Stop Empowering the Fools

Stop Empowering the Fools

Today, I am amazed at how Proverbs 18 shines a light on the current situation in this country.  Just turn on the news and you’ll find the truth of Proverbs 18:2 splattered all over your screen.  Does this sound familiar?

Proverbs 18:2 – A fool (dull, stupid, arrogant) has no delight (pleasure, desire) in understanding, but in expressing (venting, revealing, disclosing) his own heart.

We watch these pundits shoot their mouth off about any and everything that comes into their minds as if it dropped from the lips of God.  As if they, and they alone, had the keys to all truth.  They consider themselves wise in this age because of the platform we’ve given them.  That’s right, we’ve elevated them to where they are by giving heed and importance to the words that come out of their mouth.  We, by our continued involvement in watching them vent the foolish bile that flows from their heart, have given credence and credibility to what they say.  If we watch and listen to them, their platform inevitably grows.  And if we turn away from their foolishness, they will soon be gone.  We hold the power to their influence in our lives, not them.  Maybe it’s time we began to use it.

This proverb sums up their life and motivation quite well.  Their delight is not in understanding the issues of today or the truth of those issues.  Their delight and pleasure come from venting what they think or feel or what seems right in their own eyes.  They tirelessly promote their agenda and twist the facts to support their talking points.  They assume that they alone are the standards of truth and we are too simple to understand the facts ourselves.  We obviously need them to tell us what to think and what to do.  Yet we forget the Proverbs call these type of people fools— dull, stupid, and arrogant.

As Forest Gump would say, “Stupid is as stupid does.”  But is he talking about us?  Or them?


Toxic Verbal Waste

The words that come out of a fool’s mouth are designed to stir up fights and foster controversy.  There’s no value in speaking truth unless it pushes forward the agenda.  Consider the following:

Proverbs 18:6 – A fool’s lips enter into (to go in, to bring) contention (strife, controversy, quarrels, disputes), and his mouth calls for blows (strikes, or a slap to correct insolent behavior).

That’s exactly what happens with the media today.  They pour out the anger and hatefulness in their heart, criticizing everyone and everybody who does not think like they do, and create contention for the sake of stirring up controversy.  But, as the Proverbs say, what they need is a punch in the mouth, a fist in their face, a belt in the chops.  A classic John Wayne moment.

But maybe we need the same thing.  Maybe we need a slap in the face for listening to the dribble that comes out of their mouth.  Maybe we need a wake-up call.  Maybe we need someone to slap us back to reality.  Maybe we’ve become just as arrogant and stupid as they are by listening to the arrogant and stupid things that come out of their mouth.  Maybe we also delight in contention, quarrels, and strife.

Maybe we’re no better than they are.  Maybe we’ve got blood on our own hands.


Our Addiction to Gossip

Those who spend their life speaking ill of another become addicted to the sin of building themselves up by tearing someone else down.  Proverbs 18 speaks to this also.

Proverbs 18:7 – A fool’s mouth is his destruction (ruin, terror, downfall), and his lips are the snare (bait, trap, lure) of his soul.

The more a man verbally tears down another, the more his entire being become enslaved to the sin of gossip.  Having a bitter and quarrelsome attitude becomes part of their DNA.  Words of praise and adoration are foreign to them.  But mocking words of sarcasm and condemnation become second nature.  They take over their being.  They are now the fruit of their hearts.  They possess their soul.

Do you know why a steady diet of gossip turns into an eating disorder?  The Proverbs do.

Proverbs 18:8 – The words of a talebearer (liar, gossip, slanderer, one who murmurs and whispers about others to attack them verbally) are like tasty trifles (to gulp, swallow greedily), they go down into the inmost body.

Those who are honored and exalted by their ability to gossip and slander another, much like the media today, become addicted to that sin.  They are in the limelight only because of their ability to verbally attack another, with false innuendos and half-truths.  They gulp and swallow greedily for another tasty trifle, some shared falsehood, about someone else.  And they hunger for some unsubstantiated rumor they can use to malign their character and murmur behind their back.


Welcome to Western Media in 2017

Come on, aren’t you tired of it?  Haven’t you had enough?

