Category Archives: Discernment

My Favorite Pericope: James 1:5-8

Today, let us summarize a pericope from James 1:5-8.

Did I catch your attention with the word “pericope”? It is not a common word used outside of theological studies, but I will share my new vocabulary with you since I recently learned its meaning. Oxford Lexico defines a pericope as “an extract from a text, especially a passage from the Bible.” ¹

So, let’s move on!

JAMES 1:5 SAYS

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

We all encounter trials! That is why we need wisdom. We must ask God for wisdom. Why? Because He gives it to us liberally and without reproach. Reproach means “disapproval or disappointment.”

SOLOMON’S PRAYER FOR WISDOM

In that night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you?”

And Solomon said to God, “You have dealt with my father David with great lovingkindness, and have made me king in his place. Now, O Lord God, Your promise to my father David is fulfilled, for You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth.

Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?”

God said to Solomon, “Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth or honor, or the life of those who hate you, nor have you even asked for long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule My people over whom I have made you king,

wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed nor those who will come after you. (2 Chron 1:7-12 NASB).

JAMES 1:6 STATES

But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

If we do not believe God will give His wisdom to us, James compares us to a wave of the sea tossed by the wind. We need to be solid and firm, not insipid about our faith.

JAMES 1:7-8 CONTINUES

For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James calls the one who does not believe he will receive wisdom from God a “double-minded man.” Some scholars call him a “double-souled man.” James also says that such a person should not expect anything from the Lord. What a tragedy when God wants to give us the best life possible by emulating Himself!

SOLOMON AND THE BABIES

In 1 Kings 3:16-28 (CEV), Solomon, a man of wisdom, had to make a difficult decision.

Two women came to him, and the first woman told him that she lived alone in the same house with another woman. This woman had a baby boy, and three days later, the second woman also had a baby boy. While they were sleeping, the second lady rolled over her baby, and he died. Then, she got up and took the first woman’s son out of her bed and put the dead baby next to her.

As you can imagine, the first woman saw the dead baby in the morning and knew it was not her son. In front of King Solomon, they continued arguing back and forth.

The king said, “Someone bring me a sword.” When a sword was brought to Solomon, he ordered that the living baby be cut in half, so each woman could have a part of the baby.

The real mother screamed, “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just do not kill him.” The second woman shouted, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.”

With all his godly wisdom, Solomon said, “Don’t kill the baby.” Pointing to the first woman, he declared, “She is his real mother. Give the baby to her.” And all Israel was amazed when they heard how Solomon wisely made his decision.

This kind of wisdom is possible for us as well. I experienced God’s wisdom when I asked Him for it early in my spiritual walk.

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH PRAYING FOR WISDOM

Back in the 1970s I was an elementary-grade teacher in the Fort Worth, Texas school system. Each spring, teachers selected by the district to be retained had to decide whether to sign a new contract, confirm their agreement to stay for the upcoming school year, or not sign and seek opportunities elsewhere.

Before me was the question of whether to stay in Fort Worth, or move to Houston. It was my first encounter with genuinely seeking God’s wisdom.

On April 1, 1977, our principal walked into my classroom while I was teaching and, in front of everyone, handed me my contract for the upcoming year. “I need it back by 4:00 p.m. today,” he said.

I was struck with fear of being forced to make such a consequential decision so quickly! I gave my students some busy work and consulted my Bible. I prayed, then searched the Scripture for the Lord’s direction.

I eventually came upon Ecclesiastes 11:5:

Just as you do not know the path of the wind, and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes everything.

While it does not make sense to anyone else but me, that verse might as well have said, “Patti, move to Houston.” That very day, I told my principal I was moving and never looked back.

I can say that following James 1:5 in asking for God’s wisdom, He answers. It might not be the way one might envision or in the timeline preferred, but God loves us so much and has so much compassion on us that He always answers at just the right time.

HOW TO ATTAIN WISDOM

  1. Ask for wisdom—not human understanding, but divine wisdom from God’s Holy Spirit.
  2. Make it a habit to cleanse yourself from all known sins.
  3. Trust in God’s word to guide you as you seek His wisdom, then
  4. Trust that God’s wisdom will change your life.

God makes wisdom attainable to us. My charge is for you to follow the steps above and always recall this Godly pericope from James 1:5-8.

PRAYER

My dear Lord, when I am fearful to ask You for help, understanding, or wisdom, guide me by Your Holy Spirit, to You—to trust You and have faith. I want to live my life fully attuned to Your will and ways, but sometimes I fail. Please give me the courage to ask for wisdom in faith to be stable in all my ways. Amen.

