Justice and Righteousness

www.bible.com/1713/amo.5.24.csb

So I’ve been working on laundry and housework today. Been singing a couple praise tunes, but nothing profoundly spiritual. Kids are out of school today for the holiday. I’ve got a half-day since our census is down at the workplace. So I’m sitting here trying to think of something profound to say.

Justice seems to be the theme of the day, right? With Trump’s impeachment trial in the news, and Virginia’s gun issues all over the headlines. People are looking for justice. But then there is also this holiday, which seems to me to be more about civil rights than about Martin Luther King, Jr. today. I mean, what other civil rights advocates got to have a federal holiday? MLK had the advantage of being a martyr, but there are plenty of civil rights advocates that have done as much. Emmett Till didn’t get to grow up to be a great speaker. Malcolm X was just mean. Louis Farrakhan is trying to be the next MLK but he’s in the wrong religion.

And what are they preaching about justice today? In short, it is to hold the sons accountable for the sins of the fathers. Specifically, modern advocates of “justice” want to take away from those that have and give to those that have not because of the belief that the “have not’s” are poor because they didn’t grow up with the same advantages today that the “have’s” did. Therefore “justice” is wealth redistribution on the premise of historical bias.

Do you know why there is such a thing as “white privilege”? It is because white families tend to keep their fathers around longer than black families. Why do Asians do so well, even better than whites? Because Asian families have an even higher expectation of their children than whites do. When you look beyond the race issue, you find families that are suffering because the traditional nuclear family no longer exists for many children. If you have a successful black man, you will find a successful family behind him. You will find a family that had high expectations for their child.

“Social justice” isn’t an attempt to make a level playing field. It’s an attempt to rehabilitate the War on Poverty of Lyndon Johnson. He believed that if blacks learned to depend on government, and replace the father with a welfare check, blacks would vote for democrats in perpetuity. So far, he’s been proven right. It’s human nature. If you are handed something without working for it, you will fight to defend your right to receive it, because you “deserve” it. No one has a greater sense of privilege than someone who didn’t have to work for it. Ask rich kids.

Is this a rant? Yeah, probably. I frankly despise anyone who cloaks family breakdown and economic disadvantage with skin color. America is the freest country in the world when it comes to economic opportunity and faith. That’s why she is most harshly attacked in these areas. If justice flowed like water and righteousness like a river these other problems would disappear in a generation. If we were right and just and fair with each other, if we acted with integrity with our fellow man, “racial inequality” would vanish. If we practiced that simple Christian principle of “think of each other more highly than yourselves” what good could we accomplish?

Father God, we are wise enough to realize that we have not done well as a nation. Our fathers committed sins that we are still paying for. I know there is anger on all sides of these issues, and to stir up the embers of old fires isn’t helping anyone. Father as your people, whether our skin is white, black, yellow, red, or green, we know you did not make a “master” race, because all of us are made in Your image. Help us to remember that it is not about the color of skin that makes us special, but the cost for our souls. May we remember that we were bought with a price, not with gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. It is the value of His sacrifice that makes us valuable. It is the cost of His blood that makes every life costly. Help to remember all of these things and grant us wisdom to deal with our fellow man with gentleness and respect, regardless of their skin color. We pray these things in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sorry

www.bible.com/1713/2co.7.10.csb

Are you feeling sorry today? Godly sorrow leads to repentance. Hmm. It is one thing to feel sorry, but another to actually want to do something about it.

I hear a lot of ”sorry” but seldom see change. It is sorrow for getting caught. That is worldly sorrow. But worldly sorrow only lasts as long as the consequences do. Once the sentence has been served, the sorrow is gone, and it’s back to business.

But godly sorrow means change. It means making it right what you did wrong. It means wanting to restore relationships and trust. It means real soul healing. Always desire godly sorrow when sin catches up with you.

Heavenly Father, I know I am not a good man. I never have been. But if you have some use for me, I pray for forgiveness. Help me to be better, for myself and those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Heavy Heart

www.bible.com/1713/pro.21.2.csb

How is it we associate weight with our heart? Where does this come from? It might come actually from the ancient Egyptians who proposed that a man’s heart would be weighed against a feather in the afterlife. If a man’s heart was heavy, he would be consumed by a crocodile. If it was lighter than a feather, then he would be welcomed to the joys of the afterlife.

Some scholars propose that this is the idea behind Solomon’s statement here in Proverbs. Perhaps Solomon was borrowing from ”pop culture” much as we do when describing death, like ”buy the farm” or ”six feet under” or something else to cushion the reality that is death. His use of ”weigh the heart” could be a sidelong reference to the Judgment which all men must face after death, as in, ”it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that, the Judgment.”

However, if we take that route, Solomon is referring to something we can do nothing about until it’s too late. Perhaps he is offering a warning. We think our ways are right and good, until they’re not. We need to remember that we are accountable for our actions. There is a higher authority to whom we must answer to.

Other translations interpret rather than translate, saying that the Lord ”examines” the heart, or ”ponders” it. This makes the statement more immediate rather than final. It makes the Lord’s activity more present. He is now examining and we can learn from this examination. There is the chance to repent here from wrong-headed thinking. So that when we challenge our thinking with God’s examination, we have the chance to change.

I believe this is how Solomon is intending this statement. Interpreting this passage for us rather than simply translating it robs us of the cultural thought process of his time. Tell me what the Hebrew says instead of telling me what it means. Let the commentators tell me what it means, not the translation. I doubt Solomon believed in a soul-eating crocodile or a set of scales weighing hearts against feathers. But he employs the picture to remind us of God’s authority over us. We are not our own. We all must answer to our Creator.

