Journey Through The Wall, 24 April 2016

Journey Through The Wall
Series: Go Deeper
Genesis 22:1-14

Series Theme
“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives,” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea: The third pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is journey through the wall and know it’s all about Jesus.


This morning I’d like to take you on a journey. It’s a familiar journey for some of you. It goes like this:

We're goin' on a bear hunt,
We're going to catch a big one,
I'm not scared
What a beautiful day!
Oh look! It's some long, wavy grass!
Can't go over it,
Can't go under it,
Can't go around it,
Got to go through it!

We’re not actually hunting bears today, but we are talking about encountering a wall we cannot go over, under, or around. We must journey through the wall.

There are many types of walls but they all usually lead to one question:

Today we continue our series Go Deeper: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. We have said our lives are like an iceberg. There is more beneath the surface than we allow others to see…or sometimes even acknowledge ourselves. We’re all messed up because we live in a fallen, sin-filled world. You are messed up. I’m messed up. In fact, if you don’t think you’re messed up, you’re the most messed up!

Tragically, many people live their lives in denial…of their weaknesses, their family of origin, pain from their past, or their own emotions. God created us with both thoughts and feelings. We have both a mind and a heart. To live in denial is to prevent growth and change. To get real about our stuff is the first step toward healing and wholeness.

Let me say again we all have stuff. For some reason there are acceptable and unacceptable things in the church. For instance, addiction to alcohol is bad, but addiction to applause and compliments is generally acceptable, perhaps because it’s often hidden. Cursing is bad, but gossiping through prayer requests is not only acceptable, it is encouraged in some circles. A family with a history of divorce is bad, but generations of religious, self-righteous people is sometimes admired, even though Jesus directed most of His criticism at the religious leaders of His day who stood in judgment of the “sinners.”

I mentioned the propensity of some to wear masks. We may wear holiness masks so others will think we’re more spiritual than we really are. Another thing some mask is their emotions. I remember a certain Christian DJ who seemed to talk about tragedy in her life and then dismiss it with something like “all things work together for good so I’m just happy! Praise the Lord.” She was not real.

Let me just say it: life is hard. It was hard for Jesus. It’s hard for us.

Where did we get the idea we should be happy, happy, happy? Jesus said

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (
John 16:33b)

The Wall

The Wall appears through a crisis. When we hit the Wall, we cry out “God – Where are You?”

It’s ok to ask God questions. It’s ok to have doubts. It’s ok to ask, “Why?” God can handle it!

David cried out to God for years when Saul and his men pursued him, and he was forced to hide in caves (see Psalms 69, 70, 71 and others).

Consider Job. Satan challenged God to take away Job’s wealth, animals, children, and good health, all as a way to see if Job would continue to be upright. At first, Job cries out to God, but God does not answer right away (Job 13: 20-26). Eventually, God speaks up and Job repents and relents (Job 42:1-6).

Abraham: Genesis 22:1-15

After looking at Saul and David, today’s character is Abraham.

Abraham had his share of Walls in his life. He was asked to leave his family and travel to an unknown land. He arrived and encountered a famine, had a conflict with his nephew Lot, his wife was unable to have children, he bounced off that wall and had a son with his wife’s servant.

At age 110 he hit another wall. His promised son was finally born and then God asks him to do the unthinkable.

Genesis 22...

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

God does not tempt, but tests Abraham to confirm his faith and prove his commitment.

This seems so bizarre to us, yet in that day child sacrifices were commonly offered to pagan gods.

Tragically, 1/3 of my generation has been killed, but that’s another issue for another time.

Mount Moriah is now the covered with the Dome of the Rock in Israel, a Muslim structure.

Abraham faces a Wall, a test that he causes a crisis of faith.

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Imagine that journey!

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Good question!

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:1-14)

God tested Abraham.
God allowed Job to be tested.
God often allows trials and testing in our lives…for two purposes

1. His glory
2. Our growth

This past week I was at the C&MA Great Lakes District Conference and Rev. Thomas George, our District Superintendent, reminded us of three things:

1. We were made by God
2. We were made for God
3. We were made for God’s glory

Our consumeristic culture says it’s all about us.

