Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:29 – Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord,
We Need the Book of Proverbs
Throughout Proverbs, we have some wonderful counsel from Solomon, the wisest man in the world, to his sons. It’s too bad Solomon didn’t always practice what he preached. But isn’t that true of all of us? We know the better course; we take the lesser.
I so desperately want knowledge, discernment, insight understanding, discipline, and wisdom. I pray for all of those things often. Imparting them is why Solomon wrote these words to his sons. The verses of Proverbs 1:1-6 express this,
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
 for attaining wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words of insight;
 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;
 for giving prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young–
 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance–
 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
Who wouldn’t want all Solomon offers in these verses? God, through Solomon, tells us how to get such things. He writes,
Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
The Key to Knowledge and Wisdom
There is no separation of spiritual, volitional, emotional, intellectual, or moral categories in the Bible. They are all interrelated and interdependent.
To have the attributes on Solomon’s list (or at least, to move toward acquiring them), one must fear the Lord. People often bend over backwards to point out that such “fear” simply means “reverence.” And, of course, there’s some truth in that. But fear also means fear.
For example, when Isaiah stood before the throne of God in Isaiah 6, he immediately knew how sinful he was. He shrieked in terror and was beside himself with the overwhelming feelings of dread and unworthiness. That sounds like fear. Or, how about when Jesus calmed the sea and the disciples wanted him to depart because they felt the weight of their radical shamefulness. There’s something to that understanding of fear we shouldn’t immediately dismiss, simply because it makes us uncomfortable.
But, of course, fear means more than that.
A Covenantal Relationship
“Fear,” in our Scripture, also means covenantal submission to the Lordship of God. We show we properly fear God when we submit, reverentially, to who he is, and to what he has commanded us to do. We aren’t instructed to merely give him lip service. Our obedience must have hands and feet to it as well.
To know God is to know him covenantally and relationally, to know about him (his character, attributes, decrees, commands, etc.), and to humbly, gratefully, and joyfully live our lives in response to him. We can know we are approaching what it means to properly fear God when we are living in such a way.
And this, according to our text, is the beginning of knowledge. There are some who do not desire such knowledge nor fear God. They are spiritually, intellectually, morally, and emotionally numb to the things of God. The Bible calls them fools. Such people don’t desire God or his ways. And, sadly, Proverbs, reminds us that to such people God responds, “thy will be done.”
I love the book of Proverbs. Like Solomon, I want to pass such wisdom on to my children. And while there’s gold in the treasure chest for both boys and girls, there’s wisdom contained therein that our boys desperately need to be taught in this day and age. The average prime time TV program will run in complete antithesis to the pearls of wisdom Solomon communicates to his sons. Our boys need to ingest this wisdom long before they become men. Because, by then, it may be too late.
Have you read Proverbs lately? You may be interested to know there are 31 chapters, one for each day of the month. Doctor’s Prescription: A Proverb a day will help keep sin away. Of course, it will also help you live a wise and godly life. I would exhort you to read more than Proverbs, but you can’t go wrong by adding it to your spiritual diet.
Beginning the first day of next month, commit to reading one chapter from Proverbs a day. Use a journal to record lessons and insights you discover as you read. Jot down some key ideas you want to pass on to your children, grandchildren, or others you may be mentoring. Write a brief prayer at the end of each reading to incorporate what you learned from that chapter.
Grace and Truth,
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 - For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
Here’s An Odd Question
How do you smell today? That’s a strange thing to ask someone. There are times when I smell rather pleasant, if I say so myself, like when I’m out on a date with my wife, Suzanne. There are other times when I’m quite sure I have smelled pretty awful to anyone within a country-mile of me, like after working in the yard all day or after a long walk on a hot and humid Florida day.
But there is another smell that every true follower of Jesus Christ has. It is the aroma of Christ himself. Indeed, we are dressed in his garments and they give off his glorious fragrance. But sadly, this aroma doesn't smell the same to everyone.
The Fragrance of Life
To those who “have put on” Christ, as well as those who are making their way to him to be fitted with his robe of righteousness, we are the “fragrance of life.” Only in Christ is there life – real life – for he is the author and sustainer of life and it is he who makes all things new. Those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and noses to smell know the difference between life and death, and they want life.
