How Do We Get Wisdom?

Here is a question that the Bible directly answers in scripture. In James 1:5, James writes, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James states that if someone wants wisdom, that he may ask God and God will give him wisdom. James doesn’t, however, state “how” God gives wisdom; neither does James state that prayer is the ONLY way through which we can get wisdom. James simply says to ask for it if you lack it and God will do the giving. But how does God give wisdom?

In the past, God gave wisdom directly to those who were inspired. In Daniel 2:23, Daniel thanks God for the wisdom that God had miraculously given to Him. He says, “I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast now made known unto me what we desired of thee; for thou hast made known unto us the king’s matter.” Peter also tells us that God had inspired Paul with wisdom to write his epistles in 2 Peter 3:15, 16: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” God also gave Jesus great wisdom prompting some to ask from where such wisdom originated: “And when the sabbath was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, Whence hath this man these things? and, What is the wisdom that is given unto this man, and what mean such mighty works wrought by his hands?” (Mark 6:2). Paul also wrote concerning miraculous wisdom that was given by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:8: “For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit.” With the cessation of miraculous gifts (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) also came the cessation of miraculous wisdom. Does God give wisdom directly today? One might just as well argue that God gives knowledge directly as he would that God gives wisdom directly today.

However, God does give wisdom in other ways. Just as God once gave knowledge directly by inspiration, which knowledge is now contained within His word, so also God, who gave wisdom by inspiration, has also left much wisdom for us in His word. The writer of the book of Proverbs states plainly that if one desires to know wisdom, that he should study that book. Proverbs 1:1-3 state: “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity�.” Paul also spoke concerning the wisdom that was revealed through the gospel in 1 Corinthians 6:7, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” Finally, Paul teaches that within the mystery of Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

Are there other ways in which God makes wisdom known? Yes. In Ephesians 3:10 Paul writes that God makes known His wisdom through the church. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” We also may gain wisdom through our cumulative lifetime experiences. If we believe that all things work together for good for the Christian (Romans 8:28), then God may also use “all things” to give wisdom as well.

God gives wisdom! What a great and wonderful blessing. May we ever look for and expect the wisdom of God in our lives.

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , | Comments Off on How Do We Get Wisdom?

How Do You Do It All?

Someone recently asked me this question on the Internet. The question wasn’t, “how do you, Kevin, do it all?” The question was, with all of life’s demands, (i.e. God, work, home, and recreation) how do you balance it all, keep up with it all, do it all? It is a good question and a question that we need to consider from time to time. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the subject of “time management.” There are many who have written books on the subject and provided valuable insight in that regard. However, I do want to set forth some biblical principles that help us as we struggle to keep our lives in balance with all of the things we daily have to do.

First, we must recognize that we can’t “do it all.” A lot of times we set unreasonable expectations for ourselves. As a result, we end up trying to do too much with too little time and resources. While it is often difficult, it is no sin to say “no” to someone’s request of your time. God never commanded us to do “everything.” What God did command is that if you say you will do something then keep your word and do it (Matthew 5:37). This isn’t always easy for us to do either and sometimes we commit to things to which we should have said no. In such situations, we simply must apologize and move on.

Second, we need to prioritize our activities. Of course, God always demands to be first in the decisions we make in our lives (Matthew 6:33, 22:37). Everything we say and do should be done with the goal of seeking Him in mind. If we do that, then God sets certain priorities for us. God expects us to show love for the church (Hebrews 13:1). God expects us to love our families (Ephesians 5:25, 6:4, Titus 2:4, 5). God expects us to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8). God expects us to behave appropriately with our employers (Ephesians 6:5). God expects us to show respect toward our nation and her leaders (1 Peter 2:17) and to love our fellow man (Matthew 22:39). God helps us prioritize if we will let Him lead our us.

Third, we need to set reasonable, accomplishable, yet challenging goals. For example, it would be unreasonable to say that with a handful of people we are going to knock on every door in Arkansas in a day. Setting unreasonable goals tends to discourage instead of encourage. But neither should we set goals that are so simplistic and accomplishable that we never grow in our involvement with the church. We need to have goals that we can accomplish with the talents that we collectively possess but that also challenge those collective talents. In the parable of the talents, to each was given according to their ability, yet it was still a challenge (Matthew 25:15).

