Tag Archives: judgment

Revenge. Seriously?

Joel

I know someone who, because a member of the church his parents attended said something that offended him, quit going to church. He was a teenager at the time. He’s in his thirties today. And he will give that incident as the reason he still doesn’t go to church today.

I’ve heard of others who see injustice in the world and say, “If God causes such bad things to happen, I don’t want anything to do with Him.” or “There must not be a God at all.”

Do you wonder how God feels when people convince themselves of such?

What do you have against me, Tyre and Sidon and the cities of Philistia? Are you trying to take revenge on me? (3:4a)

Do people who judge God and find Him guilty think they have the upper hand? Seriously?

If you are (taking revenge on me) watch out! I will strike swiftly and pay you back for everything you have done. (4b)

Everything YOU have done.

Joel goes on to remind us we all enjoy the blessings of God. We all live in a world where the sun shines, the rain falls, wounds heal, crops produce fruit, hearts beat…

But we have taken those blessings and carted them off to pagan temples. (vs 5) Instead of using them to glorify God, instead of being grateful, we turn it around and use them against Him

But be warned. Especially when God repeats Himself:

… and I will pay you back for everything you have done. (verse 7b)

Here’s the good news:

But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (2:32)

If you have any excuse why you haven’t called on the name of the Lord, if you have put yourself above God, found Him guilty, or blame your present circumstances on that old church lady who hurt your feelings – get over yourself!

Are you trying to teach God a lesson? Get even? Punish Him? That, my friend, is foolishness. Do you have any idea who it is you are dealing with?

Here’s the deal: obey God according to His Word, the Bible. Or not. Just remember your decision will stay with you for eternity. And in the end you won’t judge God. He will judge you.

I pray that when He does, He will be able to judge you according to the righteousness of His Son Jesus. The flip side of that is unthinkable.

Stepping Between God and the People

Psalms 105-106

These psalms recount the Exodus of the Jewish nation out of Egypt in the days of Moses, and reminds us how God moved in dramatic fashion on behalf of His obedient children. I think one amazing thing about Scripture, however, is how often we are also reminded how God moves when His children aren’t so obedient, like in these two psalms. God doesn’t sugar-coat anything. I’m thankful for that.

What stood out to me today was in 106:23,30. The Jews were living in blatant disobedience, even after God had blessed them. So God declared He would destroy them. Their disobedience made Him that angry.

But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the Lord and the people. He begged God to turn from his anger and not destroy them.

So God did not destroy them.

Later, as punishment for yet more disobedience, a plague broke out among the Jews.

But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped. So he has been regarded as a righteous man ever since that time.

This morning I am reminded that Jesus has done the same for me. My disobedience angers God as much as the disobedience of the Old Testament Jews angered Him. What makes me think He hasn’t considered taking me out, too?

But I have a Savior. When I sin and make God angry, Jesus steps between the Lord and me and pleads my case. One day when I stand before the Throne of Heaven, Jesus will intervene for the last time, and I will not be destroyed. He will usher me into Paradise unlike anything I have ever known in this lifetime.

Here is something else that occurs to me. While I am still on this earth, I have the privilege of being a Moses or a Phinehas, one who intervenes for my loved ones, our nation and the whole world, and for you. I can beg God like Moses did, that He would turn from His righteous anger, and give each of us another chance to obey Him.

So today I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am going to step between the Lord and you and beg Him to have mercy. Will you do the same for me?

Praising the Judge

Psalm 98

For the first 9 1/2 verses the psalmist tells us to sing to the Lord, shout to the Lord, break out in praise to the Lord. Our victorious God has revealed His righteousness to every nation! He remembered His promises to love and be faithful to His people. Praise Him!

Living after the cross, we know God revealed Himself to the world when He became a human, and lived on this earth as a physical man. Jesus won the ultimate victory over death, Satan, and sin when he died on the cross and three days later came alive again. He saved the world.

Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! (Vs 6b)

But here is why the psalmist tells all creation that God is worthy of our praise:

For the Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the nations with fairness. (Vs 9)

Wait! Praise God for the coming judgment? Aren’t there psalms that tell us to praise Him for His goodness, faithfulness, grace, presence…?

Of course! He is all that and more, and deserves our praise. But these verses tell us to praise Him for the coming judgment as well.

Does standing before a judge in a court of law seem like something to be glad about? I had to stop and consider this for a while.

When I finished my course work in the School Counseling graduate program, I was required to take a comprehensive examination. It was a four or five hour test that would be the deciding factor whether or not I’d receive my graduate degree, and be qualified to be a school counselor. My future depended on my passing that test.

A few of us grad students got together periodically to study, and quiz each other on the different parts of the upcoming exam. We took practice tests, and discussed our answers.

I myself, would spend hours and hours on the Saturdays leading up to the test, pulling out every memorization technique I could think of. I actually started looking forward to the test date.

For one, I knew that I would receive my degree if I passed. That is what I had been working toward for a couple of years. Passing the test would mean no more evening classes to take after teaching school all day, no more papers to write, no more costly graduate fees.

That test marked the end of hard work, and the beginning of enjoying the benefits of the work. I was so ready to have it over.

On the morning of the test I remember standing in the shower and praying that God would help me recall what I had learned. Such a peace came over me I can only explain as from God. In fact, I felt so prepared, I almost dared the test-makers to come up with a question I couldn’t answer. (They actually did come up with one or two. 🙂 )

So I took the test that would judge my preparedness to be a school counselor. After several hours, I turned in my test, and walked away somewhat elated. I was pretty sure I had passed, and I did pass!

So why would God bring that to mind today as I considered the psalmist’s direction to praise God because He will come to earth to judge the world? Here are my thoughts:

The first is that we can know with certainty that God will judge the earth with justice and fairness. The truth is, He has been very upfront with His requirements.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. (John 3:3)

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

So the requirements the Judge will consider are whether or not we have accepted His grace and forgiveness through the blood of His Son Jesus. We all will be judged by the exact same standard. It will have nothing to do with how good or how bad we’ve been. Only whether or not we’ve received what Jesus died to give us. That’s fair.

The second thing I thought is, Jesus did the work. When my classmates and I were studying for our test, some of us put in the work before our sessions, others not so much. So when we actually took the test, we were judged on what we had put into it. As we should have been.

But if God operated on the same scale, none of us would pass the test. The standard for passing His test is:

For it is written “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Are you a good person? Not good enough. Do you go to church? Not good enough. Do you abstain from certain sins? Not good enough. It’s not good enough to simply read your Bible, or stay faithful to your spouse. Holy is holy, without sin. And the Bible tells us:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

You have sinned. And that renders you unholy, falling short of God’s standard. And falling short of God’s standard results in:

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me want to praise God for the upcoming judgment. Who can stand before a holy God and expect to hear, ”Not guilty,” if all of us are guilty? No one!

That’s why Jesus did the work. That’s why He took on our sin and paid the death sentence we earned by telling a lie, taking something that doesn’t belong to us, thinking bad thoughts, or disobeying our parents. You see, because He paid my debt, I have no fear of standing before a Holy Judge who will judge with justice and fairness.

I did what He told me to do. I asked Jesus to forgive me, I repented of the sin that sent Him to the cross. I have been born again, not of flesh but of spirit. I wear His righteousness, His holiness, because I have none of my own.

The rest of Romans 6:23 is:

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So yes. I can look forward to judgment day. It marks the end of all the struggles and hardships living in this world affords. It marks the beginning of an eternity, reaping the benefits of having Jesus pass the test on my behalf.

So, dear one, continue to praise God for all His benefits, His blessings, your health, your comfort, your family and friends, and on and on and on. Praise the One who deserves your praise.

And praise Him for the fact that when He judges the world, when He judges you on that day, there will be no surprises. One person won’t be judged more easily or more harshly for the same sin you’ve committed. You won’t fall short because you only did 9,999 good deeds, and someone else will get a free pass because he did 10,000 good deeds. No one will barely make it into heaven while someone else almost makes it there.

