Wird Geladen

Lessons from my own bible study

Ecclesiastes 2:26

For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Solomon’s talking about an eternal preference over a fleeting one. The joys and passions of anything that isn’t the wisdom and knowledge of God is characteristically unsatisfying. We accept the illusion of satisfaction. The gift of God is a) wisdom in the first place, and b) that that wisdom should come to be solidified (“He lays up solid wisdom (aka “substance”) for the righteous (Prov 2:7),”), come to be felt inside of us, and thus come to “fill the void” in a much more real way than worldliness can, which is meaningless, wind for fools to go chase.

Practically, what this means is, whenever I am tempted to sin or wickedness or anything that will not please God, I ought to focus on the fact that by choosing the right way, and pleasing Him, I will get a little nugget of solid wisdom down in the hole of my stomach. I ought to pause, and concentrate. Feel the void, search for the hole, and then reach out and grab the pebble of wisdom myself. That is what a choice for right or wrong amounts to- taking a piece of solid wisdom and putting it inside of me forever. Forever. I keep that. I don’t lose it like Solomon lost his temples and fields, like sinners lose their “treasures.” The knowledge and wisdom of God will open our eyes to understand what is true, what is false, what is real, what is not, what ought to be, and what is. If we are willing to change absolutely everything about how we see the world. 

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

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Proverbs 2

I recommend reading the whole chapter. We will focus on v. 10-11:

 

10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you.

Discretion is the ability to tell what’s right and what’s wrong. As we plumb the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, our own powers to know the right thing to say and do will grow. Imagine getting better at being right. Imagine changing into the kind of person who doesn’t say stupid things or get into trouble by rash and callous actions. As the wisdom of God makes us more and more sensical, we’ll carry others along with us.

Jesus- who knew the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God- understood and saw more than any other man who ever lived. He saw through the Pharisees’ traps, but he did not use his understanding to increase his popularity nor to make them look foolish in front of a crowd. He always took the middle ground, in which no one lost face but the fools were still rebuked. “Give to Cesar what is Cesar’s (Mat 22:15-22)” “Let whoever has not sinned cast the first stone (John 8:7).” His answers were the exact right thing to say, with no room for improvement. They are the kind of  acuity that people notice, and follow. Because the wisdom of God is a part of each one of us, we know rightness when we see it. As we display the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, people will take notice, learn from that, be encouraged and enabled. 

Imagine being that good at being alive. We already are. We can use God’s wisdom to make right choices every day as we develop in ourselves the almighty power of Discretion.

This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

Romans 11:33

33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Those depths are  a part of us. Imagine that chest from Harry Potter. Open up the first keyhole, it’s got some clothes in it. Open up the second key hole there’s whatever. Third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and then  get to the seventh keyhole and it’s a tunnel! The depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God are not outside of ourselves but within, available and brimming with the Christ Truth of all things. Paul says “Oh! My God! The depths of that cavern which in my heart holds your riches and wisdom and knowledge…I can’t even…I don’t…” He speaks as if he’s seen it.

Within those depths I believe lives every other human soul. Since those depths are inside of us, then we are all a part of one another as part of God. One. Jesus knew the depths of his soul. He alone had gone to the walls, and knew the layout of the inside of the Cave of Wonders in his heart. That’s how he was able to connect with every living person on the planet. That’s how he is able to love us- because he knows us there. That’s how Jesus healed the sick, too. He saw the healthy person inside of every sick person, and called out “Come up here!” We all have this power. The deeper into the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God we go, the further out into the world we spread, and the more we connect to it, heal it, and love it.

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Isaiah 40:13-14

13 Who has directed the spirit of the Lord,
    or as his counselor has instructed him?
14 Whom did he consult for his enlightenment,
    and who taught him the path of justice?
Who taught him knowledge,
    and showed him the way of understanding?

