Hearing His Voice Above All the Distracting Noise

Hearing His Voice Above All the Distracting Noise

Practical Tips to Recognize God’s Voice in Scripture

In these uncertain times, many feel uneasy about the state of the world.  With Trump’s continual indictments, the escalating war in Ukraine, inflation, deception from our sacred institutions, the growing apostasy of the church, and the clear warnings from Scripture about the coming troubles ahead, if you’re not careful, all of this can instill fear and depression in you and make you not want to get out of bed.  But that should never be the case.  Our Lord has not left us alone or without guidance.  He promises we will recognize His voice among the others and be able to follow Him, no matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in (John 10:4).

Remember, God wants to speak to us through His Word.  And when we believe that to be true, then His Word becomes more to us than a bunch of stories that happen to people we can’t relate to a long time ago.  Instead, His Word becomes something alive, active, and powerful in our lives (Heb. 4:12).  His Word becomes the channel through which we come to know Him better.  And when it does, when we see the Scriptures this way, they become the greatest blessing of all.

So, let’s look at a few ways we can learn to hear His voice through His Word so that when we come together on Sunday, we can share with others how God has spoken to us and changed our lives.


Keys to Hearing His Voice

The first key to hearing God’s voice is to have a heart of expectancy and grand anticipation.  We must believe the Bible is much more than an ancient, archaic book— it is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training us in the life of righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).  In essence, God’s Word is right and correct about everything it addresses.  And it addresses everything in life.  Plus, God promises His Word will not return void but will accomplish His purposes (Isa. 55:11), which, among other things, is to conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).  So come to the Scriptures eagerly expecting God has something personal to say to you each day— you will not be disappointed.

Second, pray for insight and understanding before reading God’s Word.  Ask the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes and ears to receive His truth.  They are right before you, just under the surface, waiting to be discovered.  But you have to have the desire to seek after them to find them.  Before you read, pray something like this, “Open my eyes, that I may see wonderful things in Your law” (Psalm 119:18).  Then watch the Spirit lead you into all truth as you seek God’s wisdom in His Word (John 16:13, James 1:5).

Next, when you read the Scriptures, slow down and take your time.  This is not a race against the clock.  Read them thoughtfully, carefully, and slowly, savoring each word as coming from the lips of God directly to you.  Read the passage once, twice, or multiple times, emphasizing each word as you do, letting the words sink deep into your heart and soul instead of rushing through just to get finished.  And as you meditate on God’s Word, His voice will rise above the noise and distractions of life that seem to demand so much of our attention.  Remember the promise: “Blessed is the man…(whose) delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).

Also, write down the verses, passages, or principles that speak to you so you can later reflect on them and share them with others.  The physical act of writing helps cement God’s words in your mind, making them easier to remember.  And reviewing these key Scriptures regularly, maybe during your prayer times with the Lord, will help train you to discern God’s voice over your own and help you practice what He has revealed to you.

And most importantly, you must put into practice what you are reading and learning from Scripture.  Obedience is the key that unlocks the door of intimacy with God and allows you to hear more of His voice.  Remember the promise of Jesus, “He who has My commandments and keeps them (obedience), it is he who loves Me.  And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and (1) I will love him and (2) manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).  Manifest in this passage means “to make known, to be seen openly, to experience with the senses.”¹  Just think, God will reveal Himself to you to be experienced by your senses, if you obey what He has told you in your times alone with Him and His Word.  Isn’t that the point of surrendering to Him?


How Does God Speak to Us Through His Word?

As we spend time daily soaking in God’s Word, His voice will become unmistakable to us.  Here are some specific ways He speaks through His Word:²

Through Direct Commands: God gives clear instructions in Scripture for thinking, living, and acting righteously.  For instance, the Ten Commandments provide directives on how to follow God wholeheartedly and love others unselfishly, just like He does.  And if God commands us to do something (or to not do something), we can rest assured we are able to follow His command because God would never require us to do what we cannot do (1 Cor. 10:13).  Remember, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, (promise) and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  And God often “directs our paths” by revealing His commands to us in Scripture.  From that point forward, all we have to do is obey.