BIBLE VERSES

  1. Wisdom and Understanding—King David said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His Commandments; His praise endures forever!” (Psalm 111:10).
  2. Faith—Jesus said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to” (Matthew 17:20b).
  3. Stability—Paul said, “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.” (Colossians 2:5).
  4. Freely Given–Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:7)

God Bless,

¹”Pericope.” Dictionary. Accessed December 12th, 2021. https://www.lexico.com/definition/pericope.

Edited by E. Johnson.

Linked Bible verses come from the New American Standard Bible.

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How God Speaks Supernaturally Through His Word

The Bible Speaks Supernaturally

You may have heard people say, “the Bible speaks supernaturally,” but what does that really mean, and how do you experience it? Those are tough questions to answer because unless you have experienced it, explaining it is hard to do. I am not an expert on this topic other than the fact I have personally experienced it. Not just once, but multiple times.

I am not talking about the everyday way the Bible speaks to mankind through Godly principles, commands, inferences, and stories; I am talking about those WOW moments when one cannot escape the fact that the Lord is speaking so directly and so powerfully that His Word enlightens us as nothing else can! For me, these verses have usually become part of my collection of “life verses” because they have made such an impact on my life at the time I received them and in my current walk with the Lord.

Author Blair Park defines a “life verse” as a Bible verse that “establishes intimacy with our heavenly Father and is our tether to remind us of His love and omnipresent nature in our daily lives, whether we feel He is near or not. A life verse also reveals to us that God’s Word is alive and still appropriate for whatever situation we might find ourselves in when our faith is tested.” ¹

Honestly speaking, if you have not experienced this, you are seriously missing out on one of the most joyous experiences in a believer’s life!

God Speaks to Us

I am often hesitant to say “God told me…” Whether it is because of fear that I might be mistaken or possibly not wanting to appear too pious, I find myself saying instead, “God impressed upon me…” It just sounds less religious and less pompous.

However, in truth, God does speak to us!

In a cursory search on Bible Gateway, I plugged in the terms God says, God said, God spoke, and God told and discovered that these terms yielded 1,030 results. ²

In John 16:13, Jesus says…

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

God may speak to us through counselors, pastors, laypeople, and others. But God mostly speaks through His Word. It is through the Bible and the Holy Spirit we can have confidence in what God reveals to us.

God Speaks to Us Supernaturally

Whenever someone uses the word supernatural or supernaturally, people get a little freaked out. They think you must be talking about the likes of mediums, channeling, and/or seances. When a believer in Jesus Christ talks about the Bible speaking supernaturally to them, they are not referring to something psychic, mystical, or paranormal. That is NOT what is being referred to here.

The Bible strictly forbids that kind of supernatural occurrence.

Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:31).

When the Word of God speaks to us supernaturally in the WOW kind of way, we are often desperately seeking an answer or needing confirmation that we are doing the right thing. At times like these, God may choose to give us a Bible verse or principle to hang on to through our anxious inquisitory period. But, while we may long for WOW verses, it is up to our heavenly Father when and how He speaks to us. We will just know supernaturally when we receive a special word from Him.

We must remember that He also speaks to us through other means as well like, nature, angels, our conscience, other people, commands, principles, and even in a still, small whisper as He spoke to Elijah at Horeb (1 Kings 19).

In the 1970s I had my first experience with a WOW verse. I was teaching second grade in the Fort Worth, Texas area. Apprehension and restlessness filled the beginning of the school year, so I made a deal with the Lord. I said, “Lord, I will start reading Your Word until you show me whether I should move back to my hometown of Houston or not.” After work, I would rush to my apartment and conscientiously and faithfully devour the Bible seeking an answer to my question.

I remember the morning of April 1st well. My principal stopped by my classroom and handed me my school contract for the upcoming year. He said, “I need to have this contract back and signed by 4:00 pm today.” What was I to do? God had not given me an answer yet on how to proceed, and I had already finished reading the entire Bible—Genesis to Revelation! I gave my class some busy work to do. I pulled out my Bible and started reading. And, WOW, God spoke to me in the WOW kind of way:

Just as you do not know the path of the wind, and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes everything (Ecclesiastes 11:5).

Being in a state of awe, that verse could have just as well said, “Patti, move to Houston.” I do not know how I read that into that verse. It was the supernatural Word of God speaking. I did not and still do not fully understand how this works, but that is why it is called “supernatural.” That verse gave me the confidence to turn in my unsigned contract that very afternoon.

I moved to Houston at the end of the school year, met my husband, and raised three children there. And, 43 years later, we are still in Houston (with a few brief stints elsewhere.)

No matter how we hear from the Lord—through conventional means or in a WOW way, let us graciously thank Him for all His leadings, love and insights.

