Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to Throw a Bomb Under the Church without being a Terrorist

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We could all name churches that you could figuratively throw 'a bomb under', so to speak, to take it from its lifeless medicority and give it God-given hope.

I present to you a provocative title, primarily just to have your eyes glance upon one main thought. The church must be challenged to understand that we are not called to be pew-warmers, sideline critics or disengaged whingers. The church does not even exist to have nice tea, nice coffee, nice worship music, nice welcoming, nice fellowship, nice committee meetings, nice offerings and nice denominational get-togethers.

The church exists to be missional. While I'm not going to unpack that too much here, let me give you some thoughts. Wendell Berry says, 'Love your neighbors-not the neighbors you pick out but the ones you have'. We could start with that.

Mike Frost in The Road to Missional writes, 'God didn't give us talents and gifts and all this freedom and initiative just to sit around discussing how to produce a slicker and more impressive worship gathering. He gave us these gifts so that we might breathe shalom throughout the world, that we might bring reconciliation and joy, peace and justice to a broken world yearning for redemption' (p. 120).

We must challenge our churches to be missional. We are called to be and do nothing less.

Communicate it. Live it. Embrace it. Unite together arond the mission of Jesus. 

 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Salvation Army Parable - BEWARE: Written by a Finance Officer!

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The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Divisional Commander who goes on long service leave. Before he leaves he gives resources to three corps programs to grow their ministry in the city. To one he granted $5,000, to another, $2,000 and to a third $1,000. And after a long time the DC came back to work and asked each of them for a progress report. The officer at the program which received $5,000 came before the DC and said, ‘With this grant our corps has been able to reach out into the community and we have seen many new adherents coming to faith. Here is a financial report showing how we have spent the money.'

The officer at the corps given $2,000 came before the DC and said, ‘As agreed, we have spent the money on holiday activities for our community. Here are our up-to-date cashbooks which show how the money has been used.' To both these officers the Divisional Commander said, ‘Well done, good and faithful officers; when you need further funding it is likely you will be successful.'

But the officer at the corps which was given $1,000 did not reply and the Divisional Commander became furious and telephoned the officer and asked, ‘Why have you not accounted for the grant you were given, and why are your cashbooks four months in arrears?’ And the officer said ‘Well it’s really difficult; I’m afraid our volunteer has been on leave and we have lots of problems with our poor internet connection; and it’s been Easter; and we’re very busy with budgets; and Red Shield is coming up as well you know.'

And the Divisional Commander replied, ‘You wicked, lazy officer, to everyone who has a DHQ grant will be given another, but your corps will have its Mission Support Funding withdrawn, and you will be thrown into darkness, to a posting at THQ Audit Department where there will be much counting and ticking and gnashing of teeth’.


Steve Wade (Finance Officer - Melbourne)
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mediocre Prayer for Mediocre Christians

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I'm about to say something about prayer that should get your ears pricked and your heart beating.

Prayer is essential to every Christian's walk with God; we know that. We speak of spending regular times with God in prayer. Pastors speak of spending time in devotions and being prayerful on all occassions.

I wonder though whether the church (especially in the west) is missing something. Something crucial.

I want to be frank with you right now. I don't seek to offend, but I want to lay a thought out on the line. Maybe you'll disagree, and that's probably good, because it means I just over stood the mark, and what I'm about to say is not true...

Here it is...

If we truly believed that our prayers could transform society, prayer meetings would be overflowing. 24/7 prayer rooms would be packed. Mountain tops would see Christians gathering. Homes would be places of consistent, faith-filled prayer. BUT! The fact is, that deep down we don't actually believe God really, really hears our prayers and that God intends to answer them. I mean, seriously, if we believed wholeheartedly that our commitment to intercessory prayer could change a circumstance, we would pray with greater hunger and tenacity. If people in our churches ACTUALLY believed God COULD heal the sick through THEIR prayers, you wouldn't have to pay them $100 to attend a prayer meeting (you hear my sarcasm, I'm sure).

There I've said my piece. We are missing a deep conviction inside of us, that believes God hears prayers.

Generally speaking, we don't need to convince each other, that God knows the end from the beginning. We don't even need to be reminded that God has plans and purposes for our lives. We've heard it continually. We know God loves us, and cares for us, and so on and so on.

Though do you believe deep down, that God wants you to pray, to fast, to 'press in', to cry out and intercede for your country and its people? If so, great. If not, it's time to change.



