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.
James 2:10,12,13 “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, for judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy, mercy triumphs over judgment.”
This quote from James is a “hard saying”. It is not hard to understand. It is very plain and simple. It is hard because we all deserve justice. James is saying that, if you make your life into a world of compliance and keeping of the law but fall short in one minuscule and seeming nonessential point, you deserve and should be accountable for judgment. It doesn’t matter if you went to church every time the door opened or gave all that you had to ministry, if there is one spot, one little blemish, there will be judgment. Judgment is required. But if I show mercy, if I show love to the undeserving, if I go out of my way to be merciful, then I will be shown mercy. My mercy is a sign of God’s mercy. God exercises mercy with delight and His mercy rejoices and overcomes His justice.
Lord, reveal to me today, ways to show people mercy. Restore in me my want to forgive and forget. Let mercy begin in me.
Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
The world seems not to have changed from the days I was growing up in a town next door to a military training base. My father was in the Naval reserve and so our home was to be shipshape. Everything had its place, and everything should be in that place. I grew up with an expectation of proper behavior.
I have spent years living and breathing in the world of expectations of other people. Living in constant threat of disappointment of the socially acceptable norm. My ingrained nature is one of trying to live up to someone else’s imposed expectation. I failed a lot. Trying as I might, I could not be what the world expected because their expectations never included mercy. Now I live in mercy. I have experienced it. I have cultivated it. I have a great need for it. I cannot exist without it. And when it becomes a part of me my life finds truth, purity, holiness, peace wisdom, completeness, delight, joy, and victory. My years of living in this great mercy causes me to show mercy.
Lord, remind me again and again that in your mercy I need to show mercy.
Romans 8:35, 37-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.:
Paul decided. Facing persecution, arrest, deprivation, and worldly uncertainty, he decided not one of the things in his life that would destroy him would separate him. He decided there was nothing that would be a valid reason for separation. He was convinced. Yet, there are many Christians walking around like the walking wounded. Head held low, hoping against hope that the day ends without calamity. Living as if hell is greater than heaven. Sure, the world tries to separate. But for me, I refuse to live like a zombie crying and growling, stepping through life without hope. I refuse because I have decided. I stand up, put on a smile, and am well assured. I decide to open the gates of hope and assurance. I choose to make a fundamental decision to accept God at his word.
Lord, I have decided that you are able to keep to that which I have committed to you. I will walk in that assurance.
Ezekiel 36:25-28 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will be my people, and I will be your God.
Assurance blossoms in repeated conflict. The discouragement is caused by losing sight of the promise of God. Stand up, repeat the words of faith. The Lord’s power and goodness are not diminished by your conflict. When we are torn apart, God still lives. When we are discouraged, God still loves us. When we are in danger, God still reaches out. When evil stands in the door, God still is your protector. When discouragement haunts you, God is there to remind you of his very presence. God is beyond appearances. You will be my people, and I will be your God.
Mark 2:14 “As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.”
Why call a hated, despised tax collector to be a disciple? Why call odoriferous, gross, and rough fishermen? Why call a young man out of a tree? Why take a chance on a zealous Roman hater to join the merry men? Why select a man that was from the beginning unwilling to acknowledge Jesus? It would have made much more sense to reach out to the religious, to the highly born, to the Roman aristocracy. Jesus chose who he did just because they were unloved. They were neglected and marginalized. And to their surprise, the previously unloved found a place of acceptance and love. To be loved when you know you are unlovely. I am loved today. I will praise God all day for that acceptance and love.
He was born in Boston the last of seventeen children. His parents He wanted their little boy to have a career in the church. He attended school only two years before giving up on formal school and thought being a tradesman was a better life. Working for his brother as an apprentice, he learned the printing business.When he submitted a letter to his brother for publication he was turned down as simply to radical. Undaunted, he began writing to the paper with a false name and the identity of a middle-aged widow. When his brother was jailed for three weeks , he was released from the constraining editorial comments. His pseudonym said, “Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom and not such thing as public liberty without the freedom of speech.” He left town and his brothers’ business a political fugitive.No one thought Benjamin Franklin would ever amount to much.2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here.”We all need redemption!
Writer David Roper wrote of an account in an elevator. Three men were quietly and complacently riding down from their workplaces. None of them seemed excited or even aware of their surroundings. For them, the day was done and were anxious to go home. Two floors above the lobby the elevator stopped to let on more passengers. The doors opened and a larger-than-life image of cowboy stared in. He was wearing an old and stained grey hat, a stained sheepskin coat and well scuffed boots.
This tall, rough, and lanky man looked intently through the open door at the current occupants and said, “Good, evening men.” All three men immediately straightened up and squared their shoulders. They all were making a new effort to live up to the name “men.”
Living up to the name. Being a Christian is more than living a life not much different from everyone else. Being a Christian is not living up to an idea or an implied expectation. Being a Christian is straightening up our shoulders and bearing proudly our faith.
Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. I Corinthians 16:13
The more I study His word the more I realize my own self-worth is not worth at all. I see all mankind in one of two groups. You may well think these groups may be categorized as the Good and the bad. But I don’t see it that way. Let me explain
Group one includes those who think they are righteous and the second are those who know they are sinners. Matthew 9:13. One group pretends there is no need for God and the other simply acknowledges a need for God.
The common denominator is that we all need help. The catch is that we don’t all admit it. Rather than realizing everyone is in this together, that we are all in need of help, we often prop up our self-esteem by looking at people who do supposedly worse things than ourselves.
We create a scale and somewhere there is a line between good and bad. In our scale we work diligently to stay above the line. We live our lives in a two-story home on a quiet cul-de-sac, we keep our lawn well-manicured and our cars washed, we stay faithful to our spouse, we work hard at our chosen vocations, we pay our bills, and never cheats on taxes. We compare our goodness to others’ badness and think, “I’m a morally sound person. I’m doing pretty well. I don’t need help.”
All have sinned and fallen short of God’s ideal. We are all PINOGAMS (People In Need of Grace and Mercy). One group pretends there is no need for God and the other simply acknowledges a need.
Our superficial labeling system guarantees that we will never find freedom ourselves. It takes courage and humility to recognize we are as messed up as the drug addict next door. Few ever get that honest with ourselves. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, we’ll never be honest with God. We will continue to whitewash our dark sides and flaunt our good deeds, and nothing will ever change.
I guess we are really all in one category after all. We all need.
What is the cause of violence? For what reason does a person “get into the face of another” and shout and curse and spit vitriol? I think is it simply sin. You see, sin is a riddle, a mystery, a reality that is difficult to define. It is often ignored because there is no personal responsibility if there if it remains a nebulous concept. Often, we try to think of this idea called sin and think of it as wrongdoing or transgression of some standard. But it also includes the failure to do what is correct, prudent, loving. Sin offends people, it is violence and lovelessness pointed and directed toward others. But more than that, it is disrespectful to God.
The concept of sin is very complex, and the terminology associated with is also very complex. And when I try to reconcile all the opinions of what is lawful and what is not, it is easy to be caught up in a definition hell. To make a differentation between peaceful protest and rioters is charged with political condemnation. Simply to say, all lives matter is seen as racist. But in reality, it is not about definitions or even spin or fake news. It is about the expectation of my behavior in relationship to all around me. To repeat the admonition of Jesus, “However you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the law and the prophets.” The cause of violence is simply not doing what you expect others to do to you.