The Bible says it’s all about God. This is a very difficult message for us to grasp. Just to prove this, one of our worship songs was critiqued. It says, “The God of angel armies is always on my side.” While there may be a way to understand this correctly, our natural response is to be comforted knowing God is always on our side…but He’s not! He never makes that promise. He promises to love us, but it’s not about Him being on our side. He asks us to be on His side. It’s about His will, not ours. It’s about His plan, not ours. It’s about His glory, not ours.

Sometimes this means we find ourselves in very difficult places, asked to sacrifice a child, fleeing those who are supposed to be supporting us, suffering for doing good, or experiencing horrific pain despite seeking to follow Jesus.

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Get Real!

I urge you, family, to be real. There’s no shame in suffering. There’s no shame in feeling. There’s no shame in discouragement, depression, disappointment…or even doubting God. It’s His clear will for us to do life together. We need one another, especially when we face the wall. We need prayer, encouragement, and often tangible assistance from others. We’re often too proud to admit it but all need help sometimes, if not always!

One of the most sobering verses in the Bible is found in Hebrews 11. After commending many great characters such as Abel, Noah, Abraham, it says

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)


Like you, when I face the wall my flesh wants to go over it, under it, or around it. The only way God gets glory and we grow is when we go through it, not alone but with His strength and the help of others.

One of the best tools we have at First Alliance is prayer. We have prayer in small groups, Bible studies, and Sunday School. We also have men’s prayer here on Tuesdays at 8:30 AM and Wednesdays at 7 PM. We have women’s prayer Wednesdays at 6 PM. We have open prayer Thursdays at 7 PM.

There’s power in prayer. There’s freedom in sharing your Wall with others. There’s joy in bearing the burdens of others. We weren’t made to do this alone. We were created to journey with one another and with God…for His glory. He is here, whether it feels like it or not. He can be trusted, even when life doesn’t make sense. He loves you—really—and He is a mighty fortress.

Questions for Discussion

Are you “stuck” at the Wall? Have you been at the Wall some time before? Has someone you know and love been at the Wall?

What is it like?

What have you learned? What have you rejected?

Has it been difficult connecting with God and seeing His purposes for you?

How can we help people who are struggling at the Wall?

What does this text tell us about God?

What does this text tell us about ourselves?

Credits and Stuff

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.

Series outline and ideas from
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (Thomas Nelson, 2006).

Some study questions from Lyman Coleman (
The Serendipity Bible and The Serendipity Student Bible). Used with permission from the author.

Other study questions from
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Workbook by Peter Scazzero (Center for Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, 2007).

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Love and Hate, 1 John 2:7-11, 26 April 2015

    Big Idea: Followers of Jesus are to love one another, and this requires sacrificial action, not mere tolerance.

    Scripture: 1 John 2:7-11


    Two weeks ago while visiting our daughter in New York City I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago but this was my first visit to The Met. It is a fantastic home to priceless sculptures, pottery, musical instruments, and, of course, paintings.

    Heather and I recently saw a powerful film, The Woman in Gold, an historical movie about a painting captured by the Nazis and the quest by the rightful owner to have it returned. Spoiler alert: it was eventually returned…and sold in 2006 for over $130 million!

    That’s pocket change, though, compared to the February sale of Paul Gauguin’s “Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (When Will You Marry?) for $300 million!

    Which begs three questions:

    1. Who has that kind of money?
    2. Why would you choose to spend that much on that painting?
    3. How do you know it’s real?

    Can you imagine spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a painting and discovering it to be a fake?

    There’s an old expression that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Things are not always as they appear, and our world is filled with counterfeits, be they paintings, money, or even people.

    In our series “Love Illuminated” we’re looking at the book of 1 John, a letter from one of Jesus’ best friends to early believers of the movement we know as Christianity. The early church was threatened by outsiders who wanted to dismiss, disrupt, or even destroy this new religion. An even greater threat, however, came from within, those who claimed to follow Jesus but failed to do so.

    One of John’s goals in this letter is to test the authenticity of their spiritual vigor. Last week we saw two of those tests:

    Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. (1 John 2:4)

    I suggested God’s love language is probably obedience. Knowing God involves action. It’s not simply going to church or reading the Bible or even memorizing scriptures, but rather it is responding to the commands of God. It is obeying god.

    Two verses later John wrote

    Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

    This phrase “to live in Him” is the Greek term “meno” which John used forty times in his gospel and 27 times in this epistle. It speaks of the indwelling of the Christian in God or even possibly of God indwelling us. It is to abide or remain, to truly know God. Jesus did not come to begin a new religion, but rather He showed us what it means to be human and He invites us to follow Him, His teachings, and His example.

