Sermon:  Super Sage 

Summary:  The solutions to various problems are not found in natural wisdom, which often 
leads to disorder and evil and includes such things as brute power, intelligence, self 
ambition, technology, education, ability, etc.  The solutions are found in the Lord, who 
is the source of heaven wisdom by which the world has been designed.  This wisdom is 
pure, peaceable, righteous, and leads to good results.  

Know:  Not everything that seems smart is of godly wisdom, therefore we need to be 
discerning and always ask, "is it righteous?"

Feel:  Positive and confident toward godly wisdom as sufficient for and in all things

Do:  Discuss the definition of godly wisdom and contrast it to conventional or natural 
wisdom.  Outline the possible outcomes of each kind of wisdom.  Identify what kind of 
wisdom you typically employ in various situation and why, and discuss tests or other ways 
to ensure the wisdom you employ is godly wisdom.

Text:  James 3:13-4:4

Scripture Reading:  Prov 3:6-8

1.  Who is your favorite superhero?  There has been a surge of them lately
	a.  Some scoff and say it is a tired, old, predictable genre, same storyline
		- Origin story, clueless loser, shirks destiny, faces destiny, meets 
		   super-villain & loses, personal crises, rematch and wins 
		- A few have departed from this formula
	b.  Yet people love superhero movies
		- Sociologists say times of war and difficulties spawn stories of 
		  heroism and patriotism
		- Love to see someone make things right
		- Reflects the hope for a peaceful future
		- If a few people have super powers, could solve a lot of problems
	c.  BUT, a recent informal survey on NPR's "American Life" - If you could 
 	    choose 1 of 2 superpowers, invisibility, or flight, what you did with it?
		- Most use it in self-serving, sometimes mean ways
		- Hardly anyone said, "Fight crime" - No one care about justice
		- A typical answer - "Not fight crime because no other superpower, I 
		  might get hurt.  I'd probably go to Paris man"
		- "Going to Paris Man" is not name of a superhero
	d.  Power corrupts?  No, self seeking seeds of corruption are already there
2.  What is the solution to our problems?
	a.  People been asking that question a long time
	b.  Many proposed solutions on a societal level
		- Brute power to enforce what is good, redistribution of wealth
		- Education, indoctrination, welfare system, etc. etc. etc.
		- Some solutions are better than others
	c.  Many solutions have failed
		- Example - Communism failed miserably
	d.  Even on an individual level there are many proposed solutions
		- Getting ahead, get smarter, get stronger, make life pleasurable, 
		   get richer, get healthier, etc. etc. etc.
		- Some ideas are better than others
3.  Solution to our problems much more basic than what these deal with
	a.  It has to do with what information we use
	b.  It has to do with how we use the information
	c.  It has to do with what philosophy and assumptions underlie our beliefs
	d.  It has to do with the type of wisdom we use
4.  According to the text, there is more than one kind of wisdom (Jas 3:13-4:4)
	a.  There are two kinds of wisdom - from above and from below
	b.  We will look at both kinds of their results

