Wisdom, Week 1
Jesus Grows in Wisdom
If you want be wise, search for wisdom.
When Jesus was a boy, His family traveled to Jerusalem every year to celebrate the Passover Feast. The year He turned twelve, He set off on the long journey with His parents, Mary and Joseph, and other families from Nazareth. He probably hung out with friends on the road during the trip that took nearly a week!
As they neared Jerusalem, the crowds grew larger. At last, the walls of the city came into sight. Vendors lined the way, selling animals. Beggars held out their hands, hoping for spare coins.
Jesus and His family joined the living river of people streaming through the gates.
“I’m going to explore!” Jesus may have announced, set to take off and find adventure in the busy streets. By evening, He would have returned to the home of relatives where His family was staying. All week, Mary, Joseph and Jesus celebrated with relatives and together enjoyed the Passover Feast.
When the festive week was over, Mary and Joseph packed and began the trip home along the crowded roads. At the end of the day, they stopped to set up camp.
“Where’s Jesus?” Mary wondered. “I need Him to gather sticks for the fire.”
“I thought He was with Eli’s family,” Joseph suggested. But when they asked friends and relatives, no one had seen Jesus.
“He left the house with us this morning . . .” Mary began, her brow furrowed.
“I haven’t seen Him since,” Joseph noted.
“Me neither,” Mary agreed. “It’s almost if . . .”
It hit them both at the same moment: “He’s been left behind!”
Without pausing to rest or eat, Mary and Joseph turned and raced back along the dusty road toward Jerusalem. They rushed into the city again, and paused, wondering where to search first.
“Where did He explore this week?” asked Joseph. “The theater?” “The marketplace!” Mary exclaimed. “He loves it there.”
The marketplace was bustling with shouting vendors and people clamoring to buy everything from rugs to fresh figs.
“Have you seen a young boy?” Mary asked a fish seller.
“Hair sticks up in back,” Joseph added. “Gray tunic, muddy at the hem.”
The vendor nodded enthusiastically. “About so high?” the vendor asked, raising his hand to shoulder height.
“Yes!” Mary and Joseph exclaimed.
“I’ve seen at least 20 of ’em today,” said the vendor.
For several frantic days, Mary and Joseph searched the city, barely eating or sleeping. At last they found themselves at the gates of the one place they hadn’t yet looked: the Temple. Both of them were losing hope.
“He’s gone, Joseph!” Mary cried. “Something terrible has happened to Him.”
“We’ll just make one circuit inside,” Joseph said.
As they circled the courtyard, Mary froze and pointed. “Joseph. There!”
Just ahead, they could see their Son. Jesus sat with a group of teachers—and the older men were actually listening to Him!
“Teacher, isn’t it always right to be kind, even if it means giving money to a beggar on the Sabbath?” Jesus asked.
The teachers nodded in agreement and amazement, but Mary and Joseph rushed forward.
“Son, why have you treated us like this?” Grabbing her boy, Mary hugged Jesus so hard she nearly squeezed the air out of Him. “Your father and I have been worried about you. We have been looking for you everywhere.”
Jesus stepped back and looked up in surprise. “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Joseph hugged his Son, too. “All I know is . . . no more stunts like this, okay?”
Jesus returned to Nazareth with His parents and obeyed everything they asked of Him. As He grew, He became wiser and stronger. He also became more and more pleasing to God and to others.
What comes to mind when you think of wisdom?
It’s easy to think that wisdom is just something you get when you’re older. But kids can grow in wisdom too! You have opportunities every single day to make wise choices. Parents, share about a choice you’ve had to make recently, and how you did (or didn’t) choose wisely. Kids, what is a decision that you’ll need to make soon, like what activity to do or how to treat a sibling? What are some ways you could find the wise choice—like asking God or talking to an adult you trust? Together, ask God to help you make wise choices every day.
Wisdom, Week 2
Wise People See Danger
If you want to be wise, look before you leap.
Ada Rogers was beyond excited when she discovered a battered old DeLorean car for sale the week before college was slated to start.
“It’s only a thousand dollars!” Ada exclaimed.
Ada’s best friend and roommate, Ling, was skeptical. “We need to get back to school. Not time travel to 1985,” she pointed out.
But Ada wasn’t listening. “We’ll show up on campus in style!” she said.
“It’s 600 miles. You should at least have a mechanic check out the car,” cautioned Ling.
Ada turned the key and started the engine. “It runs, doesn’t it?” she said, pressing hard on the horn. “Plus, the horn works. That’s all that matters.”
The next week, Ada and Ling set off on their back-to-school road trip. The small car was packed tightly with everything the girls would need for the year.
