Don't Be a Fool!

What is a fool?

A fool is not merely someone with whom you disagree. The word "fool" means "a senseless fellow, a dullard." The Bible lists many characteristics of such a person, often contrasting  him with one who is wise. Ecclesiastes 10:2 says, "The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." 

A fool is one whose heart turns continually toward foolishness. "Fools speak foolishness and make evil plans" (Isaiah 32:6). Proverbs 26:11 says, "As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly."   Fools do not learn their lessons from the mistakes they make. They continue doing the same foolish things to their own destruction (Proverbs 18:7).

The following is a partial list of some characteristics of a fool from the book of Proverbs. A fool hates knowledge (1:22), takes no pleasure in understanding (18:2), enjoys wicked schemes (Proverbs 10:23), proclaims folly (Proverbs 12:23), spurns a parent's discipline (15:5), speaks perversity (19:1), is quick-tempered (12:16), gets himself in trouble with his proud speech (14:3), mocks at sin (14:9), is deceitful (14:8), and despises his mother (15:20).  A foolish child brings grief to his or her parents (17:25; 19:13). A foolish man commits sexual immorality (6:32, 7:7-12). A foolish woman tears down her own house (14:1).
The ultimate description of a fool is one who "says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good." (Psalm 14:1, 53:1). Although fools can choose to become wise by learning from the wise and applying it (Proverbs 8:5, 21:11), the Bible warns against associating with fools (Proverbs 14:7). Proverbs 13:20 says, "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm." 

The bad news is that there are fools all around us who have no intention of changing their ways. The good news is that you don't have to be one of them.


What is Lust?


When does desire for something become lust?

Most words in the Bible that are translated "lust" mean "a passionate desire." Strong desire can be either good or bad, depending upon the object of that desire. God created the human heart with the capacity for passionate desire so that we would long after Him and His righteousness (Psalm 42:1-2, 73:25). However, the concept of "lust" is now usually associated with a passionate desire for something which God has forbidden, usually equated with sexual or materialistic desire .

James 1:13-15 gives us the natural progression of unrestrained lust. It says, "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

According to this passage, lust begins with an evil desire. Being tempted by evil is the not sin. Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1). The sin begins when the evil desire "drags us away" from where our hearts need to be. When an evil desire introduces itself, we have a choice. We can reject it as Jesus did and refocus on the path God has set before us (Matthew 4:10). Or we can entertain it. As someone once said, "We cannot stop the birds from flying overhead, but we don't have to let them make a nest in our hair." When temptation beckons, we need to remember that we are not helpless. We can choose to give in or to resist it.  

 The reason we are "dragged away" by temptation is that we are "enticed." That word in the Greek refers to bait, as on a fishing line. When a fish sees the wiggling worm, he is enticed by it and grabs hold. Only then can he be "dragged away." When we encounter temptation, we can immediately reject it as Joseph did when he was tempted by Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39:11-12). Or we can hesitate while we consider all the implications. That hesitation allows us to be enticed. Romans 13:14 calls such hesitation "making provision for the flesh." Like the fish, we grab hold of the tempting thought, believing it will delight and fulfill us. We enjoy savoring the fantasy, imagining scenarios, and entertaining the idea that God has not provided all we need for happiness (Genesis 3:2-4). 

2 Timothy 2:22 says, "Flee youthful lusts..." To flee means to take off immediately. Joseph did not hang around considering whether or not to give in to sexual temptation. When we hesitate, we are making provision for the flesh by giving it the opportunity to choose evil. Often we are overwhelmed by its power.

The third step in the downward progression of temptation, according to James 1, is when "desire conceives." Lust begins as a seed, a thought packed with wrong desire. If we allow the seeds of lust to germinate, the Bible warns that they will sprout into something bigger and more powerful. Temptation becomes sin when it is allowed to germinate. Desire takes on a life of its own and becomes lust. Jesus made it clear that we do not have to physically act on lust for it to be sin (Matthew 5:27-28). Our hearts are God's domain and when we allow evil to grow there, we defile His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19).

Wrong desires plague every human being. The tenth commandment forbids coveting, which means lusting for something that is not yours to obtain (Deuteronomy 5:21; Romans 13:9). The human heart is constantly seeking to please itself and when it discovers something or someone that it believes will satisfy it, lust begins. It is only when our hearts are dedicated to the glory of God that we can overcome intrusive desires and find those needs met in a relationship with Him. 

We are told to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). We must allow the power of the Holy Spirit to keep our thoughts where He wants them to be. It helps to pray daily the words of Psalm 19:14: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." When our heart's desire is to please God more than ourselves, we can keep lust and covetousness at bay.

Is Your Truck in a Sinkhole?