Heavenly Father, remind me today of Your authority over my life. I need those reminders because I am naturally rebellious in my thinking. I hate for anyone to tell me what to do. But help me to be humble of heart before You and others. Remind me that I am often wrong and need correction. Help me to see your truth in everything I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

All-Day Praise

www.bible.com/1713/psa.113.3.csb

Is there a bad time to praise? Apparently not, since from dawn to dusk appears to be a good time for worship. Does that rule out the night-time. Nah. Nights are good for meditating in His precepts, or for, you know, sleep. Really there isn’t a bad time to praise the Lord and that’s a good thing.

All around the world, people are praising the Lord. It is daylight somewhere on the earth at all times. I think that’s why God wanted Noah’s children to scatter over the face of the earth. Someone somewhere is praising the Lord, and the sun does not go down on His Name.

So what could you do today to make today a day of worship? How could you approach your work or tasks today to offer then before the Father as acts of service to the Name? Maybe you could dedicate each act, each work as unto the Lord. Maybe each hour could be heralded with prayer. Perhaps even right now could be a moment of worship even as you read.

Heavenly Father, please remind me to worship today as I go about my daily tasks. Help me to see the holy work in which I engage because each day is Yours and I am working for you. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Level Ground

www.bible.com/1713/psa.143.10.csb

I like level ground. Its so much easier to travel, but, it’s also pretty boring. If you’ve ever been on  a trip, traveling through hills and valleys, over rivers and even mountains is far more interesting than driving across long, level ground. My family and I had the chance last year to drive across Kansas on I-70. It is the very definition of level ground, and Kansas knows this. They’ve tried to spruce it up with several roadside attractions and tourist traps. I’ve not driven anything quite like it before.

So why would we want to Spirit of God to lead us across level ground? Simple. The same mountains and valleys that make travels interesting are the very things we want to avoid in our spiritual life. We’ve had the mountain-top experiences, and those are great, but we’ve also traveled through the valley of the shadow of death. Not so nice. In short, we would prefer the long, evening boring road led the Spirit to free us from the extremes of emotional and spiritual travel. That being said, we truly appreciate the highs and lows for those shape us to be who we are.

All of this is to teach us to do the will of God. I would much rather God teach me His will than have to force me along it. Let me learn by His gentle instruction than to have to be broken again and again until I listen. So as I live, let me learn what Your good, pleasing, and perfect will is.

Heavenly Father, I know I’ve messed up, and often. And often you have to teach me in ways I don’t like. Sometimes I have to take dark paths of sorrow and misery before I open my eyes enough to see the lessons you would have me learn. Help me Father to have open eyes and delight of heart when You bring me along Your will. Help me the path you would have me go, so that I will not wander but travel on the level ground you have prepared for me. Thank You Lord, In Your Son’s Name, Amen.

True Worship

www.bible.com/1713/rom.12.1.csb

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭CSB‬‬

https://www.bible.com/1713/rom.12.1.csb

What is true worship? Do you try and capture it on Sunday morning as the instruments play and the bodies sway in time? Is it when the worship leader says, ”Everybody stand!” or when she says to the band, ”Let’a just song this without the music now” and we don’t acapella, with just the power of our own voices?

None of these things seem to be in view of the text. Rather it seems true worship takes place everyday in little moments. While you are working and eating, thinking and serving, worship can take place. True worship dossn’t need a name. It needs a heart devoted to God so that even in the mundane, there is God.

What would you have for worship like that? What would it be worth to make every opportunity a place of worship? Apparently the cost is also included here, make your bodies a living sacrifice. It costs you to worship Him who spent His life and blood on you. It is a more than even exchange. All of Him for all of you. What can you offer Him today?

LORD, help my everyday be the Lord’s day. Make my every waking moment be yours, for I am yours. Help me to remember throughout my busyness that this world is not my home. That greater things are coming that this, and that I can endure all these things for You give me strength. Lord help me remember today that I am not my own. In Jesus Name, help me to worship you today. Amen.

Hearing and Doing

www.bible.com/1713/jas.1.22-24.csb

It’s Sunday. You and yours just made it to church. No breakfast. Through the hymns and the choruses, offering and message, thoughts of lunch come to mind, and finally being able to settle into your easy chair for a long afternoon nap. The words of the sermon drift over you without really making an impact, because that’s not where your mind is. We’ve taken the whole service and sermon for granted. It’s ok, you think, I can just pick it up later in the week on the app. We hear it, but it doesn’t register. It’s just noise.

That may not be the extreme to which James referred, but it is often the case in our modern church. We may demand the preacher spend all week putting together a riveting message to tickle our ears, but when the time comes it attention is elsewhere. We hear, but seldom do.

I happen to have a really good preacher that I listen to every week. He is available to listen to at betterlife.church every week. What engages me work him isn’t his scholarship, though he does come up with something interesting almost every week. He is passionate, and jas that ability to speak directly to your soul, where you are, just enough to make you uncomfortable. I feel that is the mark of a good preacher.

I would be curious if you feel the same way about you preacher. Feel free to shamelessly plug him or her in the comments below. But a preacher is only as good as his listeners. A mark of a good listen is one who puts into practice what they hear. And this is James’ point. Don’t just be a hearer. Practice what you’ve learned. Put this good message into life so that it is not lost between your ears.

Heavenku Father, help us to put into practice what we’ve heard and read. We know it’s not all on our preachers to incite us to Christian Service. That ability comes from our love and obedience to You. Help us every day to be more willing and able to serve you in our calling. Thank you Jesus for calling us out of the world into your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.