Through Timeless Principles: God’s Word provides timeless truths and principles we can apply to life’s circumstances.  For example, we have principles like: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39), “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31), and “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).  By meditating on these precepts, we can be better prepared to make wise and prudent decisions based on the will of God and not fall prey to lies and deceit of the evil one (John 8:44).

Through Correction and Warning:‌ At times, God speaks through Scripture to correct wrong or selfish thinking or warn against the sinful choices we are about to make.  His rebukes and warnings are often painful but reveal His loving care and desire for our best.  We must welcome and embrace God’s correction and chastisement to walk in freedom from sin and lusts of the flesh, knowing He loves and delights in us.  “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:11-12).

Through Promises and Reassurance: From Genesis to Revelation, God encourages His people with promises of His presence, power, blessings, faithfulness, peace, protection, and love.  For example, after Joshua’s death, God tells the Israelites, “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).  In a world filled with trouble and strife, God promises to comfort and sustain us in every situation.  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; (why) for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

In all these ways, and countless others, God faithfully speaks through His Word to instruct, guide, convict, encourage, empower, heal, correct, affirm, challenge, and comfort us.  And as we dedicate time to Scripture reading and memorization, we will soon recognize His voice more and more.  As Jesus promised, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).


Staying Anchored to Him and His Word

Staying anchored in God’s Word is the best way to hear His voice above the noise of life.  Though distractions and busyness threaten to drown out His voice, as we carve out quiet time to meet with God in the Bible each day, He promises to speak to us.  And when He does, everything changes in our spiritual life.  Not sure that’s true?  Then try it for yourself, and you’ll see. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

God has so much He wants to say to you through His Word.  Simply draw near to Him today with a sense of expectancy.  Open your heart to receive whatever He wants to reveal from His Word.  Allow His living voice to bring you hope, healing, conviction, direction, and purpose.  Choose today to listen and obey His voice above all the noise competing for your attention.  And if you do, you will be refreshed and transformed into the image of Christ.


Notes

1. Zodhiates, S. (2000). In The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). AMG Publishers.

2. Actually, God can speak to us any way He chooses, from a “still small voice” in the mouth of a cave (1 Kings 19:12) or through the lips of a donkey (Numbers 22:28-30).  He is God, and He does what He pleases (Psalm 115:3).


Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

Subscribe Where You Listen the Most

376:  Stupid is as Stupid Does

376: Stupid is as Stupid Does

When we look at the warnings from the Lord found in the first chapter of Proverbs, we are naturally drawn to the almost prophetic words of Forrest Gump.

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

To put it in the words of Solomon:

“How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?” – Proverbs 1:22.

Or, “How long, you simple (foolish, simpleminded, stupid, naive, moronic) ones, will you love simplicity (what is foolish, simpleminded, stupid, naive, moronic)?”

Great question.  But what is the object of this question?  What exactly are the stupid ones loving stupidly?  What can we learn about the wisdom of God from what is being said here?  If you want to know more, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Proverbs 1:20-33.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

347:  Living in the Midst of Fear

347: Living in the Midst of Fear

In Psalm 56, during a very dark time in David’s life, he wrote the following:

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.  In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; (therefore) I will not fear.  What can flesh (or, man) do to me?

James Montgomery Boice said:  “Man can oppress, slander, hurt, hate, maim, and murder me, for starters.  But, of course, that is not the answer David is giving us in Psalm 56.  His answer is: Nothing!”

And he’s right.  What can man do to me?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing?  Why?  Because “God is for me” (Psalm 56:9).  Do you want to know how to live in the midst of fear?  Do you want to know how to not let your view of God limit you because He is too small.  If so, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Psalm 56.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

The Lost Art of Listening

The Lost Art of Listening

My son, hear the instruction of your father,
and do not forsake the law of your mother.
Proverbs 1:8

We live in a world that was birthed in the bed of rebellion.  From Eve’s rebellion in the Garden to the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, we see the sin of rebellion, the open, hostile, rejection of authority, as one of the bedrocks of human existence.

