Posts

Justice Undenied

300Habakkuk

SCRIPTURE

Habakkuk 2:14, “For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Habakkuk is a minor prophet. But don’t forget, minor prophets always have a major message. Minor is a comment on the length of the message, not the significance of it. It reminds me of an example I once heard of the difference between significance and prominence. My nose is prominent. Everyone who looks at me will notice my nose. My liver is significant. Unless something goes terribly wrong no one will ever notice the quality work done by my liver. Cut off my prominent proboscis and I may look different, but I’ll live. Cut out my liver and more than my quality of life will be affected. My quantity of life will be ended.

My nose is prominent. My liver is significant.

The same is true of the minor prophets. Few words. Big message. Habakkuk describes the coming end of what once was Israel. The nation was divided. One kingdom had already fallen. The other would soon fall to the Babylonians. Habakkuk describes the conditions of the nation at the time. Habakkuk 1:4, “The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous so that justice has become perverted.”

Does that sound familiar? I imagine every generation looked at the world around them and saw rising levels of wickedness. It’s easier today than ever. Turn on the TV, take a look at Facebook, Twitter, or Google. The wickedness of people is easy to see.

In chapter one Habakkuk cries out to God for deliverance. I’ll bet you have too.

But the answer God gives is not, I expect, entirely the one Habakkuk – or we – really wants to hear. God tells Habakkuk he’s raising up a violent nation for the express purpose of bringing justice to his chosen people.

We don’t like to think about this quality of God. We prefer his more gracious characteristics described in the New Testament. It’s true, our God is a gracious and loving God. But without justice there can be no grace. Wickedness cannot be allowed to prevail. It must be dealt with. Justice is the only answer.

Justice makes right what once went wrong. Justice demands satisfaction. Justice will either be accomplished because the wicked pay for their crime or because someone takes the place of the wicked. In Habakkuk God’s patience has run out. This time, the wicked will pay.

APPLICATION

The wicked will always pay. The question is not if, but when and how. When I think about what happened at Sandy Hook, when I consider the man who recently kidnapped a kindergartner and held him prisoner, when stories of under-aged sex trafficking during the Super Bowl come across my news feed the need for justice rises within me. Why not now, God? Why not swift, painful, brutal justice exacted on those who are clearly evil? Why wait?

At times Kind David would pray, “God kill my enemies.” It sometimes sounds like he would add, “…and let me be the sword.” We’ve all been there. We’ve all wanted to see someone get their just rewards. David was also quick to end those prayers with some variation of, “…I trust you God. Your will be done.”

In those moments when my heart cries out for justice I’m reminded by these verses in Habakkuk that there are two reasons God may seem slow to bring justice.

God’s justice is thorough. Did you notice? God said he was raising up the Babylonians, a violent, cruel, brutal people. If you’ve seen the movie 300 – the ones attacking the Greeks are the Babylonians. It’s a movie, but it does a pretty good job illustrating the brutality of Babylon. Habakkuk says God raised them up to exact his justice on his people.

God’s justice is thorough. If his justice seems delayed it’s because he’s setting the table for complete and utter devastation. He has so many tools in his arsenal. When the day comes for justice to be satisfied you can be assured that the punishment will fit the crime and will likely be far beyond anything you can imagine.

But there’s another thought here too. God’s grace is just as thorough as his justice. The giving of grace is not the corruption of justice. On the contrary, grace can only be given when justice is satisfied. For Believers that took place when Jesus Christ suffered the penalty of torture and death on the cross in your place and mine. Sometimes God is slow to deliver justice because he is trying to deliver grace.

Where do you see a need for justice today? In that situation do you believe God is about deliver his justice or his grace? Which would you prefer he deliver? Which would you prefer he give you? How can you determine when it’s time for you to deliver his justice or his grace?

These are the difficult questions, but they are questions with clear answers guided by Scriptural principles. When should I offer grace? How should justice be satisfied?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for giving me grace when I deserved justice. Give me the discernment to know how to carry your grace and your justice into this world. There are so many examples of wickedness in our world today. Do not delay. Deliver this world and your people from this wickedness. Satisfy your justice. Offer your grace. Either way, let your glory cover the earth like the waters cover the sea.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Point of No Return

Today we finished Nahum. Tomorrow let’s begin 2 Thessalonians. It’s only 3 chapters. Start tomorrow, you’ll finish Monday!


