Temptation Part 3: Wisdom

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and unbraideth not; and it shall be given him.–James 1:5

The last two days I’ve talked about temptations. Where temptation is some form of difficulty or pressure in our lives. Click here for: Part 1 and Part 2.

We are to ask God for wisdom in dealing with our trials, not just deliverance from them. As mentioned in yesterday’s post (Part 2: Patience), we need patience when going through trials, and sometimes that means dealing with the trial and working through it; not getting out of it.

Wisdom is the spiritual capacity to see and evaluate life from God’s perspective. It means making right choices and doing the right thing according to the will of God as revealed in His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

When we go through trials or temptations we always want to look at it from our perspective. Why me? Why do I have to go through this? We don’t look at it from God’s perspective that he might be strengthening us, for something bigger in our life. Trials are a lot like weight lifting. When lifting weights, you have a set weight you lift, then some days you add on some more weight. Yeah, you feel a little pain afterwords, but after a few days it goes away and it helps you lift more later on. Trials are the same way. We go through the trial, it hurts for a bit of time, but later on, we can handle more.

Many times we will not know why we had to go through times of temptation until we’re in heaven. That’s were patience and wisdom come into play here on Earth. We have to remember that God loves us and wants what is best for us, not what we want, but what is best for us. Just as earthly parents sometimes let there children struggle through certain tasks or situations, so they are prepared later on in life, God does the same with us. We must pray if its not God’s Will to remove the struggle that He would give us the wisdom, understanding, and patience to get through it.

Influences on Leadership

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.–Proverbs 31:4-5

I’m not going to be discussing drinking in this post in great detail, that’s a whole post by itself. However, in this verse Lemuel was discouraging the king/leader from drinking as it impacted their ability to carry out their duties. I want to discuss how we let influences impact our leadership and decision making, whether that is in our homes, workplace or communities. First, we need to see what the roles are of a leader

Impact of our physical and emotional state

As leaders, we need to have a clear mind, as being a leader involves a lot of decision making. There are many things that can influence our mental thinking. What we eat can impact how we think. The stress of our jobs or lives can impact how we think or react to situations. Exercising can change how we deal with problems. Our emotions and our physical state can greatly impact our mental ability and that leads to our decision making.

How many times have we been hungry and we start getting grouchy? I can tell you at work, some of my worst decisions have been when I’m hungry. I don’t have my focus in the right place. My concentration is on making myself not feel hungry. We need to have a proper diet to feed our mind. Exercise helps us have more energy, to be more alert. Being alert helps us make better decisions.

I mentioned stress earlier affecting our decision making. Stress has a tendency to make our perspective change, which changes how we lead. Many times we’re more easy going when we are happy and quite the opposite when we are in bad moods.

What does this have to do with leadership?

Just as Lemuel was talking about wine influencing the judgment of kings, how we treat our bodies and cope with our emotions affects how we lead and the decisions we make. It determines how we treat people. When we’re making decisions, especially important ones, we really need to be aware of our mindset. Are we feeling physically fine? Do we feel hungry or physically worn down? How are our emotions? Are we happy, angry, sad, irritated, etc? All of these physical and emotional feelings influence our decisions making. There have been many times when I’m at work, I’ve pushed back making a decision because I knew I wasn’t in a good mood. Sometimes we don’t have that option, and being aware of how you feel physically or emotionally can help guard against making a bad decision. I know when I feel tired, I don’t care as much even though I know I should. In that case, I know I have to focus more. If it hasn’t been a good day, I know that I can be more harsh if I have to have a discussion with an employee about performance. In those situations I question myself on if I am being too harsh. Am I fairly critiquing their performance?

Although Lemuel was talking about wine, we need to be careful what other influences impact our judgment when leading or making decisions. If we’re careful when we know we’re not at our best, we’ll end up reducing the amount of bad decisions we make and be better leaders.


Are Your Standards Right?

Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him–Proverbs 26:12

Our Hearts

Pride and self-importance cause people to seem wise in their own view, which leads them to be arrogantly confident in their own ideas. Wisdom comes from God and is not formed by human reasoning, but accepting what God has said and revealed in Scripture. We have to understand that that there is potential deceit within our hearts and we must not assume that our standards of right and wrong are God’s standards. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

The heart is the inner being of a person that includes our desires, feelings and thoughts. The heart is extremely evil and corrupt, as a result people turn to selfishness and evil rather than to God. This cannot be cured and cannot be changed by itself. Only God’s grace can cure it. We need to ask God for wisdom.

