Revive Our Hearts Podcast

My Personal Petitions, Day 8

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: What difficult situation are you facing right now? Do you realize God may have allowed you into that difficulty so you’ll seek after His wisdom? As I often remind women, anything that makes us say, “Lord, I need you” is a blessing. We’re about to talk more about it as we continue the series, “My Personal Petitions.”

This is Revive Our Hearts for Wednesday, January 27, 2016. I’m Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. 

I have loved this series. We've been in it over the last couple of weeks. It's been so good for me to go back over these personal petitions, ten of them, that I've prayed over the years, and to reflect on them, meditate on them, unpack them, and prepare for sharing this series.

I've never taught them in this way, and as we've said, each one could be its own series—some have been, others will be. We're taking just a day on each one and focusing on ten things we want to ask the Lord to do in our lives through 2016 and beyond.

I hope that you've had a chance to ask for your copy of our Personal Petitions Pack. It's a booklet that will enable you to expand on, go deeper into, these petitions and meditate on different Scriptures, do some journaling, and there are some "Making It Personal" questions.

Also, there are five cards that come with that pack that are these petitions on each card. You can put them in different places and can be reminded to pray regularly for God to do these things in your life. These petitions are things that we need God to do in every realm of our lives.

These prayer requests are things we need to happen in our homes, in our marriages. These are things you need as a mother, as a grandmother, in the church, in the workplace, in the ministry where you may serve. These are things that will stand us in good stead in our friendships with believers and in our relationships with nonbelievers.

These are so practical. They affect every area of life. The first seven petitions we've talked about are:

1) Lord, guard my heart. (That affects all these others.)

2) Fill me with Your love.

3) Fill me with Your Spirit.

4) May I be clothed in humility.

5) Make me a servant.

6) Give me a grateful spirit.

7) Guard my tongue. (We looked at this the last time, and we could have stopped a long time there. In fact, after we recorded that session, we just took some time to pray together. We asked God to guard our tongues.)

And now we come to number eight. I don't know how far we'll get with this one because there's so much that could be said. This is the request that the Lord would give us wisdom and discernment. "Give me wisdom and discernment."

What is wisdom? I think we kind of have a sense of what it is, but sometimes it's a bit nebulous and maybe we think it's not so concrete or practical, so we forget to ask God for it. Wisdom is that ability to see all of life from God's perspective and to act accordingly. It's more than knowledge; it's the ability to take that knowledge and act accordingly.

Wisdom is that ability to see all of life from God's perspective and to act accordingly.

I want to invite you, for the first part of this session, to turn in the book of Proverbs to chapter 8. We're going to park there for a bit. This is where we see wisdom personified as a great lady. And, oh, that it would be true of each of us as women, that people could call us "Lady Wisdom." Wouldn't you love it, to have people describe you that way? Here, wisdom is personified.

And Lord, as we open Your Word, I'm just mindful that Your Word is so much more important than my words! This is Your Word. We honor it, we love it, we reverence it, we tremble before it. We ask that You'd speak to us through Your Word. Cause those words to wing their way into our hearts, to take root, and to produce fruit for Your glory. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

This lady, this wisdom, this wise woman calls out in the streets. Let me read from chapter 8, beginning at verse 1:

Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud.

So here, wisdom comes into these very visible, public places with an appeal, with a call, with an earnest message. What does she say?

'To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense' (v. 4).

To whom does wisdom call? To every human being. And she describes human beings this way: they are simple ones, and they are fools. What does that mean? You say, "I'm not a simple one! I'm not a fool!" Apart from Christ, all of us are simple ones and fools.

That word "simple," the root there means "an open door." It's a person who lacks discernment and good judgment. So wisdom calls out to those who have just taken in all the conventional wisdom of the culture and of the world. They just take it all in. They believe what they see, what they hear. They believe what they read. They just take in the spirit of the age.

They're simple. They're open doors. They aren't discriminating, they aren't discerning about what they hear. They lack discernment. So wisdom calls out to these simple ones.

And then wisdom calls out to fools. Fools are those who oppose God's wisdom. Instead, they rely on their own wisdom. They do what comes naturally, they do what feels good, they go their own way, they go with the flow. They go because it's what tradition says. They're fools, because they have not accepted and embraced God's wisdom.

All of these—the simple ones and the fools—are in need of wisdom and understanding.

To seek wisdom, as we're praying in this petition today, is an expression of humility. When I pray, "Lord, please give me wisdom and discernment," I'm acknowledging that I lack wisdom, that I lack discernment, that I lack understanding, that I need His wisdom.

I'm saying, "Lord, my own wisdom is not enough to deal with this situation. My wisdom is not sufficient to deal with this problem in our ministry." You may be saying, "Lord, my wisdom is not sufficient to deal with this child for whom no textbook was ever written. I need Your wisdom!"

By the way, this is one of the reasons, I think, that God delights to put us in situations and circumstances that are too big for us, too hard for us, too great for us to handle.

  • It may be marriage to a difficult man. 
  • It may be the loss of a mate. 
  • It may be a perplexing situation in the workplace.
  • It may be a difficult relationship. 
  • It may be a financial conundrum.

But in these situations where we are helpless on our own, we say, "Lord, I need You! I need Your wisdom! I don't know how to deal with this situation." That's an expression of humility.

Keep your finger in Proverbs 8, because we're coming back there, but just look across the page at chapter 9. You're going to see that Lady Wisdom (from chapter 8) is contrasted with Lady Folly in chapter 9. And Lady Folly, too, cries out to everyone and anyone who will listen. Look at verse 13:

The woman Folly is loud [Isn't that a commentary on our age? Loud, foolish women. It's the opposite of wisdom]; she is seductive and knows nothing [She acts like she knows everything, but she really knows nothing].

She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town [She's in the same places where Lady Wisdom is. She's in the same public venues, the same visible places, and she also calls to those who pass by] calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" And to him who lacks sense she speaks.

You see these two voices—Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly. Of course, Lady Wisdom represents the wisdom of Christ who is the wisdom of God. Then Lady Folly represents the wisdom of man, which is foolishness.

These two contrasting voices speak in the same places in the thoroughfares of life. They both call out. They both call out to foolish people; they both call out to simple people. The question is, who will the crowd listen to, whose voice will they heed? They're both appealing to the same audience—Wisdom and Folly.

And what does Lady Folly say in verse 17? "'Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.'" She's seductive. She's seducing her listeners to immorality, to deception, to hidden secret ways, and she's promising, "If you eat this, you taste this, you do this, you go there, you'll have the greatest life!" She's making sin to look pleasant. That's exactly what Satan did to Eve in Genesis chapter 3, right?

The simple, foolish one lacking sense, to whom she speaks, in verse 18, "He does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol." Two very different outcomes, depending on which you listen to, Lady Wisdom or Lady Folly.

Let's go back to Proverbs 8. We're going to see the supreme value and worth and blessings of wisdom. I want to share these with you, because the world makes you think that if you have the wisdom of God you're stupid or you're narrow, or you're bigoted, or you're backwards, or you're uneducated, or you're going to be miserable. But I want you to see that if you embrace the wisdom of God, you are of all people to be envied, you'll be blessed. That's the value, the worth of wisdom. We're picking up in Proverbs 8 verse 10. Lady Wisdom says:

'Take my instruction instead of silver [You have a choice between wisdom and a raise? Take wisdom. Skip the raise. That's what it says], knowledge rather than choice gold [Would you rather win the lottery or have God's wisdom? Think about it. If you get God's wisdom, you will have done better than winning the lottery], for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire [everything you could possibly want if you could wave a magic wand and get anything your heart craves] cannot compare with wisdom' (vv. 10–11).

'Riches and honor are with me [says Lady Wisdom], enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice, granting an inheritance to those who love me, and filling their treasuries' (v. 18).

When we read this, why would we not want wisdom? Wisdom is precious, it's priceless, it's rare, it's desirable, it's worth pursuing, and it is the source of true enduring wealth. The Scripture says wisdom is such to your soul, but it won't hurt you; it will help you, it will bless you.