God is fair. God is just. God will judge each of us by the standard He has laid out so clearly in His Word. I look forward to judgement day. I hope you can say the same. I hope that because we both have been born again, cleansed and made holy by Jesus, we can praise the Judge together now and for eternity!

Dear Jesus, Please Don’t Come Back Today

Amos 1-6

I know many well-meaning Christians wish Jesus would just come back today, end this evil world and get the party started. Yet I hear God through Amos say:

What sorrow awaits you who say, “If only the day of the Lord were here!” You have no idea what you are wishing for. That day will bring darkness, not light. In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion – only to meet a bear. Escaping the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house – and he’s bitten by a snake. Yes, the day of the Lord will be dark and hopeless, without a ray of joy or hope.” (5:18-20)

Yes, I know we who know Jesus as our Savior will be caught up with Him in the air and will be ushered into a glorious eternity in heaven. I am looking forward to that day, for sure! But there is another reality to consider, a dreadful, horrifying reality we can only imagine.

Do you care? Or are you just satisfied with your own destination? Read on and hear what God has to say about that:

I hate all your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. (vv 21-24)

If you continue reading this portion of Scripture you will hear what God has to say about people who sit back and get fat on their blessings while the rest of the world is in serious danger. He’s not too pleased.

If you call yourself a Christian, may I suggest you stop praying for the second coming of our Lord, and start being that endless river of righteous living, representing our coming King and drawing people to His saving grace before it’s too late?

If you call yourself a Christian, you ought to have the mind of Christ who is not wanting anyone to perish without Him. You ought to hear Jesus tell you to go, make disciples today, tomorrow, and the next day.

Do any of you remember timed tests in math class? The teacher would pass out the tests face down. When everyone had a test in front of them, she would say, “Begin,” with her eye on the second hand of the clock on the wall. You would frantically do the math, with the goal of getting an answer for every question before you heard her say, “Stop. Pencils down.”

How many times did you get to that last question, and run out of time? I remember the closer I got to the bottom of the page, the more intense I became, the more focused I was, so that I could complete the task. Ugh! I hated it when time ran out before I was done.

I hear God telling us time is running out. We may be at the bottom of the page, but our task is incomplete.

If you call yourself a Christian, maybe you should pray, “Dear Jesus, please don’t come back today. I’m not done. I have too much work to do for your kingdom right now.”

To Be Like Jesus

1 Kings 2

In our love-crazed, tolerant, accepting, empathic world of 2022, it’s hard to read about Solomon’s handling of law breakers. His execution of his brother Adonijah for simply wanting to get married, and the executions of Joab and Shimei, may seem unnecessarily harsh.

But Solomon, as the hands of God, pronounced judgment on those who defied God. Adonijah’s request for a wife came from a rebellious heart. His rebellion led to his death sentence. Joab was an unrepentant murderer, and Shimei had sinned against God’s anointed, King David, then defied King Solomon’s grace. None of them were innocent.

There’s a lesson here. When it comes to sin, God may be patient, but that doesn’t mean He turns a blind eye to sin. I believe God views sin much more seriously than any of us realize. And I think that’s a problem.

Of course, God doesn’t zap us the first time we sin. On the contrary, when we sin we feel remorse, guilt. We come under the lovingly convicting hand of God who wants us to repent of sin and accept His forgiveness. He doesn’t execute the guilty immediately.

In fact, God executed His own Son so the guilty can go free and never suffer the death penalty our sin deserves.

There are certain buzz-words going around these days, even proclaimed by some preachers and Bible teachers, and used by Satan to make Christians feel guilty for taking a stand against sin in any form. Those buzz-words are: Empathy. Tolerance. Love. Acceptance.

“If only we would put ourselves in one another’s shoes.” “If only we would be tolerant of other people’s beliefs and actions.” “If only we would love everybody.” “If only we would just accept all people as equals before God.”

Sounds Christian. But is it?

