David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “God’s Word”

The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 3: Joy in Wisdom [1 of 2]

When we walk with Him, we learn His ways, His wisdom, His love, and His boundless joy.

–Matthew Kelly, A Call to Joy, page 43

 

Minutes invested in praying for wisdom will save days spent in overcoming mistakes.  To advance in joy, first retreat with God.

–Tommy Newberry, The 4:8 Principle, page 142

 

For to the one who pleases God, he gives wisdom and knowledge and joy.

–Ecclesiastes 2:26a (NABRE)

 

 

Our daughter, Hannah, is a competitive gymnast, spending over 20 hours a week training in the gym.  Because of this major time commitment, Mary and I had to chunk our tentative vision of Hannah attending public school and heartily embrace the new world order of home school.  Yes, we’re those kind of parents!  This unconventional lifestyle has challenged us to not only choose an appropriate curriculum, but to establish consistency and discipline in teaching, and it has rewarded us with witnessing Hannah’s joy in learning.  She loves school–loves it!–especially math and drawing, and it tickles us when she absorbs phonics and applies it to both her reading and writing.  The girl’s already written and illustrated a book!  (Of which I possess the only copy, so its value is priceless).  If you haven’t guessed already, we’re pretty darn proud of our daughter!

One morning I took over the educational duties while my Proverbs 31 wife scooted off to work.  Part of Hannah’s curriculum involves teaching a new Proverb every week, and this particular morning the lesson was Proverbs 10:5 in the New International Reader’s Version (NIrv): “He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”  You know, Aesop’s old “Ant and the Grasshopper” fable.

“What does ‘wise’ mean, Dad?” Hannah asked.

“It means to be filled with wisdom.”

“But what’s wisdom?”

“It’s, uh, it’s, well, it’s the application of knowledge,” I replied.  Of course these are some big words and even bigger concepts for a forty-nine-year-old, uh, I mean, a five-year-old.  “It’s like when we learn something new,” I tried to explain, “then we use what we learned.  That’s wisdom.”

But like joy, wisdom is one of those concepts I’ve struggled to wrap my arms around, and my response to Hannah’s query left me unsatisfied.  What is wisdom, really?  What does it mean to be wise?  What does it mean to have wisdom?  And how can wisdom bring joy?  “It’s a gift from God,” Mary answered when I asked my wife what she thought wisdom was.  “And how can a gift from God not bring you joy?  It’s like patience in a room full of kids.  It’s a gift.”  My wife is a very wise woman.

According to Bible Gateway’s dictionary of Bible themes, wisdom is “the quality of knowledge, discernment and understanding characteristic of God himself.  True wisdom, seen in the ministry of Jesus Christ, is a gift of the Holy Spirit.” (http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionary-of-bible-themes/8361-wisdom).  The author of the Deuterocanonical Book of Wisdom wrote: “For [Wisdom] is an aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty.  For she is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness.” (Wisdom 7:25a, 26 NAB).  Wisdom is the splendor of God, the brilliance of His character, the reflection of His holiness.

The first Proverb Hannah memorized as part of her first grade My Father’s World curriculum was Proverbs 9:10, “If you really want to become wise, you must begin by having respect for the Lord.  To know the Holy One is to gain understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NIrV).  This first step to gaining wisdom is a common theme running throughout the Bible: “And he said to the human race, ‘The fear of the Lord–that is wisdom . . . .’” (Job 28:28a NIV).  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who live by it.  His praise endures forever.”  (Psalm 111:10 NAB).  “The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD.” (Sirach 1:12a NAB).

But if fear of the Lord is opening the door to wisdom, how do we invite her in?  All we gotta do is ask!  “But if any of you lacks wisdom,” James wrote in his epistle to the twelve tribes, “he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.” (James 1:5 NAB).  Ask and you shall receive, as Jesus said, but ask with a reverent, expectant heart.  Take King Solomon, for example.  When God told him He’d grant any request Solomon asked for, Solomon answered “’Give me, therefore, wisdom and knowledge to lead this people, for otherwise who could rule this great people of yours?’” (2 Chronicles 10 NAB). He didn’t ask for riches, treasures, and glory, but wisdom. In reply, God not only granted Solomon’s request, but He also gave him the riches, treasures, and glory Solomon had left unspoken.  Wisdom is more precious than anything, because “if riches be a desirable possession in life, what more rich than wisdom who produces all things?” (Wisdom 8:5 NAB).  Indeed, Solomon came to be known as the wisest (and richest) man who ever lived.  “But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness,” Jesus preached in Matthew 6:33, “and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33 NAB).

 

Copyright ©2013 by David C. Hughes

The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 2: Joy in God’s Word [3 of 3]

God’s Word is powerful and fully alive!  It’s like the Force in the Star Wars movies.  I remember Obi Wan Kenobi’s words to Luke Skywalker after Obi Wan rescued Luke from the Sand People and brought him back to his dwelling: “ . . . the Force is what gives the Jedi his power.  It’s an energy field created by all living things.  It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”  Except God’s Word is real, penetrating us through the soul to the spirit, spirit to Spirit, binding not only the galaxy together but the universe.  “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).  God’s Word is a divine Light Saber!

Two years ago I had a particularly bad day wrestling with myself and with God about whether or not I should quit my job to pursue this writing avocation.  I cracked open my notebook and wrote “What is my greatest fear?  Why am I so afraid to quit my job right now and pursue a full-time writing career?”

Under that I began to write a bulleted list (of course) of all my reasons, starting with excuse number one: fear of being poor. God thwarted that lie with Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  That was followed by fear of failure, resulting in becoming poor.  God stepped in and chopped that one up to bits: “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).  Next I listed fear of disappointing my father, to which he threw three verses at me: Jeremiah 32:38, Galatians 4:7, and 2 Timothy 2:15.  The list grew: fear of not providing for my family, lack of confidence in my capability to actually do this job, fear of rejection by others who may think that what I did (quitting such a good-paying, secure job) was stupid.  One by one God revealed the lie in each one of the devil’s flaming arrows by flea-flickering me a scriptural reference to tackle each one.  The common thread of all of these lies was lack of trust in God, but He showed me the scriptural defense of this potentially incapacitating lie as well: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  He also revealed Job 42:2 and Philippians 1:6.

Whew!  No wonder the psalmist rejoiced in God’s precepts, God’s statutes, God’s Word.  It’s pure joy!  And for free!  In Psalm 119 the psalmist boiled down the wisdom of following the Living Word of God:

 

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?

    By living according to your word.

I seek you with all my heart;

    do not let me stray from your commands.

I have hidden your word in my heart

    that I might not sin against you.

Praise be to you, Lord;

    teach me your decrees.

With my lips I recount

    all the laws that come from your mouth.

I rejoice in following your statutes

    as one rejoices in great riches.

I meditate on your precepts

    and consider your ways.

I delight in your decrees;

    I will not neglect your word.

–Psalm 119:9-16

 

Hide God’s Word in your heart (in other words, memorize it) and I guarantee you’ll witness the amazing transforming power the Word will bring about.  As Caroline Barnett wrote in her book Willing to Walk on Water (page 14):  “It’s time for us to live out our lives like we believe God’s Word with all our heart, soul, and mind.  We must study and apply His promises every day.  We must use the Bible as a guide to living the abundant life He has intended for us.  God may not duplicate the same biblical miracles we read about, but He can and does perform new ones.”  Including filling your heart–and your life–with living joy.

 

Copyright ©2013 by David C. Hughes

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: