Don’t give up. Look up.
Well, thank you church for that worship – that sweet, sweet worship this morning. It’s always good to sing our praises to the Lord each and every week. I’m going to ask a question this morning, rhetorical. What do you do when you do not know what to do? Now, I’m a grown man, and I will say sometimes I’ve been in that situation. What do I do? I don’t know what to do, and I cry. Anybody with me?
You just, you just, you just cry. Others of us get angry. Anybody? We don’t know what to do, so we throw the hammer, or you were watching a Panthers game and we don’t know what to do because they’re terrible, and you throw the remote at the TV and crack the TV. Nobody in this room, I mean, maybe one person has done that, so yeah, what do you do when you don’t know what to do?
Ask my wife?l! She don’t know what to do either.
That reminded me. We had not been living in our first house very long when it rained, and I heard drip, drip. Our roof was leaking. Brand new house – we built it. The roof was leaking. I am not a hands-on handyman, and this is like midnight. I don’t know what to do. So, I called my dad. Anybody else? Yeah, you gotta call somebody who’s an expert now. My father wasn’t much help at midnight. He said, “Put a towel under it, and I’ll be there in the morning,” you know, but that was better than nothing.
So, what do we do when we don’t know what to do? The title of the message is “Call the Man.” Most of you have already kind of figured out where I got it from, but let’s just recap a little. There’s an episode of Andy Griffith. It’s called “Bargain Day” or “The Bargain Store.” I’ve watched it like four times this week.
Aunt Bee buys a side of beef. A lot of beef – 150 pounds, and puts it in a freezer that has only been good for keeping a mouse who “crawled in there to get warm.” That’s right from the line from the show. And, you know, Andy’s phrase throughout the whole show is “Call the man.” So, what does Aunt Bee do? She calls Gomer.
Now, if you’re not familiar with the show, it’s on Amazon Prime. You’re going to have to watch it. It’s like season four, episode something I don’t know. So, eventually they call the man and he, well, he didn’t fix it – they get a new one, but the point is, when we don’t know what to do, sometimes we’ve got to ask for help. We’ve got to call the man.
That is what James is going to tell the church he’s writing to today. Remember back two weeks ago, we started this series on James – how your faith can impact the world around you. These are church members from the Jerusalem Church. James is their pastor. He’s their shepherd.
They have been scattered. Like I said two weeks ago – this is like the original Facebook live. He’s writing them a letter which is just a large gathering of a lot of his different sermons. James can be really hard to kind of fit pieces together, but it’s like one sermon after another, and his whole point is to communicate to the church that has been scattered around the region, how they can have a faith that impacts the world that they are living in. But, they are suffering. They are going through localized persecution. The Romans hate them. Their fellow Jewish brothers and sisters hate them because they follow Jesus. They can’t find work, they don’t have any money, they’re outcast. There’s no place for them, and they’re just suffering.
They’re going through trials of many kinds, and then James says, the first time we looked at it, that the trials have a purpose.
Those trials give you endurance to run your race, and that endurance helps develop Christian character. Because if you look back in verse four, we’re still in James chapter one. James says God doesn’t want you to lack anything. That word “lack” is going to be picked back up in verse 5, and that’s how we know these go together. So James writes starting in verse 5 again, with the idea of trials – he wants them to see that when you don’t know what to do, there’s one Man who knows exactly what to do, and that’s Who you go to.
God’s got a plan for your life. He knows how to get you through those trials. He knows how to get you to respond the right way in those trials. And so, James says when you’re going through these trials and you lack wisdom, here’s what you do:
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.
So, we look at those verses, and the central idea now is we’ve moved away from the purpose of trials to what do we do to get through trials? It’s about wisdom, and there’s four things we see about wisdom in the passage.
1. Everybody needs wisdom.
We said that everybody goes through trials, so if everybody goes through trials, it means that everybody needs wisdom. Everybody needs to know what to do and how to respond and how to get through these situations because let’s be honest, we are faced with things today that are just hard.