Monday, January 20, 2014

John the Baptist: Eccentric, Passionate and a little Prophetic

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John the Baptist is known by most as passionate, eccentric and committed to preaching and baptizing.  Though I bet you didn't know what I'm going to tell you about John the Baptist...

Who was John the Baptist? The Scriptures tell us little of who John the Baptist was, but we do glean some information from the Scriptures and documents such as Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews (Book 18, chapter 5, 2). He was the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah. Luke 1 records the story of the birth of John the Baptist, and the miraculous work of God in Zechariah's life and the naming of the baby as 'John'. John the Baptist was known to have worn clothes made of camel's hair, lived off locusts and wild honey. He was eccentric to say the least, and was committed to preaching a message of repentance and baptism to his listeners.

Let me sidetrack for a few moments.

Have you been watching The Voice? The Voice has been a popular promoted show around the globe, showcasing some of the finest voices in their respective countries. Coupled with panelists who are famous entertainers offering the occasional comment, and you have a show. John the Baptist was 'The Voice' of his generation. In fact, prophets were few and far between following the years of the minor prophets. Though John the Baptist was a voice. As mentioned in the Scriptures, he was a voice calling out in the wilderness. All the Synoptic Gospels mention John the Baptist as one calling out in the wilderness (see Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3 and Luke 1:80). Matthew 3:3 and Mark 1:3 are both making reference to Isaiah 40:3.

We must be a voice to our generation. We must live out and communicate the good news we have found in Jesus Christ. Without a voice, the church is hindered. Sure, we must and should let our actions speak louder than our words, but in all appropriate ways, we need to be a voice, a generation that represents the one we serve: Jesus Christ. Just as John the Baptist was a voice, we too must be a voice today.

As Romans 15:5-6 says: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

*****

The weather in the United States has been horrendously cold lately. They called it a polar vortex and the cold weather and mind numbing temperatures affected over 200 million people in parts of Canada and eastern parts of America (all the way down to Florida). The weather was unprecendently cold. My parents know about freezing temperatures, when they spent some time in Detroit, Michigan. Dad would wake up early to begin throwing water on the car, trying to loosen up the ice. Then he would spend some time shovelling snow out of the driveway so they he could reverse the car. Shovelling and shovelling and shovelling. Without doing that, there was no way to make an exit! Finally, after making a way through the snow, he was off to work!

John the Baptist, paved the way for the Messiah. You remember his preaching right? John the Baptist would preach his heart out, about preparing the way for the Lord. He would preach out about repentance and baptism and the crowds would gather and listen. Just like my father who shovelled away the snow and made a way through the snow, John the Baptist made way for the Lord. Matthew 3:3 quotes Isaiah 40:3, saying that he would prepare the way for the Lord.

We must prepare the way for the Lord today. I have this picture of someone slashing their way through a thick jungle area, until there is a clearing. In today's culture, we need to slash away all the things that hinder people from following God, and provide a way for their salvation. Let me explain. There are some who have been burnt by organised religion: They need someone to help them navigate their way through to forgiveness. There are some who misunderstand who Jesus really is, and the role of the church today: They need someone to explain to them the real Jesus. There are some who are broken, hurting and depressed: They need followers of Jesus to offer them hope in Christ. Just as John the Baptist did, we need to prepare the way of the Lord!

*****

John the Baptist didn't live in the luxury of palace grounds. We did not even live within the rough, difficult social conditions of any 1st century town. He chose to live in the desert. Was that because people didn't accept his message in mainstream society? Maybe so, but either way, he truly was one preparing the way for the Lord in the wilderness.

Interestingly, people hear God in the wilderness. I'm not trying to be smart. There is something about being away from the noise and hustle and bustle, that you hear what you would not have heard otherwise. Call it the still, small voice of God if you like. When we consider the desert, we could think of people such as David, Elijah, Moses, Joshua, Joseph and others, who heard God in the desert. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert before he even began public ministry. People hear God in the desert.

Maybe some of us reading this, are in a metaphorical desert. Wandering around and around, trying to make ends meet, trying to keep the marriage together and trying to fit it at church. I know so many people who are 'in-between jobs' or have depression or who are sick, or who are battling weight or finances or addiction. God can speak to you in the desert. In fact, being in the desert maybe exactly where God wants you to be right at this moment, so that you can learn to hear his voice and appreciate the greater blessings of life.