I.  Earthly Wisdom
	A.  This is the most common kind of wisdom
		1.  Will find it in our public institutions, universities, neighborhoods
		2.  Average person on the street has it
	B.  What is earthly wisdom?
		1.  It is "natural" 
			a.  Greek adj:  "psuchikos
				- Noun form means life (biological life), or soul
				- adj. refers to that which belongs to natural world
				-  Used to contrast "natural" man and "spiritual man" 
				   in 1 Cor 2:14
				- Means natural, as in of this world
			b.  When something is "natural" we mean "normal"
				- Natural way to look at things
				- Everyone accepts it, it is normal
			c.  What is "natural wisdom?" - Elevates personal freedom
				- Should be no restrictions, as long as not hurt others
				- Arbitrary rules are bad, they restrict, guilt feelings
				  for alternative lifestyle choices and other things
				- Remove arbitrary rules, & humans will flourish
				- Can work to better humankind without arbitrary rules
			d.  Many see this as enlightened
				- Moralist and religionists are backwards, out of touch
				- Some codify this as a religion - humanism
		2.  It has "selfish ambition"
			a.  Usually don't include the word "selfish" - sounds bad
				- Usually just say "ambitious" 
			b.  All about self-fulfillment, "self" being the key word
				- Look at all the magazines devoted to "self"
				- There's even one called "self" magazine
			c.  Having children, having career, get ahead, make more 
			     money, get more things, accumulate accomplishments
			d.  Nothing wrong with this? Natural wisdom says it is good!
		3.  It is also "demonic" 
			a.  That sounds really bad
			b.  It means that it is a wisdom without God in it
			c.  It is godless intelligence, smarts, ability, education
			d.  It is not about pleasing God, but self-fulfillment
	C.  ILL:  Remember a drawing at McDonalds? years ago
		1.  Winner won a million dollars or so
		2.  Stayed anonymous, donated all anonymously to St Jude's
		3.  I was talking to a lady at McDonalds, she scoffed at it
			a.  She said that person was crazy
			b.  "If it were me, I wouldn't donate it to no St Judes!"
			c.  "I would donate it to SAINT ME!"
		4.  Reminds me of that NPR poll
			a.  It not a super power, but that much money has power
			b.  What you do with it?  Spend it on me!
			c.  This is the "natural" thing to do, it is "natural" wisdom
			d.  It is all about self-fulfillment 
	D.  What is the result of natural wisdom?
		1.  Disorder - This makes logical sense
			a.  No sense of shared meaning with others
			b.  All about "self" fulfillment, about me, not you, not us 
			c.  Individualism at its finest brings disorder
			d.  See it all around us, in families, schools, society
		2  Every evil thing 
			a.  (4:1-4) - Quarreling & fighting to get what I want
			b. Text not mention it, but also stealing
				- Some stealing is not illegal
				- Developer take your property to make money
				- Adultery is stealing
				- Cheating on tests is stealing
			c. Text mentions murder
				- You want, you can't have, so commit murder
				- Unwanted pregnancy get in the way of what you 
				   want, you kill the unborn baby
				- Next, it will be killing old, ailing parents because not 
				   want to care for them, gets in the way
				-That is the enlightened "natural" wisdom
		3.  (Rom 1:20-27) - Goes into detail on natural wisdom and result
			a.  Speaks of rejecting godly wisdom for godless wisdom
				-  Exchange truth of God for a lie
				-  Served the creature rather than the creator
			b.  This fits the times so well
				- Remove God from public life & academic curriculum
				- Authority is not God, but godless human wisdom
				- That is worshipping the creature not the creator
				- Free from restrictive, arbitrary rules so can flourish?
			c.  Results (Rom 1:28-32)
				- Describes public leaders as well as common man
				- Society like this is not nice place to be
				- Is this where we live?  Will it get worse?
			d. Natural wisdom FAILS
		4.  What we need is true wisdom

