Proverbs 11:4-8 The Message
4 A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart,
but a principled life can stand up to the worst.
5 Moral character makes for smooth traveling;
an evil life is a hard life.
6 Good character is the best insurance;
crooks get trapped in their sinful lust.
7 When the wicked die, that’s it—
the story’s over, end of hope.
8 A good person is saved from much trouble;
a bad person runs straight into it.
The Word of God for the Children of God.
Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
Where is Your Hope?
There is a well known country song with the title of “I’ve Been Everywhere.”
Some of the places which account for having “been everywhere” include:
I’ve been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota
Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota
Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma
Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma
Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo
Tocapillo, Baranquilla, and Perdilla, I’m a killer
I’ve been to Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana
Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana
Monterey, Faraday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa
Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa
Tennessee to Tennessee Chicopee, Spirit Lake
Grand Lake, Devils Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete’s sake
I’ve been to Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika
Schefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica
Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport
Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond du Lac, Davenport
Idaho, Jellico, Argentina, Diamantina,
Pasadena, Catalina, see what I mean
I’ve been to Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelburg, Colorado
Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, El Dorado
Larimore, Atmore, Haverstraw, Chatanika
Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika
Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City
Sioux City, Cedar City, Dodge City, what a pity
I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man
Crossed the desert’s bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere
Where exactly in all of those places the song writer has claimed to have been, where exactly was their hope for what ever it was they hoped for, searched for, which compelled them, moved them from one geographical locale to another?
In a worship song from the early 2000s, singer/songwriter Brian Doerksen sings, “Jesus, hope of the nations/ Jesus, comfort for all who mourn/ You are the source of heaven’s hope on earth.”
Looking outward into the world for all of the hope to be found and mined from the ground in all of the far reaching places we have ever traveled on this planet?
Looking upward into the heavens and the uncountable number of far reaching constellations of stars and planets we can never hope to reach – we are limited to this time – to this place – unto these bodies – to these tents which wear out.
But, why should we seek to limit ourselves and where we look for our hope, to look in all the places where the only thing likely to be found is disappointment?
If the only thing we believe we can ever find in life is one disappointment after the other, how is we can continue to justify our personal search for true hope?
Recognizing God’s Sovereignty, Letting God Be True
Luke 12:16-21 English Standard Version
16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
In actuality for all of their bravado, sinners have a little fun – while alive.
They make huge plans for pleasure and posterity.
They expect and hope to do bigger and better things.
They plan to get everything rolling along more perfectly.
Then they die.
Then they have nothing but a casket to show for it.
Then they are nothing – except the book of memories from their funerals.
Death is the great equalizer.
It mercilessly rips from the rich all their wealth; it tears from the strong any athletic prowess; it corrupts the face, body, and hair of the beautiful; it removes the wits and memories of the intelligent; it neuters the authority and power of leaders; it takes from parents their beloved children; it leaves homeless those who loved their fine homes.
No matter what the sinners expected or hoped to do, Our Sovereign God sends His Shepherd to us on our deathbeds and just like that, God takes it all away.
And still we sinners must somehow still find and focus on these words of hope:
Job 1:20-21 English Standard Version
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Instead of focusing on the ‘hope’ found from these words: “Curse God and Die.”
From the Parable in Luke’s Narrative, Jesus told of a rich man who planned new barns to hold his great wealth, and he said to himself, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”
But God said to him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:16-21).
Worldly men and woman arrive in life very naked and ignorant, and without exception, they leave the same helpless way – ignorant of what heaven holds.
Ignorant of what incomparable, indescribable, hope the Hope of Heaven has.
Yet they will still waste their lives chasing goals that disappear in one second – the second they die.
They see others die and take nothing with them, yet they keep running as fast as they can on the unmerciful treadmill of ambition, greed, and covetousness until it lets them go, hurls them and sends them off into their death and hell.
Psalm 14:1 New King James Version
Folly of the Godless, and God’s Final Triumph
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
14 The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt,
They have done abominable works,
There is none who does good.
One just wants to shout: “Curse God and Die,”
Then they have nothing.
Then they are nothing.
Are such words too harsh?
Are such words not harsh enough?