They were several hours down the road when Ada realized she was hungry. “I could eat an entire Burrito Bell Quesaburitatacobowl!” she moaned.
Ling shook her head. “We’re in the middle of nowhere. There’s nothing out here.”
Ada jammed on the brakes as they approached a tiny building by the side of the road. “Gas station! They’ve gotta have something.”
Inside the small convenience store, Ada and Ling surveyed the food options: one roller grill with rubbery bright red hot dogs.
Link wrinkled her nose. “Those look like they’ve been there since Tuesday. Collecting diesel fumes and burnt coffee smell.”
“Eh.” Ada shrugged. “Better not to know.” “Even if it makes you sick?” asked Ling.
But Ada had already grabbed a hot dog and was paying for it. Ling sighed and surveyed the store’s kitschy stash of knick knacks and plaques. “‘Whistle while you work,’” she read, “‘and drive everyone else nuts.’”
Ada pointed out another plaque. “Oh, I know this one. It’s from Proverbs in the Bible,” she noted.
Ling took a look and read, “‘Wise people see danger and go to a safe place. But childish people keep going and suffer for it.’”
“I looked that up for my little sister when she wanted to get a pet snake,” Ada laughed. “I mean, she didn’t take one second to think what could happen if a snake got loose in the house!”
Ada took a mammoth bite of the hot dog and chewed fast. She offered it to Ling. “You want some?”
Ling looked away. “I can’t watch.”
“It’s not bad,” Ada protested. “It’s actually . . . ooo . . . uh . . . I don’t feel so good.”
Over the next few hours, the girls had to make extra stops for Ada to buy Tums and let her stomach settle. But by afternoon, she was feeling okay again.
“Just look how blue the sky is!” she exclaimed, and then pointed to a side road that branched off just ahead. “We should take this back way.”
“Hold it!” Ling cried as they blew past an orange sign. “Didn’t that say something about construction?”
But Ada had already whipped the wheel around and turned onto a narrow, steep, two-lane road. The whole car jounced and creaked as they flew along.
“You sure the car can handle this?” wondered Ling.
“It’s a DeLorean. It could take us all the way to 1955!” Ada declared.
Moments later, the sounds of heavy machinery cut across the creaking of the car. “Hey! What’s that?” Ada asked as they spotted a large maintenance truck ahead. “Looks like they’re working on the bridge,” said Ling. “We’ll have to turn around.” “I hate backtracking,” protested Ada.
“It’s just 20 minutes back to the highway,” said Ling.
“Ooo, look! I bet that goes around the bridge.” Ada pointed to a gravel lane that veered off down the hillside. “There’s even a sign for a place to swim! Hang onto your britches, kids!”
The car tore down the rough gravel lane, careening over bumps and roots. They narrowly dodged a huge pothole.
“Slow down!” cried Ling.
The DeLorean flew around a rugged curve, catching air, when the girls spotted a fallen tree with huge branches directly across the road.
“Tree!” shouted Ling.
Ada wrestled with the car. “Ack! The steering wheel’s jammed!”
The DeLorean plowed into the branches, nosing right up under the massive tree trunk before it finally stopped. For a long moment, the girls just stared at each other.
“You okay?” asked Ada. “Yeah,” replied Ling. “You?”
Ada nodded and gingerly shifted the car into reverse. She tapped the accelerator, but the engine only coughed and died.
“I think we’re stuck,” she confessed.
“No cell coverage either,” Ling added. “We’ll have to hike back out to the main road.”
Carefully, the girls pried their doors open and crawled through leaves and branches. Once they made their way out, the car was almost hidden in the midst of the thicket.
Ada sighed as the words she’d read that morning flew back to haunt her. “‘Wise people see danger and go to a safe place,’” she murmured. “‘But childish people keep going and suffer for it.’” After a moment, she added, “And make their friends suffer for it, too. I’m really sorry, Ling. How can I make it up to you?”
Ling raised an eyebrow. “Well . . . you could crawl back in there and find my hiking shoes, for starters.”
“Okay,” said Ada. “And next time . . . I’ll look before I leap.” “Or before you buy a DeLorean,” Ling noted.
Slowly, the girls trudged back up the gravel road, searching for a cell phone signal. Ada had discovered one of God’s truths the hard way: anytime you face a big decision, it’s always wise to pay attention and think things through.
In your own words, share what you think it means to “look before you leap.”
Have either of you ever been in a situation where you feel like you acted before really thinking about it first? Tell each other what happened. Now, brainstorm some situations in your life where it might be tempting to “leap” first before looking. Pray for each other and ask God to help you take a good look first and get wise advice from someone you trust before “leaping.”
