Posts Tagged judgment

Tender Mercy

1 Samuel 16: 7             (NCV)

God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I just watched the movie Saving Mr. Banks. It is about Walt Disney’s trials and efforts in acquiring the rights to make the movie Mary Poppins. By all indications, the author of the Mary Poppins books was difficult and even unreasonable. Disney was committed to turning the Mary Poppins book into a movie. It took him 20 years of cajoling, negotiating, and pleasing Mrs. P.L. Travers in order for him to finally do so.

I said Travers was unreasonable. For example, she told Disney she was “off” the color red, so she didn’t want to see any red in the movie. Disney was pretty astounded explaining that the movie is set in London where phone boxes and mailboxes, are all red. He figured out that she was testing him but when confronted she, nonetheless, stuck to her position. It was a test. She was looking for an excuse to deny him the movie rights. Disney, who was very influential by this time, agreed to bar the color red from the movie. He did not berate her, did not point out that she was being unreasonable.

The real climax of the movie is when Walt Disney flew to England to have a cup of tea and a conversation with Travers. He spoke to her heart without judging her and without criticism. He shared part of his own story showing Travers compassion rather than condemnation. He asked for her trust but more than that, he earned it by being trustworthy, insightful and kind.

This movie moved me for a number or reasons but predominantly because I so admire the way Disney interacted with Travers. I know me well enough to realize that I would have failed her tests, and the Lord’s, tragically. Travers wanted someone to believe in. She wanted Disney to be who he made himself out to be, but her heart didn’t believe anyone could be who she needed him to be. In fact, she set Disney up to fail. Though she wanted to believe, she set stumbling blocks in front of him for 20 years trying to get him to reveal his true colors. It turned out, though, that the fruit on his tree was consistent with the words of his mouth. He was true to the pledge he gave her.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world, normal even, to have been very critical of Travers. It would have been tempting to try to bully her into a more cooperative attitude. You might even think Disney justified in taking issue with her and calling her on her unreasonable demands. Instead, he looked beyond the outer symptoms pondering what it was within her that made the process so challenging for her. He looked from her perspective rather than becoming judgmental. In the end, not only was the movie Mary Poppins made as Disney imagined it, but it turned out to be a source of emotional healing for Travers who went on to write five more Mary Poppins stories. It is hard to imagine a more difficult person than Travers. In the end, though, she and Disney made a movie which has brought joy to generations of movie goers and blessed their own hearts to boot.

The moral of the story is pretty clear. People have a tendency to judge others based on actions and words and that seems fair. We are to be fruit inspectors. There is a line between judging someone’s fruit and judging them. If you are asked to invest financially in someone’s project, wisdom dictates that you inspect the fruit on their tree. That is not to say that we should succumb to the temptation to judge them. We can decline their project without rejecting them. Only God truly knows what is in a person’s heart. All too often we assume we know and then we judge people as unworthy. If we follow Walt Disney’s example, we can tenderly engage others without getting embroiled in the chaos and dysfunction. We can choose to believe that there is a good person beneath the outlandish demands and negative outbursts. This is hard to do, no doubt, but I think if you watch this movie you will find that you are drawn to the way Walt Disney worked with Travers. Ultimately, he helped her and though the movie Mary Poppins is, and was, a towering success, what he did for Travers was an even greater accomplishment.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Matthew 5: 44 – 45            NET

But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

You’ve heard that you are to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you and that is a good focus of this passage, but I particularly like verse 45 for two reasons. First, it tells us the reason for the mandate to pray and love, which is that we might be like our Father. Secondly, it teaches us the difference between love and judgment, loudly revealing our Father as one who loves.

After we get saved and Jesus begins to clean us up, it is easy for us to want to separate ourselves from the unrighteousness people and actions we see in the world. Unfortunately, we begin to judge those people and we separate the world in to we and they. This, our Father does not do. He loves the whole world, so much, in fact, that he gave His only begotten son so that NONE should perish (John 3: 16). Speaking of John 3: 16, do you know what the very next verse says? “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” By the way, those were words spoken by Jesus. God sacrificed His only son so that through his sacrifice, the world might be saved, not condemned.

God sent His blessing into this world and it will work for whomever will work according to the way Yahweh engineered it. Sometimes, the unsaved are better believers than we are and thus, succeed to a greater extent than we. This ought not be, but it is. We are too busy fussing at each other and judging other Christians and the unsaved that we fill our churches, and our own souls with doubt and unbelief.

