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No one would dispute the desire for justice, except, perhaps for those who know they are guilty. Even then, the guilty often find some reason to justify their actions. It’s easy to play the blame game. I wouldn’t do this if they hadn’t done what they did. Or, “Yeah, maybe I’m guilty of this, but what I did isn’t nearly as bad as what they did.”

The fickle attitude of society seems to gravitate towards an idea that ‘justice is that which gives my opinion, my people group, my passion the advantage’. Justice in our society changes with time and is often dependent on the general attitude of society. Things that seemed ‘wrong’ 25 years ago are socially acceptable.

True justice transcends time and opinion of man. The good news is true justice never changes and benefits mankind because of it’s stability. The bad news is that true justice, while beneficial over all, is inflexible. God speaks through his prophet Amos and reminds us that true justice is the plumb line of God’s word. There is no wavering.

Many may see that as intolerant but God’s law is governed by love. Perfect love, like true justice, casts out fear. Living according to God’s law brings stability, a sense of purpose and reassurance based on the promise that God is love. Even when we fail him he reaches out to us and offers forgiveness.

You can trust the true justice of God because you can trust God’s promises. We live in a world of turmoil now, but someday his justice will be the unmistakeable law of the land.

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At first it may sound like the whole prosperity gospel thing; Name it and Claim it! You know, the idea some hold to that all you have to do is claim it and God will give it to you. God wants you to have what you want, what your heart desires. The reason you don’t have is you don’t have enough faith; you haven’t claimed it!

Sounds great if only it were true. God does want you to succeed. God does want to give you the desires of your heart. But only when those desires match his desires Desire is fickle. Desire is deceitful. Desire can trick you into seeing all the ‘good reasons’ to have something. But desire forgets to include God plans become frustrated.

Take Jonah for example. He was called to go to his worst enemy and preach the gospel. There was no good reason for him to do so. His life and his principles would be compromised. Heading the other way made perfect sense in his heart. Desire triumphs!

God had other ideas and when Jonah aligned his heart to God’s an entire city was spared. When you draw near to God and allow his Spirit to control your desires, your success is guaranteed. Not because you got what you wanted, but because you got what he wanted. He never promises us an easy time on earth, but the things he has planned for us for eternity will make the struggles of today seem minuscule.

God’s idea of success is opening your heart to complete submission to his will.


There have been many an argument over spiritual gifts. What they are. What they aren’t. Who gets them? The list is endless. So much of life can be boiled down to the K.I.S.S. Philosophy. (Keep It Simple Silly [kind version] ) The source, purpose and results of the ‘gift’ are all that really matter. God is the giver. We are the recipient (gift receivers don’t choose their gift). The beneficiaries are others around us. The praise for the results returns to the gift giver, not the gift bearer. I know the arguments. There are theologs out there who will disagree with me. But I believe a spiritual gift is anything we do that benefits others and draws them closer to God. So here comes the heresy! Being a really good Walmart shelf stocker can be a spiritual gift if you do it with a joyful heart, in good character, giving glory to God. So don’t be surprised if you see a Walmart shelf stocker finish stacking a box of cookies and point to the sky. You’ll know they read my blog!


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

I ‘discovered’ these verses years ago as I led my congregation through a study of the book of Ephesians. Since then these verses have been the basis of nearly every service I’ve presided over. As often happens for those of us who read the Bible regularly, sometimes the true power of a passage gets lost in the midst of other verses.

Meditate on this prayer the Apostle Paul leaves us. Contemplate its meaning for you in the midst of the battle you are going through right now.

‘To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…’

The Amplified Bible states it like this: Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).

He is able to carry out his purpose in our lives ‘superabundantly’ and ‘infinitely beyond our highest…dreams’.

What comfort in a day when time and again our dreams get smashed by broken or stressed relationships, financial ruin, political upheaval and poor health.

When I seek refuge from the pain of abuse from others he is there offering comfort like no one else.

When I am humbled by the guilt of my own rebellion because I’ve followed my own desires, my own passions and left the things I know I should do behind, he is there to forgive, cleanse me from all unrighteousness, restore me to his kingdom.

When I am confused by the actions of others and my own feelings of doubt and desire he shows me his peace and walks me through the dark forest of distraction and confusion.

So why don’t we see this power in our lives? What is it that keeps me from accomplishing my dreams, my goals, my wildest imagination? Too often I have to confess that my desires, passions and dreams are self-centered and self-focused. They may have a basis in good things, but ultimately they are to make me feel good and look good.

The important thing to focus on isn’t my failure to succeed but my definition of success. Do I earnestly seek my own comfort and vindication, or to I seek to see God’s power working through me for HIS glory, not mine.

PRAYER: Father, as I go through this day let my mind dwell on the meaning of these verses. Help me to grasp the vast power I have available when on my knees in prayer. Let me see that power exhibited in my private thoughts and my public actions. Amen.


I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, Philippians 3:10

Be careful what you ask for. To know the power of Christ, to be able to heal, to endure hardship, to sleep in the bow of the boat during a violent storm are all noble aspirations. Every one of them is something each of us would love to attain.

One can not bask in the glory of Christ unless one endures the suffering of Christ. Lest we romanticize the ministry of Jesus on earth let us not forget that many times the only place to rest his head was on the hard ground. He had no place to call home except for the homes of generous friends. Even his grave was donated to him by someone who he may have never met.

Other than a devoted few, his list of friends and followers was a revolving door of people who were looking for an earthly kingdom, who became critical of his alleged rejection of religious Sabbath laws, and the ungrateful that came for healing and, once made pure, were never heard from again. Oh, and the devoted few? They all abandoned him at the cross. Every last one of them.

And his family? On a couple of occasions they came looking for him. Not to follow him mind you, but to quarantine him in the safe confines of the carpenter shop. When his brothers talked about Jesus during his ministry the word ‘lunatic’ was frequently heard. Only his mother seemed to stand quietly in the shadows watching her son grow, minister and eventually die.

The church was no safe haven for Jesus either. He was scrutinized on every front. His motives were misread and misunderstood. He was accused of being possessed by the devil and an affront to everything the Jewish religion stood for.

What made Jesus different? There are perhaps many answers to that question, but one that comes to my mind is that Jesus always held before him the purpose for which he was called. He wasn’t called to be blessed. He wasn’t called to be powerful and respected. He wasn’t called to be a mighty leader. He was called to be a servant and die in the process. But along the way, he changed the world!

Although I shudder at what it might mean, I echo the prayer of the Apostle Paul. Regardless of what it may mean to me physically, emotionally, or socially, I want to know Christ. I want to know him in such a way that his power shows through me to others.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, You showed us in your life that we will be faced with all sorts of trials and tribulations. I want to know you. I want to know your power in my life. I confess to you that even as I pray this prayer I’m nervous about what may lie ahead. Empower me by your Spirit to trust you as I forge ahead on this journey of life. In your name I pray, Amen.

 

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