Proverbs 13:19-21 (NIV)
A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil. Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Trouble pursues the sinner, but the righteous are rewarded with good things.
My family loves to surprise and trick other people. Yet, they hate to be surprised or tricked themselves. Our middle daughter is constantly stalked by the others because she cannot help but jump out of her skin when caught off guard. It all begins in good fun and then turns quickly into an argument amongst them. I don’t like to be surprised. After almost two decades of being the primary adult when it comes to such things, as my husband is just as bad as our children when it comes to this, I am generally not lead astray by their comradery any more. In fact, I don’t believe them most of the time due to the constant antics. If the house is too quiet or something seems off, I know that I am about to be shanghaied by somebody hiding in the dark or behind a door. The girls are just as bad as the guys. Yet, in that moment, when my feet hit the ground and I catch my breath after being scared yet again, the laughter is well worth it. Today is April Fools Day and so I must remain on high alert. They are going to come after me, I know it. So I must be ready as I am quite sure they have plenty of tricks up their sleeves.
April Fools Day is set aside for harmless pranks and practical jokes. It is a day filled with hoaxes meant to surprise and trick those around us. A fool is considered to be someone who lacks judgement or good sense. It is one who is considered to be silly or stupid. My maternal grandmother considered it the highest insult you could give a person. If you called someone a fool even in jest, she would immediately rebuke us threatening to wash our mouth out with soap. No joke. Although today is all meant for good old-fashioned fun, I am thinking we can learn something in the midst of all its banter. There is a saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Today as I think about the wisdom that I have been given in Christ my Lord, it is with careful consideration of all the times I am fooled, tricked and surprised by the enemy. I should know better. Yet, when I am presented a lie. I gladly take it over the Truth that I have been given and hold so dear. If the enemy surprises me, suddenly I question or maybe even doubt God’s Word to me and all the other times the Lord has silenced him in my life. Today, I will attempt to walk lightly and carefully through this day to not be caught off guard by all the jokers in my life.
To walk by faith and not by sight is a tough one… at least it is for me. I am a very visual person. Words become images in my head quickly so I must be very careful what I listen to or more importantly who I listen to. I am to walk by faith. I am to live by what I know about God not what I am presented as truth in this world. Today, I will live by knowledge and wisdom gained by personal experience. I have survived many days living in this family. If I fall for their tricks today, it is my own fault. I know them. I know better. It is the same with our life in Jesus Christ. As believers, we are warned about the enemy who lies in wait and the world in which we live. It is when we take this knowledge and apply it to our life that it becomes wisdom. Wisdom is truly one’s salvation to live by faith and not by sight. Naivety is a lack of knowledge that makes us victim to the plots and schemes of the enemy. To think that God’s Word does not apply to us is folly. To think the enemy has no desire to sift us like wheat is a lack of knowledge that will lead to our death. We must live giving our full attention to obtaining knowledge that can be turned into godly wisdom to feed our faith and nourish our soul.
Proverbs 10:22-24 (NIV)
The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it. A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom. What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted.
God desires to bless us. He decided to do so before we were created. He recorded each one meticulously concerning us. It is not something that He thinks up when we do something good or pleasing in His Sight. The Lord is not motivated by our actions or attitudes. He is not moved by our demands or mandates. There is nothing that a human being can do that God needs us to do. It is written in black and white with no shades of gray to be found. This means that if I follow Christ and walk His Way that I will be blessed without painful toil. Religion tells us to work harder and do better. Our relationship with Jesus Christ says, “Come closer and let me take that from you.” It is the wisdom from the Word of God applied to our life that opens the windows of Heaven allowing His Blessing and Favor to come pouring out. Sometimes when I pile groceries in the back of my car, they will shift in transport. As I begin to open the trunk, I realize that there is something leaning against the door and if I do not push it back everything tumbles onto the garage floor. This is how it is with God’s Blessing. Stockpiled in Heaven pressing against every opening and orifice of our life just waiting for us to open the door by faith to everything that the Lord has promised.
There is nothing a person can “do” to bring Heaven to earth other than open the door with the keys to His Kingdom that Jesus handed to us after He conquered hell, death and the grave. Those keys are marked, “faith, hope and love.” Everything we need, want and desire our bound by these three things. They are wisdom to our life once applied will release the contents of His Kingdom making the ordinary life extraordinary and the impossible completely possible. I do not reward my children for good grades. I know that many do. As long as they work hard and do their best, they live a very blessed life. I do not hold them all to the same standard. Some excel in school while others excel in other areas. They are good kids. God’s Reward in our life is not created by our willingness to serve and obey Him. The Blessing of the Lord already exists. We can live in it rather than be surprised by it. Those who find pleasure in foolishness and who decide that grace is for later and not right now, will be frustrated in their pursuit of the Blessing of God secured in Heaven for them. God does not bless us for what we do. His Blessings are already there. We decide whether we want them or not by our response to His Word, Will and Way. It’s up to us.
I John 3:12-14 (NIV)
Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
There are illustrations in the Word of God that guide us in the acquisition of God’s Blessing and Favor in our life that bear noting today. The brothers – Cain, Abel, Esau and Jacob – are representative of two members of the same household with different agendas and plans. First there is Cain and Abel, who were the sons of Adam and Eve, both knew God. How do I know? They both presented offerings to the Lord. Abel gave his best. Cain gave only what was required. He gave less than his best. Adam and Even loved both of their sons. Raised side-by-side growing into adulthood, they observed the same examples. Abel’s knowledge and experience would grow beyond knowledge becoming wisdom as his religion became a relationship with the Lord. But Cain did not take the knowledge given allowing it to become wisdom that changes our heart from relentless sovereignty of God making Him fearful to be captivated by His Love. Where there is no love hatred takes root. This happens when the Body of Christ compares their blessing to another brother or sister in Christ. When they feel insignificant due to ignorance as to their birthright. We all have the opportunity to become Sons and Daughters of God. Some don’t make it through the adoption process because they die in comparison. It produces fear that eats away at our faith. It is the insecurity that forms a breath in our hope that doubts our Father’s Love because of the commitment, obedience and sacrifice of another. It is a pride issue that must be severely dealt with.
