Faithlife Sermons

How to Obtain Wisdom

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Wisdom can be obtained when we realize our need and admit our need to God. We should be encouraged to admit our desire for wisdom to God based on His character and our faith in Him. If we come to ask God not believing He is good we shouldnt expect to receive anything and we show ourselves to be double-minded.

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Introduction - Knowing What to Do

I have heard wisdom defined as applied knowledge
It is something than only comes through experience
That is why experience/wisdom is something that most business owners and hiring managers are looking for and want to pay premium dollar for (usually)
Consider for instance this example from Henry Ford
Automaker Henry Ford asked electrical genius Charlie Steinmetz to build the generators for his factory. One day the generators ground to a halt, and the repairman could not find the problem. So Ford called Steinmetz, who tinkered with the machines for a few hours and then threw the switch. The generators whirred to life — Ford received a bill for $10,000 from Steinmetz. Flabbergasted, the rather tightfisted car maker inquired why the bill was so high.”
Steinmetz’s reply: For tinkering with the generators, $10 and for knowing where to tinker $9,990.
Ford paid the bill
Consider this fictional example and perhaps this can be applied to your situation
Ralph had worked for his company for almost 15 years and he had always been one of the top salesmen. But the economy had slowed down to a snail’s pace and no one was placing orders with him anymore. The pressure was really beginning to mount, and past performance and years of service didn’t count for anything. The boss called him in and said, “If you don’t get out there and drum up some business in a hurry, I’ll find someone who will”. So the heat was turned up another notch. What was Ralph to do? He was already working harder than he ever had, spending more time on the road, knocking on more doors, but he had very little to show for his efforts, and his deadline was rapidly approaching.
There was one thing he could do. There were some good sales that he knew were coming in a couple of months, and he could fudge on the paperwork and make it look as if he had already closed them. That would satisfy the boss for a while until something else came along. The more he thought about it and the greater the pressure on him, the more he was able to rationalize away the unethical nature of his plan. And in the end he told his wife that he had even prayed about it and felt that God wanted him to do this to protect his family.
This situation as I said is fictional, but maybe some of you have been or are in situations where the pressure is so great, that like Ralph you are considering to do something that you would never do any other time.
James began his letter on the topic of trials
This portion before us this morning deals with the wisdom and is in the context of trials - although obtaining wisdom can be in or out of trials
James wants us to understand the importance of having wisdom in trials
You see, when pressure mounts on us, the normally clear lines of right and wrong may start to blur
Or as the heat is turned up we dont fully see how to react and respond and walk in a godly way
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The greater the pressure the harder it will be to walk in a Christ honoring way
While life wisdom and worldy wisdom come from applied and learned knowledge James wants us to know that there is a greater wisdom available to us
The verses before us this morning will teach us how we obtain this greater wisdom necessary for Christian living in or out of trials
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James 1:5–6 NKJV
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. 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.
James 1:5-
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James 1:7–8 NKJV
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.
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Ask for Wisdom

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James 1:5 NKJV
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.
James starts off and writes - “If any of you lacks wisdom”
Its funny to me, because James could have said - if any of you breathes oxygen
We all lack wisdom
Knowledge is raw information and wisdom is how to use raw information rightly
Not just worldly wisdom - but Spiritual wisdom
Someone once said that knowledge is the ability to take things apart but wisdom is ability to put things together
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Spiritual wisdom helps us put things together spiritually
SLIDE - William MacDonald
Spiritual wisdom is the practical application of our Lord’s teachings to everyday situations
lack is a banking term - literally meaning a shortage or deficiency of wisdom
Part of what James is trying to say here is anyone who acknowledges their lack of wisdom
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The first step in addressing a spiritual need is acknowledging that you have a spiritual need
Why do we have a hard time acknowledging our need of wisdom
James’s time - there were gnostics who claimed to have the answer to everything or the philosophers
In our time today - we dont trust most authority - however we trust the internet, google, youtube, and most book authors - even if they are fictional - but especially if they are how to or self-motivational
Perhaps we don feel we lack wisdom - because we have so much worldly knowledge around us
James writes this in the middle of talking about trials because trials have a way of showing us we lack
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In our time of need we become painfully aware of our shortage of wisdom
We dont have to face life in our own severely lacking wisdom
James not only lets us know and recognize our lack of wisdom he shares with us where we can find the wisdom we lack
If any of you lacks wisdom - let him ask of God
James says that we can ask of God for wisdom
Which makes perfect sense as all wisdom and knowledge come from God
If when the time comes and we realize we lack wisdom we should come before God and tell Him of our ignorance and perplexity of the situation - this should be first
SLIDE - Spurgeon
We are all so ready to go to books, to go to men, to go to ceremonies, to anything except to God… Consequently, the text does not say, ‘Let him ask books’, nor ‘ask priests,’ but ‘let him ask of God’
The text also reads that we should keep on asking of God - this isnt a one time deal
We can ask of God - because of who God is
Our God is a giver - He gives
Notice the text says we ask of God -who gives!
We dont have to buy from God and we dont demand of God, nor earn from God
We come humbly as a beggar asking of God - who gives
God gives to all liberally - freely
some argue for the sense of this word to be unconditionally or graciously
the other sense is abundantly and generously - to which I say yes to both!
I have never read in the Bible about any whom God has held back wisdom from those who asked (genuinely)
I have read this in proverbs though concerning Wisdom
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Proverbs 2:3–6 NKJV
3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
We wouldnt have proverbs if it werent for Solmon - who was known as the wisest man who ever lived
How did he become so wise?
SLIDE - God asked Him what He should give him
1 Kings 3:4–5 NKJV
4 Now the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place: Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”
1 Kings 3:4-5
SLIDE - Solomon recognized he lacked wisdom
1 Kings 3:7–8 NKJV
7 Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted.
1 Kings 3:7-8
SLIDE - Solomon asked for wisdom - the Lord gave generously
1 Kings 3:9–13 NKJV
9 Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days.
1 Kings 3:913
God gives without reproach
You wont be offending or insulted for asking
God wont make you feel stupid
He wont scold you
Literally Gods giving is not humiliating
He never resent us for asking of Him
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God gives without reproach - this should give us encouragement to ask of Him OFTEN
It will be given to the one who asks
This is a promise of scripture - one that we should remember — God promises to give wisdom to those who ask!
James isnt saying anything new here - but this promise here is based upon what Jesus has told us before
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Matthew 7:7 NKJV
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
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Luke 11:11–13 NKJV
11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Luke 11:13 NKJV
13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
May this passage of James remind us of one thing
Luke 11:11-13
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Our God is the God of the open hand, not a clenched fist, and He doesnt give according to our deserving — He gives according to His excellent greatness
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Ask in Faith