But it’s beginning is far older than the book of Genesis.  For it was rebellion that caused the Lord to banish Satan and his followers from heaven and cast them down to the earth (Isaiah 14:13-15).  That’s why Satan is known as the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4) and the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).  In fact, Satan even boasted of this when he tried to tempt Jesus by offering to give Him “all the kingdoms of the world” if He would just “worship before me” (Luke 4:5-6).

And what is at the root of all rebellion?  Pride.

It was pride that brought low mighty King Nebuchadnezzar and drove him out into the fields, living on all fours and eating grass, humbled like an animal (Dan. 4:33).  It was pride that led Pharaoh to vainly fight against the Lord and not only see the destruction of all Egypt, but of his own house and family as well. It was pride that almost kept Naaman from being healed of leprosy (2 Kings 5;11) and pride that saw Haman hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7:10).  And it was the sin of pride that led Peter to foolishly exalt his commitment to Jesus as greater than the other disciples when he said, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be” (Mark 14:29).

But the Lord says He hates “pride and arrogance and the evil way” (Prov. 8:13) and that the prideful are so enamored with themselves they do not “seek God” nor is God “in any of their thoughts” (Psalm 10:4).  They are clueless, self-deceived, and so inward-focused they can see nothing but themselves.  They have themselves become the center of their self-created universe, the most valued and important thing in their lives, and their personal happiness and pleasure is the all-consuming passion of their short, sad lives.  But the Lord promises to humble the man who exalts himself (Matt. 23:12) and to bring to nothing the one who arrogantly smirks at both God and others (Isaiah 2:11).

The future of the proud and rebellious is indeed bleak.


Rebellion and Our DNA

But we are a people that see pride and rebellion as one of the core values of our society.  We spend countless hours watching movies and sitcoms that are saturated with the theme of pride.  Our popular music exalts self to the point that we have elevated self-indulgence and narcissism to an art form.  Even in our churches we find the worship leader, our own version of a personal Christian rock star, gets more face time and notoriety than the Lord Jesus.

But it gets worse.

We, as a people, rebel against anything and everything.  Why?  Because rebellion is cool and popular and pride, the source of our rebellion, is deemed a virtue in our culture.  Just think, we rebel against our government and refuse to be “subject to the governing authorities” as commanded in Scripture (Rom. 13:1-4).  In fact, our nation was founded on rebellion and we wear that rebellion as a badge of honor and celebrate it each July 4th as a national holiday.  We rebel against our employers, miserly giving as little as possible yet demanding they pay us all the more, always grumbling and never content with our wages.  And we do this in direct contradiction to the Word of God (Col. 3:22-25).  We even rebel against the authorities placed over us for our own good: our teachers, law enforcement personnel, older siblings, and even pastors and ministers.

And, most importantly, we rebel against our parents, or any person who loves us yet dares to place upon us expectations or standards we disagree with or that stifles our drive for independence.  And this rebellion begins almost as soon as we learn to walk.

It seems like everywhere in our culture parents are portrayed as “out of touch old fogies” or “old fashioned geezers” or “ignorant killjoys” that won’t let their children do anything they want to do.  And the children are often seen as the ones who have it all together, the ones who alone can think rationally and have their emotions in check, and the ones who can see the big picture and not get sidetracked on issues that don’t really matter— like respect, obedience, diligence, commitment, honesty and hard work.

After all, the last thing our children want to do today is ask their parents for advice or follow their instructions.  But that’s the exact admonition the Lord gives us in the Proverbs.


Learning How to Listen and Obey

Consider the words from a loving father to his naive, impressionable son:

Proverbs 1:8 – My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.

