I remember the opening and closing scenes of the movie “Pretty Woman.” A seemingly homeless man, talking to himself or rather rambling, walks through the scene repeating, “This is Hollywood. What’s your dream?” The implication was that anything could happen in Hollywood and everyone should have a dream. The storyline follows a women (Julia Roberts) who has fallen on bad times and into prostitution. She is picked up unintentionally by a very rich entrepreneur (Richard Gere). The two eventually fall in love and he takes her as his wife. She goes from skid row to love and riches in just about two hours.
It is built into our human nature to dream for better times. The Scripture says that it is the Lord who gives dreams and visions in this church age by the Holy Spirit. We hope for something better. Even now, we all have dreams of things better in our relationships, our careers, the lives of our children. God has poured into us a desire for better. The question is how does better come to be. Many dream all their lives but never see anything better.
The ungodly environment that we live also promises better. The devil tempted Jesus with good food, great wealth and power, and divine intervention from God to undo our bad decisions. This world never tempts anyone with something worse. We may have knowledge that partaking in what is being offered will lead to something bad, but the temptation is always presented in a positive manner. The temptations of drugs, sex, music, alcohol, religion, money, all promise to fulfill our dreams of better. The problem with all of these things is that they are unable to give us anything good. They are unable to fulfill any dream. They may create a façade that lasts for a night or two, but then everything comes crashing down. The truth is that nothing of this world can give us anything good because every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Heavenly Lights (James 1:17, NIV).
The confusing part of all of this dreaming is that when the Lord does give to us those good and perfect things that fulfill our dreams of something better, He does so through many of the same things by which we are tempted and fooled into negative places. People, money, sex, food, wine, music, religion can all be blessings from God, but they can just as easy be traps of Hell. Each can be used to enrich our life and destroy it. Navigating through blessings and curses that many times look the same at first glance is not easy. Our inability to discern when something is a blessing or curse is the downfall of our faith, our families, our finances, our future. And what makes things even more confusing is that sometimes the Lord will use things that appear to be quite negative to prepare us for greater things. What are we to do?
The story of Joseph reveals the key of finding our way through the jungle of earthly vessels of both good and evil to find the dreams that God has given us. Joseph had a dream of being a king, a prince. But his brothers were jealous when he told them his dream because his father favored him above all brothers. They beat him, through him into a pit, then sold him into slavery. It seemed that Joseph’s dreams were gone. What we do when our dreams come crashing down will determine the rest of our life.
But the Scripture says that God was with him as a slave. He was a successful slave. He could have been such a bitter and angry soul, but instead, he continued to honor God as much as he was able in the situation he was in. He lived with character and integrity and he honored God with his obedience to God’s law. His master put him in charge of his entire household. The wife of his master lusted after him and attempted to seduce him. He did not just resist, but literally took off running, but she grabbed his cloak and he left it behind. She lied to her husband saying it was Joseph trying to seduce her. Joseph was thrown into prison.
After things had seemed to get better, everything fell apart again and now he is rotting in prison. But we do not see him with vengeance in his eyes nor hatred in his heart. But he becomes a good prisoner so compliant and helpful to the captain of the jail that he is put in charge of all prisoners under the captain’s authority. His childhood dreams seemed so far away, but he continued to honor the Lord by loving others, living with integrity, and trying to be a blessing to those around him. He just obeyed the Lord.
Soon, two of the king’s closest servants were thrown into prison. They each had dreams, but neither could interpret the dreams. Joseph, trusting God and desiring to be a blessing to others asks to hear the dreams trusting the Lord to interpret and the Lord does. Joseph’s interpretations completely come true. One of these servants is released from prison and restored to his position with the king and soon the king has a dream. The servant remembers Joseph interpreting his dream and he tells the king about Joseph. Joseph is brought before the king. Again, he does not beg for freedom. He doesn’t plead his case of unjust imprisonment. He again desires to honor the Lord by being a blessing to others. He kept obeying the Lord. His interpretation so impressed the king that Joseph was made prince of Egypt with all authority of Pharaoh bestowed upon him. His childhood dream had come to pass.