However, in the nostrils of others there is a rotten, filthy stench about us. To those who are perishing in their own pride, wisdom, and efforts, we smell like death, for our very odor bears testimony to the One whom they have rejected, the One from whom they have fled.
The fragrance of Christ smells repugnant to them. They have grown accustomed to the foul smell of sulfur that arises from beneath the very ground upon which they are standing. Paradoxically, life smells like death to them, and vice versa.
Love for Our Neighbors
We could sit in judgment of them, looking down our “noses” at them. Or, we could have compassion on them for their self-inflicted predicament. We should, of course, remember how terrible Christ once smelled to us, even if we didn’t know it and never would have said so.
I think the beauty of our own scent ought to bring forth humility, gratitude, and service on our part, for our scent is not our own, but Christ’s. Once we remember this we will know there is no time for judgmental hearts or mere pity. Instead, love for our neighbors should move us to awaken those who are running from (or simply oblivious to) the sweet smell of real life – life in Christ and his beautiful fragrance.
Do you remember what you were like when you embraced the world’s “scent” and despised the fragrance of Christ and his followers? Humanly speaking, what first drew you to Christ? Who do you know today that rejects Christ? What are three things you can start doing to reach out to them so they too can enjoy the real life found only in him?
Grace and Truth,
Selected verses from Genesis 22
A Hard Obedience
Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his son, the son of promise, the dear child Abraham and Sarah had waited a century to have. It was this very son, Isaac, whom Abraham was to take to the mountaintop and sacrifice – to kill.
As Abraham and Isaac approached the fateful place, Isaac looked around, saw the fire and wood, but no animal for the offering. “…Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Isaac asked his father.
“Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide…’” And he did. We know the story well. As Abraham prepared to offer his son, the Lord stopped him, and provided a ram to take Isaac’s place. God provided.
Test vs Temptation
The Lord tested Abraham (verse 1). A test from God is designed to move you forward in faith. The purpose of Satan’s temptations is to trip you up so you will fall backward. This was a test. And Abraham passed. He was blessed accordingly (verses 15-18). Why the blessing? Because Abraham obeyed God (verse 18).
This is the nature of covenantal living. If you obey God and the conditions of his covenant, God promises blessings (because he graciously sets the terms of the covenant, not because he has to). If you disobey, he promises curses. What either of those may look like is not so clear. That God promises to work this way is very clear.
The Legacy of Obedience
I wonder what blessings God desires to pour out upon us for our obedience today and tomorrow. Deeper faith maybe? More influence for the Kingdom perhaps? Greater responsibility? God specifically said Abraham’s descendants would be blessed through his faithfulness. Might our obedience now impact our children and our children’s children after them, for a thousand generations? I believe the answer is yes to all of those questions.
If God chooses to bless us in material ways, that’s fine. (We ought to notice that he already has, and then some.) But shouldn’t the blessings we desire be things like, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven”? And shouldn’t the provisions we hope God will bestow upon us be along the lines of an ever-increasing knowledge of him (John 17:3), a growing conformity to his character, and an ever-expanding influence for his Kingdom, so everyone in our “territory” will bow before our King in willing and joyful submission?
Abraham was obedient and God blessed him. Will you be obedient too? How? How is God calling you to faithfully follow him today? Abraham was asked to sacrifice one who meant the whole world to him – his beloved son. What form of sacrificial living is God calling you to? Will you obey?
What are two or three areas in your life in which you need to trust God’s provision more? Why is it hard to trust God to provide for us during the tough times? In what area of your life today will you step out in sacrificial obedience and trust God? Pray about your answer, write it down, tell someone about it, and get going.
Grace and Truth,
1 John 4:1-6 - Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,  but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
But It Tastes So Good
We in the church are often a gullible people who far too easily believe someone because they give a heartfelt and moving testimony. Or, sometimes, we clamor after a person because he or she is a celebrity. Our day is not marked by a thorough vetting of content regarding what a person actually believes. This accounts for much of our cotton candy Christian culture. It doesn’t take much for it to dissolve into nothing.
We are, therefore, malnourished. This is lamentable, especially when we consider the rich legacy of Christian depth and commitment of bygone ages. We are contented to build our Christian lives and churches on the sand of easy-believism. But cotton candy and sand make for poor foundations and they will not, because they cannot, provide strength and safety for the storms of life.