Understanding may be a series of steps which lead to a solution. I imagine a rubber tube, being stretched out longer and longer, thinner and thinner. Our arteries are the thickest tubes in the body. Most of the blood cells moving are in the center and don’t get to deliver oxygen- they get skipped over. As they thin out to capillaries, the tubes become so thin that only one blood cell can go through at a time. The capillaries are the much more effective, much more immediate, much more active, much more successful tool because every red blood cell gets used to the uttermost. If understanding is a way which can be improved, then our understanding tube can be stretched out and made more effective. We can get in contact with the details, insights, and powers of our mind that at the moment are being skipped over because they’re in the middle of the tube. This will allow us to see the big picture and make appropriate decisions which will lead away from Death and Destruction (Job 28:22). 

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

Isaiah 40:12

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
    and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure,
    and weighed the mountains in scales
    and the hills in a balance?

These are big images: all the water on Earth fitting in the palm of a hand; that same hand stretching across the sky. The same with the mountains laying on scales. The images we get are of a very BIG God, and a very small Earth. They’re also images of a careful creation: measurement, checking, balances and scales and preparations. This passage speaks about the perfection of God, his design dwarfing us. Wisdom is all about pulling back, standing in awe of the work of the Spirit, and realizing that we are a part of something much bigger than Self.

Mitochondria and single-celled amoebas existed for a million years until one day the two got together and starting living inside one another, which was the tipping point of the creation of eukaryotes, and us, and this blog. The two had no way of knowing what would come of their unification at the time. With the Web cinching up all of humanity, negating time and space from our interactions, perhaps we are the next tipping point. The more I understand, the more I get the idea that we are part of a whole- a cog- working in the cosmos as God has designed it for His purpose and to His glory (James 1:18). It is not reasonable to assume that we are nameless pieces, though. Jesus is 100% involved in each of our consciousnesses and lives (James 4:5). That same dust God measured in scales, He added his breath to. We are each a part of Him, and  necessarily possess the wisdom and understanding which went into building our world in the first place.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series.

Job 28 (Part of the Word of Wisdom Series)

Yes! So many good things in here.

Who: Job

What: Compares jewels/gold to wisdom/understanding

Why: “[Wisdom] cannot be bought with the finest gold.” v. 13

Here’s some great pull-out quotes:

“But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? Man does not comprehend its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living (v. 12-13).” Certainly in our culture today, apparently in Job’s thousands of years ago, wisdom and understanding are not prized. People spend so little effort, or maybe I should say so few people spend a great deal of effort, actually trying to become wise, and gain understanding of their world and life. We disregard wisdom and understanding; we just don’t get how important, useful, valuable, wonderful, precious, terrible, difficult, rare, majestic, helpful, valuable,  worthwhile they are. Now gold, on the other hand, rubies, sapphires, silver, iron, ore, oil, cast, bitches, TV’s, paintings, end tables, rugs, cars, houses, registered breed dogs, fancy maps, bedknobs and broomsticks- we’ll scratch and beat our way through years and years of solidified shit to get our hands on. We forsake what is valuable and truly hard to get for what is fleeting and within our reach. Job says “Neither gold nor jewels can compare with [wisdom] (v. 17),” in terms of beauty and worth. Actual worthiness. Actual value. Truth. True meaning- wisdom has some, gold has none.

“God understands the way to [wisdom] and he alone knows where it dwells (v. 23).” In fact it says, when God was setting up the Earth, at the very beginning when he was measuring out the waters and calculating the gale force speed for the wind and such, he was also organizing wisdom. It is a precious resource in this world just like the oceans, the rain, the ore, the gold. “He looked at [wisdom] and appraised it; he confirmed and tested it.” This is metallurgy imagery. Appraisals, like diamonds, measured for worth; testing, like gold, measured for strength and purity. God worked on this wisdom just like we men work on gold. You can practically hear the clang of his hammer on the anvil, beating understanding into shape. You can smell the burning and the sweat on his brow as he worked, truly expended effort, to clarify and perfect the wisdom and understanding which would fill up this world. Gold he simply laid down on the ground; the wisdom he made. And then he gave it to us. He told us where to go to find it. “He said to man ‘The fear of the Lord- that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding (v. 28).'”

