Monday, October 21, 2013

Don't Be a Fool; Psalm 14, Ephesians 3:14-21

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” In the Bible, the word fool refers to someone who ignores realities. Garry Nation says that this is: “The Shameless Fool. It describes someone who has not only rejected wisdom, not only made a commitment to destructive ideas and behaviors. He is also ignoble, irreverent, boorish, rude, and even vile and villainous. There is no more obnoxious person depicted in the Scriptures. This is a nasty, shameless person. The outlook for the Committed Fool is not optimistic. He is in bondage to his own sins: He can look forward to servitude, misfortune, punishment for crimes, and ultimately death. Yet he is likely through all his troubles to refuse to be responsible for his own choices, and even to blame God for his difficulties. The fool’s only hope is the grace of God. This person must be born again! But then, according to the Christian gospel, that is exactly what we all need, isn't it?” “ The psalm says that the result of this foolishness is wicked deeds. Matthew Henry says that there is something of practical atheism at the bottom of all sin. We act as practical atheists when we don’t act as if God is in control, when we don’t trust that God can operate outside of natural law, when we rely on our own powers, when we worry and fall into anxiety. When have you fallen into “practical atheism”? In addition our morality is flawed when our theology is flawed—When we ignore or disbelieve the realities set out for us in God’s word. We forget that there are consequences for our actions. We forget that what we do has spiritual effects. We copy the world’s version of morality instead of God’s standards. I’ve heard theologians like David Wells and Andrew Purves harp on this topic of flawed thinking and acting based on flawed theology. We need to know what we believe so that it is reflected in our behavior. And if we know it, we will show it. Their answer: study, study, study. But it is true. Our values are shown by our actions. And input affects output. Our beliefs come out in our everyday lives—how we interact with people, how we use our money, what we prioritize. It has been said that what we do is our statement of faith. Our church attendance and participation in worship and the faith community is a testimony to our faith. We are making a statement by it. And this is just a small example of how what we do reflects what we really believe. The truth is that we make a statement of faith in everything that we do. What beliefs or statement of faith do you demonstrate to the world through your actions? The psalmist contrasts the wicked from the righteous. The righteous are those to whom God has made Himself known and they in turn have responded to God. The Lord shows Himself to the poor. The Lord makes righteous those who call upon God. The righteous are not called righteous because of their own merit but by the saving grace of God. The fool says in his heart there is no God, but you prove yourselves not to be fools by professing with your lips that Jesus is Lord and that Jesus lives in your hearts, and by living out that faith through actions. You are able to make this wise choice because of God who is and has been at work in you. Psalm 14 says that none of us have done good, that each of us has turned aside from seeking God. If we do good, it is because our good God is working through us. If we seek God, it is because the Lord has given us a hunger for God. We follow a call that God has placed on our lives. God chose you in Christ Jesus long before you knew Him. But at some point, we must step out in faith and respond to God’s call. We each are called to respond to God’s good gifts that we have received: We receive new life from God. We receive righteousness from God. We are empowered with faith by God. We are forgiven of our sins by God. And we begin publicly our journey with God. In contrast, the fool never acknowledges God’s call, God’s power, God’s presence. But the wise not only acknowledge God’s existence, but God’s pursuit of them and God’s ownership and Lordship of them. God gives us our name—our identity, essence, and function. Prayer keeps us from falling into the foolish trap. Prayer reminds us that God is the one on whom we can rely. And so we have Paul’s wonderful prayer for spiritual knowledge and spiritual strength in our New Testament passage--that we would be able to apprehend the depth and breadth, height and length--all the dimensions of God and Christ whose love extends beyond knowledge, and that we would know this with ALL the saints. Frederick Lehman’s described the immensity of God’s love well in our opening hymn, “The Love of God.” It seems beyond comprehension but is worth exploring and knowing. Another part of this prayer request for spiritual knowledge is that we would know that Christ lives in our hearts by faith, and that we would be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul prays that we may be continually filled to all the fullness of God—that we would be absolutely united and filled with Christ. It is a lifelong process for we will not reach perfection prior to our death or the coming of Jesus. But we can live daily by the Holy Spirit’s power and learn to rely more and more on the Holy Spirit and less and less on ourselves. Amena Brown in her poem “You” describes beautifully what it is like to live in full dependence on God. And so I will let her have the last couple of minutes this morning… God strengthens us. And as God strengthens us, God expects us to stand firm, and that the more we know God, the more we will rely on God and obey God. When Christ is at home in our hearts, we cannot be fools. Click here to watch the Amena Brown video "You".


Blogger Pastor Parato said...

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October 21, 2013 at 7:37 PM


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