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One With Justice

“And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: ‘Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.'” Revelation 15:2-3

Image result for black and white justiceHuman minds will never more fully understand God’s justice than when we stand before Him in heaven. Then we will see Him face to face, even as He has always seen us [1 Corinthians 13:12]. Then we will know how all of His essence is one, even as He is also one [Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29]. Then we will see our finite existence from the perspective of a holy eternity.

God is just because all truth is His truth. And justice cannot operate without truth.

God is just because He is also good and loving and all-knowing and unchanging. He is just because He is also holy and sovereign and wise and all-powerful. He is just because He is also transcendent and everywhere-present and faithful and gracious and merciful. He is just because He is also self-existent and self-sufficient and eternal and infinite.

All of His character works together as one unit, rather than as separate entities. He is never more or less any of these qualities, just as none of these traits exists outside of His person. God is just, because that is who He is.

He is self-existent and self-sufficient, so His justice is not counseled by any created being.

He is unchanging and He is holy, so His justice never wavers to the left or to the right [Proverbs 4:27].

He is all-knowing and wise, so His justice has always faithfully extended grace.

He is all-powerful and sovereign, so His justice is precisely exacted.

But He is also good and merciful and loving and gracious, so He provided a substitution for the wages of our sins [Romans 5:8 & 6:23; 1 John 2:2]. A substitute to accept our condemnation so that, by His grace, we could be considered righteous [Romans 3:20-24, 5:9-11 & 8:1; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8].

He is transcendent and yet everywhere present, so His justice is always objective while His grace and mercy are always faithfully at hand.

He is infinite, so His justice is not limited in any way. He is eternal, so His justice contains all of our finite existence, but will endure for all eternity.

God is just.

Have you ever found yourself questioning this truth? Do you know others who question God’s justice? Often this is because we don’t like that God’s justice means there is a right way and a wrong way. But as God said to Cain nearly 6,000 years ago, If you do what is right, will you not be accepted [Genesis 4:7]?



Together for Our Good

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Image result for bound wristsGod is good.

And though He has not pre-planned our lives, being omniscient, He does know what we will face and how we will respond. For many, this understanding is enough to reject God as anything-but-good. Others find this verse in Romans and question how God can make good out of the bad in our lives–why He wouldn’t just start with ensuring that we don’t experience bad to begin with. Two wrongs don’t make a right, right?

But with sin jamming up the spiritual rudders of human beings, bumper boats happen all day every day. What I mean is, our lives effect others and their lives effect us. Because of sin, the result can often be tragic. Sometimes these offenses are mishaps of close contact. Other times they are premeditated evils.

Joseph, Israel’s eleventh son, knew this full well. Motivated by sheer jealousy, his brothers beat him up, threw him in a cistern and sold him into slavery. They lied to their father, Israel, to cover up their hateful sin. And they believed the worst was behind them. Until one day, they found themselves standing before the mercy of the brother they had so hatefully mistreated.

But Joseph loved God. And Joseph knew that God had called him to Egypt for a purpose. What his brothers did out of hatred, anger and jealous spite, God worked for the good of Joseph and his father Israel [Genesis 50:20]. Really, for Israel’s entire household.

We can’t often change our circumstances or the people who mistreat us. God doesn’t condone sinful behavior, and everyone will have to answer to Him for their wrongdoings [Romans 14:12; 1 Peter 4:5]. And though He calls people to step into these situations to right them, people don’t always listen or obey.

But that doesn’t nullify God’s goodness. Rather, when we keep our eyes on Him–our help, the author and perfecter of our faith–God reveals His goodness to us in surprising ways [Psalm 121:1; Hebrews 12:2]! He takes the lemons [excuse the cliche] that sin chucks at us and makes, not lemonade, but the most refreshing living water and satisfying bread of life–beyond what we could even imagine–if we allow Him to.

Are you in a difficult circumstance today? Have you come through a tragic past? Do you find it impossible to forgive your parents or other family members for any reason? Remember who your help is. Fix your eyes on God who is working in you to bring about your good despite what the world throws at you. Will you trust in His goodness? Will you let Him do the work He began in you [Philippians 1:6]?


If God Is Good, Then Why Is There Bad in the World?

“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:6-8

Image result for tearsGod is good. And He is infinitely so. But what is that goodness? What does it consist of or pertain to? How and when does it manifest?

Many cultures have mythologies of gods that are sinister but powerful. The Greek and Roman pantheons were worse than the most corrupt human beings, acting selfishly in all their ways and disposed by whim to mistreat humans it suited their own immoral pleasures. Their character couldn’t have been further from the truth of who God is.

Good is the opposite of evil. God is not bad in anyway [Psalm 92:15]. He is morally upright, but more than that, He is generously kind and loving to all. His infinite goodness is the source of every blessing and joy, the source of our hope and the wellspring of His love and goodwill–mercy and grace–toward humankind.

He created for all our needs and faithfully provides for them, though we are unfaithful about cultivating our relationship with Him [Matthew 5:45] and though we fail to thank Him for His faithful beneficence.