Anybody like that at work? Anybody like that at school? You just you really don’t know what to do or how to respond. We all need wisdom.
But one of the biggest stumbling blocks for wisdom is pride, because many of us don’t think we need wisdom. Now, not knocking the teenagers in the room, but parents, do you have any teenagers who know it all? OK, I see some heads. Teenagers, do you think your parents think they know it all? See, they see. We get both ways.
Yeah, the danger with this wisdom is a lot of us don’t think we need wisdom, because we think we know it all. You know, I love this – you know a lot of people come to church and there’s this appearance that we put on like we have it all together. But how many of you really have it all together this morning? How many of you really know what you’re going to do when you’re faced with those circumstances tomorrow?
See our pride tells us that yeah, we know what to do. But pride comes before the fall.
Proverbs 11:2 – When arrogance comes, disgrace follows. But with humility comes wisdom.
Look at that. When arrogance comes, disgrace follows. When we think we are above the need for wisdom, disgrace is going to follow, but with humility comes wisdom. That’s what that ancient proverb says.
Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and discipline.
The readers in James’s day, these original readers, were facing trials, and they needed to know how to cope with it. They needed to know how to deal with it. You read that first word “if” – it’s like if you lack wisdom. It almost sounds like an option, doesn’t it? But James is very gently saying if any of you lacks wisdom and honestly, everybody does. Then, this is what you have to do, and he lays that out. But let’s get a little definition here.
Wisdom is knowledge into action. We’ve got to understand what wisdom is. Wisdom is putting knowledge into action. Most of you have in your hands, or maybe not now, but you will at some point today, a cell phone. That cell phone has the ability to give you access to almost an infinite amount of knowledge, doesn’t it? I mean, we live in a time when knowledge is in abundance. You know knowledge is just the idea that we’re going to gather data, we’re going to learn stuff, and by the way, learning is very important. I’m not going to knock learning – we just started school this past week for our young people. We go to school, we learn, and we’ve got to know this stuff. But how we apply that stuff is wisdom.
I taught math for two years now. Again teenagers, you can relate. I taught geometry. Adults can relate to this. This is the question I heard every single day in my geometry class. “Mr. Drye, how are we ever going to use the Pythagorean theorem in real life?” I don’t even know what Pythagorean theorem is anymore. Oh, is that a 2 + b 2 = C2? See, I have a degree in this stuff and about forgot it. Or, “How are we ever going to use π r2?”
I had one student say, “Mr. Drye, pie aren’t squared. Pie are round.” That’s pretty funny isn’t it. Don’t say that to your math teacher when you get there. Not all math teachers have a sense of humor like me, because I actually baked a pie and took it when we did circumference. How are we going to use that stuff? I finally just got tired of it, and I said, “You’re never going to use it unless you go into engineering or construction, or you know some kind of field like that.” And you’re looking at the kid thinking you’re not going to do that. I said that for that kid one time cause yeah, looking at your grades, you’re not going to do that. And he just kind of looked at me and he says, “Well, why am I here?” I said, “You’re here because I have to be here. “ And he looked at me. I said, “Look, we’ve got to get through this. So just do what I’m asking you to do, and get your A and move on. He’s a football player – he’s gonna get an A. You know, get your A and move on, OK! I understood how bad of a teacher I was, so a lot of people got A’s that didn’t deserve it, because I blamed myself for a lot of it so, that’s the point. We got all this knowledge. And how do we use it?
I love what Kent Hughes says: “The fact is man, through his vast accumulation of knowledge has learned to travel faster than the speed of sound, but displays his need for wisdom by going faster and faster in the wrong direction.” Anybody relate to that? That we have a lack of wisdom because we’re taking all this knowledge that we have and we’re going in the wrong direction.