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is real. He is probably the least understood person of the Trinity. It is important for us to know how the Spirit works and understand how He reveals Himself.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you that it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to understand God and His Word.

However, not everyone is privy to the things of God. The natural man (he who has not yet chosen to follow Christ) does not understand the things of God, as they seem foolish to him.

Those who have received God’s gift of salvation by confessing their sins and accepting Jesus Christ are filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus, they are qualified to understand His ways and words.

If you are a believer, pray and ask God to give you supernatural insights. Ask Him to give you a thirst for the deeper things of God and to hear from Him through His word. God reveals glorious things through the Holy Spirit because no one knows the “thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:11).

Unfortunately, there are times believers are prevented from hearing from God. This may be due to unconfessed sin, pride, a controlling spirit, a desire for power, idolatry, and other reasons.

Many nominal believers do not know how to deal with deep spiritual ideas. In 3 Fold Secret of the Holy Spirit, author James H. McConkey wrote, “Many today are saved by Christ, and yet are unwilling to yield to Christ.” ³ If you find yourself in this category today, there is hope. The Holy Spirit filled you at your new birth, and now He wants to sanctify and mature you.

Think of the Holy Spirit as your helper, your source of wisdom, your provider of truth, and your interceder. Get real with God. He knows everything anyway. Confess any known sin, pray, and commit to reading your Bible—it is through these things God will reveal Himself to us.

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17).

The Bible

The Bible was not written just for pastors, seminary students, or Christian professors. It is written for people just like you and me, regardless of our lack of ministerial training or positions. Some of the most astute Bible pastors I have known have trained themselves in the Word of God through reading and individual study.

Every time we open the Bible, it is beneficial to ask God to open our eyes so we can see wonderful things (Psalm 119:18).

The Bible gives understanding and light to the simple (Psalm 119:30).

All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

When we speak about the Word of God speaking supernaturally, we are not talking about adding anything extra to God’s Word, as some might think. We are talking about the Holy Spirit giving us an illumination into the Word which we can understand more acutely. It gives us the ability to walk away from temptation or toward a blessing.

A Bible verse may speak to you, but not to another. While a verse may be individualized for you, be wise and compare it to other Scriptures, read it in context, and ask other mature believers for clarification if you do not understand it. We must saturate our minds with the Word of God.

Some ask, “Why is it important to read the entire Bible?”

The answer lies in the fact that one part of the Bible helps us to understand other parts of the Bible. You might notice – “Oh, I read the same thing there and there.” This brings enlightenment to God’s Word and how it all ties together. But, keep in mind, it is okay if you do not understand it all. Scholars have spent their entire lives searching out the Scriptures, and so should we.

Frequently when I am reading the Bible, walking in obedience, and praying about something specific or otherwise, God speaks clearly to me through His Word. Sometimes it is in a still small voice, sometimes through a mighty WOW verse. The Lord usually uses exactly where I am in my personal Bible reading to show me His will. It is also at the exact time I need it as well—usually.

Why Don’t We Let God Speak Supernaturally to Us Through His Word?

There are many reasons why we do not allow the Holy Spirit to speak supernaturally to us through the Word of God. Below are just a few.

  • We are fearful of submitting our lives fully to God
  • Unconfessed sin. We may have sin that we are not willing to hand over to God
  • Not willing to give up time for prayer and Bible study
  • We want to be in control of our lives, and
  • We are worried others will think all this talk about the Word of God speaking supernaturally to us will be considered malarky to them.

Conclusion

Recently my mother died. It was on her mind that she wanted my husband and me to move into her home when she passed. For two years, I did pray about whether that was God’s will for us or not. I soon came to realize that was probably not His will.

Nevertheless, sadness still filled my heart once the house went up for sale, and others would have the privilege of living in my parents’ house—a house I grew up in, a house that had been in the family for 51 years, the family home for all holidays and birthdays, the house that held my wedding reception. But God in His goodness provided a verse from His Word that released me from that sorrowful thinking just a few days before the house sold.

For both husband and wife shall be taken, the aged and the very old. And their houses shall be turned over to others (Jeremiah 6:11-12).

How I read this verse…

For both your dad and your mom shall die, the aged (my dad died in his late 80s) and the very old (my mom died in her mid-90s). And their house shall be sold, and others will live in it.

Now, that is a WOW verse—spoken supernaturally through the Holy Spirit directly to me!

I hope this article has shed some light on this sometimes-perplexing topic. If it did, I would love to hear from you in the comment section.

Bible Verses:

This also comes from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who gives supernatural guidance and imparts great wisdom (Isaiah 28:29).

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come (John 16:13).

For the Word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Prayer:

Jesus, I love You. Enlighten my eyes to the treasures in your holy Word. Guide me by Your Holy Spirit into Your truth. Speak clearly and often to me and let me hold dear all You reveal to me. Thank you for being who You are. You are loved. Amen.

