Oct 022013
 

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

This is how to find wisdom according to Jesus, and to ask for the things we need.

In this series we’ve been looking at what it means to ask, seek and knock. Asking and seeking wisdom are pretty easy to understand (click to read Ask, Seek, & Seek part 2), but knock isn’t quite a straight forward.

How to find Wisdom

 

Knocking requires Action

Knocking requires us to act upon what we’ve asked for and what we’ve sought out. What good is it to ask for wisdom, seek it out, and then not act upon what we’ve learned? But all too often this is what we do.

We want to know what to do. We ask and we seek – but then too often we are afraid to move forward with action.

Gaining wisdom isn’t about knowing the right answers – it is about acting them out and applying them correctly. <<<— Click to Tweet

This is often where we struggle in finding wisdom. We ask God, we seek it out in His word and in the world, but it doesn’t just come to us easily. We have to work at asking and seeking, and we often have to wait for an answer. Then we have to act upon the answer we are given – and that’s usually a whole different thing to struggle with!

Recently I shared my Journey to Paleo and how I asked God to “show me something” in our struggle to conceive. He answered mightily in showing me that my diet had to change. Asking and seeking this wisdom wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t an extreme hardship either, as I wanted some answers. Living it out, on the other hand, is extremely hard. Foods that are off my menu are everywhere – and often I’m in situations where there is little to nothing I can eat. Friends and even family have criticized my decision, I’ve been mocked at times, isolated at others, and at times I’ve just downright wanted to eat what I want and not worry about the consequences.

I haven’t always liked the wisdom that God has given me when I’ve asked Him for something. But I must act upon it and keep knocking. Otherwise, I’m acting foolishly. 

I must keep acting upon the wisdom that I asked God to give me whether it’s easy or not. My purpose in asking for wisdom in that instance was mainly because I wanted to have a child – and after a long time knocking – 4.5 years from asking God to “show me something”, He answered the door with the birth of Naomi.

The Parable

Jesus’ words about Ask, Seek, and Knock are recorded in 2 of the Gospels, Matthew 7 and in Luke 11, both in teachings on prayer and asking God for our needs.  Luke recorded a Parable that Jesus told right before He said the above words – a short, but interesting Parable – here’s the Message version of Luke 11:5-8

Knocking: How to Find Wisdom

Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand. The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything. But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.”

This has always been some what of a troubling Parable for me. The neighbor seems to be being quite rude in continually knocking on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night. But is he really being rude or he is being persistent because his need is real and he needs help?

The man asked and sought out the bread he needed for his guest – his neighbor answered him through the door, so he knew that what he needed was there to be had – he just needed to keep acting upon this knowledge in order to get what he had asked for. His neighbor is obviously the only one who can help him or he would have moved on to another neighbor. Instead he keeps on knocking until the door is opened and he gets what he needs.

The NIV and NLT have a slightly different wording at the end of this parable. They say: “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[a] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.” Both have notes on them saying that the “shameless audacity” part could also mean that the man gets up to answer the door in order to preserve his good name (see the reference).

What was Jesus teaching us here by telling us to knock persistently?

I think He’s telling us that we must keep asking and seeking wisdom. We must not think it is something that is going to be given to us easily without effort and diligence on our part. We must know our need for it like this neighbor did, and be insistent that we need it and want it enough to keep knocking even in the middle of the night.

Jesus is also making a statement here that God is going to answer our knocking – not because He’s our friend (though He is), but because of who He is. At first this might seem a bit odd – at least to me it did. But the more I pondered this the more I realized that I’d rather know that God is going to answer my prayers based on His goodness, faithfulness, wisdom and knowledge than based on me in any way. This way when He answers I know it is in my best interest and not just because I tried to beat the door down or because He felt sorry for me.

This Parable also reminds us to never give up.

He wants us to keep asking, seeking, and knocking and looking to Him in all things. He tells us that if we need wisdom to ask Him, and He’ll give it to us generously (James 1:5).

So what wisdom have you asked God for and sought out? What are you doing with what He’s given you? Are you continuing to knock at the door waiting for Him to answer?

If not, can I encourage you to start?

This is how Jesus told us to ask for what we need. He said to ask, seek, and knock – and we must follow all three, knowing that God will answer in His timing and in His will.

Prayers for you as you seek Wisdom,

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Click for part 1: Askpart 2: Seek (in the Word); and part 3: Seek (in the World)

 

Thanks Bill Selak for the photo!

Sep 272013
 

In looking at How to Find Wisdom we’ve been using the acronym A.S.K. – Ask, Seek, Knock.

How to find Wisdom


As we discussed in the last post – the big question in seek –  is where to seek? The most important place we talked about seeking wisdom was in the Word. (Check out the first 2 posts in this series here, and here.) This week we’ll take a look at

Seeking Wisdom in the World

There are many principles in God’s Word that He has given us to help us find wisdom for our lives. Sometimes however, we need more information and must seek wisdom in the “world”. For example when trying to make decisions about our health, jobs, buying a car or a house, and a host of other things we might need wisdom on for our families. Let’s take a look at How to Find Wisdom in the World for these things.

