I find it fascinating that of the 41,173 verses in the Bible, one-half of one verse is given to the atheist. Of the 774,746 words in the Bible, eleven words are given to the atheist. But big things do come in small packages, and in a short statement in Psalm 14:1, we learn some great truths about the reality of God. The Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’
Here we have what the atheist says about God–“There is no God.” Then we have what God says about the atheist–“fool.” Almost as if he does not waste his breath, God just simply mutters “fool.”
This world is full of brilliant fools. There are Ph.D’s in leading universities who can intellectually understand the theory of relativity, but spiritually they don’t know their ABCs. They see a car and they believe in a manufacturer, they see a portrait and they believe in an artist, they see a book and they believe in an author; but they see a creation and refuse to believe in a Creator.
You notice in Psalm 14:1 the words “there is” are in italics. In the Hebrew text the words are not there. What the verse actually says is, “The fool has said in his heart, no God.” This is the person who wants nothing to do with God at all. He has no use for God’s person, God’s principles, God’s people, or God’s purposes.
In effect, there are two types of atheists. There is the intellectual atheist, and there is the practical atheist. There is the person who believes there is no God; that is the intellectual atheist. But then there is the person who behaves as if there is no God; that is the practical atheist. There are far more practical atheists both in church and in America than you might even realize.
Now we understand why God called such a person foolish. If a person knew there were no God, and said so, he would be wise and even courageous for telling the rest of us we were wrong. If he did not know whether there were a God, and said so, he would at least be an honest skeptic. If a person is convinced there is no God, when actually there is one, he would merely be mistaken. But the reason God calls this person foolish is because deep down he knows there is a God, and yet chooses to believe and act as if there is none.
The foolish are marked by intolerance. “Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread?” (Psalm 14:4) Not only does the unbeliever attack the person of God, he attacks the people of God. Secularists, humanists, materialists, and atheists absolutely hate the devoutly Christian people. The more you love God, the more this world will hate you. Jesus said in John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.” He then went on to say in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”
The foolish are marked by indifference. “And do not call on the Lord.” (Psalm 14:4) The reason why an atheist can’t find God is the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. They do not want to find God, because if they do it will change the way they live. Psalm 14:1 tells us the unbeliever does not see God, but verse 2 tells us why, because he does not seek God. You can see the power of God by the eyes on your face, but you can only see the person of God by the eyes in your heart. The reality of God is only truly known by faith.
It is true that when it comes to God in His reality, we walk by faith and not by sight. But that’s all right, because “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) I can say, without shame, I would rather live by faith than to die in doubt.
I believe in God. But more than that, I know God through Jesus Christ His Son, and I can say today, beyond any shadow of any doubt, my God is real.
You would expect that the richest man who ever lived would have something to say about money, and, in Solomon’s case, you would be right. He has plenty to say. There is a wealth of wisdom about wealth in Proverbs. With money, there is not only much to earn, but there is much to learn. In fact, the entire Bible has much to say about money. Howard Dayton, the founder of Crown Ministries has counted about five hundred verses in the Bible on prayer, but over 2,350 on how to handle money and possessions.
The amount of hard cash lost each year in the United States amounts to about $75 per capita. The total average income for most of this planet comes to about $69 per person annually. In other words, the average American loses more money each year than almost anyone else in the world earns.
Money is like nitroglycerin: handling it is not morally wrong, but, especially if you do not know what you are doing, it is extremely risky. It seems as if everywhere you look, there is a warning label of some kind on toys, cigarettes, diet soft drinks, even air bags! Perhaps it would be a good idea to put a warning label on dollar bills, certificates of deposit, and credit cards. Perhaps nothing has been the ruin of more people, marriages, and friendships, than the failure to handle money properly.
You are either master over your money or a slave to it—there is no in between. As I walked through the rich grain fields of financial wisdom in Proverbs, I gleaned some keys to helping you to master your money—lessons you can pass on to your children that will be “worth their weight in gold.” Let me share just two with you…
Principle No. One: Being poor is a problem, but being rich isn’t the answer. The New Living Translation renders Proverbs 8 this way: The rich can pay a ransom, but the poor won’t even get threatened.
The poor man may get no mail, but the rich man may get “blackmail!” The good news is, that the rich are worth kidnapping. The bad news is, they are able to pay the ransom. For the poor, the bad news is, they are not worth kidnapping, but the good news is, they don’t have to worry about ransom. The principle is that money is not an end. It comes with its own set of problems. Pursuing riches may rid you of some challenges but it will also bring other challenges and it certainly will not bring you happiness in any eternal sense.
Principle Number Two: Remember the difference between “needy” and “greedy.” We have all heard, when it comes to cars, “speed kills.” When it comes to money, “greed kills.” So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners. (Proverbs 1:19) We Americans pledge allegiance to “One nation under God,” and then live as if we believe in “One nation under greed.”
A greedy man is just like the heroine addict. It takes a “hit” to satisfy him, but the effect soon wears off and he needs another “hit.” When John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in the world, he was asked by an employee, “Mr. Rockefeller, how much money is enough?” To which Rockefeller replied, “Just a little bit more, son, just a little bit more.” A Greek sage once said, “To whom a little is not enough, nothing is enough.”