Tag Archive | Wisdom

Gleanings from James 3 ~ Who Is A Wise Man?

It’s been a while since continuing with my Gleanings from James theme. In all honestly, I found it difficult to continue with James 3 as concerning God’s Word on “the tongue”. I found my thoughts going in so many different directions and just needed to pull away from this for a season, until now. I will be addressing this topic in this post, however, I am going to approach it by jumping over the first twelve verses of James 3 to James 3:13-18, and then referring back to the portion skipped, by applying God’s Word from the latter portion of James 3.

“Who is a wise man…”, verse 13 begins. A whole book in God’s Word, the Bible, is dedicated to truths given to us by God, that we might have wisdom…God’s wisdom. It is the book of Proverbs. Shortly, we will be referring to some of what Proverbs has to say regarding wisdom and from those verses, perhaps we, each, might be able to better determine an answer for the title of this post, for yourself.

In verse 14 of James 3, we read what wisdom is not! It is not bitter envying and strife in our hearts. Interestingly enough God’s Word goes right to the ‘heart’ of the matter: pun intended. Man may be able to discern bitterness between men when it reaches the obvious outward stages: whether by body language, insinuations, physical interaction, hurtful or slanderous words…but God sees the heart, Scripture tells us, and it is there, in that seedbed, where God’s searchlight first spies those early seedlings of bitterness. It is there, in our hearts, that we first sin against God.

Earlier, in James 1:20-22, we read “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” We deceive OUR OWN SELVES!! So it seems that no one else is deceived…not those that observe us, and in particular and foremost, not God.

Why are we so obvious to everyone? What is it that they see and know about us that we have missed? Are we so overcome with our own pride and passions that we are blind? What is it that we must do to not fall into this worldly response; this ‘trap’ that belies our identification as a follower of Jesus Christ? The Lord considers perversity as an abomination to Himself; Proverbs 3:32, “For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.”

In James 3:17 we find God’s wisdom on the matter: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”

Wisdom that is “from above” will reveal and manifest itself with these fruits of righteousness…but it must have a beginning and that beginning is with God Himself. These attributes are Who He is and because He is Holy and has called His own to be holy, also, we must also respond with these same fruits of righteousness; our identification with Him.

Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy is understanding.”

That fear, is that awe, that reverence due God because He IS God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, Proverbs 3:19-20.

God embodies knowledge and understanding and if we need His wisdom, Proverbs 2:6 assures us God will give us of His wisdom, “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

In our earlier study of James 1:5,6a we recall God’s Word saying, “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing waivering…”

Returning to the thought in James 3:17 concerning the fruits of righteousness which those who are exercising God’s wisdom display: pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, merciful, bearing good fruits without partiality or hypocrisy, let’s return to the beginning of James 3, where James discusses the tongue.

In James 3:5-6 James points out how small a member of the body the tongue is, yet this tiny member is very powerful; powerful enough to to set ‘a fire, a world of iniquity; it defiles the whole body; it sets on fire the course of nature; and the destructive power of the tongue comes from Hell.’ Pretty strong edict on the tongue!

James 3:8 further describes this seemingly insignificant member of the body and reveals the tongue to be ‘untameable; an unruly evil; full of deadly poison’.

This same, tiny member of the body can both bless God and curse his fellow man. James 3:10b tells us “…these things ought not so to be.” Remember how in James 1:8 we read, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” The tongue displays a ‘double mindedness’ in its use.

And then James goes on to say in James 3:2 says “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” “Perfect man” meaning, mature man; a complete man. This man has understood all that we have already said concerning a man of wisdom.

James concludes this chapter saying in verse 18, “…the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

In closing let me share one more verse from Proverbs 1:7, that you might consider the question posed as you consider and meditate on this: Are You A Wise Man?

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

The fool is interested in only following his own heart and not interested in seeking after God. His ways, he thinks, are right ways but in truth they are corrupt ways that lead to destruction both physically and spiritually. This man is always running from God and not toward God. The man that is running toward God and seeking God is ready to confess he is a sinner and ready to forsake his own way of thinking, his own way of living and repent; that is to turn from himself and his ways, to God and His ways.

When Jesus, whose birth we recently celebrated, came to earth as a babe, He came for the express purpose of fulfilling His Father’s will: to die on the cross of Calvary. It was in the shedding of His own blood for our sin that we, through His sacrifice, might gain entry into Heaven and have Eternal Life with God forever. This is God’s Mercy: giving us what we don’t deserve. It is God’s gift to us, but like any gift, we must receive it by faith. It is the only way to gain access to Heaven, according to God’s Word; John 14:6.