Then no longer go to these fools for the facts.  There are hundreds of alternative news sources that report truth, and not agenda.  The problem is that they are not as well known and CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and the others.  You may actually have to do some digging on your own and then practice biblical discernment.  You may have to work for a change and not fall back on what is easy and spoon fed to you from your sofa.  You may have to pay a price to know truth, and not the politically correct agenda that our culture is being indoctrinated with.

Remember the truth.  Remember where the truth can be found.  And cling, like a drowning man to a piece of driftwood, to the truth.  The only truth.

Proverbs 18:10 – The name of the LORD is a strong tower (an elevated place of strength and truth); The righteous run to it and are safe (inaccessible high).

Do you realize the elevated place of strength where the name of the Lord is proclaimed and the righteous run to for safety, may be the pulpit?  For the pulpit is to proclaim the truth, God’s truth, and cannot fall prey to the trappings and changing opinions of this world.  And those who run to it are safe.  Why?  Because God’s truth never changes and never fails.  And from the pulpit, God has ordained His truth to be proclaimed and His name magnified.

Something to think about, isn’t it?

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Day Fifteen:  Proverbs 15

Day Fifteen: Proverbs 15

These are just a few of the encouraging truths found in Proverbs 15.  I pray they will be a blessing to you today.


Truth One: God is Sovereign

In your times of trouble, remember these encouraging words:

Proverbs 15:3 – The eyes of the LORD are in every place (He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and so much more), keeping watch (beholding, guarding as from a high tower) on the evil and the good.

After all, He is sovereign. And nothing catches Him by surprise.  As someone once said, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurs to God?”  Rest in this truth today.


Truth Two: Actions Matter

How important is prayer and a life of striving to live righteously before Him?  It’s the key to becoming the beloved and delight of the Lord.  Consider the following:

Proverbs 15:8 – The sacrifice (offering) of the wicked is an abomination (disgusting, unclean, wicked, horrendously offensive) to the LORD, but (by contrast) the prayer of the upright (straight, just, pleasing, in a moral and ethical sense) is His delight (pleasure, will, deemed acceptable).

It gets more intriguing.

Proverbs 15:9 – The way (path, journey, manner of life) of the wicked is an abomination (disgusting, unclean, wicked, horrendously offensive) to the LORD, but (by contrast) He loves him who follows (to chase, run after, pursues) righteousness (blameless in conduct, integrity).

Note the distinction.  The difference between becoming His delight or being horrendously offensive to the Lord is the condition of your heart.  Wickedness brings pain and rejection.  Living upright, holy and righteous, as He is upright, holy, and righteous, bring His pleasure and delight.  And He loves the one who pursues, in both actions and attitude, His righteousness.  You see, actions do matter.

And just in case you’re not yet convinced your actions and attitudes have eternal consequences, look at who gets their prayers heard:

Proverbs 15:29 – The LORD is far (distant, remote, far away) from the wicked, but (by contrast) He hears (to listen, have regard for) the prayer of the righteous (just, those blameless in conduct both morally and ethically).

God hears the prayers of those who live like Him.  But for the wicked?  He’s moved on, out of town, not interested.  That’s scary.


Truth Three:  We Don’t Have All Day

Looks like it’s a choice we make to determine which team we want to play on:  the righteous or the wicked.  I don’t know about you, but my desire is to live righteously for Him and to become His delight.  Is that your desire also?  Are you chasing after Him in hot pursuit?  Then let’s get to it.  We don’t have all day.

Maybe this will give you something to shoot for this week.  After all, nothing else really matters, does it?

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400: Count the Cost, Pay the Price

400: Count the Cost, Pay the Price

Life teaches us that anything worth having has a price attached to it.  Nothing of value, other than salvation, comes free.  “No pain, no gain,” as the saying goes.  Jesus spoke that same truth in Luke 14:26-33.

And the same principle applies when it comes to understanding and experiencing spiritual gifts.  There are some things we must do and some things we can expect.  Let’s look at our part first:

You must have a desire for more of the Lord.  A desire for the Spirit’s gifts.  But that desire means more than calm, wishful, thinking.  Consider the following

1 Corinthians 14:1 – Pursue love (agápē), and desire (zēlóō – to burn with zeal, to be heated or to boil with envy, to lust, covet) spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

Then you must cultivate a vibrant prayer life.  This takes time and effort.  But the rewards are life-changing.

