Posts Tagged ‘Foolishness’

I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?” (Psalm 6:3)

“The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.” (Isaiah 57:15)

Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!” (Lamentations 5:21)

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)

“‘My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.  For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.’  As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children  Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?  If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.  Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how.  But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful!  But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.  So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.  Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”  (Hebrews 12:5b-13)

The Lord restores.  The Lord can, does, and will restore anything He wants to, for the whole world and everything in it belongs to Him.

We experience loss in our lives from many different sources; things we cherish become casualties of living in a fallen world and we watch as things and people we love die, relationships end, reputations flounder, possessions disappear.  Many of our sacrifices add up to so little in return or to nothing at all; dreams and ambitions get thwarted or we outright fail in so many ways.  Sometimes we lose precious, irreplaceable things through no fault of our own.  Sometimes we are directly responsible for painful losses we experience; our own sin, our own horrible judgment decisions rob us and destroy us.

This is a personal post, one in which I am compelled to document on a personal level that the Lord restores.  What can easily be called “The Lost Years” of my life were caused by my rebellion.

For me, there was a 4 year window of time in my young adult life where I was given the opportunity to take the next step in my educational path and attend a wonderful college to pursue my undergraduate degree.  The sky was the limit.  This was an opportunity in discovery that could go either way, to my benefit or to my destruction.

I was afforded the life that many do not get to live.  The campus was a paradise.  The classrooms, library and fitness facilities were state of the art.  The best.  Even the dining hall food was excellent.  I could have seized the moment in every way to feed my mind with every marvel in education I was curious about. I could have sculpted my body into physically the strongest and fittest version of myself possible.  I could have spent my time in social settings, doing fun, healthy things with others, forging and fostering lifelong friendships and relationships.  I could have networked and belonged to strong communities that would aid me throughout my life as I needed them.  I could have grown strong in my faith and spent my time renewing my mind and life in the beauty and guidance of God’s Eternal Word.  I could have given to others in so many ways and been a light in their lives.  I could have…I should have…

But instead of achieving these virtuous things, I was attracted to trouble makers who had no focus, no ambition, no goals of any worth.  I was attracted to carefree, lazy, godless people who only cared about having a good time and so I became just like them.  I managed to graduate from school after 4 years there, but aside from my paper, I have nothing to show for my time there other than heartache and regret at all the opportunities that I foolishly threw away.

These thoughts and many more have been a heavy burden on my heart for a long time. The sobering reality that I cannot ever go back and do it over has haunted me.  If only I could go back, I would do it right.

This may seem petty in the grand scheme of the world and world events.  It may seem petty in comparison to what most people consider true loss, myself included. I am not naive to tragedy and real loss, but loss happens on many levels and it impacts us in many different ways.  For me, this was a loss that landed squarely on my shoulders.  I was completely to blame for the collective loss of 4 years of my life that I have dubbed “The Lost Years”.   My sin; my own rebellion did this to me.

But the Lord restores.

After 15 years, the Lord has given me a new opportunity and I have the chance again to seize every good thing from this new window of time.  It’s like a smaller-lesser version of the Parable of the Lost Son has happened to me: I had it made, went away, squandered everything, was a loser, returned to the Lord, committed my life to Him again, and after several years of wondering what could have been ‘if only’, I am being restored in a very tangible and pleasantly emotional way.  Of course, the Parable of the Lost Son concerns the eternal implications of being lost and found, but it speaks to my heart greatly when I consider it as also applying to my earthly life and what I have lost due to my rebellion.  I praise God that He has saved me from eternal destruction.  I also praise Him that He is able to restore me in my life on earth as well.

