Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sept 30 - Psalm 23:5a

Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies
Psalm 23:5a

There are one hundred and fifty Psalms in the scriptures.

And in those one hundred and fifty Psalms, there are about one hundred and fifty references to enemies, foes, companies of evildoers, and “those who hate me” (fight against me, seek to hurt me, and speak lies against me).

Life is not easy. It can sometimes be dangerous.
  •       For about a decade, David was chased around the Middle East by a maniacal king – his father-in-law, Saul.
  •      Sheep are chased too. When free-ranging sheep notice what’s creeping in the shadows, they must surely cry out like the characters in the Wizard of Oz, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”
  •      We are chased too. The sins of others impact us daily. Trials often hunt us. Darkness occasionally haunts us. Physical illness and our mortality chase after us too.

Life is not easy. It can sometimes be dangerous. What does it mean that God prepares a table for you and me even in the midst of trials and persecutions?

To answer this question we need to remember the context of this Psalm.
  •      First, God is (like) a good shepherd – it’s his image. Amplified by Jesus’ good shepherd imagery in John 10, we know that in addition to feeding and sheltering us, our Lord is willing to literally lay down his own life to save us.
  •      Second, by calling himself a shepherd, God implies that we are sheep. Sheep by definition are vulnerable to attack. Always lurking the shadows is the potential of wolves and snakes and violence and death. Whether we know it or not, we are always – at least potentially – “in the presence of mine enemies.”
  •      Nevertheless, even the circling of enemies is not a time for fear. Why? Because God is with us (indeed, “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me”).  
  •      Furthermore, even though the potential of danger always surrounds us, God cares for our most basic needs of food and water and rest. That’s what it means when the Psalm says, “He leadeth me beside the still waters [and allows me to graze and rest] in green pastures.”
  •      Finally, the image of a table – and not just a fertile pasture – is a reminder of God’s ultimate goodness. As a shepherd boy, David surely ate thousands of meals in pastures. As a fugitive from an angry king, David surely ate hundreds of meals on rocks and in caves. A table meant luxury. A table meant peace. A table is symbolic of God’s generosity. David is saying, even when trials abound, if God is with me, I can envision that I am at a rich feast.

Do you see God’s presence as a well-set table? Do you see your days as a banquet? That’s one of the wonderful invitations of this glorious Psalm. Let’s reorient our understanding of our days: When God is with us, life is a feast!

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s got reservations
at the best table in the best restaurant
(I’m just waiting for God to show me
where it might be tonight)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sept 28 - Psalm 23:4c

thy rod and thy staff
they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4c

Sheep are stupid. Sheep are stubborn. They tend to go their own way.

Therefore, to keep them safe, the shepherd occasionally hooks them, pushes them, and knocks them with his rod and his staff.

Discipline is not mean. No … it’s certainly not much fun. But when done by a shepherd who is good, discipline is ultimately life-giving.

Parents have long been told: “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” It’s basically Biblical advice. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him” (NIV).

Sadly this Proverb has occasionally been used to justify anger – even abuse. I was always counseled to never discipline in anger.

Have you ever regretted the punishments you made in anger and haste? Have you ever yelled, “You’re grounded until you’re sixty-five!”? I’ve looked back a few times and have realized that I was very angry and very immature. I pray that none of us has to ever look back and discover that we were angry, violent, and not-so-good shepherds.

Years ago, in the midst of a crisis, we stayed at the home of a kindly acquaintance. She’d grown up in dysfunctional family. Her mother had never really disciplined her; she’d always tried to be her friend. After watching Mary Louise alternately cuddle and discipline our three little boys for a week, she said, “I understand it now. My mother never disciplined me. Therefore, I never knew if I was really loved.”

Watching my wife shepherd, guide, nudge, correct, discipline, teach, and protect, she said, “Your boys know they are deeply loved.”

I love the New Living Translation of Proverbs 13:24 – “if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.”

My translation of this verse is very similar: “If you love your children, you will be like the Good Shepherd.”

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s blessed
to have married
my three boy’s mom

"He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell" (Proverbs 23:13-14).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sept 27 - Psalm 23:4a

Yea, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil
Psalm 23:4a

It has been said that …

We each walk through
the Valley of Death but once …

but we walk through
the Valley of the Shadow of Death
again and again.

