The Generous Wisdom-Giving God (James 1:5-8)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“The Generous Wisdom-Giving God”

(James 1:5-8)

Series: Living the Faith [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

October 15, 2017

Welcome

Good morning, church.  Please be seated.

We’re so glad that each and every one of you is here today!

My name is Matt McCraw and I’m the pastor here at First Baptist Church of Bartow.

I’m glad to see you all.  If you’re a guest, please take some time to fill out the “What’s Up?” card in the bulletin.  You can drop that off in the offering plate later in the service.  We would love to have a record of your visit with us!

As we come to worship, let’s focus our hearts and minds by turning to the Word of God.

Scripture Reading:

You can follow along on the screen as I read Philippians 2:5-11.

5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited.  7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -Philippians 2:5-11

Because of the humility of Christ, demonstrated most vividly by His sacrifice on the cross, God the Father exalted Jesus and one day everyone will confess that He is Lord!  We are here this morning to confess that Jesus is Lord.

Let’s pray together as we continue to worship.

(Prayer)

Stand now and let’s worship the One who is worthy of praise!

Introductory Comments:

Good morning, again, church family!

We are continuing our series through the book of James, entitled Living the Faith.

Today we will be in James 1:5-8.

Thus far we have seen that James is a servant leader of the early Jewish Christians and he is writing to them as they learn to Live the Faith.

We learned last week that our trials are given to us to make us complete as Christians.  We should not grumble over our trials, but seek to see what God may be teaching us.

(pause)

Do you know one godly characteristic that you really need in the midst of trials?  Wisdom!

Today, we’re going to learn that James tells us to seek God for wisdom.

Let’s look at this passage together.

Read the Passage

(Read James 1:5-8)

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.”

Let’s pray together.

(Prayer)

In today’s sermon, I want us to see that James is telling us to seek wisdom and to seek it in certain ways.  So, first, we see that we are to . . .

I. Seek Wisdom (v. 5) [on screen]

Let me just point out that James says “if any of you lacks wisdom.”

There is an assumption here that some of us will lack wisdom!

I dare say that many of us are without wisdom at times!

Remember in the last sermon that James says in verses 2-4 that trials help make us complete.  Again, an implication is there that we are not yet complete.

Part of our incompleteness is our lack of wisdom.

So, if we do lack wisdom (which many of us do) we are to ask of it from God.

God is Creator of the Universe.  As such, He is also the Creator of all good things, all beautiful emotions, all forms of intelligence, and all admirable attributes, including wisdom.

He is not only the Creator of these things, He is also the giver of these things.

God knows that we want to grow in wisdom, so He is ready and willing to give it to us.

Well, what is wisdom?  I would say that wisdom is knowledge, experience, or judgment that leads to proper decisions, thoughts, and actions.

(repeat)

God, the Creator of the Milky Way galaxy, the Creator of every living thing; He can give us wisdom!

Remember the context in which James is sharing this: it is in the context of suffering and trials.

James says that when you are experiencing trials, you should seek God for wisdom!

We also learn that God gives wisdom generously.

He has an unlimited supply.  It’s up for the taking!  Go to God!  Get some free wisdom!

Further, He gives wisdom ungrudgingly.

Well, what does that mean?  Ungrudgingly means he does not give wisdom reluctantly or unconfidently.

God gives wisdom to anyone and everyone that needs it!

He does not discriminate.

Kurt A. Richardson, in his commentary on James, says, “However poor, ignorant, mistaken, or confused believers may be, they are commanded to pray for wisdom.  This command is matched by the certainty of receiving wisdom from God.”

Well, Amen!  There’s hope for all of us no matter our condition! 😀 We can seek wisdom and find it in God.

No Christian should miss out on this opportunity!

There’s no need to feel that you have all the wisdom that you need because you indeed do not!  At the same time, there’s no need to be ashamed of your lack of wisdom, because we’re all in the same boat, and God will give it to us all!

The last part of verse 5 says, “and it will be given to him.”

God will indeed give us wisdom if we seek it.

God wants us to be wise and He is generous in giving out wisdom.

Next, we see the manner in which we are to seek wisdom.

Look at verse 6.

(Read James 1:6)

But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

So, we are told that when it comes to seeking wisdom we are to . . .

II. Seek in Faith (v. 6) [on screen]

We are to ask God in faith!  We are not to doubt!

In fact, James says that if we do doubt that we are like the sea the rocks back and forth and is unstable.

Now, some of us can barely get into a johnboat without flipping it over!  Put us in a rolling sea and we are completely helpless!  We are definitely not stable!

In the same manner, when we lack faith in our prayers to God, we are unstable in our Christian walk.

Now, let’s make some clarifications regarding this discussion on faith in our prayers.

First all, James is not saying that we need to be perfect Christians; he is saying that we need to be committed Christians.

We shouldn’t be unsettled between the things of God and the things of the world.  We can’t be going back and forth.  We need to be committed to God and to trust that He is who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do!

