Both the Old and New Testaments, present God as Judge. He is the ultimate authority of all the universe He created both now and in the future. In Psalm 7:10-11 David tells us that God is a righteous judge who defends those who love Him and grieves over the sin of those who reject Him. “My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. 11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” All creation speaks of God’s righteousness and place as judge, Psalm 50:6 “The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah Solomon in his wisdom knew God’s place as judge, Ecclesiastes:3:17. “I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.” Paul reminds Timothy that Jesus will be our eternal judge in 2 Timothy 4:1 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:” Peter also wrote to Christians who were struggling with holiness in their lives. He reminds them of who God is and who they can rely upon in Christ. “1 Peter 1:17-20 “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
We can trust God as the righteous judge as we know He is just, impartial and loves all those He created. God knows what He is doing and has proved himself to mankind in the past, 2 Peter 2:9 “ then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.” Peter was referring to God rescuing righteous Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. If he could do that for Lot, He is capable of handling anything. He is righteous and sees who we really are in our deepest being. We can rely upon His mercy, compassion and justice.
Many people like to only think of God as loving, holy and righteous, but God is so much more, and as creator He has the right and authority to judge all sin. He made a way for us to escape the judgement of sin in our lives through Jesus and His work on the cross. 1 John 9:11 tell us how we can find freedom from the judgement that is upon all the world because of sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confess your sins today, keep short accounts with God and do not let sin stay in your heart and reject it from your life through power of Jesus. He is the perfect judge, just in all things and He desires for us to stand righteous before Him.
Jealous does not seem an appropriate attribute to associate with God. However, that is exactly what God calls himself in Exodus 34:14. “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” El Kanna is His name here in Hebrew.
How does jealous fit God? By definition, jealous is: very watchful in guarding or keeping like jealous of your rights, resentfully suspicious of a rival like a jealous husband or wife, and requiring exclusive loyalty. The first and last meanings fit God but not resentfully suspicious. God knows all, sees all and is holy so He could not be resentfully suspicious. He is watchful in guarding our loyalty and requiring that we worship only Him. The context of this verse in Exodus is recorded just after the incident with the golden calf. While Moses was on the mountain receiving the 10 Commandments, the children of Israel had melted gold and fashioned a ‘god’ of gold to worship. Moses was extremely angry when he returned and smashed the tablets and destroyed the idol. In Exodus 34 God was explaining His nature to Moses and states that He is a jealous God desiring that they worship only Him. The first 4 of the 10 Commandments are about our exclusivity in worshiping only God. 1-Have no other gods before me. 2-Do not make any graven images to worship. 3-Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. 4-Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. (Exodus 20) God demands our love and devotion. He promises us just as He promised Abraham and his descendants, “if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 6 For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised,” Deuteronomy 15:5-6a Joshua gave a similar plea as he neared death in Joshua 24:14, 15 “14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
The message is clear- God is a jealous God and desires that we worship only Him. Jesus promises in John 15 that abiding in Him (worshiping, loving and serving only him) will bear much fruit in our lives. John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” He alone is the source of our power for living. In John 15:10 Jesus tells us that abiding involves keeping His commandments- loving and worshiping only Him. “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
Will you strive to put away idols and worship only Him? The Senior level students in my Bible Study Fellowship class had an activity recently as we were studying Joshua and the Israelites persistence in holding onto their idols. The students were challenged to come up with something that could be an idol for every letter of the alphabet. Remember an idol is anything you put above God in your life. Here is a start-see if you can finish the list. A-ambition, B-beauty in nature, C-computer games, D-dreams, E-exercise, F-family, G-goals…. M-money….Z-zealous for_______. All of these can be good things but put in the place of worshiping God they become idols.
May you reflect today on your life and what things might become idols and draw your attention, devotion and love away from God.
The National Day of Prayer is today May 4th, the first Thursday in May. In 1952 the Congress passed a law establishing an official date for a day Americans are called to pray and meditate. Often in our history presidents have asked the nation to pray, meditate or fast but it did not become officially set aside as a specific day until 1952. It was challenged in court in 2011 but upheld as constitutional.
The Bible has a lot to say about prayer and Jesus modeled how to pray in his prayer to the Lord. You can find the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus was teaching the disciples how to pray so they would not be like the hypocrites that made loud noises to the Lord but did it all for show. Jesus would often pull away from the disciples, the crowds and pressures of his daily life and seek solace, comfort and renewal from His heavenly Father in prayer. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually”. James 5:13-18 tells us to pray for others, pray for the sick and pray if you are in trouble. We are told to PRAY. When our prayers are answered we are told to rejoice and praise God. What situation has brought you to your knees before Almighty God this year? Was it a death, natural disaster, troubling circumstances, problems with addictions or money problems? For what answered prayer have you thanked God? We are told in the next verse of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Prayer and thanksgiving are to go hand in hand.
Today, let us give thanks and offer prayers for our great nation. Our problems are many but so are our blessings. Turn to God and acknowledge Him. I am reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 as we celebrate this day of prayer together. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Let us thank God for our many blessings as a nation and then turn to Him with petitions and prayers asking forgiveness for our sins and looking to Him to lead our way.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3
During Lent is a good time to take stock in what we have in Christ and praise Him, as without Him we would not have:
Salvation- “For God so love the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 I can have life with Jesus forever through faith in Him, a full expression of God’s love and my sins forgiven at the cross.
Citizenship in Heaven– “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21 Wow! I have a permanent home, belonging in heaven and a new glorious body.
