Justice

cj_istock_000006259503largeThe Lord rises to argue the case and stands to judge the people. The Lord brings this charge…(Isaiah 3:13-14a)

God has multiple roles in justice, because He is justice. We most often declare God as judge. Often it’s not a positive declaration: “Don’t worry. God will ultimately judge him!” In essence, we’re already judging someone and declaring God will certainly agree and handle the person with as much harshness as we want.

Good thing we don’t always know how God deals with someone. He deals in both justice and grace, righteousness and compassion, judgment and mercy.

And He isn’t just the final judge. He brings charges and argues the case, too. Because ultimately, they’re His standards. We can make all the laws we want and hold people accountable according to them. There are consequences on earth, as there should be. God created us for eternity, and time on earth is part of it. But there is a broader perspective than what we see. And perhaps narrower in some ways.

We don’t understand it all, but we can pursue truth even in our areas of uncertainties. We can invite correction into our lives. We can seek wisdom, then live it out. We can trust Him – for today and eternity.

Lies That Soothe Us

I know why we do it, yet I wonder why we do it.

We try to comfort ourselves and others in moments of trials and grief. We would give just about anything to help someone or ourselves get through the pain and challenges of life. But in the process, we neglect the truths the Bible tells us. God reveals Himself to us through His Word. He wants us to know Him, not just to have all the right answers but to be comforted, healed, and promised. When we neglect what He says and cling to what we think will help us feel better, we miss out. We miss out on trusting Him, and we miss out on what He wants to give us through Himself and His Word.

We want to believe that the people we lose in death, we gain in angels. Again, our intentions aren’t bad. We want to continue to feel close to people we lose. We want someone higher than us to watch over and provide for us. We can always feel close through our memories and other ways God provides. And we always have Him watching over and providing for us. And since God created angels, I would personally like His authority, protection, and provision over anyone else.

We want to believe all the people we love are reunited in heaven, yet Scriptures clearly tell us we aren’t married in heaven. Again, our intentions aren’t bad. We want to carry over some of the things we like most on earth into heaven with us. We rationalize that God says heaven won’t include any pain, and we can’t imagine being separated from people we love and not feeling pain.

But can we not find comfort in who God is, His sovereignty over us all? We don’t determine what will be best for us, now or for all eternity. Only God knows all those details. And He won’t let us down. We’re not going to be disappointed that things aren’t the way we expected them. He will blow what we imagine out of the water.

At least, that is the potential. But let’s be honest with ourselves, each other, and most importantly, God. While we don’t determine what eternity will be like, we determine our relationship with God right now. Eternity isn’t “someday.” It’s right now. We don’t create it. We respond to God’s creation. We respond authentically and responsibility, or we choose to put our own preferences and ways above His.

What will you choose to prioritize today? What truth will you seek, create, believe, or follow?

Lesson from Nature: Secure on the Edge

©PurePurpose.org
©PurePurpose.org

I looked for a quiet place to read my Bible. I stepped onto the ledge of rocks and could look to both sides and see the coastline for quite a distance. I heard the waves lapping the shoreline and felt the cool breeze and sunshine on my face. It was “my” spot. I sat down and settled in.

After reading for a while, I looked down and decided to snap a photo. It looked as if I was precariously sitting on a dangerous ledge, but I felt secure. I wasn’t uncertain, teetering on top of a slippery, unstable ledge. My feet dangled in air. They weren’t on solid ground, but that was okay.

I went back to reading God’s Word and thought about the security yet uncertainty of God’s Word. By uncertain, I don’t mean I’m not certain about it, or even more so, that God is uncertain in any way. It (and He) is unchangeable. However, I am changed every time I open it. It’s as if I feel secure as I settle into it, yet I don’t know where it’s going to take me. I don’t know exactly where God is going to guide me. With each word, God might guide me into exploring a new path, challenging me to change, weeding through my thoughts, changing my heart. I can certainly rely on Him…including relying on Him to guide my next steps.

I can be secure in God’s will without being certain about everything it entails. I don’t have to understand everything. My life might not be safe at times. God doesn’t promise me safety. He promises me security, and that doesn’t depend on my surroundings. Security is about my heart. It’s about eternity. I’m okay with my next steps being uncertain because of the certainty I have in eternity. I want my next steps to make a difference, inviting God to change my heart along the way. I don’t want to focus on the “someday” with Him. I want to live today, right now, for and with Him.

