Trust the Lord by Seeking His Wisdom

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”

(Proverbs 3:5-7 ESV)

 

As individuals who confess Christ is Lord, we believe the content of the Bible is truth. Consequently, when we, being Christian, read through the Bible or hear it preached much of what is said is easily swallowed. It goes down like water. Take the above passage as an example. Without thinking too much, or at all, we can all agree that we should trust God with all our heart, that we should acknowledge him, and that we should turn away from evil. To mix metaphors, this is the low hanging fruit we can all easily pick and pocket away. Accepting these truths seems to be a given for those who are called God’s adopted children, but it is one matter to agree with the Word and another matter entirely to put it to active use.

There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. If we only glance over this passage and take just as frivolous an approach in keeping it we’d be handling the Bible like it was a textbook instead of God’s Word given to us so that we’d be equipped for every good work. Here, when we’re talking about wisdom, we’re talking about wisdom as applying knowledge. Anybody given these verses in Proverbs 3 would be able to summarize it as I have in the opening paragraph. We, as believers, have been given the Holy Spirit. This means when we come to Scripture we have the capability of applying the knowledge we read and turn it into wisdom. We have the capability to grow in Christ-likeness, pursuing our sanctification, when we take Scripture and use it to examine our hearts.

The writer of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account,” (Hebrews 4:12,13 ESV).

Here he is saying that Scripture is able to separate the carnal motivations from our God-glorifying ones. We, as believers, are able to see ourselves for who we are when the Holy Spirit enlightens us through the reading of the Word. Scripture is capable of exposing our sinfulness to us, and by having that sin exposed is how we grow in wisdom and Christ-imitating character, but we have to handle Scripture like it’s life changing. Put another way, we’re not just looking to have passages committed to memory for the sake of memorizing them.

In 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 Paul says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

The memorization of Scripture is for us to meditate on it, and as we meditate on Scripture, allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and convict us of our sinfulness, we grow ever more conscious of our absolute need and dependence on God to deliver us from our sin, and when that happens then knowledge becomes wisdom.

Let’s go back to the opening passage, and allow me to share with you the process I underwent to work through it and how God is allowing me to share with you the wisdom he’s blessed me with to bless you. When I looked at the passage in Proverbs, I had to consider my understanding of trust. I’ve always defined trust as a stock I put in people or ideas, an immaterial currency I could transfer from one account to another at will. Of course, even if that is an acceptable definition, I still needed to figuratively place that immaterial currency into something or someone. Yet, it’s not as simple as throwing money and expecting results. It’s not as simple as saying, “Yes, I trust God with all my heart.

I was born a sinner, and I live in a world that expounds a religion of self-glorification. Without taking the time to give you my testimony, suffice it to say I didn’t really understand what Christ had done for me until I was heading off to college. All that time I had been formulating ideas of how the world works, taking  bits of the human experience and mashing them up with my observations to create a worldview that was devoid of Christ. What I’m saying is that, even to this day, within myself are deep-seated beliefs that are founded on my humanist “wisdom” than what God has given me through his Word.

You might be asking yourself why the roundabout way to get to this part of this post. I was well aware of these passages before sitting down and piecing them together. I am abundantly aware of the Word’s power to convict me of my sin and of Paul’s command not to quench the Holy Spirit in 1 Thessalonians 5:19.  It is because of my sinfulness that I will divert my attention so I do not meditate on the Word. At times I do not want to be changed by God. I find myself, at times, glossing over the Word and pocketing those low hanging fruits, coming to the Word irreverently. I want to stubbornly hold fast to the “wisdom” I have made for myself. A worldview that is centered on human failure and our inability to love anybody but ourselves, a worldview that denies the hope we have in Christ in rooting out the sinfulness in our hearts. That “wisdom” didn’t fall into my lap. I earned it through heartache and the ensuing loneliness. So you can imagine why I don’t want to let it go at times. I’d identified with my suffering in a perverse way. It had become my identity.

But when I was made new in Christ, I was freed from that identity. Still though, today I have to fight that flesh everyday, putting it off and putting on the new life Christ gave me through his death. There are times when I am seduced by the thought of using Scripture to supplement my old worldview instead of wholly resting my heart on the Word of God. I want to lean on my own understanding, but I have to remind myself of Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge him,/and he will make straight your paths.” To acknowledge God in all my ways means to put him foremost in my thoughts before I act. I really have to submit my life to Him entirely. Yet again, it’s easier said than done.