Death casts a long shadow, and grief threatens to swallow us. Even when we have a Christian surety of hope and heaven, grief can still cut a hole deep into our soul.

Some say that Christians shouldn’t grieve. I say that when we grieve much, it simply means that we loved much. Even our Lord Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus (and he would raise him in just a matter of minutes).

The hole that a death leaves behind is precisely the “size” of the person who died. An acquaintance leaves a pit in our stomach. A friend leaves a hole in our heart. The death of a mother leaves a bigger hole deep in our soul. A spouse leaves a gaping gorge. And the death of child leaves a canyon that is anything but grand. Grief hurts.

“Grief-work” is learning to walk a path around that hole.
  •      At first, every time you approach the hole, you immediately fall in. The grief is raw and numbing, and that pit seems to have a gravity of its own.
  •      After a while, you don’t fall in quite so often.
  •      Soon, you begin to wear a path into the loose dirt.
  •      After about a year – more or less and depending on the severity of the loss – you’ll have learned to walk a new path in life around that hole.
  •      Eventually, you’ll cry on the first day you forget to remember the loved one. That’s not a betrayal, because you’ll never really forget.
  •      From time to time – and when you expect it the least – you’ll still fall in.
  •      Finally, as your journey moves inevitably forward, you’ll look back and be very thankful for that hole. You’ll never be thankful for the loss, but you’ll be thankful for the person that this hole represents. 

By the time I was old enough to pay much attention, my grandfather had been dead for about thirty years. He died as young man, when my own father was about thirteen. My father and grandmother had been at that final stage of grief for decades. They were thankful for that hole because it represented a treasured part of life, and they talked warmly about a man I never knew.

Nevertheless, I remember sitting at grandma’s kitchen table one day, and I can remember her falling suddenly back into that hole. With my father, she was talking about the good old days, and suddenly she grew very angry. “I can’t believe Mr. So-and-So made your father go out and check on that pump that day. It was 10 degrees outside. Didn’t he know Almond was sick? He never recovered after that. The pneumonia killed him.”

Even thirty years later, we can still walk through the Valley of Shadow of Death and fall headlong into a deep hole. Grief hurts.

As Christians, we grieve … but we do “not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again” we have the assurance that “death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Thes 4:13,14; 1 Cor 15:54 NRSV).

Through faith, God “has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” and this “hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (1 Pet 1:3; Rom 5:5 NRSV).

This kind of faith and hope will carry you through the shadows – which are real and overwhelming.

Even better, faith and hope will carry us through that final valley – that once ever trip through the Valley of Death – and there you will find that God has “open[ed] wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:11).

In Christ’s Love,
a pastor who’s done a hundred funerals
and sees God more clearly each time

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sept 26 - Psalm 23:4b

I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me
Psalm 23:4b

Every emotion is okay.

Not every emotion is helpful or pleasant, but … Anger is okay. Fear is okay. Sadness is okay. We suppress honesty and cause guilt when we say that emotions like anger, fear, and despair are not okay.

What matters is not the emotion, but what we do with it! For example, it’s okay for me to feel righteous indignation, even anger, in the face of injustice; but it’s not okay for me to respond with gossip, slander, violence, or sabotage.

Today’s Psalm doesn’t say it’s wrong to fear. If a mugger pulls a gun on me, fear is natural. Similarly, when evil points its finger in our direction, fear is natural too. Rather, what this Psalm suggests is a perspective.

And it starts with a question: Is God real to you or not?

If God is real – and if you believe that God is stronger than anything in all creation – then you may occasionally be startled, but you will gradually cultivate a spirit of boldness.
  •      I don’t need to justify myself, because God justifies me.
  •      I can stand boldly against injustice, because only God’s judgment matters.
  •      I can accept missionary assignments in scary places, because there’s no better place to be than in God’s will.
  •      I may not like every diagnosis from the doctor – and I don’t have to (every emotion is okay) – but I don’t need to fear bad news, because if God is real, my future is secure.

Here’s a simple test … How big is worry or fear in your life? Some of us are natural worriers. But every anxiety can be used positively. It can increase our prayer life: “God you are real. I believe. Help my unbelief.”

