Developing Discernment – Proverbs 1:10-19

Don’t Gain The Whole World Just To Lose Your Soul

10 My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them.
11 If they say, “Come along with us;
let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,
let’s ambush some harmless soul;
12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
14 cast lots with us;
we will all share the loot”-
15 my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;
16 for their feet rush into evil,
they are swift to shed blood.
17 How useless to spread a net
where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.

Wicked Works

Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the Earth (with the exception of Jesus Christ), penned these words to help his son, and us, to glean from the supernatural wisdom that God imparted to him.

While it may be obvious to many that aligning ourselves with wicked men (and women!) is to be avoided, the wicked acts of men are readily seen and understood.  It is the more subtle acts of men that do not seem on the surface to be wicked that we are to avoid as well.

Wicked Words

Men (and women!) have learned how to play on the fears of others to get them to do what they want them to do.  The modern term is social engineering.  Most people will respond to someone who speaks in an authoritative voice to them, because they have been taught by their parents to be respectful and obey authority.  Although that may no longer be the case with our youngest generation, we react this way naturally.  Other types of psychological manipulation are used by these people as well.

Men (and women!) will also try to lure us into doing evil things by making good sound evil, and evil sound good.  They will play on our desire to “get ahead”, or fulfill a need in a way that does not honor God.  Humans have a natural capacity to justify our actions when our consciences bother us.  We avoid pain as much as possible, and we are then placed in circumstances where we will have to make a (often life-altering painful) decision to honor God, or go another way.

Wondering Why?

There are many reasons why we should avoid the advice of wicked people.  Solomon lists several:

  • Their feet rush into evil.
    • Rather than seek God to honor him with their minds and hands, they rush headlong into evil, both ignorant of its eventual outcome, as well as the consequences here in the physical realm.
  • They are swift to shed blood.
    • These people care nothing about each other, nor others.  They are swift to shed blood, as long as it benefits them somehow.  They do not have any concept of the value of human life, and may even traffic in it so that they can gain wealth and power.
  • The consequences are that others will see our actions plainly.
    • These people think that they are operating in darkness, when their deeds are made plain to the world!  But the question becomes, does the world even care?
  • The outcome is that they figuratively (and sometimes literally) shed their own blood!
    • Rather than do harm to their intended victims, they harm the very people they are attempting to protect – themselves!  Like Esau, they spurn their inheritance and gladly trade it for a little physical comfort.
  • Their eventual end is that they have ambushed themselves towards a specific end.
    • Their eventual outcome is that when they die, they cannot take their ill-gotten gains with them.  They must then face Almighty God before the White Throne Seat of Judgment, and pay at that time the most steep price imaginable – their eternal soul – for what they have done in the flesh.

Death and Destruction

The eventual outcome of these people is that they face death and destruction of their souls.  Discernment is required to avoid the schemes that others use to try to entice us into doing what they want us to do:

The only way to avoid these schemes is to put on the full armor of God, spend time with God in His word and prayer, and learn to discern when to spurn that which will burn.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I rightly discerning good and evil?

A short prayer of preparation

Father in Heaven, You are pure, holy, without blemish or spot.  You greatly desire all people to walk in holiness and righteousness before You.  Help me to rightly discern when others are trying to do me harm.  Help me when I inadvertently find myself cornered by the deeds of wicked men intent on destroying me, my family, my career, or my character.  Father, protect me from the wickedness of others, and help me to see Your wisdom, will, and way so that I may keep myself and my family from harm’s way.  And when You do allow wicked men and women to place me in circumstances that I did not willingly choose, I pray, Father, that You would deliver me from them just as You delivered Peter from the jailers.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Provision From God – Psalm 146:6-10

God Is The One Who Supplies All Of Our Needs And The Needs Of Others

6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them-
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8 the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

Capable Creator

God is a most wonderful creator.  He created the heavens and the Earth.  Every day he paints the sky with clouds and the light of the Sun.  He continually creates as life abounds of every type, knitting together children in their mother’s wombs, causing seeds to burst forth from the ground to grow into plants, and eggs hatching to become other creatures.  There is no aspect of life that God is not intimately involved.

