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Justice Not Judgment

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though once we regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Image result for light handGod is just, and He made us in His image. We are to act justly, as our gracious heavenly Father does. That is, we are to behave according to what is morally right and fair.

Who determines what is morally right and fair? Our just God–Creator of all that is. His character is our standard of morality. His person defines what is good and separates it from what is bad.

So how can we, as sinful human beings–prone to doing wrong–know what is good and right?

We develop a personal relationship with God through prayer and studying His Word [Hebrews 4:12]. We meditate on those things that His Word defines as good, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy [Philippians 4:8]. We allow the Holy Spirit to prick our consciences and to counsel us in God’s wisdom [John 14:26; Acts 2:37].

Yet while God is just and has charged us to live justly, justice–like vengeance–is not ours to mete out [Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19]. That does not mean that we are not to establish courts of law or punish criminals. On the contrary, upholding impartial criminal justice is a part of living justly. But we are not to judge others [Matthew 7:1-6; Luke 6:37].

When we judge how others are or are not measuring up to God’s Word, we invite that same judgment back on ourselves. Even Jesus did not come to judge the world, but to save the world through Him [John 12:47]. He proclaimed that God the Father would be the ultimate judge in the last day, and because of this, He would not retaliate for the wrongs suffered at the hands of men [John 12:48].

We can get so busy being judgmental of others and the sinfulness all around us. We can be so bound up getting revenge on those who wrong us, that we miss the fact that we ourselves fall short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23]. If it weren’t for God’s grace in my life and in your life, we would be nothing more than unforgiven sinners just like any other unbelieving person [1 Corinthians 15:10].

And God is just, but He is also gracious, merciful, loving and compassionate. He forgave us our sins and spared us our death penalty [Matthew 26:28; John 3:16; Romans 5:12-21 & 6:23].

Knowing this, how can we possibly stand in judgment on any other human being? Not that our condemnations will last past this life. And not that our judgments of them matter in light of their eternity anyway. Instead, the role that God has called us to play in His justice is simply this: to be an ambassador of His reconciliation message.

Do you play judge of the world? Or do you live justly, a light guiding others to a saving knowledge of Jesus?



Justice and Morality

“Far be it from you to do such a thing–to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25

Image result for justiceGod is just. He constantly acts according to what is morally right or fair, morals being the principles that determine what is good and bad.

God is the moral law. Our Creator is the standard of right and wrong, good and bad. And He is unchanging in His promises [Hebrews 6:18]. He cannot be defined by whim or caprice [Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:21]. Though His judgments are unsearchable by the human mind [Romans 11:33], His justice is as unchanging as His character.

Throughout human history, cultural values and moral judgments have shifted. But with God that which is right today is what has always been and what will always be right. Likewise, that which is wrong today is what has always been and what will always be wrong.

Most people don’t like this attribute, because–having bought into Satan’s lie that they can be their own god–they want to decide for themselves what is good and bad, what is right and wrong, what is just and unjust. So much so, that people will surround themselves with others who say exactly what they want to hear [2 Timothy 4:3] just so they don’t have to deal with God’s truth on the matter.

But God is the judge of the whole earth. Everyone will stand before Him alone one day [Hebrews 9:27]. Everyone will answer for the things done and said in this life [Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12]. Everyone will bow their knee and confess God as God and Jesus Christ, His Son, as Lord of all [Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10].

In that day, God will separate the righteous from the unrighteous [Hebrews 4:12]. The one blessed with eternal life and the other cast into the lake of burning sulfur [Matthew 25:31-46].

The choice is as simple and clear cut as black and white. As God posed the question to Cain, let us also consider, If you do what is right, will you not be accepted [Genesis 4:7]

Who determines what is morally right and good in your life? Which side of eternity will you be on?


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]?