It’s a matter of perspective. How real is God to you?

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s feeling called
to step out more boldly
because the Good Shepherd
walks beside me


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sept 25 - Psalm 23:3b

He leadeth me
in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake
Psalm 23:3b

God is the good shepherd, and this verse tells us three things that he does for us in this role …

He leads us. What does this mean?
  •      First, he knows clearly where he’s going.
  •      Second, he knows where we should go too.
  •      “He leads me” reveals that God is active and proactive. He is not a disembodied diety; he’s a purposeful leader.
  •      That I’m a sheep, according to the Psalm 23 image, means that I really need God as my leader. Why? Because I’m very prone to stray.

Second, God has direction that he’s leading – toward “the paths of righteousness.”
  •       The Proverbs tell us that “fools (think sheep) think their own way is right” (12:15). We are “stubborn” (3:35). We “despise wisdom and instruction” (1:7, all NRSV).
  •      Fools – think sheep – “forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness” (Prov 2:13 NRSV).
  •      The Good Shepherd has a different road for us to travel – “the paths of righteousness.”
  •       God pointing us along this road is an act of grace and salvation because whoever “walks in integrity will be safe, but whoever follows crooked ways will fall into the Pit” (Prov 28:18 NRSV).

Third, God has a purpose for leading us along the path of righteousness. It is for his name’s sake.
  •      We who call ourselves by his name are called to represent his name.
  •      We represent his name poorly if our “paths are crooked” (Prov 2:15 NRSV).
  •      We testify to his authority if our lives reflect his righteousness.
  •      We draw others to his grace when we live with winsome integrity.

In Christ’s Love,
a ship who needs a rudder,
a sheep who needs a leader

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sept 24 - Psalm 23:3a

He restoreth my soul
Psalm 23:3a

I wanted to write a different devotion today than I’m going to write.

By reflex, I read today’s verse and tried to plug in an American definition of “soul.” In our culture, the soul is the spiritual part of a person. It is even a person’s spirit. If you watch enough TV, our souls float disembodied up to heaven or down to hell when we die. This kind of spirit might even float around and haunt houses.

That’s not the Hebrew definition.

Biblically, while “soul” can denote feelings, desires, and will, it is more often a simple synonym for life itself. The Hebrew word nepes, translated “soul” and “life” in the old King James, is even translated very simply as “I” and “me” in more modern translations like the RSV.

I was hoping to write a flowery devotion about God restoring that spiritual part of us – and he absolutely does.

But this verse more simply says that God revives our life. The good shepherd cares about our days. Our food and breath and shelter matter to him.

This point is not as flowery, but it’s equally profound and important. The God of the universe cares about every aspect of your life.

In Christ’s Love,
a soul-man

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sept 23 - Psalm 23:2

He maketh me to
lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Psalm 23:2

When Americans go to foreign countries, they often need to be careful about the water they drink. In many countries, it’s because the water is not pure. It is filled with bacteria and contamination.

In Germany, Americans are careful about the water they order for another reason. Germans tend to serve a carbonated seltzer water. Most Americans like to order, therefore, stille wasser, which is our more familiar “still” (or non-carbonated) water.

Several years ago when I went to Germany on a mission trip, I remember sitting in a German worship service, understanding very little of what was being said. Suddenly the person beside me lit up! He turned to me and said, “They’re praying the twenty-third Psalm.” I looked at him quizzically, “How do you know.” He smiled, “They’re talking about stille wasser!”

The first line of Psalm 23 announces the character of God: He is like a good shepherd. And it’s more personal than that: He is my shepherd. That means two important things. First, I know him and follow him. Second, he knows me and cares for me … personally.

Verse two elaborates on God’s generous care:
  •      He nourishes me, drawing me to green pastures so that I can be nourished.
  •      He refreshes me, satisfying me with fresh, clean water.
  •      He protects me, giving me a safe place to “lie down” and watching over me there.

Which of those three do you need more fully today?

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who all too frequently
needs refreshing

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sept 21 - Psalm 23:1

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
Psalm 23:1

Yesterday we examined Psalm 22, saying it was one of the most important passages of scripture because of the precision of its prophecy. Today we begin looking at Psalm 23, another of the most significant passages of scripture.

