Vengeance is God’s job, not yours

2019-03-25
Romans 12:19 NKJV

Vengeance is God’s job, not yours. He will repay – whether on the Day of Judgment or in this life. He can discipline your abusive boss, soften your angry parent, bring your ex to his knees or her senses. Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice; it entrusts it to God. He guarantees the right amount of retribution. We give too much or too little, but He has the precise prescription. And unlike us, He never gives up on a person. (And you should be glad about that). Long after we have moved on, God is still there probing the conscience, stirring conviction, orchestrating redemption. Fix your enemies? That’s God’s job. Forgive your enemies? Ah, that’s where you come in. “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to…God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead…’If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” (vv. 17-21 NLT). Author Max Lucado says: “Revenge builds a lonely, narrow house. Space enough for one person. The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: Make someone miserable. They do – themselves. No wonder God insists we ‘Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent’ (Hebrews 12:15 TM).”

Soul food: Job 40-42; Luke 19:37-44; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29

Justice


Romans 12:19 NIV

When someone hurts us, we often naturally want revenge. We want them to feel the pain that they have caused us. But revenge is not God’s way. God’s way is forgiveness. That doesn’t mean that justice doesn’t happen. God is the ultimate judge. It is up to Him to bring justice. He says: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’. That might be on Judgment Day or in this life. But He calls us to forgive others. We’re told to ‘Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to…God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. Instead…”If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good’ (vv.17-21 NLT). Forgiving someone doesn’t mean they avoid justice; it means we’re trusting God to deal out justice. And He never gives up on a person. Even after we’ve moved on, God’s still there pricking the person’s conscience, stirring conviction in their heart, and orchestrating redemption and change in their life. The Bible says: ‘Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ’ (Ephesians 4:31-32 NCV). So let’s try and be people who forgive those who have hurt us, and leave the justice to God.

Job 40-42; Luke 19:37-44; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29

Don’t give ground to the Devil

2019-03-21
Ephesians 4:27 NAS

The Bible says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (vv. 26-27 NAS). The word translated “opportunity” is the Greek word topos, the same term from which we get the English noun topography. It means territory or ground. And anger gives ground to the Devil. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in your heart. And when you do, he will move in and stink up the place with things like gossip, slander, temper – any time you see these, you have given ground to Satan. What should you do? Evict him. Don’t give him the time of day. In the name of Jesus tell him to pack his bags and hit the road. Begin the process of forgiveness. Keep no list of wrongs. Pray for your antagonists rather than plot against them. Hate the wrong without hating the wrongdoers. Turn your attention away from what they did to you and begin to dwell on what Jesus did for you. Outrageous as it may seem, He died for them too. And if He thinks they are worth forgiving, then they are. Does that make forgiveness easy? No. It comes in fits and starts, has good days and bad. Some days when you think your old wound has healed and you’ve gotten over it, someone will knock the scab off it and the pain will return. This is okay. When it comes to forgiveness all of us are beginners. As long as you are trying to forgive, you are forgiving. It’s only when you no longer try that you give ground to the Devil.

Soul food: Job 32-34; Luke 19:11-19; Ps 55:12-23; Prov 8:19-21

Make the devil leave


Ephesians 4:27 NIV

The Bible says, ‘”In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold’ (vv. 26-27 NIV). The word translated ‘foothold’ in the NIV version is the Greek word topos. It means a place, territory, or ground. And anger gives ground to the devil. Bitterness invites him to occupy a space in our hearts. This makes us prone to things like gossip, negative talk, and lying. We know that we shouldn’t let the devil have room in our hearts, but it can be hard to keep him out. Our human nature makes us more likely to become angry and frustrated in situations where we should show grace. When we get hurt by others, we find it’s harder to forgive them than it is to remain bitter and resentful. But when we notice the devil has got a ‘foothold’ in our lives, we need to make him leave. So how do we do that? We need to begin the process of forgiveness, avoid making mental lists of the things people have done to us, and pray for those we struggle to get along with rather than plot against them. We need to turn our attention away from what they did to us and begin to focus on what Jesus did for us. We should never forget that He died for them too. And if He thinks they’re worth forgiving, then they are. Forgiveness isn’t easy. Some days when we think we’ve healed and moved on, something can happen that makes the pain return. And then we have to start the process of forgiving again. As long as we’re trying to forgive, love, and become more like Christ, we’re not giving the devil a ‘foothold’ in our lives.

Job 32-34; Luke 19:11-19; Ps 55:12-23; Prov 8:19-21

Do you have this joy?

2019-03-07
Hebrews 10:20 TLB

In the Old Testament there were more religious laws than anybody could possibly keep: over six hundred. And every time you failed, you had to offer an animal sacrifice as atonement. This resulted in people trying and failing; feeling guilty and trying harder; failing again and making more sacrifices. It was a never-ending cycle. Then Jesus came and opened up “the fresh, new, life-giving way…for us” to have a relationship with God. His way included forgiveness for sin, and the replacement of sacrifices with faith in Him. For many it was just too good to be true, so they kept working and trying to impress God with their goodness. Are you doing that? One Christian author writes: “I lived that way for years. It meant having to do everything perfectly; otherwise I was in trouble with God. Since this was an impossible standard to keep, it stole all my peace and joy. While I was trying to walk in love, I wasn’t a very loving person. I couldn’t give others what I didn’t know how to receive myself! I wasn’t receiving God’s mercy for my failures; therefore I couldn’t offer it to anybody else. I tried to follow all the rules, many that weren’t even scriptural – just things to feel guilty about. But thank God I don’t have to live that way anymore. Now I’m not working to be saved, I’m working because I am saved! My salvation isn’t based on what I do, but solely on what Jesus has done for me.” When you understand this truth, your relationship with God is no longer a job – it’s a joy.

Soul food: Exo 33-35; Luke 14:25-35; Ps 112; Prov 7:6-9