Ever get halfway into something before you realize it was a bad idea?
We laugh when we see other people in the middle of a self-induced pickle, but when it happens to us...not so funny.
Even Scripture says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end is death."
How many times have you charged ahead full speed, ignoring the cautions from those on the sidelines, because you are so certain that your particular skills and giftings can make this work? How many red-faced apologies have you had to make afterwards?
The whole world may be laughing at you, but isn't it comforting to know that God isn't? He offers to take your broken mess and fix it when you finally come to the end of your best efforts and give it to him. He promises that he will make everything you give him "work together for the good," when you choose his way over yours.
And sometimes it takes driving your firetruck into a sinkhole before you are willing to do that.
But even that might be the best thing that's ever happened to you--if it's the catalyst that propels you to God.

What's a Pervert?

Perversion rules our day. 

Webster’s Dictionary defines perversion as “diverting from the true intent or purpose; a change to something worse.” Anything can be perverted. 

In the Bible, the word translated “perversion” is used to define a deviation from righteousness in sexual behavior, speech, or justice. In each case, there are warnings against using for evil something that God created as good.

Satan twists things. Every good thing that God created, Satan works to pervert. God created sexuality and called it good (Genesis 1:27-28, 31). Sexual union has a dual purpose—procreation (Genesis 1:28; 9:1) and joining marriage partners as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Since early days, human beings have found twisted uses for sex that accomplish neither of God’s intended purposes. The perversions were so widespread by the time God gave the Law to Moses that admonitions against specific perversions had to be included in detail.. According to Scripture, any sexual activity outside the marriage union of one woman and one man is a perversion and condemned by God (1 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 13:4). The New Testament lists some specific sexual perversions such as homosexuality, adultery, and fornication, stating that those who practice such aberrant behaviors “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Galatians 5:19–21).

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about perverted speech. Our mouths were created to praise God, encourage each other, and speak truth (Psalm 19:14).. Perverse speech occurs when we use the gift of speech for evil purposes such as cursing, gossiping, using foul language, coarse joking, and lying (Proverbs 10:18). . Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”  In Matthew 15:11, Jesus indicates that perversion is a matter of the heart: “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

God also hates the perversion of justice, especially when it victimizes widows and orphans (Exodus 22:22). God is perfectly just and commands human beings to model that justice. Proverbs 11:1 says, “The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.” When we choose to seek our own interests at the expense of the rights of others, we have perverted justice. Some examples of perverted justice are the taking and offering of bribes, oppressing the poor, killing the innocent, and bearing false witness (Exodus 23:1). God loves justice, and godly people will love it, too. God desires His children to actively defend those who are being oppressed.

Satan cannot create; that power belongs to God alone. So he perverts what God has created. If he can entice God’s most cherished creations to follow him in his twisted ideas, he succeeds in perverting the image of God we were designed to magnify.. It is Satan who introduced the idea that perversion equals freedom. But he knows quite well that perversion is a slippery path that leads to bondage and then death. By perverting sexuality, speech, or justice, we mar the likeness of God in our own lives. But by using God’s gifts in the way He intended them to be used, we find true freedom and can enjoy a healthy relationship with God .

And Special Thanks Goes To...

The crowd was on its feet as the hero entered the winner's circle. After thanking the usual friends, he offered his most heartfelt appreciation for the ones who "believed in me." What did he mean by that?

Many had believed in him. They had believed he would most likely do it. They thought he was the greatest, read all about him, and had a generally positive impression. They may have placed bets, challenged others, and had a restless night worrying about it whether or not he would win. So was it all of them the hero was thanking? What made the difference between believing about him and believing IN him? 

The ones who had "believed in him" had invested themselves in him. They had trusted that he would do what he said he would do when nobody else knew his name. They had seen in him something they chose to hold on to, regardless of personal sacrifice. They may have given up money, time, emotional energy, or more to show their hero they were in it with him. They refused to give up even when it seemed they had reason to do so. There is a vast difference between believing about someone and believing IN someone.

Jesus talked a lot about believing in Him. John 3:16 says that "whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." But many people simply believe ABOUT Him. They are part of the crowd that cheers the hero but has never undergone personal sacrifice for him. They like what they see, enjoy much of what they hear, and toss a few wagers His way. But they don't really believe IN Him.

Those promised eternal life are those who are all in. They trust Him even when no one else does. They believe He will do what He said He will do and hang on until they see it happen. They face obstacles and offer personal sacrifice for their Hero. And He reserves His special thanks for them.

Are you part of the cheering crowd? Or are you in the inner circle? When you face Jesus at the Judgement Seat, will He offer special thanks to you? 

Or will you be one of the throng who believed about Him but never really believed IN Him?