Tag Archive | righteousness

Wagging Tail, 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Buddy.Wagging

I intended to write on another topic tonight, but when I was in the bathroom this morning, Buddy joyously greeted me with a wagging tail because I had returned from attending church. He was happy just to see me and be in my company. And it made me feel good because my dog cares about me and wants me around.

It got me thinking, “Am I happy just be in God’s company? Am I rejoicing because I’m  a child of God and know that, through my relationship with Jesus Christ, I will be “rescued from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)? Am I enjoying God for Who He is and not just what He can give me and those I pray for? Or do in this world?

Jude says that one day I will stand before Him in the Afterlife, “blameless with great joy. (Jude 1:24).” Apostle Paul also echoes this in Colossians 1:22, “He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”

Because Jesus died for my sin, I don’t have to fear approaching God. He now sees me clothed in the “righteousness of Christ” and “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103: 12).” Jesus encouraged prayer and making requests of God. To see Him as our Father, our encourager and our comforter. King David often poured his heart out to God to find comfort and strength in his suffering and travails, as written down in the Psalms. Apostle John frequently emphasized in his letters that God is love and loves us: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God (1 John 3:1).”

Apostle Peter also encouraged us to open our hearts in prayer to God, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).”

After the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, the Jewish people wept because of their nation’s sin which had caused God to allow the destruction of their city by the Babylonians in 586 BC. But God admonished them, telling them to rejoice instead. “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”–Nehemiah 8:10

I know Psalm 100 by heart. But it’s time that I try harder to apply, with God’s guidance, this great Psalm’s encouragement to enjoy God:

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing…Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Because God is good and loves me, I can enjoy His presence: through prayer and giving thanks, rejoicing in my blessings, in this beautiful world and family and friends and living in a wonderful country. Instead of focusing on the hurt and trouble and evil in the world.

Or as the shorter version of the Westminster Catechism teaches:

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

Have a blessed week.

***

God loves you and sent Jesus to die for your sins. You can become a child of God and enjoy His presence by admitting you are a sinner. Why must you do that? Because, when Adam and Eve ate the apple, they were telling God that they didn’t need His advice on how to live, they were going to decide it for themselves. As a result of rejecting Him, God’s Holy Spirit left the human race and so every generation has been born separated from God since. When you ask God to forgive your sin, you’re admitting to Him that you don’t have all the answers and want His guidance and presence in your life, that you want Him to be your great Shepherd and leader. Please ask Him to forgive your sins and ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit, to guide your through His Word, the Bible, on how to live this life. He’s waiting for your invitation to let Him enter into your life and heart.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to Him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.”–Revelation 3:20

Please open your heart to Him for “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

 

 

 

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When An Evil Man Dies: Ezekiel 18:32

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Discussing the topic of death, I didn’t want to utilize a picture of my beloved Buddy. This photo is of the moon peering through our cloudy, Northwest sky.

It’s ironic that an anti-capitalist Marxist, Fidel Castro, died on Black Friday, the biggest sales day of a capitalist country, one pundit commented yesterday. Understandably, the Cuban community in exile in Miami celebrated. I pray that Raul Castro will allow, not only economic freedom to continue to expand, but also personal freedom. He is permitting Christians to worship more freely (so I’ve heard earlier this summer), which is wonderful.

But how does God feel about the death of an evil man, such as Fidel Castro?

‘”For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”‘–Ezekiel 18:32

“God is love.”–1 John 4: 8b

Once a person dies, they no longer have the option of repenting of their sins and entering into a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Because God is loving, He doesn’t rejoice when someone dies without having a relationship with Him. He isn’t happy when someone is separated from Him for eternity. No one knows us as well as He does and loves as deeply and sincerely as He does.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Jesus, Matthew 6:44, 48

All of us are considered sinners in God’s eyes before we repent, for “There is none righteous, not even one;” (Romans 3:10). He alone is perfect; we cannot consider that we’re more worthy of God’s love than any other person. Once we declare our need for Jesus to cover our sin and advise us how to live, then we’re covered by Christ’s righteousness. We’re considered holy by God only because we’ve received the Holy Spirit and our hearts have been circumcised by faith. It’s not our righteousness, but that of Jesus, that God sees when He looks at saved Christians.

In other words, no one has the right to strut about, thinking they’re so much more wonderful than anyone else. In God’s eyes, we’re either saved or not.

“Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.”–Provers 25:26

I’m not saying we’re supposed to rejoice when a wicked person rules or passively accept evil behavior. But to avoid self-righteousness, thinking we deserve salvation and someone else doesn’t. Because we don’t earn it: It’s an undeserved gift from God of His mercy.

I pray that the Cuban people may experience increased freedom now that Fidel Castro is gone.

 

God’s Lovingkindness: Psalm 23:6a

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For some time I’ve been pondering and praying over these words from Psalm 23:6a*:

“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,”

David’s psalm begins with the good Shepherd walking in front of His flock, leading the way, but ends with Him following from behind. Why?

It perplexed me for some time. If God is leading me through dark times to a lush, pleasant highland to rest and refresh myself, why is He suddenly walking from behind?

And then I considered this very famous verse from Apostle Paul, Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,”.

God leads “us in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3b*) The problem is, I don’t always follow Him and wander off the path. Sometimes it’s because of foolishness, or lack of trust in Him, or just simply not knowing what I should be doing. And, I hate to admit it but it’s true, it’s just outright rebellion, thinking I know better than God.

Stupid to think I know better than the omniscient God, isn’t it?

We do have to pay the penalty when we wander off course. Not because God is mean, but consequences teach us to stay on the path. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”–Galatians 6:7 *

However, God is merciful and loving. What I finally realized is: When I mess up, my merciful Father helps me get back on course. He follows behind, helping me to get out of the hole I’ve dug for myself and to fix the mess I got myself into. He doesn’t kick me when I’m down. There are some things that cannot be reversed, for example an abortion, but He brings healing to the suffering woman who’s had one through godly Christian counseling and friendship.

But God isn’t mean: He doesn’t want us to stay down when we slip up. A common metaphor preachers use is: Like a little child that’s learning how to walk and then falls, God has ahold of my hand and lifts me back up again and helps me walk forward. The Christian life is a process. We’re not instantly perfect when we become born-again; learning to be a godly person is a lifetime task.

I think anyone who knows me would certainly agree that I’m far from perfect.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.”–Psalm 37:23-24*

It’s comforting to know that the Lord has “enclosed me behind and before,” (Psalm 139:5*). I’m not alone in trying to clean up the mess I’ve made. My merciful Friend is right with me.

*All quotes from the NASB version of the Bible.

(Also, please note that I’ve been influenced by many godly persons and preachers in my lifetime. Not everything I write is 100% original with me; for instance, the metaphor of a child falling down and being lifted up again by the Heavenly Father. But I certainly couldn’t tell you where I first heard it.)