What I have found in reading and meditating on all these verses and examining my life is that I need to continue delving into Scripture and raising my life up for examination, so I can continue being changed and growing in Christ-likeness. When I became new in Christ, I wasn’t suddenly emptied of all my past experiences and knowledge. What has to happen is that all that I am has to be placed in subjection to God. I must discard what is unprofitable and a hindrance to the kingdom, and replace it with wisdom, God’s wisdom that will inform my actions. What has happened to me; what has happened to you is part of God’s plan. We can’t let our past and our sinfulness dictate how we spend this new life we have in Christ.

Let me leave you with these verses. I’ve found it helps to remember why God has chosen us:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2: 9-10 ESV)

The Need for Accountability

As a church, Redeemer’s Grace is committed to disciple-making. And we follow Jesus’ words very closely when he calls us to disciple the nations, to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to proclaim the Word of God. Implicit in this mission statement is a responsibility to one another in our spiritual growth, in our sanctification. Last year I wrote about sanctification as defined in the Scriptures and our role in helping one another along in it. You can see that here.

I want to expand on that idea of helping one another along in our sanctification a little more. The manner in which I am calling us to do this is through accountability. A phrase I heard early on in college and one I use often is that “a lone Christian is a dead Christian.” Not a physical death mind you nor even a spiritual one. But the idea is that we run this race together. We share in our struggles and in our triumphs, our temptations and our resisting temptations. And we respond together in prayers of supplication and praises of overwhelming joy, to God’s faithfulness and our brothers’ and sisters’ willingness to stick together. Even in Ephesians 6 when we learn of the whole armor of God, of the weapons we have to fight against the schemes of the devil we can tell this fight is not meant to be fought alone.

In order to fight together, some of the men of RGC have even banded together in what we call “iron man groups” after the popular “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

In Hebrews 10:24-25, the writer of Hebrews calls us to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near…”

Accountability is vital in the battle against sin. Whatever you may call it, it is necessary. Whether it’s small groups, discipleship, accountability groups, “iron man groups”, or even the occasional meet up. Where there is accountability there are fellow believers struggling alongside one another on the battlefield. Keeping each other accountable is more than confessing failure to a brother or sister; it is going to them in the midst of the battle and asking them for help, to come alongside you and fight.

Practically this may look like some of those groups I named above. But the bottom line is this. We need to encourage each another; we need to challenge each another; we need to ask each other the tough questions; and we need to know how to pray for each other. So grab one or two fellow believers and commit to keeping each other accountable. If you’re young in the faith find someone older to help you along. If you’re a little older in the faith find someone younger to mentor or disciple. Let us be a church that is committed to accountability; committed to each other.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

(Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

Like I said earlier, at RGC we strongly believe in disciple making. We see it as the mission of the local church and we get that from the great commission. And we need accountability to do it. Try raising a child without discipline or lead an army without authority. Accountability is to the Great Commission what tracks are to a train.

Thoughts from WorshipGod 2014

So it’s been a few weeks since I went to the WorshipGod Conference in Santa Ana. But everything I learned and experienced there still feels so fresh, constantly opening my eyes in amazement as if I was hearing these things for the first time again.

The theme for this year was Triune. I know, random, right? Throughout the course of my one-and-a-half year of being a Christian, the only time I’ve heard this topic ever mentioned is that Father, Son, and Spirit make up the Holy Trinity… and that’s about the extent of it. So by the time I was leaving back to San Diego, heck, by the time I was leaving Cavalry Church after the first message, I felt smarter. It was mind-blowing, filled with those moments where I’m asking myself how I didn’t know this before because it made so much sense.

I think the biggest thing that I took away is to remember the importance of how God is the Father. This is what stuck out the most to me: the fact that our God is a trinitarian God, who is inherently a Father, makes Him an eternally life giving and loving God. And that is what makes Him God instead of god. Other gods who are not trinitarian rely on their creations, making them weak. God the Father does not rely on His creations in order to demonstrate love; He does not need us. We need Him.

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8 NASB)

With that being said, there is no Gospel without the Trinity. Triune offers free salvation, while other gods require success. There is salvation by grace because God the Father provides a perfect sacrifice. If it were up to us to execute God’s plan, it would never succeed because our sacrifices would never meet His perfect standards. And even if we were somehow able to do so, we would not be God’s children then. Performance does not play a role in adoption. Effort makes us slaves, not children; sonship is free. (Clarification: I’m not saying we can now feel better about being lazy and doing nothing all day, but it’s the effort in trying to save ourselves that makes us slaves). Now here’s something I jotted down in my notes that’s a neat segue to my next point of elaboration:

The Father plans, the Son provides, and the Spirit fulfills.