The things that seemed horrible were the path to fulfillment. No one ever would have dreamed that these things were God’s way of bringing Joseph into his dreams. And there was no way for Joseph to know either. In fact, Joseph didn’t know. He had no idea. All Joseph did was keep obeying the Lord, continually honoring Him in spirit and deed. This obedience and desire to bless others brought him both blessings and temptations. At any time, he could have lost his way had he stopped obeying the Lord and sought after temptations of bitterness, vengeance, or sex. But he just kept obeying and honoring the Lord. This obedience moved him away from the temptations and into blessings through hardship.
As we are hoping for the dreams that God has given us to come to pass, we might be tempted by instant, yet temporary gratification. We may be discouraged by hardship and pain. We may be confused that God would give us a dream then seem to take it from us. But through it all, if we will just keep obeying the Lord’s commands, honoring Him with our hearts, and living to bless others in the name of Christ, step by step, we will avoid the devil’s traps, pass through the hardships, then suddenly find ourselves in the heart of the dream God gave us long ago.
I pray the Lord gives you a spirit of discipline to obey the principles of Scripture that you might see God's dream for you manifest in your life. Please share this with someone who may feel that their dreams have been crushed. And if you haven't already done so, subscribe to pastorlee.org and receive my ebook Breaking Free From Your Past as a Free gift.
Long life. Riches. Honor. Pleasant ways. Peaceful paths. Does any of this sound good? Isn’t this what the whole world is searching for? I know the American dream is about success and making something out of your life, but it tends to mean to do well financially, but doesn’t God want more for us than money? I know that I included riches in the list and then acted as if this is not about money. The word for ‘riches’ means increase. It doesn’t mean that it is God’s intention that everyone become a billionaire, but it does mean that everyone can live a life of increase where their financial situation increases throughout their life. God wants long life, riches, honor, and peace for every soul. For the wealthiest businessman on Wall Street, the crack babies born in the worst situations, and the slave sold for a price. God wants and provides a way for everyone in every position and lot in life to have peace, pleasantness, honor, and riches.
How does the Lord intend for us to receive these into our life? We can’t say that it is work because a slave can work very hard yet at the end of their life, they have nothing to show for it. We can’t say that these come from having a good job or a good wife or good children. There are many people with good jobs one day and gone the next. There are plenty who have a wonderful family, but never experience riches, honor, peace, and long life. How about going to church? Surely if you go to church all your life, God will give these to you? But again I have to answer ‘no.’ Going to church every time the doors are open, praying every day-twice a day, worshiping, singing your heart out in full submission to the Holy Spirit. I have known so many church folk that fit this description, but they still did not receive these things that God has made available. Alright, I have made you wait long enough. Let’s look at how God wants to deliver these things into your life:
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed. (ESV)
There you go. It’s wisdom. Ok, I know that some of you are thinking already that this excludes you because you are not very wise. If that’s you, let me direct you to that very first line. It says blessed is the one who F-I-N-D-S wisdom, and the one who G-E-T-S understanding. No where does it say that the wisdom of God is a spiritual gift given only to some, but not others. It has been hidden the Bible says, but unlike the Amazing Race, the prize does not go to the first one to find it. There is a abundance of God’s wisdom for all who find it.
This is different from intellect. This has nothing to do with your IQ score. You don’t qualify with high SAT scores. There is no AZVAB for wisdom. I remember when I was playing football, my college coach yelled at me once, “YOUNG, YOU ARE AS DUMB AS A SACK OF ROCKS” He was probably right, but even I, a dumb sack of rocks, can find the wisdom gifted by the Creator of the Universe. We only have to go out looking and find it. Ok, you ready to start looking. It’s like a giant hide-n-seek game or marco polo in the pool (by the way, did you see that marco polo commercial for Geico-hilarious!). So gather up your equipment and whatever you need for this journey. Ready. Set. Go.
Hey, didn’t you read the first post in this series. I already told you where God has hidden His wisdom. It is hidden in Christ. In the second post, we went a little bit deeper. The wisdom of God is found in Christ because He is the love of God manifest and He is the Truth. Wisdom without love and without truth is the love of man and man is dumb, D-U-M-B, dumb! The more we know the person of Jesus, the more wisdom we will find, the more understanding we will get.