Thus, John directs us to test the spirits to see whether or not they are from God – because not all are. Some of us entertain false prophets unawares. In verse five of 1 John 4, John says these false spirits or false prophets are from the world and therefore, speak from the viewpoint of the world.
And So the Question Is…
Why then does the church often try to look just like the world? Sadly, the church can even be worldlier than the world. I’m reminded of a comment actor, Macauley Caulkin made during an interview about his movie, “Saved.” He said he went to a few Christian concerts to check out what the Christian culture was like and discovered precious little difference between the Christian concerts he attended and those of the world. Sure, there were some differences in the lyrics, but is that the sum and substance of Christian culture?
Give Us Results
The church naturally wants to reach people for Christ. I am not against numerical growth by any means, but it can be a poor standard for biblical fidelity. Sure, some churches are growing rapidly. But how are they growing? And what are they growing? What are they producing? The apostle John states that the world listens to those who speak from the viewpoint of the world. What else would we expect? When the standards of the church focus almost exclusively on what is deemed relevant at the moment, couched in worldly trappings, and communicated in sermonic easy listening, then of course the world is going to respond favorably, even approvingly. But in a climate where truth is, de facto, offensive, worship services and sermons that are centered around God’s Word will be thought of as boring and irrelevant at best and intolerant, puritanical, and mean-spirited at worst.
Let us be as discerning as we can about who likes us and who does not. We must think about who it is that thinks we’re cool and why. For if we, as individual Christians or local churches, are very well thought of by the world around us, we may want to ask why. It might be for legitimate, God-glorifying reasons. But it could it be because we think, speak, and live too much like the world?
What are some reasons some Christians are timid about standing up for their faith in public? What are some ways local churches compromise with the world? What are some ways Christians and local churches can connect with folks they’re reaching out to with integrity? What are some ways you can stand for truth without coming across as a “jerk for Jesus”?
Grace and Truth,
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 - But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
No, Not “That” Jesus
These words on discernment, (or the lack thereof) from the Apostle Paul are familiar. His letter to the Galatian church, for example, is almost completely devoted to this line of thought. Jesus himself had much to say on this topic as well. Therefore, we probably ought to pay attention here.
Without an intentional effort on our part to be discerning in this world, we can become easily deceived. False teachers endeavor to tempt and seduce us with “Jesus-shaped” words that, in reality, are only perversions of the genuine article.
If It Could Happen to Them
Interestingly, Paul is not addressing a lukewarm congregation or group of pagans here. He is writing to those he doesn’t want to see led astray from their “sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” This is frightening because it reminds us that if we are not on our guard, we too can be easily led astray by smooth-talkers who bring a “Jesus” who is no Jesus at all. The undiscerning can be mesmerized by pleas for tolerance, relevance, peace, unity, or many other paths that would take them off the straight and narrow.
The path to the City of Destruction is wide and comfortable and is well beaten by many who have gone before us. The road to the Celestial City is narrow and fraught with trials and temptations and few there are who walk it.
But God’s grace is sufficient. And his power is made perfect in and through our weakness. We don’t have to fall prey to deception. We can trust God uncompromisingly, even in the fiery furnace of this world. If we keep our eyes open to the glorious vision of our Lord and hear his voice calling to us, we would see he has already walked down the narrow path before us, and if it was wide enough for him, it will be wide enough for us.
What are some practical ways you can discern the true Jesus from the imposters? In your experience, how is the Bible’s view of Jesus distorted by those who would water it down? If you were sharing Christ with a friend, what three or four essentials would you share with them about the Person and Work of Christ?
Grace and Truth,
Joshua 24:14-15 - “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
James 4:4 - You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
Choices, Choices, Choices
The road of life is filled with many choices:
Today’s Scripture highlights the most important choices we must make. And, as the rock group, Rush, observed, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
In the preceding verses of Joshua 24, Joshua took the children of Israel on an historical reconnaissance in order to remind them of who God is and what God had done for them in the past. Implicit in this was the covenant God made with Israel and how they too could look to the future fulfillments of God’s promises… IF.
When God made a covenant with Israel, it included blessings and curses. Obedience, faithfulness, and loyalty would be rewarded with divine blessing beyond their wildest imaginations. Disobedience, unfaithfulness, and treason, on the other hand, would result in God’s curses. It seems like a no-brainer as to which should be preferred.
