*March 19* – Wednesday
*Fasting Item(s):* Sugars, Desserts, & Candy.
*Today’s Scripture:* James 1:5 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.'” NLT
*Question: *Are you wise or smart?
*Devotion:* I’ve noticed that a lot of people mistake being “smart” with being “wise”. Let me parse out a couple of definitions to make the picture change from VHS to 4K. “Smart: having or showing a quick witted intelligence. (Adjective)” “Wise: having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment. (Adjective)” See any differences? If not, you may want to brush up on your vocabulary definitions. Have you ever been TV shopping and noticed that things are much different from the last time you bought a TV? It was only 5 years ago now that I “braved” Black Friday @ Target in Benton Harbor for a new HDTV. I did extensive homework to figure out the value in the listed devices they had online. I had a game plan amidst the chaos. I entered the store at 5AM and was out by 5:30AM. People were acting like animals or at best, an unruly mob. I however went from being “smart” to “wise” when I walked out the door with a TV that shammed the other customer’s purchases. I held one of the 3 Sony HDTVs they had in stock because they were not marked as “on sale”, nor were they in the Men’s Department with all the other “door buster” TVs. I applied an intelligence that was not only “smart”, but with knowledge and good judgment. In fact, another lady asked me where I got that TV and I took her to the spot. She gave me a hard time because it wasn’t marked as “on sale”. I then confidently assured her that I did my homework and this item was indeed “on sale”. Guess what? She grabbed one and put it in her cart. I stood proudly at the register with my “wise” prize as others stood in line with their “smart” TVs (before TVs were smart of course). The moral of this story isn’t that I got a great deal or that I schooled someone else with “my” wisdom, but that we can’t be wise without actively acquiring knowledge and experience, while using good judgment. Proverbs 1:1-7 is a great example of “wisdom” in action. I am encouraged when I apply what I’ve learned over the years to a current situation. It’s as if God had something to do with that learning years ago…hmmmmmm. Verse 7 of Proverbs 1 speaks loudly to me. It says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,…” (NIV) What?!!! Fear God?!!! I thought God was my friend? I don’t fear my friends, so therefore I shouldn’t fear my “best friend”, Jesus. Or should I? If Jesus is my (your) Savior, what am I (you) being saved from? Last time I checked, Jesus isn’t pulling me from a burning vehicle. I’m not being stitched up by the Man who created stitches and all matter known to human beings. Why then do we call Jesus, Savior? In order to be a Savior, He needs to save us from something. Proverbs 11:4 says, “Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” (NIV) God’s eternal wrath towards my eternal spirit is what Jesus saved me from. *His* righteousness is what He gives me to appease God’s wrath against my sin and rebellion towards Him. I fear God’s wrath as should all created things. I have no power or intellect outside of the goodness of God, so why would I carelessly think of God as some distant buddy who’s waiting to give me a great deal on a TV? God is fully in control of every situation, good and bad, and I am not. I lean on the wisdom and experiences that He’s brought me through to apply those learnings to the next situation I am being faced with. If I don’t lean on that wisdom that comes from God’s goodness, then I’m no different than the “fool” who despises wisdom and instruction. Who’s instruction are you under? Where do you gain wisdom? Do you share those insights with others, not as a “look at how wise I am”, but rather as a “look at how good God is”? Being “smart” won’t appease God’s wrath. On Judgement Day, we won’t be standing before God and dropping some witty jokes that He’s never heard before. He won’t be amused. I pray that He will see the fact that we accepted the gift of faith in His Son, Jesus Christ and that we applied that knowledge to our everyday situation, and that He would be glorified in His goodness towards His people. These aren’t works of our righteousness, but they are God’s works of righteousness in and through us. I pray for the day when I will be able to hear the God whom I fear and love say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV) and I pray that this is your heart prayer as well.
*Prayer focus:* Kids and Parents pray for your school leaders, church leaders and co-workers.
Here’s the free Lent Calendar <http://firstlutherancharlotte.org/lent-2014/> to follow along the path God is calling us to. Take others on the journey with you, but not in a “look at us” sort of way. This is a humble journey to be endured with the help of God.