"If you find it [what? wisdom], there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off" (Prov. 24:14). That's just some of the blessings of wisdom. This is why we want to pursue it. So now, go back to Proverbs 8. I'm going to take us back to a verse I skipped a moment ago, verse 17. Lady Wisdom is still speaking and she says,

"I love those who love me." Love wisdom! You see the same concept in verse 21, "I grant an inheritance to those who love me." Do you love wisdom? Do you really, really, really want to walk with wisdom, want to live with wisdom? Do you want a lifelong friendship and intimate relationship with wisdom? Do you love wisdom? Proverbs says, "I love those who love me."

"And those who seek me diligently find me" (v. 17). Seek wisdom! Love wisdom, seek wisdom. How do you seek wisdom? What does that mean? It means this is something we have to do intentionally. We have to be proactive about this, we have to diligently pursue it. That takes time, it takes effort.

You can't be lazy and get wisdom. You can't get home and throw yourself on the couch and turn on the television and zone out with Fox News or the sports channels or Hallmark movies or whatever is your favorite thing and expect to become a wise woman. It takes time and pursuit.

You can't be lazy and get wisdom.

It takes turning off your television. It takes turning off your Internet. It takes saying "no" to your phone at times. (I'm preaching to myself.) It takes time, it takes effort, but God promises to give wisdom to those who seek Him for it. He promises that your search will be rewarded.

Look down to Proverbs 8, verse 32 (Wisdom is still speaking):

And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.

See the attitude that gives us wisdom? It's like you're sitting on the edge of your seat, you're leaning in and listening, you're attentive and applying yourself to the search for wisdom. Do I sound a little exorcized about this? This is what the Scripture does to me. As I read it, as I meditate on it, it comes alive in me. It is alive!

I'm speaking to myself. The Scripture is speaking to me and saying, "Listen to wisdom. Hear instruction." I think "to listen" speaks of a humble, teachable spirit. Most of us are not good listeners. To listen to wisdom means we realize we need wisdom.

The opposite is someone who is wise in his own eyes and he's always talking, he always knows what to say, he always knows what to do. If you are quick to speak—in your home, in your workplace, in your church, in your marriage—and you aren't a really good listener. . .

By the way, a little rabbit trail here. I know a lot of women who get frustrated because their husbands don't say much. Now maybe you're not married to a man like that, but a lot of women are. A lot of women are more verbal than their husbands.

They loved it when they were dating, because he was sooo quiet. Now they've been married fifteen years, and it drives them crazy that they can't get him to say anything. I'll tell you one of the reasons some husbands don't say more, it's because they don't have a chance because their wife's always talking.

Proverbs says that counsel in the heart of man is like deep waters and a man of understanding will draw it out (Prov. 20:5). Do you want to draw out wisdom in the heart of your husband? Then listen, ask questions, and don't answer the questions yourself before he has a chance to say anything.

If you want wisdom, it's the same thing: Listen. Listen. Don't always be talking. Hear instruction. No matter how old we get, we're never too old to listen to instruction. I love having wise people around me who speak God's Word into my life, who speak truth into my life.

When I'm living based on my emotions, thinking wrong ways, I love having people around me—sisters, friends, couples, my husband—who speak and say, "Here's wisdom from God's Word. Here's the truth." But I need to listen. I need to have a heart to hear instruction.

Then Lady Wisdom says, "Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors" (v. 34). 

Seek wisdom daily. How often? Every day. All day. The wisdom is found right here in His Word. You'll never be a wise person if you're not watching and waiting daily at the gate where wisdom is found, which is in the Word of God.

My dad was a man who was always in pursuit of wisdom, and one of the places where he lived, every day of his Christian life, he read a chapter from the book of Proverbs—the chapter matched the day of the month. So if it was the fourth day of the month, he'd read chapter 4 of Proverbs; on the seventeenth, he was reading Proverbs 17 . . . for twenty-eight years!

Now he also read Psalms, the Old Testament and the New Testament every day, but always the chapter of Proverbs for the day because he wanted God's wisdom. My brother, Mark, has followed in my dad's steps. Every day for decades my brother Mark has started his day with a chapter in the Proverbs, and other Scripture as well.