Faithful Forever

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  And He has shown Himself faithful in every aspect of His character.  Because God is love, He cannot be unfaithful in anything.  God’s love always seeks out the betterment of others, and His word will never pass away.  His faithfulness is a sign that He can be trusted, and that His character is rooted in goodness and righteousness.

Compassionate Caregiver

As creator, God is also compassionate towards His creation.  He especially shows this aspect of His character in how He upholds the cause of the oppressed.  When men (and women) seemingly abandon others, God rises up to defend their cause.  God created ALL men and women in HIS image, and He assists the oppressed among us, as well as feeds the hungry.

Freedom Fighter

God desires that no one be a prisoner to sin.  He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to come and free the captives.  Even those who have been wrongfully imprisoned by men can have their souls freed by God.  Physical imprisonment cannot stop God from freeing men for eternal relationship with Him.  God will go to great lengths to set the captives free, bending Heaven and Earth to do so when someone seeks Him out with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.  And if God so chooses, He can free them physically as well.

Rejoicing in Righteousness

Part of God’s very nature is righteousness.  He is greatly pleased when He sees it, because His very existence is bathed in it.  It resonates true with Him, and He rejoices when He sees His children walking in righteousness.  Just as a parent is proud of their child when they are being polite towards others and living a life of serving others in joy, so does God when we do the same.

Helpful Hospitality

The Psalmist reminds us that God has a special place in His heart for the foreigner among us.  To be sure, God is referring to the foreigners who are among us lawfully.  God gives the sword to rulers to punish those who refuse to obey the law.  Civil disobedience is only tolerated by God when the rulers of a nation are using laws to oppress the people, obfuscate the truth, and deny lawful image-bearers of God their freedom.

God provides great hospitality towards the foreigners among us, as well as the fatherless and widows.  God does not forget those people who are unable to provide for themselves.  He fully expects the righteous among us, whom He has blessed with plenty, to help those in need.  And while He expects this of us, He does not expect us to give out free food and cash to lazy, indignant, self-righteous, and discontent people purveying a victim mentality:

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.

Just Judge

God is not indifferent to the suffering of people.  Neither will He put up with wickedness:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

God is righteous, and although wicked people may be allowed to continue on in their wickedness for what appears to humans to be an eternity, God is giving them every opportunity to change their mind and be saved.  Although it is a burden upon us when wicked people oppress us, and may even cost us our livelihoods, the material possessions that God has provided to us to manage, and perhaps our very lives, we are sheep being led to the slaughter, witness for God, so that the wicked might turn towards God.

And if they do not, let your heart be at rest.  For in death, they will surely pay in full for what they have done here on Earth.  Jesus came to pay our fine, but in refusing payment, they will endure for all eternity the punishment that is justly received since they cannot pay the price to redeem themselves.

Righteous Ruler

The Lord God Almighty reigns forevermore in Heaven upon His throne, rightfully in His play of power and glory, overseeing all that He created and ruling in righteousness as He pleases.  Let us not forget the sovereignty of God, and the wonderfully good implications that His righteous rule entail.  For nothing can happen in the universe without the express prior knowledge and permission of Almighty God, who is righteous, protector, provider, overseer, and master over all.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Where do I go first when I am in need?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You show Yourself to be righteous in all that You do, even in allowing the wicked to prosper.  Help me to have a perspective that places You in Your proper role in all things.  Give me the wisdom to recognize in my darkest situations that You are right in the center of them.  Help me to be Your eyes, ears, hands, and mouth as other struggle in their daily lives.  May Your light show through me that people will be drawn to the light and seek freedom from darkness.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

The Grace of God – Isaiah 26:7-11

The Wicked Don’t Recognize The Grace Of God

7 The path of the righteous is level;
you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous
smooth.
8 Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws,
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts.
9 My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.
10 But when grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.
11 Lord, your hand is lifted high,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;
let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.

Smooth Sailing

It is the Lord God Almighty that smooths the difficulties of life for the disciple.  God will make the path of the righteous straight, and set them on course because they have believed in Him and believe what He says.  God is sovereign, and He promises to take care of the righteous and their ways, and watch over them as they live their lives for Him.

