Read the scriptures, this morning, and learn these lessons.
From Psalm 14, we learn that fools declare the absence of God in their hearts.
From Jeremiah 4, we learn that fools do not know how to do good.
From Exodus 32, we learn that fools, left on their own, make gods and dance around in a frenzy.
From David, in Psalm 51, we learn that God is merciful to fools.
From Psalm 14, again, we learn, that fools are not seekers.
From Paul, in I Timothy 1, we learn, that fools can change.
From Jesus, in Luke 15, we learn, that God is seeking fools to redeem them.
At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse, a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.
“For my people are foolish;
they do not know me;
they are stupid children;
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil
but do not know how to do good.”
I looked on the earth, and it was complete chaos,
and to the heavens, and they had no light.
I looked on the mountains, and they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro.
I looked, and there was no one at all,
and all the birds of the air had fled.
I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert,
and all its cities were laid in ruins
before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation, yet I will not make a full end.
Because of this the earth shall mourn
and the heavens above grow black,
for I have spoken; I have purposed;
I have not relented, nor will I turn back.
The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ ” The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, and of you I will make a great nation.”
But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ” And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.
To the leader. Of David.
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt; they do abominable deeds;
there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind
to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God.
They have all gone astray; they are all alike perverse;
there is no one who does good,
no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the Lord?
There they shall be in great terror,
for God is with the company of the righteous.
You would confound the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.
O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
1 Timothy 1:12-17
I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience as an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition. Copyright © 2021 National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Psalm 14:1 - The fool says in his heart, “There is no god.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
There are many reasons why this statement is so obviously true.
Denial is not a river in Egypt. Denying God will not make God go away.
Whether or not you believe in God or confess Him as God will not change who He is and that He is the sole determiner of what is wrong or right, corrupt or authentic, pure or vile.
The fool, according to the psalmist, is not a theoretical atheist or philosophical agnostic. It is not someone who is struggling with the existence of God on the intellectual level, but the man or woman who has, in his or her heart, determined to be a practical atheist – to live as if there were no God or as if His existence did not matter.
He is concerned with how this statement of the heart manifests itself in our lives.
Now the question: Is there some area of your own life, where in your heart, you are declaring, “There is no God?”
Have you pushed Him to the side in your deliberations and decision-making? Have you excluded His influence in areas where there is conflict with your own desires and lusts?
God calls that foolishness and identifies the results as corrupt and vile- rotten and degraded to the core.
Do business with God today in this area of your life and allow Him to scrutinize you and bring you healing grace.
Psalm 14:2- The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand any who seek God.
Well, what does He find in me? That is the question I must answer.
That is the question you must ask yourself. When he looks down upon me does He find understanding and seeking? Some don’t understand and don’t know that they don’t understand. Some understand and have locked their understanding into a formula and have stopped seeking.
Others know that they don’t understand but have acquiesced to a position of irrational hopelessness and have given up seeking.
None of these responses pleases God when He looks down upon the sons of men. There are others who both understand and seek. They understand enough to know that there is much that they do not understand and so they seek in those areas.
When God gives some understanding, they don’t stop seeking and become self-satisfied with their limited knowledge, but they keep seeking – even more earnestly. That pleases God so very much. Examine your heart today using this criterion and keep seeking God – more and more.
Psalm 14:3 - All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
It is the universality of the fall and of sin that the psalmist is struggling with here. We were not designed to be corrupt. We were created in the image of God. But sin corrupts us to the very core.
The rottenness of perverted intentions stains our lives beyond repair. We cannot fix ourselves. Our attempts at doing good to win some favor with God are also corrupt and drive us deeper into separation from God. Not even one person does good.
That is amazing. But it is the reason why Jesus came and died, rose again and returned to the Father to send His Spirit to indwell us. We need the righteousness of Christ to be imparted and imputed to us. And we need His presence within us to work His goodness out through us. These words are a reminder to long-term believers not to become proud, boastful, or self-righteous.
If our salvation and acceptance by God depended upon our own goodness, we would be hopeless. But God sees us not looking down from above. He looks upon us directly through the face of His Son. Thank God today, as you pray, for His mercy.
Psalm 14:4 - Will evildoers never learn - those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the Lord?
We are flabbergasted at the inability of some to learn the futility of their ways. We are surrounded by masses who do not call upon the Lord and who devour believers in many ways The temptation is to bulge out our chests and lift our noses in pride proclaiming, “I’m glad I’m not like that”
That’s the wrong approach. The response of faith would be to look within with the searchlight of God’s truth and pray, “Lord, is there an area of coldness and rebellion in my heart where I am refusing to learn? Am I devouring the person you made me to be?”
What distinguishes and delivers the believer is that he or she calls upon the Lord.
Psalm 14:5 – There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.
Sooner or later, even the wicked come to their senses, sometimes too late, and realize that God is present in the company of the righteous. That realization brings dread unless the message of God’s love and forgiveness intervenes.
Some will fight it.
Others will flee from it. But there will be some who, out of the fear and dread of judgment, will come into the flow of grace through repentance and faith. The plight of the oppressor is far worse than that of the oppressed. Therefore, we must pray for sinners to come to a knowledge of truth and live out the credibility of the gospel so that we never bring discredit to Name of Jesus.
Pray today for someone who is overwhelmed with dread and examine your own life as well.
Psalm 14:6 - You evil doers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.
The complaint of the poor man is often that, as hard as he tries, he just can’t get ahead. Something or someone is always thwarting and frustrating his efforts. So it is with anyone who tries to “get ahead” spiritually on the clout of his or her own spiritual reserves.
Our plans come to naught because they are wrought in the flesh and human effort. God is our refuge. That is a constant. In Him we have hope and a future. In Him, we are rich beyond our dreams. His resources cannot be depleted. Jesus said, “blessed are the poor.”
The poor in Christ know where the riches lie and rely upon God’s storehouse to supply all that they need. They trust all their plans to Him and rely on Him for every breath.
Psalm 14:7 - Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
The psalmist prays for His people and, perhaps unwittingly, all who will be blessed by them. Indeed, the salvation of Israel and all people has come out of Zion and David’s longing prayer is answered in Jesus Christ.
Today is a day of worship and praise. We pray for the day when Jesus comes again to set all things right. May the words of this psalm evoke deep praise and anticipatory joy in our hearts and we lay ourselves bare before God. What fortunes of spiritual treasure would you have Him restore for you today?
What is the longing for His presence in you that is most personal for you as you pray?