Wisdom, Week 3
Rehoboam Listens to Fools
2 Chronicles 10
If you want to be wise, hang out with wise people.
King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. He even wrote down the wisdom he collected. His writings make up most of the book of Proverbs. Chapter 13, verse 20 cautions,
Walk with wise people and become wise. A companion of foolish people suffers harm.
But Solomon had a son named Rehoboam who wasn’t so wise. And when Solomon died, Rehoboam became king.
The young ruler soon faced his first difficult decision. King Solomon had made the Israelites work extremely hard, and they weren’t happy about it. Led by a man named Jeroboam, the people came before King Rehoboam.
“We’re not afraid of hard work,” explained Jeroboam, “but your father made all of us work way too hard. Make things a little easier on us, and we’ll serve you.”
Everyone who had come with Jeroboam shouted their agreement. But Rehoboam held up a hand to silence them. “Hold it,” he warned. “You want me to make things easier for you?”
“Just a little,” pointed out Jeroboam.
Rehoboam considered for a moment. Then he ordered: “Come back to me in three days.”
After Jeroboam and the Israelites left, Rehoboam went to the elders who had given his father advice for many years. “The people want me to make things easier for them!” he grumbled. “What should I do?”
“Make it easier,” suggested the elders. “Make it easier?!” exclaimed Rehoboam.
“Be kind. Make it easier,” agreed the elders. “Then they’ll always serve you.”
These weren’t the words Rehoboam wanted to hear. “Hmph,” he muttered. “You can go. Don’t trip over your beards on the way out!”
Unsatisfied with the suggestions of his father’s advisors, Rehoboam went to find some of the friends he’d grown up with. They were extremely busy racing a slug against a snail.
“Big prize for the winner!” announced one of his friends. “You want in?”
Rehoboam shrugged. “Looks like fun, but I gotta rule and stuff. The people are making all this fuss about how they want me to make things easier for them! What should I do?”
“You’re king!” laughed his friend. “Do whatever you want!”
“Oh, wait, I got it!” declared another friend. “Say this: Look at my little finger. It’s stronger than one of my father’s legs. He made things hard for you. I’ll make ’em harder! He pushed you around. I’ll push harder!”
Rehoboam liked what he heard. “Genius!” he crowed. “Oh, and lemme know if the snail or the slug wins.”
Three days later, Jeroboam and the Israelites returned. They all lined up before the king to hear his answer.
“Well, are you gonna make it a little easier on us?” asked Jeroboam.
Rehoboam grinned and held up his hand, pinky pointed. “Look at my little finger,” he sneered. “It’s stronger than one of my father’s legs. He made things hard for you. I’ll make ’em harder! He pushed you around. I’ll push harder!”
Jeroboam’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “Oh no you didn’t!”
Rehoboam crossed his arms. “Oh yes I did.” “Then you’re not our king anymore.”
“Oh yes, I am!”
“You can play king over this little part of the country,” Jeroboam announced. “The rest of us are gonna set up our own kingdom.”
“You can’t do that!” shrieked Rehoboam.
But it was too late.
“All hail, King Jeroboam!” shouted the Israelites.
Jeroboam and the people stormed out. After this, the entire kingdom split in two . . . all because Rehoboam chose to listen to foolish advice.
When you have a tough decision, who do you talk to?
List three people you’re most likely to go to for advice. Now, together, consider whether those people would point you to a wise choice. Here’s the thing: you’re most likely to ask for help from the people you spend the most time with. If those people are focused on loving God and loving others—they’ll probably help you make good choices. But if those people, like Rehoboam’s friends, only care about themselves, they’ll start pushing you in the wrong direction. It will be much easier to make foolish decisions when the people around you aren’t acting wisely. If you already have wise friends, pray together and thank God for them. If you don’t have many wise friends to spend time with, pray together and ask God to lead you to friends who love Him and love others.
Wisdom, Week 4
Trust in the Lord
If you want to be wise, trust God to give you wisdom.
Lee Smith and Will Johnson both worked for the Wise Cookie Company. They wrote interesting sayings that appeared on tiny slips of paper inside every Wise Cookie. Things like: “Two days from now, tomorrow
will be yesterday.”
Lee preferred to write witty aphorisms.
“Your reality check is about to bounce!”
“You will find a thing. It may be important.”
“If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is it naked or homeless?”
Will liked to explore subjects with a little more depth. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the conquest of it.”
In fact, Will often read through the Book of Proverbs for ideas. “Hey, look at this one!” he suggested one afternoon. “‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways obey him. Then he will make your paths smooth and straight.’”