In this Proverb we find the father, as head of his home and family, imploring his young son to listen and hear the law and wisdom of his parents in order to protect him from the evil and hurts in this world that want to ruin the young man’s life.  And how do we know this? Because all fathers want to keep their children from stepping on the same land mines they did.  All fathers want to protect their children from suffering the same hurts or making the same mistakes they did when they were young and simple-minded and thought they knew everything.  All fathers want their sons to learn from their own mistakes and not have to repeat them over and over again.

Remember?

So here we have the father speaking to his son, to “My son”— and pleading with him to “hear the instruction of your father” and not to “forsake the law of your mother” (Prov. 1:8).  This plea is not generic, but a deeply personal and passionate plea coming from the lips of a loving father to his naive, gullible young son.  So much so the phrase “My son” is used almost twenty times in the Proverbs alone. 1

And what’s at the core of the plea?  To “hear” or “listen” to someone wiser than yourself.

The word translated “hear” is shama and means more than just letting sounds bounce off your ear drums to cause a recognizable vibration.  It means to “listen” or “hearken” and to “obey” what has been heard. It’s a two-fold definition.  It means to both listen and obey.  Not one or the other.  But both.

But to “listen and obey” what?  The “instruction (or, discipline, chastening, and correction, with the imagery of a father disciplining his son that he loves) of your father.”  The command is to “listen and obey” what the father has to say.  The word for instruction is the same word we find in Proverbs 1:2, 3, 7.  It’s the same instruction that “fools despise” in Proverbs 1:7.  It’s the same instruction God promised the book of Proverbs to reveal (Prov. 1:2).  And it’s the same instruction given us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

But note this, listening without obedience is still disobedience.  For the son to listen to the instruction of the father and not obey that instruction is the same as not listening at all. It’s nothing more than pride and rebellion and a forsaking of the “law of your mother” (Prov. 1:8).


To Forsake is to Abandon

The word “forsake” means to “leave alone, ignore, or abandon.”  And the word for “law” is torah and is a general term for “instruction and direction” either from God or man.  So the command is to listen and obey the instruction and discipline of your father and not to ignore or forsake the directions of your mother.  Both parents are in play here.  Both are important.  Both are involved in shaping the character of the young man.

And the son’s only job in all of this is to not play the fool but “listen and obey” the words of the two people who’ve loved him more than anyone else on the face of the earth.  He’s to embrace and not forsake the directions given him by his parents, the very ones who have sacrificed their lives to give him life and a future.  And part of their instruction is to impart the wisdom they have accumulated over the years making many of the same mistakes they are hoping to keep their son from repeating.

It’s classic Parenting 101.


The Lost Art of Listening

But one of the great tragedies facing the young son is that there is so much noise surrounding him that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for him to hear the needed words of wisdom.  And it’s the same for us today.  Everywhere we go we’re surrounded by noise.  The radio is constantly playing in the car even when we’re not conscious of it. It’s a natural force of habit when we drive.  We have the sound of the television playing in the background even when we’re not watching it or know what’s on.  It’s just there.  Always.  Just a constant hum of music and dialogue.  And when we walk, run, sit, or wait in line, we instinctively cram in our earbuds to drown out the sounds of reality for the noise of our own choosing— as if the latest song is more important than people and the activities of life all around us.

Listening and hearing is rapidly becoming a lost art and the consequences for the Church and the Believer are horrific.  Consider the importance of being able to hear and listen and ultimately obey the Word of God:

Proverbs 2:1-2, 5 – My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom (to listen and hear), and apply your heart to understanding (to obey)… then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

Romans 10:17 – So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

John 10:27-28 – “My sheep hear My voice (to listen), and I know them, and they follow Me (to obey).  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

What does this say about those who don’t hear His voice?  What about those whose lives are so filled with the noise and chaos of this life the very voice of Jesus is drowned out?  What about them?

