James 1:17-19 “Every good thing is given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will, He gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. You know this, my beloved brothers, and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
You are a special gift. A gift from God. Your unique identity or personhood as created by God is simply without equal. The message of practical James sees no jump in logic from your gifted unique identity to the accompanying responsibility to be just to those around you. James is calling for a process in justice, listening carefully, restrained in our response, and measurement of judgment. He calls for due process for all accused of not living up to the image of God.
In the world in which we live, we have a responsibility not to pass judgment without due process. The right to a timely trial, to an unbiased judge and a jury of our peers, a presumption of innocence, presentation of corroborating evidence, to know the charges or accusations, to confront witnesses, legal counsel, and the right to defend yourself are all part of this due process. Justice is allowing the process to work. I cannot and will not make any judgment based on emotion, prejudice, innuendo, gossip, or without evidence. That is justice. Justice is dictated by my faith and by God.
Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
My name is Larry, I am created in God’s own image. I came from Him and someday I will be going back to him. My worth is not dependent upon your opinion. My worth is not dictated by societal norms. My life is much more than what you may see of me or even your judgment of me. Who I am is much more than the cultural group to which you think I belong. Do not segregate me because of some outside, physical attribute. I refuse to be canceled. Just societies are built on the acknowledgment and acceptance of the truth of all human beings are bearers of God’s image. They all have equal dignity, incalculable worth with rights that cannot be taken at the whim of any other. It was C.S. Lewis who wrote, “There are no ordinary people, you have never talked to a mere mortal.” The essence of my dignity is not man-made. I am not an earthy person experiencing spiritual things, but a spiritual person experiencing earthly things.
Genesis 18:19 “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”
Webster was right when he said, “Justice, sir, is the great interest of people on earth.” Without justice, there is no hope or expectation of continuance for our culture. A just society must first acknowledge a moral law higher than itself: a supreme lawgiver to whom even the most powerful are held into account. America’s founders writing the Declaration of Independence, in the very first sentence acknowledged the existence and dependence upon something greater than themselves. Our nation is founded on a supreme, objective basis of justice and righteousness. Justice is not a whim of whoever is in political power at any given election cycle. Justice is based upon the supreme lawgiver. To substitute man-made morality or even personal political ethics as a new standard is just folly. God’s perfect justice is established by His unchangeable nature. To set any other ultimate measuring stick of justice is foolishness.
Matthew 1:19,20 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded putting her away privily. When he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
In the King James Version of the Bible Matthew calls Joseph, the husband of Mary, and “just” man. When he learns of her pregnancy, he wants to protect Mary’s reputation and “dismiss her quietly.” Then, as a more authentic expression of his justness, Joseph takes to heart the angel’s words that Mary has the Lord’s blessing. He makes a conscious decision to take on the responsibility of being a husband to Mary and a dad to the child.
The culture in which Joseph found himself demanded justice of banishment or stoning. Even if Mary was not accused of adultery, it would mean the equivalent of a divorce. Either would involve the religious leaders of the town. Either would include condemnation and rejection. Joseph chose a third course: to listen to God, a voice of compassion and love. Was Joseph still just? Was Joseph still righteous? Joseph would raise, nurture, and help educate a stepson. Joseph chose to love. The greatest attribute of justice.
Matthew 28: 18,19,20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
My path has been far in traveling. I have not come to its end. I would have liked to have traveled further, to see all the mercies God has in store for me down the road. My steps are sometimes belabored. My burden causes my back to scream in pain. I trod my road set before me and am winded. “God, why can’t this be easier?”
What I have discovered along my path is that God seldom takes things away. Instead, God is in the adding. He is more a giver than a taker. When I run along my path in darkness, he does not take away the clouds but increases the sun. When my path seems terribly dry and my lips are parched, he does not heal the thirst but brings gifts of water. When my path is lonely to a point of panic, He does not take away the terrible foreboding isolation, He simply comes near Himself. He adds. When I stop and take a rest because of pain in my old joints, He does not take away the pain, but adds joy to the steps I can make. He adds.
What shall we call Him? Jesus the mathematician.
John 1:3 “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.
From the first electron circling around a single proton, to UY Scuti a hypergiant star with a diameter that is around 1,700 times larger than the sun, all were made through him. Creator of the smallest and the largest. Creator of every piece and all pieces. Creator of individual and the total. My creaky knees are made up of the very stuff Jesus made an eternity ago. I may mold, construct, re-vamp, sort, refine, invent, combine, stir, cook, and even try to destroy. Yet they are all actions based upon the “all things were made”.
What boggles my mind is that everything in heaven and earth, the visible and the invisible, were created for Jesus and by Jesus and Jesus holds them all together. Colossians 1:19-17.
You are a creation of God, do you believe it?
So what shall we call Him?
Jesus the Creator.
Colossians 3:2-3 “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that on earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
The world has drilled into our minds a need for conformity from early childhood. We must always adjust to its norms. There is a “norm” to which we must conform. Our culture tells us that success and happiness depend upon how well we adjust to it. And once we have God in our lives, this religious experience is an add-on.
We must recognize one of the great problems in our modern Christianity: Those who come to Christ probably have their minds made up that they must remain “adjusted” to the society around them to stay sane. We will add Jesus to our lives up to the edge of our culture, but not an inch over. It becomes an adjustment. This brand of Christianity simply tries to conform to the culture. It is a life groping in the darkness dragging Jesus along the way. All the while we are filled with puzzlement, fear, and frustration. The world does not have any idea where it is going.
Thankfully, it was to this kind of world Jesus came. He died for its sin and now lives for the salvation of all who will trust and not adjust.
Lord, the world seems to be filled with tragedy, pain, and an irreversible downward spiral. There is no time to be wishy-washy about my faith.
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
King David of the Old Testament was a piece of work. Despite being a great ruler, he was a fornicator an adulterer, and a streaker. He is not alone in the pages of the Bible. Plenty of other bible characters have done something terrible at some point in their lives. Saul was a disbeliever, Moses was a doubter, Jacob was a liar and Peter a betrayer, and Paul a persecutor. Yet, God made them his witness and used them to accomplish His purpose. Not only did He forgive them (MERCY), but He also endowed them with unmerited favor (GRACE). The difference between mercy and grace? Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance from his father. The father’s grace gave him a party.
Lord, as you have shown me mercy and grace, I will show mercy and grace to everyone today.
May 23, 2022
May 23, 2022
Hebrews 4:14,16 “Since then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
The kingdom of God is full of great contradictory truths. One of those truths is that the power of Jesus Christ is perfected in our weakness. Two things can be the truth at the same time. God’s strength is more easily seen in moments of weakness. When times are tough, and we come to the end of ourselves we will find God.
Bless the Lord, oh my soul and all that is within me bless his Holy name!
May Day 22 – A celebration of my day of birth.
2 Corinthians 4:14-16 “We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.”
Discovery of the why of my life has not always been easy. With examination and minute dissection, I have searched for the reason for my often tumultuous high and low existence. All my efforts to be more than myself; to show mercy, to love unconditionally, to be full of love and forgiveness to all that around me, must have but one reason.
My discovery: I do because God did. God has never given up on me. I live in an experience of God pouring out grace to me, abundantly and without measure. That is why I write. That is why I teach. That is why I hug my family. That is the reason for my seemingly limited life. I have a reason not to give up. The reason for my life is having an overflowing of mercy in my life because God did it first. That is why I will never stop. That is why I will never surrender. That is why, though my earthly life is but a fleeting moment in eternity, I will be renewed every day.
Thank you, Lord!