They are nothing compared to the shock of the first second in hell.
In a horrible flash of understanding, every sinner will know there is a God, that their whole earthly life was a waste, that they’ll have an eternity of unbearable torment ahead.
They will not think for a second about the legacy of their big plans on earth, for in an instant they’ll be entirely gone – and remembered by only a precious few.
Why do we think strong warnings about such a future are unabashedly harsh?
Am I deceived by my illusion of the importance of my personal sovereignty?
Are you also deceived of the importance of your own personal sovereignty?
The world is insane!
They set goals of high salaries, prestigious positions, large houses, fancy cars, fine clothes, the most expensive schools for their children, and other ambitions.
Some of them say, even more will find their bully pulpits and charismatically preach and teach and so live like, “He who dies with the most toys – wins.”
They chase after their neighbors “accomplishments” daily to make sure they are not left behind in the mad rush to accumulate things, experience pleasure.
Then “here today then gone tomorrow” they lose everything in one second.
Consider what David wrote about this madness in Psalm 39.
He wrote, “Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them” (Psalm 39:6).
Solomon, after experimenting with more than you can even imagine, added this summary: “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
Consider what David wrote in Psalm 49.
Psalm 49:16-20 English Standard Version
16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
when the glory of his house increases.
17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
his glory will not go down after him.
18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
who will never again see light.
20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
There the Lord ridiculed the insanity of the rich and their ambitions.
It is a sermon to warn all men of the vanity of worldly riches.
Whether a man or a woman is wise or foolish, they die, and they cannot take anything with him.
There is nothing a rich man or woman can do to buy their way out of death.
Everything sinners hope for and plan for ends at death – their expectations and hopes perish.
All they valued is totally wiped out by the reality of the grave they’ll rest in.
They will never again be able to travel across the vast expanses of the earth, watch another Super Bowl, attend a World Series, or bet on March Madness.
But righteous people have eternal hope in their death (Proverbs 10:28; 14:32), for their expectation is of another world that infinitely far outstrips this world by every degree and measure as light is infinitely superior to chaos and darkness.
Centrality of Hope Found Only in the Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:51-58 New King James Version
51 Behold, I tell you a [a]mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O[b] Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we recognize and worship Jesus Christ as the only true hope of the world, and yet it remains undeniably astounding how often we still pin the length, breadth, depths and heights of our hopes on human beings.
In all of our history books, it is clear that people are more inclined to find hope in sinful leaders, politicians, and celebrities rather than upon the one true God.
Why do we do this?
Proverbs 11:4-8 continually warns readers even today that placing ‘forever’ hope in humans is futile because human power will 100% come to nothing.
As the apostle Paul tells us, “There is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1).
By saying this, Paul is assuring believers that in all situations, even in the midst of national turmoil and global crises, God forever remains the only one who has all the Sovereignty and will 100% perpetually hold on to all of God’s authority.
Jeremiah 29:10-14 English Standard Version
10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Any human who has “power” has it only because God allows it to be so.
In other words, our hopes and desires must be found, must lie, must rely on and with the only One who created and sits upon the throne of the universe.
Our prayers must be oriented toward Christ, for he is truly the only hope—
The only one with the Authority and the Sovereignty and the Power who can change our minds, transform hearts, disperse powers, and bring restoration.
Children of God, make no boast of tomorrow, for you do not know what will happen tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1).
Proverbs 27:1 New King James Version
My Son, Be Wise
27 Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day may bring forth.
While God allows us to make business plans, God expects us to do so in prudent wisdom, because we will not even, ever, know if we will be alive tomorrow, so we are to submit your plans to God’s will with these words: “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15).
We need the breath of life and the breath of God, for any of our plans to work.
In the name of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Psalm 19 The Message
19 1-2 God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.
3-4 Their words aren’t heard,
their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.
4-5 God makes a huge dome
for the sun—a superdome!
The morning sun’s a new husband
leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
racing to the tape.
6 That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.
7-9 The revelation of God is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
down to the nth degree.
10 God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.
11-14 There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;
these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
Creator God, you made every living thing, and you hold all things together. Lord, bring restoration to this world that desperately needs your leadership and authority.
Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.