I don’t really mind that my feet are dangling over the edge, as long as I’m standing firmly on His Word.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
All things were created through Him,
and apart from Him not one thing was created
that has been created.
Life was in Him,
and that life was the light of men.
That light shines in the darkness,
yet the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

Lesson from Nature: The Twist of Life and Death

©PurePurpose.org
©PurePurpose.org

Sometimes, the twists we create with others’ lives can be catastrophic. We end up squeezing the life out of each other, because we just don’t have enough life to give. Our unhealthy boundaries aren’t so much about the closeness of the relationship but about what we do with that relationship.

Other times, the closeness creates a beauty that would never have been possible on our own. We give each other strength, support, and nourishment. We’re vulnerable, because we have exposed ourselves to others. We invite them into our lives in ways that cannot be fully revoked. We give a piece of ourselves that we can never completely recover. That’s frightening. It can turn out badly.

But it can also be beautiful.

God intends for us to rely on and commit to each other. Most of all, He invites us to rely on and commit to Him. He gives us a piece of Himself. He became vulnerable first, when He gave His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us, taking all the junk of our lives into the pit of death, then overcoming that death, leaving it behind. It seems like a twisted way to get to us, but it’s the way He chose.

Because God loves us. He loves you.

Loving Him isn’t easy. It requires vulnerability and humility. It requires twisting your life with His so intricately that you no longer know where One stops and the other starts. But He’s worth it. And He knows you’re worth it, too.

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)

The Next Step

No matter where you are in life, the next step is often the most difficult to take. It’s exciting, frightening, breath-taking, daunting, lonely, reassuring, promising, and shaky. I don’t know what your next step is. I don’t know what your next breath requires. But I know this. God is God. He is purposeful. He longs for you to choose to take the next step with Him. He knows just how you feel. He’s ready. Are you?

Go Big. Go Home.

go big

Jesus did. He did life big. And He went home.

We could get caught up in the definition of “big.” What does that entail? How daring do I have to be? How much of my own way do I have to give up? How much can I decide on my own? What exactly do I need to choose right now? What can I put off for later? Who can I call to pull some strings? Who is setting a good example? How can I get beyond the mistakes I’ve made?

We don’t need to make it complicated. But we do have to know how “home” is defined. Once you know that, you know you’re only here for a season. In the timeline of eternity, your life is a dot. But, oh, how rich that dot can be.

Know your home. God is preparing a place for you.

Live well. God doesn’t ask for perfection, just willingness.

Love well. Both God and others. One cannot truly happen without the other.

 

Salvation with Joy

wellGod is the one who saves me; I will trust him and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord gives me strength and makes me sing. He has saved me. You will receive your salvation with joy as you would draw water from a well. At that time you will say, “Praise the Lord and worship him. Tell everyone what he has done and how great he is.” Isaiah 12:2-4

God’s salvation gives us joy – eternal joy and earthly joy. We might not always be happy on earth, but we can always be joyful. Happiness is situational, and it changes. Joy is chronic. It’s not dependent on circumstance. It’s an underlying reliance on the certain foundation of God’s provision and guidance. Joy is knowing God is supporting us through everything. He’s present. He won’t leave us or disappoint us. He is reliable, always keeping every promise he makes.

If there was ever a promise to be joyful about, salvation is it. When you consider receiving salvation with joy “as you would draw water from a well,” what comes to mind?

Salvation is a refreshing nourishment like no other. Without salvation, our lives are parched and doomed to death. With salvation, we access an everlasting spring of refreshing nourishment. We will have joy forever, not because of our own personal happiness but because of something much deeper: we will have the opportunity to glorify God for all of eternity. We fulfill our purpose. We revel in our sweet spots.

These verses in Isaiah say so much more. Read each section aloud and consider what each means to you in your daily life.

God is the one who saves me.

I will trust him.

I will not be afraid.

The Lord gives me strength.

The Lord makes me sing.

Live It. These verses also include “Praise the Lord and worship him. Tell everyone what he has done and how great he is.” Consider what that means to you today. How will you praise him today? How will you worship him? Who will you tell of how great God is and what he’s done for you? Move beyond the theoretical, simply reflecting on these verses, and consider what they mean to you personally. Live them out in a practical way today. God’s Word is alive and active within you. Let others experience God in you today.