Tag Archives: justice

I Kings 21; I Thessalonians 4; Daniel 4; Psalm 108, 109

Jesus Christ summed up the Ten Commandments in two statements, one of which is to love the Lord God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. The other is to love your neighbor as yourself. I wax and wane in my passion to love God even though I never want to leave His side. And I sometimes step back when loving my neighbor is at stake. That is, I have to take a time out to rethink my words, reframe my motivations, and reign in my emotions before asking questions, making and answering requests, or commenting on what others say and do. Years of not getting this right and experience in hurting others or causing chaos in my relationships has heightened my vigilance for preventing problematic encounters, yet nothing can stay my heart and my tongue like the chastisement of God.

As I read I Kings 21:5, 15, I recognized how Ahab was influenced by his wife. Specifically, I relate to my own behaviors that incited my husband to defend me in situations where I needed to humble myself, instead. Like Ahab, I displayed a sullen, pouty face about something that I could not have. In the Old Testament, Ahab’s wife Jezebel, asked, “Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat not your food?” She then orchestrated the murder of Naboth so that her husband could have Naboth’s vineyard. Like Ahab’s spouse, my husband sought solutions, and sometimes that meant compromising his own righteousness. And what did I do? I did just like Ahab: “So it was when Ahab heard Naboth was dead, that Ahab got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” That is, I allowed my husband to do something that I would not, but then was happy to have what I should not.

Isn’t it interesting that in marriages, a spouse can either encourage and inspire or manipulate and blame.

In other situations, trying to love thy neighbor as thyself has left me confused and disappointed. I think I am in good company because even the saints cried out to God in similar situations: Psalm 109:4, 5 records these complaints, “In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer. Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for love.”

Yes, I pray, and yes, I want justice. Yet one meaning of justice is “a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people,” (https://www.google.com/search). Do I want this just for me or do I love well enough to desire this for all others? I’m afraid my ill will too often highlights the sin of entitlement. Instead of agreeing that others deserve happiness, I speak this lie to myself; “I deserve an easier life.” Thus, what naturally pour out of my mouth are words of bitterness, jealousy, and anger. Like I said, experience has taught me this.

Walking with God, the Father, however, has taught me better truths. I now know that I despise inciting or attacking others worse than accepting being sad, frustrated, or afraid. I know that I can praise the Almighty, loving God who is able to confront or defend me, as He sees fit. Daniel 4:37 says, “I…praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” I do not have to play the Holy Spirit in another person’s life; my task is to love God with all my heart, my soul, and my mind; and to love my neighbor as myself.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Filed under 1 Kings, 1 Thessalonians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Daniel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Joshua 8; Psalm 139; Jeremiah 2; Matthew 16

I thought a week off from routine would restore me. Now, a second week closing, I feel myself slipping into hermit mode. I pulled up Psalm 139 to read, and I cried. This is a Father’s loving hand upon a daughter’s head. He is right here with me. He knows me best. Even when I slip into hermitting, He comforts me in this new territory of angry grief. He does not abandon me.

(All of Psalm 139, NLT, because it is so good. Emphasis mine.)

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

 

A friend shared some hurtful things going on in her life, and by all accounts, her anger is justified. But I saw what it was doing to her and those around her. I said, “I get it. I’d be mad too. But how long is enough? How long (of being angry) will make you feel better? I hate to see you work yourself into a pit that’s hard to get out of.”

The words spoke into my life as well. At the time, I couldn’t bring myself to say it, because it can seem so unfair–but maybe the antidote for anger is forgiveness. Because the thing about anger, can it ever be satisfied–especially in circumstances where there is no justice? Some things can’t be taken back or fixed. Anger is like a hot coal being tossed into hands. How do (we) let go when memory sears?

Oh, Lord, point out the offenses. Lead me.

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?] Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26, NLT)

Lord, I would be so utterly lost without your word, your love, your forgiveness. Thank you for loving me so much, that even in the angry grief, you don’t leave me. You tell me to get back on my feet and follow you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Ezekiel 22-24; Psalm 134; John 8

“He who is without sin, let him throw a stone at her first,” (my emphasis).  Sometimes when I read Scripture I want to disassociate from the brutality of ancient cultures. At other times I struggle to make sense of the do’s and don’ts, the either this or that, the right way versus the wrong way, or the judgments on many juxtaposed with mercy to the few. Yet these words spoken by Jesus Christ stand out today as more than the obvious call to consider one’s own sinful past; it is an external – look at her face before you act – directive that harnesses the inhumanity of intentions with the finality of eternity. These are two terrifying steeds dangerously galloping in the darkest night, intent on lurching the driver and his passengers into the abyss.

If this seems too dramatic, perhaps we have grown lukewarm to the message of spiritual death. Consider the powerful influence of the Pharisees and scribes to judge the misdeeds of others. Even though they lacked the official authority to mete out death (only the Romans wielded the power to torture and crucify), the Jewish leaders were feared by their community for merciless judgments. Jesus certainly knew the dark intentions of their power hungry hearts, yet he exhorted all those present to consider what might befall them. Self-examination – what a worthy exhortation. By heeding this call, even we can avoid the hypocritical and negative accusations that cause us to look like fools and that will alienate us from others who pride themselves in being the more tolerant of our day. Even the ungodly knows to make calculated decisions to avoid committing social suicide. The oldest in the crowd that Jesus addressed were the first to understand this. Their impulsiveness was stayed, perhaps not by looking at the adulteress, but by remembering a longer and possibly more shameful history of mistakes than those of younger men.