Ask.

When seeking wisdom in the world, as with anything, we should always start with prayer! We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us to the right information at the right time, and we need His help to correctly understand what we find. We live in the Information Age – which I would say is just about as much MIS-information as correct information (maybe more!). We need a discerning Spirit to help us navigate the plethora of information that is available to us.

Seek Multiple Sources.

When looking for wisdom on a specific topic it is important to look at multiple sources. This accomplishes several things. One it gives us a broad background and overview of the topic we are looking at. Two, it will often lead us to ask other questions about our topic, and to go deeper into the subject. Three, it allows us to filter out information that is way out in left field. If we look at 3-5 sources, and all of them say pretty much the same thing except one, we’ll know it doesn’t line up and that we need to investigate further. However, if that’s the only source we look at we won’t be able to spot these outliers easily.

Some Sources to Look at:
  • Ask a trusted friend or acquaintance who’s been in the same situation and has handled it well (i.e. don’t ask the frazzled mom down the street who’s constantly yelling at her kids for parenting advice; ask a mom who’s kids are older, well-adjusted, and who you respect how you’ve seen her handle situations with her kids.)
  • Ask a professional in the field.
  • Do a Google Searchwith caution and prayer! Check out at least 3-5 sites, and if possible do at least 2 searches using different terms. (I’ll post later why this is important, but let’s just say for now like everything, there is a way to manipulate search results.)
  • Go to the Library – it may seem old fashioned nowadays, but you can learn a lot by checking out some books at the library. Books can even help you refine your Google searches, and the questions you ask of other people.
  • Look in God’s Word for principles that apply to the situation you are looking for. I know this was stated in part 1 of Seek, but it’s important to mention again. As you gain new understanding of a topic it’s important to look back to our foundation in God’s Word. As we learn more and pray God will reveal more and more about how things apply to our lives.

“For the word of God is alive and active.” – Hebrews 4:12

 

Evaluate Credibility.

Whenever you look to a source for information you always need to evaluate the credibility of the source. These days anybody can claim to be an expert. Writing about a topic, putting pretty pictures with it, on a well-polished site does not make the information credible. Your sister’s brother-in-law’s aunt’s best friend 3x removed saying that she witnessed a crime isn’t credible either. Yet everyday rumors get started this way and are spread through social media. All this to say – check where  you’re getting your information. Just because it’s in writing, doesn’t make it true! Here’s some things to look for.

  • Author
    • Who wrote it/said it?
    • What’s their Worldview?
    • What’s their professional training and experience?
    • What’s their reason for writing?
      • Are they trying to inform, sell you something, increase their bottom-line, spread gossip, encourage and help you?
  • Bias
    • What’s their bias?
      • Everyone has one. What is theirs and how does it align with their information?
    • What’s behind their bias?
      • This goes back to their reason for writing. The bias may be based on monetary factors, life experiences, prejudices, worldview, or even just plain old trying to to make themselves look and feel better about themselves.
    • Bias isn’t always a bad thing – but it is important to evaluate what bias a source of information has in order to properly evaluate the content and the quality of the information given to us.
  • Accuracy
    • Is there data to back up the claims?
    • If so, can you verify the data?
    • Do other sources have comparable data?
    • Is there a noticeable slant to the data?
    • Be cautious with data and statistics – it’s good to have, but if what you are looking for relies heavily on this data, check it out carefully! There are entire classes on how to lie with statistics!!!

Establish Clear Definitions.

Definitions of words are key to understanding any concept. Especially in today’s society, words have varied meanings and connotations, and definitions can change over time. (I still remember a time ‘wicked’ was bad thing… and I still struggle when hearing this word used in other contexts.) Effective communication requires us to be clear in our word usage. You cannot always assume that an author or source is using the same definition of a word or method as what you know. This is especially true in the world of parenting – words like training, discipline, and schedule all can evoke strong emotions and thoughts about the author’s usage and intent, but have a wide spectrum of definitions and methods that are used in each area. Make sure you understand the sources’ definition, as well as define your own personal definition. 

Great misunderstandings often lie in small differences in definition.

 

Ask Again.

I know I’m repeating myself here. But without prayer all the knowledge in the world is useless. I could quote every textbook I’ve ever read, but it does me no good if I don’t know how to accurately apply it to my life. We can’t see the whole picture – no matter how much we know. So we must go to the Author, and ask Him how to apply what we’ve learned to each and every situation we encounter. This is how to find Wisdom.   Blog Signature

What areas do you struggle with the most when looking for Wisdom in the World?

Click for part 1: Ask; part 2: Seek (in the Word); and part 4: Knock

Aug 142013
 

How to Find Wisdom –

 

How to find Wisdom


The first step in finding Wisdom is to Ask for it. This step is critical to finding wisdom – so if you haven’t read this part, please click here to read it!