Will you accept the gift of Eternal Life God is offering you?

Are you a wise man?

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“…I Have Walked in Mine Integrity…”, Psalm 26, A Psalm of David

WELCOME! It is good to have you visit with me today, BEYOND THE STRAIT GATE. I hope you will take your time and spend a little time here to meditate on what God’s Spirit might have for you today. What follows is what He has given me from Psalm 26…to share with those who will come this way. Please leave your thoughts and comments at the end of the devotional and if you would like to be alerted of future posts, please do sign up in the appropriate place. Thank you so very much!

What strikes me, particularly, is the assurance David has with and before his LORD. He doesn’t deny nor ignore the fact that he is a son of Adam, a sinner. He knows full well his estate; from whence he comes. Yet he begins this psalm with an assurance before a Holy God, Who is also his Judge (and is Just), with a welcome to have God judge who he, David, is:

“Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide.” verse 1, KJV

David presents his case: “I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD:”, and with what seems to me, tremendous confidence, declares, “I will not slide.” David’s anchor is solidly placed in Jehovah God. His faith, his trust, his “single-hearted devotion and sincerity of purpose” (as Ryrie puts it) is so solidly placed in God, David is not going to be moved, nor slip.

APPLICATION: How is my devotion; my single-heartedness; my sincerity of purpose? Can I confidently ask God to search me and judge my heart and have no fear of God’s verdict? Something to meditate and consider for myself. (How about you?) And, if I cannot be as confident as David, what is it that I must do to reach this holy standard?

David is so sure of his relationship with God that he welcomes, and invites God to test and try his faith, (verse 2): “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me, try my reins and my heart.” David has the expectation that God will be pleased and look on him favorably…WHY?? Because he has “walked in thy (God’s) truth.” (verse 3): “For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth.”

Some references to “truth” in God’s Word:

God’s WORD is TRUTH: John 17:17 –“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

God’s COMMANDMENTS are TRUTH: Psalm 119:151 – “Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.”

God’s LAW is TRUTH: Psalm 119:142 –“Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness and thy law is the truth.”

JESUS CHRIST is The TRUTH: John 14:6 –
“Jesus said unto him, ‘I AM the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
In this verse, Jesus declares Himself to be the only means of securing Eternity with Him forever. HE is THE WAY of salvation…the only way. We cannot climb into Heaven through the side-door of good works. They count for naught in God’s eyes. Good works is man’s ‘idea’ of pleasing a Holy God, but we see clearly from His Word that it is vain; it is worthless. Accepting Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross as our Redeemer, Savior, King and Lord of our lives is what is worthy and of value to Him. Please consider this TRUTH seriously, if you have not made that transaction with Him. We must confess we are sinners to a Holy God, and then, repent, that is, turn around 360 degrees from ‘our’ way of living and living unto Him and His TRUTH. Today is the day of Salvation. Do not delay. We do not know if we have the next moment of breath.

The HOLY SPIRIT is TRUTH: John 16:13 – “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself: but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.”

From these few verses, out of many, many that you might research for yourself, I conclude that David’s walk of faith is one that is in concordance to God and His Word.

APPLICATION: Am I walking in truth? Could my walk be improved? If I were to invite God, Who is Holy to examine my walk of faith, would He be pleased; glorified; by His invasive search of my life and my heart?

I am reminded of Psalm 139:1-4 of God’s piercing scrutiny into my life…and yours, also:
O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O LORD, thous knowest it altogether.”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”, Psalm 111:10a

David continues to reinforce his defense in verses 4-6 of his credibility and innocency: He doesn’t keep company with ‘vain persons’, evil or the wicked nor pretenders (of the faith). Psalm 1:1-2, echoed back to me while reading and meditating on this psalm: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” This man’s delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he “meditates day and night.”

David is CLEAN before God and it is with this confidence and boldness that he is able to approach God in prayer. (verse 6) Here at the Throne of God, his words to God are words of praise, of thanksgiving, of recounting Who God is and all He has done.

Application: And when I approach the Throne of God in prayer, how do I/we come? Are our hands, ‘clean’? innocent? Is our mouth full of praise to our All in ALL for the blessings and manifold workings in our life? And, if not…if we are believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross when He shed His own blood for our sin and the sin of the world, Hebrews 4:16 tells me to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtrain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” I John 1:9 assures us “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and Just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

David concludes Psalm 26 with a resolution of heart, mind and purpose as seen in verses 11 and 12. David is resolved and committed to “walk in (his) integrity and to not be a man of “wavering faith” (James 1:8), but a man who stands sure and “evenly” before the Lord. We see this not as a prideful explosion of words, and we know this because we see from verse 11, David understands that before a Holy God, he will still need God’s mercy and His redemption as he lives as a man in this world. David closes Psalm 26 with the conviction of praising and giving testimony to the Lord “in the congregation.”

