wisdom. "Wisdom is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold, more precious than rubies-nothing can compare with her…Her ways are pleasant ways, all her paths are peace."

Lots of people are saving their money to get good returns, but investing your time and efforts in finding wisdom will have far greater returns.

We need the wisdom of God in order to become mature and be blessed through our trials.

What does James say about wisdom.

God is the source of wisdom.  During a trial, it is so easy to run to another person for help rather than to God. Who do you run to first for counsel – help? I believe we need to be practiced at going to our God first for He alone is the source of all wisdom and the he desires to give us this wisdom.

Romans 11:33-36: He alone has the depth of wisdom and knowledge.Job 12:13,16: "with Him are wisdom and might. To Him belong counsel and understanding. With Him are strength and sound wisdom."Isaiah 9:6: He is our wonderful counselor.I Corinthians 1:30: Jesus is the wisdom of God. To know Jesus is to have wisdom available to us.

God desires to give wisdom:  When need we ask God for wisdom, what can we expect?

James 1:5:  God will give it to us generously with no strings attached without finding fault. Nothing is too simple or trite for God. Go to Him. Ask of Him. He is able!

It’s his very nature to give and not hold anything back.

Daniel 2:20-23:  God gave Daniel wisdom at his request, revealing the King’s matters to David. He gives wisdom to wise men. And we are considered wise when we go to God.

We need to ask God for wisdom, expecting him to give to us generously.

How do we ask according to James 1: 6? There is one condition that must be filled on our part in order to receive… "But…he must believe and not doubt." The word "doubt" is not so much a weakness of faith, but a lack of it. So the contrast is simple- there is either a lack of faith or faith. When you ask God for wisdom in faith, you are believing who God is and that he wants to answer you.

Matthew 7:7-11 shows us that God gives what is good to those who seek Him. As we see He is the source who desires to give us wisdom because of who He is, it gives us reason not only to ask, but to believe He will answer.

When we doubt, James describes us like waves on the sea that are driven by the winds. Can’t you just see a cork bobbing up and down on the waves as the waves sweep it along. Just like we are when we are low when we are doubting and high when we are believing.

What is faith? Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen (Heb 11:1). Hebrews 11:6 goes onto say that when we come to God, we need to believe that He is, but also that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Having faith in God is not just an intellectual assent, but a firm conviction of who God is.

The question becomes - " Do you believe in God?

OR "Do you believe God"

Are you believing God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do? Do you believe God just exists and is involved in the universe or do you believe that He is who He says He is and does what He has said He will do in your life?

James goes on to describe a double minded man – as one who does not expect to receive what he asks for because he is unstable, unable to carry out any determined action. What happened to Peter when Jesus told him to walk to Him on the water? As soon as Peter looked at the waves being distracted by the circumstances, he began to sink. This double-mindedness nearly drowned him! A double-minded man sometimes believes God and sometimes, doesn’t.

Are there any legitimate excuses for us to keep on doubting? Not if we are growing in the knowledge and understanding of God and His ways. God is a rock on which to stand firmly, not a wave that will toss you around. He is solid ground, bringing you stability in your life of faith. He wants to give us wisdom in the midst of our trials. If we have believing hearts, God will give us wisdom the very wisdom that we need.

Keep on believing God …

Keep on asking for wisdom …

Keep on receiving!

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