The heartache of loss and regret I’ve carried for 15 years is the fuel that keeps hot the fire that is refining me.  I am grateful for this new door that has opened to me. To walk through it means that I must leave the room of emptiness I have been trapped in for so long.  I get to finally leave that room and shut the door behind me. I get to walk through the door of opportunity once again and make the most of what awaits me on the other side of it.  Just the knowledge alone that there is a new, fresh chapter opening up to me has restored my hope, my outlook on my life, my outlook on myself, my perception of my own worthiness, all of which had been what seemed irreversibly damaged because of my own sin.

The Lord restores.

As the children of God, we have the promise from our Lord that He makes things new again.  The Lord restores.  “Behold, I am doing a new thing!” Though Job did nothing to deserve the horrible things that happened to him, Scriptures say that, when Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored all of his fortunes and blessed him even more (Job 42:10-17).  Likewise, Joseph and many other people in Scripture suffered loss through no fault of their own.  But they were restored.

King David, who was directly responsible for heart-wrenching losses because of his sins (the child he created with Bathsheba died and he watched of 70,000 die by plague because he took a census of his warrior count instead of trusting the power of his Lord, to name a couple) also experienced the restoration of the Lord.

Does restoration mean that we get back exactly what we lost? No, it does not.  But the effects of loss take a toll on our spirit, our minds and our bodies.  As the saying goes, perception is reality.  Through the renewing of our minds in our communion with the Lord, He restores us.  This restoration may sometimes manifest itself in our physical world and belongings as well, but He restores US.

Praise the Lord for second chances.  Praise the Lord that He chastens, disciplines and then gently helps us to stand.  Praise the Lord for the wilderness, for when we have wandered through it on our own accord only to be left parched and barely hanging on, He offers the oasis to quench our thirst and give us life again. Praise the Lord for the experience of The Lost Years in whatever form they come, for without the acute and sharp knowledge that we have lost something precious, we take for granted what we have, particularly time.  Praise the Lord for new beginnings, the reminder of which we have every single day with every rising sun.  Praise the Lord that the earth and everything in it belongs to Him, for everything is at His disposal and perfect judgment.  Praise the Lord for His unfailing Love, for without it all is lost and can never be found.

I write this entry from the perspective of one who has experienced the rush of being set free from a spiritual and emotional bondage; the heavy shackles of regret and longing.

However, just last week, I wore those shackles.  Yet, I knew I am loved by Christ Jesus.  I knew I would be restored, whether in this life or in the eternal life He has given me.  Christ’s love is sufficient for everything and I have lived my life for several years now trusting in His love every single day.  I did not know that it was His desire to help ease my mind over my version of The Lost Years, but now I know.

If you are experiencing “The Lost Years” now or if you are lamenting your past, I am writing this for you.  The Lord restores.  The Lord can restore you if something precious has been taken from you. His love is sufficient.  The Lord can restore you if you are suffering by your own hand, your own sin.  His love is sufficient.  The Lord can restore refreshing waters into the desert wilderness you live in.  Whatever our circumstance, however seemingly hopeless, the Lord is infinitely bigger.  He can handle our mess and restore us.  Have hope.  Pray.  Answer your conscience.  Sin no more.  Whether in this life or in life eternal or both, the Lord is Mighty and He restores and makes new again. What an amazing thing it is to be the recipient of a gift so wonderful.  Praise the Lord.

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There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

“A tree is identified by its fruit.  If a tree is good, its fruit will be good.  If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.  You brood of snakes!  How could evil men like you speak what is good and right?  For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.  A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.  And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.  The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:33-37)

“Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus.  They asked him, ‘Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition?  For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.’  Jesus replied, ‘And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?  For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say it is alright for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you.  For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’  In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents.  And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.  You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’  Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear.  ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘and try to understand.  It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.‘  Then the disciples came to him and asked, ‘Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?’  Jesus replied, ‘Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them.  They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.’  Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.’  ‘Don’t you understand yet?’ Jesus asked.  ‘Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.  But the words you speak come from the heart — that’s what defiles you.  For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.  These are what defile you.  Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.'” (Matthew 15:1-20)

The phrase, “Follow your heart” seems like great advice, but to God, it is utter foolishness.  According to God, the human heart is the most deceitful of ALL THINGS and desperately wicked.  The heart is so bad, in fact, that no one can even measure how bad it is.