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James 1:6
James 1:6 NKJV
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.
James told us who lack wisdom to ask of God - so we know who to ask - but how do we ask?
We are to ask in faith
Faith is the fundamental activity and attitude of the Christian
It is based on our belief in God alone as the one who can give us what we ask for
It is our faith in His word and the fact He tells us in His word of His beneficent hand
Relying on God to come through
Choosing to believe - even in the face of doubts
It means in our situation - we choose to believe He loves us and will give us the wisdom we ask
It means in our situation we choose to believe He cares for us and our needs - including the need for wisdom
It means in our situation e choose to believe that nothing is impossible for Him - that though our wisdom is insufficient - we come to Him and ask in faith for His wisdom - because we know His wisdom is greater
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Matthew 21:22 NKJV
22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
Matthew 21:21 NKJV
21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.
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Faith is certainty God will do what God promises
Mark 11:23 NKJV
23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
This is why it is important to know what God promises to do!
Those who doubt - come without faith and are in constant turmoil
James uses the picture of a wave of the sea - driven and tossed by the wind
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a wave of the sea is without rest, and so is the doubter
a wave of the sea is unstable, and so is the doubter
a wave of the sea is driven by the winds, and so is the doubter
The doubter is literally unsettled
a wave of the s
James is showing us that the one who doubts God and His goodness and power will have no stability in the time of trouble and need
Uncertain of God being able to keep His word - He will be like the sea
Close to shore at one time and then out to sea in doubt at the next time - in out and in out
SLIDE - Life Application Commentary
When God’s promises and commands are given equal authority with our feelings and desires and the world’s ideas, te result is an unsettled sea of indecision and chaos
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Ask From Stability

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James 1:7–8 NKJV
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.
The doubter should not expect to receive anything from the Lord
He is double-minded - literally two-souled
We already saw the requirement to receive was to ask in faith believing God
The double-minded or two-souled person has not yet decided on who to trust
On one hand God says trust Him
On the other hand the world says trust only yourself
Doubters display no stamina in their commitment to the Lord
One moment they are inclined to obedience another moment they follow their own ways
God does not give wisdom to such unstable men
SLIDE
Our prayers to God reveal our mindedness - whether it is single or double
Do you endure until you find an answer in prayer - or stop when you receive no answer at the first?
SLIDE - the man praying in is not double minded
Mark 9:24 NKJV
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
His desire was to believe and he recognized his need for help to believe and so He believed God wanted to help and would help and He cried out for that help
The person who asks God for help in wisdom during trials believing God is willing and able - is the one who can expect and presume to receive what He asks from the Lord - even more than one He asks
It is this person who asks - and then receives the answer or the wisdom - who will perform that wisdom
and be stable in all His decisions and directions and choices etc

Conclusion

The source of Wisdom is God —> we obtain wisdom by asking God through prayer —> wisdom is available to everyone and —> it is given liberally and without reproach; the crucial condition is we ask in faith without doubting.
God’s wisdom is available to us - but we must sense the need, ask for it and believe that we will receive it
SLIDE
Wisdom is something to be obtained, but it is not automatic, it must be requested from God
The promise we find today for wisdom is for those whom are God’s children. You can begin in wisdom this morning though - we are told in - “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
This fear - reverence or AWE - of a Holy God
Recognizing the Awesome God - makes us realize we fall short - we agree with others before who have said- depart from me for I am a sinful man of unclean lips
Realizing a Holy God cannot stand sinfulness in His presence
Recognizing our sinfulness and knowing it deserves judgment
Gods promise is that He sent Jesus to die in our place for our sins so we could find forgiveness - if we believe in Him and His sacrifice death burial and resurrection and Gods promise to forgive us through Jesus - we will be forgiven of our sins and brought into the family of God and from there we have the ability to come to God continually and ask for wisdom to live for Him.
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