A just God

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21-23 ESV)

What do we need to do to be able to follow Christ’s steps and not retaliate nor threaten? We need to be still because God is God; because He judges justly.

The Bible is clear, God judges everyone according to their deeds. He punishes who needs to be punished and avenges who need to be avenged. He is just and fair. But what about all those situations where you were abused, wronged and nothing happened? The persons involved have just kept living their lives as if nothing ever happened. From injustices to abuses, we tend to take things into our own hands. We stop entrusting ourselves to the one who judges justly and start doing what Jesus didn’t do: we retaliate, avenge ourselves or threaten.

The NLT version says that Jesus “left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” But it is difficult to leave what matters to us into the hands of someone who seems at best indifferent and at worst unjust. So to follow Jesus’ step we need to believe, to trust God when He says that He is just, and this will motivate us to be still and wait on Him, instead of retaliating. Why? Because to believe that God is just is to believe that:

  1. He cannot tolerate wrongdoing  (Habakkuk 1:13).
  2. He will punish every wrongdoing in a way or other.
  3. He will judge our own wrongdoings, even if they are done in response to evil done to you.

Peter says it clearly: “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” (1 Peter 1:17 ESV).

On one hand, entrusting ourselves to God, putting our cases into His care or protection, is a matter of trust (trust in His justice, and of course in His love and care), and on the other hand, it is a matter of fear of the Lord (because we were ransomed with the precious blood of Christ, 1 Peter 1:17-19). Sometimes, it is easy to think that to fear the Lord means only avoiding immorality or other ‘big’ sins. But to fear the Lord means also to trust Him, because not to trust him means questioning who He is, denying His divinity, what makes Him who He is.  So, if you fear God, you trust him; if you trust  Him, you fear Him (because you believe He is who He says He is), and you let Him take care of your case, even if it means waiting until the judgment day, or

Yes, it is difficult, but remember, He is:

The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32: 4)

 

 

Never tired, always bathing in goodness

Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the Lord’s favor in the land of the living? (Psalm 27:13 NET)

Sometimes you read a verse times after times and you don’t get this little thing that is obvious and makes a big difference. Then in a time of dire need, God stops you and makes you get it; actually more than just getting it, He feeds you with it. His Word becomes food for you. And for me, the verse above is one of those.

The part translated “Where would I be” is also translated “I would have despaired”, I had fainted”. What God is telling us here is that the only way not to be tired, weary, exhausted, not to faint and despair is to believe that we will experience His favor, His goodness; that He will do us good.

The only being who never gets tired is God. All of us, young, old, super spiritual and weak get tired one day. And it is normal. The Christian life is filled with trials, difficulties, challenges and many other things that steal our strength, our energy, our joy, our hope, etc. God knew it and provided us with the perfect solutions: to believe He will be good to us. When you believe in His goodness, His strength becomes your strength.

What does it mean to believe in His goodness for you? It means that you are so sure that He is for you, so sure that He will never leave you nor forsake you, so sure that His faithfulness, mercy, and grace will follow you all the days of your life that you wait upon Him, you wait for His help. You don’t fret nor get worried, but stay still because He is your God.

How do you know that you are doing those? Well, if your strength is renewed, if you walk without getting tired, then you are waiting upon Him. If you run without growing weary, if you feel that you are soaring like eagles, then you are waiting for His help.

If you don’t feel that way, if you feel tired and exhausted inside, if your spiritual strength is gone, you are not believing that He will be good to you. Let me put it that way: If God is the Ruler of the universe and He is for you, why would you run around panicked, worried, or frustrated? You would simply wait for Him and keep doing His will, knowing that everything is taken care of, knowing that you are taken care of.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is an eternal God, the creator of the whole earth. He does not get tired or weary; there is no limit to his wisdom. He gives strength to those who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy. Even youths get tired and weary; even strong young men clumsily stumble. But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.” (Isaiah 40: 28- 31 (NET))

Asking, trusting in God’s mercy

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21-28)

What in the faith of that woman was great? I asked myself that question many times. I don’t know if I have the answer, but there is something she had that is indeed great: she knew that she was unworthy, and she came to receive mercy, trusting in God’s faithfulness.