Delightful Desires

When a person believes God, the path of righteousness becomes a joy to them.  Previously, righteousness would stand in the way of wicked, blocking them from their heart’s desires.  Now, righteousness becomes the very desires of their hearts.  They cannot help but desire to walk in righteousness before God.  He Himself places this desire in our hearts, and we now, with the stink and stain of sin removed, can fully embrace and recognize the beauty of righteousness.

We desire it so much that our souls long for it.  After walking with God for a little while, we seek righteousness out as though it was water and we are thirsty in the desert.  Only righteousness, and the presence of our Lord, can quench our immense thirst.

Wickedness Wastes

The wicked, however, even when presented with the grace of Almighty God, still do not realize its value.  They do not learn righteousness from it, because they are still blinded by their sin.  Even when the wicked are placed in a community of the righteous, they continue to do what they do, rather than learn the ways of righteousness.

There are people who believe that if you place people who have ethics and morals that are corrupt in amongst people who have good moral fiber and a strong work ethic, that somehow the ethics, morals, and desire to participate in jobs that benefit themselves and society will rub off on them and spur them on to greatness.  But the exact opposite almost always happens.  The people who are transplanted instead begin the corruption of the community, and the community suffers rather than the individual being rehabilitated by contact and proximity to exemplary behavior.

The only way that it will work is if there is a desire by the transplanted people to embrace the ideals and culture of where they are moved.  Otherwise, no change is possible.  That is the result of our human condition.  We are not able to escape it apart from the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  It is only then, being freed from the bondage of sin by the blood of Jesus, that we are able to obey God and love Him.

Pending Peril

Not only are they unable to see and seek righteousness, the wicked do not even see the hand of God raised above them, ready to invoke and inflict judgment upon them.  They are unaware of the signs because they cannot see them.  Sin so fully blinds us that we walk around in a stupor, doing what we know is wrong, yet unaware that consequences are soon to follow.

One of the effective strategies for luring criminals into traps by police is to send them letters indicating that they have won something.  Greed is so powerful in their lives, that they willingly show up at the phony storefront to claim their prize, only to find that their prize is a trip to prison.  Greed blinded them to their need for obscurity and overwhelmed them with a false sense of security, masking the true nature of their circumstances.

Consumed through Conflagration

And when people absolutely refuse to accept the truth, God send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.  He helps them to harden their hearts, for they refuse to listen to the One calling to them and trying to plow the soil of their hearts for the planting of seeds.  Hearts hardened by life will reject the seeds of grace and mercy, and will eventually provide the very opportunity to receive the wrath of God rather than the grace of God.  And once we die, it is too late.  So if you hear the voice of the Lord calling you to repentance, heed it now while He may be found.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I in a position where my heart can hear what God desires to tell me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have poured and continue to pour out your grace and mercy upon me each and every day.  Your mercies renew every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.  Help me to guard my heart against the difficulties of life so that I will not become embittered by my circumstances.  Help my heart to soften, that I may be in a better position to hear what You have to say.  Father, I pray that the hearts of the unbelievers would be softened as well, so that they might hear and be able to embrace Your love, grace, and mercy.  Help them, Lord God, for as Your word says, they will be consumed by your wrath if they do not repent.  This I ask in the precious name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Judgment and God – Isaiah 3:10-12

It Will Be Well For The Righteous

10 Tell the righteous it will be well with them,
for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.
11 Woe to the wicked!
Disaster is upon them!
They will be paid back
for what their hands have done.

12 Youths oppress my people,
women rule over them.
My people, your guides lead you astray;
they turn you from the path.

Righteous will Rest

In this section of scripture, the prophet Isaiah gives an interesting assurance to the righteous. They will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.  So often, the righteous receive hate for love, anger for help, and destruction for instruction.  The righteous are attacked by all who hate the light, and who bring the deeds of evil into the presence of the people.

We all inherently want to know the truth, but most people would rather hear a lie if the truth would make them feel bad.  This is completely out of character with the image-bearers of God.  Isaiah comforts the righteous with this truth, that when judgment comes, it will be well with them.  When the righteous are being oppressed, it is sometime easy to forget that God is watching over them, for their circumstances are dire indeed.

Disaster for the Depraved

The wicked, on the other hand, having embraced the lie, selfishly taking whatever they can, oppressing the righteous, and embracing the cover of darkness for their deeds, will not fare so well.  God will bring disaster upon them.  In that day, the Lord will enact His vengeance upon them, for God has said:

39 “See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. 40 I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear: As surely as I live forever, 41 when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. 42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh: the blood of the slain and the captives, the heads of the enemy leaders.” 43 Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.