And so, after laying out the history of God’s love for his people, Joshua presented the people with a choice. He told them to serve God only and to throw away the idols of their past. Whom would they serve – the gods of their ancestors or the living God? Joshua answered as the covenant head of his home by declaring publicly, “…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Gods of this Age or God of the Ages?
It is interesting, and quite telling, to see how this theme of choosing between the Living God and the gods of the age – between covenant-faithfulness and spiritual adultery – is repeated over and over again in God’s Word. The fact is, we will all bow before something or someone, simply by the living of our lives. Who or what will be that object of worship is the choice ever before us.
James lays the choice before us with crystal clarity. He says friendship with the world is hatred toward God. What exactly does he mean here? He’s not talking about loving people and ministering to them. Instead, he has in mind what Paul meant in Romans 12:2 – love for and conformity to the sinful, fallen, and disobedient patterns of this world, the kingdom or domain of darkness, as Paul puts in Colossians 1:13.
James follows by saying, “anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James is essentially putting before God’s covenant people in the New Testament the same choice Joshua put before God’s covenant people in the Old Testament: Who will they bow their knees to: the gods beyond the River, the gods of the Amorites, the state, secular worldviews, modern American materialism, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy hedonism, the entertainment industry, sports, status, or even good things like work and family?
James calls people who bow to any of these things, “adulterous.” They have left their first love to cozy up to the gods of the Amorites and Egyptians.
People cry out for their free will, rights, and autonomy. God gives them that option, but not with impunity. There are consequences to foolish choices. People may choose Baal, Molech, Ra or the gods of this age if they so choose. They can exercise their moral choice to their heart’s delight. They can revel in their “free will.” But the wrath of God will be leveled against all unrighteousness and ungodliness.
But There’s Grace
Because of God’s grace, however, we learn God continually calls his children back to covenant faithfulness. He lovingly commands us to throw away the gods of our past and to love, obey, worship, and serve him instead. Each and every day that we are granted another day to live, we are given an opportunity for repentance and covenant-faithfulness.
So choose this day whom you and your household will serve. There’s only one right answer.
No Christian sets out to be idolatrous. How, then, do you think idolatry among God’s people happens? What are the “gods of this age” that compete for your allegiance the most? What are some ways you have found helpful in remaining faithful to the God of the ages? What counsel would you give a Christian brother or sister to help them turn from their idol and toward our Lord?
Grace and Truth,
How Many Years of Experience?
Age does not guarantee wisdom. Not even experience guarantees wisdom. There is nothing magical about the lapse of time in one’s life that causes them to become a sage for the ages. We probably all know of someone who doesn’t have 25 years of experience at their job, but instead, has experienced the same one year, 25 times in a row. No growth or maturation has taken place.
This was the case in the story of Job. Job’s three friends, older men in the community, were all sharing their insights as to why poor ol’ Job was experiencing such suffering. Each one was way off the mark. Finally, the younger, less experienced Elihu, who had been respectfully and silently observing the back-and-forth of his elders, could no longer sit idly by and allow such error and ignorance to prevail. He responded,
“I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know.  I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.’  But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.  It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. (Job 32:6-9)
Elihu then went on to diagnose the situation of Job.
The Real Source of Wisdom
We learn a very important principle from Elihu: Wisdom does not come automatically with age. Some folks never seem to learn. Instead, true wisdom comes from God himself. Wisdom, God’s wisdom, must be desired and intentionally sought. That takes effort, self-discipline, and commitment. But it will be found only in this way.
The chief source from which we gain godly wisdom is God’s Word. Psalm 119:99 says,
“I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and its focus, (almost exclusively so), is God’s Word. In that chapter, God’s Word is also referred to as his statute, law, precept, decree, and command. In each case it refers to God’s revelation of himself and his will to his people. His wisdom for the ages can be found therein. This is how he has chosen to guide us. Psalm 119:24 says, “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.”
Godly friends and teachers, informed by God’s Word are treasures. But it must be his Word that is the source for wisdom. I’ll take a mentor who has been seasoned by years and experience any time over a younger, less-experienced person, but only if the former has walked with God during those years and sat under the tutelage of God’s Word. That’s where wisdom will be found. That’s also why we must “delight” in God’s Word each day – that we too might learn, grow, and one day be a source of godly wisdom for someone else.