Another definition of wisdom is this. Simply put, wisdom is godly insight for living life, God’s way, in God’s world. We want to live life our way. We want to do things our way. But that’s our pride. We need to have godly wisdom that teaches us how to live God’s way in God’s world, and I know a lot of people who have a vast amount of biblical knowledge. There’s a lot of people who would do Bible trivia with me and they’ll beat my socks off in Bible trivia. They have no idea how to apply what they know. We have a lot of Christians who know their Bibles. But they don’t have wisdom to apply that knowledge to the way God wants them to live in his world.
The Jewish people that were reading this letter understood wisdom. They put a great value on wisdom, and they knew that it was practical righteousness for living everyday life. Wisdom shows us what to do and where to go next. When you’re at that crossroads and you don’t know where to go and you’re being pulled in 100 different ways, Godly wisdom shows you which way God wants you to go. Wisdom helps you to understand what God is doing in your life. We don’t often see the big picture, but God shows us the big picture through wisdom.
Wisdom helps us see our misfortunes, our trials, as opportunities to bring us into God’s purpose for our life. The wisdom that we ask for gives us peace, patience, endurance, and joy in all of our circumstances. That is wisdom and the way we get wisdom is look what he says in verse five. If any of you lacks wisdom.… Get your phone out and go to Twitter and ask. But not many people use Twitter. Go to Facebook and scroll your feed and see what everybody is saying. Grab the paper and listen to the experts. If anybody lacks wisdom, turn on the cable news or the talk radio. Go listen to Oprah. They’ll give you all the wisdom you need. If anybody lacks wisdom, go ask an unbelieving friend. Does any of that make sense? No, because James says if you lack wisdom, ask God.
2. Ask God for wisdom.
But yet, the more and more I see is we’re looking at all these different sources to tell us what to do. We’re getting wisdom from anywhere and everywhere but God. In the last 18 months, that’s become pretty serious, because we’re all looking for wisdom in all the wrong places, and look at the mess we’re in. James says if you need wisdom, ask God because he has got what you need.
Proverbs 2:6 – “For the Lord gives wisdom. From his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”
The cool thing about God, don’t miss this, the nature of God says that he is fully aware of everything in the past. He is fully and completely aware of everything that is happening here in the present, and he is completely aware of the future. So God instantaneously at this moment knows everything in the past, everything happening today, and everything that’s going to happen in the future. And so He knows exactly where He wants you tomorrow. He knows exactly what you’re going to face when you go to work. He knows exactly what you’re going to face when you go to school, and He already knows how you need to respond to that. Because He has this infinite and abundant knowledge and this abundant wisdom that only He has. He knows the plan for our life. And so we ask Him for it, we just ask Him.
I want you to think how your day or how your week or how your life would just be different if you started it saying, “God, You know, I don’t know what’s going to happen at school today. Give me wisdom. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I walk through those office doors. Give me wisdom to respond”.
Our marriages would be stronger if our husbands and wives, in the midst of conflict or disagreements, would just take a deep breath and pray for wisdom. It’s like, my husband’s really getting on my nerves. How do I respond to it? Or, my wife’s really getting on my nerves. Because when we don’t pray for wisdom, what happens? We blow up. And when we blow up, it’s a fight. It’s a mess, and it doesn’t end good, does it? But if we just would stop and say, man, this bothers me a little bit. How do I respond? Same way at work. Same way at school, teenager. You’re faced with mean girls and mean guys and people talking about each other behind their backs. And there’s all kinds of stuff happening at school. We can blow up. We can bite back. But as Christians, what if we said “God, what they’re doing to me is not right, and I don’t understand why I’m going through this. But help me respond. Show me what to do based on what I know from Your Word.”
That is the wisdom we need. How does God answer it? That’s an important question because a lot of us have been praying for wisdom.
First and foremost, God will give you wisdom through His Word. When you read the Word of God, the Spirit of God will give you wisdom to apply it to your life. If you are not daily reading your Bible and praying for the Spirit to help you understand it and apply it to your life, then you’re just missing out on the wisdom that God has to offer for you. That is how He speaks to us. I mean, I’m not going to sit here and tell you He never just audibly speaks because He can, but He speaks to us through His Word.