Seeking Wisdom

James 1:5 says, “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. We need to be asking God to give us wisdom in dealing with and coping with our trials. Wisdom means the spiritual ability to see and evaluate life and conduct from God’s point of view.

In 1 Corinthians 2:16 Paul says, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” To have the mind of Christ means knowing God’s will and his plan and purpose. It means seeing things the way God sees them, valuing things the way He values them, loving what He loves and hating what He hates. This is how we should be setting the standards in our life.

Setting Standards

Many times we set our standards based on our own understanding, preferences, and how we were raised. There have been many times as I’ve got older that I have realized that some of the standards I was setting were based on my parents preferences. We also set standards to what we think is right, which is flawed. We need to be seeking God’s wisdom when setting our standards. As a whole, we need to also realize that our standards may work for us, but may not work for other people. For example, dressing up for church, I personally feel that I should dress up for church, because I’m going to worship God. Other people do not feel that they should dress up for church. I should not apply my standard to other people. In reality, I don’t think God cares what I’m wearing, it’s my heart at that time when I’m worshiping Him.

When we set our standards in our lives, seek God’s wisdom. Our ways are deceitful, God’s are pure and just.

Samson Part 4: Separation

Part 1, we discussed Samson’s wasted potential. Then in Part 2, we discussed how he didn’t have the right focus. Part 3 was about how Samson didn’t have wisdom. The final part in the series on Samson, we will discuss separationfrom God.

And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was depart from him.–Judges 16:20

Samson’s Sin

In the three previous posts in this series we have discussed Samson’s sin. He was anointed to be a Nazarite, which means he was to be separated from the rest of the population to do God’s will. He took a wife from the enemy, he disobeyed his parents God-given instructions, he had relations with a harlot, etc. Samson was more interested in his own needs than following God. He was in a state of constant disobedience with God. Honestly, this is how our lives are. We get so focused on our desires, wants, and our own will that we don’t pay attention to what God wants.

Separation

As Judges 16:20 said, “And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.” Samson is an example of believers that think God will remain with them and bless them, while they continually sin and are in immoral conduct. If we continually disobey God will not bless our lives. Just as parents with their children, if the child keeps disobeying, eventually the punishments get more severe. When we do sin, we need to ask forgiveness and completely move away from that sin.

How Did Samson Get To This Point?

He lost his focus on God, because he wanted to fulfill the desires of the flesh. Our fleshly desires lead us astray. They’re contrary to what God has desired for us. This is the beginning of our separation from God, because we start losing focus on Him.

Second, he started affiliating with the wrong people. The people that are in our lives every day are the ones that have a huge influence on what we do and think. We need to choose who we associate with very carefully.

Third, Samson, did not seek wisdom. Four times, he told Delilah the source of his strength, and four times the Philistines tried doing what Samson said would make him weak. We need to seek God for his wisdom, so we can stay away from these type of situations in our lives. We need to seek wisdom, so we can identify quickly when we are getting outside God’s will for us.

Samson had so much potential to do great things for Israel. Instead, he was a judge for 20 years and accomplished very little. We have all been given gifts by God to be used for his glory. Those gifts can be blessed greatly by obeying God, or those gifts can be wasted by not following God’s will. I believe that we will have to answer for that, and quite frankly, we’re going to be standing there with a bunch of excuses.

Use what God has given us. Stay focused and continue to ask for wisdom, and ask that God will show us his will, so we can glorify Him and be used for great things. As always we should be reading our Bibles and praying. This is how we keep from being separated from God.

Samson Part 3: Wisdom

In Part 3 of Samson, were going to discuss wisdom. Part 1 talked about wasted potential. Then in part 2, focus was discussed. To see those blog posts go here: Part 1, Part 2

Judges 16 goes through the exchange between Delilah and Samson. To give a quick overview, the Philistines come to Delilah and want her to find out what the source of Samson’s strength is. Judges 16:7, Samson says if they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried. Then he tells her in 16:11 if they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied. The third time, Judges 16:13, Samson tells Delilah if though weavest the seven locks of my head with the web. Finally, in Judges 16:17 he tells her the truth: That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a rasor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.