Who do you know in your life that is older and has walked closely with the Lord during those years, faithfully learning from God’s Word? Why not take that person out to lunch and ask them questions about important lessons they’ve learned, how they’ve persevered with the Lord, etc.
Grace and Truth,
Deuteronomy 14:2 - …for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.
God’s Usual Unusual Suspects
The people of Israel were not the largest, richest, or most powerful group on the planet when God chose them. Nor were they the most righteous and obedient. And yet God chose them. In 1 Corinthians 1, the Apostle Paul tells us this is God’s usual mode of operation. He manifests his wisdom and power by choosing, and then raising up, the unwise and weak to serve him. It’s been a fairly effective plan thus far. There was a fairly well known empire that was turned upside-down by the “dregs of society” a couple thousand years ago. It seems to still be working.
What is also striking about this verse is that Israel is referred to as God’s “treasured possession.” What a wonderful way to see oneself – as a treasured possession – something incredibly valuable to God.
Not In Us
When we think of ourselves as such, our first impulse is to agree with the verdict. “Of course I’m treasured by God,” we think. “I have so much raw talent, drive, character, and more. Why wouldn’t I be invaluable to God?” And yet, this sort of thinking is antithetical to biblical truth. There is nothing in ourselves which compels God to choose us. Instead, his choice flows from his own good, perfect, and pleasing will that results in God loving us first.
But to think that those who are in Christ are God’s treasured possessions is an amazing notion. Yet that’s exactly what we are as heirs of the new covenant.
How ought we respond to such news? Humility comes first to mind. There is no room for pride in the biblical worldview. How about gratitude and joy? Yes, there should be plenty of both to be sure. There’s also obedience. We mustn’t forget that. Lives lived in humble, grateful, joyful, and obedient response to the God who first loved us is essential, and should be natural. It should register as an, “of course” response from us.
But does it? Does your life reflect that sense of chosen-ness in which God regards you as his treasured possession? If not, why not make today the day you begin living in humble, grateful, joyful, and obedient response to who God is and what he has done on your behalf.
Why do you think some people want to claim that God owes them love and grace? Do you struggle with that idea? What makes the responses of humility, gratitude, joy, and obedience so hard? Why should they be the natural response to God’s grace? Who do you know who needs to hear the good news that they cannot earn God’s favor, nor do they need to? After praying for them, why not share this good news with them today.
Grace and Truth,
Luke 10:41-42 – “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
One way to pray Scripture back to God is by turning a verse or two into a first person statement. I’ve done that with today’s Scripture.
May I not be worried and troubled about many things; only one thing is needed. Like Mary, may I choose the good part, which will not be taken away from me.
I have no difficulty seeing the relevance of this truth in my life. It’s living out this truth that’s the hard part.
Get Busy Doing
Martha was busy… busy cooking, cleaning, organizing, preparing, just plain busy. Her work was important. She was entertaining guests and someone, after all, had to act responsibly. She was busy “doing.”
Mary didn’t seem quite so busy. What was she doing? Chatting, listening, and seemingly lounging about. What distinguished Mary’s activity from Mary’s apparent laziness was who Mary was with – the Lord Jesus Christ. She wasn’t necessarily busy “doing.” Instead, she was being, being in relationship. She was basking in the presence of the Lord Jesus. He was an invited guest who would not always be with them. What else should she have done? Mary chose the one thing needed and was told it would not be taken from her.
In our world, many people look down on Mary’s kind. “Why, nothing would ever get done if Mary and her ilk had their way,” we might hear. But that’s not exactly true. It’s not like Mary was a habitually lazy person who lay around the house in her pajamas until noon on a regular basis. This was different. Much different. She was in relationship with her invited Guest.
Our Invited Guest
We need to take a closer look at the text. Jesus does not admonish Mary for spending time with him; he admonished Martha. Like the poor, so too our jobs, chores, errands, and all the rest, will always be with us. But what of Christ? Well, he promised to always be with us, but in a practical sense he must be our invited Guest each day. He must be the One with whom we can just “be” each day. Jesus said that is the one thing needed and it will not be taken from us when we pursue it.