For a beautiful life, full of peace and increase, I don’t have to be super-smart. I don’t have to be politically connected. I don’t have to know the right people or go to the right university. I don’t need to be smart and I don’t have to be talented even (though I know all of you are super-talented). You need only to draw near to God and the Holy Spirit will fill you with the mind of Christ. You will have the wisdom of Jesus Christ, who is God forever and ever. I don’t have to have the perfect past or be from a perfect family. Maybe you are divorced or come from a divorced family. Maybe your past reads like the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted. It doesn’t matter any of that. Starting today, the more you get to know Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit fill you with the love of God and the mind of Christ, you will get wisdom and experience long life, riches, honor, peace, and blessings. Well, what are you waiting for? Get goin’
He said, “Tomorrow!” Can you believe he said tomorrow? That is hilarious. Maybe he just loves frogs. I don’t know but he said, “Tomorrow.” One of the craziest things in Scripture that will never be used as an example of wisdom happened in Egypt during the tug-o-war between the Pharoah and Moses. You remember that the people of Israel had been enslaved in Egypt for centuries and then the Lord sent Moses to deliver them out of that place. Moses was given power by God to perform miraculous signs to convince Pharaoh. But each time Pharaoh would refuse to let the people go. And when he refused, the Lord rained down curses. One such curse was that of frogs. All of the sudden after Pharaoh had again refused to let God’s people go, the Lord brought frogs from out of the Nile river. Now, the Egyptians worshipped frogs. It was against their belief system to kill the frogs or even accidentally step on the frogs. The Lord brought in a tsunami of frogs. They were everywhere. They were in their sheets, in their cereal, all over the floor, everywhere. I am sure they rolled over in bed and found themselves smooching a big, green frog. Pharaoh knew that God would listen to Moses so he called Moses and asked him to get rid of the frogs and Moses said, ‘I’ll even do one better than that. I will get rid of them, but I will let you decide when the frogs will be gone.”
Now, I don’t know what time of the day this conversation took place. The Scripture doesn’t really say, but I am thinking it might have been in the morning. When else will you be most ready to get rid of frogs but after being unable to sleep because they were jumping all over you all night. Anyway, the point is why didn’t Pharaoh say, “Right now. I want them gone right now.” Foolishness!
These are the kinds of decisions that we make all the time and afterwards, we think to ourselves, “What was I thinking?” These kinds of decisions can make our life very difficult. In the moment, we decide to do something stupid with our money, something stupid relationally, something stupid that changes everything. The good news today is that the wisdom of God is available for all of us right now. He has made it available. He has revealed it in His Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can receive God’s wisdom into our life for long life, peace, prosperity, honor, and riches.
The Bible talks about two different kinds of wisdom. There is the wisdom of man that is compartmentalized as we spoke about yesterday. Then, we have the wisdom of God that is all-encompassing bringing success to your overall life not just certain aspects of it. We need to the know the difference between the two before we can start catching our brain before it make another big, dumb, stupid mistake.
In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (That’s a very long name for a tree 😊). But that ancient serpent came into the garden and began to speak to Eve. He said, “Did God really say not to eat of this tree? He just knows that this is going to make you like Him knowing good and evil.” Eve fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. She took a bite, then gave some to Adam who took a bite. Then they were kicked out of the garden. But why? Wasn’t Eve simply trying to obtain the very things that God wanted her to have?
Didn’t she want wisdom? Isn’t that a good thing? After all, God praised Solomon for asking for wisdom instead of riches or fame. The devil told her that eating the fruit would make her like God. Isn’t that a good thing to want to be like God? Ok, here’s the deal. She was going after good things, but by disobeying the commandment of the Lord, she was going after these good things without God. She was not loving anyone. Instead she was being selfish. She was believing the lie of the Devil. She was going after good things in a bad way. She was doing it without God, without love, and without truth. And there it is: the wisdom of man.
The wisdom of man works to make decisions with the goal of obtaining good things, but obtaining them without God, without love, and without Truth.
Relationships trying to find love, but foolishly they ignore the Truth and they disobey the Word of God. They may have worldly love just as much as they have the wisdom of man, but worldly love is not more real love than the wisdom of man being true wisdom. Real love is patient, kind, forbearing, keeping no record of past mistakes, always trusting, always hoping. But if a couple treats one another harshly when each one really needs to love the other by being patient, and kind, ready to forgive, not bringing up the past, then they are not really loving each other in that moment. They are trying to do it without God. When there is sex before marriage, it is foolish. The vulnerability of intimacy is rewarded only when accompanied by an unconditional love proven by a commitment to stay til death do us part.
