Judge Not

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. With what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matt7:1-2).

There are some scriptures that I don’t really like, not because they are not true or helpful, but because they are true and convict me of things that I don’t like to face or believe about myself.

Like verse 4 of the above passage asks, “How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?”  I have that same speck in my own eye, only it’s exponentially worse. Every fault that I find in another can be found deep within my own heart (ugh).

I’m not trying to make excuses, because I know this is an area about which I need to address, but isn’t this part of everyone’s sinful nature? Aren’t we always judging others as a typical, routine, commonplace activity?

I think the key to complying with this verse is to define judgement as criticism as in “Don’t criticize or we too will be criticized.” Personally, when I find that someone is being critical of something that I have said or done, often (not always) the situation or details have been misinterpreted or that person only knows part of the story. We really need to offer this same consideration (grace) to others and be aware of anything that causes us to think of ourselves in any way as superior to another.

Verse 2 is especially uncomfortable, but definitely worth repeating…  For we will be treated as we treat others, that is, the standard we use in judging is the standard by which we will be judged.

I pray for the eyes of the Father, for help in being gracious with others so that I too, will be shown grace.

Advertisements

Enlarging Our Heart

I have chosen the way of truth (Psalm 119:30a).

Have you ever heard the story of the three blind men describing an elephant? One touched its side and said that it was like a wall. The next touched its trunk and said that it was more like a snake. The third felt its ear and thought it like a fan.

We might find this story amusing, but we do it all the time. Our perception of reality IS our reality. We can’t really trust our minds or hearts because they are often clouded by past experiences, hurts, desires, and our sinful nature. True reality can only be found in one place—God’s word. He knows the big picture, what the whole elephant looks like.

And I love verse 32 which says that as I pursue His truth, He will “enlarge my heart.” How much hope is in that verse! This is God’s desire because as we develop more understand we also find delight (v35), and turn away from selfishness (v36), and turn away from worthless things (v37).

God wants to enlarge our hearts, our capacity for the delight in knowing Him, loving Him, and enjoying His fullness. He expresses this clearly through prayers in Scripture, meant for not only the early church, but for us today.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

And He richly rewards those who seek Him.

 

Do You Love Me?

Do you love Me? ….Feed My sheep (John 21:16).

When our oldest son was little, he stood on a chair looking out the back door window, shouting in his best two-year-old televangelist voice to our dog, “Shane on the hill, do you know Jesus?”

My first thought was, “Where did that come from?” Our church didn’t preach like that, and we rarely watched TV.

Jesus asked this same question to Peter—three times. The third time really grieved Peter because, even though he screwed up a number of times with his hot temper and his multiple denials of even knowing Jesus, he felt that deep in his heart he did love Jesus. And Jesus “knowest all things.”

In English, we use the same word to describe everything from our pleasure with a great taco to the intense stirring in our heart for our newborn. As I read this passage, I feel the Lord is asking us to examine the depths of our heart.

Like Peter, I mess up… hourly. My choices are often the comfortable ones, rather than the risky ones that leave me vulnerable and require trust. In actions, I often choose the sheep I want to feed, and those I judge and dismiss. And my thoughts aren’t always overflowing with love either.

But the Lord does know all things. And He may have to remind us with this question over and over and over again of what we should be doing, and thinking, and being, so that we can honestly answer, “You know that I love You.”

The Word

A little different format today—I have been studying Psalm 119 which mainly concerns the Word of God. I’m sure that God was intentional about its importance in making it the longest chapter in the Bible. Today, rather than focusing on one verse, I’d like to comment on just a few of the many profound verses in this chapter. Feel free to add your comments, too.

(5) Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!—We can’t do it in our own power and, as I said before, even the apostle, Paul said that he sometimes did things that he hated. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we all could accomplish this!

(11) I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.—If we are feeding our hearts the Bread of Life, our actions are more apt to follow.

(18) Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law.–The Living Translation says, “…the wonderful truths in your instructions.” Either way, this is a great prayer to God to open out hearts to absorb His ways.

(24) Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.—The advice of well-meaning family or other believers are only relevant if they coincide with God’s word and the Spirit speaking directly to us through our prayers.

(98) Your commands make me wiser than my enemies.—Unlike David, my enemies don’t often appear in human form, rather they are temptations, or self-doubt, or pride. God’s word contains principles that enable us to deal with these enemies, too.

(130) The unfolding of your word gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.—The wisdom from God’s word is more meaningful and appropriate that even the most naïve, unsophisticated, uneducated can be wiser than the world’s most knowledgeable and brilliant scholar.

And finally as a prayer

(133) Direct my footsteps according to your word—let no sin rule over me.

Let It Begin With Me

Examine me, O Lord, and test me. Evaluate my inner thoughts and motives (Ps 26:2).

It is said that you can’t legislate morality. Governments and societies have been trying for eons. But if a person desires to break the law, whether it is God’s or civil, he can so choose. He may suffer the consequences, but the choice is still his.

Integrity and moral behavior start in our hearts and are carried out by our will. And we must be fed a special diet of God’s word or the deceptive temptations, lies of the world, and our own selfishness steadily creep back in. A fitting example of that is choosing wrong for a good reason (Wrong is never right!!). If we’re not vigilant, we slide right into believing those gray areas.

The words of the song, “Let there be peace (kindness, generosity, honesty…) on earth, and let it begin with me (not enacted by law),” are true if we first allow the motives of out heart to be examined and placed in submission to the Author of goodness and love.

Chosen

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-16).

I would like to share with you part of a story from Crosswalk. I hope I can do it justice without getting too lengthy.

A women’s ministry speaker challenged her audience by asking them to be still and listen to their hearts in order to recognize the lies about themselves that either knowingly or unknowingly linger there. It may have been something spoken by a parent, teacher, spouse, school kid, or something not even spoken at all, just believed. The ladies were asked to write them down, then symbolically (and not so symbolically) place them at the foot of a wooden cross and replace them with a “truth card” that she had prepared citing a promise or positive affirmation from God’s word.

After the retreat, the speaker gathered the cards and noticed that over and over again the word “worthless” appeared. This big, fat, ugly lie is one that the enemy throws in our face time and time again.

As parents, we were intentional in instilling a positive self-concept in our children; in fact, one spouse says that we went a little overboard. But it really is not based on anything we do or are. Self-worth is only meaningful when we recognize who we are in Jesus—beloved, precious, wonderfully made. We are not only worthwhile, but we are a necessary part of His perfect plan; and to believers, all mistakes and sins are covered.

Next time a negative self-thought pops in, recognize that it is not from the One who made us just as He wanted us, “complete” and filled with all His fullness and power.

Those Who Seek

I love those who love Me; And those who diligently seek Me will find Me (Prov 8:17).

In discussions with other believers, the topic of God’s will never fails to eventually come up. God, for sure, wants us to know His will, to desire to do and say things that align with His word. But more than even that, He wants us to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son. In other words, not to just seek His will, but to KNOW Him.

To understand concepts like this, I have to relate it to my experiences, in this case, as a wife. When my husband and I first began building a relationship, we learned things about each other—likes, dislikes, annoyances…. Later, as our relationship grew, we learned about each other on a much deeper level—what we valued, what was in our hearts. Because of this, we could each anticipate how the other might react to a situation.

The great thing about our perfect Father is that the more we know, the more amazed we are. He is the author of every good thing, the very definition of love. And as knowledge of Him grows, it is both astonishing and humbling to be considered His dearly beloved child.