Then He speaks to us through our godly Christian friends. We have brothers and sisters who we ask to pray for us, and they pray for us, and they come alongside of us, and they walk with us, and they guide us, and we go to them, and we talk to them, and God will speak through them to you. But here’s a warning. Their advice must always match with God’s Word. God will never tell you to do something that is against His Word.
And the last way He speaks to you is through the church. You need to get plugged into a Sunday School class to be in a place where you can study the Bible and learn the Bible. You come to church and be a part of the church and listen to it online. God speaks to you through the sermons and God will use his Spirit to speak to you through those ways. And so, we ask for wisdom. That’s how God gives it, but look, He gives generously.
3. God gives wisdom generously to those who ask.
The word “gives” is so important for us to understand that it is a continual action. He will continuously give over and over and over and over. He never stops giving what He has as long as you keep asking.
I was at a youth conference years ago, and there was this magician. He did this really cool magic trick which I googled it, and I think I know how to do it. But anyway, it’s a really cool trick. He had these four large jugs of water. He picked one up, and then he had a really big jug of water in the middle. He picked up one of the smaller ones, poured all the water into the middle one, and set it down. I mean, emptied it dry and set it down. Third jug, poured out all the water, emptied it dry, and set it down. He went over here, poured all the water out, and then he goes back to the first one again. He already emptied it dry, and he turns it up, and water starts flowing out of it again. He did it four times.
The water never stopped coming out of those jars. That illustrates how God generously gives wisdom. He wants to pour it out. When you tap into it, He’ll never stop pouring out His wisdom in your life.
But He also gives without requiring us to do anything. I took piano lessons for two weeks. I have short, fat fingers. I took guitar for a while too, which anyways, doesn’t matter. I took piano for two weeks. It’s not that I didn’t like it. I actually did like it. I just wasn’t good at it…for two weeks. But my mother says, “If you want to play your Sega Genesis and you’re Madden and you’re Joe Montana 95…” You know the old school stuff. The good stuff. You couldn’t save it, so to play a whole season you took all night. “If you want to play that, you have to practice piano for an hour, and then you get your Sega for an hour.” Any other parent do that to their kid? Something similar to this? Yeah, you got to do this to get this. If you want to get what you want, you got to do this. That’s not what God does.
God does completely the opposite of that. God says, “Now I’m going to give you wisdom just cause you asked for it. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to clean your life up.” You got to have the right attitude which we’ll get to in a minute. You just got to ask for it, because He gives generously and He gives without finding fault or ungrudgingly. That is so encouraging to a kid like me who asked 1000 questions in school. I asked so many questions, teachers and other students got so mad at me for asking questions. My mind was so bad back then, I would ask the same question at the beginning of class and at the end of class. I just didn’t get it, and I remember getting made fun of for asking so many questions. I remember I had a teacher one time that said, “Trent, just come to me after class cause you’ve asked too many questions.”
God doesn’t do that either. God says, no, I find no fault with you asking. I know you’ve asked the same thing 100 times and I tried to give it to you 100 times and you didn’t listen the 1st 99 times. That’s OK. I find no fault. God doesn’t get angry when we ask. I mean, that’s awesome, isn’t it? God doesn’t get frustrated with us when we ask. In fact, He desires us to ask the questions. Because He’s got wisdom to give.
And so we ask, and He gives. He gives generously, but the attitude is with an unwavering faith.
4. Ask God with an unwavering faith.
JB Phillips translates it like this. I love the way he says it. JB Phillips writes, “but he must ask in sincere faith, without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God’s help or not. The man who trusts God but with an inward reservation is like a wave of the sea carried forward by the wind one moment, driven back by the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from God, but the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.
That’s a really good translation. Because I know a lot of people, and I’ve been there in my life, too. Maybe you’ve been there. We go through situations that we want answers to. So we pray, don’t we? We pray because we know we’re Christians. We know we’re supposed to pray. But deep down in our hearts we don’t think God cares about our problems. We don’t think God is going to answer our prayer. And so, when we get up from praying, we go to Facebook, we go to Twitter, we go to that book.
