The confidence of the foolish

Listen to this, all of you –
whether the world considers you lowly or honored, whether you are wealthy or in need – these words will share wisdom, and the truth pouring from my heart will give understanding. I have studied true and valuable pieces of wisdom from the Word of God, and I will share with you the dark warning that is uncovered in the light of revelation.

Fools will ask themelves,  “Why should I be afraid when trouble arises, haven’t I made preparations? Even if enemies surround me, like so many snakes and scorpions at my heals, can’t I look down on them from the high place that I have prepared for myself?”

Yes,  fools think much of themselves and of their own preparations. They trust in their wealth and their works (even in their religious preparations),  and boast proudly in their riches and evidence of their works,  while none of these things can redeem their own brother or friend from the coming destruction. They can’t offer a ransom for others (nor do many concern themselves with much more than themselves) – because the redemption of souls is not a cost they are ready to pay,  it is costly beyond what they are willing or able to buy.

And it is true that redemption by cost and sacrifice and purchase has ceased, because of the price paid by the Lord Jesus Christ from the cross to the tomb to the right hand of God Almighty, so that He can continue to live eternally with His children, so that they will not see the pit of destruction that this world so bitterly deserves.

The Lord sees wise men die, and the fools and those with no understanding. They all leave their wealth (those many things they have accumulated) to others. They believe in their things (more than they ever believed in the Lord) that their houses will not fall, that their land and possessions will be passed down through all their coming generations, with it remaining in the names (of men) that they honor so highly (while they give little if any real honor to the name of the Lord).

But the worldly man, the carnal man, even if he is a greatly honored man among men, doesn’t remain. Like the animals, he will die. Yes,  this is the end for the foolish who trust in themselves, and of those who revere their ways of worldliness as being wise.

Like sheep they will die,  and the world having been their master – death, the prince of this world, the end to the things of the world, will consume them (as they rot and are eaten by the worms).

The upright (who fear in the Lord and place their confidence in those things eternal) will have dominion over them in the morning (when the eternal light of His vindication is come into the world), and the essence of their being will be eaten away in Sheol, because they have no communion,  no habitation,  no place, and no memory in the presence of the Lord.

And we say,  “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me.”

They say, “I won’t be afraid if I become rich, when the glory of my name increases in the mouths of men; because when I die, I’ll carry nothing away; I know that any glory won’t descend after me into the grave.”

But while they live, they bless themselvesselves. And other worldly men will rise up and praise them when they do well for themselves. But these men will go to the same end as their fathers before them. They will never see the light of that morning, because a man who honored by men, but does not understand these things, is just like the animals that will be slaughtered and butchered, their end is in the same destination.

Hear this, all peoples; Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, Both low and high, Rich and poor together. My mouth shall speak wisdom, And the meditation of my heart shall  give understanding. I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will disclose my dark saying on the harp. Why should I fear in the days of evil, When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me? Those who trust in their wealth And boast in the multitude of their riches, None of  them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him— For the redemption of their souls is costly, And it shall cease forever— That he should continue to live eternally, And  not see the Pit. For he sees wise men die; Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish, And leave their wealth to others. Their inner thought is  that their houses will  last forever, Their dwelling places to all generations; They call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain; He is like the beasts that perish. This is the way of those who are  foolish, And of their posterity who approve their sayings. Selah Like sheep they are laid in the grave; Death shall feed on them; The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; And their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, When the glory of his house is increased; For when he dies he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lives he blesses himself (For men will praise you when you do well for yourself), He shall go to the generation of his fathers; They shall never see light. A man who  is in honor, yet does not understand, Is like the beasts that perish.
Psalms 49:1-20 NKJV

Our confidence is in His mercy

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.
Psalms 33:18-22 NKJV

Our confidence is in your mercy,  Lord, not in our worthiness. We have nothing to boast in but you,  Lord. Our security is found in you,  not our works,  not our wealth,  not even in our religious sacrifices – only in you.

Hear this, all peoples;
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
Why should I fear in the days of evil,
When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?
Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,
None of  them can by any means redeem his brother,
Nor give to God a ransom for him—
For he sees wise men die;
Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish,
And leave their wealth to others.
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave,
For He shall receive me. Selah
Psalms 49:1, 5-7, 10, 15 NKJV

The path of humanity

Speaking humanly –

We all know that it is better to do right than to do wrong. We all know that it is better to help someone than to hurt them. We all know that there are ways that we can all work together for the common good of a community.

