Bread – Fool

December 13, 2017


Psalm 92

The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this:  that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever…” Ps. 92:6-7

We may be highly intelligent and well-educated according to worldly standards, know many things, and yet understand little.  Understanding requires wisdom and wisdom comes from God.  As a result, we may know much, be wise according to the world and yet still be a fool according to God.

Because the word “fool” has such a negative connotation and we are in the season of Christmas, I resisted using the word in the title.  And yet this Psalm clearly hits the nail on the head.  The fool may know much, but he or she does not grasp that success in this world does not equate success for eternity, and that, while success in this world, according to this world, may reside in man’s hands, eternity resides in God’s.  One might say that the fool sees the truth (and is therefore not stupid) but does not understand the truth of what he sees.

An example of this from the physical sciences could be gravity.  Everyone for all time saw apples falling from trees (and therefore knows that apples fall from trees) but it took Newton to point out the reason (gravity).  And, even then, from a Christian perspective, even this leap in knowledge was just that, a process from being more stupid to less stupid.  It still did not impart wisdom as to who was behind the curtain, the Author/Creator of not only the apple and the tree and the person to observe both, but of the rule of gravitation (God) and the laws of nature as well.

But since I didn’t like the word “fool,” I went to look for the original Hebrew word or phrase so translated.  Not having that particular resource at my disposal, however, I came across the NASB (New American Standard Bible) translation, which actually to me better expresses the verses: “A senseless man has no knowledge; Nor does a stupid man understand this:  That when the wicked sprouted up like grass, and all who did iniquity flourished, it was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.”  Maybe “senseless” is a little less harsh than “fool.”

So, where do we go with this today?  I suggest we go to prayer – “Lord, as we go through the rest of the week, open our hearts and minds to Your wisdom.  Do not let us be the fool the Psalmist is talking about.  Help us to understand, help us to hear, help us to see, help us to love. And while the wicked perish, bring us every day deeper and deeper into relationship with You so that we may glimpse the glory which awaits us in eternity.  Amen.”

© 2017 GBF    All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

Bread – Ignorance

April 5, 2017


Psalm 59

Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city.  There they are, bellowing with their mouths with swords in their lips — for ‘Who,’ they think, ‘will hear us?’  But You, O Lord, laugh at them;…Kill them not, lest my people forget; make them totter by their power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield!”  Ps,. 59:6-8,11

There are three parts to this excerpt from Psalm 59.  The first is the description of the people behaving like dogs, ignorant of God and the judgment to come.  The second is God Himself, who by the Psalmist’s description is amused at their ignorance.  The third is the Psalmist, who is praying to God that He not destroy them, so that their collapse over time can be a testimony to God’s people.  This last one caught me by surprise, because my natural reaction would be “God, shoot the dogs and get me out of my misery from having to listen to them!”  But the Psalmist prays for God to spare them for a time so the ignorance and depravity of their ways can become apparent to all.

There are sayings like “ignorance is bliss” and “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.”  The problem, which David points out, is that ignorance is not bliss; instead, ignorance is a fast track to punishment for eternity.  What you don’t know does hurt you.  You cannot step in front of a moving train and wish it away.  You cannot remain ignorant of the natural law of gravity.  You cannot remain ignorant of the spiritual law that the product of sin is death and that we all sin, no matter the degree of our “good works.”

The deliberately evil people and the ignorant people are all destined to the same end.  The evil people may say “We don’t care if He hears us” and the ignorant people may say “Who is He and why would He hear us in the first place,” but the result of a good, ignorant life without God and the salvation which comes from Jesus Christ alone has the same ending.  When God confronts us on our day of judgment, an inadequate response is “I didn’t know.”

The statement “I was blind, but now I see” was preceded by the acknowledgment “I am blind and I want to see.”

How does one proceed from ignorance of God to knowing Him?  Not initially by one’s own effort, just like going from unsaved to saved is not accomplished by our own effort.

Ignorance is its own form of blindness.  When we are blind, we know it because we cannot see with our eyes and the world is dark.  However, when we are ignorant, part of that ignorance is the fundamental belief that we know something, so we believe that we can see.  However, our seeing in the throes of ignorance is like peering through distorted glass.  However, the distortion is not apparent to the one in ignorance.

So what are the ignorant to do?  The same as the blind.  The same as the unredeemed.  The same as we all have done whether consciously or unconsciously – pray “Come Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and wake me up, let me see, rescue me, and save me.  Amen.”  Truth, not ignorance, shall set you free.

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© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

Bread – They

February 20, 2017


Psalm 53

The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’  They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.”  Ps. 53:1

Who is “they?”  There is an inclination to say that it is those people who are “fools,” but the reference may in fact be to everyone.  Later, in the same Psalm, God looks down on the “children of man” and says, again, “there is none who does good, not even one.”

 

But even if we limit the reference of “they” to “fools,” the real question then is “who are the fools?” and “Am I a fool too?”

A “fool” in biblical terms is a person who says in his heart, “There is no God.”  Of course we, as Christians, would look at this and say that “we know there is a God; therefore, we are not a fool.”  But not so fast.

We can acknowledge there is a God with our mind and even have accepted Him as Lord and Savior in our hearts and souls, and yet think and act on a daily basis as if there is no God.  Do I do that?  Do we do that?  Have I acknowledged God with my lips and by baptism and by attendance at worship, and yet act throughout the entire day like He doesn’t exist?

Of course I do, and so I will bet do you.   Let me ask some simple questions.

Do I (we) see sin as it really is, as something that we do minute by minute as we disobey the commands of Christ to love each other and love our neighbors as ourselves?