That’s a double minded person – that literally means a double souled person. Your soul is kind of halfway with God and halfway with the world. That person shouldn’t expect to receive anything. Now, you don’t receive it because you don’t take it. You see what I’m saying. You don’t receive it. God’s gonna give it – that’s the promise. You don’t receive it, not because He doesn’t give it, but because you don’t take it. A lot of times you’re like this. Oh God, that’s what you want me to do? That was not my plan for my life. I’m going to go do this. You didn’t receive what was given to you because you doubted God’s goodness for your life. And He illustrates it. You’re like a boat or you’re like a wave that’s blown back and forth. I always pictured this boat at sea in a storm – no rudder, no power, no engine. It’s just floating. The wind carries the boat this way for a little bit then back this way for a little bit. There’s no direction in the boat. There’s no control of it. It just goes here and there, and it’s got these loyalties here and there. That’s what a double souled person is.
Listen, God’s path for you is straight. It is it is crystal clear where He wants you to go. You just gotta tap into. It’s not easy. But this double minded doubter, he just gets blown around with no direction. I don’t like what God said. I want to do it my way. So, he doesn’t receive wisdom.
But you know, we also, when we look at this, have to address a very important misunderstanding. James is not criticizing people who have questions. He’s not criticizing people who may have doubts as far as what God’s plan is. We’ve all done that. We’ve all gone, “Why are you doing this, God? Why do you want me to go here?” You can’t see the end of the finish line. Why? He’s not talking bad against people who ask questions. This is very specifically about a person whose prayers do not match their actions. It’s a person who prays, “God gives me wisdom” and then you don’t listen. That is what he’s talking about. It’s OK for us to question things as long as we don’t veer from God’s plan. But when our prayers don’t match our actions, then we’ve got a problem because we don’t receive what God has in store for us.
So, you know, my question is what do you need God’s help with today? What are you struggling with in your life? What is your family struggling with? Where do you need godly wisdom? Have you asked for it? Have you trusted the answer? Have you called the man, and have you trusted He knows what He’s doing? Because he does.
For everyone who asks, God gives generously. Listen, I know a lot of us are going through trials. You’re going through trials, and some of you are at your wits end, but you’ve just had enough. And honestly, I think the whole world is at its wits end with this trial we’ve been going through for 18 months. We’re tired of it. We’re ready for it to be over. But maybe, while we’re going through it, we need to say, “God, how do we respond correctly to it? What are you teaching us? What’s the wisdom in my personal situation? What do you have? What are you calling me to do next? And you just got to trust His answer.
So, here’s what I want to do. As the band comes up, I want you to think this morning about what area of your life you are at a point where you’ve thrown your hands up. And you’re saying, I just don’t know what to do anymore? I just don’t know what to do. Maybe you’re ready to give up. You’re just ready to give up, move on, quit.
I want you to listen very closely. When you’re at your wits end and you don’t know what to do, and you’re ready to give up, don’t give up. Look up. Don’t give up. Get down on your knees, and look up to God who’s going to give you the wisdom you need to make the decision you need to make. So during this invitation, this altar is wide open.
And the invitation is just really simple – for you to respond. Come down and pray. Say “God, I need wisdom. I need help. I need peace. I need rest. Tell me what to do.” Maybe if you come down here, say “God, I’ve heard you speak. I’ve seen your Word. I know what to do. I just haven’t trusted it.”
I know we don’t like to come down to an altar and we don’t like to pray because we think people are going to look at us and people are going to talk about us at lunch saying, “Wonder why they went down?” But listen, brother, sister, we don’t do that. When one comes down to pray, everybody should pray with them. We don’t judge people when they come to the altar. We don’t talk about it. We pray with them because they’re going through stuff. And one day we’re going to be going through stuff.
So that’s the invitation – for you to come and kneel at the altar and pray or pray where you’re at as we sing. Just respond to the Spirit leading in your heart.