And now Mark's just-out-of-college son, Mookie, has the same habit, starting every day (since he was a little boy) with the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Do you want wisdom? Do you want your children to seek wisdom? Do it in God's Word.

What are you doing proactively to become more wise? When you have free time how do you spend it? Surfing the Internet? Or do you spend it in God's Word? Who or what are you listening to? Are you filling your mind with His Word? Or are you filling your mind with the world's wisdom and trivial pursuits?

"For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord" (v. 35). This is the blessing of pursuing wisdom.

Then, in the next verse we see the consequences of a life lived without wisdom. "He who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death." Proverbs 3 tells us that wisdom is a tree of life. So to reject or to spurn God's wisdom is to choose a deadly pathway. We cannot live without wisdom, and we cannot live without Christ, who is the wisdom of God, according to 1 Corinthians 1:24. If you reject Him you will die in your sin. Christ is the wisdom of God.

We see this, going all the way back to the Old Testament. Isaiah 11:2, a prophecy of the Messiah says, "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding." Colossians 2:3: tells us that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Do you want the treasures of wisdom, the treasures of God's knowledge? Get to Christ. Get to His Word—the written Word—and Christ the Living Word. Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ "the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him." In the knowledge of Christ.

So how do you get that wisdom? Ask Him for it. Tell Him you need it; tell Him you lack it. God wants to give wisdom to us. Wisdom comes from God. Job tells us, "With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding" (12:13).

Sometimes God will speak to you and give you His wisdom through wise friends. "He who walks with the wise will become wise." But here's the caution. I have a group of women I call "the sisterhood." We've been together for years. We've prayed together for years, we've borne each other's burdens. I have a lot of other women who are precious sisters in Christ. Sometimes I find myself asking them for wisdom on something before I ask the Lord.

Now, there's nothing wrong with asking wise people—and I've gotten a lot of wisdom from my sisters and brothers in Christ—but don't neglect to ask God. If you want wisdom, wisdom comes from Him! True wisdom is found in Christ. There is no true wisdom apart from Christ, so get to know Him. Abide in Him, be filled with His Spirit, and let God make you wise.

Does that express your heart's desire? Do you want to be a wise woman? Lady Wisdom is calling today, and so is Lady Folly. They both cry out, and you will encounter both in your day. Which one are you going to listen to? Who are you going to follow?

Let's pray. O Lord, we've heard the voice of Lady Wisdom today, calling out to us from Your Word. We've heard the voice of Christ, who is wisdom, calling out to us, and we say, "Yes, Lord! We need Your wisdom. We need You. We have no wisdom of our own apart from You.

So make us wise women of God and help us to see all of life from Your point of view and to act accordingly. May every area of our lives be ruled by the wisdom of Your Word. Then make us women who pass on your wisdom, as a baton, to the next generation so that they will hear us being Lady Wisdom, speaking in their ears, to the simple ones and the fools, "Here is the way, walk in it." And may our lives, as Lady Wisdom, point people who are coming behind us, people around us, may we always be pointing them to Jesus, who is the amazing, great Wisdom of God. We pray in Jesus' name, amen. 

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Nancy: We’ve been praying for wisdom and discernment as part of the series “My Personal Petitions.” You know, the pursuit of wisdom is a lifelong quest. So I hope you don’t just hear one radio program and keep moving on with life, forgetting what you’ve heard. Instead, this program could be a step toward an ongoing pursuit of learning wisdom.

I hope you’ll go deeper on the topic by getting a copy of a booklet called “My Personal Petitions Prayer Journal.” In this series I’ve been unpacking ten prayers I pray for myself. And in the booklet, you can take the next step in learning more about each of these ten topics. You’ll see what God’s Word says about wisdom, the fear of the Lord, faith, guarding your tongue, and a lot more. Along with the journal, you’ll get a set of five cards listing the petitions. These will be easy to carry around and pray through during the day.

We’ll send you "My Personal Petitions Prayer Journal" when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. You can do that by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for the journal when you call 1–800–569–5959. We’ll send one booklet per household for your donation all this week.

Have you heard that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom? We know it’s true, but what does that mean in real life? We’ll explore that more tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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