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Getting the Wisdom You Need

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Christianity Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Part 2: Getting the Wisdom You Need

James 1:5-12

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 19, 2012

*Sometimes when I read this passage, I think back to a hospital visit that I made over 30 years ago. The lady and I were talking about some problems my brother was having. They were mostly his own fault, and she said, “I guess he hasn’t got through going up fool’s hill.”

*I’m glad to say that my brother stopped going up “fool’s hill” a long time ago.

-And the good news for us tonight is that we don’t have to go up fool’s hill!

*We can have the wisdom of God by applying the truth He gives us right here.

1. So notice first the request for God’s wisdom.

*We see it in vs. 5, where James says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

*“If any of you lacks wisdom.” James is being gentle with us there. Do you know anybody who would stand up and say, “I have all the wisdom I need!” I hope not.

*When we think we have all the wisdom that we need, that’s usually when we need it the most! -- All of us need more wisdom. But sometimes it’s easier to see that need in others.

*And why do we lack wisdom?

-Because our flesh is weak and our old sin nature pulls us down.

-Because the devil is a liar, and he is constantly trying to deceive us.

-And because as we move through life, we will continue to face new circumstances and challenges.

*Bill Hybels once told about a magazine article called, “178 Seconds to Live.” It was about a study made on twenty airplane pilots in a flight simulator. That’s sort of like a super-duper video game. You sit in a full-size cockpit, and the software is so complete that it can pretend you are almost any place in any kind of weather

*About 11 years ago, I got to go in one of those simulators. What a blast. I got to “fly” that big jet over some of the biggest cities in the world. And I only crashed 4 or 5 times.

*Each of the twenty pilots in Hybels’ story was a skilled flier. But they had not taken instrument training to fly in bad weather. As long as they used good weather in the flight simulator, no problem. They were all experts.

*But when they put clouds and rough weather in the machine, all twenty of the pilots lost control of their planes. They crashed in an average time of just 178 seconds.

*Twenty pilots who were very capable of keeping a plane up in good weather, -- couldn’t survive 3 minutes in bad weather. (1)

*And it may seem like we can handle life on our own when things are good. But when the storms come, we find out real fast that we need God’s wisdom! And the good news is that whenever we lack wisdom, all we need to do is to ask God for it in faith. And He will give it!

*That’s the request for God’s wisdom.

2. But also notice the riches of God’s wisdom.

*Again in vs. 5, James said: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

[1] Notice how God gives His wisdom. First, He gives generously.

*Verse 5 tells us that God gives “to all people.” This reminds us that God’s giving is wide. He’s got more than enough wisdom to go around! -- And He is not going to leave you out.

[2] God gives generously, and He gives abundantly.

*Verse 5 says He “gives to all liberally.” This reminds us that God’s giving is deep. He is never going to run out!

*When I was a little kid, one of my heroes was Roy Rogers. He was “King of the Cowboys!” When I was 5, I got just about every Roy Rogers toy in the Sears Catalog! -- Guns, hat, vest, pajamas. I got a Trigger stick-horse, and Bullet the dog followed behind on wheels.

*Roy Rogers used to come on TV every Saturday morning. And I loved that show. Roy always beat the bad guys. Some of you will remember that Roy would shoot his gun 500 times, and never have to reload.

*That’s the way the Lord is. Jesus never runs out of what we need!

*If I need forgiveness:

7. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

8. which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence. (Eph 1:7-8)

*If we need peace:

-He can give us the peace that passes understanding. (Phil 4:7)

*If I need strength:

-“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)

*If we need comfort, He is the God of all comfort:

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

4. who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Cor 1:3-4)

*If we need wisdom, Jesus is our supply!

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

7. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly. (Proverbs 2:6-7)

*In Phil 4:19, Paul tells the church, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

[3] God gives abundantly, and He gives kindly.

*Verse 5 says He gives “without reproach.” The KJV says, “He doesn’t upbraid us.” The Amplified Bible says God gives “ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding.”

*In other words, God’s giving is sweet. He gives without disapproval or criticism or condemnation. Some people will give you something, but make you sorry you asked. God’s not like that!

*So whenever we lack wisdom, all we need to do is to ask God for it in faith.

-He will generously, abundantly and kindly give His wisdom to you.

*That’s the riches of God’s wisdom.

3. But also notice the roadblocks to God’s wisdom.

[1] Over the next few verses God shows us some roadblocks to wisdom. And the first roadblock is lack of faith.

*We see this roadblock in vs. 6-8, where James warned:

6. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

7. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

8. he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

*Now faith involves trust in God’s character, trust in God’s Word, and time. When it comes to faith, we are looking for something that we can’t see with our eyes just yet.

*Hebrews 11:7-11 gives us some great examples of faith:

7. By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

8. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

9. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;

10. for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

*All of those blessings came by faith. And James tells us that Godly wisdom comes by asking God in faith.