Seeking wisdom is our next step.

The question is where do we seek it at? We are going to look at seeking it in 2 places: the Word and the World. This week we’ll focus on the Word.

Seeking Wisdom in the Word

As Christian’s we are given the Holy Spirit and the Word (the Bible) to guide us in everyday living. The Word isn’t a direct how-to guide for life, but coupled with the Holy Spirit it is so much more:

 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. — Hebrews 4:12

 

So while the Word won’t tell you what first foods to feed your baby, what car is the best to buy, specifically how to handle a situation with your boss or your husband, or if you should start a business – it does give you principles to help you figure out what to do. These are the principles that we need to seek out – and we need the Holy Spirit to help show them to us. Wisdom then comes from correctly applying these principles to the situation at hand.

Why doesn’t God just give us all the answers in the Bible?

Chris and I have had this discussion quite a few times as we’ve been grappling with some decision we have to make. We like direct, straight-forward answers. We are planners, and we like to have all our ducks in a row and figure out all the angles before we make a decision. I can’t tell you how many spreadsheets we’ve created over the years trying to make the “right” decision. But you know what I’ve found –

Life has too many variables!

It doesn’t all fit into a nice little equation of do X and Y and you’ll get Z. It just doesn’t work that way. How many self-help books have you seen promote their “magic formula”? It works great for some, okay maybe for others, and is an absolute disaster for the rest. Formulas and rules just don’t work for everyone and every situation.

Principles allow us to look a the bigger picture in a situation and apply wisdom. 

God’s Word is full of Principles. Some of the principles are spelled out directly for us (Love one another. John 13:34). Some are told through life stories in the Bible (obedience to God is the best choice (Jonah’s story)). Yet other principles are seen in parables and metaphors. God even gave us 2 whole books full of Principles in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes!

In order to know the principles that God has given us in His Word we’ve got to seek them out. A concordance is very helpful for this purpose. Many study Bibles contain a small topical concordance that can help you find a specific topic you are looking for. My Life Application Study Bible is my personal favorite. I also like to use Bible Gateway when I’m looking for some Biblical principles for an area I need wisdom on.

Continue Asking

As you’re seeking wisdom continue to spend time in prayer about the subject. It’s amazing how He’ll lead you to the principles He wants you to find. It may be in a place you’ve never seen before or a verse you’ve read a 1,000 times – but you will find Him and His wisdom when you Seek.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:13

 

Next Wisdom Wednesday we’ll take a look at Seeking Wisdom in the World. So tell me – what are some areas are you looking for Wisdom in right now?

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Click for part 1: Askpart 3: Seek {part 2 in the World}; and part 4: Knock

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Aug 072013
 

Wisdom is powerful.

We talked about that last week.  Solomon, who was world renown for being wise, wrote many things about wisdom – one of the most powerful being:  “Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

How to find Wisdom, then?

How to find Wisdom

A.S.K.

The cost was paid for us by Jesus’ death on the cross, however we still have a role to play.  Jesus told us this role in Matthew 7:7-8, and Luke 11:9-13.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Our role is to Ask. Seek. Knock. (A.S.K.)

We’ll examine each part of this over the next few weeks. Let’s take a look at Ask first.

Ask

There are 2 things that asking requires of us. The first is the realization that we can’t find wisdom on our own. We need help. This is an act of humility.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

Asking requires us to humble ourselves and realize we are not in control, we don’t know everything, and that we in fact are not god. One of the most difficult tasks in finding wisdom is humbling ourselves and realizing we don’t have it all figured out.  We like to think we can do things on our own and figure it out without God, but this just isn’t true. And until something knocks us off our feet and we humble ourselves, we can’t find wisdom.

The second is acknowledging the source of Wisdom.

“For the Lord gives wisdom;
from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

Once we’ve humbled ourselves and realized we aren’t god, we must then acknowledge that He is.  We can’t find wisdom without Him. He gave up everything so that the Holy Spirit can dwell in us and teach us all things (John 14:26). And the Holy Spirit is ours for the asking.

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!Luke 11:13

Finding wisdom starts here.  Once we’ve asked for and received the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:38 for more info), we then need only ask for the wisdom we desire and need, through prayer.

Asking for the Holy Spirit is a one time thing, but asking for wisdom is not.  We don’t just go through the steps of humbling ourselves and acknowledging God and then have it all figured out.  It’s a daily (sometimes hourly) process we must go through to ask for the wisdom we need for each day.

This day is different and unique.  Our circumstances and viewpoints today might not be the same tomorrow. Asking God for His wisdom needs to be a routine habit of our first morning prayer.  We need it – and I’m so thankful it’s there for the asking!

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

 

What wisdom are you asking for today?  Let’s pray for and encourage each other!

 

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Leave me a comment below or use the hashtag #AskingforWisdom so we can spur each other on as we seek God’s Wisdom for our everyday lives!

Click for part 2: Seek; part 3: Seek {part 2 in the World}; and part 4: Knock

 

 

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