And finally, you must be willing to fast.  Why?  Because the Lord links fasting, for some reason, with prayer and spiritual fervency.  They seem to come in a package.  Two for the price of one.

Do you want to know more about growing deep in your intimacy of the Lord?  Do you want to begin living in the realm of the gifts the Spirit has given you?  Do you want to let Him manifest HImself to the world through you (1 Cor. 12:7)?  Great.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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Is Your Heavenly Father Like Your Earthly Father?

Is Your Heavenly Father Like Your Earthly Father?

In my devotional time today in Proverbs 5, I discovered some words of wisdom I would like to share with you:

Proverbs 5:1-2 – My son, pay attention (listen carefully, give heed, obey) to my (not the world’s) wisdom; lend (extend, stretch out) your ear to my (not the world’s) understanding, (why) that you may preserve (watch, keep, guard) discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge.

The Proverbs are all about wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.  And the key to living in these blessings is to forsake the wisdom of this world, which is moronic (mōría) at best, and embrace the wisdom that only comes from God (1 Cor. 3:19).  It’s a daily choice, sometimes an hourly choice, we can make.

So how ’bout it?  Are you up for the challenge?

And one more:

Proverbs 5:21 – For the ways (path, journey of one’s life) of man (each man, you and me) are before the eyes of the LORD, and He (the Lord) ponders (to make level, to weigh, to guard or watch carefully) all his (each man, you and me) paths (goings, the circle of a camp).

Did you catch the meaning of this proverb?  Our life’s journey, our life’s choices are laid out before the Lord.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  He sees all.  Everything.  Good and bad.

Is that a good thing that nothing is hidden from God?  Or not such a good thing?  That depends on your view of God as your Father.


What is Your Heavenly Father Like?

There are two ways to look at this proverb.  And they are basically determined by our perception of what God the Father is like and how we choose to interpret the word, ponder (pālas).  One way is to focus on the part of the definition that means “to make level, to weigh.”  The image would be of a large legal scale, with our actions on one side and God’s righteousness on the other.  We would then see God as a great Judge with a mighty hammer waiting for us to cross the line, to do something disappointing to Him, something embarrassing to His character.  And once the scale becomes unbalanced towards our sin and not His righteousness, WHAM! – down comes the hammer.  In essence, “All our lives are before the Lord and He is waiting, just biding His time, until we mess up.  And when we do, geez, out comes His iron fist.”

This is a picture of an abusive father who is head over a dysfunctional family.  This is not what our God is like.

The other way to view this proverb is to focus on the other meaning of the word, ponder.  That would be to “guard or watch carefully.”  Now we see the Father as a caring, careful Parent who wants to make sure His beloved children are safe, protected, and not somewhere where they could get hurt.  He’s waiting everyday at the bus stop for them to arrive home.  He’s sitting in the stands watching every soccer game they play to make sure they don’t get hurt.  He’s hands on, proactive, and always involved.  And our blessing comes from knowing our lives are always “before the eyes of the Lord.”

This is a picture of a good father who lovingly leads a wonderful family.  And this, my friend, is what our God is like.

Rejoice today that your life is hidden with Christ (Col. 3:3) and the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matt. 10:30), and not simply counted.  And know how much your loving Father can’t keep His eyes off you— His beloved child.

Rest in that today.

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Jude:  How Can Grace Become Sin?

Jude: How Can Grace Become Sin?


How Can Grace Become Sin?

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation,
ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the
only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:4

In this verse, Jude tells us four things about these “certain men who have crept in unnoticed” in the church: (1) their condemnation or judgment was determined long ago, (2) they are ungodly, (3) they turn the grace offered by our God into a license to sin, and (4) they deny the Lord Jesus Christ.1

This is the inevitable outcome of someone who only sees one side of God’s character— grace.  When we only believe the nature of God is grace alone, we tend to see Him as an all-forgiving Father who puts up with the sins of His children and is either too afraid, weak or insecure to confront their behavior.  He becomes nothing more than a Get Out of Jail Free card whose only purpose is to clean up our mess, pay for any damages, and continue to give us access to His unlimited American Express to fund our carefree lifestyle.

