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 – Lost

October 1, 2010


Readings for Friday, October 1, designated by the Book of Common Prayer:

Hosea 10:1-15; Acts 21:37-22:16; Luke 6:12-26; Psalms 102, 107:1-32

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Psalm 107 in our readings today present to us four forms of being lost, what one might call situations of “lostness.”

The first are – “Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.” Psalm 107:4

These are the people who find themselves in Nowhereville. The desert provides nothing to eat or drink. People die in the desert from lack of nourishment. Most deserts are hot to the point of burning. One can find no shelter in the desert, no covering, no protection against the forces of nature. In the desert, one direction looks no better than the other. Which way to green pasture? Which way to life-giving brooks of water? Which way to comfort? In the middle of Nowhereville, in the middle of the desert, no one knows the way.

The second are – “Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.” Psalm 107:10

Since we are all children of Adam, we all have rebelled against the words of God and, therefore, at one time or another we all find ourselves lost in the dark. In the dark we are afraid, so afraid that in this passage we are actually just sitting rather than trying to find a way out. Our fear and our hopelessness drives us to depression (“deepest gloom”), so the lostness of dark may be just in our mind. We are surrounded by light but cannot see because our minds are imprisoned to the darkness of despair. While we are sitting in darkness, depressed and full of despair, hopeless, in chains to our misery, we cannot see a way out. We cannot see the solution to our problems. We cannot figure out which way is out. We are lost, we are in chains, we are in a miserable state. In the dark, one direction looks no better than the other. Which way to light? Which way to hope? We don’t know, and we won’t know because we are sitting in the dark, lost.

The third are – “Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.” Psalm 107:17

We love to use our reason, so set our science and our thoughts on the pedestal of worship. In so doing, we ignore God’s commands because they are “old-fashioned,” “for another time, culture, and place,” or “written by ignorant people who only knew how to raise donkeys and knew nothing about the Internet.” In so doing, we rebel against God’s rules for our life, His instructions for our safety, and so find ourselves lost in the foolishness of the world’s wisdom. Once we get there, of what good is God? When we can think of all alternatives, achieve all possibilities if only we “think we can,” conquer life through intelligent use of technology, and dream up unnecessary complexities to justify our jobs and our existence, then we will one day find ourselves in a corner of our own logic, retired by obsolescence, destroyed by predictable mistakes, conquered by the next person with superior “reason.” In the sorry state of self-reliance, we are more lost than perhaps even when we are in the desert or in the dark. We may be more lost because, in our own minds and our own strengths, we do not even realize that we are lost. We are lost and don’t know it, so we are not even trying to find a way out. Like the frog boiled to death in the pot of water, one degree at a time, we become more lost as days go by, glorying in our knowledge, reason, and technology, not even realizing that we have no place to go, no real eternal hope, no real direction.

The fourth are – “Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters…in their peril their courage melted away.” Psalm 107:23, 26

The fourth situation of lostness is where one is successful and adventurous, perhaps even guided by an accurate compass, but finds oneself in the middle of the storm, in the situation of great peril. We can become so overwhelmed by the storm we are in, by the complex perils of family life, by the negative situations in our jobs, by just the quakes of life, that we become lost. We are in the storm. What direction do we go in? What is the solution? Where is the hope? How do we get our way out of this mess? In the storm we are lost, we are afraid, we are frozen into inaction, we lack direction.

Maybe today you find yourself in one of these categories of lostness. Perhaps you are in the desert of life. Perhaps you are in the storm. Perhaps you are sitting in the dark. Perhaps you are so self-reliant that you don’t even know that you are lost. In all events, the solution is the same and is given in the same Psalm.

To the one lost in the desert, God says “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.” Psalm 107:6

To the one lost in the dark, God says “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.” Psalm 107:13

To the one lost in his foolishness, God says “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.” Psalm 107:19

To the one lost in his storm, God says “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress.” Psalm 107:28

So what do you do when you are lost? I’ve got a great idea! What about calling out to the Lord? And He will bring you, He will carry you, He will deliver you, and He will save you.

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