Welcome adulthood, send some wisdom please (Good Gifts 1:2)

Wisdom isn’t something we usually seek early on in life. We like smart. We’ll take that. Maybe some beauty, a little charisma. These are the desires of the young heart. Somewhere at about, “Oh goodness, I need to choose a college, a life path, a career plan, a spouse….” That’s when we start to look around for lady wisdom to walk alongside us on the path.

And oh do we need her! There are So. Many. Choices.

It’s easy to get weighed down by concern for our ability to ever make a “right” decision. We either let anxiety take its hold or we try to throw it off with a laissez faire approach – “Who cares! Bring it, world! YOLO! Whatever will be, will be.”

Our choices do matter, neither of these approaches work, and you all know it. You’ve tried them on, so have I. It’s not working.

God speaks plainly through James to give us another answer. There’s no lady wisdom, folks. Wisdom rests solely in the hands of our Creator, and He offers us a direct connection to where to find some answers.

Please read James 1:5-8:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 

Unstable is pretty much how our world feels at any given moment. Our political climate is rougher than our lifetime has seen it, families are a mess, companies collapse. Everything around us is unstable. The last thing we desire to be is unstable.

Yesterday in our study we learned who is stable though, the Lord. He is steadfast, never changing. These things are related. God invites us to seek wisdom freely in verse 5, and it’s what our eyes are drawn to, the how of getting what we need. But the book of James looks at things a little differently, always showing us the Who of where it’s coming from.

When we know God, we know wisdom. The more firmly we plant our two feet in His arms and in His Word, we will begin to broaden our understanding. He is stable, and His wisdom is stable. He gives us His Spirit to work in our inner being. And wisdom works all the time in the everyday, not just the big world changing events, how we interact with others, how we lead, how we parent, where we spend our money, etc.

Let’s look at Luke 21 to understand who and what God is offering us. Please read Luke 21:10-18 if you have your Bibles available. I’ll highlight just verses 14 and 15 here:

14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.

Well, that’s risky, Jesus. “Settle it beforehand” not to create responses and ideas in our heads? This sounds like the opposite of wisdom! But it’s not, not when we are actively in a relationship with God. Double-mindedness and instability will never be our problem when we have our eyes fixed on Him. The disciples here were entering a time of serious persecution. I’m sure they wanted assurance and security more than ever, just like we do in our own lives. Jesus’s answer instead is…

Lean on me. Come to me. Meditate on me.

The decisions we need to make are just a distraction. They’ll get made as they need to get made.

The real substance is in knowing Who is Wise.

The world will not stop being crazy. Decisions won’t stop coming rapid-fire. Ah, adulting. It’s so fun. Said no one ever.

The only thing we can change is where we go with them. So often as I get older and maybe wiser, my prayers have changed from lots of words, to lots of frustration expressed, to now just open hands, palms up –

“Here you go, Lord. I have no idea, but I know You do.”

Hand it to Him, friends, and trust that the same Spirit Christ sent to light His disciples, literally on fire, is in You, ready to give wisdom at every turn.

Meditate on Him. Ask, sometimes with mouths closed, but heart open. Every Good and perfect gift is from above- including wisdom.

EPSON MFP image

James 1:5 Printable

Discussion:

What do you need wisdom for currently?

What do you wish someone would have told you about being an adult? Would you have been able to hear them?

What wisdom would you share with someone going struggling with life, faith, or a decision?

Good Gifts from a Good, Good Father (Good Gifts 1:1)

A Good, Good Father…It’s who He is.

Chris Tomlin wasn’t joking around when he identified that we have a good, good father, but he also wasn’t the first to identify it.

The Psalmist cries out in Psalm 136:1:

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.

Moses asked for God’s glory and what did he get? God showed Moses all His goodness instead, and it’s goodness overload. Goodness so good that Moses couldn’t be allowed to see the frontside of it, or else it would literally kill him with goodness and God loved Him too much for that. You can read the full account of this in Exodus 33:13-23. I’ll highlight verses 19 and 20 here:

And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

Jesus, in great humility, without revealing his position as God-in-human-flesh, clarifies that goodness can only come in and through God the Father, in Mark 10:17-18:

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Aka – “…you won’t find goodness elsewhere, kind sir. What exactly is it, you’re really looking for?”

What are we really looking for when we look for good?

Do we want stuff that’s good?

Do we want to feel good?

Do we want a good reputation or good job, good health, a good future?

All these things are nice, but they aren’t necessarily good, because good only comes from the Good, Good Father. We know this because we have the gift of the book of James, which will be our course of study over the next six weeks.

Let’s dig in to James chapter 1. If you have your Bible out, read the whole chapter. It’s a gem and we’ll be resting there all week long, so you can get a bookmark for it and get cozy. Here I will focus in on James 1:16-17 for today’s study:

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James connects some dots for us. God’s not just Good, he’s a Father to us, and He’s not just a Father to us, He’s a Good one. God’s goodness is wrapped in Fatherly affection and His Fatherly affection is all kinds of goodness.