God Bless,

Works Cited

¹ Parke, Blair. “What is a Life Verse and How Do I Choose One?” Accessed 20 Nov 2020. www.ibelieve.com.

² Biblegateway. Accessed 5 Nov 2020. www.biblegateway.com.

³ McConkey, James H. Three Fold Secrets of the Holy Spirit. Create Space, (originally published 1897), 2014.

Edited by E. Johnson

All Bible Verses are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.

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Changing Your Landscape? Start Anew With God’s Plan

Life sometimes requires us to start anew, as in the case of a divorce or a move. Other times, we just have a tug at our heart, knowing we need to wipe the slate clean and start afresh.

My husband and I recently made the decision to redo the landscaping at our home. It took a lot of prep work to make that decision. We needed to agree we wanted to stay in our home and not move. Next came researching landscaping companies, followed by contacting the finalists, settling on a plan and price, signing an agreement, and submitting a down-payment.

You see, our landscaping was over 25 years old. It looked aged and worn, and we wanted a new look—one that involved fewer straggly bushes and less maintenance. Basically, we were tired of the same old thing!

The laborious work began this week.

We watched the crew not just “prune” our yard, but remove every evidence of the last 25 years of growth.

It wasn’t sad to us, because we hoped “the future” look would be better. Okay, it might have been sad to our neighbors when they saw the landscapers demolish the beautiful crepe myrtle that adorned our neighborhood.

But then arose the destruction—as trenches were dug a water pipe burst, then our Internet cable was severed. An emergency call to the water district, a three-hour wait to connect to AT&T, and disruption of my husband’s work-related Zoom call seemed quite problematic. Why? Because we were not anticipating any dire consequences from our well-thought-out plans.

As a believer, we face many decisions in life. We decide what ministries to be involved in, what church to attend, who to marry, what job to take, where to live, and more.

Just as there were steps in deciding to redo our landscaping, there are steps and choices to make in our spiritual life.

While we have the personal liberty to choose God’s plan or not, our lives are best lived in the presence of God’s will and direction. He is our strength and support in this life and the life to come.

Why is it important to know God’s plan?

It is important to know God’s plan because the Lord is the best person capable of running our lives. The Bible tells us multiple times that God knows our future. When we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we are positioned to receive His blessings. When we are following His will by trusting and obeying Him, we can have confidence He hears our prayers and is working things out for our greatest benefit. God will not hide His will from us if we sincerely seek Him.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. (Psalm 139:4)

Every good thing [is] given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:30-33

You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess. Deuteronomy 5:33

Starting Over

My husband and I don’t like yard work. In starting over from square one, we are trying to simplify our life by eliminating trees, bushes, and foliage in our yard. By removing unwanted debris, there will be more room for light to shine into our home—along with a simpler austerity.

In our Christian walk, sometimes we need to make decisions to move on, clear out our clutter, and/or change our priorities. Hopefully, when we do, our walk with the Lord will deepen and mature us to become more Christlike.

The “method to our madness” in discovering His plans entail making decisions by seeking Him, looking at options, and developing a sense of His guidance.

What are the steps to discover His plan?

  1. Ask God for His wisdom and understanding (James 1:5-6);
  2. Desire to follow His will. [That comes when we are repentant and obedient to His already established will in the Bible] (Psalm 51:2-3);
  3. Pray and meditate. [Do not make any decisions that have not been prayed over] (Philippians 4:6-7);
  4. Look for providential circumstances. [But recognize that circumstances and/or feelings alone should not be the deciding factor] (James 1:17);
  5. Talk to godly friends, confidants, or elders at your church for guidance (Proverbs 15:22);
  6. Rest and wait patiently in God through the power of the Holy Spirit (Psalms 27:14);
  7. Ask yourself if you have peace about your decision (Psalms 29:11);
  8. Understand that God’s will might involve some suffering (Romans 8:18);
  9. Recognize that if you have done these steps and are still unsure of His will, but a decision must be made, go with the best choice you can make (Romans 8:28);
  10. If you find you have made a “mistake,” keep trusting in the Lord to work everything out (Proverbs 3:5-6).

As I write this, our landscaping feat is not complete. Actually, we are deep in the midst of a huge mess.

However, I hope our decision to bulldoze all our greenery turns out to be the right one. Our expectation is to have an attractive and easy-to-keep-up-with yard. But, if it doesn’t, we still have a God who loves us and wants the best in our lives.

If you feel the need to start over, seek Him first. Be obedient. Follow His lead. And trust that He always knows what is best for us. And, don’t be afraid of a change!