But why do we on one hand know these truths, if on the other hand we say it is all about serving self and having the right to decide what is right for ourselves? How foolish is it for us to ignore central, unchanging truths about how life is best lived? How foolish is it for us to decide that “I know better”, “This won’t hurt me”, and “I can do what I want”. Are we so blind to the warnings of others, of history, of laws that we are simply fools to the consequences we are lining up for ourselves and others through our poor decision making and lack of self control and discipline? Or are we inviting destruction into our lives like a kamikaze pilot?

So, still speaking within the bounds of our humanly understanding, we should all be able to understand that there are bad paths with negative consequences, and that there are good paths with positive rewards. And yes, we can acknowledge that many times the bad path is trading off some small, immediate gratification at the cost of a later, higher cost – which is attractive to the foolish. And we can acknowledge that many times the bad path is trading off a small pleasure or treasure for ourselves at the cost of hurting, oppressing, or denying someone else – which is attractive to the selfish.

We could go on all day agreeing to what is good and what is bad, and building laws around these things to remind men of what they already know. And we could build prisons and lay out punishments for them, if they are just foolish and need to learn the truth that they are making decisions that are hurting themselves and others.

But through law and punishment alone, we cannot change the hearts and desires of those who are selfish, prideful, deceitful, hateful, gossipers, slanderers, adulterers, lustful, addicts, etc. Because the law doesn’t make any change to the inside, it just strives to force people to conform on the outside, leaving the underlying urges of people’s hearts to do things that are not right or good. The law doesn’t create obedience on the inside, it hides inward disobedience under the mask of compliance.

In fact, the law on its own then serves as a catalyst for those to argue, “But if I am born with this urge in my heart, then who are you to deny me” as they strive for the very lawlessness and destruction that their hearts desire. And can’t we, see this is true when we look at the eradication of our communities which were once vibrant and interactive and alive – but that have been traded for isolation and fear and all kinds of, wickedness rising up around us?

Yes, this world when left in the hands of men is headed on a collision course with disaster. Because men are either foolish, or they are selfish, or they are both. And there is no other kind of man. You yourself that is reading this, have you devoted much time to helping your neighbor this week? Have you clothed and fed the homeless? Have you treated your friends with kindness? How about your enemies, have you treated them with loving kindness? Have you loved and praised God like He deserves?

And some of you will jump at that with a startled reaction, and say “But I thought that we were talking humanly, why did you have to bring God into this?” And yes, that is the reaction of proud men who want to solve this predicament on their own. We do not want to admit that we are not in control and that we are unable to build our own stairway to heaven. Isn’t that the struggle? That we want to do it our way so that we can get some credit for ourselves?

And yes, there is one path that many choose where they can take credit for their own choices, their own decisions, their own works. And they can choose to lay the evidence of their life’s works on the table and be judged by a righteous and perfect God, and they will get what they deserve – the pit of eternal flames. Because each and every one of us deserves that if we are only under the law, right? How many times have you worn clothes of different types of fabric? How many times have you looked at someone other than your spouse with lust and committed adultery in your heart? How many times have you seen something that wasn’t yours and longed for it in envy and jealousy instead of being satisfied and content with the many blessings the Lord has already given you? How many times have you done things in the dark and alone and in secret that you don’t want the world to know about? How many times have you forgotten God’s way and done it your own way?

Do you not know that you are a wicked, foolish person far from the perfect ways of a just God who will judge with righteousness and uprightness? Do you not know your need to be changed on the inside – not by religious adherence to traditions of men, but by the transforming power of something greater than you that can change your very heart, nature, and desires?

As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.
Luke 3:15-18 ESV

I’m not asking you if you’ve received the baptism of John where you promise with your mouth to repent and interact with some water from this world, friend. I’m asking if you’ve come in contact with the living waters of the baptism of the Holy Spirit coming into your life and changing you from the inside out. Is there any breath of His abundant life in your lungs? Is there any fire in your bones for sharing the Good News with the nations? Is there a transplant for your cold, hard heart so that you now go out to serve and love your neighbors, the needy, the afflicted, the imprisoned, even your enemies?

