The Righteous Judge

20140218-111209.jpg

The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. (Psalm 9:7, 8 NIV)

Lord, Master, Savior, Redeemer, Ruler, Healer, Lover of My Soul, The Lamb, The Prince of Peace, Abba Father, The Creator, Comforter, Friend, are all ways we refer to the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All of these names and more reveal the benefits of God in our lives. But there is another name or title for God we rarely speak of; Righteous Judge. 

Psalm 9 is a song of praise for God’s attribute of judgment. He is described as a judge for our enemies, judge for the nations, and the judge of our own actions as well. This Psalm shows us that God is judging the entire world based on his standard of righteousness. We don’t talk about it that much because this imagery of God as a righteous judge just isn’t as appealing as the sweet baby Jesus in the manger. I must admit, as I read this Psalm, I was disturbed when I began to put mental pictures with the words. As the Psalmist praised God for the judgment he brought on his enemies and the nations, it made me uncomfortable. 

I think we all get a little uncomfortable when we read or hear preaching about God’s standard of righteousness. We’d much rather hear about how we can be blessed. We want God to make us happy but not make us holy. We want him to give us riches but we reject his righteousness. We want joy without judgment. We want to receive but we don’t want to repent. A friend of mine from college said it best, “we seek God’s hands for what he can give us, when we should really go past his hands and seek his face to be like him.” 

Here’s a challenge. Read Psalm 9. Pay attention to the way the Psalmist speaks of God judging his enemies, rebuking nations, and destroying the wicked. Get a good mental picture of God executing the work of judgment. Imagine him looking at your life with the same eyes. What would you need to change in your life today for God to declare you just and righteous? Ask God to empower you with his Holy Spirit to make those changes

He’s Just Famous

20140211-085921.jpg

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. (II Timothy 1:12 NKJV)

Have you ever met someone famous? In 1994 I met John “Hot Rod” Williams, power forward for the Cleveland Caviliers. Well, I sort of met him. I was living in Dallas at the time and visited a bookstore downtown on my lunch break. I went to the magazine and comic book section and there he stood towering at 6-11, 215lbs, reading a comic book. I guessed he must’ve been in town to play the Mavericks. 

I said hello and he returned the greeting, avoiding any prolonged eye contact, sending the message “I’m busy, please don’t disturb me”. So, we both stood there in silence reading comics. Then eventually, doing my best to act casual, I turned to leave and said “good luck in tonight’s game”. He said “thanks”. 

I know “Hot Rod” Williams, sort of. Sure, I’d seen him on TV many times and heard commentators say a lot about him, but none of that qualifies as knowing him. In my encounter with him, we spoke and I learned that he likes comics but it doesn’t mean I truly know him. He’s just famous. 

I believe in my heart there are many people who have the same relationship with God that I have with “Hot Rod”. We’ve heard about God at church, on TV, radio and the web. We’ve seen movies and heard stories about him. Preachers have given us years of commentary about God. But aside from a chance encounter with God, we still don’t know him. He’s just famous. 

Paul told Timothy “I know whom I have believed”. God wasn’t just famous to Paul. He knew God deeply and personally. We can too. God is always with us. We don’t have to wait to bump into him at church like I bumped into “Hot Rod” at the bookstore. He’s with us in all times, in all places, and in every circumstance. Even though he’s running the universe and keeps the world spinning, he’s never too busy to talk to us. We can commune with him through prayer anytime. If we make spending time with God a priority in our lives, he won’t be just famous to us. He’ll be known. 

Spirit Prayers

20140204-113537.jpg

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26, 27 NKJV)

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by life’s challenges you didn’t know how to pray? I must admit there are times when being a husband, father, pastor, entrepreneur, friend, grad student, and more seems to swallow me. In those times I usually just approach God’s throne in prayer and sit there in silence. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what to say. Even though I may not feel like I’m accomplishing anything in my silence, I hold on to two truths that give me hope: the Holy Spirit within me is praying for me and he’s praying according to God’s will. 

Praying for Me
As believers we have the person of the Holy Spirit living within us. He’s with us in every place, at all times, and in every circumstance we face. He knows our challenges because he’s facing them with us. When we can’t form the words of prayer, Paul says he intercedes to God the Father on our behalf with “groanings which cannot be uttered”. In other words, because of his intimate relationship with us and with the heart of God, the Holy Spirit communicates our passions, our feelings, hopes, fears, and desires. I don’t know about you but I’m glad to know when I can’t find the words, my constant friend, the Holy Spirit, is praying for me. 

Praying God’s Will for Me
When I’m stressed I don’t always pray for God’s will to be done in my life. Here’s why, I’m selfish. My survival instincts kick in and I try to pray my way out of discomfort. But the best place to be in life is in the will of God. Think about it; what if God allowed me to endure the trials to purge, prune, and challenge me to grow in my faith? What if he was allowing me to endure my trials so those around me could see a witness of faithfulness? When I think about it this way, I’m glad the Holy Spirit prays for God’s will in my life. It gives me hope because I know he’s seeking what’s best for me.