He keeps His creation in motion, patiently waiting for more of mankind to turn and recognize Him as God [Genesis 8:22; 2 Peter 3:9].

He hears our prayers and provides us with His Spirit to overcome just as He did. Because He is good, we can have peace [John 16:33], joyful strength [Nehemiah 8:10], hope in Him [Isaiah 40:31] and contentment waiting for our heavenly home [Matthew 11:29 & 10:24]. Because He is good, He strengthens us in our present circumstances [1 Peter 5:10-11]. Because He is good, He made a way to reconcile with us so that we could spend eternity with Him [John 3:16].

But our present circumstances are exactly the rub for so many who choose to walk away from belief in God. They shake their fist at heaven and ask, If God is good, then why is there bad in the world?

God is infinitely good. But His adversary, the devil, is full of every kind of evil intent toward us. Satan is angry that he will never attain heaven and angry at human beings that we can be redeemed. And he does everything he can, in his limited power of deception, to keep as many of us from coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ [1 Peter 5:8].

God is infinitely good, but we, His Creation, are sinful and therefore predisposed to love self and thereby wrong others in pursuit of self [Matthew 7:12 & 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28 & 16:31].

As believers, we must realize that we were redeemed to be a light of God’s goodness to this world, just the way He intended us to be from the Creation [Matthew 5:14-16].

Does God’s goodness flow through your life to others? Do others understand that God is good because they see His good work in your life [1 Peter 2:12]?


Conduits of Power

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Image result for water hoseGod is omnipotent, that is, He alone is almighty or all-powerful.

And He gives us His Spirit [Numbers 11:17; Judges 14:6; Acts 1:8; et al], enabling us, by His power, to bring glory and honor to His name.

By His Spirit, Moses and David led Israel [Numbers 11:17 & 25; 1 Samuel 16:13]. Samson tore apart a lion, effortlessly broke through sturdy rope bindings and battled dozens of men all at the same time [Judges 14:6 & 19, 15:14]. Mary bore the Christ-child [Luke 1:35]. Demons were cast out [Luke 4:36]. And we are empowered to live as witnesses to the truth of the gospel [Acts 1:8].

God’s Spirit doesn’t hide timidly inside us. So neither should we shrink back from a contrary world. Our friends and family might not want to hear about God anymore than they want to hear that eating vegetables and exercising are good for them, but they need us to speak God’s love boldly. They need us to live out the blessings–extreme joyfulness–of the godly, self-disciplined life.

Because–just like we once did–they need God. They need His power to transform their sinful hearts and finite lives into the eternal ones they were made for.

The power of God’s Spirit overflows us with that hope [Romans 15:13]. Did you hear that? Let me say it again. The power of God’s Spirit overflows us with hope!

By God’s power alone we have peace in a war-torn, hating world–even while we ourselves are persecuted for that peace who is called Jesus [Ephesians 2:14]. By His power alone we have joy–though we ourselves get sick, face financial hardships, lose loved ones, get mistreated and threatened for our faith. By the power of His Spirit in our lives we have an abundance of hope that exceeds our finite capacity to hold it, and He keeps pouring the power and hope in and through us until we overflow with hope to everyone around us!

The power of God was never meant to lift us, whimpering, out of the gutter of self-pity or guilt–but it does. And it will do so faithfully and without criticism time and again. When it does–and we have been filled with all the power, joy, peace and hope that we can possibly need–then it’s time to go to work. It’s time to walk around like a fountain with legs and gush God’s power and love into the lives of everyone we meet.

Anything less is denying God’s power in our lives. Anything less is disobedience. Anything less withholds our blessing, locked within the timidity of our hearts.

Are you ready to be a walking conduit of God’s power to this lost and dying world?


Plans and Purposes

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevail.” Proverbs 19:21

Pillar, Church, Sun, Sunlight, Light, Afternoon, SunsetIf predestination is not an actual thing, then how can God’s purposes prevail over mans plans and man still have free will?

All of our plans concern the temporal, or time-bound world in which we live. From a young age, we dream and scheme about our future–houses, cars, jobs, vacations, having lots of money, getting married and having children or not. We love to plan about what we will do with our time, talent and money when we are old enough to choose for ourselves.

But God’s purposes exist outside of our time parameters. For His purpose is one, to redeem His Creation to Himself. None of the earthly effects that we gain or achieve will last, for none of them can pass with us into eternity. But many of them will bind up our hearts and minds in this life so that we lose sight of what we were truly made for.

Look at the life of Samson. Before he was born, an angel of the Lord announced the purpose of Samson’s life to his parents. He would deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Philistines [Judges 13:1-5]. Did that mean that Samson wasn’t free to choose his own way?

Absolutely not!

Just look at how his story ends. He chose to carouse with a Philistine woman. He chose to indulge her and tell the secret of his strength. He chose to then fall asleep while trusting her after she’d already proved herself untrustworthy on three previous occasions. And as a result of Samson’s choices–made in his own free will–Samson gets captured, put in prison and his eyes gouged out by his enemies [Judges 16:1-22].