And do you realize that none of YOUR works are pure, perfect, and good? But do you realize that if you allow Him to use you, He can do amazing works through you? If you realize this in your mind, I ask you, are you allowing it to take place in your heart?

And humanly speaking, if we all lived like Jesus. If we followed His example and His teachings, wouldn’t it be a better world? Are there some things that each of us must give up that our hearts desire and long for by nature, yes. But there is something much greater than desire, than pleasure, than lawlessness – and it is love for God and for others – and the payoff isn’t “someday when I get to heaven”. The payoff is now, both for you and for those around you.

Every good and perfect gift is from God, and His gifts don’t come with hidden consequences and destruction for you and those around you. But how many times have we accepted curses from that genie whose gifts always come at a cost because they come quick and easy – instead of living in the blessing of an abundant life filled with God’s presence.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11 ESV

The fool’s heart and actions say, “There is no God”

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. 

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.  They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. 

Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord ?  There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. 

You would shame the plans of the poor, but the Lord is his refuge.  Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!

When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
Psalm 14:1-7 ESV

There was a time when I walked like a fool,  when I talked like a fool,  when I did foolish things because I did not understand,  because I did not seek after God. I didn’t care about anything nearly as much as I cared about myself. I wanted money,  power,  reputation,  honor from men,  control over the things around me, the ability to enjoy the pleasures of this world without limit, the ability to take and have what want rightfully mine. You see,  I want interested in justice. It wasn’t even about “just us”. It was about “just me”.

But all of that came with a cost. Because that matter that I was serving didn’t know anything about good gifts. Everything that I received eventually revealed an unexpected cost or consequence. That’s what happens when you wish to a genie for the things of this world that he can give you instead of serving the one true God who will give you eternal blessings. Do you realize these are two different masters? Do you know that only one has your loyalty?

You see, we started out serving that other master, but we have an opportunity for our lives to teach. Not everyone else has to be a fool. Not everyone else has to have a wasted youth. Not everyone else has to carry the same scars on their character that reveal the battles we have been through. Not everyone has to be a Paul.

Do you realize that because of Paul’s life example and teaching,  young Timothy’s life was much different? Do we realize that because of the faithful people around him,  Samuel’s life from the time that he was a boy was very different than the world? I wonder how often we don’t understand the impact that our turn from foolishness,  however early or late in our own lives might have on the lives of those around us?

You see,  we aren’t meant to walk and act like fools. And what could be more foolish than claiming with our mouths that we are a child of God,  but living like a child of hell.

If we come to the end of our lives and we have imitated a kind of godliness with some half hearted interest in religion and in escaping hell,  but we have continually denied the power that could make us a holy people set apart for His use, that could reconcile us day to day as we draw close to Him – will we have any defense against the one and only unpardonable sin,  to blaspheme the very Holy Spirit that seeks to save us from ruin?

You see, man would look at each others words to make a decision, a measurement,  a judgement, about the wisdom or foolishness of a man.

But God judges our hearts, because the tongues of wicked men are full of lies and deceit and their slippery words will attempt to hide their true desires.

We cannot fool God about who our real master is. I just wonder if we examine the example of our life’s actions closely enough to reveal who it is most of us truly serve – or if we have been trickled by our slick words and thoughts justifying our own wicked ways.

Our life example is either creating situations where others might learn from our faithfulness and live a life like Samuel and Timothy where there is abundant life throughout – or our life example may leave them with ways years before they seek the Lord and become fruitful and useful to the Lord – or maybe their whole lives are wasted, lost in fruitlessness.

Do we care enough to live differently?

Are we tired of playing the fool?

May we have the eyes,  ears,  and hearts to receive the Lord’s wisdom,  and the understanding to apply it in our lives today. Don’t let it be stolen away from us,  but let us cling to your guidance today and see our lives changed,  and let us find comfort in knowing that tools and opportunities are being stripped from the hands of the enemy by the faithful example of our lives,  visible to all. Help us to rest in your strength,  Lord, so that we will remain humble and not proud even as you refine our lives to be more like you. In your authority, crush the enemy beneath our feet, and rebuke him, Lord, for standing in the way of the needy and the oppressed and the afflicted and the meek and the mourning. Come, Holy Spirit,  come, and fill our lives with your righteous and holy and loving nature. And we wait expectantly and cry out,  come Lord Jesus,  come,  and deliver your people from this world of foolishness and wickedness. Amen.