Love in Judgment

Ezekiel 11:16   (KJV)   16 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.

Even when God finally judges us or disciplines us, even when we’re suffering the unpleasant consequences of our foolish choices, even when we find ourselves in non-ideal situations, God’s love and grace never stops.

Ezekiel 11.16 - Love in JudgmentThe immeasurable abundance of God’s love and grace can’t be denied; they’re very obvious; we’re surrounded by them and our experiences are inundated with them. But there comes a time when He finds it wise to discipline us, or judge us.

He doesn’t delight in resorting to punishment; He’s slow to anger and He doesn’t execute judgment right away the moment we sin. He patiently does so many things in so many ways to get our distracted attention and correct our brazen rebellion. He tries—over and over and over… He’s a God of second chances; that’s so true, and yet in so many cases, that’s a very obvious understatement.

When we sincerely repent, He forgives us; He doesn’t hold grudges. But I admit, despite our most earnest intentions, we still fail Him. From the time we’ve surrendered our lives to Him until now, how many times has He forgiven us? Second chance—it’s more like millions of chances. So His love, mercy, grace, patience—all these can’t be questioned. When He finally judges people or nations, it’s because that’s the only recourse left if there is any possibility of waking up to the reality of their utter ungodliness.

Even in the middle of judgment, and/or punishment, and/or discipline, God is still calling, wooing, drawing, expecting the rebellious to finally come to their senses and turn back to Him. Of course, there are those who persist in their stubbornness, but there are those who wake-up and realize the terrible state they’re in.  But as for God, He longs that His people be restored instead of destroyed. Even in the middle of judgment, there’s mercy, there’s grace, there’s a promise, there’s hope. What a God!!!

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Love, Rebuke, Chastening

Revelation 3:19   (KJV)   19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

God’s love neither contradicts nor eliminates rebuke and chastening; in fact, it’s His love that necessitates them. We don’t hate or reject those loving actions of our Father, as unpleasant as they may be while we’re in them. Instead, we welcome them with open Revelation 3.19 - Love, Rebuke, Chasteninghands, heart, and mind. And we take the necessary actions to correct whatever needs correction.

We’re not only accepting of God’s rebuke and discipline; we’re humbly grateful and appreciative of them. We don’t just tolerate them; we celebrate them. And we don’t drag our feet forcing ourselves to respond and to change; we’re zealous of growing in the likeness of our precious Lord Jesus. We willingly and quickly turn away from thoughts, actions, and choices He forbids. We understand: lack of desire and passion to leave ways that break our Fathers’ heart needs dumping in itself.

Hmmm; let’s see; we repent from Lukewarnness; we want to be hot—on fire for God—passionately loving and serving Him. No, it’s not cool to be “spat out” by Dad; that’s horrible. We repent from materialism, from close-mindedness, from spiritual ineptitude; we pursue Him, eternal and imperishable treasures, wisdom, and spiritual maturity. We repent from evil, unrighteousness, and ungodliness. We choose the good, right, and godly.

Restoration and Vindication

Micah 7:9   (KJV)   I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.

We’re willing to submit ourselves to our heavenly Father’s discipline. Yes, we still sin. To say we no longer do makes liars out of us. Yes, we can still grieve the Holy Spirit. Yes, God Micah 7.9 - Restoration and Vindicationstill doesn’t like sin. Yes, God still doesn’t like us sinning. And yes, He still disciplines His children.

But we don’t beat ourselves on the head when we fall. It’s good that we don’t feel good about it when we do things that displease Him Who we want to please the most. Conviction is good. The worst thing is to feel easy, comfortable, and even okay about sinning. But when we offend our heavenly Dad, we don’t cower away and pull away from Him. We fall, but we rise; we don’t stay down—that’s what the righteous do.

We know that our heavenly Father is full of love and invites us to boldly come to His throne of grace so we can receive grace and mercy when we need it. He’s our Shepherd Who restores the souls of the contrite in heart. We don’t think about God no longer wanting to do anything for us just because we fail Him. True, we undergo the process of discipline, but even as He disciplines us, our Lord Jesus is also interceding for us. And in His own timing, He brings us forth to the light, and we see Him vindicate us against those who attack us, put us down, embarrass us, and mock us and our Father.

Slander Not

Psalm 101:5   (KJV)   Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.

Slander is abhorrent; it ought to be. We don’t involve ourselves in badmouthing and backbiting our neighbors. When people do, we cut them off right away. We don’t allow Psalm 101.5 - Slander Notourselves to become trash heaps; no, we stop it right away. It may be offensive to silence trash-talkers; it may be a humbling or humiliating experience for them, but that may even be something good for them to experience.

Those who spew out negative words about others operate in pride that stems directly from proud hearts. They feel like they’re above and others are below. That they’re better than others may not necessarily be true; they just esteem themselves as such.