Teen Tyranny

There are some interesting activities going on during the judgment of God.  The youth will oppress God’s people.  We see flash mobs, the knockout game, and every other manner of wickedness being executed by our youth.  Wicked parents strap bombs on their children and send them into crowds yelling praise to false gods as they commit murder and suicide.  It begs the question:  are we being judged by God?

Role Reversal

As a preface to the next indication, let it be said for the record that God has made men and women equal.  But equal does not mean identical.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all co-equal as they are God; yet they are not identical to each other.  Each has a role, and they embrace their roles without complaint or deviation from their true purpose.  Men and women are equal, but have been assigned different roles by God.  When we engage in role-reversal, we are in effect saying that what God has instituted is not good (or good enough) for us.

God has seen fit to provide us with deaconesses, holy women in service to Him and the flock.  Deborah was a judge for His people.  Yet, God has squarely placed the role of leadership in the hands of men.  He has created men with the innate desire to conquer and rule, but with the desire to protect and cherish.  Because of the fall, the word “submission” now has a connotation of oppressive slavery and servitude.  Yet Jesus Christ fully submitted Himself to the Holy Spirit to show us how we were to submit to God.  Paul exhorts us to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.  Jesus said that the one who would be great among us would be the servant to others, and the first will be a slave.

And so when women, who feel “oppressed” by men because men have refused to embrace the role that God provided to them with the proper attitude of servant-leadership, gain positions of leadership over men, the emotional stress of the perceived oppression (real or imagined) leads to an oppressive, dominating attitude that progresses towards the emasculation and punishment of men, even to those who have never interacted with the women in charge.  While this is not a rule, it is prevalent in the culture of militant feminism.  In this turn of events, God has removed the blessing of leadership of men, and has given it to the angry, vengeful women who now seek to rule over them.

Precarious Prediction

God warns us that our guides are leading us astray.  We need to carefully vet those who we permit to lead us to ensure that they are of God.  Additionally, we need to be like the Bereans, and search the scriptures to determine for ourselves if what they are saying both matches up with the word of the Living God, and is a proper interpretation and accurate representation of what God has said.

Seek the truth, and do not allow false teachers to mislead you.  Guard your hearts against lies, and embrace the truth, no matter how difficult it seems, or how much it challenges you.  For the word of God is like a sword, able to separate the truth from the lies within us, and give us a proper and accurate portrayal of what is deep within us.  And when we are challenged to rethink a position because of the word of God, let the word do its job, and purge us of all attitudes and beliefs that are contrary to God’s character and teaching.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I prepared for the judgment of God, living as the justified child of God in faith?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are full of mercy and grace, a perfect balance to your holiness and justice.  Give us peace in our souls as You pour out Your judgment upon the nations.  Strengthen us as we are oppressed by the wicked, and may we be the light on a hill for all to see Your glory and grace.  Help me to overcome any fears of what man can do to me, and fill me with a healthy fear in reverence to You, oh God.  Let me be fearless when I am chosen for oppression, and give me Your peace that defies description as I suffer for Your name.  For I know that You, oh God, will bring glory to Your name, and You will make all things right in Your time.  I pray that Your Son will return, and do so soon.  Praise be to You!  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Judgment by God – Isaiah 1:18-23

There Is Always Hope For The Wayward

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

21 See how the faithful city
has become a prostitute!
She once was full of justice;
righteousness used to dwell in her—
but now murderers!
22 Your silver has become dross,
your choice wine is diluted with water.
23 Your rulers are rebels,
partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
the widow’s case does not come before them.

Right Reasoning

The Lord calls us to come to His point of view.  The ESV translates this part, “‘Come now, let us reason together’, says the Lord”.  God is calling us to see things from His perspective.  He is calling us to settle the matter in our minds.  We have warped views of all things because of our inherent limitations:

  • An inherited sin nature from Adam
  • A severe lack of knowledge of the state of the universe and its truths
  • Personal prejudices and the coloration of events filtered through our experiences.