Each of these times, Delilah told the information that Samson had told her, to the Philistines and they tried it. I would like to think that if I told where my strength came from and then the enemy got that info and tried it to kill me, I wouldn’t be dumb enough to tell the person that just asked me what my source of strength was. Maybe Samson was asked a lot about where his strength came from. He could have told all sorts of people the same things as he told Delilah. When you tell a person three times what the source of your weakness is, and the enemy tries it on you; I would think you would start wondering who is giving them this information. The fourth time is what set him on the path of death.

As I mentioned in Part 2, we have to be careful who we associate with. We need to seek wisdom from God. The people that surround us, have the most influence in our lives. We need to ask God for wisdom with who we choose as friends. Those individuals can dictate how we serve the Lord, no matter what our intentions are.

I would think at some point Samson was wondering, why does she keep asking me what my source of strength is. We’ve all been there, where we’ve been in situations where the circumstances don’t seem quite right. That’s when we need to be asking God for wisdom.

As discussed in Part 1 and 2, Samson took a Philistine as his wife, even though God had forbid mixed marriage. All that did is start the fall of Samson’s life. We need to seek God’s wisdom in who we marry. Choosing the wrong person, can cause a lifetime of misery. Choosing the right person will lead to a lifetime of serving the Lord together and that can bring joy in your life even when troubles come.

The main point, we should always be asking God for wisdom in every aspect of our life. Too many times we get caught up with our lives and our wants and don’t seek God’s wisdom to guide us through the challenges we face every day. Samson was more concerned about his wants. Besides praying for wisdom, we should be praying that God changes our heart to be after his will, not ours, so we don’t end up like Samson.

Being Content

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.–Proverbs 17:1

I do this all the time, looking at houses and thinking it would be nice to have a bigger house, a fancier house. Or thinking about how it would be nice to drive a Mercedes instead of my Ford. The issue is, that I’m not content like I should be.

Being content is hard for us, especially in the Americanized culture, where it’s taught to want more. There is nothing wrong with wanting better things than what you have for yourself or your family. It’s how we go about getting those things. What sacrifices are we willing to make in order to have more? Many people work 80 hour weeks so that they can pay for a fancier house or nicer car. They miss out on time with their family and loved ones, just to have some nicer things.

I see it a lot with people I know, not being content with what they have and always trying to make a dollar, so they can afford something that is beyond what they can really afford. These people get grouchy and easily irritable. Why? Because they never know for sure if they’re going to have money to pay for the nicer home, car, toys, whatever.

There is peace in being content with what you have. I know personally, when I’m content, I’m a much happier person. I probably a lot easier to live with. When I’m not content, I’m grouchy, because I want something I can’t have. It’s hard for me, I’m a competitive person. I’m competitive with myself, I think I can always do better. Nothing wrong with being competitive, until you get to not being content with where you are.

I’ve talked a lot about wanting nicer homes or cars, but it can be with anything. Maybe it’s your job, you want a more powerful job, a fancier title. How’s your job performance when that job title doesn’t come when you think it should? Do you get mad or are you okay with it? Usually if we get mad, we start becoming not so great of an employee. (Check out Where Are You Seeking Favor)

Not being content in our lives, brings strife. We need to learn to appreciate what we have. Being content, will let us focus on the important things in life. It will bring us less strife in our life.

Doing a gratitude journal or even just thinking of a couple of things each day you’re grateful for changes your mindset for the day. It’s something I’ve done in the past and going to start doing again on a constant basis.

Check out some of my related articles: Balancing Act, Raining Money Doesn’t Grow A Great Life

What Are Your Intentions

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.–Proverbs 16:2

Have you ever been pushing someone to do something and you tell yourself you’re doing it for the right reasons, but reality is, your intentions are not good? I think we’ve all been there. There’s been many times where I try to influence people to do something and state it’s for some reason, but reality is, I have a different reason. Its not for anything that’s bad, but my true intentions are not what I’m telling people. Sometimes it’s because I’m being lazy and don’t want to help someone out.

Many times we convince ourselves that why we want to do something is justifiable. Just in the case with me not wanting to help someone out. I might say, I’m not good at doing that or people need to help themselves. Reality is, I’m being lazy. How many times do we lie that our sin is fine? We try to lie about our true intentions. When we say we have to teach someone a lesson, is that true or are we trying to get revenge or get out of helping someone? We do this so many times in our lives.