Knowing this truth, the worst thing we can do during times when moral clarity is critical to our lives is to follow our heart.

How many atrocities have been committed because certain actions seemed like the right thing to do?

The Holy Scriptures show us a few instances in the book of Judges of really bad judgment calls made by both individuals and whole communities, with a simple explanation of, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25)

History shows countless crimes against humanity due to an individual or a society or an individual leading a society to take action according to what seemed like the right thing to do.

God gave us His Living Word to clearly show us right from wrong, to separate righteousness from wickedness and draw a bold line through otherwise gray area.  He guides us by His Eternal Word, which is everlasting, while all else withers and dies.

“Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.  The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord.  And so it is with peopleThe grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6b-8)

In our world, now more than ever, there is a lot of talk; a lot words are being spoken and written.  From news outlets to social media, in our individual lives and in our societies, we must be able to discern between what sounds good or seems right and what really is good and right.  When our own hearts contradict the Word of God, as Christians, we are called to submit to what the Word of God says.  Likewise, we must be able to discern when our leaders speak or take action in ways that contradict the Word of God, so that we aren’t deceived into following them, doing what ‘seems right’ and being led astray from the true right path.

In hindsight, it is hard to fathom how Adolf Hitler convinced the whole nation of Germany that following him in his ideology and trusting him to lead them out of their time of desperation was somehow the ‘right thing to do’ and yet, time after time, when Germans were asked why they had supported him, “it seemed like the right to do” is all they could say. They were caught up in emotion and desperation and Hitler’s words and actions appealed to their desperate, fearful hearts. Such is the folly of following the heart or someone’s words instead of the commands of God. And we would be wise today, in the midst of great worldwide fear, to remember that horrible point in mankind’s history and the events that led otherwise decent people to follow the path to destruction.

There is only one way to gain discernment, the essential spiritual weapon in the Great Spiritual War, and that is to hear the Word of God so that it takes root in our hearts and becomes our lighthouse in a world of darkness and confusion.  As we hear God’s Holy Word, as we read it, as we spend time thinking about it and applying it in our lives, God is with us, quietly checking all of the activities of our hearts against His eternal truth and showing us the true and right way to live.

May we all cherish His Holy Living Word and rely on it in these perilous times.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’  Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  God has made the wisdom of the world foolish.  In the wisdom of God the world did not know God through its own wisdom.  So God chose to use the message that sounds foolish to save those who believe.  The Jews ask for miracles, and the Greeks want wisdom.  But we preach a crucified Christ.  This causes the Jews to stumble and is foolishness to non-Jews.  But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called–Jews and Greeks.  Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”  (1 Corinthians 1:17-25)

“Brothers and sisters, look at what you were when God called you.  Not many of you were wise in the way the world judges wisdom.  Not many of you had great influence.  Not many of you came from important families.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and he chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose what the world thinks is unimportant and what the world looks down on and thinks is nothing in order to destroy what the world thinks is important.  God did this so that no one can brag in his presence.” (1 Corinthians 1: 26-29)

“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom to those who are mature.  But this wisdom is not from this world or from the rulers of this world, who are losing their power.  We speak of God’s secret wisdom, which he has kept hidden.  Before the world began, God planned this wisdom for our glory.  None of the rulers of this world understood it.  If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But as it is written in the Scriptures: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.’  But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit.  For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.  No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.  And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.  When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom.  Instead we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.  But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit.  It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.  Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.  For, ‘Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?  Who knows enough to teach him?’  But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2: 6-16)

Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.  Don’t throw your pearls to pigs!  They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” (Matthew 7:6)

As Christ was mocked, so Christians are mocked.  The world calls us naïve, unintelligent, blind believers of fairy tales.  The world demands that Christians engage in worldly debates where scientific arguments are the “end all” measure for our faith and belief in Christ and His story.