Praying the Scripture

Dear heavenly Father, 

If I lack wisdom, I am asking You who gives generously without reproach to all who ask for it, because You have said in Your Word that it will be given. I am asking in faith without any doubting because Your Word says, “one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”

Wash thoroughly from me my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Help me not to be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I am letting my requests, concerns, and upcoming decisions ascend to You. And Your peace, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.

I know that every good thing is given, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from You–the Father of lights. Give me wise counsel so my plans are not frustrated, because I know that with many counselors I will succeed. Give me the ability to wait on You for all plans and decisions that I need to make. Make me strong and let my heart take courage. Yes, let me wait for Your answers. I know You give strength to Your people, and that You will bless me with peace.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to me. And I know that You cause all things to work together for good to those who love You, to those who are called according to Your purpose, and that includes me. I want to trust in You, Lord with all my heart, and not lean on my own understanding. In all my ways I want to acknowledge you. I know You will make my paths straight and my decisions honorable to You.

I believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

Edited by E. Johnson

Bible verses come from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

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Solomon’s Wisdom: Bring Me a Sword

Wisdom

The Elementary Bible Truths Handbook defines wisdom as “the ability to use one’s knowledge and experience to make good judgments.”¹

While this is a good general definition, it does not differentiate between secular wisdom and godly wisdom. The late Pastor Adrian Rogers bridged this gap when he said that, “Godly wisdom is wisdom seeing life from God’s point of view. Secular wisdom (also known as knowledge) comes from looking around; [while godly] wisdom comes from looking up.”²

Days of Our Lives

1 Kings 3:16-28 puts godly wisdom in the forefront. King Solomon is tasked to solve a dispute between two women. If there ever was a story to grab someone’s attention, the story of Solomon and his wisdom is it. It has all the drama, including two bickering prostitutes, a “she said, she said” scenario, no witnesses and two babies—one dead and one alive. If this does not sound like a Days of Our Lives soap opera, it will.

As a child, I had a Bible storybook titled A Small Child’s Bible by Pelagie Doane that I read over and over and over. For hours I would ruminate on the stories and stare at the illustrations of two special Old Testament stories: King Solomon and the Baby and [Jonah] Jonas and the Great Fish. To read my story about Jonah, click here.

Below is the story from my childhood book, which still sits in my bookshelf to this day.

A Paraphrased Story Version of 1 Kings 3:16-28

Solomon sat upon the throne of David, his father. David had died and now Solomon was king. He was a good king and wise.

One day two women came to him. They had a baby with them. One woman said, “We live in the same house. We each had a baby born to us. This woman’s baby died one night, and she came and took my baby. She put her dead baby in my bed.”

The other woman said, “It is my child who is alive and hers who is dead.”

The first woman said, “No. The dead is your son and the living is my son.”

And so, they argued.

The king said to one of his men, “Bring me a sword.”

The sword was brought, and the king said, “Divide this child in half and give half to each of these women.”

One woman said, “Oh, do not kill the baby! Give him to the other woman but let him live!”

The other woman said,” No. Let neither of us have him. Divide him.”

Then King Solomon knew which was the mother of the child.

He said, “Give the child to the woman who does not want the child divided. She loves it and wants it to live.”

When the people heard how wise King Solomon had been, they said, “He knows what is true. He has thoughts of God.”³

Guiding Light: The Search for Wisdom

Solomon was King David’s son from his wife Bathsheba. His upbringing in an extremely wealthy household allowed him to have just about every privilege a child raised by a rich godly king could expect—fine food, a good education, religious training, little conflict, and more.

Solomon’s life was most likely free of conflict until it was time for him to ascend to the throne of Israel. His brother Adonijah tried to force a coup, doing all he could to get the kingship for himself that David already promised to Solomon. Fortunately, he did overthrow Adonijah’s attempt to rule Israel and became king.

Solomon knew he needed God’s wisdom if he were to enlarge the kingdom and construct the temple his father David had already prepared for him to erect.

Solomon loved God, and as a young ruler, he wanted the wisdom to rule this vast kingdom fittingly. Knowing he needed to dedicate himself totally to the Lord, he sought wisdom and guidance, and in a dream at Gibeon, not far from Jerusalem, he offered multiple sacrifices to the Lord. Then, God came to him in a dream and asked Solomon to ask Him for anything he desired.

God said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” Then Solomon said, “You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 1 Kings 3:5b-9

It was at Gibeon Solomon asked for WISDOM. He wanted to administer justice and judgment using true godly discernment. It was normal in those days for the common people to have access to the king, and he took his job seriously. Shortly after his asking for wisdom, Solomon was introduced to these two prostitutes—both seeking to resolve a dispute between them and a living baby.