There is a very different reason, however, that Psalm 23 is so important.
  •       In eight short verses, this beloved Psalm paints a powerful picture of the character of God. As a shepherd, our Lord is gentle. He knows us, loves us, and cares for us.

  •       Next, the character of God wraps us in a blanket of comfort and grace. It reminds us, for example, that “4 even when [we] walk through the dark valley of death, [we need] not be afraid, for [God our gentle shepherd is] close beside [us].”

The first blessing from God’s shepherding care reads like this, “Because God is my caring shepherd …”
  •      “I have everything I need” (NLT),
  •      “I lack nothing” (CJB),
  •      “I will not be without any good thing” (BBE).

These translations reflect the abundant provision of our generous God.

But those aren’t my favorite translations of this verse. I still like the old King James (“I shall not want”) and the famous NIV which reads, “The Lord is my shepherd, [therefore] I shall not be in want.”

I obviously added the “therefore” in that last passage, but shouldn’t the Lord being our shepherd be the very reason that we 1) don’t have want and 2) don’t keep wanting more than what God already supplies? The first reason – “we don’t have want” – echoes the generosity of God found in some of the more modern translations. But what I hear in through the NIV is, secondly, a very conscious choice:
  •      God is generous.
  •      He constantly provides.
  •      I can choose to keep wanting more and more …
  •      or I can be thankful for what I have, seeing it as generosity for God that I as dumb sheep don’t deserve! 

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who doesn’t want
to be in want

“God you are sufficient for me”

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sept 20 - Psalm 22:1

My God, my God!
Why have you forsaken me?
Psalm 22:1

Psalm 22 is arguably one of the five or ten most important passages of the entire Old Testament.

Why? Well, ask yourself where have you heard this phrase before?

It’s not just in the Psalms. We’ve heard it from our Savior on the cross too. “At about three o'clock” in the afternoon, on the day of his crucifixion, “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mt 27:46).

One of three things was happening as Jesus uttered this cry …
  •      This was absolutely the most horrifying moment in history. The presence of God abandoned the Son of God.

God – specifically God-the-Son – allowed himself to literally die. And while it might have been for a greater purpose – to conquer sin and death and save humanity – his death is no less terrible.
  •      Faithful Jews, like Jesus, knew the Psalms by heart. In fact, they often utilized a short-handed method of praying the Psalms: saying the first line of a Psalm counted – especially in times of distress – as praying the whole Psalm. Therefore, while Jesus was certainly lamenting his awful forsakenness, he was also praying every blessing of this Psalm as well. He was saying, “Because of this sacrifice on the cross …

  •      27 People from every nation … will acknowledge the LORD and return to him.’
  •      29 Mortals – … born to die – [will] bow down in [God’s] presence.’
  •      31 [God’s] righteous acts will be told to those yet unborn. They will hear about everything he has done.
  •      26 All who seek the Lord … will rejoice with everlasting joy.’

In other words, while Jesus’ prayer on the cross began with agony and defeat, it simultaneously pointed to hope and light.

  •      The third reason for citing this verse, reveals why Psalm 22 is so powerful and significant. By praying this passage, Jesus was reminding the faithful – those in his day and all of the believers yet to come – of the profound and specific prophecies that come from God!

  •      6 I am scorned and despised by all!” On Palm Sunday, the crowds cheered Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, but a week later he was scorned. The people who once praised him, now called as a mob for his violent death.
  •      7 Everyone who sees me mocks me.” At the crucifixion, leaders, soldiers, and crowds repeatedly mocked him.
  •      What did this oppression feel like? Probably like Psalm 22:12-13, “My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls … Like roaring lions attacking their prey ...”  
  •       8 ‘Is this the one who relies on the LORD? Then let the LORD save him!’ At the cross, “the leaders laughed and scoffed,” teasing and tempting Jesus with this exact sentiment, “‘He saved others, … let him save himself if he is really God's Chosen One, the Messiah’” (Lk 23:35).
  •      14 My life is poured out like water …” Those who are familiar with communion surely remember his blood poured out for us, but when the soldiers saw that he was dead and pierced his side with a spear … blood and water flowed out (Jn 19:34).
  •      Can’t you just imagine the pain of crucifixion, as Jesus cries and the Psalms prophesy, 14 all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me.”
  •      15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.” One of the seven last words was, “I thirst.” They fill[ed] a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed, and gave him to drink” (Mk 15:36).
  •      16 They have pierced my hands and feet.” If the specificity hasn’t hit you yet, stop and marvel here at the specificity of God’s Word. Several hundred years before crucifixion was even invented, Psalm 22 was prophesying the manner of the Messiah’s death. If people want to doubt, many details of a charlatan’s life could be faked. But we don’t get to control the manner in which we die. Even Roman documentation (see the records of Tacitus) record the crucifixion of “Christus” under the reign of Pontius Pilate.
  •      18 They divide my clothes among themselves and throw dice for my garments.” Again, it’s exactly what the disciples record.