    1 John 2:7-11

    Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.
    (1 John 2:7)

    What’s the old command? Love God and love you neighbor. It was presented generations earlier.

    Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

    One way we love God is by loving our neighbor.

    “ ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)

    John’s audience had been told love God. They had been told to love their neighbor.

    Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:8)

    Jesus not only taught commands, He followed them. He said

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)

    Those are strong and difficult words! Jesus demonstrated them, however, even praying for those who crucified Him.

    “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

    The center of God’s will is to love one another, and what made it new was Jesus. He showed us what it truly means to love—not tolerate, not co-exist, but love.

    What’s so exciting to me is the Holy Spirit filled Jesus with unconditional love and offers it to us, too, if we are willing to ask and receive.

    How crazy would it be for Jesus to just say, “Love” and walk away? The first part of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 is love. We are to receive God’s love from the Holy Spirit and let it overflow in our lives to others.

    This is not about trying harder. It’s about aligning ourselves with the Light.

    The moon has no internal light. It cannot be brighter for us by trying harder. In fact, it can’t shine at all…unless it is aligned with the sun.

    We, also, must be aligned with the Son, S-o-n. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, letting go and letting God. We are to die and surrender our lives daily to God if we hope to experience His presence and power in our lives and be a blessing to others. We need to grow daily and we grow by feeding upon bread, the Word.

    John’s first test of authentic believers was obedience. The second was love that looks like Christ’s love.

    Here’s the third:

    Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. (1 John 2:9)

    None of us hate, right?! This is church, after all!

    Hate is the absence of the deeds of love. That could include indifference! We often think hate is only expressed in violence or harm, but passivity or inaction could be hateful. Love unexpressed is not love at all. It is not neutral.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. contrasted hate and love beautifully when he said,

    “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” -
    Strength to Love

    He’s undoubtedly reflecting John’s words, which continue…

    Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. (1 John 2:10-11)

    Haters are in darkness. Lovers are in the light.


    Loving others—especially other believers—is the test of genuine faith. We’re family. Family loves through thick and thin.

    Have you ever noticed the power of love in a family? Some families say and do terrible things to one another, yet there is an understanding of love, a lifelong commitment to the other person. The real test of one’s love is not found in the good times, but in the midst of suffering. You see who your true friends and family are when things get hard.

    Increasingly in our culture family is not merely people with the same last name, but those with whom we do life. This was, perhaps, even more true in the early church where believers were persecuted, resources were often scarce, and the movement of Jesus was spreading virally—without social media!

    God’s redemptive plan was never to get people saved or get people to an altar…the plan of God was to reconcile people to His family. Jesus came to rebuild God’s family.

    Let’s face it, love is hard! It sounds easy, but it’s not. By love I don’t mean nice or tolerant. I mean looking out for the best interest of the other person. Love involves action. It involves sacrifice. It involves!

    C.S. Lewis said
    “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
    An Example: Reconciliation in Armenia
    Although many are aware of my German roots, I’m also one quarter Armenian. This past week marked the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the slaughter of up to 1.5 million of the 2 million Armenians by Turks. Needless to say, for a century there has been tremendous animosity between Armenians and Turks.
    How do you tell an Armenian Christian to just love Turks, knowing your ancestors were destroyed by their ancestors? It’s certainly akin to asking Jews to forgive Germans.
    My great grandfather was a victim of the Genocide. Though not killed, he hid in a ditch filled with dead bodies, eventually able to escape to the United States.
    Earlier this month, a group of Turkish Christians stood before TV cameras at the Armenian Genocide Memorial and said, “We came to share your pain. We have come here to apologize for what our ancestors did, to ask for your forgiveness.” The new report said
    Gathered around the monument’s eternal flame, the more than twenty Turkish citizens spoke out simply, and repeatedly: “We plead with you, if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers.”

    Significantly, the Turks were joined by a number of local Armenian Christians who formed a huge circle, holding hands together around the memorial as they prayed aloud in Turkish and Armenian for their nations and peoples.

    One Western observer of the Yerevan gathering confessed, “I may never see something like this ever again in my life. I was a spectator, watching the walls of division and hostility come down. It’s what the gospel of Christ should be doing all over the world, bringing true reconciliation.”

    This is what love for one’s brother looks like. This is what it means to walk in the light.

