Friday, August 23, 2013

O Wisdom, Precious Wisdom

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Romans 11:33

As a new school year gets underway, I thought it would be edifying to look at the idea of wisdom. As we train up children in how they should go, we want to not only help them become well-read and educated, but also wise according to God's standard. We want them to be able to live in the world as God's children, knowing what it is to be wise and to act with wisdom.

The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 111:10

To start, we must fear the Lord. This doesn't mean being scared of Him, it means approaching Him with awe and reverence. As C. S. Lewis describes it, this kind of fear is filled with awe, in which you "feel wonder and a certain shrinking" or "a sense of inadequacy to cope with such a visitant of or prostration before it." It is a fear that comes forth out of love for the Lord. This verse tells us that we act wisely when we are influenced by the fear of the Lord. When we understand our position in relation to His, we can make good, wise decisions.

How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. Proverbs 3:13

Proverbs tells us that those who find wisdom and gain understanding are blessed. I can think of a couple of reasons why those who find true wisdom would be happy: true wisdom comes from the knowledge and love of God, and those who love Him do His will and are conformed to His truths and laws. I am happiest when I am living a life of obedience. And that obedience brings wisdom.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6

The Lord is also the One who gives us wisdom. He is the ultimate Wise One, and from Him we get knowledge and understanding. How do we get this? By listening to His voice! And we hear His voice most readily when we read His word. So, to receive the wisdom, knowledge and understanding that our Lord has, and wants to impart to us, we must become students of His word and actively engage with Him through the reading and study of the Bible.

Why would we want to do this? Why should we seek after wisdom and aim to become wise? Proverbs has answers for us.

For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her. Proverbs 8:11

All desirable things cannot compare! When we are wise, and our lives demonstrate wisdom, the true wisdom that is from knowing God, it is better than wearing jewels and precious stones of the greatest value - we show the value of wisdom which is greater than the value of things of this world. This verse also encourages us in how our time should be spent - seeking the things that are above - the wisdom of God - instead of the things that are of this world, like precious jewels. When we attain Godly wisdom, it is far more valuable than even the most precious of metals.

How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver. Proverbs 16:16

Solomon is bold in his exclamation about the value of wisdom - HOW MUCH BETTER it is than gold! Heavenly wisdom is for sure better than worldly wealth, and as Christians, there is a soul-satisfying element of attaining wisdom, which is not only preferable, but more beneficial, than worldly things.

Know that wisdom is thus for your soul; if you find it, then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:14

Here, the writer is comparing honey, which is good and sweet to taste, to wisdom, which is good for the soul. I love this verse because it gives us a promise if we work hard to attain wisdom. The promise is that we will have a future, and our hope will not be cut off. This is an encouragement as we work to become wise, and as we encourage our children in seeking after wisdom. There will be a future! Our Lord has promised. And we would be wise to trust and obey.

O Wisdom, Precious Wisdom
Words by Deborah Blossom

Oh wisdom, precious wisdom,
We sing in praise of thee;
Thy ways are surely pleasant,
Thy works we wondering see.
There’s pleasure in the seeking,
And those who seek may find,
Within thy halls of learning
A cultivated mind.

To Thee, the God of wisdom,
Let grateful praise abound,
For now within our churches,
Fair learning’s court is found.
And he who longs for knowledge,
That He may work for Thee,
Can find in school and college
An education free.

The power of mind is mighty
If it be used aright,
And Christian education
Can best bestow this might.
So let us gain the scepter
And throne of true success
That waits for those who’re worthy
Its honors to possess.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I'll Work for Thee

I am Your servant. Psalm 143:12

I work in an academic setting, and even though I work year-round, there is a certain new energy and pace of work that comes with the new school year (starting next week!). As I think about my work, I've been meditating on one of my favorite verses, and a verse that can bring you great encouragement - and hope - in your work as well.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do.

Notice that Paul doesn't say "when you do what you like" or "when you enjoy your work." He says WHATEVER YOU DO.

This likely will require a change in attitude, and I am preaching to myself as much as to anyone else...we must work as for the Lord, because we will receive our reward from Him. It is Him whom we serve.

So, even if you have a boss who is disagreeable, or a task that is undesirable, you can still work heartily. You can do this because you are serving your Father through the work you do.

And He deserves our service - as this hymnwriter says, we are mortals who have been set free from our sin - mortals with shortening days who are permitted to work and praise! What a privilege we have the serve the One who gave Himself up for us! And to praise Him while we're at it! Paul reminds the Colossians that praising, giving thanks, is an important part of our work.

