February 1, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – 1 Kings 19:11-12; Luke 6:12-13 (NRSV)
[The LORD] said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
Now during those days [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles.
Though we can’t make God give us wisdom through the Holy Spirit, we can ask expectantly. We can seek wisdom for every facet of our lives, including our daily work. And we can imitate the example of Jesus, making time for solitude and silence so that we might hear the “still, small voice” of God’s Spirit. God loves to give wisdom from above to those who ask for it.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Wisdom from Above.
So far in this devotional series, “Wisdom from Above,” we’ve focused on the gift of divine wisdom and how we can receive it. In yesterday’s devotion, we saw that wisdom is a gift from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us wisdom in a variety of ways. For example, often the Spirit speaks to us through Scripture. At other times the Spirit gives gifts of wisdom to help us judge rightly and live well in the challenges of everyday life.
If we have accepted God’s grace through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells within us (Romans 8:9-11). The indwelling Spirit does many things for us, such as joining us to the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), causing spiritual fruit to grow in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23), and empowering us for witness and other kinds of ministry (Acts 1:8). The Spirit gives us life, peace, joy, and hope (Romans 8:6; 14:17; 15:13). The Spirit also gives us practical and specific wisdom to guide us as we seek to live in a way that glorifies God (1 Corinthians 12:8; Galatians 5:25).
There isn’t a secret formula we can use to make the Holy Spirit give us wisdom. The sovereign Spirit gives gifts according to the will of the Spirit as they are needed by God’s people for ministry. However, there are ways we can help ourselves to be more attentive to the guidance of the Spirit. We can, for example, be active in a Christian community in which the Holy Spirit guides and empowers. We will hear what the Spirit is saying to us through the faithful channels of our fellow believers.
But there are times when Spirit-given wisdom comes in the midst of solitude and silence. For example, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray” (Luke 6:12). He spent a whole night alone, talking to God. Then, Luke tells us, “when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them” (Luke 6:13). From his time alone with his Heavenly Father Jesus became clear about whom to call to follow him.
In the Old Testament book of 1 Kings, the prophet Elijah had experienced a grueling spiritual battle with the royal authorities and their pagan prophets (1 Kings 18:20-40). Though he prevailed in this battle, Elijah’s life was threatened by the queen. So he took off for the wilderness, hiding in a secluded cave. While he was there, the Lord spoke to him, telling him to stand on a mountain. The Lord was about to pass by in front of Elijah. Soon there came a blasting wind, a rattling earthquake, and a blazing fire. But the Lord was not in any of these. Then God appeared to Elijah in “a sound of sheer silence” (1 Kings 19:12). The classic King James Version renders this phrase as “a still small voice.” In stillness and silence, the Lord spoke to Elijah.
The examples of Jesus in Luke 6 and Elijah in 1 Kings 19 suggest that we can put ourselves in a place of readiness to hear from the Lord. When we step back from the noisiness and business of ordinary life, when we let commotion inside our heads quiet down, we’re ready to hear God more clearly.
In those times of silence, sometimes God speaks distinctly. Sometimes we simply receive the gift of stillness, which is a precious gift in these days. If, when you set aside time for solitude and silence, you don’t hear anything special from God, don’t worry. Don’t make something up. Sometimes the “still, small voice” of God is there, but so quiet that it takes us time to hear it. Nevertheless, even if it seems like you’ve received nothing from God, allow the time of quiet fellowship with God to be its own reward. But, also remember that James urges us to ask for wisdom, noting that God “gives to all generously and ungrudgingly” (James 1:5).
So, though we can’t make God give us wisdom through the Holy Spirit, we can ask expectantly. We can seek wisdom for every facet of our lives, including our daily work. And we can imitate the example of Jesus, making time for solitude and silence, so that we might hear the “still, small voice” of God’s Spirit. God loves to give wisdom from above to those who ask and seek.
How often are you able to get away from the busyness and noise of life in order to be quiet with God?
Are there special places that help you to quiet down? If so, how often are you able to visit those places?
What helps you to be attentive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit? What keeps you from paying regular, close attention to the Spirit?
As you may know, this week I’m encouraging people to use a wonderful process I’ve discovered for quieting down our hearts so that we might pay more attention to the Spirit. I explained this process in Monday’s devotion. You can read what I said here. If you’ve made use of the the Attune resource, I’d encourage you to do so again. Just use this link. If you haven’t had the time to check out Attune, see if you can set aside ten minutes to do so. In the past, I have found the Attune process to be most helpful. I’d love to share it with you.
Gracious God, thank you for being eager to give us the gift of wisdom from above. Thank you for the generosity you show your people, including me.
Lord, today I ask for wisdom once again. I need your wisdom in every part of my life. So I ask with boldness, trusting in your grace.
But I also ask that you help me, Lord, to make times for solitude and silence, times when I can quiet down and pay attention to you. Even if it’s just a few minutes when I rise in the morning or when I’m ready for bed, help me to spend intimate time with you. And in this time, may I be open to receiving your wisdom.
Thank you, dear Lord, for your kindness to me. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God’s TLC
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.