Well I have not been shunning evil. I have feared the Lord, I think. But I have no understanding yet, of what that means. What it means is that I shun evil. To fear the Lord means to be on his side. A respect, hunger, appreciation, use of all things good is wisdom. Understanding this world, how we live in it, how it works for us, how we work for it, begins and ends with casting evil out of it. We are not made for evil. Gold is not made for evil. The rocks and stones and dust and leaves and animals are not made to interact with evil. We’ve got to understand that evil is anathema to the smooth running of our world (metaphysical plane). Shun it. Get it out. One man at a time turn your back on evil and make it leave- send it down to the depths to dwell with the gold and iron-ore. Shun evil, and wisdom shall prevail. “It means to have respect and reverence for God and to be in awe of his majesty and power. That is the starting point to finding real wisdom.”

“Miners put an end to darkness, and search out to the farthest bounds for the ore in gloom and deep darkness (v. 3).” Look what we’re willing to go through to get this junk. We gladly, eagerly, descend into gloom and darkness. We subject ourselves to utter misery, “far from where people dwell…they sway suspended, remote (v. 4)”, in search of these riches.

Another interpretation of (v.13) says “Mortals do not know the way to it, and it is not found in the land of the living.” Men do not have wisdom to give and share. Reading philosophy books or looking to leaders and thinkers is no way to find a path through life. They are blind leading the blind. “No leader can produce enough insight to explain the totality of human experience.”  A complete view of us humans, our lives and everything included in it, is available to God. “He looks to the ends of the Earth, and sees everything under the heavens.” We, therefore, can also see that. We can see where we are going, form plans, ideas, prioritieswe can get things right! Gold gives us no method of achieving that. I gives no achievement whatsoever. Nothing we can possibly buy or read or forge in fire or program on a computer can give us that insight. Only The Bible. “When looking for guidance, seek God’s wisdom as revealed in the Bible. To be lifted above and beyond the boundaries of life, we must know and trust the Lord of life.” To be lifted above and beyond the boundaries of life.

This has been part of the Word of Wisdom Series

Word of Wisdom

Andrew Womack had a problem. His church seriously lacked finances. Each week they spent $10,000 and got $9,996 in tithes and offerings.

“I went into my office and I looked up 100 pieces of scripture on prosperity. I typed them up on my computer, and for the next TWO YEARS I would take one scripture out at a time. I would meditate on it, study it, pray about it. Every day a different verse. After two years I began to believe what I had read. That week we got $25,000 in tithes and offerings. The next week thirty. Prosperity was coming to me, because there had been a radical shift in my heart and the way I believed, brought on by understanding of the Word of God. You have got to get INTO the WORD OF GOD and let it change your life. Amen.”

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I’m in one of those transitionary periods, pretty common to 25-year-olds. At home, working a simple job for gas money, trying to figure out what I want. Problem is, there’s a million things I want. And there’s two million options open to me. That is the curse of the mildly-educated, middle class American: we can do almost anything, and if we’re not focused, we end up paralyzed.

“You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:2-3

I’ve given up my ambition, for the moment. God has brought me to a place where I have the opportunity to focus on Him. My first lesson is that I need to ask what I need to ask for.

“God, what should I ask for that will progress Your Kingdom instead of my own selfish ambition?”

I need wisdom to start  this new leg of my life. So I’m taking Andrew’s approach: I’ve got about 50 pieces of scripture relating to Wisdom, and I’m gonna go through them one at a time. I invite you to study along with me, suggest a verse that’s helped you grow, or make your own list for anything you want the Lord to teach you.

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Edit: Sorry, I totally did not mean to say Andrew Carnegie. It was Andrew Wommack of Andrew Wommack Ministries.

The Encouraging Story of Joseph

I like the story of Joseph. I find it very encouraging in my current place in life. Working hard to move forward while keeping God in the center. Not sure of where I’m headed or what good it’s doing. Unconvinced that anything I do is the best option.

Joseph grew up out of a middle-class farming family to be the second most powerful man in Egypt. His leadership saved every Egyptian citizen, and most of the Hebrews, from dying of starvation. He was the hero of his time.