Which of these three explanations do you find most helpful?

Me? I think it’s all three! God is active, alive, and in control of the events of this earth. Let us praise him.

In Christ’s Love,
A guy who wants to fulfill verse 26 …
“all who seek the Lord …
Will rejoice with everlasting joy”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sept 19 - Psalm 21:5

Your victory brings
[the king] great honor.
Psalm 21:5

Psalm 21 is a victory song. “3 Success and prosperity” have come to the land. Though “8 enemies” once threatened, the king’s life has been “4 preserve[d].” Now “3 a crown of finest gold [rests safely] on his head,” and “1 shouts [of] joy” echo across the kingdom. Indeed, “1 the king rejoices.”

As the history books are written, who always gets credit for the victories? Kings and generals and mighty warriors.

But the scriptures remind us who really ought to get the credit: “1 O Lord … 5 Your victory brings [the king] great honor.”

Kings like to claim credit. So do most of us. We’re prideful. We want to be self-sufficient. But if life is a game of chess, then God is the chessmaster and we’re just knights and pawns and rooks. In fact, even if we were to rise as tall as a king on this chessboard called earth, true victory would still only come from God’s omnipotent hand.

But a strange thing happens when we humble ourselves – like the king in this Psalm – and admit that we’re little more than pawns. God lifts us up. He “6 endow[s us] with eternal blessings.” He “6 give[s us] the joy of being in [his] presence.”

When the King of Heaven makes us his children, we become princes and princesses. And that’s not a position of pride; that’s a gift from relationship.

In Christ’s Love,
a prince when I realize I’m a pawn,
a pawn when I think I’m a prince

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sept 18 - Psalm 20:1

In times of trouble …
may the God of Israel
keep you safe from all harm.
Psalm 20:1

The Irish have a famous old prayer. It’s a perfect blessing for a friend who’s embarking on a grand adventure …

May the road rise up to meet you,
may the wind be ever at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall softly on your fields.
And until we meet again,
may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

May … may … may … may … Time and again, God is asked if he may and might bless a good friend’s journey.

That’s what this Psalm is too, another famous old blessing. Nine times in the first five verses, God is asked if he may and might bless a good friend’s life …
  •      1 May the Lord respond to your cry … in times of trouble.
  •      1 May the God of Israel keep you safe from all harm.
  •      2 May he send you help from his sanctuary.
  •      2 May he … strengthen you
  •      3 May he remember all your gifts.
  •      3 May he look favorably on your burnt offerings.
  •      4 May he grant your heart's desire.
  •      4 May he … fulfill all your plans. …
  •      5 May the LORD answer all your prayers.

Here’s what I would like to suggest today … Read back through this list, and attach a name beside each of these petitions. Who do you know, for example, who is in times of trouble and needs a response to their cry? Who do you know who needs to be kept safe from harm today?

Now pray those names again with additional confidence from Psalm 20, saying, “6 I know that the LORD saves … He will answer …”

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s excited about
your life’s adventure

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sept 16 - Psalm 19:7

The law of
the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
Psalm 19:7

Do you view “the law” as good or bad?

Wait … let’s ask this another way.

When you’re cruising down the interstate and see a police car, do you smile and think, “Thank heavens for that kind-hearted police officer. He’s keeping me safe”? Or do you curse your bad luck and pray that someone else will get stopped?