We are unable to rightly see what is truly going on around us, or even within us.  The heart is deceitful above all.  Since we cannot rightly interpret our own true intents and motivations, how can we expect to rightly interpret those of others, especially a holy and perfect God?  Therefore, God calls us to come to His point of view.

Faithful to Forgive

God promises us forgiveness when we believe Him.  Believing God is always credited to us as righteousness.  God calls us to repentance and promises that our sins will be washed as white as snow, though they were as scarlet as the blood we shed every time we sin.  For the only proper payment for sin is the lifeblood of the sinner.  God is always faithful to forgive when we come to Him in repentance.  We can be assured of that.  And He goes on to show how He rewards.

Reward for Respect

When we are obedient, He will give us the good things of the land.  This is not to say that a single individual will receive it, but rather the people of the land as a whole.  When a land’s people are obedient to God, they desire to follow His law.  And when all of the people of the land follow the law, crime literally disappears.  Strife and hardship between neighbors vanish, as we love our neighbors as ourselves.  We are then able to work together for the benefit of all and reap the rewards of peace, for God will make even our enemies to be at peace with us when we are obedient to Him.

Reward for Rebellion

And when we refuse the blessing and offering of forgiveness of God, then a much more terrible reward is to be expected.  God has promised that He would devour the land with the sword.  The very enemies that He would have made to live in peace with us will overcome us in war.  Death, rather than life, will be the result of rebellion.  For God cannot tolerate sin unchecked.  And for any nation that claimed to be of God, that is particularly egregious to Him.

Israel was chosen by God to bring the Law to the people and to display the glory and character of God to the nations.  They failed in that.  And now, most recently, the failed experiment in self-governance that is/was the United States of America, is facing the very same judgment of God.

The Puritan Pilgrims’ Mayflower Compact was dedicated to God.  The USA as a nation was birthed in the belief that a righteous, self-governing people would be able to live in freedom and prosperity with a minimum of interference of governing authority, for in self-policing and self-governance, little oversight would be needed except to protect the innocent from those who refused to self-govern themselves in righteousness and holiness towards God.  For it is only through the restraint of  sin by fear and obedience to God that we are able to govern the terrible passions that sin has created within us.

When Rulers are Rebels

What follows is a tragic list of what happens when our leaders no longer follow the One True God in holiness and submission to His Spirit:

  • The leaders prostitute themselves to evil
  • Justice is replaced by murder
  • What was once valuable has become corroded and tarnished
  • Their strength and values have become diluted and worthless
  • Those who are charged with meting out justice become partners with thieves
  • They love bribes and seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the people entrusted to oversee them
  • The most vulnerable of society that have a special place in God’s heart – the widows and the orphans – are left without justice and help

This has happened in Israel, and is now happening in the United States of America.  It is never too late to repent.  As a nation, both Israel and the USA need to come to their knees, confess their sins, seek the face of God, turn from their wicked ways, and mourn over the sins of its people. Only then will God heal their land and begin to bless them has He once did.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I living in such a way that my actions are in agreement with my stated profession that God’s ways are righteous and just?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your mercies renew every morning, and I thank and praise You for your patience and compassion that You show me every day.  Father, forgive me of my sins.  Grant me the strength and ability to walk in Your holy way, that I would turn from sin and turn towards you.  Forgive the leaders of my nation, Father, and I confess their sins to You.  We are an obstinate, stiff-necked people who are selfish and thing of no one and nothing but ourselves and our own pleasures.  Forgive us, Father, and help turn the hearts of those who claim to be Yours but live their lives completely independent of Your will back to humbleness and obedience to Your word.  And should they fail to hear Your call, and choose wickedness over righteousness, give me the strength to live by faith in You, for You and You alone have justified me through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Justice of God – Psalm 58:6-11

The Righteous Cry Out That Wicked Leaders Receive Justice In This Life

6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions!
7 Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.
10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Then people will say,
“Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth.”

Purge the Powerful

Nothing stinks quite as bad as people in leadership that have gone astray and have abused their power and responsibility over others.  For there is no authority except that which God has established.  David, having been on the receiving end of such a terrible power, the relentless pursuit by Saul’s troops for many years, cries out that their power would be broken.