Anytime I make a decision without loving others first or make a decision that ignores the truth of God’s word, that decision will most often end up bad, foolish. And let’s face it, we have enough foolishness in the world already for us to add some of our own. Get wisdom!
I have done some stupid things in my life. I am not proud of it but I will be honest about my own stupidity. I remember once when I was a child, 8 or 9 years old, I was riding in the back of a car. It was kind of a fancy car and it has a cigarette lighter in the back seat. I know….you just realized how old I am. Focus man! It was one of those lighters that had a button and when you wanted to use it, you would press down the button and it would heat up the lighting pad. When it was ready, the button would pop up and you could then use it to light your cigarette. No, I was not smoking at that age. I wanted to see if it worked. I am not sure what would have made me think that it didn’t, nevertheless the testing began. I pressed the button. I waited. The button popped up. I lifted the lighter and looked inside. To my surprise the lighting pad which was made up of concentric circles of metal was not even red. I thought to myself that it must not be working since the metal has not heated to a red-hot temperature. So, I did what many boys would do (I won’t say girls). I tested it by sticking my finger onto the lighting pad as if it were my very own cigarette. Concentric red circles burned into my fingertip and smoke rose up from the lighter. Ok, not so smart, but at least I knew it worked after that.
The Bible says that we should get wisdom even if it costs us all that we have. Wisdom is the ability to look at a situation, a dilemma, and know how to respond, what to say, what to do that will bring success. Since we are constantly throughout every day making one decision after another, it makes sense that wisdom is so important. But before we can take hold of wisdom, we must understand there is not one single type of wisdom.
The wisdom of God and the wisdom of man co-exist I the crux of every quandary we may find ourselves in. And to be certain, they are not the same. The wisdom of man is one-dimensional. The wisdom of man, when used as a reference for decision-making will lead to compartmentalized success. For example the wisdom of man allows a man to make billions and billions of dollars, but through five marriages and divorces while making all that money. This is what creates confusion for most of us. The wisdom of man is not impotent. It does bring success, but the success is limited to a small area of our life to the detriment of many others.
The wisdom of God on the other hand is comprehensive. It is not wisdom specific to specific modalities of life. It is a wisdom that is applicable to every of life. This is the first lesson of understanding the difference between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man. When you see yourself making decisions that are leading to success in one area and a slow erosion in other areas, the wisdom of God has been overlooked.
It is also hidden. The Bible speaks of the wisdom of God a mystery to be revealed. In Proverbs, the promises of wisdom are long life, riches, honor, a pleasant abundant in peace and joy. But we must find this wisdom. The Lord has revealed it already to those who will seek it, but it is nothing like the wisdom of man. If the wisdom of man is the club of a fire ant, the wisdom of God is the planet Jupiter multiplied infinitely. The Bible says that God has revealed the wisdom of man to be utter foolishness so don’t think that the wisdom of God is anything like the wisdom of man.
The wisdom of man is a trap of the devil set out in the open with a big, fat, piece of cheese on it waiting to snap down on our necks. The wisdom of God is beneath and covered needing to be revealed. It is not that we don’t know where to find it or how to find it. The location has been revealed. Like a treasure map with “X” marks the spot, we know exactly where it is. But it is a journey. It is a trek and some of the terrain is not easy. So, you are only going to find it if you are willing to go an the adventure seeking, searching, following and studying the map. So, with this first post of the week, let me just ask you, are you willing to do the work to go and find it, get it, wisdom? Do you really want long life, riches, honor, pleasant and peace-filled life, prosperity? Do you really want it? I can’t tell from that look on your face. Well, assuming you really mean it, let me take you deeper. Scripture teaches us that the wisdom of God is Jesus Christ. God has put all of the elements of this wonderful wisdom into the person, the mind, the heart, and the emotions of Jesus Christ. So are you willing to do the work to seek Him out, to get to know Him, to know how His mind works, His emotions run, and His decisions fall? You will never find all those things promised by the wisdom of God unless you seek out the heart of Jesus Christ. Dig deep and uncover His humanity and His deity all wrapped together and there wisdom abides.
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