Hebrews 12:15-17 (NIV)
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.
God’s Grace allows me to claim my birthright and inheritance stored in His Kingdom. I do not have to fight another for it or do anything other than attach my faith to the doorway and pull. Fools give up their birthright for a single meal. When we look at the details in our life, it is important to note the deal breakers and faith wreckers. We all have them but not everyone is wise or attentive enough to decipher the significance of the moment of choice. See Esau would have inherited it all. Everything would be his property. He would have absolute authority in his household. His natural hunger ate up his spiritual reward. He gave up his birthright for a single meal. What is that thing you are not willing to give up for the Kingdom? It is all tied back to faith, hope and love living in total submission radically following Jesus who leads us to all things. If fear, anxiety, worry or stress are present in your life it arises from a lack of satisfaction, contentment and completion in the Lord. To avoid the pitfall of forsaking all that Christ died for you to have, it is important to note these foolish follies and apply faith, hope and love in strong doses.
Esau not only gave up his birthright, he would go on to lose his father’s blessing as well. Jacob deceitfully took it from him while he obeyed his father’s wishes. Isaac sent him to the field to find game for his meal. Rebekah encouraged her son, Jacob, to impersonate Esau and gain his blessing from Isaac. He did. When Esau returned discovering he had been taken advantage of again, he begged his father to bless him. Because of this, Esau would rebel against his father. We must not allow the enemy to take our birthright or steal our blessing from us. We must be alert and aware that the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy God’s Children and he is relentless. He knows no mercy and has no love. He is ruthless in his tactics and skillful in deception. He knows no bounds. Even in our churches, he prowls around seeking who he may devour and its working. We are Children of God. We have a birthright sealed by the Blood of Jesus. It belongs to us. It cannot be taken but we can give it up. We are blessed by God. It is ordained and written into God’s Plan for our life. This is sealed by God’s Grace that delivers even though sin deceived us. The enemy cannot take our blessings but we can carelessly discard them. I don’t want to be foolish. I do not want to be ignorant. I claim my birthright today. I claim my blessings in the Lord.
Proverbs 3:5-10 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
A while back, one of my adult children made a mistake. It led to consequences. As parents, we love these kids no matter what so we came to this child’s aid immediately. The next day, we sat down to talk about what happened. Obviously embarrassed and ashamed. I immediately expressed our love and lack of condemnation. Come on parents, we are not perfect and made many of the same mistakes if not worse ourselves. The regret, guilt and remorse was evident. I had prayed the Lord would give me wisdom for this situation before this conversation came to pass and He did. How could this happen? The enemy works overtime to trick us, lay traps for us, and detour us any way that he can. This is what the Lord laid on my heart in that moment and I believe applies today. If we do not take the knowledge and experience obtained in our mistakes and turn them into wisdom, we are a fool. To do so turns tragedy into triumph as we overcome the enemy and regain our right standing through repentance. It is in repetition that rebellion takes root. The Lord’s Grace is sufficient for every fault and failure that I have. God has given me the opportunity to be His Child anyway. Unlike the Old Testament brothers, no one can kill me, take my birthright or have my blessing. How do I maintain it?
Trust in the Lord with ALL my heart. Do NOT lean on my own understanding that is flawed from the start. In ALL my ways SUBMIT to the Father. He WILL make my paths straight. Do NOT think I am wise in own eyes. Fear the Lord. It is the beginning of knowledge that will save our life and bless us in the midst of it. By choosing to shun evil, even if we have been the victim of it, the believer is able to walk in right standing with God and obtain every spiritual blessing secured by our birth right bound by His Spirit and far from the reach of the enemy. Don’t be a fool. Be alert and ready. It is our ability to walk by faith in hope and love that allows us to remain in alignment with the provisions and blessings of God prescribed, preordained and presented in this life.
I Peter 5:7-9 (NIV)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
It would be foolish for me to think that my husband and kids will not try to pull one over on me today. It happens all the time. My experience tells me it is coming. I must be alert at all times or I will be their victim. There is absolutely the possibility I will fall for one of their tricks. That’s okay. It happens all the time, too. However, the stakes are much higher when the enemy sets his sight on sifting us. He plays for keeps. Like a roaring lion behind a cage, it is foolish to think one might walk in the cave and not be overtaken. Only a fool would take that chance. Yet every day believers skirt along the edge of darkness, dip their toes in pools of sin, and follow the crowd’s folly, yet wonder why they have been duped again. Compromise and complacency bed comfort zones of death where our substitutions for submission pad our grave. It’s true. We become foolish thinking we are wise. Grace is not an excuse it is an escape from death to life. I challenge you today to stand guard. Be alert. Resist the urge to give in or give up. Take a stand. The higher the watchtower the more evident the enemy. God has given you a birthright. He has given you His Blessing. He gave up His Only Heir so we could have eternal life. God is all in. Are you? Am I? As a believer, I have no excuse. Living under God’s Standard is not my calling. Filthy rags are not my raiment. The crumbs under His Table were never for me. The Lord has given me everything. He has given me His Best. I would be a fool not to take it. I must not be taken unaware or by surprise. I have the Mind of Christ. His Spirit lives in me. I have all that I need to live up to Christ Standard with all of Heaven being mine.
Proverbs 17:24 (NIV)
A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.