Without its teeth, the lions, though powerful, would be crippled in their ability to bring down prey.  David calls for the de-fanging of those leaders who would use their power to oppress and destroy the very ones that they have been called by The Lord God Almighty to protect and to serve.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every petty dictator lost their ability to enforce their wickedness upon the helpless and the oppressed?

Salt the Slug

David makes another reference to those wicked leaders and uses the metaphor of a slug that melts as it moves along.  Slugs need the comfort and protection of darkness and a moist environment to move safely.  Just as they melt in the hot sun, or in salt, so does David wish that all wicked leaders would find themselves – melting as they move, their strength ebbing as they struggle, surely a fit end to the ones who would cripple and destroy the innocent and righteous that they themselves are oppressing.  Not only is it fit, it is just that they should, in the sight of those whom have been denied mercy, receive the same measure of mercy.

God is full of love and mercy, but He also says that a man reaps what He sows, for God cannot be mocked.  It is terrible but just when the leaders that sow wickedness in their rule are treated this way by God.  It is both a public humiliation and ruination, but also a warning to future leaders to submit themselves to God or face the same.  God gives them every opportunity to do what is right; however, there are limits even to the patience of God.  And once those limits are met, the mercy of God becomes the just wrath of God.

Quench them Quickly

For those who are oppressed by wicked rulers, relief from unrighteousness cannot come too quickly.  David calls for the swift destruction of wicked leadership.   When wickedness is allowed to flourish, it erodes the endurance of the righteous to bear it, for it appears that God either does not care, or will not intervene.  The usurpation of power of wicked rulers is greatly anticipated by the righteous, for God will not allow such behavior to continue forever.  And when anyone is on the receiving end of such vitriolic hatred and the expenditure of time and effort directed at themby wicked rulers, relief from their power is greatly desired.

Glad they’re Gone

Once the wicked have been removed from power; once the righteous have been avenged by God on behalf of their enemies, the righteous will rejoice, for they will know that God is still just.  It is only fitting that the righteous “dip their feet in the blood of the wicked”.  For so long, the righteous have had to endure oppression by wicked leaders who spill their blood and destroy their lives, that vengeance is desired.  The Lord God Almighty has said that vengeance is His, and He will repay.  The righteous look forward to that day, and pray that it occurs in their lifetime.  They will then see deliverance from evil by The Lord God Almighty Himself.

Joyful Justice

When the unjust rulers are removed from power, the righteous will rejoice, and joy will fill their hearts.  It is then that the righteous can say that they have experienced deliverance from such evil by God.  They will participate in His character through experiential knowledge of His glory and grace.  Then the wicked will fear, and the righteous rejoice, for the reign of terror and destruction will be at an end.

Beware, you rulers who seek wickedness and operate under the cloak of darkness – your time is short.  Repent now, and give glory to God, or face His wrath and your very public destruction in front of the very people you oppress.  God’s vengeance is coming, and there is nothing apart from repentance that will stop it.  You have been warned.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I walking in justice when I have been given leadership over others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for your holiness and Your love of justice.  You alone are perfectly just, able to rightly discern the motives of our hearts and the intent of our actions.  Examine my heart, oh God, and see if there be any unrighteousness within me.  Purge it out of me, and strengthen me as I am disciplined.  Remove the dross from my character, that I may walk ever closer with You.  Destroy my enemies, oh God, just as you destroyed the enemies of David.  Give me victory over those who would oppress me, and may your vengeance be upon all who rule without mercy and justice.  May their rule in power come quickly to an end, and may their public humiliation be so great in the eyes of all, that the wicked would shudder before You and fear for their very souls.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Justice of God – Isaiah 59:14-15

The Lack Of Justice Displeases God

14 So justice is driven back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
honesty cannot enter.
15 Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

The Lord looked and was displeased
that there was no justice.

Justice Jilted

Evil people seek to position themselves as far from justice as they can get.  Their works demand justice, and they seek to thwart the righteous by escaping what they deserve.  Darkness hates the light, and justice has a tendency to restrict evil from its effects.  Evil would prefer that justice turn its eyes away from their works so that they would not reap what they sow.  In that, those who are tasked to ensure that justice is meted out are threatened or outright bullied into submission, driven back from its rightful place in society.

