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Fool Week: Get Wise Friends

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)

Welcome to Fool Week. We’re dissecting fools this week in search of what it takes to be the opposite of wise. Hint: It’s not that hard.

bird_350Why does it matter if we know what a fool looks like? For one, hanging out with fools will get you hurt. Today’s proverb says that your friends rub off on you. Wise friends make you wiser. Foolish friends make foolish choices which leads to painful consequences that they share with their friends.

Looking to add some friends to your network? Here’s a tip from proverbs: Always look for friends that are wiser than you—at least a few of them. Be humble enough to be the least wise person you hang out with, and you’re bound to get wiser.

Think: Would you say most of your friends are wise or foolish? Which ones are the best influence on you? Who do you influence to be wiser?

Pray: Ask God to help you to walk with the wise and to avoid being a companion of fools.

Do: Make a quick list of your three wisest friends and then find a way to spend some time with them in the next few weeks.

All About Him: How He Loves

“The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.” (Psalm 145:15-17)

Without God, nobody eats. Without God, nobody sleeps, breathes, has sex, or comes home to their kids at the end of the day. Without God, we have nothing.

ps145_350Truthfully, we take God for granted because he meets our needs and grants our desires for sustenance (and so much more) so consistently that we mostly don’t even think to ask him for those things – until we’re running dangerously low.

But every meal, every pleasant moment, every good thing is a gift from him to us, because he is “loving toward all he has made.” Do we always get exactly what we want all the time? No. What tyrants we would be! But every good thing we get that we do want is something he has given to us.

Will you praise the God who gives you every good thing today?

Think: Why do you think we so often forget that every good thing we have and enjoy in our lives is a gift from God? And when we do remember, why do you think we forget that he gives them to us because he loves us?

Pray: Praise God that he is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.

Do: Another potential memory verse for your list: James 1:17.

All About Him: Pride vs. Praise

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.” (Psalm 145:13-14)

Let’s focus on the very last phrase of these two verses: “The Lord . . . lifts up all who are bowed down.”

ps145_350It’s hard for true praise and true pride to do a sack race together. They’re both going in different directions. If you don’t get rid of one or the other, it turns into this kind of awkward wrestling match as they both attempt to drag each other toward opposite finish lines.

Now when I’m engulfed in pride – when every thought comes back to me – I can still fake-praise God. And I can be convincing, just in case you’re watching. But it’s not true praise. My pride doesn’t leave any mental oxygen for legitimately praising someone else if it doesn’t also benefit me.

But – and this is amazing to me – if I kick pride to the curb and truly humble myself before God, what does he go and do? He lifts me up. When I selflessly elevate him to the top of my heart, he elevates me.

I don’t know why he would do that, but I love him for it.

Think: How do you know when you are engulfed in pride, when everything in your life is all about you? How do you change that and force yourself to bow in humility before him?

Pray: Thank God that he upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

Do: Read (and memorize?) how Peter puts this same idea in 1 Peter 5:6.

All About Him: Creatures and Children

“All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.” (Psalm 145:10-12)

How often do you think of yourself as a creature? As something made by another? As a manufactured item? I don’t much, personally. But it’s what we are, isn’t it? We are made by God. He is creator; we are creation.

ps145_350The reason, maybe, that it’s a hard idea to hold on to is that we are also sons and daughters of the creator, those of us in Christ. We are made and we are adopted. We are assembled and we are children with a home and a Father and a place in the universe.

Why wouldn’t all he has made praise the Lord? Why wouldn’t all of us who see ourselves as both creation and family of the Maker tell all the others of his mighty acts and glorious kingdom . . . our home forever?

I am proud to be made by him and not self-made, to belong to him and not on my own, to call my Maker . . . Father. Of course I will praise him, right along with all else he has made.

Think: Does the fact that you are a created thing make you feel more or less significant? What are some reasons you can think of that anyone would not want to think of themselves as the creation of God?

Pray: Thank God for creating you and offering you a place in his family through faith in his only begotten Son.

Do: Look for an opportunity this week to praise God to a friend or family member who does not believe in Jesus. You don’t have to sing; just say something that is great about him.

All About Him: God of the Testaments

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9)

“How can you believe in the God of the Old Testament? So angry and cruel and vengeful. I’d much rather believe in the God of the New Testament.”

ps145_350Have you heard that one? Aside from the obvious problem that we don’t get to choose who God is, no matter what God we’re willing to worship, the God of the OT and the NT are the same God. He doesn’t change. Ever. God is God.

I don’t blame anyone for wrestling to understand God’s judgement and justice and wrath from a human perspective. But the God who wipes out sinners is the same God who sent his Son to die for sinners and offer salvation.

David describes God’s true character right here – in the heart of the Old Testament – and it is as it ever was: gracious, compassionate, not quick to get angry, loaded with love and good to all. That is a God worthy of our praise.

Think: Do these two verses describe God as you imagine him? If not, how do you need to adjust your picture of him?

Pray: Praise God for his grace, compassion, patience, love, and goodness to all he has made.

Do: Looking for good verses to memorize? Think about adding these two to your list.

All About Him: Talk Think Announce Enjoy

“They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.” (Psalm 145:5-7)

Like most of you, when I think about praising God, the picture in my mind involves standing in an audience full of people singing words together as we read them off of a screen. And that’s a good thing we do as part of our worship service. I think we should praise God in that way.

ps145_350But notice the form praise takes in these three verses from Psalm 145. In each of these six phrases, the praiser does something – speak, meditate, tell, proclaim, celebrate, or sing – that is focused on some aspect of God’s greatness – his majesty, works, deeds, goodness, or righteousness.

I think I need to add some of these things to my praise playlist. I need to praise God by talking about his greatness to someone, by meditating on his wonderful works alone in my thoughts, by proclaiming from my Facebook or Twitter status, maybe, his great deeds. How could I celebrate his goodness this week? Would you want to come to that party?

Think: How often do you praise God outside of church? What good things have you said or thought or enjoyed about him this last week or two at home, online, at work or at school?

Pray: Ask God to help you to find more ways to praise him more often for specific things that make him great.

Do: Pick one of the six phrases in today’s passage and make it true of you this week.

All About Him: Unfathomable

“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:3-4)

Fathom is an oceangoing term. It’s a unit of measurement about six feet long; sailors used it to describe the depth of the water below them. When the water was deeper than they could measure, it was said to be unfathomable.

ps145_350We’ve gotten better at measuring ocean depths. For instance, the Mariana Trench is the deepest spot we know of. It’s about 36,000 feet deep (or, I guess, about 6,000 fathoms). Check out this link for a cool visualization of just how deep that is. Notice the little tiny dot at the top to show the size of a person.

The NIV version of today’s verse says that God’s greatness in unfathomable. (Other versions use the world “unsearchable.”) No matter how advanced we become, we’ll never be able to find the bottom of God’s goodness; we’ll never reach the end of his greatness.

That’s just one reason he is worthy of all the concentrated glory-giving praise we can focus in his direction – and why we’ll feel so right and satisfied when we do.

Think: How many other things can you think of in the world that are beyond measuring – or have no end? Who else do you praise besides God for their greatness?

Pray: Tell God that he is worthy of praise and ask him to help you to enjoy praising him as he deserves.

Do: Read today’s passage to another Christian and ask him or her to commend God’s works to you (or to tell you what great things he has done in their life).