But it took him a long time to get there. And he never made any decisions that led him there, per se. Rule over Egypt and adoration were not lifelong goals he had been working toward. Joseph came to fulfill his destiny because he spent his whole life loving and working for God.

A few months ago when I moved to Berlin I went to talk with my friend Erika. She loves living in Berlin even more than I do. Now she’s getting her masters here, but before she could do that, she had to teach English in a little down in central Germany for two years.

“Was it what I wanted to be doing? No. But it got me here.”

It’s the same with Joseph. He went from shepherd to captured slave to head of an enormous estate to prisoner to savior of Egypt. Every step of the way Joseph’s work was good enough that he was promoted quickly. People trusted him and gave him enormous power and authority. It wasn’t the type of work Joseph was doing that gained him renown- it was just slave work. And the quality of his work wasn’t because Joseph was a particularly adept or enthusiastic worker. Again, he was a slave. Rather, Joseph put his hand into God’s and trusted His grace and goodness to bless everything he did.

It was God alone who was moving Joseph toward what turned out to be his great destiny and the salvation of all Egypt. Did Jo enjoy the work he was doing? Perhaps. Did he take pride in being very good and high up in his position? Probably. But what’s absolutely certain and most important to remember is that Joseph begged God’s help in all things. He had to have done. God doesn’t go to work for those who don’t ask for it. But those who work by love for the Lord, earn His wages.

Joseph put God and all of his heart into whatever work was before him. He moved forward toward God’s good blessings for his life by staying continually grounded in the Lord. No matter what unfortunate, unfair mistakes came into his path, or how down and out Joseph became, he never stopped serving first and foremost the Lord. And that’s what led to his ultimately coming into his own- the golden cup that was waiting for him.

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“I Have Crossed The Jordan With Only This Stick”

Jacob prayed: Oh God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant. For with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies.
                                                                                                        Genesis 32:9 & 10

25-second context: Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, took advantage of him for 20 years of indentured servitude. In that time Jacob amassed vast wealth and a huge household. After getting tired of being scammed he fled with his wives, 11 children, slaves, cohorts, and vast herds back to Canaan.

This is my new favorite verse of the Bible! An encouraging prayer for the power of God even when we are unable or unwilling to accept it. He is in power, not we. And isn’t that a comforting thought; that we should reap the benefits of His goodness, steadfastness, wisdom, and love even though we don’t think we ought to.

Jacob’s feeling of unworthiness didn’t come from sin, or lacking righteousness. He’s talking about the feelings of inadequacy, doubt, unworthiness that come from being limited by our own lack of skill. I don’t deserve these blessings because I am not wise enough, smart enough, skilled enough, hard-working enough, nice enough, liked enough to go out and get them on my own. I don’t deserve these blessings because they don’t represent the achievements I’m capable of. I don’t deserve these blessings because I’m literally not good enough at life to earn them.

By myself all I have is this one stick. By your love alone, Oh Lord, it has become two companies of men!

We have a God who does not operate on the do-earn basis. He pays wages to his laborers based on the faith and love with which they do their work. Sometimes I think that God can see love the way moths see ultraviolet light. We have a God who happily gives out the prizes of our hearts based purely on His love for us, and the joy He expects us to get from it, and the trust that we will put our gifts to good use and do them justice.

Jacob was clearly not a savvy business man! He got cheated by his boss for over 20 years. But God saw that Jacob’s heart yearned to lead wisdom into control, and to feel his power gifted into his whole company. He took care of Jacob, knowing that his desire for such things came not for his own benefit but from their desire to see God worshiped.

Take heart! Go out into the world with just your stick in your hand! Do whatever it is that comes to you with all love and faith in God. Work hard and always let your life glorify God. If you do this, God will turn your stick into two enormous companies of men!

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Wanting God At The Center Of Our Lives

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.
                                                                                                 Gal 5:6

No action we perform is going to put God at the center of our lives. The tips in this series only work to clarify and solidify in our minds “Yes, that is what I want: for God to be at the center of my life.” Once that mindset is decided, God takes up the work alongside us, with us, to form a union in Him.