Science, which is a tool for measuring and evaluating the physical realm, is the tool that the world demands us to use to defend our belief in the Spirit of God and the spiritual realm.  Faith is the proper tool for measuring and evaluating the Spiritual Realm, not science, and yet, we allow ourselves to be cornered in an impossible argument.  We mean well and have the best intentions, but God’s wisdom is foolishness to the world.  And the world’s wisdom is foolishness to God.

Jesus warned us about this and told us not to fall into the trap.

God, in His perfect wisdom, has hidden Himself from the world.  There is no worldly-wise argument we can put forth that will open the world’s eyes to God.  We are foolish to the world and that is exactly how God wants it. He has provided a way for people to know Him and gain true wisdom.  That way is Jesus Christ.  Period.  If Christians are called foolish and are mocked because we believe this, then what an honor it is to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ.

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.  Think about it overnight and remain silent.” (Psalm 4:4)

“Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool.”  (Ecclesiastes 7:9) “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.” (Proverbs 14:29)  “Fools vent anger, but the wise quietly hold it back” (Proverbs 29:11)

Worldly anger is the door by which Satan has come into many a home and destroyed everyone inside. It is the breeding ground for all kinds of devastation and the antithesis of God’s righteous anger, which is holy.

The Christian must discern between worldly and righteous anger and stay alert and on guard against worldly anger at all times.

We are to guard our hearts and minds against it and also take care not to provoke it in others. “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1) If we do provoke it in others, we are commanded by our Savior to make it right with them as soon as we realize that we have offended them (Matthew 5:23).

The Holy Scriptures tell us that those with understanding control their anger (Proverbs 14:29); those who are sensible control their temper and earn respect by overlooking wrongs (Proverbs 19:11).  The Scriptures tell us that hot-tempered people are fools who commit all kinds of sin (Ecclesiastes 7:9 and Proverbs 29:22)

A fool:

Lacks self-control and makes fun of guilt (Proverbs 5:23 and Proverbs 14:9)

Likes to hear himself talk and thinks his own way is right (Ecclesiastes 5:3 and Proverbs 12:15)

Responds hastily before listening to the facts (Proverbs 18:13)

Is without understanding; Values his own opinion over understanding (Deuteronomy 32:28 and Proverbs 18:2)

Feeds his mind with trash (Proverbs 15:14)

Chooses wrong over right and thinks it’s fun (Ecclesiastes 10:2 and Proverbs 10:23)

Despises wisdom and discipline; Hates knowledge and lacks good judgment  (Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 1:22 and Proverbs 8:5)

Slanders others (Proverbs 10:18), Belittles his neighbor and insists on quarreling (Proverbs 11:12 and Proverbs 20:3)

Brags; Is proud and plots evil (Proverbs 14:3 and Proverbs 30:32)

Is lazy and thinks only about having a good time (Ecclesiastes 4:5, 10:15 and Ecclesiastes 7:4)

Does not keep the commands of the Lord; Says in his heart ‘There is no God” (1 Samuel 13:13, Psalm 14:1 and 53:1)

Vents anger (Proverbs 29:11)

Each attribute of the fool directly conflicts with the holiness and righteousness of God.  Often, anger causes foolishness.  Imagine how many people who were otherwise upstanding in their lives have allowed anger to consume them and, in turn, have committed sins against themselves and others, violating their conscience, values and character and producing a domino effect of consequences.

This is not to say it’s a sin to get angry.  Anger is a natural human emotion.  But we must submit our emotions to the will of God or otherwise walk right into Satan’s plan of destruction for our lives.

The Most High God warns us against letting anger gain control of us.  If we obey Him and seek His counsel when we experience anger, He will keep our foot from getting caught in Satan’s trap of death; He will keep us from suffering the consequences and fate of fools (Proverbs 13:14).