He becomes, in effect, a bad parent by showing only grace to the willing sins of His children and not demanding repentance, accountability, responsibility, and retribution.

But God is anything but a bad parent.

When Jesus confronted the woman caught in the act of adultery, He first offered her grace, then repentance.

John 8:10-11 – “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, (grace) “Neither do I condemn you; (repentance) go and sin no more.”

Grace is only one side of the character of Christ.  The other side has to do with the consequences of rejecting grace.


Wrath of the Lamb

There is a chilling verse in the Revelation that should strike fear in those who take the grace of God for granted and use it as an excuse to sin.  This verse shows a different side of Jesus.  There’s no more “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild” as the children’s song goes.  Jesus, referred to as the Lamb of God, now comes with something we’d never expect from a lamb— wrath.

Revelation 6:15-16 – And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”

Did you catch that?  Those under condemnation for the sin and rejection of the truth were trying to hide from the wrath of the Lamb, the wrath of Jesus. In fact, Jesus said, “the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).

Jesus, with His judgment, also brings wrath.

And He brings His wrath explicitly on those who take His marvelous, undeserved grace and turn it into lewdness.  The word for lewdness is asélgeia and means “debauchery, sexual excess, the absence of restraint, perversion, having an insatiable desire for pleasure.”2  It speaks of unrestrained vice, the very worst of sins.3

Jude was compelled to warn us to watch out for those who will embed themselves in the church, under the cloak of darkness, like a satanic sleeper cell, to turn the church away from the purity of holiness and run after lust, sexual sin, and deviance.  And the bait is a perversion of the grace of God.  It goes something like this:

“You can do anything you want because God loves you and must forgive you if you ask Him.  You can go and sin to your heart’s desire just as long as you remember to say your prayers when you go to bed and ask God to forgive you for what you did today.  As soon as you say ‘I’m sorry’ BAM!— your sins are forgiven and your slate wiped clean.  Then go and sin all you want tomorrow and say ‘I’m sorry’ and you’re forgiven.  You can do it again the next day. And the day after that.  As long as you say, ‘I’m sorry’ you can do anything you want. It’s all grace, grace, grace from a pushover God.”

This perversion of grace now becomes our motivation to sin— which is the very thing that nailed Jesus to the cross.


Repentance

Grace offers us the blessings of forgiveness.  And for forgiveness to take place, there must be repentance.  True repentance always, without exception, involves a change of behavior.  In other words, if there’s no definite change in action and attitude, there is no true repentance.  The grace we’ve been given to have our sins forgiven, when we repent, must include righteous living.  Otherwise, it’s just mere words.  Verbal garbage.  Smoke and mirrors.

But it gets worse.

Those who turn the grace of our Lord into an excuse to sin also “deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4).  They mock His sacrifice, pain and suffering He endured to bestow grace to us.  Because of Christ, we have unearned, undeserved and unmerited favor with God who gave us His only Son to die in our place.  And then to twist this grace into an excuse to partake of the vilest of sexual sins is the reason Jude calls them “ungodly men” (Jude 1:4).  In fact, the term denotes a moral outrage against God and not just disbelief.4  We see more of them in vs. 15 where Jude uses the word “ungodly” four times to describe their shameless deeds and again in vs. 18 where he speaks of their “ungodly lusts.”5

Please understand, if Jude was warning the church in his day of this danger, he is also warning the church today.  There are these same ungodly men who have slipped in under the radar of your church and, by their actions and words, are attempting to amplify the lust in each of us to draw us away from the holiness of God and tempt us to do what we deem right in our own eyes (Jud. 17:6).

Be aware.  Guard your heart (Prov. 4:23).

And as “He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’ ” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

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Notes

1. Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 437). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
2. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (p. 270). Chattanooga, TN: AMG.
3. MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2005). 2 Peter and Jude (p. 161). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
4. Davids, P. H. (2006). The letters of 2 Peter and Jude (p. 44). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.
5. Green, M. (1987). 2 Peter and Jude: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 18, p. 187). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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