    The Bible is filled with descriptions of light and darkness. Few things contrast greater.

    We’ve all been born into sin, into darkness, but we’ve been given an invitation to the Light, an invitation we can accept or reject.

    Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.

    So What?

    Love, don’t hate. If only it were that simple!

    You may be saying, “I don’t hate anybody. Haters gonna hate.” This isn’t about how you react to someone who cuts you off on the expressway, a momentary action. Hate in this context is a state of being, a habit of failing to love someone.

    If we love, we’re in the light. If we’re in the light, we can love, we can shine. But it won’t happen if we merely try harder. We must abide. We must remain. We must be with God through prayer, worship, study of scripture, and fellowship.


    If I were to purchase a million dollar painting I’d hire an expert to authenticate the work of art. They would surely have a variety of tests to determine whether it is a fake or the genuine article.

    Likewise, John had tests to determine authentic followers of Jesus from fakers who talk the talk but fail to walk the walk.

    Do you obey? Even when it’s inconvenient? Even when it’s costly?

    Do you live as Jesus lived? Are you a “little Christ,” imitating His words and deeds?

    Do you love? Your friends? Your family? Your neighbors? Your enemies? Not love in your head, but love in action?

    Jesus did. He set the bar high, but He gives us the Holy Spirit to enable us to live like Christ.


    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    Trials, 10 July 2011

    Big Idea: Trials are meant to help us grow, not harm us.


    First, it was written by...James! That may seem obvious, but many New Testament books are named after their recipient, not their author. In fact, most of Paul’s writings such as Titus and Ephesians, were written to a man named Titus and a church in the city of Ephesus.

    James is the author, believed by most to be Jesus’ half-brother. Imagine the sibling rivalry in that family! Actually, James was skeptical of the deity claims made by Jesus and later in life became a devoted follower.

    James is probably the earliest of the New Testament writings. Where Paul wrote about inner saving faith from God’s perspective, James wrote about outward saving faith from the perspective of man.

    I love the book of James because it is very practical and easy to understand, though challenging to completely obey. Many biblical books are written to a particular person or group in response to a particular situation. Therefore, we can’t just read and apply without understanding the context. James, however, begins with a very clear and broad audience.

    The early church was the recipient, those Christians in churches around the world. In other words, James writes universal truths that are essentially for all people. It was clearly written for public reading as a sermon and authoritative. In fact, there is, on average, a call for action in every other verse in the book! It is both passionate and picturesque with rich metaphors, similes, and dozens of references to Nature.

    He begins...

    James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

    To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:


    Here we see that he is clearly a Christ-follower. He was a well-known, authoritative figure in the early Church. He actually led the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15). He calls himself simply a servant, the Greek word “doulos” meaning a bond-slave. He was God’s property.

    He is writing to the twelve tribes, a reference to the Jews that were scattered from their homeland among the Gentiles.

    He then writes, “Greetings.” He is obviously a friendly man!

    Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (1:2)

    Wait a minute! Did we read that correctly?

    Did he write joy and trials in the same sentence? Are you kidding me? If you’re like me, you do everything to avoid trials. My flesh wants life to safe, comfortable, and convenient. I want things to go smoothly. Any unexpected interruption to my life is not a joy but a pain in the rear end! Trials in my life are met with groans and complaints.

    Do you know what I mean? Perhaps that is why James needed to write these words!

    The Greek word for trial here is
    peirasmo/ß, peirasmos, It means trial or temptation or test.

    How many of you like to take tests in school? If you’re like me, there have been one or two tests that you actually looked forward to taking, the ones you studied hard for and felt confident and prepared. The purpose of a test is not to be a hardship or reveal your stupidity, but to show what you know. A test is given to see if a student can pass, not pass out! Trials are not to be seen as tribulations but tests. Our attitude is critical in the midst of trials.

    James does not say to be happy, but to be joyful. He doesn’t say to be joyful for the trials, but in the midst of trials.

    How do we find joy in trials?

    ...because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (1:3-4)

    Tests have a purpose. If you pass your third-grade tests, you demonstrate your readiness for fourth-grade. If you pass the bar exam, you prove that you can be an attorney. James reminds us that endurance is one product of trials. James’ readers know this (notice “because you know”) but I’m afraid we’re not so quick to think about the benefits of trials in our culture. Athletes might be the exception.

    No pain, no gain.