Unfortunately I, too, have reacted much too impulsively and emphatically when making judgments – not reviewing the self-incrimination of my past words and actions – instead, whipping those horses into a run without a thought to the cliffs up ahead. My judgments and assumptions have risen from worldly observations and biased interpretations, forgetting that I could not do what I required of others.

Even worse, I have arrogantly believed that I controlled the reigns. In my own understanding, I maintained that a word spoken with authority fell within my knowledge and power to affect change. How shocking to find the target trampled under the wheels! Had I not judged, the grace of God might have brought the forgiveness that truly changes a heart and a destiny.

Jesus once said to the Pharisees and scribes, “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one,” (New International Version). This is an amazing statement considering He is the Son of God and will judge all mankind. Yet I hear deadly caution in His words not to decide for another eternal life or death. Isn’t spiritual death what awaited the adulterous woman? She was to die in her sins without mercy. Inhumanity’s justice carried out. Jesus, however, directed these men to look at her; then think about their own sins and the consequences of dying without absolution. For their own sakes, those stones were dropped to the ground. Christ snatched this woman out of a careening carriage hell-bent toward spiritual death because He looked past hers, theirs, and our sins to offer redemption and an eternal destiny with Him. She was given a chance to “sin no more.” Can we remember to do the same for others, and if not for their sakes for our own?

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Filed under 66 Books, Ezekiel, John, Psalms

Isaiah 1-3; Psalm 9; Matthew 22

“The multitude of your sacrifices–what are they to me?” says the Lord. “When you appear before me, who has asked this of you,  this trampling of my courts? Stop binging meaningless offerings to me…Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. they have become a burden to me. I am weary of bearing them.” Isaiah 1:11-14.

When it comes to my relationship with God, in terms of activity, more does not mean better. Busy-ness is not what God asks of me. It is the heart in love with him that God seeks…the heart that sings out with David, “I will praise you Lord with all my heart; I will tell of your wonders.” Psalm 9:1.

So what does that mean? What does God ask of me? Is it to sit on some mountaintop and think wonderful thoughts about him and call it a day? The heart that loves God can not help but become more like him; I think that it wants what he wants:

“Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless. Plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

David’s heart cares for what God cares for,

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed…The Lord is known by his justice, the wicked are ensnared by the works of their hands.” Psalm 9:9,16.

The religious leaders who pestered Jesus misplace loving God with following religious rules and activities. How easy it is to fall into that trap. But Jesus sees through the smoke screen and gets right to the heart of the matter:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-39.

Lord, May my heart love you first and foremost. Show me today what it means to do justice and love mercy. Please protect me from seeking activities and rules that do not serve you. Give me the wisdom needed to hear your voice and a willing heart to be obedient. Amen.

klueh

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Genesis 38-40 & Mark 15

No matter how many times I read these scripture passages, I still can’t find it in either one; self defense. I was looking for it in Joseph’s story, a little line someplace where it would say, “It wasn’t me. I would never do that to my master!” But it’s not there. There was no evidence in the text that suggests Joseph ever protested and made his case known to Potiphar that the words his wife spoke were really a lie. I wonder why. And then, of course, when Jesus is taken before Pilate, surely he would have come forth with the truth and set his accusers straight! But it’s not there, either.
“And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.” Mark 15: 1-5
When you read this, don’t you want to stand up and scream, “Stop! Nonsense! Injustice!” I know I do. Throughout both of these stories, over and over, my flesh screams those words. In my human and short sighted flesh, I cannot see the big picture when I read line by line of the journey the Lord called both Joseph and Jesus to. Both were highly favored sons who deserved so much more than what they received. Both were persecuted and tried unfairly. Both remained obedient and faithful throughout their entire journey on earth.
It’s amazing to me that God uses both the human and divine to show the faithfulness of his followers. Joseph, a human from start to finish, was on a similar path as Jesus. Reading their stories helps remind me that I can completely trust that “my thoughts are not his thoughts nor my ways are his ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are the Lord’s thoughts higher than my own. (Isaiah 55:8-9). His plans are bigger than anything I could ever think or imagine. When I step back and read the entire journey of Joseph or the entire story of Jesus, I can see the purpose, the silver linings, and the victories that are not seen in simply reading a line or section of scripture here or there. These examples are there to remind us that our stories may not be completed in any particular season of our lives or even in our lifetime. God’s plans are bigger than any one of us and affect others around us. There will come a day when we are able to look back and see the story that God has been writing in our lives. Will we remain faithful in the trials? Will we protest and stand up for ourselves just for our own sake or will we trust that the Lord has a greater plan? There will be times when we are called to speak up and other times, remain silent so that others “are amazed!”
I must remember that I am a favored daughter. I will experience many trials throughout my life and be called to walk difficult journeys and remain obedient. But just like Joseph and just like Jesus, “the Lord will be with me and show me steadfast love” (Gen 39:21).
Lord, thank you for your unfailing love and your plans that you have prepared in advance for me to do. Thank you for never leaving or forsaking me even when I don’t fully trust you. Lord, help me to trust the Holy Spirit’s whispers to be silent or to speak up with the injustices in my life and others around me. Amen.

kateredding

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Filed under 66 Books, Genesis, Mark