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Understanding Wisdom, Proverbs, and Prayer

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 8:54am -- Rob
A.W. Tozer wrote some important points to consider when we think about God's attribute of wisdom.  Some key takeaways include:
 
"Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means.  It sees the end from the beginning, so there can be no need to guess or conjecture.  Wisdom sees everything in focus, each in proper relation to all, and is thus able to work toward predestined goals with flawless precision."
 
"All God's acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time.  And all His acts are as pure as they are wise, and as good as they are wise and pure.  Not only could His acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined.  An infinitely wise God must work in a manner not to be improved upon by finite creatures."
 
"Without the creation, the wisdom of God would have remained forever locked in the boundless abyss of the divine nature.  God brought His creatures into being that He might enjoy them and they rejoice in Him.  'And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.'" (Genesis 1:31)
 
He later brings faith into the conversation:
 
"In spite of tears and pain and death we believe that the God who made us all is infinitely wise and good.  We rest in what God is.  I believe that this alone is true faith.  Any faith that must be supported by the evidence of the senses is not real faith.  "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:29)
 
"The testimony of faith is that, no matter how things look in this fallen world, all God's acts are wrought (brought forth) in perfect wisdom."
 
"God constantly encourages us to trust Him in the dark.  'I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight:  I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that though mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God is Israel.'" (Isaiah 45:2-3)
 
"It is heartening to learn how many of God's mighty deeds were done in secret, away from the prying eyes of men or angels."
 
Tozer then describes creation (the Holy Spirit hovering over the waters in darkness), our Savior carried in the darkness of the sweet virgin's womb, our Savior's death in darkness, and His resurrection "very early in the morning"- while it was still dark outside.  No one saw Him rise.  Tozer concludes, "It is as if God were saying, 'What I am is all that need matter to you, for there lie your hope and your peace.  I will do what I will do, and it will all come to light at last, but how I do it is My secret.  Trust Me, and be not afraid.'"
 
 "With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack?  Surely we are the most favored of all creatures."
 
All quotes taken from A.W. Tozer's, Knowledge of the Holy, (pgs. 59-64).
 
We often turn to God for wisdom when our wisdom, knowledge, or experience runs short or runs out.  But as we consider Tozer's words, above, notice that he centers on God Himself; not just the outpouring of the gift of wisdom that we often seek from Him.
 
It brings home a vital point that I'm afraid we often miss in our day- and terribly miss when we pray.  When we pray, or even consider our circumstances, begin by first focusing on God- for who He is.  When we center our hearts (with the Holy Spirit's help) on God first, instead of what we think we want or need from Him, He grows us in wisdom, awe (fear), and understanding of Himself.  All other things take their rightful places beneath Him.  Proverbs 9:10 says,
 
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 1:7 states it this way,

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction

 
It's stated 14 different times in Proverbs that we won't be wise until we seek and see God as wise.

Caution Against Worldly Wisdom
 
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil. - Proverbs 3:7

While God has given us minds, and the ability to figure out problems, situations, and circumstances, only He sees the beginning from the end and knows all things.  When we stop short of seeking His thoughts, wisdom, and opinions, we can come up with solutions that may  seem wise and work for a time, but lack eternal wisdom and perspective.  It's important to remember to pray for God's wisdom and perspective- whether the matter is large enough to affect a corporation or congregation, or seems small enough where it may only affect the route we take to the grocery store.  God is involved in all the aspects of our lives and is pleased when we seek Him and His wisdom in each matter.
 
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. - James 3:13-18

Book of Wisdom- How You May Benefit From It
 
God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us a book of wisdom called Proverbs- within the ultimate book filled with His wisdom- the Bible.
 
There are 31 chapters in Proverbs- one for every day of the month (you may need to read two or more on months with 28, 29, or 30 days, respectively).  Some challenge themselves to read a chapter of Proverbs (the chapter number corresponding with the date on the calendar) each day for a year.  Many testify that God changes their thinking toward themselves, worldly things, and God Himself, as they do so.  This might be something you'd consider incorporating into your daily Scripture reading and prayer times!
 
Praying Proverbs
 
Beyond reading Proverbs to grow in knowledge and wisdom, praying proverbs also blesses God and helps us grow in these ways.
Before reading, ask the Holy Spirit to point out truths and insights to you from what you're about to read.  You might want to read the chapter more than once- as the Spirit might bring out different points during different readings (He'll most certainly do so if you read and re-read chapters over the course of a year!).  You might want to jot down Scriptures, and some of the impressions the Holy Spirit brings forth as you read (so that you'll remember them later when life gets cluttered, busy, or distracting- or if you forget).
 
Also, as you read, you may read a truth within Proverbs that strikes you as something that's lacking in your life at that time, or vice versa- something the Lord has worked in abundance in your life.  Stop in that moment and thank God for that abundance or lack.  Then you may want to ask God to further align your heart and mind with His Word, truth, and understanding accordingly.
 
Prayer can be taken in so many different directions.  But it's important that we begin by focusing on God, Himself, first.  We can always go on to thank Him for what He's done or is doing, ask for things, and more (and we should do all these things in prayer).  But begin by focusing on Him first.  Make God the center focus of our prayer; knowing Him in greater completeness.  We'll never be disappointed when we do so!  Let's seek Him now...


Father, in You, we find the fullness and completeness of wisdom.  You do not lack in any way.  You are pure, holy, righteous, gracious, all-powerful, merciful, loving, and much more through the ways You display your wisdom.  And as we consider some of your countless attributes; wisdom is found within each- perfectly so!  My mind can not fathom this, or You, fully.  I worship you.  You alone are God.  Neither I, anything, or anyone else, come anywhere close to your perfections.  You are awesome in this place, just as You are awesome in every place!  Help me to grow in deeper intimacy with You- that I may know You better and make You better known to those You bring around me or lead me toward.  What a privilege it is to personally know the God of all, and Your Son, Jesus Christ- through whom You made it possible to personally know and draw near to You.  The words, "thank you" do not suffice, but they're the best I have to offer in worship at this moment.  Continue to lead me, and all who You lead to read this, into deeper awe, fear, trust, understanding, knowledge, wisdom, and more in You.  For Your glory alone.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

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