And then over and over again we find this admonition from the Lord Jesus, in both the Gospels and the Revelation:

“He who has an ear to hear, let him hear!” 2

Remember finally, the Lord is not One who is loud, brash, boisterous or pushy and demands to be heard.  He’s actually quite the opposite.  After the Mount Carmel experience, He revealed Himself to Elijah at the mouth of cave, not in the “great and strong wind” that “tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces” (1 Kings 19:11).  Nor was He found in the mighty “earthquake” or even in the consuming “fire” that passed in front of Elijah— but in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) that refused to compete with any of these things.  A voice so small and so still that you could easily miss it if you weren’t listening closely.  A voice that still speaks today if we would only take the time to shut out the noise of the temporal and listen intently to the voice of the eternal.

And when we hear Him, when we hear Him unmistakably break through the noise and clatter of our lives and speak to us today, our only response is to obey.  To listen and obey.  Just like the wise and loving father implored his young son to do.

Proverbs 1:8 – My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.

After all, nothing else really matters, does it?

big_lines


Getting Serious

1.   Has God ever spoken to you?  And, if so, what was that like?  How did that happen?  What did God tell you when He spoke into your life?  And what have you done in response to that event?

2.   Has God ever convicted you of something in your life that you’ve refused to change or correct or surrender to Him?  If so, what was that?  How did He communicate His will to you and why have you refused to obey Him?

3.   Are there areas in your life that reek of rebellion?  Are there areas that you have defiantly refused to give over to Him?  If so, why?  What are you waiting for?  And if not, is it because you view your disobedience in much softer, generic, PC terms than rebellion?  But does your terminology slight-of-hand make your rebellion less of a sin?

4.   Do you obey your parents in all things?  How about your husband?  Your employer?  The government?  How do you view the authority of the church, your pastor, elders and ministers?  Is the Lord trying to speak to you in any of these areas?

5.   On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process?  What was it yesterday?  Are you growing in the wisdom of God?  And, if not, why?


Next Step Challenge

Take your Bible and look up the following phrase “He who has an ear, let Him hear” in the Gospel accounts.  Read them in context to determine what Jesus was speaking about when He made that all-important, yet somewhat cryptic statement.

What does “He who has an ear, let him hear” really mean?  Was Jesus speaking to everyone?  And, if not, who was He speaking to?  And what was He saying to them?  What was He trying to emphasize?  Can you see a pattern in any of this?  And, if so, what is that pattern?

And what does it mean for you today?  Do you have “ears to hear”?  Are you listening?  And if so, what is He saying and what are you prepared to do about it?

big_lines

Notes:

1. Proverbs 1:8, 10, 15; 2:1; 3:1, 11, 4:10, 20, 5:1, 5:20; 6:1, 9, 20; 7:1; 19:27; 23:15, 19, 26; 24:13, 21; 27:11; 31:2.

2. Matthew 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 7:8, 14:35; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.

big_lines

            podcast-25-25

 

The Life of a Fool

The Life of a Fool

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7

In the Proverbs we are presented with the contrast between two types of individuals: the wise man and the fool.  We’ve already seen how the “wise man will hear and increase learning” and how a “man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Prov. 1:5).  And now we’re introduced to the man who lives at the other end of the spectrum— the fool.

But what is a fool?  And what is it about a fool that compels him to “despise wisdom and instruction?” (Prov. 1:7).


The Fool Defined

When we use the term fool today we think of someone who acts unwisely or imprudently, maybe a silly person who tries to dupe, trick or prank us.  We often equate the term with being stupid, simple or naive.  But the word, as used in the Proverbs, has a much sinister meaning.

In Proverbs 1:7 the Hebrew word for fool is eviyl and means “foolish in the sense of one who hates wisdom and walks in folly by despising wisdom and morality.”  It describes one who “mocks when found guilty, one who is continually quarrelsome and one who is licentious in his behavior.”

After all, the Proverbs say that “fools hate knowledge” (Prov. 1:22) and “fools die for lack of wisdom” (Prov. 10:21).  The heart of a fool, the very center of their being “proclaims foolishness” (Prov. 12:23) and it’s against their very nature, in fact, “it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil” and do what is right (Prov. 13:19).  Fools “mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9), and their mouth not only “feeds on foolishness” but “pours forth foolishness” like a flood (Prov. 15:2, 14).