God put spiritual and physical laws into the earth. Gravity is a great example of one of these laws. Gravity works the same on the wicked as on the righteous, doesn’t it? God sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He is constantly pouring out His best to anyone who will accept Him. He has also created laws which exist in the spirit realm. They too work for whoever applies them. He told us that whatever we believe, we can have (Mark 11: 23 – 24). He has told us to use our words to create our dreams and even that the power of life is in our tongues (Proverb 18: 21). Yet I find we are still running around spewing all kinds of garbage and unbelief from our mouths. Meanwhile, others are using God’s success system to great effect and they never give Him the credit. We are too worried about criticizing anyone who succeeds and making sure our pastors never have too nice a car to ever live in God’s overflow. We are afraid of being criticized ourselves. That is one of the reasons why so many Christians are so carnal. They look at the church and don’t want any part of it. They want Christ but they find the lifestyle of the heathen more attractive and they find more love outside the church than in it.

I don’t like it and I bet you don’t either. We’ve got to begin to take this gospel seriously. We need to buckle down and become students of the Word and believers. Then we need to do what the Word tells us. We need to commune with God and listen to His voice. We need to let the Holy Spirit guide us without getting all weird about it. Just quiet yourself down and listen to him.

None of us wants to be a part of this mealy mouth Christianity. None of us wants to see the unsaved surpassing God’s people using God’s own system. We are supposed to succeed and then give God the glory. And, we’ve got to stop judging one another and “those other guys.” Jesus said he didn’t come to judge the world so what makes us think we should. God sends the rain on both our crops, so He isn’t judging. He isn’t withholding His blessing. Our judgments are killing us while those we criticize are experiencing faith healing, financial prosperity and loving relationships. It is time we got over ourselves and seriously begin imitating our Father and learning His ways. Love is our mandate. Turn in your judge’s robe for a coat of compassion. Let love and acceptance color the way you think of all people, yes ALL, even those unsaved because God has not separated us into we and them. He is sending His truth to everyone who will listen. He is sending the nourishing rain to whomever will receive. Be blessed in the name and power of Jesus and live this gospel to the full. Receive God’s blessing and share that blessing with others. Let it overflow onto others, the good and the bad.

Trumpet Blast

Hebrews 12: 19             New Living Translation

For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking.

The Word of the Day for December 19th, 2018 characterized the voice of the Lord. The excerpts I used from Psalm 29: 3 – 9 read, “The voice of the Lord . . . is powerful, . . . is majestic, . . . breaks the cedars, . . . hews out flames of fire, . . . shakes the wilderness, . . .makes the deer to calve and strips the forests bare.” We see clearly that His voice is powerful, but that is not the end of the story.

This passage refers to the Israelites who were led out of captivity and sojourned many years in route to the promised land. In Deuteronomy 5: 25 their reaction to God’s voice was recorded thus, “Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer, then we will die.” Is this the God you know? What was in the hearts and minds of the people that they heard Yahweh’s voice as terrible, a voice so strong and dreadful that they thought the mere sound of it would consume them? I imagine to Moses God’s voice was anything but terrible. I imagine it was like the purr of a kitten, like sweet nectar dripping from a new spring blossom.

God’s image is very often a reflection of the canvas of our heart. That which is written upon our hearts, we project as the image of God. We find this to be dangerous, though, for we have not allowed our hearts to be perfected in His love. So, we hear His voice as thunderous and angry because we know we deserve no kindness or gentleness. In other words, we remake Him and even His voice in the image of our self-esteem and self-image. He is to us as we allow Him to be.

God called David a friend. What??!! Think on that literally for a moment. God Himself says of David, “He’s my friend.” What do you imagine God says of your relationship with Him? Do you imagine Him calling you friend? Well, if you don’t, perhaps you should. Again, I say, He is to us as we allow Him to be, so we need to change the image within us. He will be to us as we allow Him to be and He wants to be our friend too.

The Bible tells us He is kind, gentle, patient, forgiving and loving but is that how He interacts with you? Are those the words you use to describe your relationship with Him. The Bible teaches us the true character of God but just because that is who God truly is does not mean those are the filters through which we allow ourselves to interact with Him. Our internal person may be telling us that we only deserve anger and reproach. Therefore, we put that image onto God even though it is not His nature.

Who do you want God to be in your life? He is love. He is the most kind and gentle of all persons or entities you will ever know. He is actually sweeter than the little kitten and more faithful and forgiving than a puppy. But, will we allow Him to express His true personality in our lives? Will we paint Him as merciless and vengeful because we know that is what we deserve?

Kenneth Hagin used to say that if you listen to a person speak long enough, he will tell you exactly where he is. The image we hold of God reveals more about who we are than about who He is. When you encounter people who know an angry God, one bent on damnation and criticism, then you know they have not allowed the love of God to wash through their souls. They have not received the divine love of the Father. They may have touched it long enough to receive salvation, but it has not penetrated their hearts and washed their conscience clean. They have not been bathed in the love of God or else they would know He is gentle and caring. If they are judgmental, it is because they know they are deserving of judgment. If they condemn others, it is because in their hearts they know they are worthy of condemnation. They reflect their hearts, not God’s. Now ask yourself, who is your God. Is He kind or vengeful? Is He loving or angry? Is He here to judge or to rescue? The answers to these questions reveal the condition of your heart.