II.  Heavenly Wisdom
	A.  Solution to problems, personal or societal?
		1.  Not godless human ingenuity, but Christ (1 Cor 1:30)
		2.  Not just our salvation, He is also our wisdom from God
	B.  It makes sense that he is the solution
		1.  Col 1:16 - By him all things were created
		2.  (Prov 8:22-32)
			a.  v.12 - It is Wisdom who is speaking here
			b.  She is the "master workman" or the "architect" of creation
			c.  By wisdom's design, there is a physical order to the world
			d.  Parents want children to understand the physical order?
	C.  ILL:  When you are little, many things you learn
		1.  Think of what some of these lessons are
			a.  Don't put hand on the stove
			b.  Don't eat worms, bugs, toys, your diaper, etc.
			c.  Don't walk of the edge of the deck
			d.  And the lessons go on
		2.  There is a physical design for the world, want to learn to live 
 		     within the limits God has set
		3.  Point of Proverbs:  There is also a moral design to the universe
			a.  For teaching youths the moral order of universe
			b  Not living within the moral limits can also be destructive
			c  There is a God given design for everything
				-  Marriage, family, relationships, employment
				-  For execution of justice, caring for the poor
				-  For education, medicine, politics
				-  List goes on
		4.  Godly wisdom should guide us in ALL things 
	D.  Characteristics of godly wisdom (Jas 3:17-18)
		1.  Selfless - Pure, without hypocrisy
			a. In other words, it is not for ulterior motives
			b.  Not to get what I want, but what God wants
		2.  Harmony - Peaceable, gentle, and reasonable
			a.  The word "peace" appears several times
			b.  Biblical concept of peace not cessation of hostilities
			c. It means wholeness, well being, in every sense
			d.  Godly wisdom promotes harmony in relationships
		3.  Practical - Full of mercy and good fruits
			a.  Wisdom is not mental speculation about things
		`	b. It is very practical, it produces good fruit
			c. Mt 7:20 - Jesus said you shall know them by their fruit
				- Look at the fruit of natural wisdom around us
				- Crime, broken homes, inflation, poverty, etc.
				- Natural wisdom produces bad fruit
		4.  Results of godly wisdom - Righteousness
			a.  Means first question is ALWAYS - is it right?
			b.  Not - Is it legal, culturally acceptable, secular, etc.
			c.  Not matter where you are or what you do
				- Politician, lawyer, teacher, athlete, student, doctor, 
				  cashier, mechanic, administrator, policeman, etc.
				- First and most important question - Is it right?
			d.  If I did that, I not be good politician, lawyer, etc.
				- HOW we define good?  Natural wisdom, or godly?
				- Don't want to use natural wisdom
					= First, it will have disastrous results
					= Second, friend of world is enemy of God
				- May not be popular, but you will be good

1.  All of us can be God's heroes
	a.  You don't need superpowers to do so
	b.  What you need is godly wisdom
		- Godly wisdom will guide you in all you do
		- In your family, your friendships, on the field, at work, in school
	c.  Godly wisdom comes from the Spirit, given to Christians (inv)
	d.  With Godly wisdom, you can be God's hero
		- ILL:  Superhero called "Bibleman"  he is like a Super Sage
		- Solves problems using the Bible - Can find videos at Mardel's
2.  Since Christ came into the world, Christians have had a huge positive impact on the world
	a.  They were everywhere - military, shops, schools, fields, slaves in 
	   homes of aristocrats, craftsmen, farmers, etc.
	b.  Godly wisdom guided them, not conventional natural wisdom
	c.  They served righteously, faithfully, with integrity, mercy and grace
3.  Godly wisdom is the foundation for life
	a.  Foundation for building a family, building a career, building a nation
	b.  Godly wisdom needs to guide you in all you do
	c.  Begins with the question - is it right?  Is it godly?
	d.  As you go through this week, make that question a habit.


Small Group Notes:  Super Sage 

Summary:  The solutions to various problems are not found in natural wisdom, which often leads 
to disorder and evil and includes such things as brute power, intelligence, self ambition, 
technology, education, ability, etc.  The solutions are found in the Lord, who is the source 
of heaven wisdom by which the world has been designed.  This wisdom is pure, peaceable, 
righteous, and leads to good results.  

-  Who do you admire most for their wisdom?

Explore:  (James 3:13-4:4)

1.  Discuss the characteristics of natural wisdom.  Describe the attitude people in general have 
toward natural wisdom.

2.  Discuss the characteristics of heavenly wisdom.  How is it different than natural wisdom?

3.  What are the outcomes of each kind of wisdom?  What is the reason for these outcomes?  (You 
may also want to look at Proverbs 8:22-32)

4.  What is the relationship between wisdom and righteousness?  How might understanding this 
relationship help make one wise?


5.  Describe the kind of wisdom do you typically use in your personal relationships?  At your job?  
In other settings?  Give some examples

6.  When do you find yourself most likely to employ natural wisdom?  When do you find yourself more 
likely to employ heavenly wisdom?

7.  What tests, activities, or practices might help you to ensure that the wisdom that guides you in 
all aspects of your life is heavenly wisdom and not natural wisdom?