This is the type of faith that Jesus spoke of when He healed people.

Jesus often said, “Believe and it will be done!”

Do we believe that God can give us wisdom?  That’s the point!  Complete trust in God and His ways is the type of faith that we are to have!

Secondly, I’d like to speak about a heresy in the world today known as “Name it and Claim it” theology.

Let me just say right off the bat, that this is not what James is talking about.

Name it and claim it theology says that if I name something, if I want something, then all that I have to do is claim it as my own and it will be mine.

James is saying that if God commands something, and if God gives that gift generously, then His people are to ask Him for it.

Our faith should not be in ourselves, our faith should be in God.

If He wants to give something according to His will, then He will give it!

God may not want you to be the most handsome or beautiful person in the room; He may not want you to have that house, or car, or jet; He may not want you to go to that school, or play on that team; He may not want you to be healed from that disease at this time; but you can bet your bottom dollar that God wants you to have wisdom!  So, pray for it in faith!

That’s the kind of faith that we are to have.

We are to fight for belief that God will do what He said He will do.  In the midst of trials, in the midst of confusion, when we lack wisdom, we are to ask for wisdom from God who gives generously.

When we seek wisdom, we are to seek in faith.

Finally, when seeking wisdom, we are also to . . .

III. Seek Stability (v. 7-8) [on screen]

Let’s read the passage again.  Look at verses 7 and 8.

(Read James 1:7-8)

That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.”

So, James tells us that the person who doubts is double-minded and unstable.

This is not what we want!  We want to be stable!  We are to seek stability!

Why should we not expect to receive anything from God?  Because we are double-minded and unstable!  Well, why are we considered double-minded and unstable if we doubt?

Basically, I think it boils down to this: we profess that we trust God, so if we don’t, in fact, trust Him, we should not expect to receive anything from Him.

We cannot both trust and not trust God at the same time!  That is double-minded and unstable.

To be double-minded means that we have two ✌🏻minds.  One that trusts God and the other that does not.

James’ point here is that we cannot both say that God is Creator of all things and can do all things, and at the same time doubt that He can provide us wisdom.

This rebuke by James does not point to a single moment of doubt, but a consistent doubt.  James is talking about an inconsistent person who claims to be a believer but does not really live it out.  This is inadequate faith.

If we’re not convinced that God’s ways are best for us, why are we even asking Him for anything?

However, the person who trusts in God; he or she can ask God for wisdom and He will provide it.

Concluding Thoughts:

On a practical level, if we don’t have faith, what should we do?  We should ask God!  If He is the giver of wisdom, He is certainly also the giver of faith.

God wants us to have faith, so we should ask Him to increase our faith.

As in Mark 9:24 where the father of the demon-possessed boy said to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief!”

One of the things we will notice in the book of James is that there is no middle ground between belief and unbelief.  You either believe in and trust God, or you don’t.  You either trust God to provide wisdom for you, or you don’t.

So we see that when we ask for wisdom, that the basis of our confidence is not in our faith itself, but in the one in whom we have faith!  God, the Creator of the Universe!

Here’s our bottom line folks.  If you remember only one thing, remember this:

Let’s boil it all down here.

Bottom Line: We ask for wisdom, confident that He is able; we ask in faith so that we won’t be unstable. [on screen]

(repeat)

Here’s the weekly challenge this week:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Think of a situation this week where you might need wisdom [on screen]

Difficult conversations; big decisions; going through trials; whatever it may be, ask God for wisdom.

  1. Ask God to increase your faith in Him [on screen]

He wants to.  Don’t be unstable.

  1. Write down three elements that will help give you a stable faith [on screen]

Spend some time thinking about this.

Closing:

As we come to a close I want to encourage you all to seek the Lord deeply.  Ask Him for wisdom; ask Him for faith.

Someone asked me recently if you could pray for God to give others wisdom.  Yes!  You can, and God may grant that.  However, I believe God’s design is that we would seek it personally by going to Him.

Church, seek wisdom in God, and seek in faith, so that you may be stable.

Just like we can ask God for wisdom, we can ask Him to make us new people who follow after Him.

(Gospel Presentation)

As we sing this song of invitation, let us trust in Jesus for all that we need.

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song: Only Trust Him

Benediction:

Join us tonight for evening worship and week one of our study out of the book I Will (hold up book).  Tonight, be sure to have the introduction and chapter 1 done.

A couple of quick announcements:

Next Sunday, October 22,  there will be a special called business meeting for the purpose of electing messengers for the South Florida Baptist Association and the Florida Baptist Convention annual meetings.

Also, evening services next week will be at the South Florida Baptist Association annual meeting at Medulla Baptist Church in Lakeland.

One more thing: We have a family that would like to join the church this week: my family!  If you would like to celebrate with our family for coming to join the church, do so by saying “Amen!”

Alright!  Thanks for coming everyone.  Let’s conclude by singing the doxology.

(Sing Doxology)

God bless you church!  See you tonight!

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