Standing on the Faithful One

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.” Psalm 33:4

Image result for standing on a rockIn the beginning, God said, Let there be–and all of Creation sprang forth. The Word of God spoke light and life into existence. More importantly, the Word of God has sustained, does sustain and will sustain all that He made–without question about whether He can or will.

God is faithful.

The work He began, He is and will see to the end, unswervingly [Philippians 1:6]. As the Psalmist says, God’s law is perfect and His statutes are trustworthy, His precepts are right and His decrees are firm [Psalm 19:7-9].

Law–that system of rules and regulations that govern word and deed. The world’s system is imperfect–it is flawed and lacking. But God’s law is flawless and complete. And He carries out His perfect law without fail.

Statutes–God’s laws in writing. Again, the world’s written laws are unreliable, even corrupt. People of prominence or those with connections in authority leverage their position to gain immunity. Lawmakers themselves often violate the very laws they write and expect their constituents to uphold, but find loopholes to escape the consequence. But God’s Word, His written decrees, are trustworthy. We can depend on God to always do what He said He would do–whether it be heavenly blessings for repentance and right-living or whether it be consequences for sin.

Precepts–thought and behavior regulators. The world’s patterns of thought and behavior don’t align with Our Creator’s design and are, therefore, incorrect. But God’s thoughts steadfastly transcend our own [Isaiah 55:8]. And He constantly desires to restore right thought and behavior patterns so that we may have life to the full [John 10:10; Romans 12:2].

Decrees–legal orders. The world’s authoritative orders are inconsistently meted out and enforced. As such, decrees can be whimsically reactive. They also tend to peter out over time. Not so with God. When He commands, the command faithfully stands. He is not wishy-washy that He should change His mind. He does not show favoritism that He should enforce the command with some and not others. He does not forget or lose interest or need to change His commands to accommodate for some new development in world history.

In all His ways and in all His words, God is faithful. He adheres, unwaveringly, to the truth of His nature in all things.

As we are made in His image–while we cannot ourselves make perfect laws, statutes, precepts and decrees–we can faithfully stand on the ones given to us in loving wisdom by our God who is right and true.

Are you faithfully standing on God’s Word?


We Say God Almighty

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!'” Revelation 19:6-7a

Image result for God's awesome powerGod’s omnipotence–His absolute and supreme power–will resound in our praises throughout eternity. After this life has passed by, we will see and know God face to face, in the same way that He already knows each and everyone of us [1 Corinthians 13:12]. So we will, uninhibited, lift our voices and take up the song of the cherubim who, day and night, never stop praising our Holy, Almighty God [Revelation 4:8].

Let this amazing truth penetrate the business of your thought life and any doubt or fear that vies for your attention. God is all-powerful. And He alone will be worshiped for eternity because He alone is Almighty God.

Did you feel the Spirit of that sentiment? Read it again.

God alone is all-powerful–everyone and everything else on this earth that presumes to exercise authority over human circumstance will one day take a knee before God alone [Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11]. No evil will prevail over heaven’s gates, nor will Satan’s spiritual war tread anywhere near the new heaven and the new earth. None can trespass into eternity. Only God’s adopted children–by grace through faith [Ephesians 2:8-9]–will have a place in His kingdom come.

And we will praise Him alone as should always have been done on earth as it is and will be in heaven [Matthew 6:10].

No one and nothing else even registers on the power scale as compared to God. Cancer’s got nothing. Murdering dictators will fall before God. Peer opinion. The pursuit of popularity. Self-induced panic attacks and world-induced economic depressions. War and death. None of it has any power whatsoever in light of Almighty God.

Let us not do as the world teaches and focus on ourselves. Instead, let’s get back to God’s Word and start living like heaven. Fix your eyes on your Creator God. Recognize His omnipotence at work in the world all around us and give all praise to Him alone.