We must never underestimate the two-sidedness of this relationship; the urgent desire that God has for us to get to know Him. The whole reason Christ died was to set in place the spiritual mechanisms that let us and God be united. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that our hearts and lives become God-focused:

No one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received that spirit so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.  
1 Cor 2:11-12

Wanting A God-Centered Life Requires A Deeper Choice

Choosing to focus our lives on God only comes after a harder decision has been made: change. We have to want the inevitable changes that come as the Holy Spirit moves us into Godliness.

Paul says to the Galatians:

Walk by the spirit, and you will no longer gratify the desires of the flesh.
Gal 5:16

A God-centered life requires that we deny ourselves and let the Holy Spirit transform us into new beings entirely. This verse is not a commandment but a truth! When we choose to change, the Spirit clears out our sinful human habits- anything about us that does not worship God- and fills us with light to guide us toward ultimate righteousness.

Change is a painful and daunting task. It requires we do that one thing which is completely anathema to our Selves: submit. In the war between God and Self, Satan fights his hardest on the side of Self, and submission is what He fights against.

The Holy Spirit Helps Us

But even here we find comfort through the Holy Spirit! In this miserable struggle between Self and God, the Holy Spirit offers us the ultimate pass: we do not have to earn our Godliness. Technically we cannot. Before Christ, we were not worthy of God’s love. Now the Holy Spirit makes us worthy through no power of our own. All we have to do is submit to letting ourselves be changed. God does the rest. It’s still not easy, but at least it only requires one step.

Success Comes Through God Himself

But isn’t that beautiful?! Responsibility for our salvation does not lie in our hands! Our livelihood and flourishing success is not ours to worry about! What a comforting thought.

When we desire God to be at the center of our lives, changes will come that amaze and thrill us. Our hearts come to see the enormous value of empathy, love, compassion, and consideration. This is because our work is no longer our own. Our decisions aren’t guesses- we don’t worry that what we’re deciding is right, useful, effective, or righteous. We can trust that everything will be set up for us to the good of the Kingdom.

This is all because every move and prayer contributes to a higher project for which we are not ultimately responsible, and to which all of our contributions can only be put to use for good. The most mundane parts of our day gain meaning because God accepts our offer to let them contribute to His Kingdom.

God works all things for the good of those who love Him.
Romans 8:28

Our thoughts, passions, urges, and directions come from no other place than God himself. They go to no other place than God’s glory.

Practical Application- Change + Tips 1-5 = Trust

Build others up and let it change the way we speak. Pray regularly and let it change the way we use our time. Be responsible with our bodies and possessions and let it change the way we live. Concentrate on what and how much we sacrifice to God and let it change the way we think.

Feel the urge to submit to these changes, but also feel the urge to resist them. Where there is resistance, know that God is immediately at hand to discuss the matter. Waste no time with thinking “I’ll worry about that later” or “I wonder what that means?” God is always in our thoughts, available the instant an issue arises. We can ask for strength in the desire to overcome our natural sinful urges. We can ask for clarity to see how important it is that we overcome this temptation in the first place. We can pray to be successful, even if not a single ounce of ourselves actually wants to be. When we do this, God carries us through and set us down closer to His center.

Practically, this means we have to trust that those changes will be for the better of us and God’s Kingdom. We need to trust that they are at work even though we can’t feel them, and can’t see the end of the means of which we are a part; like ivy slowly covering a brick wall.

The Promised Result

Keep going in the faith, trust, and excitement that it will become easier and easier to find God as we search for Him. Our centers will get closer and closer to His, thus we’ll have less distance to travel. Get to know God so that we can contribute to His Kingdom. That’s the purpose of our lives.

TIP #5- WANT GOD TO BE THE CENTER OF OUR LIVES, AND HE WILL BE.

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This post has been the final addition in the “Putting God At The Center” Series, a project of learning how we can bring our lives to focus on God.  The four previous posts are: Centering Our Conversations On GodMealtime PrayerWorshiping God By Worshiping Our Bodies, and We Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To. If this series has helped you, I and other readers would love to know how! Please comment, like, and share!

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