APPLICATION: Let us walk surely today and every day in the integrity that can be ours and in the measure with which we have applied God’s Word to our hearts, our minds and our lives…that before Him, we may boldly, like David, say we “have walked in our integrity and trusted in the LORD and we will not slide.”

Gleanings from James 3:1-4, If Any Man…Is A Perfect Man

Our text today is the continuing in James, beginning in chapter 3:1-4, but our title is taken from verse 2: “…If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” – KJV

I Peter 3:8-12 would suggest that this discipline lies in the measure that we love God and we respond to His Word and His teaching.

8 – “…be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:”

9 – “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”

10 – “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:”

11 – “Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.”

12 -“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”

This morally and spiritually mature man, has learned to control his words, his tongue. This man, is also able to “bridle” his whole body. Circumstances in life certainly place us in vulnerable situations where we might be provoked to react and misuse our tongue and sometimes in these weaker moments, the consequences have a far-reaching grasp on our future integrity and credibility. Our talk and our walk have to match.

David, in Psalm 39:1understood this necessary discipline so that before his enemies he would not belie His God.

“I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.”

In the same Psalm, verse 4, David pleads with God to show him how vain and transcient his life is and in remembering this, David wanted his life, his days to count before the Lord and for the Lord.

How can we practically go about being such a man as David, a man after God’s own heart?

Proverbs 16:1 Tells us we must prepare our hearts. When we do this, our responses and answers that we give are from the Lord, Himself. We have worked in, so to speak, God’s Word in our daily lives, in the moments of our days, that when the vexing occasions of life arise, and our flesh wants to take the reins and ‘react’, the Spirit of God and His Word permeate our being, IF we have prepared ourselves, that is, armed ourselves with His Word, to we will respond as God would have us to respond.

Proverbs 16:6b confirms, “…by the fear of the LORD, men depart from evil.” If when we “fear the Lord”, as the Word says we should, this becomes the great motivater for man to turn away from sin and in this particular instance, sinning with his tongue.

What troubles we could by pass and avoid if we were to do this ‘little thing’…with this ‘little organ’, our tongue, saving ourselves all manner of grief.

Proverbs 16:17 says it this way: “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.”

Proverbs 16:23-24 shows us the process of the perfect man James speaks of. This man’s heart, if his heart is after God, will teach his lips and his life, and thus, his soul and health will benefit.

23 – “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

24 – Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”

Proverbs 18:4 gives us the comparison of two men. One man’s words are hidden, and the other man’s words are a refreshing overflowing spring of wisdom to the hearers.

Proverbs 18:4 – “The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.” Wisdom always conveys clarity; truth.

And, one more from Proverbs 18:21 to convey the power of the use of the tongue, whether for evil or good. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

I don’t think it could be any clearer: how we use our tongue will either benefit us when used properly and certainly bless the Lord, or it will be as a nail in our own coffin, afflicting our lives and our health and our very being, as it afflicts the receivers of our words. The choice is ours.

This portion of James beginning in verse one is addressed to believers (‘brethren’) and indicates that “masters” or teachers who obviously teach with the use of their tongue, will be judged more strictly by God because they instruct others. They are being warned in the use of their tongue, because by virtue of their sin nature, they will offend someone. Though inherently a sinner, are being advised to not let their sin be the sin concerning their tongue. If they will prepare their hearts and fill it with God’s Word and teaching, as they apply it to their lives, they will come to that place of spiritual maturity (perfect) and be able to discipline themselves when placed in those circumstances where they are tempted to sin.

You may not be a teacher of God’s Word. However, if you are a believer, you may be a parent, an aunt or an uncle, a church member, a friend to someone who looks to you for guidance in their walk with the Lord and this wisdom to discipline the tongue still applies to us.

An earlier post from James’ Gleanings spoke of ‘faith and works’. If we profess to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then our works must prove our faith. If the tongue is a weak area of faith for you, begin again, right now…confessing your sin to the Lord, Himself and with the power of the Spirit and the power of God’s Word, let us commit to obey God in the use of our tongue, that He might be pleased and glorified.

Gleanings from James: Need Wisdom?

From God’s Word, the Old Testament Book of Proverbs is filled with words of wisdom and about wisdom, giving us countless precepts for a good and wise way of life, and in particular, Proverbs 4:1-9.  