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17

Look - there's that familiar phrase: WHATEVER YOU DO. Do all in the name of your Lord, giving thanks!

He also deserves our best effort - our hearty work. He is our dearest friend, on whom our every hope depends!

For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. Psalm 71:5

But as for me, I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. Psalm 71:14

Because we work for the Lord, we can boast - not a vain boast, but a boast in Him.

Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. Psalm 20:7

We may not boast in chariots or horses, but we may be tempted to boast in computers, presentations - things that help us "win the battle" at work. However, we should choose to boast in the Lord - the one who has gifted us and given us our abilities to do our work and do it well.

But be careful to boast appropriately and give credit where credit is due - you do not want to be like a cloud without rain.

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely. Proverbs 25:14

Paul also exhorts us to boast carefully - and not to compare ourselves with others.

For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. Galatians 6:3-4

When we boast in the Lord, our boasting is not in vain. And when we work for the Lord, we're giving Him glory for what He has done for us. He came to earth to die for us, to save us from our sins. And He has prepared good work for us to do.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Let's work for Him!

I'll Work for Thee
Words by William Fawcett

Jesus, and may I work for Thee,
A mortal man from sin set free,
A mortal man with shortening days,
Permitted thus to work and praise?

I’ll work for Thee, I’ll work for Thee
Yes, dearest Lord, I’ll work for Thee.

To work for Thee, the Morning Star
That saw me lost, and from afar
Shed o’er my soul a light divine,
And comforted this heart of mine.

To work for Thee, my dearest friend,
On whom my every hope depends;
Who washed away my earthly shame,
And gave to me a new, best name.

I’ll work for Thee, Thou blessed One,
Eternal God, eternal Son,
And boast, but never boast in vain,
I’ll work for Him who once was slain.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Glorious Freedom, verse 4

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Job 19:25

Paralyzing fear. Have you experienced it? As this hymn says, fear is a tormentor. But because of our freedom in Christ, we have been delivered from fear. Jesus reminds us that we don't need to be fearful because He has given us His peace.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

And here's a reason not to fear - we've been adopted as God's children - we can call Him Father! We are free from our spirit of slavery and adopted into His family!

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

What is the one thing most feared by most people? It is death. And when we fear death, we are like slaves to that fear - subject to slavery "all our lives" - paralyzed by fear. But there's hope -- Jesus' death made the devil, who had the power of death, powerless! Because of Jesus' death, we are FREE!

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebrews 2:14-15

We also are free from fear about the future, even when the future may include hurt and suffering. We are urged to be faithful, and not fearful.

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10

And look at the reward for our faithfulness - the crown of life! We can be free of fear because we've been set free from our slavery to fear.

We are also set free from our slavery to care, or to worry. Worrying over things from little to big is nothing new for humans, we've been doing it for thousands of years. Jesus tells His followers repeatedly to not worry.

"Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’" Matthew 6:31

"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

"But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say." Matthew 10:19

"If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?" Luke 12:26

"And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying." Luke 12:29

Do not keep worrying. Clearly this was a pattern with people, just as it is today. Worry is really rooted in control. We worry because we cannot control everything. It is our sinful nature that seeks to control, but Christ's atonement has set us free from cares and their pain! We don't need to be a slave to worry anymore! He is on the throne, doing what He pleases.

Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. Psalm 135:6

And we can trust the One who gave His life for us. It is no longer we who live, but Christ in us. Christ who has set us free. Hallelujah!

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20

Glorious Freedom
Words by Haldor Llineas

Once I was bound by sin’s galling fetters;
Chained like a slave, I struggled in vain.
But I received a glorious freedom,
When Jesus broke my fetters in twain.

Glorious freedom! Wonderful freedom!
No more in chains of sin I repine!
Jesus the glorious Emancipator—
Now and forever He shall be mine.

Freedom from all the carnal affections;
Freedom from envy, hatred and strife;
Freedom from vain and worldly ambitions;
Freedom from all that saddened my life!

Freedom from pride and all sinful follies;
Freedom from love and glitter of gold;
Freedom from evil temper and anger;
Glorious freedom, rapture untold!

Freedom from fear with all of its torments;
Freedom from care with all of its pain;
Freedom in Christ, my blessed Redeemer—
He who has rent my fetters in twain.