Dear Friend in Christ:
Wisdom is a matter of life or death. I’m so thankful for parents, grandparents, pastors, and mentors who not only modeled wisdom, but taught me from an early age to pursue wisdom. Their foundation for wisdom was God’s Word and His Holy Spirit. Look at just one passage from Proverbs 2:
“If you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and very good path. When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things, from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness” (Proverbs 2:1-13).
Can you sense the urgency here? Receiving lasting wisdom is ultimately not a passive endeavor but an active, passionate pursuit. Proverbs 4:7 says we are to get wisdom, whatever the cost. Sometimes the cost is very great! But the rewards are more precious than silver. Failure is often a part of our wisdom journey. Yet, some people fail and never learn. Some people are constantly learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth (see 2 Timothy 3:7).
The keys to wisdom, beyond experience or knowledge, is rightly reverencing the Lord (“the fear of the Lord”); recognizing His awesome, Sovereign rule; giving to Him the glory due His name; living in humility; walking in active obedience to His will; building your life upon Him (see Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 16:18; Psalm 29:2; Matthew 7:24-27; Ephesians 5:15; James 3:13). Authentic worship prepares the way for God’s wisdom to be given to us.
The wisdom of the Lord gives us hope rooted in His covenant faithfulness and strategy rooted in His Kingdom purpose. In seasons of storms and shaking, we are comforted and guided by the wisdom He so graciously gives. And He tells us to ask for it! His wisdom is vital for us in the season ahead. I often look at the Word of the Lord found in Isaiah 54:2-3, which gives us this exhortation: “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited.” (Isaiah 54:2-3).
Isaiah lived more than 700 years before Jesus, but by the Holy Spirit, Isaiah saw very clearly concerning Jesus and His role as Messiah. Isaiah prophesied many things about Jesus and His redemption and salvation of God’s people.
Isaiah also saw the corrupt and fallen condition of Israel and Israel’s great need for a Savior. But he saw that even in judgment, loss, and sorrow, Israel would receive God’s promised redemption through the Messiah. Isaiah told the people to prepare their hearts for what God was going to do, so that when God moved, they wouldn’t miss it.
Our friend Pastor Mike Poulin has said that you can be right in the middle of something God is doing and still miss seeing it. We believe God is going to move in a new way, but we don’t want to miss it when He does. We need to prepare our hearts and minds and make room for what He wants to do. God will accomplish whatever He wants to accomplish. The question is, are we going to be a part of it when He does?
Sadly, when Jesus the Messiah did come to Israel, as God had promised and Isaiah had prophesied, many religious people still didn’t recognize Him. If Jesus Christ walked into your room today, would you recognize Him?
In chapter 54, Isaiah tells of the time to come, when desolate places would become populated with people redeemed by the Lord; when the empty spaces would be filled with the joyful shouts of praises of those who had been made alive by the Messiah. Isaiah says we are to prepare for Him by lengthening the tent cords and strengthening the stakes. What does that mean? Isaiah uses the metaphor of a tent here to describe our sphere: our dwelling place, our home, our church, our community. It’s where we live, where we work, where we hang out, where we have influence, where we fellowship–where we encounter God and one another.
LENGTHENING THE CORDS
Isaiah says, “To be ready for the new season in God, you must grow. Lengthen the cords and stretch out the tent flaps. God is going to add to you.” Dream bigger dreams; see greater visions. If you think you’ve seen the limit of what God can do in and through you, then you ain’t seen nothing yet! If you think it’s too late for you, or that God is done with you, let me remind you of what my Grandpa Simpson always said: “The best is yet to come!”
And if you think the blessing of the Lord ends with you, or it’s just for you and a few others … guess again. As the song says, “Open up the doors, let the music play, let the streets resound with singing!” (Martin Smith, “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?”)
This will happen, not because of the greatness of God’s people, but because of the greatness of God! He has chosen His people to be a vessel of His blessing and His purpose in the earth, to bring the Good News of His redemption and salvation to those who are lost, weary, oppressed, and broken. It is His desire that none should be lost; that His Kingdom should come, and His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. He promises that the knowledge of His glory–His goodness and mercy–will cover the earth, like the waters cover the sea.
“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). *
This means that God, the Creator, is still doing able creative works. He can cause a river to flow in the desert; He can make bread fall from the sky; He can cause the blind to see. Nothing is too difficult for Him! God is not limited by our limitations.
He is able to transcend our circumstances and our understanding, and just when you think you’ve got Him all figured out, He will use something foolish just to confound the wise–something weak to surprise the strong. He has not called us to live in a cocoon or a religious country club but to engage the world around us with the goal of seeing His Kingdom–righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit–extended in every sphere of life. Get ready!
STRENGTHENING THE STAKES
If you’re going to make the tent bigger, you’ve got to drive the stakes deeper. If you’re going to make the building taller, you’ve got to make the foundations stronger. God is not only calling us upward and outward, but He is calling us deeper into His presence and His Word.
I’ve heard it said that we should take time to pray every day, but when we are extra busy with things to do, we should spend extra time in prayer. What God desires to do among us will be rooted in and birthed out of His Word and prayer. The one who truly seeks God and receives His Word will be empowered and provoked into godly action.
Jesus Christ not only taught the Word of God, He is the Living Word of God–the Word made flesh. He not only spoke truths, He is the truth. The truth of God put on skin and walked among us. Likewise, we are called to take truths of God’s Word and make them real in our lives in a visible way. But we cannot incarnate what we have not received.
Jesus, like the other young men of His day, read, studied, and meditated on the Word of God constantly. If we want to share faith, we’d better know what faith is. Paul told his spiritual son Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We won’t grow properly without solid roots.
Our call at CSM is to embrace truth with our lives; to extend the Kingdom of God, one person at a time. Both my father, Charles Simpson, and I will have significant ministry travels to various parts of the United States for the remainder of this year. Please pray for us, our family, and our entire wonderful CSM ministry team. If you would like for us to minister at your church or in your city, please contact our office at 251.633.7900.
Would you please also continue to remember CSM in your giving this month? We are equipping and activating believers around the world in mission. As you support us, we are able to support and encourage so many others. We are so thankful for your friendship on this journey!
Stephen Simpson, President
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.