Therein,  we are given good advice on acquiring wisdom. From these verses the commands given are to “get wisdom”, verse 5; to “forsake her not”, verse 6;  to “exalt her”, verse 8.   These verses conclude with words telling us of the fruit of having heeded these words, “She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee”, verse 9 – KJV.

The verse that stood out to me years ago, when first learning of wisdom is verse 7: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all they getting get understanding.” – KJV.  So you see, it is not just enough to “GET” wisdom and pack it away like a pack-rat, but I have to understand it as well.  Understanding, to me, means that if I acquire it I must put it to use; I must apply it, or verse 9, will not bear the fruit promised.  So, to answer the title question: Need Wisdom?~ YES! A resounding YES, YES…we need wisdom.

Returning to our text for today, James 1:5-8,  Scripture says: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” – KJV.

Now the question is not whether we need wisdom, nor if we should seek wisdom, but whether or not we want wisdom.  Hopefully, you are visiting here Beyond the Strait Gate, because you are interested in knowing more…and today’s menu, being wisdom, you ‘want wisdom’.  And, if you’ve missed your turn, and come to visit and were not seeking wisdom, perhaps, you will be challenged before you leave, to follow Scripture’s directive and seek it from here on in.

In seeking wisdom, to Whom should we go?  We go to the One Who is all wisdom…we go to God.  He is all knowledge…and we who know Him, know  that one of His attributes is Omniscience; that is all knowing.  Why go to the shoemaker, if you need food for your table?  Why go to farmer to buy a car?  Ridiculous, is it not?!  Well, then, why do we go to another man or woman, to seek wisdom and not come to God, Himself, FIRST!  HE alone has the answers for which we seek.

Verse 5 assures us that God will not “upbraid” us for seeking His wisdom; that is, He will not reproach us nor revile us (Strong’s Concordance: #3679 – onedizo).  He wants us to ask Him.   So ask Him!!  Really quite simple, isn’t it? God tells us in verse 6 of James, there’s only one condition God requires when we go to Him, asking for wisdom.  We must ask “in faith, nothing wavering“. STRONG’S Concordance on ‘wavering’ – #1252 – diskri’no – “discern, doubt, partiality, staggering.”  To ask in faith, then, means I come asking and believing God 100% for His answer.  I believe God will show and give me what He knows to be good and right and I am to receive it without doubtings of my own, without reservations; without second thoughts about His response.    Can  we do that?  DO we do that?    

Hebrews 11:6 has this to say about faith: “…without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” – KJV

Thus, we must come to God, asking for wisdom… in “faith”, without “waverying” to receive from God “liberally”…bountifully (Strong’s Concordance – #574- haplos’).   So, not only does God give  us an answer, it is a comprehensive answer: an over-flowing answer to the request for wisdom.  And, how could it not be…if we are obedient to His mandate in Proverbs to “get wisdom”?  As, in the children’s song, O-B-E-D-I-A-N-C-E, it “is the key; do it immediately…it is the very best way to show we believe.”

Recapping, we can ask God for His wisdom, knowing all that He will impart to us will not only be for our good, but He will give us much wisdom.  God is approachable.   He is equipping us to be able to face the trials and testings He has allowed for us, and our response is JOY!   The trial brings us into an intimacy with God that we alone can share together.  It is in this intimacy that we get to know Him, Who He is; How He works; His character; His faithfulness and it is in this intimacy that our faith will grow strong IN The One in Whom we have believed.

Verse 8, “double-minded” – Conversely, if we come, asking with doubt, filled with our own spin on what we must do and how we will do it, we will not have God’s blessing.  Why?  Our faith is not wholly based on Him, nor wholly resting IN Him and we have responded as one who is double-minded.   Our mouths say “HELP!”, but our hearts and self-will have interferred and polluted a pure, clean faith that should be based in God alone.  In this case, we can expect turbulence.  No peace.   No clear answers.

If we have no peace, it is time to examine the situation and where it was that we have not accepted God’s will and direction for how to proceed.  Confess it, and then, get it right…OBEY HIM!   God has said in                     I Peter 1:16, “Be holy for I am holy.”

In the September 1 devotional from My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “Never tolerate…any practice that is not in keeping with a holy God.  Holiness means unsullied walking…unsullied talking…unsullied thinking…every detail under the scrutiny of God.  Holiness is not only what God gives me but what I manifest that God has given me.”  Has God given you the wisdom He promises to give as you seek His Wisdom?  Then, go, follow it, obey Him, that you might be holy as He is holy, “perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”