*Without faith, we are tossed back and forth. Without faith, we weave around in all directions. Without faith, we are two-faced and miserable. And A.T. Robertson said that without faith, “We are like the donkey that starved to death, because it couldn’t decide which stack of hay to eat.” (2)

*So the first roadblock to wisdom is lack of faith.

[2] And the second roadblock is an unfair world.

*We get a glimpse of our unfair world in vs. 9, where James said, “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation”

-The Amplified Bible says: “Let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his elevation [as a Christian, called to the true riches and to be an heir of God],”

-The NLT says: “Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them.”

-And the Living Bible says: “A Christian who doesn't amount to much in this world should be glad, for he is great in the Lord's sight.”

*James is telling us this, because life in this world is not fair. We are blessed far, far above most people in this world. But not everybody is going to be smart and well-educated. Most people are not going to be wealthy and live in a fancy home. Many people come from terrible home situations. And many struggle with health issues we can’t imagine.

*Friday evening, Mary and I visited with some long-time friends at Mulhearn’s. Yesterday, this lady had to bury her smart, beautiful, 37-year-old daughter after a terrible battle with some kind of auto-immune disease I never even heard of.

*Life’s not fair in this world, and that can be a roadblock to wisdom. But God is good all the time. And we have to remember that it is possible to be a rich poor-man: Poor in money, but rich in grace, love, joy, peace, righteousness & fellowship.

*The second roadblock to wisdom is an unfair world.

[3] And the third possible roadblock is pride.

*This is the lesson as James finishes his thought in vs. 9-11:

9. Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,

10. but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.

11. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

*These verses are a warning to rich Christians against pride and depending on riches. As A.T. Robertson once said: “Truly riches have wings and fly away.” (3)

*And I like Paul’s question in 1 Cor 4:7: “What do you have that you did not receive?” The obvious answer is nothing! Rich and poor meet together at the foot of the cross. And all Christians are sinners saved by grace.

-So James warns us about the roadblocks to God’s wisdom.

4. But also notice the road to God’s wisdom.

*There are many roadblocks to wisdom but vs. 12 puts us on the right road to wisdom. There James says: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

*The road to wisdom is Jesus Christ! The road to wisdom is knowing and loving the Lord. This verse reminds us that Christianity is not just head-belief -- it is heart belief. Christianity is a loving relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. In this relationship, we know the Lord in a personal way. And we start to love Jesus in response to the love He shows us every day. But we especially start to love Jesus in response to the love He showed us on the cross.

*Tonight we are having a planning meeting for VBS this summer. I like the way VBS explains salvation using the ABC’s:

A -- We have to admit to God that we are sinners. We are guilty of sin, and we are lost without Jesus.

B -- We have to believe in the Lord, trusting that God loves us in spite of our sin.

-Believing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead.

-Believing that He will save us if we will turn to Jesus and receive Him as Savior and Lord.

C -- Confess Jesus as Savior and Lord by calling on the Lord. This is the beginning of a loving relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

*This is the road to God’s wisdom, the wisdom that will endure the worst trials in life. Lori Trice certainly found this to be true. Her hope in Jesus anchored Lori through some of the worst possible circumstances.

*From the outside, Lori's childhood home looked perfect. Her parents were active in the community. Everyone liked them. Friends and neighbors never guessed the hatred and violence that poisoned the marriage of Lori's parents.

*When Lori was 12 years old, her father killed her mother and her mother's best friend. Then he shot himself. Lori and her younger sister witnessed those murders. They had to step over the dead bodies to reach the rescue workers.

*Lori says that she never would have recovered if it weren't for her faith in Jesus. And how did she get that faith? -- When Lori was 8 years old, her babysitter sent her to Vacation Bible School. This was the first time she had ever heard about God's love for her.

*Lori gave her life to Jesus that summer. She testifies that the Lord’s presence, protection, and peace helped her to cope with her family's tragedy.

*Today, Lori is happily married and the mother of 3 children. She loves her family. And she loves the Lord. (4)

*So should we. Nothing will give us more wisdom than that.

*Christians, you and I can have all the Godly wisdom we will ever need.

*Listen again to the sure promise in James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

*Let’s stand on that promise as we go to God in prayer.

1. “Making Life Work” by Bill Hybels, Seeds Tape Ministry, 122197 - Source: In Other Words, Spring 1998, p. 9 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - 6130 Barrington - Beaumont, Texas 77706 (800) 553-4697 -

2. “Studies in the Epistle of James” by A.T. Robertson (Broadman Press) p. 43

3. “Studies in the Epistle of James” by A.T. Robertson (Broadman Press) p. 47

4. “Lori Trice, The Day I Met God,” compiled and edited by Jim & Karen Covell and Victorya Michaels Rogers (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2001), pp. 139-144. (Source: sermon “Something to Brag About” - King Duncan - Gal 6:1-10 - 070404)

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