We all need to soak in His love until we know the love of God which saves our immortal souls. He is love. Taste it, breathe it, know Him and the gentleness of His ways. Then you will hear His voice as a whisper upon a cool breeze. You will feel His gentle touch upon your fevered brow. His voice will be a sweet song rather than trumpet blast. When you receive this truth, you will be able to hear His voice more easily and sense His presence because you will allow that truth to manifest in you. Be still, He says, be still and know I am God (paraphrase of Psalm 46: 10). Breathe His calming presence and still the thunderous blast of your conscience.

Judgment Day

John 5: 24

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

I have already had my judgment day. How about you? Do you hear Jesus’ word? Do you believe He who sent him, i.e. God, do you believe God? Jesus said if you hear his word and believe God then you have passed out of death. You have passed into life. You have eternal life. You have it now. There is another part of this verse, though, and something we need to hear. All you hear Jesus’ word and believe God have already passed into eternal life and do not come into judgment. That is a big statement and a momentous idea. You will not face judgment. Jesus has already paid your way with his blood. Hallelujah!

Many Christians have their eyes focused on judgment day. That is not where our focus ought to be. Our focus is to be on Jesus’ word. Will there be a judgment day? Truthfully, judgment is already in the world which is why Jesus came, to save us from the judgment that was upon the world, but you have passed into life.

The thing which is most troubling about Christians who worry about their result on judgment day, is that they work to earn a good judgment. They believe that on judgment day their deeds will render them either a good judgment or a bad one. Here is the unabashed truth of that. They are hardly Christians because they are not wearing the mantle of Christ. They are actually humanists because they are trying to win God’s favor by their good works rather than the sacrifice of Jesus. They believe there is something they can do to woo God and it is, in reality, a stench in God’s nose.

The only thing that makes any of us worthy of gaining heaven is the blood sacrifice of our beloved. There is nothing you can do to make yourself one bit more saved than you are now. You will not face the judgment seat because you have already been judged and passed onto eternal life. You made a choice. You chose Jesus and that choice is the dividing line. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil,” (John 3: 19). A negative judgment is on those who love and choose the darkness. For those who choose the light, they are saved and passed on into eternal life. So, you have reason to celebrate and praise the Lord for you have been spared judgment.

There is one other thing of note in this verse. It is interesting that Jesus did not say this good news is for those who have “heard” his word. He said it is for those who hear his word. Think about that for a moment. What is the difference. Also, Jesus did not say that eternal life is for those who believe “in” God. That is what we read but not what Jesus said. Jesus said heaven is for those who “believe Him who sent me.”

I believe Jesus is communicating a dynamic relationship to us. He wants us to hear, and continue hearing, his word, the word that he is speaking today. Then we are supposed to believe it. We are supposed to believe what God is saying and believe what He has said. Satan believes “in” God. That is no big thing. We are called believers because we are supposed to believe God. We are to believe His Word and even act on it. We believe He is faithful, kind and that He is present right now in our own environment. We believe He is alive and active. We are believers in all Jesus’ words. That separates us, especially when our actions show our belief. We act on our beliefs. Everyone does, so when we act on Jesus’ words, our belief system shows.

If you believe Jesus and hear his words. If you believe God and all He has said throughout the centuries, then you have already passed out of death and into life. You are already living in eternity. Eternal life is yours. That is some good news and perhaps encouragement too.

Tree Climbers

Luke 19: 7

When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

This is an interesting story about a tax collector named Zacchaeus. Not only was he a tax collector but he was a chief tax collector. Tax collectors were the most despised and reprehensible reprobates of the time. Jesus couldn’t have found a more despicable person. However, when Jesus looked up in a tree and saw Zacchaeus there, he immediately called to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Clearly the crowd was incensed that Jesus would soil himself with the company of a sinner.

We, however, have the advantage of several thousand years of perspective. We know that Jesus was more likely to be found with sinners than with the righteous church people of the day. In fact, the people Jesus showed great disdain for were the Pharisees. That is all fine and well and we can look at this objectively now. The one thing we do not seem to do, though, is to overlay this story, and others, onto modern times. So, I ask you, who are the Pharisees today? Who fills the role in modern society that the tax collectors Zacchaeus and Matthew did in Jesus’ time? When we go through this exercise more light shines on Jesus and this story. We begin to see the fullness of Jesus’ testimony through Samaritans and sinners. It also has a tendency to make us a little uncomfortable for fear that we can all too easily slip into the reviled role of the Pharisees.