It’s no secret that God the Father has this sovereign plan all laid out, complete and perfect. We may not know the nitty gritty details of its future, but the past occurrences have been conveniently put together in this nifty book we call the Bible. And of course, I am referring to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ AKA God the Son. The Son provides the sacrifice necessary to carry out the plan of the Father. It’s important to mention that Christ’s aim is to make the children of men the children of God because it highlights the fact that if God was not a Father, then we could not be His children. Through the execution of this plan, the Holy Spirit, who is fully God (equal in divinity, essence, and character), dwells within the believers. And all who have the Spirit share the status of the Son. And that is what justification is: clothing ourselves with Christ’s perfection before God.

Okay, that paragraph was probably full of information you’ve heard a million times, but I promise you there’s more to it. Continuing on, I don’t think the Holy Spirit gets much credit in the Trinity. Christians don’t really talk about the Spirit all that much, not in my experience, anyway. And we should give credit where credit is due, yes? Being Christian is humanly impossible. Now before you run away with your hopes crushed, let me just say that that is exactly what the Spirit’s purpose is. Because being Christian is humanly impossible, the transformation of the Spirit is needed to fulfill God’s promise of salvation. The Holy Spirit is fully necessary for salvation because it demonstrates the glory of the Father and the Son by opening our eyes, our minds, and our hearts, and then drawing them to God.

I realize this post, just like every single post I type up, has resulted in me rambling on and on and on. Oops. I’m just really bad at being short and concise, so just bear with me a little while longer. So let’s get to the point of all this, shall we?

Remember who we are and whose we are to stand firm in the grace of God.

In a message referring to 1 Peter 1:1-2:

1) We are elect exiles. “Exile” is our relation to the world, meaning it is not our home/we don’t belong here. “Elect” is our relation to God, making us God’s chosen people. Put them together: We are selected by God, and, therefore, rejected by the world.

2) We are God’s (God referring to Father, Son, Spirit). This point refers heavily to verse two regarding the Trinity. “Foreknowledge of God the Father” reveals our origin of this election, emphasizing the fact that we are chosen because we are loved by God. “Sanctification of the Spirit” reveals our new position/power of being set apart by God and for God. “Obedience to Jesus Christ” reveals our purpose of election. All this to say, God is our inheritance and our true home.

And this is only what I learned from the messages. My brain is still racking from unshared information from the workshops. As fun as the workshops with Ryan Foglesong and David Zimmer were, to keep this short, I’ll briefly talk about the two more interesting ones, which were the songwriting sessions with Steve and Vikki Cook. In the second songwriting workshop, we were asked to send in a recording of up to 2 original songs to be reviewed in class. And, let me just say, that was such a blessing to sit through. It was pretty cool to get the chance to listen to other songwriters, some who actually write songs for their church’s musical worship team to lead the congregation to sing. There are like million things to worry about when writing a song and a million more things when writing a potential worship song. Everything from lyrics to melody to meter to rhymes to rhythm can drastically change a song. For me personally, I’ve always been a lover of lyrics. When writing songs, lyrics always come before melody, and when listening to songs, a line of amazing lyrics will always win me over rather than a line of amazing music. But, after a session, I realize that I need to find more of a balance between the two. The song I submitted had celebratory lyrics (for my baptism) but the music did not match it at all dragging along at a very chill pace that communicated “life is fine” rather than “my life calls for a celebration!”

And here is where I’ll end my post with a final conclusion that’ll wrap up both topics nicely. The Trinity is what some people have deemed the “logic” for music. The Heavenly harmony of the Father, Son, and Spirit explains how everything is held together by unity. I’ve heard people say many, many times how when we’re all in Heaven singing, it’ll be this perfect harmony of a bajillion voices all layered together to create a beautiful, joyous sound. But until then, I hope you will remember that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the Supreme Harmony and celebrate how awesome and perfect that is that we have a triune God.

Hello to Fall at the Park (8/31 @ 9am)

Greetings RGC Family,

This Sunday, we’ll be having a special service at Gershwin Neighborhood Park. As September rolls around, we can expect to be a little more busy than usual! It’s our way of kicking off the summer relaxation and saying hello to the new fall!