Therefore, one who lives and thinks this way would naturally despise any “wisdom and instruction” that points out the errors in their actions or lifestyle.  Why?  Because “the foolishness of a man twists (or, perverts) his way, and his heart frets (or, is enraged) against the Lord” (Prov. 19:3) and the “way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Prov. 12:15).  Plus, you can “grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him” (Prov. 27:22).  Their foolishness is embedded in their nature, it’s part of their DNA, it’s in the marrow of their bones.

But there’s more to a fool than just a rejection of the truth found in the Scriptures.  The verse also states that fools “despise” both the “wisdom and instruction” of God.  And despise is a strong word.  It means to “hold in contempt, to deem insignificant, to show scorn or disrespect for someone or something.”  So putting this all together, Proverbs 1:7 reads like this:

The fear (or, awe, profound reverence, terror and dread) of the LORD is the beginning (or, starting point, inception, genesis) of knowledge (or, discernment and insight into the things of God), but (the contrast) fools (or, those who mock when they are found guilty in their sin, those who are licentious or who are promiscuous and unprincipled in sexual matters and live immoral lives) despise (or, scorn, disrespect, ridicule and view as insignificant and worthless) wisdom (or, the ability to discern and judge what is right, true, and lasting) and instruction (or, discipline, chastening, and correction, with the imagery of a father disciplining his son that he loves).

In fact, this truth is so important that Proverbs 23:9 restates it as such: “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, (why) for he will despise the wisdom of your words.”


The Fool More Clearly Defined

But the Scriptures, especially the Proverbs, have much more to say about the fool.  In fact, the Lord gives us almost an entire chapter to show us, in graphic detail, the life and future of a fool.  Look what He says in Proverbs 26:1-12 and note the contrast between the wise and the fool:

As snow in summer and rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.
Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, so a curse without cause shall not alight.
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool’s back.
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, (why) lest you also be like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
He who sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence.
Like the legs of the lame that hang limp is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like one who binds a stone in a sling is he who gives honor to a fool.
Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
The great God who formed everything gives the fool his hire and the transgressor his wages.
As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.
Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.

And there’s so much more.


The Fool’s Pay-Off

Which brings us to the pressing question, Why?  Why would anyone willingly choose the life of what the Scripture calls a fool?  Why would anyone foolishly run down the path that leads to only hardship, suffering, and destruction?  What’s the upside, the advantage, the benefit, the payoff for choosing to live and think as a fool?  And since most of our culture has embraced foolishness, what makes the life of a fool so obviously appealing?

And this is where the problem lies.  It’s a problem of perspective and belief.

You see, our culture calls a “self-made man” a hero.  We applaud the antics of someone who calls his own shots, who’s a leader among leaders, who refuses to take “no” as an answer and cannot be deterred in his passionate quest for what he truly wants.  We want to emulate the person who bows down to no one, who can “give better than he gets” and who is committed and single-focused on his own agenda and way of seeing things.

These are the attributes that create the celebrated icons of our society.  These are the character traits that lead to success in this world.  And if you desire to live like your heroes, then these are the types of people you must become.

Yet these are also the traits and convictions that make someone a fool in the eyes of Scripture.  Just think about it.  Our fallen, prideful culture says that the most important thing in this world is “me”.  It’s my wants, my rights, my desires, my opinions, my future, my calling, my future, my happiness, my importance… or simply “me.”  And so the mantra goes: “If I can’t love myself then I can’t love others. I have to love me first.” Or, as Shakespeare put it, “To thine own self be true.”  But to think like that and especially to live like that makes you a fool in the eyes of the Lord.


The Heart of the Cross is Sacrifice

Why?  Because the heart of the Christian life, the essence of the Christian message, is about love displayed in sacrifice and service to others.  After all, didn’t Jesus say “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13)?

