Some things are not …
I chose the image above to accompany today’s message because the man in the image let his feelings override his judgment. His feelings compelled him to smoke. His smoking in that place put his life at risk. Though most of us will not do something so inherently unwise, we do unwise things nonetheless. Like this man, we often let our feelings override our better judgment.
In today’s Scripture passage, James encourages us to ask God for wisdom. He admonishes that when we ask, we must believe and not doubt. What causes us to doubt God? Feelings are most often the primary culprit.
Have you ever specifically asked God for wisdom? If you have, how did you do it? Was it one-and-done or did you continually ask? Was it a passing thought or an obsession? And if you asked, did you ever see it begin to happen?
Something you need to understand: Achieving wisdom is a process, not an event. It is NOT one-and-done. It is something for which you must seek–and continue seeking. It must become your focus, bordering on an obsession (in a good sense).
Do these and changes will begin to occur s-l-o-w-l-y. One builds upon another which builds upon another which will in time begin to be evident. You will first recognize that you are thinking differently. After that you will recognize that you are feeling differently. After that, you will see occasional glimpses of wisdom. But do not begin the celebration; you have not yet arrived.
The process is slow because wisdom comes no other way. It reminds me of an old saying: “The best time to plant a shade tree is twenty years ago.” It is the same with wisdom. A temporary shade can be built but a tree must be grown. And like a tree, wisdom is only achieved by allowing it to grow in a natural process.
So, let’s assume that you do want God’s wisdom . I will give you an easy way to plant the seed that can become your tree of wisdom. The seed is in today’s Scripture passage. James says to ask God and not doubt. This is the seed.
How then, when you ask God for wisdom, can you not doubt? You can choose to believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. As you do this, you must not look to the outcome you seek. Rather, you must look to God who causes the outcome to be.
This is much easier than focusing on an outcome. Seeking an outcome is the quintessential how-to plan for doubt. Looking to God irrespective of an outcome is the only way to achieve true faith. And faith is absolutely essential for wisdom to grow.
You will never achieve wisdom (or any other spiritual gift or discipline) by seeking an outcome. It only comes by seeking God. We often THINK we are seeking God, when in fact, we are still seeking an outcome.
Turn this around: Seek God REGARDLESS of an outcome. Then the outcome can come. Seeking God first before an outcome is the beginning of wisdom. Do this and you will be using the wisdom you seek to gain more wisdom. This is that “one builds upon another which builds upon another” that I mentioned above. It is the first step.
Like the shade tree, the best time to begin seeking God’s wisdom is twenty years ago … but you can begin today. A way to recognize you are growing in wisdom is when an interesting thing happens: The more you grow in wisdom, the more you are aware how little you have and how much more you need His wisdom. (FYI: The process never ends.)
Today’s Seed™ Scripture and Prayer for May 11, 2023:
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. (James 1:5-8 NIV)
Prayer: LORD, to not doubt is difficult when feelings contradict what I want to believe. Help me trust You more than what I feel. You neither lie nor change and Your wisdom stands firm forever. It is my intention to trust You regardless of how long I have to wait. This I can believe: You will answer me when it is best. Trusting You is the beginning of the wisdom for which I ask. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(c) 2023 Randall Vaughn • All Rights Reserved • http://www.e-min.org
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‘Today’s Seed’ from E-MIN • May 11, 2023
About Randall Vaughn:
With 40+ years as pastor, author, teacher, worship leader, and songwriter, Randall pioneered E-MIN in 1997–one of the earliest online ministries and today the longest operating. His passion is leading people to deeper, genuine relationship with God. He lives in Alabama with his lovely wife, Karen, and their dogs, Hadi and Rayah. He enjoys hiking, exploring new tech, and “prayer walks”.
Copyright (c) 2023 Randall Vaughn • All Rights Reserved.
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