The Wisdom to Know

Jumping back into James. We left him at verse 1:8 where he had just instructed us to go to the Lord for wisdom if we needed it, Then he tagged on verse 8, telling us to believe that we had received that wisdom, and not be a double-minded man (or woman), literally, a double-soul, about it. I’m afraid I am right there in that spot. Of two minds concerning a decision I need to make.

Is anyone there with me?

I hate it because I can see the value of both decisions, but I am stuck. I have asked the Lord for wisdom so many times that now, i am just rambling when I pray.

So, here’s what I decided to do. I decided to ask the Lord for wisdom regarding why I am stuck. Yep. A slight paradigm shift there. In other words, I took a few steps back, and asked, not about the decision, but about me.

Have you ever prayed something to death. “Worried your prayers” over something? What is it? Are you still stuck in that same place, years later? 

I’m not talking about a persevering in prayer, which is what we’re called to do, especially for others. I’m talking about finding out why, after all these years, I am on the same topic. The question isn’t is (a or (b better? The question is why am I still asking the same question?

My motivation to do this was verses 1:7-8. I read those verses and was terrified. I really like verse 1:5-6, but 1:7-8 seem to put the pressure back on me. I can ask, but I’ve got to have faith that he answered. The waves of the sea are starting to rock this boat.

5 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. 6 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. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does

So, I asked. Lord, why am I stuck? Why can’t I believe you when you give me wisdom? What am I afraid of?

I don’t think you’ll be surprised by the answer. I’m afraid he doesn’t really love me. I’m afraid he’ll ask me to do something hard, and I just did that. I’m afraid he’ll need me to sacrifice, and honestly, I don’t want too. I’m afraid he’s mad at me, and so, of course, the thing I want is the thing he’ll say no too. That (a may be my heart’s desire, but (b is what he’ll make me do. I’m afraid the consequences of some of my choices are beyond him, or that he wants me to suffer them. I’m afraid I am the ‘least of his, in the worst of ways.’ I am afraid he will abandon me after I believe him..

New Living Translation
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:18

Are you afraid of something in your relationship with the Lord? Have you ever experienced his perfect love? 

Father, gracious and great, giver of all good things, may we experience your perfect love today, this week, this year. May we know the love of the one who saves us, rescues us, forgives us and glorifies us in his son. Father, pour your love out on us, fill us up with it, and let it run out of us to bless others. We need to know we are loved. In Jesus Name, Amen.






If You Lack… Ask

Hey! Week two of Bible Study! Please join in. (Doing week one is not necessary for you to participate this week. Each study stands alone.) I loved reading your comments last week. Pure love. Is there anything better than seeking God togther? (BTW, I fixed the comment section. Yay! So, if you’re game, read on, and if you feel led, answer noted questions in the comments.) Maybe, take a minute to pray prior to starting. And, please, pray for me. Ask that God will reveal himself to me, and give me wisdom in the inmost places of my heart. I am praying for you, too. Blessings, Cinthia

Scripture for Today

Before we even start, I feel some sweet woman needs to hear this today: the Lord adores you. He doesn’t just love you, he pursues you and loves you. Let that sink in for a minute. He so loves you that he will go to the ends of the earth to make you His. Rest in his embrace and grace. Rest in his favor. It is yours.

The book of James holds some of my favorite verses, James 1:5-8. Read it in The Message and the NIV below.

The Message:

5 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. 6 Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. 7 Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, 8 adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

The NIV:

5 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. 6 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. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

For a woman who has spent her life slightly unstable, second guessing every decision she’s ever made, and, has often said, “I’m walking around the world without a map,” these verses are solid gold. I love how The Message just lays it out there–if you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. That deserves an Amen, because I don’t know what I’m doing. Do you?. How many times have I hit the wall of my own thinking, finding myself back where I started, confused and uncertain. I need the Lord’s help. Is this verse as refreshing to you as it is to me?

Comment Question:

  • Do you think there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom? Where does discernment fall? Please share your thoughts below on this, if so led.

I have a lot of knowledge about plants, but I don’t always know how to apply that knowledge. Translating what I know to my client’s landscapes is tricky. I triple-guess my plant choices. Will that plant thrive in that spot? My own yard can be an experiment, but for my clients, I want to get it right.

When I started my job (three years ago now!), I told myself I would do two things. Work hard and ask for help when I needed it. Sounds simple, right? But, I hate asking for help. I’m afraid it makes me look all sorts of things–everything from incompetent to just plain dumb. And, truthfully, to some people it does. They could actually be thinking, Really? Why don’t you know that? As parents we do this to our children all the time. We expect them to know how to do something we never taught them, and we get pretty aggravated when they can’t. But, James tells us that God gives wisdom without reprimand. That means, he gives us the wisdom without adding on the “Really?” part. And, best of all? The Lord gives wisdom generously. He won’t make fun of me, tire of me, or wonder if I will ever figure it out for myself. He’ll keep giving me the direction I ask for, and the wisdom to know what to do.

But, is it wisdom for what I need? Perhaps, you don’t have life-altering things staring you in the face. Maybe you aren’t curious about the mysteries of the universe right now. You’d rather have wisdom for your job, or to acquire a skill. What about wisdom for raising a child, or a loving a spouse, or making small but significant decisions? Not all wisdom comes wrapped in a big theological box. Some of it is just ordinary, everyday wisdom to help us navigate our lives.

Personal reflection:

  • Name two things you need wisdom for in your present situation. Be specific, and consider that you don’t need to be in dire straights to need it. If you’re trying to pick the right childcare or adultcare, or deciding on a big purchase (or not), name it. All of it counts.
  • Check out Colossians 1:15-17, So, who is the source of all–not matter the type–wisdom?

James’ audience was Christian Jews, and Jews sought wisdom, so he’s speaking their love language. But, they had leaders with wisdom. Leaders like the Sanhedrin, the rabbis and the priests, all able to interpret the law for them. Wisdom likely seemed reserved for those guys, not the average Jew. Sound familiar? How many of us depend on our pastors, deacons, teachers–anyone other than ourselves–to understand Scripture or the mysteries of God, for us? Yes, those folks are there to guide us, but one thing is true for all Christians; we have the Holy Spirit living in us.

Comment Question: 

Read these verses and note a couple of ways the Holy Spirit helps us in our wisdom seeking..

Got any verses you would add?

Okay, last thing. Verse 8 is pretty straightforward, using the term double-minded. Here’s where my double-mindedness comes in. I listen to the world and to God. I try to keep my options open, just in case.

Personal reflection:

I’ll let you fill in your own “just in case.” Are you trying to keep your options open, just in case _______ (What happens? Fill in the blank with that.)

I’ll leave you with Matthew 7:11 Does help with the “just in case” part?

Father, by the Spirit we cry Abba, or Daddy. We need wisdom for so many things. Prompt us to come to you, the Source of all wisdom and ask for what we lack. You love us so deeply that not only do you have the wisdom, but you give it to us happily. Give us the courage to believe that wisdom, but may we never let prayer be a means to an end, instead finding our end in you. In Jesus name, Amen.