Advent Series Day 11: the Spirit of wisdom

What do you do when you have trouble making a decision? When I was in middle school, my friends and I all did the same thing: we consulted the Magic 8 ball.

The Magic 8 Ball has been around for more than 50 years. It is consulted by kids and adults alike, usually for fun, but sometimes, perhaps, when there is nowhere else to turn. The premise is simple: ask a yes or no question, shake the ball, and then look at the response that floats into the window. There are 20 possible responses. I don’t think it is a coincidence that 10 of them are positive.

We want affirmation that we are making the right decision.

We make hundreds of decisions to each day. Decisions about what foods to eat and what shows to watch. Decisions about how to treat people and how hard to work. Decisions about which people to be friends with and which job to take.

It can get overwhelming. We long for help. 

We can find the wisdom we are looking for through the Messiah.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. – Isaiah 11:1-3a

Isaiah wrote this at a time when the king of Israel seemed to have no wisdom at all. He was making decisions left and right that were not pleasing to the Lord. He was taking his country on a path to destruction.

God warned that He would cut down the tree of that king. But, out of the stump, a new King would come. A wise King, who would have the Spirit of the Lord, and make decisions out of reverence for His Authority.

The Messiah King. Jesus.

Jesus begins His ministry with a visible sign that the Spirit of the Lord is upon Him, as Isaiah had predicted.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17

Throughout His life, people are amazed at the wisdom and authority of Jesus’ teaching. The truth of the Isaiah passage is clear. And then, Jesus says something amazing: He will give the Spirit to His disciples.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth… he lives with you and will be in you. –John 14:16-17

The Messiah has a connection to the Spirit that is unparalleled by sinful humans. Still, the affect of the Spirit on the disciples is amazing. Shortly after receiving the Spirit, Peter, an uneducated fisherman, preaches a sermon. After that message, more than 3000 people choose to get baptized and follow Christ. That type of ministry continues throughout the disciples’ lives.

And it is not just the disciples who receive the Holy Spirit. The Spirit comes to all who believe.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,- Ephesians 1:13

The Spirit lives within us to help us.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. -1Timothy 1:7

The Holy Spirit gives us an understanding of God’s ways, strength to follow them even when we don’t want to, and love to rest in when the results are difficult to bear. Thankfully, the Spirit also helps us find forgiveness when we mess up, and the power to try again.

We don’t need a Magic 8 Ball. The Messiah gives us the Spirit.