Righteousness Rejected

Once justice is displaced, the people reject righteousness, because their love grows cold in the darkness of the wickedness that grows in the vacuum.  The only path to success when righteousness is rejected is to embrace evil.  The righteous will stand at a distance, for wickedness will turn its full force of anger and vitriolic hatred towards anyone brave enough to approach the wicked.

In the United States of America, as long as a person agrees with the wicked societal and political positions and stances that are prevalent, regardless of the person’s past indiscretions, they are left alone.  But when any deviation from that worldview is presented, the people who once shielded them become their biggest critics and cry out for their humiliation and destruction.  Labels of hater, bigot, hypocrite, and many others are relentlessly spoken about that person, until their character is fully assassinated.

Yet we are called to display God’s character.  In Jeremiah 29:7:, God calls the righteous to pray for and seek peace and prosperity wherever we are:

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.

Truth Trounced

As this turning towards evil progresses, truth is attacked as well.  Moral relativism gives birth, and truth can no longer be heard, because, after all, what is truth?  Truth is rejected by those who prefer the power that historical revisionism provides to them.  If you can change what a person believes about the past, you can skew how that person views future events.

Take, for instance, the viewpoint that being of a specific race (color of skin caused by hereditary genetics) somehow magically makes a person “underprivileged”, “oppressed”, “victimized”, “downtrodden”, “targeted”, and any other number of emotionally charged words; it will have a tendency to affect how a person views events.

Predator and Prey

The innate need for unity in purpose forces evil to destroy that which cannot coexist with its ideology and worldview.  Truth and lies cannot commingle.  Those who live in lies despise the very thing that exposes their actions for the evil practices that they are.  Truth and righteousness are then hunted down and extinguished by the unrighteous, so that they will not be reminded of evilness within them.  Wicked people seek to salve their conscience, because their conscience conflicts with their goals and agendas.  Or, as we have seen with the LGBT community, it is not enough to merely tolerate the differences of opinion in viewpoints – everyone MUST agree with and publicly endorse their viewpoint, or be destroyed for their “insolence” in rejecting “the enlightened view”.

Almighty Annoyed

God is never pleased when the vehicles that He created to display His character, honor, and glory refuse to act in the manner for which they were created.  God is greatly displeased when Truth, Righteousness, and the shunning of evil are sought out and destroyed for doing exactly what they were meant to be doing – displaying Almighty God’s character and His love, mercy, grace, and righteousness.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we suppressing the truth with unrighteousness?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are very patient with us given the state of the world today.  Your word says that Your mercies renew every morning, but there will come a time when You can no longer be found.  Father, work in the hearts of those whose evil predisposes them to shun Your light.  Help their hearts to break over their sin.  Show them the price that needed to be paid in order to redeem us to You.  And guide each of us towards truth, justice, and righteousness.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Forgiven by God – Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

It is a blessing to be forgiven. What a relief!  It is also expected that we will forgive as we have been forgiven.  So why is it so hard to forgive when we have been forgiven so much?  We suffer three injuries every time we forgive:

  • The Initial Offense – We suffer from the harm that happened because of the event
  • The Pain of Reconciliation – We must come to terms with the pain of offense and let that pain go, since we consider it as though it never happened
  • The Absence of Justice – We suffer knowing that since we have chosen to forgive, justice will not occur for the offense

Yet, we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven.  But why does it seem that every day people are getting more evil than ever?  Perhaps this is why (Matthew 24:12-13):

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Besides, everything has already been paid in full already.  Just as some physical injuries take longer to heal than others, the pain of sin and forgiveness can take longer for certain events.  Either way, we are called to be perfect like God.  So, like everything else in life, practice makes perfect – make forgiveness the first state of mind when someone wrongs you.  And let God take care of the rest.  Lean on Him for strength and healing.  For:

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Be an oak of righteousness; forgive as God has forgiven you.  And let God give you the oil of joy and a garment of praise.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have forgiven us more that we can even comprehend.  From the worst of sinners as Paul described himself to the ones who led good lives, we have all sinned and fallen short of Your glory.  Forgive us this day our trespasses, and help us to forgive the trespasses of others.  Strengthen us as we deal with the consequences of not only our own sin, but the sin of others.  Help us to remember what it cost You to forgive our sins, that we might put everything into perspective.  Touch our hearts and comfort us as we draw close to you.  This we ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?