We can justify times when there’s a need to speak about the wrongs and errors of others, but when we can make the necessary points without exposing the people, that’s what we do. It’s only when it’s absolutely needed that we resort to exposing the person. But that’s our last recourse. When we know of their sin, instead of slandering them to people behind their backs, we approach them directly and show their faults. We do this lovingly, humbly, gently, boldly, and restoratively.

God’s Goodness and Severity

Romans 11:22   (KJV)   22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

God is good and severe; God is loving and just; God is Father and Lord; God is gracious and holy; God is to be loved and feared. All facets of God’s nature are true; one ought to not be sacrificed for the other; one ought to not be rejected in preference of another. All Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliffof them have to be embraced. I’ve observed so many people becoming very passionate about one of God’s natures and in doing so undermining the value of another, perhaps unawarely.

“Behold;” take a look; observe it; notice: God is both good and severe. He is loving, gentle, kind; He is also holy, stern, strict, serious. His Fatherhood is a good, balanced Fatherhood. He loves and disciplines. He doesn’t rear spoiled kingdom kids.  It’s clearly explicit: “on them which fell,” to those who live in disobedience, He is severe. That’s not birthed out of thoughtless and angry emotion or passion. That springs forth from His wisdom and patience.

On the other hand, “if thou continue in His goodness,” if we continue to live faithfully in the light of His goodness, He continues to pour out more goodness to us than we deserve. What God gives to us is always way more abundant than what our actions merit—He is gracious, that is. And it’s important that we heed these words soberly. He is more serious about it than how a lot of believers think and teach. If we fall and don’t stay down, if we don’t continue in His goodness, we “also”—which could mean it’s been true to others already—“shalt be cut off.”

Instead of being quick to interpret those words away to fit our emphasis on the doctrine of love and grace, my loving encouragement is that we please consider the severity of those words more than we probably have been willing to before. In the first place, our loving and gracious God included them in His recorded Words for loving and gracious reasons. He’s not hating on us in recording those words.

Unshakable Kingdom

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Heaven and earth will pass away; everything that can be shaken will be shaken, but the Kingdom of God will remain. We’ve received and will continue receiving from our precious Lord gifts and blessings that really matter. We are deeply grateful to Him and we continue to live a life of worship, a life that honors and pleases Him. This is our highest expression of praise and thanksgiving, our most appropriate response to an unconditionally loving and all-powerful God and Father, and our surest step  in preparing for and welcoming His unshakable Kingdom.

We’re surrounded by so many faithful forebearers who lived with their sights focused on our heavenly home. We do that. We prefer a home not made by human hands; we choose treasures that won’t get rusted, corrupted, or stolen. We don’t stagnate, give up, or turn back; instead, we press on towards God’s high calling–an eternal existence with our beloved God and Father.

We let go of anything and everything that may get us sidetracked, weighted down, sidelined, or disqualified. We set our eyes in the King of the Kingdom. He has shown us how. Despite pain, suffering, and shame, He completed His mission; we will too. If we need to be disciplined, constricted, corrected, we’re willing–anything for God. We’ve received the best; why trade for less?

Punishment for Believers?

1 Thessalonians 4:6-7   (KJV)   That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

1 Thessalonians 4:6-7   (NIV)   and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

The context of these verses has to do with sexual sins.  God still avenges or punishes sexual immorality or uncleanness even under the Covenant of grace. He has given straightforward warning regarding this.

Christians ought to be bold and brave in telling the truth as it is. We’re very vocal about grace and God’s forgiveness. And that’s good. But, there are those of us who put on our breaks in declaring that God still deals with disobedience. In dealing with consequences for our sins, we comfortably refer to God’s “discipline,” and that’s true too. But we’d like to avoid any possible consideration that God still has the right to deal with sin. Let’s remember: He has the divine prerogative to punish unbelievers for their sin, and (ready for this) believers for our sins.

Didn’t God punish Jesus for all our sins? Yes He has. But it seems like verses like the ones above tell us that we don’t get a free ride to sinful practices without any consequences. Jesus took all our sins that we may be saved. As saved, let’s watch our steps. Even if God forgives us for lying, or stealing, or sexual impurity, there may be consequences for our forgiven sins that are irreversible. That can be true as well in the spiritual dynamics. Let’s not buy into the lies that purity is evil and harmful and that we ought to just be free in living out all our sexual passions because it is through that that we can really enjoy the fullness of life. Powerful lies that has victimized even believers. Truth: unbridled ungodly sexual passions lead to tragic crashes.

Choose real freedom. Choose punishment-free living. Choose purity.

Dear God, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness and salvation. May our steps be that of the righteous and holy. Many of us have fallen into and excused our ungodly sexual behaviors and practices. Help us to be serious in ridding ourselves of them. Please help us to realize that You will still deal with us – punish us because of our ungodly sexual indulgences. Save us Lord from its power. Or save us Lord from our foolishness, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.