God didn’t desire any of that for him! But He did purpose that Samson would deliver Israel.

One day in prison, he remembered his purpose and, finding that his strength had returned, chose to fulfill what God had called him to do. Because of his previous choices, it cost Samson his life [Judges 16:23-30]. But even this was Samson’s choice. God didn’t make him decide to fulfill his purpose in this time and in this way. But God had always known how Samson would choose.

The thing about God is that, we are made in His image. And we were made to hope. The scriptures show us that God hopes too [Deuteronomy 5:29]. And just as our hope is in Him, His hope is in us. He knows that He knows that He knows what we will choose. But He hopes and He hopes and He hopes that we will choose life and to have it to the full [John 10:10]. Because He loves us.

Will you take a lesson from Samson? No doubt your plans are many, but God has a purpose for your life. Do you know what it is? Are you living out your purpose? Or are your choices all the things you want to do because you can?


Time Refugees

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations…Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:1 & 12

Image result for boat refugeesWe are refugees of time–bound and driven by seconds, minutes, hours, days and years. God is our everlasting refuge through it all. But He also made us to share in His eternity.

When Pharaoh asked the patriarch, Jacob, how old he was, Jacob responded as a refugee of time: The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. They have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers [Genesis 47:9]. Jacob understood full well that life is just a temporal journey with an eternal finish line.

If we see with a heavenly perspective, this world is not our home–as the lyricist wrote–we’re only passing through. We pass through time as time passes over us. We are pilgrims, wanderers who travel long and light across death-dusted roads. We do not share the desires and mindsets of the multitudes around us, rather we share the desire for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven [Matthew 6:10]. And we share God’s heart for the lost and dying world we tread.

Like the heroes recorded in Hebrews 11, we should be described as aliens [aka foreigners] and strangers on earth, rather than foreigners and strangers to God [Ephesians 2:19]. People should hear the lilt of our heavenly accent in every word we say. They should see our Christ-clothing in all we do [Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 2:11]. They should wonder at our heavenly food and drink [Matthew 5:6; John 4:32]. They should burn with curiosity to know where we’re from, what makes us different, and we should be ready to tell them [1 Peter 3:15].

More than pilgrims, foreigners and strangers, we are refugees. Emigrating from our spiritually war-torn earthly home–which belongs to the prince of the air, Satan [John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2]. And emigrating, with restored citizenship, to our heavenly home where we will live with God for all eternity [John 14:2-3].

The King James translation of the Bible uses the phrase it came to pass 456 times. The worries and troubles of life–but also the goodness and blessings–come in time and leave in time [Matthew 6:25-34; John 16:33]. Until the end of the age when time will be no more, let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess [Hebrews 10:23], trusting and obeying God in all things [Proverbs 3:5-6; Matthew 28:20].

The breath of our life has come to us for this season and will pass from us in the next. How we choose to pass our time matters. It matters to God. It matters to us. And it matters to the lost and dying generation around us.

Is Christ your refuge along the road of life? Do wayward travelers see your heavenly citizenship and desire it for their own?


Chronos and Kairos: The Paternal Twins of Time

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Image result for clock towerSince time only exists for Creation–aka we human beings and our environs–God sees, knows and understands our chronology, but it doesn’t apply to Him. Meaning, if we were to draw a timeline on a piece of paper–as C.S. Lewis explained–God would be like the paper. The timeline of human existence from beginning to end is fully contained in God, but He Himself exists outside of and is wholly unaffected by our linear frame of reference. He can see the beginning and the end, and every moment in between.

In ancient Greek, this kind of time was referred to as chronos [hence words like chronology, chronological and chronicle.] It is sequential. Exact. Measured and quantifiable. However, there was a second term for time as well, kairos.

Kairos time is qualitative–meaning its measure is in quality, value rather than number. Also, used as the word for weather, kairos time referred to an auspicious time for action and decision. The crucial moment when conditions are exactly right to decide and to act for the most effective outcome.

God reaches into our chronological beings, working kairologically. That is, He doesn’t make His decisions based on a clock or a calendar or after a preset passage of time. Rather, He wills and acts when the conditions of hearts and minds, the condition of world history, the condition of sin have come to the most optimum moment.

And being omniscient, that is all-knowing–seeing everything that has happened, is happening and will happen–He is not slow in keeping His promise to send Jesus again to the earth [Matthew 24:6]. On the contrary, in His infinite love and mercy He is patiently waiting for that precise moment of optimum conditions so that as many people as can come to know Him and accept Him as Lord and Savior will do so, thereby receiving eternity.

We must be so careful not to transfer our understanding of chronology onto our kairos God. To judge Him in human terms is to misunderstand Him entirely. And all who bind their understanding of God to human time, struggle to reconcile the two in their mind. Ultimately, many get frustrated in this struggle and lose faith in God. Remember, just because we cannot fully understand, does not in anyway diminish the truth of who God is. Hold tight to your faith [Hebrews 10:23]!

Is your life and faith bound up in this chronos world? Will you let God begin to reveal His everlasting kairos nature to you through His Word?