Then, if all this is true, why is the world almost irresistibly drawn to the lifestyle deemed as foolish by the Lord?  Why can they not see the error of their ways, the inevitable damning consequences of their selfish choices?  Why is the world so blind to the truth and why do they not only reject, but literally detest, the “wisdom and instruction” of the Lord?

The answer is found in the cross of Christ.

The greatest act of self-sacrifice known to humanity was displayed by Christ on the cross where He willingly died for the sins of others.  But this act of sacrifice and love, the agony of the ages, is considered to the lost, the unregenerate, the world, to those the Scripture calls fools, as foolishness to them.  In other words, the world calls the cross of Christ “foolishness” and therefore becomes a “fool” by despising the “instruction and wisdom” of the Lord. This is a tragic case of verbal gymnastics at its very best.

1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the message (or, preaching, power, wisdom and instruction) of the cross is foolishness (or, moronic, absurdity, folly) to (who) those who are perishing (the lost, the unredeemed, the world), but to us (the elect, the redeemed, the children of God) who are being saved it is the power of God.

But there’s more. Read on.

1 Corinthians 1:19-31 – For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”  Where is the wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the disputer of this age?  Has not God made (what) foolish the wisdom of this world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the (what) foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen (His action) the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen (His action) the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen (His action), and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, (why) that no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are (what) in Christ Jesus, who became for us (1) wisdom from God—and (2) righteousness and (3) sanctification and (4) redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”


It’s More than Mere Semantics

But this is much more than mere semantics.  These words have eternal consequences.  If you live in the world and believe this is your Best Life Now!, you will see the wisdom of God and the sacrifice of Christ as foolish or moronic.  But if you live in the Kingdom of God, you will understand that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom but fools”, those who reject the gospel and all it entails, by their very nature, “despise knowledge and instruction” of the Lord (Prov. 1:7)

So which are you?  A fool in the eyes of the world for believing in the cross of Christ or a fool in the eyes of Scripture who rejects the very truths of God?  The choice is yours.  And the consequences of your choice are eternal.

So choose wisely.

big_lines


Getting Serious

1. Do you remember the time when you played the fool for the world and all it promised you?  What was that like?  Did the world deliver on its promises?  Or were you left disappointed and empty-handed?

2. What was it like for you when you began to understand the cross of Christ for what it truly is?  How did you pass from viewing it as mere foolishness to understanding and embracing it as the power and wisdom of God? (1 Cor. 1:18).  Can you describe that experience?  Have you had that experience?

3. Can you list a few examples from your own life when you despised the “knowledge and instruction” of the Lord? (Prov. 1:7).  Are their things in His Word that you disagree with or refuse to accept and obey? And, if so, what are they?  Do you see these instances as areas where you are despising God’s knowledge and instruction?  And if so, does that make you a fool?

4. What changes are you committed to make to align your life with the eternal, infallible wisdom of God?  Have you identified areas that need addressing?  And are you fervent enough in your faith to address those areas in your life, no matter the costs?  And if not, does that also make you a fool?

5. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process?  What was it yesterday?  Are you growing in the wisdom of God? And, if not, why?


Next Step Challenge

Take your Bible and look up the following verses in the Proverbs that deal with the contrast between the wise and the fool.  Do a word study and define some of the terms used to make sure you have a complete understanding of what the Lord is saying in these passages.  Then ask yourself a few questions.

Proverbs 14:33 – Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding, but what is in the heart of fools is made known.

Proverbs 17:16 – Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, since he has no heart for it?

Proverbs 18:2 – A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.

What do these verses mean to you?  Can you see yourself in any of these warnings and contrasts?  And if so, in what way?  What does it mean when it says, “he has no heart for it” (Prov. 17:16).  Do you have a heart for God’s wisdom?

And what does it mean to be a fool today?  Do you know anyone the Scripture would deem a fool?  Do you have any of those traits in your own life?  And if so, what are you prepared to do about it?

big_lines

            podcast-25-25