Not only that, but “being” must precede “doing” or else “doing” will turn into drudgery, bitterness, and even pointlessness. This is the point of Jesus’ words in John 15 about the branches needing to be connected to the vine. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Without time to “just be” with our Lord, we will run out of gas. We’ll burn out. It will hinder us in persevering until the end. Our “doing” may shine brightly for a season, but it won’t last for the long haul because it will not have the fuel of Christ’s Spirit to sustain it. And that fuel comes only through the one thing necessary – pursuing and enjoying our ongoing relationship with the living God through his Son. And, we must not forget, knowing him in this way is eternal life (John 17:3).
Are you pursuing the one thing in life truly needful? There are many competitors vying for your time, energy, and attention. Some of those things are even good. But don’t let the good become the enemy of the best. Choose the best. Choose consecrated (set apart) time each day to spend with your Lord. He promises you it is the one thing needed and it will not be taken away from you.
Read the following quote by James Houston.
“This past century is possibly the first one in which action has been emphasized and valued more than contemplation. Today we think contemplation wastes time, produces nothing, and bumps awkwardly into our schedules. A devotional life is a questionable priority for most successful people today. But are we “successful” Christians if we are so busy organizing and propagating the Christian faith that we really do not know God personally and intimately?”
Have you ever felt lazy for spending time just “being” with the Lord instead of being busy “doing” something instead? Why do you think you felt that way? Why do you think our society more often errs on the side of activity than contemplation? What are some ways we can follow Mary’s model of being with the Lord in our daily lives? If you do not have this “set apart” time each day with the Lord, what are some ways you can build it into your schedule?
Grace and Truth,
Romans 1:21 - For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Much has been made over the last few years regarding the emergence of militant atheism’s evangelistic crusade to rid the world of ignorance. Specifically, these crusaders want to enlighten the minds of the masses who still believe God exists. For these spokesmen for atheism, belief in God is intellectually unsustainable and should by all means be abandoned. Not only that, these atheistic evangelists believe a person’s commitment to belief in God is actually harmful to children as well as to civilization as a whole.
Thankfully, their charges have been more than sufficiently answered at every turn by faithful Christian apologists. The atheists are getting all the press, but their arguments are unable to stand up to the Light of Truth.
A More Dangerous Breed of Atheism
Yet there is a more prevalent form of atheism that lurks in our land. Indeed, it can even be found in the church. It is what Cornelius Van Til called, “practical atheism.” A practical atheist is a person who professes to believe in God, and yet the God whose existence is professed does not seem to make any meaningful difference in that person’s daily life. Their beliefs, values, morals, and actions are not prioritized by their supposed belief in God’s existence. Put another way: If this person was to wake up one day and decide they no longer believed in the existence of God, their life would change very little. This is practical atheism.
In Romans 1:21, Paul describes the person who has suppressed the truth they know about God. Paul says that, in truth, all people know God exists. In fact, they even know things about his power and majesty. Yet, in order to maintain a certain way of living, they alter their belief system to accommodate their lifestyle. Like the hard atheist who formally declares there is no God, practical atheists deny God by the way in which they lead their lives. Paul teaches us that “although they know God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…”
God at the Center
We glorify God when we seek to live purposefully and intentionally for him each day. We glorify God when we live to please, honor, obey, love, represent, bear witness to, and seek to be like him. That’s what a God-glorifying, God-informed life looks like. It’s also a life that is grateful to God for his goodness. This is more than tossing out a “thank you” every now and then at the beginning of a meal. Instead, it’s more of an all-encompassing attitude of gratitude. It becomes pervasive in one’s personality. This attitude glorifies God because it exalts God as the One who is worthy of such affection and appreciation.
How are you doing with this? Are you seeking to glorify God and be thankful to him in all things? Of course, none of us is perfect at this. We can all get fairly self-absorbed and self-centered in the goings on of our lives. We all, from time to time, become too preoccupied with lesser interests.
Yet the One who should be our greatest interest has told us we are to have no other gods before him. We are called to seek him first and foremost. We are instructed and encouraged to be holy because God is holy. His existence, in other words, should play a profound role in the lives of those who profess to believe in and follow him. He should be our ultimate Influence and his influence should saturate every sphere of our lives, for his glory and our good.
What are some of the ways you have observed people “suppressing the truth they know about God.” Why do you think they do so? Have you found yourself living throughout the day, making decisions and behaving with little or no reference to God? What are some ways you can more intentionally live for God each day? Talk to a trusted Christian friend about this devotion and brainstorm together, and then hold one another accountable.
Grace and Truth,
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