People hear God in the desert. Speak to us Lord!

*****

I want to elucidate one more pertinent point from the life of John the Baptist. We have seen that he is the voice of his generation, we have read of his role in preparing the way for the Lord, and also of his life in the desert.

Lastly, I come to the dramatic point in John the Baptist's life, where he is thrown in jail in the fortress of Machaerus in the mountains by the Dead Sea. We understand that through the courageous and challenging words of John the Baptist, he got on the wrong side of Herod Antipas (ruler of Galilee - ruled from 4BC - 39 AD). John spoke out to Herod about repenting of his marital affair, with his sister-in-law. Herod Antipas threw him in jail in Machaerus. Before John the Baptist was beheaded, something interesting happened. All of what I have said about this eccentric man brings me to a critical point in his life.

As John the Baptist was reflecting in jail, he began to question his life. He began to question the authenticity of the messages in which he had been communicating to the people in the desert of Judea. This is recorded in Matthew 11:2-3  When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” After all those months and months of telling the people about the promised Messiah, he wants his followers to find out where Jesus really is the one he's been talking about. The doubt has risen up within John the Baptist. Is the Christ really the Messiah? Is he really the one who comes to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire?

There is no doubt, a nagging wait for John the Baptist in prison as he waits for a message to be relayed back to him. These are the astounding words that Jesus replies with, '4 “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Matthew 11:4-6). What an amazing word from Jesus, sent to John the Baptist in prison. You may well be in prison John, but I'm still healing the sick, I'm still raising the dead, the good news is still being proclaimed! In fact, John, let me tell you, Jesus IS the Messiah that you've been speaking of. It is how you say!

Let me finish by preaching a little. You may find yourself in that place of loneliness and isolation, but let me say to you, Jesus is still Lord, God is still a God who heals! Remember, even if you are in the desert, you can still take encouragement from the fact that Jesus has still come with good news! So, prepare the way for the Lord!



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spiritual Gift of Knowledge - Spiritual Gift Overview

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·         Let's continue this spiritual gift overview. The next spiritual gift listed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 is the gift of words of knowledge. Previous I spoke about the spiritual gift of wisdom.

Sometimes I am out of my depth. Like the time I was leading The Salvation Army in Palmerston (NT, Australia). We had organised to build a garden area for the children, and in conjuction with that, to build a cubby house. I organised my brother-in-law to fly up from Melbourne and to help us build the structure over a special weekend. Over the phone I organised material that I needed to purchase and he gave me a list of what to buy. There was only a couple of days before the big 'Working Bee' weekend, and I still had a few products I was missing. I didn't have any material for the roof! I didn't know what the description was that I needed, and I didn't know where to purchase it from! So, I did what ever good Christian does; I started to pray. 'Ohh Lord, I'm really stressed, will you help me build this roof. I don't even know where to go and what to buy! Help!' So, here's what happened. I'm driving the car out of a local hardware shop (of which was not helpful at all), and I started to drive. All of a sudden, I heard a whisper in my head, to continue driving down the freeway, until I tell you to stop. I was thinking to myself, that this is a little crazy, but what have I got to lose. I kept driving and driving and driving. All of a sudden, a shop on the side of the road, grabbed my attention. A big sign said, 'ROOF SUPPLIES'. I started cracking up laughing because I knew God had just lead me to the place I needed to be. I went inside, and told them what I needed, and they very quickly said, yes, no problem, and even organised to deliver the roofing parts to the church. Five minutes later, I got back in the car, laughing and crying, and drove home. God had given me a word of knowledge. God lead me to that roofing place that day. God is good.

The spiritual gift of the word of knowledge, as we mentioned previously in relation to wisdom, is a gift imparted by the Holy Spirit and is a word that the Holy Spirit gives. The Lord does not reveal to you ‘all knowledge’, but a word of knowledge.

God is omniscient (that is, all-knowing), and the spiritual gift of a word of knowledge, is really the privilege of being revealed a speck of understanding from the plethora of knowledge that the Lord has. The knowledge is of God and comes from God.

Some would define a word of knowledge as a supernatural revelation by the Holy Spirit of certain facts in the mind of God (Hagin, 1974, p. 52).