Fourth, focus upon one task at a time instead of the whole project. The old adage, “How do you eat an elephant?” is appropriate. The answer: “One bite at a time.” When you look at a project as a whole, it often appears as if it will never get done. The more we focus upon that, the more we get discouraged in working on the project. Instead, we need to break down the project into tasks and focus upon the singular items one at a time. Before we know it, the entire project will be complete. Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 that we have enough worries simply trying to keep up with the things that we need to do today. And that’s exactly what we should do, take one day at a time.

Finally, there’s a song from the movie Mary Poppins that we should consider as well. “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” When we find ourselves with tasks that we don’t want to do or tasks that are difficult either physically or emotionally, we should seek to see the good that will come from doing such tasks and then focus upon the good, not the bad. We can always rejoice in that we are seeking to serve God in everything we do and not man. Glorifying God in our lives should be an overriding cause for us to be happy doing the distasteful things of life (1 Corinthians 10:31).

This obviously doesn’t exhaust the subject, but it does give us some principles to consider as we seek to be pleasing to God and influential for good to our fellow man. Let us then round out each of these scriptural truths with prayer on our part for wisdom to apply each of these principles appropriately each day.

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on How Do You Do It All?

Why Declare Membership at a Local Congregation

This question recently came up in some of my Internet studies with online friends. The question centers on whether or not it is necessary to be identified as a member of a local congregation. The Bible doesn’t have a process whereby one may “join” the church such as are followed in the denominational world. However, the Bible does authorize individual Christians to be members of local congregations (1 Corinthians 12:27). So there must be some way for Christians to be members of local congregations. And there is.

Let me state up front that for someone who is not a Christian, to become a member of the church of Christ, one must be added by the Lord to the church (Acts 2:47). Upon baptism, provided the individual lives within the local community, it is right and proper to assume the individual to be a member of the local congregation. This was the general practice within the New Testament (Acts 2:41, 47; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Our question is more appropriately asked when a person moves from his home congregation to another. Must that individual place membership with a local congregation? Let’s note some reasons why the answer to this question should be “yes.”

First, the individual Christian ought to declare membership in a local congregation to assure the leaders that he is subject to their authority. Hebrews 13:17 states, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” The rulers of the local congregation have a responsibility to watch for the souls of individual Christians. Individual Christians have the responsibility to make their job easier by submitting to their judgment. There should be no doubt as to the status of the individual Christian in relationship to the rulers. However, if someone does not declare membership, this creates doubt and uncertainty in the minds of the rulers as to whether they have the appropriate authority. Why? Because rulers only have authority over members of the local congregation; they do not have authority over those who are not members of the local congregation. If the individual Christian seeks to please God in obeying Hebrews 13:17, he will declare membership in a local congregation.

Second, the individual Christian ought to declare membership in a local congregation to let his fellow Christians know that he is there to work with them. The church is to be involved in doing the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). And each individual contributes to that work as he has ability (1 Peter 4:11). The local congregation is thus expected to do the Lord’s work (2 Corinthians 9:8, Colossians 1:10) and the individual is expected to do his work heartily (Colossians 3:23). Without declaring such membership, other members wonder whether or not one has the intentions of involving oneself in the work of the local church, and thus, in the work of the Lord as well. Declaring one’s membership with a local congregation, let’s that congregation know that one is available and ready to do the work that needs to be done in the local church. Declaring membership exhibits the “heartiness” that the Lord desires us to have regarding his work.

Finally, the individual Christian ought to declare membership in a local congregation to indicate his full fellowship with the local congregation. Fellowship isn’t merely having a meal together or playing games together. Fellowship is participation within the activities of the congregation, regardless what those activities may be (Acts 2:42). We have fellowship when we study God’s word together in our Bible classes, when we worship God in our assembly, when we visit the nursing home together, or when we support a particular work with our finances. The individual Christian should want to have full fellowship with other Christians (1 John 1:7). Without declaring membership at a local congregation, an individual’s intentions aren’t fully known. However, when one declares membership one indicates full fellowship with the local congregation.

The individual Christian certainly has the God given right to faithfully congregate with a particular congregation of his choice (Acts 9:26). However, it is also God’s desire for a Christian to be a member of the local church (1 Corinthians 12:18). Combining those two facts together with the above reasons we can conclude that it is biblical and necessary for the individual Christian to declare membership at a local, faithful, congregation of his choice.

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Why Declare Membership at a Local Congregation