He Has Come to Judge (Love) the World

COVID Pic“For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” -Exodus 12:12-13

While God was judging Egypt, He was revealing His love to His people. For some it was a time of wailing and mourning, for others it was a time of redemption and revelation. For those with the blood of the Lamb on their doorposts, it was a time of safety and protection. The fact is, apart from Christ, we would all crumble under the mighty hand of God’s justice. God is a God of truth and justice, but also a God of mercy and love and grace. It is God’s desire that none perish, but that all people turn to Him. His mercy triumphs over judgment!

I’ve realized in my life that during difficult seasons my concept of God has sometimes been wrong. Testing reveals our concept of God. If I see God as a loving Father who cares for me and loves me unconditionally, I can rest in intimate trust of my loving Heavenly Father. I feel secure. I am not afraid. But if I see Him as an angry judge waiting to find a reason to pour out wrath upon me, I fear.

The truth is, there is an element of truth in each concept of God. God is love, but He is also judge. Jesus came “full of grace and truth” and He also came to reveal the Father. At times, Jesus was stern and demanding. At times He was intensely narrow as He called His disciples to walk a narrow road, to forsake all to follow Him. He sternly rebuked the religious leaders and rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith. Truth.

On the other hand, He was moved with great compassion for people, He healed the sick and cast out demons, and He was willing to quickly forgive and welcome repentant sinners into His kingdom. Grace. God’s qualities are not opposing forces but demonstrations of the fullness of His character.

With my son, Joseph, sometimes I have to be stern and sometimes I have to correct him. He’s still working on the obedience part! My motive is always love. My motive is to protect Him because I want what is best for him. Sometimes my motive is to protect what is precious to me. For example, Joseph likes my journals, but these journals are important to me. I know if he gets his hands on them he might tear them. He doesn’t yet know how to handle these kind of things. More importantly, I would never allow him to mistreat Leslie because she is precious to me. It’s important to me that he treats her with respect. At Joseph’s age, he doesn’t completely understand why I don’t permit him to do certain things or to have certain things, but my motive is always what is best for Him.

At other times (most of the time I hope), I show Joseph my love. I hold him, hug him, kiss him, play with him, and take care of him. He’s my beloved son and I am very proud of him. More than anything else, I want him to know how much I love him. I want him to feel safe. I want to enjoy him. But I cannot tolerate disobedience; I am bound to discipline him for his own good. I prefer not to discipline him, in fact, I often hesitate to discipline him because I don’t want to be too harsh and I don’t want to wound his emotions. I would rather enjoy him, but sometimes discipline is necessary. My discipline of him is not in opposition to my love for him.

Likewise, God, whose motives are always pure, sometimes acts with zeal, even anger, to protect His children. Sometimes He acts to punish wrongdoing, as any good judge should. Sometimes He disciplines us to draw us back to Himself, but He always does so in love. As I may act to protect my journal or to require that Joseph honor Leslie, sometimes God acts to protect His own glory. All that He does, He does in love. His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime. He is slow to anger and long-suffering, but abounding in love and faithfulness. God is love. God is holy. He is holy love. He is never one without the other.

Right now the world is being shaken to its core by the coronavirus/COVID-19. For all of this, on some level, we feel the weight of testing. But for those who are in Christ this can be a time of drawing nearer to the love of the Father, a time of knowing Him deeper and experiencing His arms of protection. God is a judge and I believe He is judging the world right now. His judgment is not for the purpose of inflicting pain or punishment, but for the purpose of drawing people to Himself. God’s judgment always is motivated to redeem. God wants to heal, but we must turn to Him for healing. We must turn towards His love.

The Father’s Protection

O39n April 15, 2019, I dreamed that I was on a stage with a microphone and I began to prophecy. The prophecy was like a short rhyme, I don’t remember all the words, but I remember saying something like, “Jesus, Jesus, seek Him with all your heart.” In general, the message was to seek the Lord, to be close to Him. Then I heard clearly, “Evil days are coming, walk closely to me so I can protect you.” Then I saw a picture of vision of the Father. He was gathering His children close to Him with large, long arms. He was big, in order to protect them.