This is the one case where you almost want to identify with the sinner. I think I would rather you call me a sinner than Jesus call me a Pharisee. The Pharisees were hypocrites and knew nothing about the love of God. You cannot know God if you don’t know love. The Pharisees were righteous in their own eyes but saw sin in others but in truth their garments were stained with sin. Zacchaeus hosted Jesus for dinner. The Pharisees didn’t. What does that teach us? If you want Jesus to sup with you, take off your Pharisaical robes and get real. Better to be a tree climber than a self-righteous Pharisee. Deal with your own sin and righteousness and don’t worry yourself about Zacchaeus and his problems. Leave that to Jesus. He is able.

Kindergarten

1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 3

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Do you get the idea it’s all about love? Well, you would be right. God is all about love and so is the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, if there is one thing we need to learn, it is love. Paul, writing here, says that even if he had everything else down but did not learn love, then he is still a child in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I called today’s devotional “Kindergarten” because I thought it captured what is otherwise a difficult concept. People ask me about who “gets into” heaven. You may know someone who was mean all their lives but acknowledged Jesus in their last days. You may contrast that person with the one you know who has been kind, generous and caring all the days of her life. Will they both get into heaven? This, I believe, is the very essence of judgment day.

If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is the risen Lord, then you are saved and going to heaven (Romans 10: 9). So, what is this about judgement day? We already know the outcome. We are saved and going to heaven. I think about this more like a placement office evaluation. We get to heaven on the basis of Jesus’ blood sacrifice, but what then? God did not create heaven so we could float around on puffy clouds and eat grapes all day. How long would it take for that to get very boring? No, we still have worlds and universes to explore and settle. Jesus came to give us abundant life not a boring retirement. We’ve adventures ahead. First, though, we must be equipped for the work of the Kingdom.

Some people have already learned much about operating in Kingdom principles. They already operate, in the earth, at a graduate school level. Others of us, may still be at a Kindergarten level. Not to worry, our Father has on the job training. He has given us the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth and that does not end when we move to heaven. At judgement day, we will be put into the right program for each of us.

Those who have learned to walk in love will move to the head of the class so if you want to go ahead and get in on the advanced class, learn love. Learn what it means to walk in love and to experience God’s love. They go hand in hand.

Stain and Stench

John 16: 11

I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

We are staying with the same Biblical text as the last two days but today examining what Jesus meant when he said the Holy Spirit would convict the world concerning judgment. This is another topic which we have turned on its head so let’s upright it.

Many people are concerned with judgment, especially people who do not understand the goodness of God. In this passage, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning judgment because the ruler of this world has already been judged. So, we all know by now, that Jesus was referring to Satan. Satan will meet his final judgment after Jesus comes back but the truth is, he has already been judged. We already even know his sentence, so what is going on here?

Guess what, you have already been judged too. If not, then why did God send Jesus to earth? He would not have had to send Jesus to be the sacrificial lamb if there was not already sin condemning us to hell. Now, however, the judgment which is upon you is the judgement of righteousness. If you are in Christ and have been bathed with the blood of his martyrdom, then you are clean, and you are judged pure and holy in the sight of God. Hallelujah! Jesus’ blood has washed us clean from the stain and stench of sin.

Consider this simple analogy. Let’s say I literally draw a line in the sand and tell you that everyone who steps across this line shall be considered innocent of all crime. Anyone who remains on the other side of the line shall be deemed to have committed a crime. Now, in truth the judgment has already been made. I judge that anyone who steps across this line is innocent and thus free. The judgment is in the law.

Okay, here is another example. You may be watching the winter Olympics. Let’s say that in a particular event, the rule is that you may not cross a specific line without incurring a penalty. The judgment is, “Whoever crosses this line will incur the penalty.” That is the judgment. All the judge does is collect the data. The person, who will decide what judgment you receive, is you. All the judge does is recognize your actions and then sentence you according to the previously determined penalty.

It is the rule which judges; it is the law which is judgmental. Thank God that Jesus freed us from the condemnation of the law. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death,” (Romans 8: 2). I think this is a clear statement. You have been set free from the law of sin and death and the inherent judgment which accompanied it. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8: 1). You have been set free from the curse of the law and the unfavorable judgment which was upon you.

There are three crucial words, however, in the two quotes from Romans. Those three words are, “in Christ Jesus.” Everyone who chooses to cross the line and live “in Christ” has a favorable judgment on them. The have been granted the keys to the Kingdom of God and eternal life with His Majesty. Your sentence has been levied. You are free. Christ has set you free and whom the Son has set free is free indeed, or as the Names of God translation says it, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free,” (John 8: 36).

So, God has already judged you as His own righteousness in Christ Jesus (there is that crucial language again). You no longer need worry about judgment. Your only task is to step across the line and into Jesus. When you do, his blood is your judgment and his blood is perfect. You are redeemed and set free in the name and glory of Jesus.