the wisdom to define your future

Saturday, June 19, 2010

wisdom that will define your futureWhen we think about someone being wise, we usually think of a person who has given us a perspective we haven’t ever considered before. That person’s perspective hits particularly close to home for us if it includes a personal interest in our own situation.

Godly wisdom brings us a biblical perspective about issues we’re facing or deciding in our own lives. An idea can dawn on us that we hadn’t before seen, which then later turns out to be the very thing God wanted us to understand. It is by this wisdom from God that we can see how to apply the knowledge we have. Knowledge alone isn’t usually enough to make decisions. We may know a lot about the issue at hand but not have the perspective we need. It takes godly wisdom to see through the issues and find the right path.

So wisdom gives us the ability to understand how knowledge can apply to our situation. It is for this reason that wisdom and knowledge are coupled so closely together throughout the Proverbs of Solomon.

Solomon is the primary author of the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and is considered to be the wisest man in history. Throughout his writings are insights that provide us with wisdom for life.

As a young man who was about to become king in Israel, God spoke to Solomon in a dream, saying, “… Ask! What shall I give you?” (2 Chronicles 1:7).

Solomon’s answer was amazing, and it pleased God. Solomon didn’t ask for wealth, for victory over his enemies, or for personal health. He asked for wisdom to lead God’s people.

Notice God’s response to Solomon’s request:

…“Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life — but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king — wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like” (2 Chronicles 1:11, 12). 

Because Solomon chose to pursue what was most important, God blessed him not only with the wisdom and knowledge he had asked for, but also with the wealth and honor he could have pursued. Solomon had discovered what we all must come to realize — that wisdom is our primary need and can be found only in God’s Word. Everything else pales in the light of God’s wisdom for living.

This is why the pursuit of godly wisdom must be at the top of our priority list. Solomon stated this truth clearly in Proverbs 4:7–9 (TEV): “Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do. Whatever else you get, get insight. Love wisdom, and she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will bring you honor. She will be your crowning glory.”

In sharp contrast to godly wisdom is wisdom from the world’s point of view. You hear this type of wisdom touted all of the time, such as strategies for becoming a millionaire, beating the systems, building a successful business, or being an influential person. Although many people have certainly demonstrated that the world’s wisdom can bring successful results in areas such as money or status, that kind of wisdom will always fall short. The person seeking truth for godly living will be left feeling empty, still standing on the outside of God’s best for his life.

As believers, we shouldn’t accept the typical definitions for success. We have God’s Word, and His wisdom in that Word redefines true, lasting success. When God’s wisdom redefines our lives, we can see beyond human reasoning and recognize the bigger picture. This godly perspective helps us see how someone can have wealth or status in society and still fail at life. Thus, like Solomon, we are on a continual quest for more of God’s wisdom so we can experience true meaning and fulfillment in our walk with Him.

Wisdom from above creates a sense of direction and opportunity. It continually points us to the path that will bring us the greatest results and the deepest sense of fulfillment. Without this godly wisdom, everything begins to seem vague and pointless. We may be making progress, but we still don’t know where we’re going.

Inner strength to stay the course of God’s plan for us comes when we receive His wisdom and then apply that wisdom to maintain a clear future goal. The inner strength comes from the Holy Spirit as He supplies all we need to rise above the clamor of the conditions or conflicts we may be facing and to continue our forward progress on the path God has laid out before us.

We can see an example of this in Jesus’ life. When Peter first heard Jesus describe that He would be arrested and killed, Peter declared, “We won’t let that happen to You, Lord!” (see Matthew 16:21–23).

Of course, Peter spoke first and thought later. He certainly spoke out of his deep love for Jesus and his desire to protect Him. Yet Peter’s feelings ran completely opposite to God’s ultimate plan. Jesus was to die for all of mankind. Peter saw only from his own limited point of view and not from God’s perspective at all.

Peter’s words were a temptation to Jesus, so Jesus quickly rebuked Satan. Then Jesus said in response to Peter’s words: “…You stand right in my path when you see things from man’s point of view and not from God’s” (Matthew 16:23 Phillips).

