Short Morning Devotion for August 20, 2017
John 16:12–14 (ESV)
I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, He will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to Himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen.
For a Heart Open to God's Word
God, as you gave us the sun to lighten our days, so you have given us your Word to lighten our minds and our souls. I pray that you will pour out on me your Spirit as I pray today, that my heart and mind may be opened to your Word, and that I may learn and accept your will for my life.
Shine within my heart, loving God, the pure light of your divine knowledge; open the eyes of my mind and the ears of my heart to receive your Word, this day and always,
Corinthians 1:18-25 (ESV)
The Truth of God and the Foolishness of the World
Preaching about the cross sounds like foolishness to those who are perishing; but to us who are saved, it is the power of God. As it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Who is this wise person spoken of? Where is the expert? where is the attorney who represents this world? Hasn’t God made the wisdom of this world foolish?
It was God’s wisdom that decided the world could not know Him by its intelligence; it pleased God to save those who believe by the irrationality of preaching. Unlike the Jews, who demand a sign, or the Greeks, who believe only in the holiness of logic, we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and Greeks — foolishness. But to them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men; and the weakness of God is stronger than the strength of men.
Notes on the Scripture
istorically, it is surprising how close Greek philosophers, using logic, came to realizing that the universe was created by a single god. Plato speculated that there had to be a single “divine worker” who formed the universe from chaos. His student, Aristotle, went much further, and Aristotle’s concept of God gained the approval of many later Jewish theologians. But although they were the wisest men in the world, their wisdom was insufficient to find truth.
The Jews approached the same issue from an entirely different perspective; they believed in one true God, not because they logically arrived at a concept, but because they experienced God in their lives. Their belief lay in their hearts, not in their minds. God gave them laws and, if they followed these laws, they would be blessed in their lives.
Apparently, the Jews were closer to the ultimate truth than the Greeks. When God sent Christ into the world, he was not born into a great nation. He was not a Greek, or Roman, or Egyptian. Rather, he was born into a small nation in a poor part of the world, a Semitic tribe that very infrequently managed to control their parched little homeland. But although they were strong in the spirit, their strength and devotion were insufficient for salvation.
Christ was something greater than a merger of Greek intelligence and Jewish devotion. Paul tells us that it is not possible to know Christ by being smart; in fact, Christ confounds and confuses people who rely solely on their intelligence to find the truth. Nor did Christ come from the great Jewish religious establishment; he was constantly at odds with both the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and it was they who rejected and ultimately killed him.
Today’s passage does not mean that Christ cannot be found in the great, the rich, the intelligent, or the “spiritual”. But don’t count on it. Even a very good and kind person, a person who speaks with great intelligence and makes perfect sense, a rich and successful person, may be “perishing”. They do not represent the highest level of truth and good. It is our openness to hearing and believing the message of the cross that saves us. That and only that. And it may be found in persons and places of all kinds and conditions.
Doxology (Traditional Anglican)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.