In these evil days, it is important that we stay close to the Father, not legalistically, but in relationship with our Abba Father. He wants to protect His children.

As much as I love my son, Joseph, I can protect Him best when he is close to me. If he strays from my side, it is harder for me to protect him. Likewise, we need to walk closely with our Father, close to His everlasting arms. “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

In the book of Genesis, Joseph called for his father, Jacob, to come to the land of Egypt due to the severe famine that was in the land. Joseph said,

“You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute” (Genesis 45:10-11, emphasis mine).

Jacob’s obedience to the Father, and to his own son, created a place of protection and provision for the people of Israel. Jacob and his household drew “near” to Joseph, a picture of both intimate relationship and a place of security and protection.

In these evil days, God wants to be our Goshen, our protection and provision. Let’s draw near to the Father, under His wings we will find refuge (Psalm 91:4).

God is Moving in the Earth

 

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I want to share a dream I had which I believe is from the Lord. When it comes to dreams from the Lord, some dreams are very clear while some have an element of fuzziness or haziness. I always try to do my best to recount the dream as best I remember it. With that, here’s the dream…

Recently, I dreamed that I was in a house and I was beckoned to go outside to the porch. From the porch, I looked into the horizon, into the sky just above the earth. What I saw from the earth was the earth itself. The earth appeared to me in the sky as a large planet, not too different than the picture in this post. It appeared much closer and much larger than how the moon appears in a normal night sky.

Then, it was as if the cover of the earth was peeled back and I saw inside the earth. Inside I saw at least two large golden rings. The rings were as wide as the earth, like three-dimensional wedding bands. The backdrop of the rings was heavenly in nature. The rings were spinning and turning in motion but not in the same direction. The picture was bright and shining. That’s the dream.

I believe the interpretation of the dream is this: When we look at the earth, we see it in its normal state. From a distance, the earth does not appear to be moving, it generally appears still. Also, the earth in its normal, sinful state, has so many things that are wrong with it. Up close, we see wars and rumors of wars. We see pain and violence. We see mass shootings and destruction from cataclysmic weather events. We see protests, political bickering and scandals. We see government corruption, greed, dishonesty, and deception. We see intense persecution of Christians. We see so much anger and hate. Things are much as Jesus described they would be in Matthew 24. These are the obvious things.

What we may miss, if we are not careful, is what is going on beneath the surface. Despite what we see on the surface, which unfortunately is normal for our planet, God is moving. Underneath the surface, God in His glory is at work. He is not still. He is bring forth His royal purpose. He is moving in power, wonder, and magnificence. However, what God is doing is not always obvious to the naked eye. It’s rarely reported in the news.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. -Matthew 24:14

I recently read a book entitled DREAMS AND VISIONS: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? by Tom Doyle. In the book, Mr. Doyle shares beautiful stories of how Jesus is visiting Muslims in their dreams, drawing them to the Father. On the surface, much of the Muslim world may seem in turmoil. We are confronted most with the ugly side of the Muslim religion. Yet, behind the surface, God is moving in the hearts of individual Muslims whom He loves.

I don’t know exactly what the rings mean, but here’s my thought. God is at work in two ways. First, He is working to prepare His bride for His return. The other ring could represent God calling many who are not saved to a covenant relationship with Him. A ring symbolizes the covenant relationship we have with God. It also may symbolize the authority we have on this earth as ambassadors of His kingdom. We have a part to play in bringing forth God’s purpose on the earth.

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. -2 Corinthians 5:20

It would be short-sighted for us to be so focused on earthly things that we miss out on what God is doing. It would also be short-sighted for us to become so discouraged by the painful things we see that we miss what God is doing. We need to step back and see the big picture, the real picture. The real news is that God is on the move! Satan is author of the fake news – the messages that bring anxiety and fear. Despite what we see on the earth, God is at work. He is moving in the earth!

