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As we celebrated the beginning of 2020, few people in the world imagined that a pandemic would kill nearly 400,000 people worldwide and 87,000 in the U.S.A. No one imagined that America’s strong economy would approach Great Depression Era levels of unemployment in a matter of weeks. Yet, that is what each of us are experiencing.
If we ever needed God’s wisdom and direction, now is the time. The list of issues that threaten our well-being and our lives are present in overwhelming proportions. We should welcome the message of James, because he tells us that God will give us the wisdom we need for these times. Today, we take a second look at James’ promise concerning wisdom.
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. 6 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. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Wisdom, Prayer and Faith
The promise of verses 5 and 6 is that if we lack wisdom, God will generously give it to us. The only requirement is that we ask him in faith.
If you’ve ever tried to make your faith overcome doubt, you know how difficult it is. We simply cannot “work up” faith when it isn’t there. If we can’t “work up” faith, where is it found?
One of the greatest examples of faith, occurred when Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac (see Genesis 22). This was an enormous test of faith. Isaac was a miracle son, given to Abraham and Sarah when they both were well beyond the ability to have children (see Genesis 18 and 22). All of the promises God had made to Abraham were contingent on Isaac being alive and able to carry them out.
Abraham obeyed God, believing that if he sacrificed Isaac, God would raise him from the dead (see Hebrews 11.17-19). How did Abraham develop this kind of faith? His faith grew to such proportions the same way our faith is strengthened.
(1) Abraham had a personal relationship with God. God first sought a relationship with Abraham (Genesis 12.1-3) to bless him and to bless the world through him.
We are no different from Abraham. If you have a personal relationship with God, he initiated the process. By his grace, he sought you out and helped you enter a relationship with him. God does this, because he wants to bless you – and to use you to bless other people.
Why do we put email offers that are “too good to be true” in our email trash can? Why do we refuse phone calls from New York City and block the number, when they offer us the “next big thing”? Very simple. We don’t trust people whom we don’t know.
In the same way, if you don’t really know God, you will not be able to trust him. If you haven’t prayed for God’s wisdom about the corona virus pandemic, it may be because you don’t know God well enough to ask his opinion.
Abraham was different. He was a friend of God (James 2.23). As God’s friend, he both spoke to God and listened to God. If you read the account of Abraham from Genesis 12 through Genesis 22, you will see a number of very real conversations between Abraham and God.
Do you want to grow your faith? Take Jesus up on his offer of being your friend (John 15.15). Begin a daily time of both speaking to Jesus and listening to him. You may decide to begin by asking him to give you wisdom during this unusual time in history.
(2) Abraham followed God to the promised land. As soon as he arrived, there was a famine (Genesis 12.10). Imagine that! A famine in the land of promise! Abraham’s life was a continual testimony to the first words of James, “Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1.2). He had plenty of trials.
He also had plenty of drama. Abraham’s life was one of intense experiences. Frightening encounters with God, famine, being a stranger in foreign countries, war, family conflict and more were all part of his experiences.
Each of these trials were used to develop his faith and ability to remain under the load of life, as James teaches (James 1.2-4). Abraham is an example of God’s arithmetic.
Trials + God = deeper trust.
Trials – God = despair.
If you want your faith to grow deeper and richer, remain in a personal relationship with God. When trials come, take all of them to God in prayer.
A Modern Abraham
Rufus Moseley (1870-1954) is one of my spiritual heroes. I have pages of notes from his books on the hard drive of my computer. Moseley was a highly intelligent man, who taught on the university level in the United States and in Germany. He had access to both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, but eventually chose to make his living growing pecan trees in Georgia.
Moseley was a small, often sick, man. His interest in spiritual healing came from many bouts of illness for which there was no medical answers in his day.
As we have the corona virus before us, remember what Moseley encountered in his life: World Wars I and II, the Spanish Flu epidemic, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights Movement. I mention the Civil Rights Movement, because Moseley championed the rights of African Americans when few people did. He took on the KKK and the State of Georgia over the systemic treatment of African Americans.
Moseley wrote a weekly article for the Macon Telegraph that was full of his wisdom. Moseley epitomizes a wise man, who developed his wisdom with a combination of a vital relationship with the Holy Spirit and adversity.
Wisdom from Rufus Moseley, “Perfect Everything”
Below is an example the kind of wisdom that we can and should pray to receive from our generous heavenly Father.
(1) If we depart from Him and His will for us and for all, we go from problem to problem until we become problems, and forcing problems upon the brethren; but as we repent and turn to Him and His will, all of our problems turn into testimonies. In Him and in His will, everything turns to good and to almost unbelievable good.
(2) In Him everything is opportunity; He turns everything to good that is turned over to Him, the seeming worst as well as the certain best.
(3) In Him, there is so much heaven on the way to heaven that one wonders how heaven itself can be much better than the going to heaven. It is also true that there is so much hell going to hell that even the most stupid and perverse should have enough of it before getting there and like the Prodigal Son repent and turn homeward.
(4) Jesus redeems and makes best uses of even the worst past. He more than forgives us; He turns our liabilities into assets and self-made hells in to heaven. No matter how badly we mess up life, when we turn the messer and the mess over to Him, He unmesses the messer and makes an asset of the mess.
(5) If we choose heaven in preference to earth, our whole earth experience becomes an adjunct to heaven. We lose earth as we put earth first. If we put first the best of all, we get the best of all and in getting that we get everything. In Jesus we lose nothing worth keeping and get everything worth having.
Dear God, thank you for your generosity that allows us to live with you in a personal way. Please use our trials to deepen our faith. Please grant us wisdom to live.