Respond to His power and authority alone, refusing to succumb to the weak wiles of the adversary at work in the world. When the doctor says cancer, we say God Almighty. When the news says pandemic, stock market crash, war, genocide we say God Almighty. When the world says be your own god, do whatever feels good to you, we say God Almighty. When others mistreat us out of their own selfish godlessness, we say God Almighty. And when our breath at last returns to the Creator from whom it came, we will forever praise God Almighty.

What power holds your attention in this life? The things of this world? Or God Almighty and Him alone?


Seeds of Eternity

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Image result for eternityEternal. Think about it. The only reason that human beings even have the word is so that we can try to describe God. No one and nothing else can be characterized as eternal. It is completely illogical that we should even possess such a descriptor, yet the fact that we do bears witness to the eternity in our own hearts.

At the Creation, everything was very good. Reverence for our Creator held the throne of the human heart. But the advent of sin unseated God and replaced Him with self as god. It also prevented us from attaining the everlasting in this life [Genesis 2:9].

Yet in His mercy, God left the seed of eternity in each one of us. The deep of the eternity we were made for calls from within us to the deep of the eternal God who made us [Psalm 42:7]. That feeling that life is short. That wondering how our bodies age when our mind feels like we could live forever. But also the search for treasure, the desire to be justified, the need for  justice, the belief that certain things are right and others are wrong, and so much more–all of it testifying that we were designed by the Eternal and to live eternally.

And in His love, God revealed His eternal nature to us through His Word. So that we could understand where that hope both originates and culminates–in Him, the Eternal, alone.

Satan’s only goal is to completely disfigure any inclination toward the Eternal. If he can stop faith from taking root or growing… If he can trick the mind to accept that unfathomable means nonexistent… If he can dupe humanity into demanding morality while banishing the absolute authority on whom this righteousness rests… Then he can rob us of our eternity, like taking money from a sleeping bank teller.

Are you guarding your heart and mind from the wiles of the enemy [Proverbs 4:23; Philippians 4:7]? Better still, are you tending the seed of eternity in your heart? Or is it lying dormant?


Soul Fire Sync

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13

Image result for sparklers fireworks

God is self-sufficient.

He does not need human beings, nor any of His creation. But He loves–an act of will–His Creation. He chooses us as His own. And He doesn’t discriminate among us or show favoritism.

Let’s take a moment here to address the misunderstanding of predestination in the Bible [Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5 & 11].

Predestination does not mean that God selects some people for salvation while disregarding others. Though there are Bible believing churches that teach such things. But if you read these scriptures carefully in the context of the culture, history and the whole scope of God’s plan of redemption in the Bible we are all predestined. God does not desire that anyone should perish [2 Peter 3:9].

Romans 8:29 says that those He foreknew–aka everybody–are predestined. And therefore called [Romans 8:30]–enter cultural understanding that everyone who is called  [which again is everyone] can be justified and if they accept this justification, then they will be glorified. It’s a condition. A heart-will condition. God doesn’t need us. We need Him.

And if we come to Him, it is for our good that God works through us to bring the light of His good news to the world around us. He can and does bring people to a saving knowledge of Him without us, but how much more does He love when we choose to share in the work with Him? How much more are we blessed when we sync our will with His and live out His all-consuming zeal for the lost and dying people all around us?

God is self-sufficient. He doesn’t need us. His mercy is freely given to all who call on His name [Romans 10:14]. But how can they call on the one they have not believed in?–not because He hasn’t shown Himself to them, but because they rejected Him when He did. And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?–not because no one has told them about God and His good news, but because speech falls short when the light of Christian lives don’t equal the measure of their words. And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?–as Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”

Our lives synced with God’s will. Our love the overflow of His love for us. Our salvation–not the result of anything we do and yet it ought to bring us to a place of humble obedience that can’t contain the sweet story of salvation. It ought to change the very fabric of our everyday lives. Not because God needs us to do anything to spread the Word. But because His Word ought to spread like wild fire in our own souls.

Are you synced with God through prayer and studying the Word? Are you overflowing with love for all? Does your salvation burn within you?