We’ll be having a short time of musical praise and a short devotional to prepare our hearts for the new season ahead. We’re excited for the new year as well as the new opportunities the LORD has in store for us.

Afterwards, we’ll be spending some time together in prayer to humbly ask the LORD to prepare our way and to make evident Christ’s servant like attitude in our lives.

We start at 9:00AM! Look for the RGC Signs! We won’t be at the church facilities.

Meet at Gershwin Neighborhood Park on Conrad Ave at 9am

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Gershwin+Neighborhood+Park/@32.835019,-117.2119266,18z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0xad6c216567fb848

See you there!

Equipping Ourselves for the Field

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”

 (1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 ESV)

When we first heard the Great Commission we heard Christ commanding us to evangelize to the unsaved. There is no doubt that we have received this charge to go out into the mission field and preach the Gospel and reclaim the lost for Christ. Yet, our zeal for this one aspect of God’s good work for us may eclipse the other aspects of our charge. Indeed, the fields we are called to work are not just the hearts of the lost, but of every brother and sister, and, of course, our very own, laboring to conform ourselves to the image of Christ until we are called home to be with the Lord.

Looking at the first two verses of our opening passage, we can see that Paul’s exhortation is for us to be invested in the lives of our fellow believers with the intent of being in close fellowship with one another. In our pursuit of being united in spirit, we will come across one another’s shortcomings as we are all continuing to put to death our old selves. Paul says that when we face such adversity of character, we are to be single minded in our effort to remind our fellow believer of their calling with love and patience. We need to remember that they have been given the same mission from God. Our Lord did not give us isolated fields to tend alone, but has placed us together in His infinite wisdom so that we may come to one another’s aid in our times of weakness.

In John 13:34, 35, Christ tells us that everyone will know we are His disciples by our love for our brothers and sisters. This Christ-like love should have us willing to lay down our lives for one another should we be called to, just as Christ did by dying for our sins on the cross. Blessed by God, we live in a place of peace and plenty, making the prospect of dramatic displays of love and sacrifice rare which is perfect since this post is about living the Great Commission in the seemingly mundane of our everyday. Our demonstrations of Christ-like love are not reserved for single moments of great visible sacrifice, but this love should be pervading every action we make. On the surface we may find ourselves and others at peace, unaware of the spiritual undertow that is carrying us away from glorifying God. Remember that within each of us are skirmishes made by the forces of evil attempting to hinder us from doing God’s work. At times we are besieged by our own sinfulness, and it is then when a refreshing word from a fellow heir in Christ can steel our resolve to rally against sin. These moments are quiet, and require wisdom to discern and faithfulness to see that God is glorified through our resisting of sin.

We have to be ready, vigilant as we watch over our own hearts so we are prepared to reinforce our fellow believers in their time of need. How this happens is through the work of the Holy Spirit giving us the strength to work on our own hearts. Who we are when we are alone correlates with our ability to execute God’s will when we are with company. As we go further into the opening passage Paul exhorts us to have the proper attitude and practices that prepare us for adversity. God is glorified when we have an attitude of joy and thanksgiving regardless of circumstances. It shows a maturity of faith in and understanding of God’s provision that He works all towards His glory and for our good. We need to be in prayer, not ineffectual and repetitious prayer that is measured in frequency and volume, but earnest communion with God that is an expression of fellowship with our Father. An attitude of joy and thanksgiving should see its expression through prayer, coming to the Father and honoring Him by acknowledging His generous provision. To abide in the Lord in these ways defends our hearts against the weeds of sin taking hold as we find satisfaction in Him.

We glorify God in victory when we resist sin. It also keeps us from becoming impotent in times of need. Paul tells us to never quench the Spirit, which is to never put out our fervor for what is good with sinfulness, loving God’s Word and studying it for ourselves. The Bible is God’s divine revelation to man of His character. Having a fuller understanding of the Father is critical in fighting temptation. By studying Scripture, we can attain deeper knowledge of our Father and His will for us that equip us for the mission we have here today. Will we remember that we can go to our Father in prayer and that he will comfort us instead of grumbling about our plight? If we know He will comfort us, will we then share this comfort with a fellow believer when they need to be comforted? Whatever we study in Scripture will profit us, equipping us with words to continue laboring on the heart.

 

© Copyright Redeemer's Grace Church 2014