When we’re good, the law seems good. But when we’re pushing our luck, the law is a hindrance … an inconvenience … a burdensome bother.

I like to use the image of sports.

Is the rule book good or bad? Imagine playing baseball when …
  •      Sometimes three strikes is an out … but other times you get just one.
  •      Sometimes hitting the ball over the fence is a homerun … but other times it causes you to be ejected from the game.
  •      Sometimes you can throw with your right hand … other times it allows the other team to have an extra at bat.
  •      And there’s no warning. The umpire can change the rules at any moment. 

Without the rule book, the game would be chaos.

Similarly, without God’s rule book, life would be chaos.
  •      Sometimes you get three strikes and forgiveness … other times you’ve permanently separated yourself from God with the first mistake.
  •      Sometimes when someone strikes you on right cheek, you should turn the left cheek too … other times they’re allowed to just shoot you in the cheek.
  •      Sometimes when you stand up against false authority, it’s cheered in heaven like a homerun … other times insulting any earthly authority will condemn you to hell.
  •      And there’s no warning. God can change the rules at any moment.

That would be chaos, wouldn’t it? If God was not a Lord of consistency and order, we’d never know where we stood. It’d be frightening. And life itself would be uncertain.

God’s law designed to bless us and protect us. After all, a life without people stealing from us, cheating on us, lying about us, or shooting at us is obviously more blessed and secure.

So why do so many people call Christianity legalistic? And why do WE constantly chafe against the burdens of the law?

Why? It’s the same reason we drive faster than the speed limit and curse at the police officers. We think we have a better way.

God knows our future. He has a glorious plan for our life. He wants to bless here and now and forever. And yet from our limited vantage point, we think we have a better way.

It’s pride. And as Proverbs 16:18 reminds us, “Pride goeth before … a fall.”

In Christ’s Love,
an average ballplayer who’s
pridefully ignored the advice of the coach
… yet one who’s also learned to listen – on occasion –
and even after he strikes out has The Manger
pick him up, dust him off, and put him back in

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sept 12 - Psalm 18:25-26

To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
to those with integrity you show integrity.
To the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the wicked you show yourself hostile.
Psalm 18:25-26

“How long, O Lord?”

Have you ever cried that?

We all want for there to be justice. Indeed, we expect for our God to be noble and just. In fact, if God isn’t just and life isn’t fair, then sometimes we’re not really sure he really “deserves” to be called “God.” (Now, we may not say that to his face, but isn’t that how we occasionally feel?)

Thus, the question has always been, “If God is God, and God is just, then why are there so many injustices in the world?!”

We want the scales to be balanced. We want Psalm 18:25-26 to come true … daily. We yearn for our acts of faithfulness to be met with God’s prompt and obvious faithfulness. We want the pure to experience God’s purity, and we expect for the upright to experience His integrity. Similarly, we think that the wicked ought to occasionally get a little taste of their own medicine, right?!

What percentage of the time do you settle for the explanation that God will work all things out in the end? Conversely, what percentage of the time do you want to demand a little justice right now?

Here’s the problem with immediate justice: Our Lord and King turned the rule and dominion of this world over to us – see Genesis 1:26. In Genesis 3, however, we turned the rule and dominion of this world over to the serpent. It’s not that God couldn’t just reassert his authority, but he’s waiting for us to act first.

He waits for us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,”

He wants us to put our stake in the ground.

He wants us to declare war against the forces of injustice.

He wants us to be instruments of his peace.

In one of my most careful readings of Revelation, I caught a glimpse of a bowl that sits in front of the Lord. In one of these bowls – see Revelation 6:9-11 – we see God collecting the persistent cries for justice by the faithful – “10 Sovereign Lord … how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood …?”

How long? I couldn’t help but seeing God crying along with us; nevertheless, “11 they were … told to [wait and] rest a little longer.”

The question is this: If God is so just and earth’s inhumanity is so painful, why does he wait?  

It’s grace.

He’s allowing time for one more sinner to repent.

And then another … and another.

Thank God he does! Otherwise, every one of us – including you and me – might have already tasted the awful recompense for our own unique sin.
In Christ’s Love,
an impatient person
who’s glad that God
occasionally waits