The devil wants to deceive us on two accounts.

First, God is Who He says He is.

The devil would have us believe that because of our earthly experience, God can not be good and He surely can not be a good father. This is particularly hard for anyone with an extremely imperfect or even terrible father. God, is perfect in every way, including in His role as our Heavenly Father. There are many things in life that feel less than good. It’s easy to piece those things together and make-up in our head a God that isn’t for our good- disease, shootings, poverty, bankruptcy, family turmoil, and life turmoil all demand accounting for.

We can rest in the Truth of Scripture that tells us over and over, in the midst of chaos, in the seasons we are pummeled by storms, that He is Good. He is the Father of lights, not the Father of darkness.

“…do not be deceived, beloved brothers.” Trust in His Good Word.

Second, He is steadfast.

The devil is the shifty one, not our Good Father. God is unchanging in nature. This is attached to his goodness in the book of James. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He isn’t a shifting shadow of darkness. The devil aims to deceive us into believing that God is unsure, unsafe, because it’s more damaging that way- it pulls and stretches us to our limits, it leaves us feeling doubtful and questioning, but God is in the questions too.

“…with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth…”

He is steadfast, no variation. The Greek root word for variation in James 1:17 is parallage, which can mean a change, variation, or mutation. God does not mutate. The devil may make himself into a snake to fool us, but God does not try to trick us. James tells us that it’s not in His nature. God has His own will and He is subject to no one. He lays His Will out for us in the Word, particularly in the saving work of Jesus Christ. In Christ, all goodness is ours – redemption, forgiveness, life, and eternity.

As we study James, this will be our foundation:

A Good, Good Father, steadfast and true, with many-a gift for us to discover as we spend time with Him and in His Good, Good Word.

Good Gifts Study Scripture Engagement Tool, designed by Victoria Weaver

 

Discussion –

What do you think people want, when they want good?

How does God offer us good and then something more?

How have you seen the Good, Good Father work in your life, or when has it been hard to see Him working good in your life?

Say Goodbye to Incongruence

Spring hasn’t even sprung and I’m so hungry for something new.

I’m ready for a new day, a new song, a new landscape out my kitchen window. While we know that new isn’t always better, I think we were made for the knowledge of something to come, something waiting just around the corner.

We live in eternity, you see, but we can’t see it and we can’t hold it in our hands. So, we live with eternity as an idea, a place saved for later. We call it heaven and we tuck it away for deathbeds and difficult days. We imagine golden gates and gemstones and a giant mansion of many rooms that hold pints upon pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. (Ok, maybe that’s just my daydream.)

While that may be a sliver of eternity, it’s not the real deal, and I’m tired of settling for the pretty picture when I can have the real thing. How about you?

Eternity is now. Eternity is God with us, placing His Spirit inside of us, and that Spirit flowing out like a mighty river that can not be stopped up.

Jesus’ brother, James, knew a little bit about Eternity walking around the earth right in front of him. He ate food with the Son of God. He played games with the Son of God. And like the disciples, he walked away from the Son of God in His darkest hours. I wonder if that is why walking with the Son of God, walking in the Eternal Life that we are offered, today, this day, is so important to James, and written all over the pages of his book.

James is worried about a little thing called congruence. He’s worried about whether we’re living Eternity now, or whether we’re living one way and saving eternity for later.

The reverse – often our daily struggle – is incongruence.

Incongruence happens when we say we love God, but ignore our neighbor who is struggling with cancer, with addiction, with any number of very present needs.

Incongruence is when we go to church, but push aside making disciples for the ever present to-do list of the day.

Incongruence happens when I can not, for the life of me, get it together to put my husband’s needs before my own and give him the best parts of me on a daily basis.

I am incredibly incongruent. We all are, but the book of James teaches us that as we grow up into Christ, as we acknowledge and remember the eternity we have been offered today, we will become more and more congruent in every tomorrow.

Congruence is that blessed thing we seek when we understand what we value and put it into action rather than push it under the couch. Congruence is when we know Who our God is and how He changes everything, makes everything new.

When faith becomes life, rather than a part of our life. 

Who’s hungry for that?

Oh, I am. We’ll never be perfect, friends. Chief of sinners though we be. Jesus died so we can live in eternity, though, rather than guilt ridden and incongruent. This is the work of the book of James. We’ll look at what we’ve been given, and all the good in the gifts we never even knew were sitting on our front door step, from a God who loves us so very much.

Join us for New.

Join us for Congruent.

Join us for Good Gifts.

This is a six week study. Find all the posts on the blog here by searching for “Good Gifts.”

There are short 10-15 minute study posts 4 days a week. You can find video lessons on the I Love My Shepherd YouTube Channel.

Let’s get started by walking this road together.

To Eternity, to a God who walks with me, and to congruence…let’s do this.

This study will make it’s way to the print version in 2020. See more on the Studies Available page.