Lord, gives us eyes of the Spirit to see as You see. Open the eyes of our understanding that we may see that what You are doing is much greater than what we see in the world around us. Although Your work may seem hidden, it is a work of eternal value. Help us to build our lives on Your kingdom, seeking You first and Your righteousness.

He’s got the whole world in His hands!

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Love is Patient

“Love suffers long”
-I Corinthians 13:4

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Love is patient. It’s not uncommon for my wife to ask me to be more patient. I tend to get impatient with things that don’t work right, even little things like a website password that I’m certain I wrote down correctly. I get impatient with myself when I don’t work right!

Age has some advantages. I’m not old (only 40), but one thing I have learned through the years is God’s unending patience and longsuffering. The longer I live, the more mistakes I make. The more mistakes I make, the more I get to see God’s patience with me. The more God shows love to me in my failings, the more I realize how longsuffering He is. The more I see how my sins and weaknesses do not separate me from His love, the more I am able to extend that same love to others.

Psalm 103:12 says,
“As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

East and west meet at one point in the universe and extend from there in opposite directions, never to meet again. That point is the cross. At the place of the cross all sins are forgiven and washed away, removed from us as far as the east is from the west. This extension of God’s forgiveness demonstrates the wideness of His longsuffering. His patience is never-ending.

God is eternally patient with us as we work things out in our lives, as we press forward to be more like Him.

To walk in character includes walking in patience. Jesus said, “By your patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). Our natural tendency is to be anxious about daily life, to worry about the future or be terrified by current events. But to walk in the Spirit is to walk in peace regardless of the circumstances. Patience of soul is something that must be possessed, it must be worked out. We need to learn to quiet our souls in Him and speak God’s word over our situations. As we do, we also get to grow in greater patience with those we love (and those we struggle to love).

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” -1 Thessalonians 5:14

“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient…” -II Timothy 2:24

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” -James 5:7-8

“Love is patient” -I Cor. 13:4, NIV

*all Scriptures are NKJV unless otherwise noted

Prioritizing Joy

JoyIn my marriage, not much makes me feel better than making my wife laugh. When I say or do something that fills her with overflowing laughter, I feel a sense of satisfaction. Making her happy makes me feel like I am doing something right.

I try to bring fun and laughter to my home. Life is too short to be serious all the time. There are many problems in the world, but Jesus promises joy for his disciples (see John 15:11, John 16:16-24, John 10:10).

This weekend we took our son to the Emergency Room because he got an infection on his body. Thank God, it wasn’t a big deal and should clear up after a few days. That’s life. Still, we found plenty of time to enjoy time together as a family. I made jokes while we watched a Hallmark movie. We acted goofy with our little boy, enjoying his smile. On Sunday, we went to church and then drove about 45 minutes to our favorite Mexican restaurant and ate street tacos.

God wants us to enjoy the life He has given us. He wants to inject some joy into our family life and marriages. Ecclesiastes 9:9 (AMP) says, “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given you under the sun…” Life is short, it passes by quickly. I just turned 40 and I’m determined to live out my days with righteousness and integrity, serving the Lord with all my heart, and enjoying the time God has given me.

Proverbs 13:7 (NKJV) says, “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.” Ecclesiastes 9:4 (NKJV) says, “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” You may not feel like you have much, but I encourage you to make the most of what you have, enjoy who you are with and make the most of the time God has given you.

In this article by Ken Blount, Prioritizing Joy In Your Marriage, he offers some practical suggestions for injecting laughter into your daily life. He says, “Good humor stimulates wit and laughter, and it actually creates closeness and intimacy between people, while hurtful humor creates pain and emotional distance.” Use your humor to build up, not to tear down. Enjoy your spouse and your children. Enjoy your friends and the people around you. Enjoy loving God. Enjoy the beauty of His creation. Enjoy life! Prioritize joy.

For Reflection: What are some things you do to inject laughter into your marriage? Into your home? Into your daily life?

“A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.”
-Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)