Let’s have a read of Colossians 1:9-14:
Colossians 1:9-14 -      9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Paul is praying here that the Colossian people would be filled with the knowledge of his will and also that they would grow in the knowledge of God. You must pray these things, because you cannot simply read books to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. You must pray, because you cannot grow in the knowledge of God, without growing in your closeness to God.

See, a word of knowledge, is not found apart from God. You cannot live in ignorance of God, read a bunch of textbooks on Chemistry and then rattle off chemical formulas and think you have a word of knowledge. This is not a spiritual word of knowledge. That is just knowledge. It’s just facts and ideas and thoughts. A word of knowledge cannot be simply knowledge, or ‘natural knowledge’, because otherwise it would not be a spiritual gift. Furthermore, if we went down that track then the other 8 spiritual gifts listed in the 1 Corinthian 12 passage could also be obtained without the Holy Spirit. The gift of healing would simply be related to the advances in medical science. Faith would just be a nice ‘whim’ you have every now and then, believing things are going to work out for the best. Speaking in tongues would just be someone learning another language and speaking it out. No; these are spiritual gifts and thus the word of knowledge is a Spirit-imparted word given to a person.

A word of knowledge differs slightly from a word of wisdom. I think of stories I hear, of someone who goes to the supermarket, and receives a word from the Lord that says, ‘Someone in the store has a problem with their hands, and God wants to heal them.’ Now, that is a word of knowledge, that differs from a word of wisdom. A word of wisdom might come as you speak with someone about their crippled hand, for example, ‘I believe God might say to you, that he wants to strengthen the work of your hands...’ Can you see the slight difference between a word of wisdom and a word of knowledge?

A word of wisdom helps bring application to a word of knowledge. For example of word of knowledge might come when you meet a complete stranger and the word is, ‘I sense you are about to get a divorce.’ Now, let me clarify that you need to be sure of these things before you speak them out, and you need wisdom and compassion in how these thoughts are expressed, and the first point of call may be to pray, ‘God do you want me to even share this with the person?’

A word of wisdom may then be, ‘God wants you to invest time into your marriage...’

A word of knowledge might be, ‘I sense that you’re broke, because you’ve been spending all your money gambling...’ A word of wisdom may help to bring some application to the situation and the word of wisdom may be, ‘Have you thought of getting some help with this, and talking to a professional to help you?’

Can you now tell the difference between a word of wisdom and word of knowledge? Reinhard Bonnke says, ‘If a special word brings to light a particular circumstance, a word of wisdom may well be needed also to do what should be done’ (Bonnke, 1994, p. 114).

Remember a word of knowledge, is a supernatural gift, and so you may begin praying for someone, and be given a word about them, that you could not possibly have known without the Holy Spirit revealing it to you at that moment.

*****

Some of you may turn off at this point. Theologians may choose to skip over what I’m saying, because it does fit rationally into a logical, theological framework. It is not safe theology.
I mean, you’re telling me, God can tell someone something that they could not possibly have known without the Holy Spirit revealing it? YES.

I firmly, absolutely believe that. I believe that this is the spiritual gift of a word of knowledge.

*****

So, why do we not see this gift exercised much in our churches and furthermore, why do we not see it expressed in the marketplace? Well, that question could be asked for all the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12. The word of knowledge will only come when you learn how to hear God. You must learn to hear the still, small voice. You must tune your ear to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying; what God is saying.
One of the reasons is when the push comes to shove, we have adopted a ‘sola scriptura’ kind of mindset, that is, that it is only Scripture that can speak to people today. A word of knowledge, from my understanding, is a word that pops into our spirit, that actually leads people to Scripture. It is not Scripture itself, but a word that the Holy Spirit gives, and it is not something to be concerned about, as long as it is pointing people back to Scripture and pointing people to the central figure in Christian theology, namely Jesus. If the word of knowledge someone has is truly of God, then this will happen.

One of the other reasons we do not see words of knowledge exercised often in our churches, is because deep down many Christians simply do not believe it. They have not experienced the gift in use, and live naive to the potential that this kind of gift has when it is fanned into flame.

Biblical Examples of the Spiritual Gift of a Word of Knowledge


Acts 9:10-15
     10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!"
     "Yes, Lord," he answered.
     
11 The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
     
13 "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."
     
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
Acts 10:4-6          4 Cornelius stared at him [the angel] in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked.
     The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea."
Daniel 2:19-23     19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
     wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
     he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
     and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
     he knows what lies in darkness,
     and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
     You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
     you have made known to us the dream of the king."

