Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bringing our Grievances before God, God's Justice, Forgiveness, and Child Like Faith

Today's Reading:
  • Luke 18:1 - 18:27
Read Bible Passages Online

Luke 18:1 - 18:17

Okay, I'm going to start today with yet another apology. I looked at the date of my last blog - and it was in January! I couldn't believe it. I've had a lot of life in the way - the birth of my 4th child (Sept 2014), the resumption of grad school, and a side business. That's no excuse for going so long without a blog though. I will try to do better in the future.

 I do want to point out that I haven't quit reading the Word - in fact, just a couple nights ago, I finished my first complete reading through of the bible!!! From start to finish, I've read every word! In some ways I am ashamed - I am 33 years old, so that's a long time to take to read through the bible. But regardless, I am so thrilled that I finished through with that. I will NEVER be done reading the bible - ever! The book is so full of life that it's different each time I pick it up - even if I were to read the same passage multiple days in a row. I love that! So now I need to figure out how I'm going to read the bible next (chronologically, a different translation, etc). And, as always, I'm going to keep chugging along at my goal to BLOG about the whole bible as I read too :)

Now, onto today's reading:

Today's reading told two parables. The first was the Parable of the Persistent Widow. In this parable, a widow persistantly petitioned a judge for justice against her enemy. The judge was not at a godly man in the least, but in the end he gave in and executed a just ruling against her enemy. In this example, Jesus reminded us that even sinners who don't fear God are capable of rendering just actions. Therefore, don't we know that God hears us when we cry for just and that he WILL deliver? For we are His children, we believe and fear Him. We trust in him for all our needs.

I am reminded as I read this about God's timing, versus our timing. I so easily become impatient with the things I want and need NOW. God is always listening, and He knows my needs and desires, and His timing is always perfect. And when it comes to justice, there is something else I need to remind myself, and this one is so much harder - God loves the offender as much as He loves me. And if the person is not saved, still God longs for them to turn to Him. That's the hard thing about justice, right? We have earthly justice, and then we have Godly justice. If someone murders a family member of mine, that person might be caught and punished with earthly justice. Perhaps they would spend the rest of their life in prison, and/or be executed. But if that person turns to God and truly repents, then he is forgiven unconditionally by the Lord - and that is the justice that truly matters. My takeaway from these thoughts is that I need to focus less on obtaining "justice" for an offense (any offense, not just big ones - perhaps someone truly wronged me with his or her actions) and focus more on forgiving and letting go. Now, I haven't had to deal with anything huge like a murdered family member, so obviously I'm dishing advice I haven't had to take. But, regardless, my life is more joyful when I'm not focused on all the minor grievances - when I am truly forgiving and letting go.

The second parable is the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector. This is a simple parable, where two men - one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector - brought themselves before the temple and prayed to the Lord. The Pharisee gave thanks for his righteousness and lack of sin, whereas the tax collector was humble and sorrowful. Jesus gave a clear message here - those who exalt themselves before the Lord will later be humbled, while those who are humble now will be exalted later. I know which of those categories I want to be in - how about you?

Finally, the reading concludes with a famous passage: (Luke 18:17):
I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn't receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.
I have four children, so I have seen faith through a child's eyes. Children are truly special in that they can have true faith without doubts and without the world getting in the way. Simple, pure, faith - it's amazing, really. As we grow older and mature and are influenced by the world, this gets a lot harder to maintain. I feel doubts creep in on me, and I push them out. My focus, whenever I'm doubting, is the Word of God. The bible speaks to my very heart, and it is the Word that gives me the strength when times are tough. The spirit of God is always in me, but perhaps he's closest to me when I'm engaged with His Word. I don't need natural explanations for the things that are in the bible. I don't need archeological evidence of the events that are transcribed. I just need to open the bible and feel with my heart to know that God is there, and that my faith is true.