As I was preparing for this week’s Sunday School lesson, I read something that has stuck with me. So often today we are told to use Jesus as our example of love, empathy, tolerance, and acceptance. And I agree.

But too many people are twisting Jesus’s life and ministry on Earth to be something it was not. The fact is, Jesus did NOT accept everyone. He came down hard on some. And, although He IS love, that love sent Him to the cross because of the serious consequences of sin. It didn’t simply erase sin. Jesus’ love paid a high price for the forgiveness of sin available for anyone who will receive it.

So this week I read someone who said something like: I want to be as tolerant of sin as Jesus was – and He never tolerated sin.

Chew on that for a minute.

If Jesus is our example, we will love each other enough to be honest about sin, and the serious consequences of sin. If Jesus is our example we will not tolerate sin, but rather point the sinner to the Savior, to their only hope.

Solomon’s death sentence for the three men I read about this morning may seem harsh. But I’m telling you it is not as harsh as the sentence God imparted on them after they died.

To be like Jesus is to take sin and the consequences for sin very, very seriously.

Do The Wicked Really Prosper?

Job 24

It’s tempting to believe that wicked people prosper and good people struggle. Only the good die young, right? In our minds, people should get what they deserve, and we, like Job, complain and question God when we think life is unfair.

A dear lady in my church got a cancer diagnosis this week. She is a godly, sweet, hard working member of our church family, involved in Bible Studies and serving on committees. She sings in the choir and is someone who radiates God’s love. We might think she doesn’t deserve the struggle ahead. I think she’d tell us we would be wrong to think that.

She deserves much worse. And so do I. So do you.

I for one am glad we don’t get what we deserve in this lifetime. Because we all have sinned. We all have offended and rejected our Holy God who is very plain to tell us His standard for us is holiness. What is man, dear God, that you would even give us a thought? We are broken and disobedient and self-centered. We deserve your anger.

But Psalm 145:8 tells us:

God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

One day we will get what we deserve, but don’t start keeping score in this lifetime. One day I, and my friend, will face God wearing the holiness of Jesus because we have accepted what Jesus did on the cross to save us. Our sins, though they are many, are forgiven by God and He won’t remember them ever again. On that day, we will get what Jesus deserves: our presence with Him forever in paradise.

But some of you will also get what you deserve as a result of rejecting what Jesus did. Try standing before a Holy Judge and rationalizing your sin. It can’t be done. And your “goodness” won’t come close to meeting His standard of holiness. The consequences you receive will be what you deserve, and it’ll be worse than you can imagine.

While you are living this life on planet Earth, be thankful we have a compassionate God who is not wanting you or anyone to face Him on their own. He wants you to accept the forgiveness that is yours through His Son, if you’ll just turn from your sin and live for Him.

Oh, you might get a cancer diagnosis. You might face loss and hardship. Some good people struggle, and some good people don’t. Some wicked people struggle, and some wicked people don’t. But it’s not a matter of fairness.

It’s a matter of grace. It’s a matter of a God who is slow to anger, and loves you with a steadfast love.

Do the wicked prosper? Some perhaps, according to the world’s standard. But this life isn’t the end. And the prosperity they enjoy here will not go with them when they die.

Don’t compare your bank account with someone else’s, or your health against another’s. Are you God’s child through the blood of Jesus? That’s the only question that really matters. And God is faithful to forgive anyone who comes to Him in repentance.

That’s what’s fair.

(Malachi) Something’s Gotta Change

When you read 2:19, do you think of our modern society? Aren’t we living in an age when evil is applauded, and we’re told if there is a God, He accepts everyone equally?

Malachi says we have “wearied the Lord with (our) words.”

God’s prophetic words go on to say there will be a judgment, and NO ONE will be able to face the judge on their own merit, no matter how much they’ve convinced themselves of their own worth. We need only to look at Jesus.

“Who will be able to stand when He appears?”

I’ll tell you who: those of us who have bowed to the one and only God of the universe; we who have accepted what the perfect Jesus did when He died in our place on the cross of judgment. It won’t be Connie God sees when I stand before Him. He’ll be looking at the righteousness of His Son because I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, and have repented of my sin.

