How can you honor God when faced with important decisions?
In the 1989 blockbuster, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” Jones is battling an evil Nazi scientist. Jones and the scientist are at the end of their quest and are in a room filled with chalices, one of which is supposedly the one used by Christ during the last supper and possessing supernatural power. They must choose the cup that will give them life. If they choose wrongly they will die. The evil scientist chooses the wrong one and instantly disintegrates. After the scientist crumbles to ashes right before our eyes, the medieval knight guarding the room speaks these profound words, “He Choose Poorly!” It was a funny and profound moment in the film and became an iconic quote and was even the subject of television commercials.
We all face decisions in life that require us to choose wisely. We don’t want to make a choice, only to end in our disintegration!
Billy Graham said, "The strongest principle of life and blessings lies in our choice. Our life is the sum result of all the choices we make, both consciously and unconsciously. If we can control the process of choosing, we can take control of all aspects of our life.
We come to the SECOND imperative in James. He addresses the subject of WISDOM.
Today’s Theme: We All need God’s help and will receive it when we choose the path of Wisdom
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 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. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5–8, ESV)
In these verses, we find
a CONDITION, and
I. The Need for Wisdom “if any of you lacks wisdom.....”
A. James 1:5 “if anyone lacks wisdom”
1. Conditional Clause. “If anyone lacks wisdom” (and everyone will).
2. “Lacks wisdom a banking term indicating a shortage” (Robertson)
3. We can’t live without wisdom.
B. James is telling us that wisdom is a CONTINUOUS NEED in life.
1. “Let him ask” is present active imperative..... Continually ask
2. There is a literary connection between verse 4 and 5
3. God’s goal for us is perfection in Christ (1:2)
4. But we need daily wisdom - dependency on God - in order to be complete in Christ.
5. James KNOWS that we will struggle with sin and obedience.
6. “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice;” (Proverbs 1:20, ESV)
C. What is Wisdom? Dependency and trust in God
1. Knowledge is a PART of the answer.
2. It is the application of knowledge that has its origin in God.
3. “WISDOM ....is a practical, moral, and spiritual insight given by God .... It is the ability to discern right from wrong and good from evil. It is the power that enables a person to do and say the right thing at the right time. -Jin Loh and Howard Hatton, A Handbook on the Letter from James, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1997), 15.
4. “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Proverbs 3:13–15)
5. “For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.”” (Proverbs 8:35–36, ESV)
6. The SOURCE of wisdom is God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7, ESV)
D. WISDOM has nothing to do with INTELLIGENCE
1. A CHILD can be wise
2. A KING can be a fool
3. No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently. -- Agnes De Mille
II. The Command - “let him ask God”
A. Ask God
B. Present Imperative - continually asking God for wisdom
III. The PROMISE .... “it will be given him”
A. God gives generously
B. God gives without reproach
1. Reproach = insult
2. “And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.” (Matthew 27:44, ESV)
3. God doesn’t throw our past in our face when we ask him for wisdom.
IV. The CONDITION ..... “But let him ask in faith”
A. Ask in FAITH
1. Not just belief in God
2. Belief in the CHARACTER of GOD
3. Our struggle with FAITH is not whether or not God exists, it is a struggle with whether or not we can believe that his way is BEST FOR US.
B. Without doubting. Greek διακρίνω “wavering”
1. ABRAHAM did not waver.... “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,” (Romans 4:20, ESV)
2. PETER was told by the angels not to hesitate but to go and speak with Cornelius. “Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”” (Acts 10:20, ESV)
C. The one who DOUBTS trusts in God AND himself.
D. Doubting is the person like the character in John Bunyon’s Pilgrim’s Progress “Mr. Facing Both Ways”
E. JESUS spoke about “no one can serve two masters” (Mat 6:24)
V. The WARNING.... “That person must not suppose that he will receive anything”
A. The doubter is like a ship tossed at sea
1. “Driven” horizontal direction
2. “Tossed” vertical direction
3. Same as Eph 4:14 “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14)
4. Will not receive anything from the Lord.
B. The doubter is “Double minded”
1. A characteristic of sinners. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8, ESV)
2. Greek δίψυχος “Two souled”
3. Used only here by James
4. Perhaps from Psalm 12:2 “Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.” (Psalm 12:2, ESV)
a. IN physics, an element that is unstable will change its properties until it becomes stable.
b. IN LIFE, those who are unstable will drift away from their profession
VI. Where does this wisdom come from?
A. Comes from ABOVE: James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17, ESV)
B. Comes Through GOD’S WORD. James 1:18-22 (James agrees w Peter)
1. We are BORN AGAIN through the Word. “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18, ESV)
2. We are SANCTIFIED through the Word. “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:21–22, ESV)
3. WISDOM and the WORD “The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?” (Jeremiah 8:9, ESV)
CONCLUSION: HOW WILL YOU CHOOSE?
In Death Valley, there is a place known as Dante's View. From this location you can look down into the lowest spot in the United States, a depression in the earth two hundred feet below sea level called Black Water. But from Dante's View you can also look up to the highest peak in the United States, Mt. Whitney, rising to a height of 14,500 feet. In one direction you move to the lowest spot in the United States, in the other, to the highest. From Dante's View, only the traveler can decide which direction to turn. -- The Devil at Noon Day by Maxie Dunnam, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1996.
“And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.” (1 Kings 18:21, ESV)
Casey Stengel, former manager of the New York Yankees baseball team, said, "I've made up my mind, but I made it up both ways."
QUIT walking the middle of the road.
The only thing in the middle of the road are yellow stripes and dead skunks.
Make your choice to walk with God.