Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; The righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. (Hosea 14:9, NKJV)
One’s wisdom is calculated by that person’s relation to the ways (precepts, commands, Psa. 119:3-4). “The ways of the Lord are right,” that is, they are just and true (Deut. 32:4). One cannot go wrong by knowing and following the ways of God. Therefore, to understand God’s ways, to know them and to “walk in them” is to be wise and prudent. This wisdom is joined with righteousness as one lives according to God’s ways or rules of conduct. On the other hand, transgressors deviate from the ways of the Lord; they stumble upon His word. Paul’s description of the Roman Christians illustrates the wisdom Hosea commends: “For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore, I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple (innocent, jrp) concerning evil” (Rom. 16:19). Be wise. Make the right choice, to know and to walk in the ways of the Lord. God’s ways are right and good, and the righteous walk in them.
38 “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38–39, NASB)
Rabbi Gamaliel gave sound advice to the Jewish council members, some of whom “plotted to kill” the apostles (Acts 5:33). We never win when we fight against the purposes of God – we always lose. As Jesus told Saul during His appearance to him on the road to Damascus, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5). Yet, people still fight against God’s word, His truth and His purposes. For example, Christ said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). But, many reply, “He who believes is saved and will be baptized.” Again, God said, “you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4). But many say, “you cannot fall from grace.” And again, God said, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). Yet, many say one is justified by “faith only.” Sadly, all these fight against God. It is a losing battle. Stand with God and His word, and do not “be found fighting against God.”
37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ 38 “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, 39 whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt” (Acts 7:37–39, NKJV)
Moses, the Lawgiver to Israel and Prophet of God, foretold of another prophet like himself whom God would raise up and to whom Israel was to listen. In Acts 3:22-26, the apostle Peter identified that Prophet as Jesus. The word of God spoken to Moses and to Israel on Mt. Sinai is described as living words. God’s word is not dead, but active and powerful to free us from sin’s captivity (Rom. 1:16; Heb. 4:12). Israel set an example in the wilderness we must not follow; she “would not obey” the living oracles God gave her. Note that Israel’s disobedience is counted as rejecting God’s prophet and God’s word. Disobedience arises from a heart that turns away from God. We cannot disobey God’s word and rightfully claim to be following God’s Prophet, Jesus. Rejecting His truth through disobedience reveals a heart that has turned away from Christ to continue in sin.
20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20–21, NKJV)
Have you ever stopped to see how God defines a “good work?” It is worth your time and effort. Christians are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Therefore, the good works that please God are the ones He created us for and arranged for us to do. In today’s passage, “every good work” is identified as accomplishing “His will” (v. 21). The prayer being offered is that God would bring them (us) to spiritual completeness in every good work, by working in them (us) “what is well-pleasing in His sight.” If a work is against God’s revealed will (His word), it is not good and does not please God. We cannot possibly call something a “good work” when it violates truth. By His inspired Scriptures, God equips us for “every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Again, it is evident that good works conform to truth. Therefore, God’s definition of a good work is a work that agrees with His will. When a work violates the Scriptures it cannot be good.
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17, NKJV)
In an age when many people possess the mind of Pilate (who said, “What is truth?”), faithful Christians continue to affirm God’s word as truth (Jno. 18:38). Please note it is God’s word that is truth, not the word of human beings. The Bible is not a collection of the opinions men, or the fables of fallible men; it is the inspired, inerrant, communication of the mind of God to the world (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; 14:37). Divine truth has the power to sanctify sinners (“to purify, to consecrate, to make holy,” Jno. 17:19). Christians are “sanctified in Christ Jesus” and therefore, “called saints” (1 Cor. 1:2). The “Holy Scriptures” make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Thus, when we believe and obey truth, we are set apart from sin and set apart unto Christ (2 Thess. 2:13-14). Have faith that God’s word is truth. It has power to save you and power to lead your life in holy and godly conduct.
And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. (Hebrews 13:22, NKJV)
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews had admonished them of their need for endurance (Heb. 6:11-12; 10:36; 12:1-2, 7). Now, as he concludes his epistle, he urges them to bear with his word of exhortation. This reminds us of our need to accept the word of God without complaining and disputing, but to have ready hearts to hear and do His will. It is for our good that we bear with the exhortations in God’s word. Our faith is not only produced, but strengthened by bearing with the word of God. By using God’s word, we exercise our spiritual senses to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:14). Instead of growing tired and impatient with God’s the word of exhortation, let us yearn for it, feast upon it, and live by it.
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. (James 1:9–10, NKJV)
A person’s life is not measured or defined in God’s sight by “the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk. 12:15). Yet, so many do this very thing, looking down on those of humble means while giving undue esteem to the wealthy. Power in the material world is often defined by possesses: “He who has the money makes the rules.” It is not so in the kingdom of God. Those of lowly estate are exalted to set in “the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). And, the wealthy saint is transformed in humble faith to value Christ as greater riches than this world’s passing treasures. Life is transitory, fading away like the flowers of the field. Measure yourself by God’s enduring standard of truth, live by faith, and do not measure yourself with the soon to perish values of the world.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5, NKJV)
Christians should want to grow in wisdom. James implies that we are considering ourselves and our personal need for wisdom by saying, “if any of you lacks wisdom.” The first step to obtaining wisdom is knowing we need it and then, asking God for it. But, we should not expect God to stick a funnel in our ear and pour wisdom into our brain! God is ready to answer the prayer of the person who is seeking wisdom: “If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth comes understanding and knowledge” (Prov. 2:4-6). Wisdom is the prudent, appropriate use of knowledge that honors God’s will. So, let us seek wisdom from the true source of all wisdom. Go to His word, and also pray to God for it. God gives wisdom sincerely and freely to those who fear Him.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2–4, NKJV)
The ability to endure the trials and pressures of life with joy and not be frustrated (or even become despondent) is a clear mark of spiritual maturity. When you are “having a bad day,” do not let it overwhelm you. Refocus your attention on the joy of being a child of God. Make a deliberate decision to be patient in the moment of trial. Choose hope over despair, and a growing, maturing faith instead of discouraging doubt. Meet the trials that challenge your faith with unyielding endurance. Allow your hope to anchor your soul in the hour of trial. Patience will work in you to complete your faith and embolden your joy.
67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people,69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David” (Luke 1:67–69, NKJV)
This inspired proclamation by the father of John the baptizer aptly depicts the prophetic concepts of the Messiah which God “spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets” (Lk. 1:70). First, Messiah would visit mankind doing God’s work (v. 68). The work accomplished by Christ Jesus is the work of God Himself (Isa. 61:1-2; Lk. 4:16-21). Second, the coming Messiah was prophetically associated with salvation (v. 69; Isa. 53:11-12). Christ Jesus is the Savior who brings mercy and the remission of sins (v. 71, 72, 77). Third, the coming Messiah would be regal, a king of the house of David (v. 69; Psa. 2:6; Lk. 1:32-33). Christ Jesus is King, and possesses all authority. He subdues His enemies and He is served by His people with reverence, holiness and righteousness (Lk. 1:74-75; Heb. 1:8-9). God’s prophets foretold of the coming Messiah. John announced His arrival (Lk. 1:76; 3:1-6). Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. He is Immanuel (God with us), who saves and who reigns today. He is our Hope and our Salvation: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).