Dear Ones, there is good and there is evil. There is right and there is wrong. There is black and there is white. There is Truth and there are lies. Like it or not, believe it or not.

God has not changed. So we better.

(Obadiah, Jonah) I Wouldn’t Recommend It

Both the prophet Obadiah and the prophet Jonah have a message from God about his awful judgment. Sin must be punished. Rejection of God is a death sentence. There is no hope for those apart from God.

But Jonah knew something about God. Listen to what he says in verse two of chapter four:

I knew you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster.

You and I have a death sentence hanging over our heads by virtue of the fact that we are sinners. You’ve sinned. And so have I. The wages we have earned from those sins is death.

No amount of good deeds can erase what we’ve already done. We are guilty and must face the awful judgment of God.

Unless, however, we repent much like the people of Nineveh repented. God relented when the people turned to Him on His terms, and they were saved.

Friend, that death sentence isn’t just going to go away. Someone will die for your sins and mine. In fact, Someone already did. Jesus took the awful judgment of God in your place. He paid for your sin death sentence when He died on the cross, and rose again three days later. Your debt is paid in full, and all you need to do is accept it by repenting, by turning to God on His terms, and then experience the gracious, compassionate, faithful love He offers.

Or you can face the judgment you deserve on your own. You can. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

(Hosea 4-8) I Want That, Too

Sometimes I can almost feel God’s heart breaking. Even as He spells out the judgment to come, even as He expresses His anger over the continued disobedience of His children, He says, “I want to redeem them.”

If only they would repent. If only they would obey. If only they would let Him, He would save them. He wanted to redeem them. But because they’d rather hold on to their idols, He couldn’t.

God threw out a lifeline, but they were still drowning because they couldn’t let go of their sin. And it broke His heart.

I don’t think I can fully understand the extent of His pain because I can’t fully understand the depth of His love. But as I read God’s message to us through Hosea, I know I don’t want any part of adding to His pain.

I want to repent of sin the moment God reveals it to me. I want to resist temptation, and obey Him with every breath I take. I want only to bring Him joy. My redemption cost Jesus so much. I don’t want to waste a single drop of the blood He shed paying the death penalty for my sin.

There isn’t an idol, a sin, that’s worth a fraction of the cross. I hear God say, “I want to redeem Connie.” And I want that, too.

(Isaiah 1-3) I Feel Sorry For Him

God is always speaking to His children. He’s either revealing Himself through His Word, or through His creation, or sometimes in circumstances of life – both good and bad – and sometimes He speaks through the words of a friend.

God spoke to me through the words of a dear friend this week, and then reinforced what He wanted me to understand through the vision Isaiah wrote about in these chapters I read this morning. The other day my friend, who is reading in Genesis, said she realized how much sin breaks God heart; how He created a perfect world for Adam and Eve whose sin destroyed the perfection; how He started over with Noah and his family whose sin once again destroyed what could have been the perfect relationship with God.

My friend said she felt sorry for God because we just keep failing Him. I agreed with her, knowing I’m guilty of failing Him, too.

So when I read Isaiah this morning I read what God thinks about sin, and about His judgment. I heard anger and frustration in God’s voice. But then I read what Warren Wiersbe said on page 453 in “With the Word” (Thomas Nelson Publishers; 1991):

“Sin breaks God’s heart, cheapens a nation or an individual, and invites the judgment of God. God graciously offers His forgiveness if we will repent. (1:18-20)”

So I re-read what Isaiah shared in chapter one, and I heard God’s heart breaking. Instead of reading anger, I read a Father’s pleading with His children to come to Him, to obey and be blessed by Him rather than having to be punished by Him. And then to know that He Himself took on the punishment my sins deserve. I am overcome.

Sin breaks God’s heart. My sin. Your sin. The sin of a nation. Are you ok with that? Am I? We might think our sin is no big deal. Maybe we need to look at our sin through God’s eyes. Shame on us if we don’t. Shame on us if we allow our choices to break His heart.