When need to remember to ask ourselves what our true intentions are. Other people may never know what our true intentions are, but God does. We’ll have to answer for that. Are you being honest with your true intentions?

Are We Fair

A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight. — Proverbs 11:1

We should deal with people honestly both in financial issues, but all circumstances in life where cheating is possible. Nothing destroys a person’s reputation more than being accused of cheating people. It’s even more severe now with social media. I’ve seen it several times where someone posts not to do business with this person because they will scam you. Then that post gets shared around.

Our character and who we are as men is very important for our ministry. If you have no integrity, you’re not much of a man. There is nothing wrong with getting a good deal on something, but we also need to be fair and not swindle the person either. Even worse is to take advantage of a person that is down on their luck, i.e had a sudden case of medical bills, or some other financial disaster in their lives. We should always try to be fair. I love watching American Pickers (www.antiquearchaeology.com/), and one thing I like about them is, sometimes when they’re asking how much something is from a person, the person will give a price. The pickers will sometimes tell them, that it’s worth more than what the person is asking for it. We need to be like that!

I take my cars to the Mercedes dealership when I need it worked on. I don’t own a Mercedes, but they are extremely honest. When I say, hey there might be something wrong with this, many times they come back and say it is fine. There have been some other places, that always say you’re right this needs to be replaced, later on to find out it didn’t. I’m willing to pay a little bit more in service cost to know I’m being treated fairly. We should treat people how we want to be treated. . . and that means being fair in all circumstances.

Don’t Be An April Fool All Year Around

I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you: Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: The would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Proverbs 1:26-30

We have all been in the situation where we try to help someone out and they just don’t want it. No matter how much we try, they push away sound counsel. They sit there and complain more and more about how bad their situation is getting.

Or what we see is that someone keeps doing something that is wrong or harmful to themselves. They say I have to stop, I’m going to change. A few days later, they are doing the same thing again, with the same reaction: I have to stop, I’m going to stop. Repeat this several more times, and your compassion starts to run out for them. We start to blow off their claims that they are going to get better or make a change.

How many times is this in our own lives, where we say we are going to change something in our life? We are going to quit a sin. Yet even minutes after saying that we do it again.

Proverbs 1:26-30 is pretty clear, eventually God is going to have enough of our false claims to change. God has given us black and white standards of right and wrong throughout His Word. To go against them can bring tragic results in our lives. The eventual price we pay for sin is anguish, suffering and even disaster.

We would be wise not to keep making false claims to change, but to ask for a change in heart so that a true effort can be made to change. Otherwise we are just fools.

Balancing Act

Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me –Proverbs 30:8

In Matthew 6:11 it says, “Give us this our daily bread.” This is representative of our need to have basic provisions. We should always pray to have enough income to meet personal and family needs, to further God’s work, and to give to those in need

In a previous post, “Raining Money Doesn’t Grow a Great Life” I discussed how many times we get caught up in making money and working ourselves to death, and we lose out on time with God, family, and friends. We lose our balance in life. Being at the extremes of money, i.e poverty or rich, tends to make people focused on money. It becomes a god to them.

God wants us to be building relationships, not tirelessly working. In Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, God says there is a time for everything. There is a very delicate balance in life. Look at our own bodies, there are compounds, say potassium, that are needed for the everyday function of our lives. Potassium is vital in how our nerve cells send signals (click here, if you want to see how it works). Yet, if our potassium levels get out of whack, that can cause some serious issues, including death.

Proverbs 30:8 is talking about money and provisions, I think that meaning can go a bit further. We should have a balanced life. A balanced diet is thrown around a lot, and there is a lot of merit in that. We need nutrients from all sorts of foods. The same is with our whole life, we need balance. Too much play is just as bad as too much work. Too much money is as bad as not enough. Too much food is just as dangerous as too little food. Too much family can be just as bad as never being around family.

We have to have balance in our lives. This allows us to focus on the good instead of what comes from excess or drought extremes. When we are in need of something, our mind is focused on getting it. When we are in excess of something our mind is focused on getting more or keeping it. When we’re in the middle, we have what we need to sustain, and can focus on our relationship with God.