August 19, 2012

God’s Wisdom:

Ask in Faith

James 1:5-8

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Eternal Life

    In response to another question, today we will learn how joy triumphs over trials.  Jesus knows about facing trials and turmoil.  He died with purpose on that cross.  He gave His life to ransom many from death resulting from sin.  I am so grateful Jesus died for me.  I received His gift of eternal life by faith, and now I live in confidence that Jesus loves me every day of my life, and deeply cares about everything that comes my way.  Jesus never promised me a life without strains, testings, and troubles.  He did promise, however, that I can have joy while I go through those times, because He will provide supernatural power to get through them.  He will lead me through those tough times personally.  Jesus taught that various trials will test my faith and produce endurance.  With the endurance that only trials can produce, I will also grow in perfection and completeness, so that I will be lacking in nothing.  So, when I face trials, I do not imagine that God has abandoned me or no longer loves me, but rather I see the hand of God in the trials before me, and I discern His purpose to perfect me.  I have not yet reached perfection, but I grow closer with each trial producing more endurance.  As we go through these trials, God says that I will need wisdom from Him.  During my trials, I will have to make many choices, and be very wise in my living.  Now we will study today how to gain wisdom to grow during our trials.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:5-6

  Ask God for Wisdom.  In James 1:5, God gives us a wonderfully simple principle for spiritual living.   God will give His wisdom to anyone who asks Him for wisdom, even if you lack wisdom now.  The first step in gaining wisdom is that you recognize that you lack wisdom to go through the trials you encounter.  Many people rely upon their own brains, experience, or feelings to get through tough times.  They suffer and mourn, and bask in their unhappiness.  They have no joy during tough times, and do not recognize those tough times as God working in them to produce perfection.  In contrast, the believer recognizes the purpose of trials, and turns to God seeking wisdom to endure those trials.  The mature believer recognizes everyone has a lack of wisdom, and needs more wisdom to get through the trial.  If you think you can make all the right choices, even in the middle of tough times, then think again.  You need wisdom from God, no matter how wise you think you are in your own eyes.

      God Gives Wisdom Generously and without Reproach.  In James 1:5, God promises two great points about wisdom.  First, God promises to give you lots of wisdom–He used the word “generously” (“ἁπλῶς”).  God tells us that He gives wisdom to believers who look to Him for wisdom to get through trials.  This word “generously” means to have an abundance, more than you expected, and plenty to do the job.  Second, God promises He will not reproach you.  This word “reproach” (“ὀνειδίζοντος”) means that God will not pour blame, discredit or disgrace upon you or view you in that light.  By admitting you need God’s wisdom and are willing to ask God for it, you are taking the first vital step to receiving God’s wisdom.  God loves for you to ask Him for wisdom, especially when you face difficult times and have to make difficult choices.  So, putting those thoughts together, God says that when you recognize you need wisdom, ask Him for it, He will give you a generous gift of wisdom, and He will not think less of you for asking.  In fact, He commands you to ask for wisdom, right in the middle of tough times.  As you follow His command to ask for wisdom, He will be giving it generously and not reproaching you.  Have you ever met people that imply you are an idiot for asking for advice?  Well, no one really wants to seek advice from a doctor like that person.  But, if you know that doctor will treat you kindly, and also add wisdom from God to his medical opinion, who would not want to seek the wisdom and medical advice of that doctor?  Likewise, when you need wisdom, ask God directly for it.  You will then have wisdom for your own time of trouble, and be ready to help others as they go through their own tough times.  Never wait to ask for wisdom, because God will give it to you even while you ask.

       Ask for Wisdom in Faith.  In James 1:6, God commands you to ask for wisdom in faith.  Faith (“πίστει”) means that you take God at His word and believe it is true.  In this case, you must believe that God will give you wisdom when you ask, and that He will give it generously, and He will not belittle you for asking.  In other words, you must stand in faith upon James 1:5, and believe the truth of that verse when you ask for wisdom.  You must ask without doubting (“διακρινόμενος”) because doubting means you will be like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  This picturesque language certainly describes the average person going through trials without faith.  You can be tossed about by illness, poverty, death, or other problems that come into your life.  Notice that I am not talking here about sinful actions we have taken, but rather the trials that come into our lives for testing.  Sometimes the sins of others puts us into various trials, but sin has a different remedy: confession before Christ (see 1 John 1:9).  If you doubt that God will give you wisdom, then expect to go surfing in rough seas.  If you stand upon the rock of the Word of God, then believe that God will give you wisdom, and produce joy in you resulting in perfection as you endure trials with God in control.

For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James1:7-8

       No Expectation of Wisdom.  In James 1:7,  we learn that if you doubt when you ask for wisdom, you should expect to receive nothing from the Lord.  Jesus plainly stated here that without faith, you will not receive wisdom.   We must believe for wisdom while we ask for wisdom.  Without that faith, we will receive nothing from God.  So, when you encounter various trials, have faith that you can ask for wisdom from God, and you must believe that God will do as He promised you.  Now we see how faith, wisdom and trials all fit together.  We learn to pray with faith during the trials, because our trials must never remove our faith, but increase it. 

       Double-Minded Man.  In James 1:8, Jesus told us that the root of the problem with no faith means you are double minded.  This term “double-minded” (“δίψυχος”) might also be translated double-souled.  It conveys the idea that a lack of faith in God means you still have your own doubts about God’s ability to help you endure trials, and His ability to give your wisdom.  Trials test our faith for the purpose of perfection.  If trials defeat your faith, then you will not be asking in faith for wisdom.  If you intend to rejoice in trials, then remember that you must walk in the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and be filled with faith in God and His promises to receive wisdom from God.  God gives wisdom to believers asking in faith, without doubts.  Most people do not expect joy during trials, and they never think of asking for wisdom in the middle of trials.  Even if prompted to ask, they do not really believe that God will give wisdom generously and without reproach.  In short, so many people remain ignorant of the Word of God and His promises because they do not study the Word of God, looking for the plan, promises, and purposes of God for our lives.  God commands us to study His word, so we can stand in faith upon His promises, even in the middle of serious trials (2 Timothy 2:15). 

So we learn more about God and His wisdom today.   

    ●  In the middle of trials, ask God for wisdom to endure the trials and perfect your faith.

    ●   In faith, ask God for wisdom, without doubting, for if you doubt, then you will be like the surf of the sea, tossed and driven by the wind. 

    ●  If you doubt God and His wisdom, then expect to receive nothing from God.  Instead, stand upon the Word of God in faith, and believe God will do just as He promised, giving you wisdom generously and without reproach.   

Application for Today

      As I walk through life today, I will ask God in faith for wisdom to endure my trials, and grow in perfection.  I do not want to go body surfing today in doubt, tossed about by my fears and woes, but to believe God in simple faith that He will give me wisdom, and not criticize me for asking.  He loves me and loves to give me wisdom.  What will you be asking from God in faith today?