One Life to Live: Mothers

These two temple prostitutes stood before their ruler and king, waiting for his judgment as to which woman should be allowed to keep the live baby.

Sidebar: I believe most mothers can recognize their own child, especially after three days of caring for and loving them.

But, the disagreement over the baby’s “ownership” continued all the way up to the top court. King Solomon, not being privy to DNA testing, listened to both women’s side of the story. He gathered facts and information. Although Solomon had many responsibilities, as kings do, such as peacemaker, builder, worshiper, administrator, and scholar, this was his opportunity to be a discerner, noted Warren Wiersbe.⁴ Solomon was looking for the real mother. Most Bibles and commentaries refer to the first woman mentioned in the story as the real mother and the second woman mentioned as the untruthful mother.

Both mothers were distressed—one because she knew she might lose her baby, and the other one because she lost her baby; and her maternal instincts were so strong, she was willing to lie and deceive to have any baby.

We see this kind of behavior even today. In February 2020, Juliette Parker, former Colorado Springs mayoral candidate, posed as a “friendly” baby photographer in an attempt to steal Elysia Miller’s newborn child. Meeting Miller on a Facebook newborn baby site, they connected. Parker met under the guise of taking free baby pictures to build up her portfolio and administered GHB—the date rape drug—to try to steal Miller’s baby. Fortunately, Miller called 911 after feeling drowsy and the plot was averted.⁵

In the original story, Solomon, using his divine wisdom, called for a sword. His solution was to cut the baby in half and give half to each woman. He was wise and I feel sure his intent was never to follow through on dividing the baby. Solomon was looking to see which woman had the most compassion towards the child to find the real mother.

“And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other, the first woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, ‘Oh, my Lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.’ But the other said, ‘He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!’” Then the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him. She is his mother.” When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down they feared the king; for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.” (1 Kings 3:25-28)

God is a God who works out the most magnificent things and coordinates situations in His timing to be used for the glory of God. In this case, God took two prostitutes: they lived in the same house, allowed them to get pregnant at the same time, and had them deliver their babies three days apart—to be used as a very early catalyst for the people of Israel to see his wisdom. Warren Wiersbe says, “for weeks, this even was the main topic of conversation in all Israel displaying to all that King Solomon was truly a wise king.”

As the World Turns: How to Gain Wisdom

We live in a culture not much different than Solomon did in the 900s BC. Today we encounter obstacles just like the people did back in Solomon’s day. Many times, we need wise people to arbitrate our difficulties and problems.

Right now, we might be like the first woman in this story desperately needing advice, the second woman who lied and deceived, or we might be like Solomon—the one to whom people come for leadership or arbitration.

Know that no matter what situation we find ourselves in, by repenting and choosing to live a life honorable to our Lord and Savior, we can gain God’s wisdom. By following King Solomon’s steps, let us do what He did first and then commit to following whatever He says in His Word.

How to Gain Wisdom

First Solomon ASKED FOR GOD’S WISDOM. (1 Kings 3:9; James 1:5) So should we, then we can work on:

Wherever we are on this pendulum called life, let us remember that we are loved by a holy and just God. He is there to give us direction.

Look to Him for divine strength. Look at people through His eyes.

It can be difficult after we have been lied to, deceived, humiliated, criticized, or disregarded, but God has a purpose for every one of us. Striving to live a life fully dedicated to Him is costly, but wisdom is supreme. Therefore, get wisdom. Ask for wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get [His] wisdom and His understanding.

It is then that we can look at life correctly as we Search for Tomorrow.

Bible Verses

For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding, He established the heavens. Proverbs 3:19

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

Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. Ecclesiastes 9:18

All verses are from the New American Standard Version (NASB).

Prayer

My heavenly Father. We need Your wisdom. We cry out to You for it. As King Solomon prayed, so we pray and ask You to give “Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil.” For it is only when You and Your Word is ingrained upon our hearts that we can begin to fully follow You. Give us a deeper walk from now until we reach Your heavenly kingdom. In the Name of Your precious son Jesus. Amen.

God Bless,

greenenpastures.org

Edited by E. Johnson

Works Cited

¹ Elementary Bible Truths Handbook. Greeneville: Bob Jones University Press, 1981.

² Adrianisms: The Collected Wit and Wisdom of Adrian Rogers. Collierville: Innovo Publishing, 2015.

³ Doane, Pelagie. A Small Child’s Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1945.

⁴ Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Commentary Old Testament: Joshua—Esther. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008.

⁵ Benzel, Lance. “Former Colorado Springs mayoral candidate allegedly duped local man before baby abduction plot.” The Gazette. Feb 18 2020; Updated Feb 25 2020. Gazette.com.