Guaranteed Redemption– “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 I am sealed by the indwelling Holy Spirit, marked as belonging to Him and have an inheritance in God’s kingdom.
As today’s verses states- “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” What wonderful blessings we Have in Jesus!
Our simple prayer for today:
Thanking Jesus for what He has done for me!
Some days are full of weariness. How can we move from weariness to joy? Let’s consider Hebrews 12:1-3. This chapter comes right after the listing of all the great heroes of the faith.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
These verses would suggest that focusing on Christ and his sacrifice on my behalf, allows me to throw off the things that burden my heart and my life and keep me weary and joyless. Knowing what Christ suffered on my behalf refocuses my priorities and brings me new perseverance and hope. Isn’t that what our Lenten journey is all about? Ponder these verses today and endeavor to focus on Christ and see if your weariness does not leave and your joy return. He wants us joyful and running the race of life He has given us not weary and defeated on the sidelines. Reach for the joy today and rise out of weariness to victory with Christ.
Prayer: Father, help me to stay focused on Jesus today. Fill me with perseverance and purpose so that I will not be tangled up in worldly things and will be able to throw off the weariness and embrace the joy you have for me. Through the power of Jesus, Amen.
Looking to shed weariness and receive joy,
Yesterday we encountered Jesus saving a woman by asking the crowd to look at their own sin first. That story reminded me of how easy it is to slip into bitterness and blame others for what happens to us. Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” I am reminded that bitterness can ‘spring up’. Those thoughts against others, of wrongs done to you, lost opportunities, soured relationships and in general the hard things of life that can make us bitter. It would seem that author of Hebrews is saying it is a choice and is encouraging us to live with an awareness of what bitterness can do to us and to those around us if we allow it to fester and grow. It can deprive us of the grace of God as well as others. It can pollute the atmosphere around us and cause others to be bitter. So today I will consciously choose to be tenderhearted as described in Colossians 3:12 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility , meekness and patience.” I will choose to leave bitterness behind today. Join me in leaving bitterness behind and walk with forgiveness in your heart through the Grace of God trusting Him to erase the hurt and fill it with love.
Prayer: Father, show me where bitterness is springing up in my life and help me to confront it with forgiveness and put it behind me. Ease the hurt and the claim bitterness has had on me and help me to walk in your Grace. Your favor is all I need to overcome bitterness as You promise that your grace is sufficient for all my needs and that You can use me even with my weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Thank you Jesus. Amen.
Desiring to live for Jesus without the baggage of bitterness and to be -,
Are you willing to look within yourself and examine your motives and feelings? Jesus asked those who gathered to stone the woman caught in adultery, to think about their own sins and if they found they were without sin to cast the first stone. After reflection they all turned away and Jesus was left with alone with the woman. He told her to go and leave her life of sin. (John 8:7-11) Jesus turned their judgmental hearts by having them examine their own hearts and look at their own sin. While standing in judgement over the woman, they realized they were guilty too and needed to turn away from judgement.
How about you? I know I am sometimes to quick to judge others and should have given them grace, sought to find out why they acted as they did or faced them with forgiveness in my heart. If I understand Jesus’ example, He wants me to look at my own sinfulness and pay attention to setting my own things right with Him. He wants me reflective, repentant, open and humble not judgmental, close minded, arrogant or self-righteous. Here is averse to meditate on today as you think reflectively. Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart bevpleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Prayer: Lord, help me to see others through your eyes and not through my own judgment. Holy Spirit give me a reflective spirit that is willing to listen to your guidance and uncover sin within my life. Give me strength to speak and act in a way that is pleasing to you and uplifting to those around me. Amen.
Seeking to please Him,
Make the Sunday’s during Lent special in some way- pray a bit longer, fast, sing praises, attend worship, gather with friends… Seek to honor God and THANK Him for sending Jesus to save us from our sinful state and restore us to a place of relationship with Him.
Psalm 100 “Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the joy you put in my heart and your tender loving care. You alone are faithful and I can depend upon you each day. Amen.
Rejoicing and praising Faithful God,
During our Lenten journey, we want to look at the cross of Christ and ask what does it show me about God? I see His Grace right away. His Grace in giving me what I don’t deserve no matter what I do. His Grace in providing a way of salvation so that I may be restored to a right relationship with Him. There is no way to earn God’s grace- it is something He freely gives us through Jesus. Ephesians 2:7-10 says “in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God-not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
As you consider God’s Grace today, know that His grace is sufficient, it never runs out. No matter what we do or where we go, God’s grace can and does cover us. Praise God! Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 Repent and seek God’s Grace- it will cover you today.
Prayer: Thank you Father for you unending grace. Your sacrifice on the cross opened the floodgates of grace for me. Help me to walk worthy of your calling and strive to do good works in your name. Amen.
So thankful for His Grace to me,
Yesterday I attended a celebration of Life for a dear friend. He always seemed to reflect Jesus in his actions as he would go out of his way to help others. He showed love to others by offering a helping hand or a kind word whenever he saw you. On days that I would see him, I was always encouraged and uplifted by our encounters. He left a legacy of Jesus’ love in his wake.
Showing Love for others is a command. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
As we seek to be more like Jesus and think about things that need to be corrected or adjusted in our deeds and attitudes- how about love? Is it part of your everyday interactions with others? Do others see Jesus’ love coming through your words and actions? Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we follow Jesus’ command. Ask Him for power to show love to others today.
Prayer: Father, give me love in my heart for others. Cause others to see you in my life because of the way I show your love to them. I desire to be your disciple so through the power of the Holy Spirit let me see your way of love today. Amen.
Seeking to reflect God’s love to others,