Lee raised an eyebrow. “Kind of long for a Wise Cookie,” he pointed out.
“Maybe someone needs to hear it,” Will suggested.
One morning, the two co-workers were surprised to receive an all-staff text.
“All staff must report to Conference Room A immediately,” Will read.
Will leapt from his seat, enthusiastic. “I bet they want to tell us how everyone in the world is buying Wise Cookies and they’re giving us all a raise!”
Lee considered the text message carefully and replied, “He who keeps his expectations low will not be disappointed.”
“Is that for me or to put in a Wise Cookie?” Lee asked. “Both,” said Will.
When Lee and Will arrived at the conference room, it was so full they couldn’t even find seats. Everyone quieted down immediately when the company president, Mr. Flint, took the podium.
After a long moment of silence, Mr. Flint finally took a deep breath and told them, “I’m sad to say, but no one is buying Wise Cookies anymore. This company is closing next week.”
Lee’s jaw dropped. He whispered loudly to Will, “Is he saying we’re out of a job?!”
At the podium, Mr. Flint stated mournfully, “So what I’m saying is . . . you’re all out of a job.”
Lee felt as though the air had been knocked from his lungs. After the meeting, he and Will sat in the break room, dazed, as they ate their lunches. Or rather, Will ate. Lee just poked at his peanut butter and banana sandwich as hot anger clawed at his stomach.
“So what are you gonna do next?” Will asked. “I’m planning it all out,” said Lee.
Will smiled. “Glad to hear it. That’s great.”
“Great?!” moaned Lee. “When I get home, I’ll probably throw plates and hurl glasses! Then I’ll write angry emails to Mr. Flint and to all the people in the world who stopped buying Wise Cookies. Next I’ll order seven pizzas and stress eat them all! Plus eleven pints of Jen & Berry’s ice cream. And then I’ll collapse onto the sofa and watch movies for two weeks straight!”
Lee collapsed back into his creaky, plastic chair.
Will raised an eyebrow. “I was actually wondering what you might do next for work.”
Lee stared glumly at his sandwich. “Work? I’ve never worked anywhere else. No one will want me.” After a moment, he thought to ask, “What are you gonna do?”
“Well, update my resume,” said Will. “But this is where I’m gonna start.”
Will opened up a Wise Cookie and handed the paper inside to Lee, who read it aloud. “‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways obey him. Then he will make your paths smooth and straight.’” Lee looked up in surprise. “How’d you know that was in there?”
“I snagged a whole batch with that one, just to remind myself.”
“Oh. Good reminder . . . really good reminder,” admitted Lee. “Maybe I’ll rethink the plate-throwing, revenge-email, stress-eating thing.”
Will tossed his cookie wrapper in the trash. “If you’re not eating seven pizzas for dinner, you could join me for burgers. And to brainstorm what might come next.”
“That’s not an entirely terrible idea,” said Lee.
That evening, as Will flipped burgers on the grill, the two friends considered what lay ahead. “God made you super funny,” Will pointed out. “So maybe He’ll make a way for you to entertain people.”
“Sign spinner!” laughed Lee.
“Clown,” suggested Will.
“But not the scary kind,” protested Lee. “Dentist,” offered Will.
“Yeah. They have to keep people laughing instead of freaking out.” Lee shook his head, “Well, you could sell ice cream.”
“God made you really good at helping people cool down!” exclaimed Lee. Will smiled. “Whatever it turns out to be, God’s already given us everything we need for the road ahead. Our job is to listen. And He’ll show us each step of the way.”
Will’s phone beeped, and he checked the message.
“Oh, hey,” he said. “This is from my friend Benjamin. His company needs a copywriter to sell crazy socks.”
“I think I’d be a shoe-in for the job,” joked Lee. “You want me to get you an interview?” asked Will.
Lee thought about it for a moment, and then smiled. “Maybe. But first I wanna ask God about it.”
As the friends assembled their burgers, Lee started whistling. It was hard not to know what would happen next. But Proverbs chapter three was an amazing reminder that he could trust God to show him each step of the adventure in the right time.
Each of you share about a time when things didn’t go the way you hoped or planned.
It might be as big as having to move in the middle of the school year or as small as not getting to pick the movie for family movie night. What happened, and how did you respond? The truth is, we have expectations for everything—how our family will act, where we’ll sit in the lunchroom during the new school year, what we’ll get for Christmas. And a lot of the time, things don’t happen the way we imagined it. But here’s the awesome thing: no matter what happens, we can trust God to guide us each step along the way. Pray for each other, that God will give you wisdom to take the next step, even when things don’t go the way you think they should.