The Righteous Judge

The Righteous Judge
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself.  I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.  Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:3-5)

In a courtroom, when someone is under trial and found guilty, the expectation is that the judge will pass correct judgment and the criminal will be punished for their conduct which has hurt society in some way. The criminal is condemned by their own conduct. The judge is merely ascertaining and confirming the wrongdoing then communicating the consequence and punishment attached to that wrongdoing.

In a secular world, we have a sense of “justice”. If the judge were to overlook the judgment and allow the crime to go unpunished, there would be an upheaval in society and contempt for the judge who failed to act justly and with righteousness. His character and reputation, as one who must uphold justice, would be compromised and tarnished. Such a judge would no longer be trustworthy or dependable.

Why is it that God’s character is called into question when He is illustrated as the one who must pass judgment?

Bear in mind, God’s judgement is with exact accuracy and truth as opposed to that of a human judge often trying to ascertain truth.

We try to bypass God’s judgement by denying His existence or excusing even justifying our sin. This way we get to do whatever we want without any accountability…or so we think.

Can we really escape moral accountability by denying the existence or sovereignty of God? Perhaps for a short time but there is nothing hidden “that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known” (Luke 12:2)

Ignoring or rejecting God does render him non existent or make His impending judgment simply go away.  Just like a convicted criminal, God’s judgment is based on our own doing.  Scripture tells us

..on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter;  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37).

For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. (Matthew 16:27)

These are but a few illustrations to enforce the point that before God, we will stand guilty based purely on our own doing not because God so desires. It is not God’s desire for any to perish:

The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

However, it is incumbent upon God’s character, as one who is equal love and equal righteous, to pass judgement else He could not render perfect justice.  If God does not judge, His character and reputation would be called into question.

We seem to have a moral compass and backbone to demand justice when someone does the breaks the law of this world, yet we elect to give ourselves a “free” pass when it comes to obeying God’s Law.

God created this world. This means He gets to set the rules by which we must abide.

When we go against God’s rules and knowingly disobey Him, it is called “sin”.

If a human judge is justified in passing judgment on a criminal, is the Almighty God and creator of this world not so much more justified in passing judgment on those who break HIS law?

Those who break God’s law are called “sinners”.

We have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). This means under God’s law (the Ten Commandments), we will all be found guilty as charged if we are judged by God’s law. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). So what’s the solution?

Love.

God loves us.

Even though WE sin, God prepared a rescue plan to save the world from this judgment.

This came in the form of Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life (John 3:16)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.. (Luke 6:37)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).

Forgiveness and pardon of our sins through Jesus Christ reconciles us back to God. Jesus paid the price and suffered the sentence you and I deserve for our guilt.

We cannot repay this but we can honor it:

  1. Live for Christ
  2. Live like Christ
  3. Forgive and receive forgiveness
  4. Pray unceasingly that you might know the will of God

Perhaps you don’t feel repentant over your sins therefore ask God for a repentant heart or if you are struggling to forgive, ask God to step in and assist. Whatever area you might struggle in, pray and ask God for what you need. When your will aligns with God’s, He will deliver!

PRAYER
Thank you, Lord, for your indescribable gift! Please continue to purify me and engraft me further into the image of your Son. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Missing the Mark

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But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.  (Luke 15:20)

In the Parable of Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), Jesus speaks of a father who had two sons. The younger son asked his father for his share of his father’s estate. This is quite a strange request as his father has not yet passed. Generally, an estate is only divided upon the death of the estate owner so in one sense, this son is not only seeking independence from his father but declaring his father dead to him by claiming his inheritance ahead of time.

Agreeable, the father divides his property between his two sons.

Next, this son sets off and wastes his wealth on wild, reckless and sinful living.

“Prodigal” means to spend money or use resources in a manner that is free, wasteful and reckless.

He loses everything. Desperate, he takes a job feeding pigs. He longs to eat the food of the pigs. But no one gives him anything to eat.

At this point in time, pigs were considered ‘unclean’ for the Jews so coming into contact with pigs would render one ‘unclean’ (Leviticus 11:7).  

The son is alone and perhaps at the lowest point of his life.

One thing is clear, his sin has caught up with him and he is suffering.

In the midst of this, he comes to his senses and says:

How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!

He wakes up to the reality of the situation and decides to go back to his father and tell him:

Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants

Here he is thinking, “Ok so I’ve stuffed up big time and I’m not worthy for my father to consider me a son but maybe, JUST MAYBE, if I ask for forgiveness, he will show me some mercy and take me back and let me work for him”. He is hopeful and broken. He makes up his mind and journeys back home.

While he is still far off from his home, his father spots him and is filled with compassion for him. The father doesn’t just stand there waiting for his little boy to arrive. No. He RUNS. He runs to his son, throws his arms around him and kisses him.

Imagine how long the father had been waiting for his son to come home.

Day after day, waiting and keeping watch.

Now the son begins the speech he had been rehearsing:

..Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son…

The father cuts him off and doesn’t let him finish the sentence. Instead, he calls to the servants:

Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet…Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

The father is ready to welcome him back as a son NOT a servant.

This is how your heavenly Father feels towards you. No matter how far you’ve strayed or how distant you have become from God, if you turn to Him, even in the smallest gesture, He will RUN to you and embrace you with the warmth of a loving Father.

This is the FREE gift of forgiveness and salvation offered through Jesus Christ.

Really, it doesn’t get better than that!