Books by Patti Greene – Order Below

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Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending

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Answer Me: Developing a Heart for Prayer

Anchor Me: Laying a Foundation in Bible Study and Prayer

Awaken Me: Growing Deeper in Bible Study and Prayer

Building an Understanding Heart: The power of discernment can be nourished in the believer

Most likely, we all know people who have that special discernment into what is really happening within our culture, in the lives of people, and inside the church. Not only are they able to understand spiritual happenings, but they are also gifted in expressing their thought so those enlightened by the Holy Spirit can grasp God in His fullest.

Recently, I have been reading several books by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963). Tozer was a self-taught theologian, pastor, and writer whose influential words still linger in the hearts of his readers even after his death. Two of his more than 40 books are considered modern-day classics: The Knowledge of the Holy and The Pursuit of God.

I rank Tozer’s writings among those of other great Christian theologians or apologists such as Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, J.I. Packer, Warren Wiersbe, and E.M. Bounds. These men seem to have a grasp on the surrendered and deeper life Christians should be experiencing. It is that life where, after salvation, we grow, we depend, we surrender (or strive wholeheartedly) to live our lives in the presence of God.

Sons of Issachar

The men mentioned above and others like them remind me of the sons of Issachar mentioned in 1 Chronicles 12:32. King Saul was now dead, and David was crowned King of Israel. During this period, great wisdom and discernment were needed to understand what was going on and what to do during this transition time. Being very analytical and perceptive, the sons of Issachar were aware of what was occurring and what should be done; their discernment far exceeded that of the average person. They skillfully knew how to express their sentiments so others could take hold of them and grasp the gravity of the situation.

And of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command. (1 Chronicles 12:32)

Don’t you just love it when you are in a meeting and someone knows how to get to the real issues at hand? I experienced this first-hand as I served as a jury foreman a few years ago in a very intense five-week trial. We were into the third day of deliberations with the jury split 6-6 on a verdict. I was flummoxed as to how to proceed with my 11 jury partners when one of the men in the group stood up, went to a drawing board, and mapped out the entire plan and overview of what we needed to do to resolve our divisiveness. What a relief!

The sons of Issachar operated in the same way. Their awareness of their culture was uncanny.

Because of that, I want to share some of the dynamic quotations I encountered when recently reading my seven-volume marathon of Tozer’s books. Hopefully, these will resonate a powerful drawing and passion for you to live a holy and surrendered life to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Due to time and space, I am sharing quotes from only four of my most recently read Tozer books. But the other ones are so worthwhile, I would be remiss if I did not mention the titles to you—The Knowledge of the Holy, The Pursuit of God, and How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Crucified Life: How to Live Out a Deeper Christian Experience by A.W. Tozer

One important point many fail to understand is that the Bible was never meant to replace God; rather, it was meant to lead us into the heart of God. Too many Christians stop with the text and never go on to experience the presence of God.

I refuse to be discouraged about anything, but it gives me a heavy heart to walk among Christians who have wandered for 40 long years in the wilderness, not going back to sin but not going on into the holy life.

The closer you are to God, the more tender your conscience is before the Lord, and the more severe your trial and temptation may be.

Most Christians are satisfied living their entire lives as common Christians. They never experience the richness of what it truly means to be a Christian. Without a deep insatiable hunger for the things of God, there is nothing within them prodding them to go forward to perfection. The condition of today’s Christian Church is the result of too many common Christians in leadership roles. Once again, we need a great move of the Holy Spirit to break out of the spiritual rut and press on to spiritual perfection. That move needs to start with individual Christians who are willing to give all to God and live the crucified life.

Never defame a fellow Christian. By this, I mean never believe evil about him or speak any evil report about him.

Pray. “Oh Lord, set in motion a chain of circumstances that will bring me to the place where I can sincerely say, ‘Be thou exalted above the heavens.’”

Obedience is a primary component of the Christian life . . . True obedience is the refusal to compromise in any regard or relationship with God, regardless of the consequences . . . If you believe in God as millions of Americans do today and do not make Him the number one exclusive priority in your life, the devil has no issue with you . . . We do not have to understand what is happening to obey God. We do not need to know the outcome to obey God. As a matter of faith and trust, we obey God simply because He is God.

The Dangers of a Shallow Life: Awakening from Spiritual Lethargy by A.W. Tozer

The people impressed by the converted celebrity are carnal Christians, and only until a bigger celebrity comes along. Where is that generation that fell on their knees before God with broken hearts for the world around them? Where are those men who gave up everything to reach the world of unsaved men and women?

It is possible to be crammed with religious news and filled with religious shoptalk and yet not have the spiritual discernment to know what it means. If there is anything, I have asked God for, it is spiritual discernment. It makes you just about as popular as a hawk in a henhouse or a skunk at a picnic. You are not popular at all, and you will never be popular because nobody wants to be awakened.