Nahum 3

SCRIPTURE

Nahum 3:19 “There is no healing for your wound your injury is fatal. All who hear of your destruction will clap their hands for joy. Where can anyone be found who has not suffered from your continual cruelty?” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

We don’t like to admit it, but there is a point of no return. You can wait long enough or choose to reject God long enough that he will give you exactly what you want. He will give you freedom from his grace. This was the fate of Nineveh. You remember Nineveh. After three days in the belly of the luxury cruise ship, Big Fish, Jonah arrived in Nineveh to preach a message of repentance. The people of Nineveh received the message. They repented, God relented. But that was another generation. The repentance of one generation became the rebellion of the next.

What do we hear of Nineveh today?

Their destruction is complete. Hebrews 10:31 says, “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.” That’s true, but perhaps there is one thing even more terrifying – being released from the grace of God to pursue nothing but our own desires.

Most people would think that kind of freedom, to pursue their own desires, is what they really want. But that’s because most people don’t really believe they really struggle with sin. We don’t think we’re that bad. We know we make mistakes. We understand not everyone is perfect, but we do all right. “I’m better than most,” we tell ourselves. “I’m slightly above average.” But it’s not true and somewhere, deep within, we know it.

Without the grace of God to guide us, the mercy of God to restrain us, and the love of God to sustain us we will go the way of Nineveh. Our wound will not heal. It will be fatal. And the world will rejoice at our passing.

APPLICATION

The solution is trust. We’re not very good at this, but it’s the answer. We need to trust that God knows more than we do. We need to trust that God has our best interest at heart. We need to trust that following his desire for us will lead us into everything we could ever want and anything we really need. Whatever God says ‘yes’ to we should pursue with our whole heart. Whenever God says ‘no’ we should stop and turn the other way.

If you’re a parent you understand how this works. You don’t stop your children from running out into the street because you want to limit their fun, but because you want to save their life. You don’t make them take a bath or brush their teeth because you’re mean and nasty, but because you don’t want them to go through life smelling nasty. With our kids the day comes when they approach the edge of the street and look both ways without our warning. They get up and take a shower and brush their truth on their own. But until that day we remain vigilant as parents.

That’s what God is up to. It’s why he gave his word. It’s the work of his spirit in our lives. May we receive his instruction, follow his word, trust his intention and surrender.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for showing the way. Thank you for continuing to speak through your word. Help me to listen, understand, receive and obey the ways you want me to follow. Please don’t let me or my family get to the point where we can easily ignore you. We need your grace, mercy and influence in our lives. There are times we are good at deceiving ourselves. Right now we have friends who have deceived themselves into believing you can’t be trusted. They believe they know better than you. Continue to speak into their lives. Help them see through this moment to the life you have for them in the next. Let them come to their senses and surrender themselves to you. Help us to be faithful friends to them. Help us speak the truth in love, practicing good judgement, but without being judgmental. Do in us and them what only you can do.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

inGratitude: 31 Thankless Things You May Miss this November | Grace

03 | Recently I made a new friend. Last year he was introverted, self-conscious, and unwilling to look people in the eye when he spoke to them. That is, if he worked up the courage to speak to someone at all. Right now, he’s sitting in a room with hundreds of other students getting ready to go on a mission trip half way around the world. He will go places he’s never been and do things he’s never done before in order to share the gospel with people he’s not yet met.

How does a change like that happen? One person takes the time to get to know someone outside their immediate circle of friends. A story of hope is shared. The message of grace is received and God transforms a life.

GRACE – the unexpected gift of another, the underserved favor of God. What grace have you been given? What grace will you give?

Grace – I’m Free, So I Can

GraceGrace says, “I’m free, so I can.” This isn’t a license TO sin, but a license FROM sin. I’m free FROM sin, now I can practice righteousness. I’m free from sin, now I can do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Grace is not the casting off of restraint it is the catalyst that allows me to cast off the tyranny of my sinful nature and receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save my soul. Before grace I had no choice but various shades of wrong. Because of grace I can choose wisely, do rightly and be eternally pleasing to God.

“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” Romans 6:1-2 (NLT)

“But if you look carefully into the perfect law of liberty that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:25 (NLT)