Smith Wigglesworth says, ‘The revelation of the mysteries of God comes by the Spirit, and we must have a supernatural word of knowledge in order to convey to others the things that the Spirit of God has revealed’ (Wigglesworth, 1998, p. 76).
·       
·        
Rienhard Bonnke shares the story with the spiritual gift of knowledge at work:
‘One afternoon in a hotel room I was praying, and the Holy Spirit began to speak to me. He put in my mind that that night a young man would come to the service whose name was John. The Lord gave me a message for him. I said to the Lord that half the men in that city were called John, and if I just called his name it would sound ridiculous. The Lord replied, ‘But his name is John!’ ‘Very well,’ I said, ‘I will obey you’.
What I did not know, however, was that that very morning a mother was praying for her son, and the Holy Spirit told her, ‘Ask John, your son, to come with you to the service, because the Holy Spirit will call him out by name.’ Her boy was eighteen. She then begged him to come and, full of disbelief, he declared, ‘All right Mum, I’ll come. If God calls me out by name, my life will belong to Him.’
In the evening service, I gave the word that the Holy Spirit had given me, and called out for John. Not surprisingly, John was awed. This was a manifestation of the Spirit, and the word of knowledge. He gave his life to Jesus that day. This account is true and I still have the mother’s letter on file...’

Let me finish by repeating the words of Colossians 1:
Colossians 1:9-14 -      9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

God has given opportunity for the spiritual gift of words of knowledge to be given to his people today. Tune your voice to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. Maybe it will simply be a word of encouragement for your own spiritual journey, and maybe God has more to show you.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Spiritual Gift of Wisdom - Spiritual Gift Overview

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Spiritual Gifts Overview - Start this series of Spiritual Gifts here.


Spiritual gifts are listed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. The first spiritual gifts he lists, is wisdom.

Let me unpack that a little...
I puke on rides. I just thought you might to like that little tid-bit of information. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rollercoaster, the Pirate Ship, or even those little merry-go rounds for little children. My wife can vouch for this. I even get sick on the swings. Thank goodness I don’t quite fit on the swings anymore... the hips don’t lie...
So a while back my family and I are on a holiday to Queensland (AUS), and we find ourselves at a theme park called Dream World. Dad and my sisters are absolutely pumped about the new Tower of Terror ride. They begin telling me it’s the best thing since Beyonce. 
“You gotta come on it with us! Seriously it looks awesome!”
And here comes the clincher, selling point... ‘It won’t make you sick! It just goes up and then comes back down again...’

Gee, that almost sold it for me. I had to make a decision right then and there. I mean, would I regret not going on this fancy new ride that I’m sure Dream World management had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building?! Even my Mum who knows I’m not good on rides was trying to convince me. The pressure was on. I mean what was Mum doing? She saw me the last time I went on the dodgem cars. I got dizzy going round in circles around the little dodgem car circuit!!

With all the peer pressure, or rather, family pressure, I said, ‘Nope! I’m not going...’

Anyway, my Mum (who’s not good on rides either) sat with me, as we waited for my sisters and Dad to get back from their adventurous Tower of Terror ride.

Now, you have to understand that my sisters are good on rides. They never get sick! Finally, after about 15 minutes, we see them walking towards us in the distance. Each of them had their shoulders slumped, and it was like four ghosts were walking towards us... I think they were feeling sick!!

Then one of my sisters looked at me and said, ‘You made a wise decision not to go on that ride...!’

Proverbs 13:20 says, ‘Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined...’

*****

What is wisdom? Futhermore, what is the spiritual gift of wisdom? That’s a fair question to ask. You can read of people recorded in the Scriptures who prayed for wisdom; but what were they actually praying for?
The classic is King David’s son, Solomon who prayed for wisdom. He wrote extensively about wisdom. Solomon says in Proverbs 2:1-6: ‘My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.’
 James encourages us to pray for wisdom and then we will be given wisdom. In the New Testament, he writes, ‘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. 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’ (James 1:5-6).

Ok, so Solomon encourages us to search after wisdom, and James challenges us to pray for wisdom… But was it?