If you are bored with spiritual conversation (I am not talking about religious chitchat that would bore anybody), something has gone wrong inside of your heart. The best thing to do is admit it and acknowledge it before God.

A person’s choices distinguish him as either wise or foolish. The wise man knows he must give an account of the deeds done in the body, but the fool does not. In the Bible, the word “fool” is not describing a man of mental deficiency. A fool is a man who acts without regard to consequences.

The best thing to do is to keep your eyes on Jesus and let Him take care of the devil.

If God has called you, He is not withdrawing the call because of some questions you could not answer.

Suppose you pray for something and do not get it, and it is obvious that you are not going to get it. Do not let that finish you off. Maybe you are not living right; maybe you are praying selfishly; maybe you have misunderstood the will of God. Go to the Scriptures, search it out, get right with God, give God a chance at you, then try it again and press on. Finally, the Lord will either tell you to hold on or that you are praying for the wrong thing and to pray for this thing and He will give it to you; or else He will give you what you prayed for the first time. But do not stay defeated.

A Cloud by Day, A Fire by Night: Finding and Following God’s Will for You by A.W. Tozer

Rarely do we see many steps ahead of us. We need to walk entirely by faith. But like God did for Israel, He prepares us for one step at a time.

By trusting God whether we understand His plan or not, we are placing ourselves in the path where He can lead us to where He wants us to be.

From my point of view, many gospel Christians today accept the importance of getting people saved out of Egypt. That is the real focus for them. And it is true—God saves us from our past sins, from our worst habits, and above all else, He is to save us from hell. Coming to Christ means that. And people think, Now I do not have to worry about those things. I am not going to hell when I die. I will go zooming off into heaven. Now I can just enjoy life because I know where I am going when I die. However, almost nothing is said about what we are saved unto. Yes, we know what we are saved from, and we can glory in that, but that needs to be a temporary glory. We need to know what we have been saved unto.

We do not need to figure out our own road map or how we are going to go or what we are going to do. We need to be careful that we stay in His presence, and this is the work of faith.

Knowing what my weakness is enables me to turn that section of my life over to God.

Serve God. Not the church.

There is no premature death in the will of God. A man will live if God has work for him to do and as long as that man is really committed to that work. When my work is done and I have completed it as God wants me to, then my life is over.

This message is missing for the most part today. Too many people view Christianity as an insurance policy so that when they die, they can go to heaven. They do not see it as a road map leading them into the heart of God.

The deeper Christian life goes forward as God directs and leads us, and we depend upon God to deal with our enemies.

No obstacle surprises God: He knows what is ahead and knows how to prepare us, and we need to go forward in His power and trust His wisdom. Many times, we try to do it in our own strength and power, but it never works that way.

Delighting in God [Follow-Up to the Knowledge of the Holy] by A.W. Tozer

Whenever you find a man of God, you will also find an overwhelming passion for God that is almost beyond control. Not a curiosity about God, but a deep passion to experience God in all His fullness. To know God is the one passion that dries [drives] a man into the very heart of God.

What I see lacking today is this desire to know God on a personal basis. Other things crowd this relationship out until it is barely recognized in the church today.

The great secret of the Christian life is to begin experiencing God as He desires me to experience Him. God’s greatest delight is to bring me into His presence.

Our trouble is, we hear sermon after sermon and do not get anywhere . . . This is happening because we have a lack of desire. We have not the desire we ought to have, and God’s people are not hungry and thirsty anymore.

Conclusion

As you have read through these quotes, you may have gathered that Tozer spoke what he was discerning in his heart after being in the presence of God. Many people called his works too negative. He recognized that, but it did not stop him from sharing his perceptions about God and the culture around him. I guess you would say he operated like a 20th century son of Issachar!

My prayer for you triple-fold. It is:

  1. To read your Bible expecting to experience the presence of God,
  2. To pray and meditate reaching the holy presence of God, and
  3. To surrender your life to a deeper—a much deeper—walk with Him.

Bible Verse:

So, give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours? (1 Kings 3:9)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.” (Luke 10:23-24)

Prayer:

Oh Lord, the world is full of so much information, please teach me to know what is true and what is false. Give me the desire to ground myself in Your holy Word—every day. Let Your words soak into my mind. Guide all my thoughts and decisions. Allow the Holy Spirit to give me discernment so I can always be an honorable servant obedient to You.

God Bless.

Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member; BibleGateway Blogger, Member; SBC, Church Member

Bible verses are from the New American Standard Bible.

Edited by E. Johnson

Photo Credit: Canva/Fernanda Latronic

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