    In this case, the testing is not done to prove our faith but to approve it. We develop endurance, but the goal is to be mature and complete. I think we all want to be complete, but it doesn’t just happen. Even physical maturity requires growing pains. It’s all part of God’s plan for our lives. He wants us to grow and mature and becoming complete in Him so He allows trials and testing to accomplish His purposes.

    “But wait,” you might say, “I thought God loves me.” He absolutely does. Love is looking out for the best interest of another. He wants you to grow, become strong, and be a blessing to others.

    Five years ago if you told me about your trials, I would’ve done my best to be kind and understanding, but I had no idea what real testing was all about. Through several events in the past few years, I have a completely different perspective. I know suffering. I know testing. It has changed me. It has transformed me. I’d like to think that I’m done, but I know there are more trials ahead.

    Friends, you are either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or about to experience one. Don’t face that as bad news. It’s all part of God’s plan to make you more like Jesus, the One who faced the ultimate trials and testing.


    The testing of our faith produces patience and perseverance. Faith is like gold. Gold endures no matter how hot the fire. Peter—who understood trials as did all of the early church leaders, most of whom died as martyrs, wrote

    In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

    When gold is heated, the impurities rise to the surface. The metal worker cannot take their eyes off of the gold, knowing that it is pure when they can see their face reflected in it. That’s what God does. He refines us through trials until all that is seen in us is Jesus.

    Let me pause for a moment and say that there are two types of trials—those that come to us and those that are self-inflicted. I’m always amazed when I hear of teenage girls that say, “God, how could you allow me to get pregnant” or the person angry at God because they got caught speeding or stealing. Our actions have consequences. There are other things, however, like tsunamis, diseases, and the drunk driving of others over which we have no control.

    We can face trials with joy because it will mature us and our faith to the point where we lack nothing.

    But that’s easier said than done, right? How?! Fortunately, James continues….


    If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (1:5)

    Wisdom is not merely knowledge but the application of knowledge. Do you seek wisdom?

    King Solomon had an Aladdin experience. He was given one wish from God.

    That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
    (2 Chronicles 1:7)

    Solomon said

    Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

    God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
    (2 Chronicles 1:10-12)

    What does this verse promise us about asking for wisdom? God gives it generously to those who ask.

    My greatest prayer is for wisdom. I pray daily for God to give me wisdom as I seek to lead my family, Scio, and most of all myself!

    Keep in mind that the context of this request is in the midst of trials. If you’ve ever asked “why?” you have sought Godly wisdom to understand your situation. God loves it when we ask for wisdom. He loves to hear us pour out our hearts. He loves honest, authentic prayers.

    Perhaps you’ve been told that there are certain things that appropriate to tell God. He knows it all! Keep it real! He can handle the truth!

    But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. (1:6-8)

    We must seek God and His wisdom in faith. One writer says that our answer from God depends upon our assurance in God.

    I can tell you from experience that God can be trusted. He is love. Following Jesus doesn’t mean life will always be easy, but it will be satisfying. It will be filled with purpose. It will contain hope and meaning.

    If you’re in the midst of a trial right now, I want to remind you that God is real. God cares. It might not feel like it, but I promise you that He does. I often think about a child at the doctor’s getting immunizations. Love is the last thing that they feel, yet the shots are actually the most loving thing a parent to can allow, providing endurance and strength to avoid devastating diseases.

    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
    (Jeremiah 29:11)

    We may experience hurt that God allows to shape us but never harm. There is one that wants to harm us, though.

    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

    The Rich

    How many of you are rich? Compared to the rest of the world, the poorest in this room are filthy rich.

    If you make $25,000/year, you are in the top 10% richest on the planet!
    If you make $50,000/year, you are in the top 1% richest on the planet!

    Of course, rich does not always refer to finances. We can be rich in health, friends, or spirit. James continues…

    The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. (1:9-11)

    Most of the Jewish converts were poor and perhaps considered their lowly position a hindrance in enduring trials. James reminds them that God honors the persistence of even the lowliest of people. The rich, on the other hand, are trusting in their riches which will whither and fade away. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

    Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (1:12)

    And everybody said…amen!

    To summarize,

    • - trials DO arrive in our lives
    • - our attitude is critical, seeking joy and God
    • - God is not out to harm us, though we may hurt
    • - we can ask for wisdom when we ask “why?” during trials
    • - we will be blessed by enduring trials and transformed through them
    You can listen to the podcast here.