Do I (we) see sin as it really is, in all of its forms, mild and strong, as an absolute affront to a holy God?

Do I (we) blow off sin in our lives as something which is minor, or inconsequential, or, worse, forgiven and therefore acceptable or necessary?

Do I (we) encourage sin in others, ignoring the consequences of bringing others into ruin?

Do I (we) consider sin a mere weakness in the circumstances or imperfection which can be worked out by better education, better food, a better environment, better schools, or just the best of what the world has to offer?

Do I (we) pay more attention to what is in front of us or beneath us rather than above us?

Do I (we) believe that television is important or the news or our bank account or the car we drive or the job we have or the college degrees on our wall?

Do I (we) spend more time pursuing excellence or the treasure at the end of the rainbow or more knowledge than building relationships with our neighbors, with our family, and with God?

There are more questions, but I think I (we) get the drift.  We may not be total fools because we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, but we may be fools nonetheless because, although we know who our Savior is, we often think and act like God does not exist.

Every time we minimize God in our lives by ignoring Him and His commands, we are saying in our heart, in that moment, that God does not exist.

The “they” is me and the “they” is us.  Even though we know the truth and have exclaimed the truth, we do not live in the truth.  But, thanks be to God, while we are weak, He is strong.  While we are the “fool,” He is the fool-redeemer.  While we forget Him, He does not forget us.  When we forget who He is and what He has done, He calls us to remember and to restoration to Him.

It is sort of funny that the world would call us believers “fools” for our belief.  They are right, but not in the way they think.  For we are all fools, fallen short of the glory of God.  For we are all fools, demonstrating this daily as we walk in the ways of the world rather than in the ways of God.  But, as the redeemed, we are a special kind of fool, one who has been transformed in our minds enough to know that sin is sin, that sin results in death, that we are sinners saved by God’s mercy and purchased by blood on the cross by Christ, and that every day, as we walk in faith into the opportunities which God creates, we are growing and maturing toward that day when we will be made perfect.

And that makes all the difference.

_________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

Bread – Fool

April 4, 2016


Psalm 14

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”  Ps. 14:1

When I write Bread, I do not read ahead to the next week.  Last week, when I wrote about Psalm 13, I only read Psalm 13, not Psalm 14.  And yet, on Friday of last week, I noted that Psalm 13 contained an unlucky number and that Friday was April Fool’s day, and I ended with this:

“The Bible does say that those people who do not seek after God are fools.  But we do not need to go there on April Fool’s day.  Instead, all we need to do is to know that we are not, and be grateful to the One who has brought us to the point where “our heart(s) shall rejoice in Your salvation.” Ps. 13:5”

And, so, when I sit down this morning to read Psalm 14 for the week, I am shocked when the first line is “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.”  Ps. 14:1

There is a tendency on our part to look at this statement and either recoil that such a harsh word, “fool,” is used, or to say, “Thank God, I am not like one of those fools.”  But both reactions would be wrong.

First, those who deny the existence of God, His eternal power and divinity, are fools because they know there is a God and yet choose to ignore that knowledge to follow their own paths.  Paul in Romans speaks to this when he says that “What may be known about God [from nature] is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Rom. 1:19-20  We know God exists because creation surrounds us and is obvious to us.  The explanation of “science” is that a tree came to be by the passage of time and the application of probability to random mutations of something.  The plain explanation is that a tree exists because it does, because the intricate nature of its structure … the cells, roots, branches, fruit, bark – are of such detailed and balanced structure, both at the observable level and at the electron microscopic level, that it is like a finely made watch – it does not exist independent of its Creator, because only a creator can create.  The fool sees the intricacy and the fine balance which makes a tree a tree, and turns from the obvious conclusion, that it was made, and instead builds a theory (which he calls fact) that it came from nothing to become itself.

But what some people call obvious may not be to those who have no exposure to truth.  Some time ago I had the opportunity to speak with a young Chinese student who was obtaining her doctorate in astrophysics from a local university.  She spoke English well and I asked her if she believed in God.  She said “no” and that she had been taught that God was a creation of our minds to justify ourselves.   And I asked her whether she had studied the universe and had studied, as well, the microscopic, to which she obviously replied “yes.”  I then asked her whether things became simpler as you reached into the macro-sphere and the micro-sphere, and she said “no, more complex.”  And then I looked at her, smiling, and said “Does complexity suggest a creative mind or a random series of events?”  And she said “a creative mind.”  And then I said “and you have just proven the existence of God.”  And the point of the story is this … she looked at me and said “I have never heard of God explained this way; I need to think about it.”

What is plain to a neutral observer may no longer be plain to an observer whose sight and sound have been corrupted by the world.  We are surrounded by fools, but they are not fools we should ignore, but fools who we should love.

Second, when we say “Thank God, I am not like one of those fools,” we are making a grave error, because we too can behave exactly like them.   Now we may say there is a God, but do we put God first?  Do we act in everything we do as if there is a God?  Do we devour His written Word about how we should lead our lives.  Do we hold captive every thought to the gospel, to God’s word written and made flesh in Jesus Christ?

Perhaps our disobedience does not put us in the category of fools and I am being too harsh, but it certainly puts us in the category of foolish.  And how many foolish things must we do before we are counted among the fools?

The fact is that we do enough foolish things, sinful things, that we could be counted among the fools by God?  Why aren’t we?  Because God has enlightened us, because God is His sovereign power has granted us mercy, because God has saved us.

We are like the fool but we are not the fool, not because of anything we did, but because of what He did, does, and will do.  Thank you, Jesus.

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated

 

 

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