Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Seek wisdom ... it is a matter of life and death!"

Day #183

Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 8 - 9 …

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (9:10).  You will never be truly wise, by God’s definition, if you begin with yourself or the thoughts and ideas of other people.  Wisdom is found in one source and one source only:  our Creator, the Holy One, the one true God!  In Proverbs 8 Solomon "personifies" wisdom … he makes wisdom to be a person, speaking to mankind.  It is as though "Wisdom" is calling out wherever people exist, along the heights and at the city gates, crying out, "Listen to ME!"  So in reality, since wisdom has its origin in God Himself, "Wisdom's" voice is God's voice.

God has always been wise, as "wisdom" says, "I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began" (8:23).  Yet, God's wisdom first became displayed in creation:  "The LORD brought me forth as the first of His works" (8:22).  God's glory is His perfection and David writes in Psalm 19, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world" (Psalm 19:1-4).  God’s creation “speaks” and points to God, its Creator.  Those who deny the first five words of the Bible will never be wise because they begin in the wrong place ... with themselves.  Wisdom can only be found in God Himself.

That's why you cannot gain wisdom without acknowledging God as the source of wisdom and as the Creator of all things.  Those who refuse to begin here reject God's wisdom and needlessly plummet into the depths of confusion and despair.  As Paul so aptly puts it in Romans 1:22:  “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools ...”  Nothing makes sense unless there is a perfect Source for all knowledge.  If that is not true then all knowledge, all wisdom, is subjective and no one can know anything for sure.  So the philosophers of today propose that what is "true" for you may not be "true" for me or anyone else.  Each of us thus becomes the "god" of our own little world, deciding what is true or false, good or bad … Is it any wonder that mankind has arrived at the place where we are today?!

"Wisdom" says, "Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.  My mouth speaks what is true" (8:6).  Here is the fountain of all knowledge and the standard by which right and wrong are judged.  "To fear the LORD is to hate evil" (8:13).  So to hate evil is the beginning of wisdom - the ability to know what is right or wrong, good or evil.  And how can anyone determine that apart from a perfect source of wisdom?  God reveals His wisdom in His Word to those who receive His Spirit.

Many of the laws in our criminal justice system are based on the principles of justice found in God's Word, the Bible.  There is a reason for that.  In the early days of our nation there was little law enforcement in what was called the "wild west."  Because of sin, the law was given to restrain evil.  God grants wisdom to mankind to tell us what is right in HIS eyes.  When God's wisdom and rule are rejected you have a situation such as that at the end of the book of Judges:  "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit" (21:25).

But throughout history God has intervened and has revealed Himself to a chosen few by granting to them His Spirit, giving them a new heart and mind and thus giving them the ability to hear His voice - to LISTEN to Him and to understand what He is saying.  "Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it.  Blessed is the man who listens to me ... for whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD" (8:33-34).  The word "favor" is "grace."  Grace is "undeserved favor."  It is only by grace that we who believe are given "ears to hear."

As Jesus told the Parable of the Sower, He said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Luke 8:8).  Then He said to His disciples, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that 'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand'" (Luke 8:10).  Only those who are born again by the Spirit of God will hear the voice of God and understand the wisdom He is revealing.  Paul writes in I Corinthians 1:30:  "It is because of Him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption."  God ultimately reveals His wisdom in and through Jesus!

God CALLS us to wisdom and tells us that it is found only in HIM!  God speaks through His Word and by His Spirit ... God speaks through His Son Jesus Christ ... and says, "Listen to ME!"  When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain in front of Peter, James and John, God spoke from heaven and said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.  LISTEN to HIM!"  (Matthew 17:5).  Peter preached in Acts 3 and explained that "Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you.  Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people'" (Acts 3:22-23).

Listening to God through His Word as Jesus speaks to you by His Spirit is the ONLY source of wisdom.  Any supposed wisdom that denies God, that places man in control of his own destiny, that does not lead to Jesus, is folly.  "Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge ... " (9:13).  To those who listen to "folly" and who enter her house, God says, "Little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave" (9:18).  That's how important it is to LISTEN to God to obtain wisdom.  It is a matter of life and death!  Don't miss it ... don't ignore it ... don't reject it ... LISTEN to Him!

"Heavenly Father, wisdom comes ONLY from You.  All true knowledge has its origin in You.  All that we know that is true comes from You revealing Yourself and Your wisdom to us by Your Word and Spirit.  O Lord, give me grace to listen, really listen, as You speak through Your Son Jesus Christ in Your Word.  Help me to seek wisdom above all else as it leads me to YOU!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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