She came calling Jesus Lord and Son of David. She acknowledged His power and His compassion, basically telling Him: “You have the power and the good will to help me so I cry for mercy.” When Jesus rejected her at first, she answered by asking for help. Then He called her “dog” and she said: “Yes, I am a dog, but I am your dog so I am expecting your mercy.” She never doubted of God’s goodness.

Generally, we don’t persevere as she did. When God seemed to push us away, we are desperate and it becomes difficult to pray, or at least to pray for that specific thing we want so much. Or we are frustrated as if God owes us something.  Faith believes that God has the power to do anything and rests on His mercy to ask Him again and again, trusting that His mercy will never fail.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

So anxious!?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isaiah 45:6-7

There are so many reasons to be anxious. Everything we do and say, everything we are and have , all the things we fail to do and say, all the things we are not and don’t have are reasons to be anxious. I have been so anxious lately, anxious about my past, anxious about my present and anxious about my future. And God, in His amazing grace, reminded me how foolish I was to be anxious. After all I am just a creature. (Matthew 6:25-34)

The Holy Spirit convinces me that I need to stop being anxious, not because everything is going to happen as I want, but because I am not the one in control (Proverbs 19:21).

I cannot change the past and decide for the future. I can plan, dream, but at the end there is only one being that can give a meaning to my past, decide for my present and build my future, God. Only Him has the power to do something about anything. And the good news is I am His creature, and more His daughter.

The one who decides of victories and failures (Proverbs 21:31-32), the one who says a word and things happen (Psalm 33:9, Lamentations 3:17, Romans 4:17), is my Father and He cares for me. I am His and He is going to make everything work for my good (Romans 8:28).

So I can plan, build, watch over without being anxious for the one who decides cares for me (Psalm 127:1-2). So my new plan is to let Him teach me how to just seat, enjoy the landscape and rejoice.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 131

For stormy days

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33

Have you ever been frustrated with God because He did not come through for you after many prayers? Do you remember those days when you just did not understand why God, who is Almighty and good, left you in the midst of difficult, painful circumstances? Here is something that may help us to trust and be still in the midst of storms.

So Jesus sent the disciples on the boat. They were there not because of pride or disobedience but because of their submission, while Jesus stayed, dismissing the crowds, and then praying. While He was praying, the disciples were facing a storm and contrary winds. He did not calm the storm, but kept praying (Luke 22: 31-32). And even when He came to them, He did not calm the storm and the winds. He walked on the sea, but did not calm it. He spoke to them, comforting them, but did not calm it. Yet He was there with them. Difficult circumstances do not mean that God has abandoned or forgotten you. Difficult circumstances mean that God waits for you to come to Him in the midst of the storm. He wants your faith to be great.

A Life Worthy of the Gospel

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. Philippians 1:27-28

What does it take to live in a way worthy of the gospel? It takes faith of course, but faith in the reality of the gospel. It is easy to preach the gospel, to share our faith, to read the Bible without believing in the gospel, without being in awe of the gospel.
Before you think that I am crazy, think of it a bit.
If you really believed that Jesus died then raised from the death, would you not be taking risks for His sake, ready to suffer to bring Him glory?
If you really believed that God will judge you according to what you have done, would you not be doing more and better?
If you truly believed that sin separates you from God, would you not be more eager to repent quickly?
If you really believed that the way you treat the poor determines where you spend eternity, would you not be loving, serving, feeding them?
If you really believed in the holiness of God, would you not be rejoicing in your suffering, happy to be made holier?
If you really believed that Jesus came, died, and is coming back, would you still be friend of the world?
If you really believed that everyone who dies without Christ will go to hell, would you not be sharing your faith with your family, your friends…? Would you not be praying and fasting for them?
And if you truly believed that the one who created everything and is sovereign over everything loves you and is for you, would you still be afraid of being rejected? Would you still be looking for people approval? Would you still be afraid of the future?
Remember without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the key for a life worthy of our God and Savior.