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Sunday May 22nd
Persuasive Words vs True Wisdom 

What a joy to be with all of you today.  I’m Pastor Ben of The Journey Church.

 

Have you ever gone to a time share meeting or bought a used car? If you have, then you have probably heard someone use persuasive words. They can tell you all of the “right” reasons why you should buy from them. I think of the snake oil salesman …… you won’t believe what this product can do for you!

 

Preachers can use persuasive words as well. They can find a scripture and twist it just enough to make their point and sell you on it. Politicians can tell you everything they are going to do for you and then you have to wait four more years before you can really do anything about it. Lawyers can use persuasive words to sway a jury, remember the OJ trial …. “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit” … thank you Johnny Cochran.

 

Persuasive words are words that we conjure up to sell our point of view on just about any topic. We use persuasive words to defend our actions. I’ve read several resumes over my years in business and can’t believe some of the ways that people will massage and embellish the self portrait of themselves. They are doing their best to sell you on themselves. That brings us to the title of today’s message, “Persuasive words or true wisdom?”

 

Proverbs 9:10 NIV The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

 

What does it mean to have the fear of the Lord? For the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of the judgement of God and eternal death, eternal separation from God.

 

Luke 12:5 NIV   But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

 

Hebrews 10:31 KJV It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

For the believer, the fear of God is something much different. The believer’s fear is reverence of God.

 

Hebrews 12: 28-29 NIV Therefore , since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,  for our “God is a consuming fire.”

 

This reverence and awe is exactly what the fear of God means for Christians.

 

Proverbs 1:7  NKJ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but  fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 

Until we understand who God is and develop a reverential fear of Him, we cannot have true wisdom. True wisdom is knowing God is holy, just and righteous. The fear of God is the basis for our walking in His ways, loving Him and serving Him. Some people will redefine the fear of God to “respecting” Him. While respect is certainly included, it’s much more. We need to know how much God hates sin and fear His judgment on sin.

 

Did you ever get a “spanking” when you were younger? My Dad put the fear of discipline in our minds growing up. Oh, he was a mean parent …… he meant what he said.

Have you ever had a “spiritual spanking “?

 

Hebrews 12: 5-11 NIV  And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

 

We aren’t supposed to be afraid of God, we have no reason to be scared. We have His promise that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Fearing God means having such a reverence for Him that it has a great impact on the way we live our lives. The fear of God is respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshiping Him in awe.

 

Proverbs 9:10 NIV The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

 

Proverbs 1:7 NIV The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 

Did you notice the subtle difference between these two verses? Wisdom and knowledge are recurring themes in the Bible, and though related, they are not the same. The dictionary defines wisdom as “ the ability to discern or judge what is true, right or lasting.” Knowledge, on the other hand is “information gained through experience, reasoning or acquaintance.” Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. You can be knowledgeable without being wise. An example would be, knowledge is knowing how to handle and use a gun, wisdom is knowing when to use it or not.

Knowing facts about God and the Bible is not all there is to wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God,

 

James 1:5 NIV   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.

 

To fear the Lord is our start on the path to knowledge, and then God will give us wisdom for us to glorify Him and use the knowledge we have of Him to lead others to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

 

Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the scriptures, wisdom in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom is the fitting application of knowledge. Knowledge understands that the traffic light has turned red, wisdom applies the brakes (amber lights is a different story)! Knowledge sees the quicksand; wisdom walks around it. Knowledge memorizes the Ten Commandments, wisdom obeys them. Knowledge learns of God; wisdom loves Him and applies the knowledge.

 

I was reading the story of Solomon, regarded as possibly the wisest man of all time. How did he get to be so wise? No one is born with wisdom, so what happened with Solomon? The Bible says that God appeared to Solomon in a dream and promised him anything he asked. Solomon chose wisdom, understanding and discernment, asking God to help him govern his people well and wisely.

 

1 Kings 3:11-13 NIV So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.

 

Although Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, he was also one of the most foolish. God gave him wisdom and he eventually squandered it away by disobeying God’s commandments. Solomon couldn’t control his lust….. 700 wives, 300 concubines, God was angered. Because he married “foreigners” and he allowed them to worship their gods, the inevitable happened, they lured King Solomon away from God into the worship of false gods and idols. Over his 40-year reign, Solomon did many great things, but he succumbed to the temptations of lesser men. All of the great things he did as king became meaningless when he stopped pursuing God.

 

Why do I share this story with you? I guess we will use it as a reality check ….. it doesn’t matter how wise you are, how smart you are, how much knowledge you have …. we still have an enemy who is out to seek, kill and destroy. Ask God for wisdom and then walk humbly with Him. Don’t think too highly of yourselves. Follow the wisdom found in

 

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

Closing thought : This will be a first for me ….. I’m going to close today’s message with a nursery rhyme and a scripture. The nursery rhyme is believed to be a symbol of wisdom, the scripture is wisdom. First published in 1875 is the nursey rhyme, “ A Wise Old Owl” by an unknown author.

 

There was an owl who lived in an oak.

The more he heard, the less he spoke.

The less he spoke the more he heard.

Oh, if men were all like that wise old bird.

 

Now for some true wisdom, published thousands of years ago, and I know all three of the authors, personally, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

Micah 6:8 NKJ He has shown you, O man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you. But to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.