PRAYER
Father, thank you for the depth and breadth of your love that knows no bounds. I am nothing yet in your eyes, you exalt me as though I am everything to you. Thank you for your affections. Please help me to become more like you. In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.

You Are Loved

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Your presence in this world matters. There is a purpose for your existence.

You are not merely a ‘cosmic accident’ birthed from nothing, out of nothing.

There is creative thoughtfulness and love embedded in your DNA.

You are very specifically and intentionally made for this generation.

As humans, we are created in love, for love, to love.

We know this because God is love and we are created in His image however we die in the image of our decisions.

When we fail to love, are not loved or abuse love then something goes wrong.

The ‘original’ love we were created to give and receive becomes corrupted, distorted and defiled.  Our original spiritual DNA falls away from our Creator and the essence of our being changes.

It is at this point that we begin to feel confused about our identity.

When we don’t know who we are in Christ, we will look for our identity in every other nook and cranny of this world.  We need love but if we are far from the creator, then we do not know where to go to receive it so each person looks to themselves to answer this question instead of to God, who is the author of love. Our understanding of love will then be shaped by people, movies, social media, music and it’s a mess. Accordingly, our definition of “love” will constantly change which is why we need our firm foundation, our rock.

We need the truth about love. God IS love AND truth. He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His love stands firm so go back to the heart of your Creator. Get to know Him, get to know your true self in Him and let Him show you the plans He has for your life. It is guaranteed that He will exceed every and any expectation you have. Take a leap of faith into the arms of God and just let Him love you.

Prayer
Dear God,
I ask that you help me to know you more, to love you more and to seek you. Make your ways known to me. I am sorry if I have gone astray and played by the rules that suited me but from now on, I choose you. I want everything you are and I choose to follow you. Please teach me your ways. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Stay In Your Lane

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What would happen if you were driving in a four-lane road and instead of focusing on YOUR driving within YOUR lane, you began closely observing all the other drivers across the lanes?

It wouldn’t be good to say the least.

It’s one thing to be alert of your surroundings while driving but it’s another thing to be completely distracted and consumed by them.

When you’re distracted, you are not focusing on the task at hand.

You are not doing what you are supposed to be doing.

God has called each of us to a specific purpose.

If we are constantly distracted by what everyone else is doing, we will not be able to clearly see our purpose let alone do what God is asking us to do.

Taking our eyes off our “lane” can cause us to become discontent, envious and ultimately unhappy in our own lives because we start a game of comparison.

We begin comparing our lives to the lives of those around us. Too often we compare people’s “highlights” to our “behind the scene” moments.

This is a dangerous game to play and a quick way to destroy our own happiness.

No life is perfect and every person faces difficulties.

But how often do we start this game of comparison in our minds?

I wish my husband would…

I wish my child was more like….

If only I had [insert thing you want] THEN I would be happy

Instead of appreciating what we have, we focus on what we don’t have.

Instead of appreciating the people we have been blessed with, we actively deprive ourselves of the joy they bring by focusing on all the things that are “missing”. These are the people we should be building up and loving. Instead we are tearing them down with our words, bad attitudes, sarcastic remarks and hidden undertones.

We do the same at our job. Instead of appreciating the opportunity to connect with others, earn a living and impact on the lives of those we deal with, we get distracted.

We compare ourselves to our colleagues and fixate on their “lane” and pretty soon, we’re left discontent and unhappy. Not because our circumstances changed but because we began focusing on the wrong lane.

This vicious cycle will continue to tear you down and steal your joy unless the cycle is broken. How? Gratitude. Be thankful.

So remember,

  1. Get back in your lane.
  2. Fix your focus.
  3. Value what you have.
  4. You are blessed beyond measure.

PRAYER

Dear God,

Thank you for your indescribable gift. Sorry that I am not always grateful and do not see all the wonderful things you have blessed me with. Please help me grow in thankfulness towards you and love towards all.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Relationship with Jesus

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See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  (1 John 3:1)

The first step to having a relationship with Jesus is to choose Him. To say “God I want all of YOU and none of me. I surrender my life to you.”  

In a world that distracts us even blinds us from God we often don’t ask ourselves if we have really given our life to God. The disturbing truth is most of us haven’t. That’s why the road to life is narrow and few find it (Matthew 7:14). Only by surrendering to God, can He work through us and show us the path to life.

God does not force us to accept Him. We must choose Him. That’s why He gave us free will.  We either accept God and submit to Him OR we submit to the enemy. By our choices, we condemn ourselves to death or we are saved by God’s grace and set aside for Him.

Now, some of you may stop reading this or even stop seeking God because you don’t want to hear the truth. Why? Because you are comfortable in your sin. Because you want to keep watching that TV show that’s ungodly, or keep listening to that music that’s offensive or keep going to places that give birth to sin. But when God sets you aside, you need to live by HIS standards. The Holy Spirit WILL NOT let you live like the world because you do not belong to it.

Let’s make it clear. There are two choices. There is nothing in between. “You are slaves of the one you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness” (Romans 6:16).

Here’s the amazing part. The result of choosing to be slaves to God is that He honours us, protects us, loves us, blesses us and makes us His children and heirs in His kingdom. “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:6-7).  We see that once we receive the Holy Spirit, we can become children of God.

Are you ready to surrender your whole life to God?

I don’t mean saying a quick 30 second prayer (if that!) before you sleep. We can’t divide our life and give some time to God, some to work, some to study and keep parts to ourselves. “The idea is to live all our lives in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and for the honour and glory of God” (R.C. Sproul).