Well we know that Wisdom comes from God. Ephesians 1:15-17 records part of a prayer of Paul to the church is Ephesus. He prays, ‘For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.’ He is praying that God may give those who are hearing this payer the spirit of wisdom. What is essentially being said is that wisdom comes from God. In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we read that, ‘It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.’

We find wisdom in Jesus Christ. I am not talking about rattling off the answers to Who Wants to be a Millionaire or about making a quick decision at work based on your 10 years of experience in the industry. The word wisdom used in Ephesians 1:17 is from the Greek word sophias, which means insight that is not naturally attained. Wisdom that comes from God, is not wisdom that is obtained naturally. If you like, it is not wisdom as the world speaks of wisdom; it is from God.
Ephesians 1:17 could be translated, ‘That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you special insight – I’m talking about wisdom that is not naturally attained. This is the divine moment when the curtains are drawn back, and you are supernaturally enabled to see what you could never see yourself’ (Renner, 2003, p. 40).

So wisdom is the special insight that is obtained from God, through Jesus Christ, that is not obtained by natural means, but by the Spirit of God.

Without God you can have intellectualism, and smart-sounding theories, and special think-tanks on complex issues, but you will never have the spirit of wisdom. You can look to articles, blogs, specific magazines and encyclopaedias to find an answer to a pressing problem, but there is something special about the spiritual gift of wisdom.

The answer comes directly from God.

When we speak of wisdom, as mentioned in the 1 Corinthian 12:8-11 passage, Paul is speaking of a word of wisdom, not the gift of wisdom. Let me explain. God is all-wise and all-powerful. God encapsulates wisdom. When you receive a word of wisdom, you receive an understanding of part of the wisdom of God, but you do not receive the entirety of wisdom as such. A word of wisdom, is a word from God, and is but one part of the entire wisdom of God.
Peter Wagner defines the gift of wisdom as,  ‘the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to know the mind of the Holy Spirit in such ways as to receive insight into how given knowledge may best be applied to specific needs arising in the Body of Christ’ (Wagner, 1975, p. 220).
I found myself at a computer shop recently looking for a computer screen. It was very complex. There were different brands of screens and different sizes of screens, but then also different resolutions of screens. So, I had to stand there and try and determine which screen I need most.
I may not need a word of wisdom on what computer screen to buy, but I tell you when I’m trying to work out what I should be doing in life, I long for a word of wisdom from the Holy Spirit. I know full well, when I’m trying to make the right decisions about my finances, I need a word of wisdom from God. When the path in front of me, suddenly splits into three different directions, I need a word of wisdom. When a family member asks a difficult question, I need a word of wisdom. When I’m sitting in a business meeting, and suddenly the boss asks me a question, and all eyes are pealed on me waiting for an answer, I need a word of wisdom.
You may not think a word of wisdom is overly exciting, and you may be hanging out for spiritual gift teaching on healing and miracles, but let me say, when your life is at breaking point and all you need is a word from God in order to give you direction or hope, a word is wisdom is absolutely invaluable.

You may need a word of wisdom when someone starts trying to convince you that evolution is the next best thing. You may need a word of wisdom when someone says, ‘Well Christians are a whole bunch of hypocrites.’ You might reply with, ‘Yes, actually we are. But we are saved by Grace through Jesus Christ.’

A word of wisdom might be needed when a family member rolls their eyes when you try to tell them about what God is doing in your life. Or maybe God will even tell you to be silent!

If Christians used more words of wisdom, then maybe we wouldn’t have so many people who are antagonistic to the gospel.

Words of wisdom are essential to the Christian life. Words can damage, but words can heal. Words can tear down, and words can build up. The spiritual gift of words of wisdom, means you hear a particular word from God, and you apply to it your life in an appropriate manner.

The word of wisdom might be, just a word in your spirit. You know a word of encouragement, like, ‘Just continue to seek after me...’
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Walking around Princes Park in Parkville during my first year of Salvation Army Training College I remember receiving a word of encouragement. As I was walking, I felt the words, 'I will sustain you...' So clearly. So needed!
The word of wisdom might be a word for someone else, like, ‘Hey mate, I really feel that God is saying that you are a man searching after God’s own heart, and God is pleased...’

Whatever the word of wisdom, be assured that God is seeking to draw you closer to Jesus, and help you live in closeness with him. 

We need the spiritual gift of the word of wisdom to be evident amongst followers of Jesus. Pray today, that if God so desires, that God would give you that spiritual gift.

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