Let me give you another example from my own experience as a young man. For approximately eight months, I wasn’t clear about the steps I needed to take toward the ministry God had called me to fulfill. Vikki and I had been youth ministers at a powerful church in southern California, and I knew beyond any doubt that God wanted me to minister His Word to people for the rest of my life. However, I just wasn’t clear about the direction I should take after leaving my position as youth minister.

Shortly after resigning from that position, I leased a fastfood restaurant that was a part of a chain primarily located in southern California. I threw myself into learning the business and began to do quite well. The store I leased from the company was a training store where new management personnel could learn the system and then move into a more lucrative store.

When I first took this store, it had been producing an income deficit for many months as the result of previous managers who had left the store in trouble. But within three months, I had the store making a profit again. I had learned the system and worked hard, and I was watching my efforts begin to pay off. The company had also been carefully watching my performance to see if I was qualified for promotion to a better position in the company.

It was during this time that Vikki and I became convinced that we had to pursue our calling to ministry. After eight months in the fast-food business, we had the opportunity to move to Texas and take positions with Kenneth Copeland Ministries. We knew that this was God’s open door.

I let the company know that I was planning to make this change and would not be continuing to work for them. My direct supervisor was stunned. He told me that I was slated to be the manager of a new store that was opening in a very upscale part of southern California and that the store income would immediately be triple that of my current store. Consequently, my own income would be dramatically increased as well.

This placed me at a huge crossroads in my life — and there was another twist as well. Just across the street from my fastfood store was a privately owned frame shop. The owner came to me one day with an amazing proposition. He said he had been watching me and the attention I was giving to my store. He added that he was getting older and had no children to whom he could give his business. The man offered to train me in his store with the intention of giving it to me later when he was ready to retire.

I was flattered that someone — actually, two different “someones” — had prospects of a good future for me. They had seen qualities that impressed them and could therefore envision my future success as I used these qualities.

These opportunities to make much more money and pursue a successful career either with a company behind me or with a store of my own gave me more paths to consider at that juncture of my life — and each of these options could have been the right one. So I looked at the three paths that had been placed before me. I could have served God in any of those positions and been successful. Certainly God raises up business people, store owners, and workers on every level to serve Him and fulfill His purposes. Any of the options could have been opportunities for me to live a blessed life.

But there was only one option that matched the deep desire of my heart and the direction I had received from God. That meant there was only one path for me. God’s wisdom settled my decision, and Vikki and I were on our way to Texas. Although many people may have looked at those options from the sidelines and questioned the wisdom of our choice, it was godly wisdom that defined our decision and, consequently, the direction and the ultimate destiny of our lives.

For Vikki and me, this was the step we needed to take to set us on course to fulfill our calling. It will be the same for you as well. Godly wisdom will illuminate the path before you, and your faith will enable you to take the step.

From a purely “dollars and cents” perspective, our decision to move to Texas was not the right move. We were stepping away from financial success and, in the natural, it looked like we were putting our future in jeopardy. After all, what kind of future is there for a young, inexperienced person who desires to become a minister?

There was nothing inherently right or wrong about any of the possibilities I had before me at that time in my life. God could have blessed me in business or in ministry. But Vikki and I needed to know God’s wisdom and to see His will for our lives from His perspective. We knew our strength and direction had to come from the deposit of His Word and His Spirit within. We were looking for the wisdom from above.

Notice how James describes this wisdom: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17, 18).

Isaiah 33:6 describes God’s wisdom this way: “Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is His treasure.”

There was a wellspring of wisdom deep within Vikki and me that brought peace. That was all we needed. When we locked in to God’s plan, we had His wisdom to see all the other paths presented to us from His perspective. For us, only one path radiated with His light. The other good possibilities had no attraction. We could see that they were only distractions. We knew that we knew God had given us His wisdom and knowledge about the matter. We were stable and sure-footed on His path for our lives.

Job sums it up this way: “You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; so light will shine on your ways” (Job 22:28). This is the way God defines true success for us as believers. As we discover and then declare God’s wisdom, we establish His will in us, allowing His light to illumine our path and keep us moving toward His destiny for our lives.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture references are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.

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