Psalm 94: O Lord, the God of vengeance

O Lord, the God of vengeance,
    O God of vengeance, let your glorious justice shine forth!
Arise, O Judge of the earth.
    Give the proud what they deserve.
How long, O Lord?
    How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat?
How long will they speak with arrogance?
    How long will these evil people boast?
They crush your people, Lord,
    hurting those you claim as your own.
They kill widows and foreigners
    and murder orphans.
“The Lord isn’t looking,” they say,
    “and besides, the God of Israel[a] doesn’t care.”

Think again, you fools!
    When will you finally catch on?
Is he deaf—the one who made your ears?
    Is he blind—the one who formed your eyes?
10 He punishes the nations—won’t he also punish you?
    He knows everything—doesn’t he also know what you are doing?
11 The Lord knows people’s thoughts;
    he knows they are worthless!

12 Joyful are those you discipline, Lord,
    those you teach with your instructions.
13 You give them relief from troubled times
    until a pit is dug to capture the wicked.
14 The Lord will not reject his people;
    he will not abandon his special possession.
15 Judgment will again be founded on justice,
    and those with virtuous hearts will pursue it.

16 Who will protect me from the wicked?
    Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
17 Unless the Lord had helped me,
    I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave.
18 I cried out, “I am slipping!”
    but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
19 When doubts filled my mind,
    your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

20 Can unjust leaders claim that God is on their side—
    leaders whose decrees permit injustice?
21 They gang up against the righteous
    and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the Lord is my fortress;
    my God is the mighty rock where I hide.
23 God will turn the sins of evil people back on them.
    He will destroy them for their sins.
    The Lord our God will destroy them.  Psalm 94

The Lord is our shepherd and He is our redeemer.  The battle belongs unto Him and vengeance alone lies in His hand.  Our desire when we observe an injustice or have an injustice done to us we desire to take it into our own hands.  But this is not what the Lord is calling us to do.  He is calling us to place it in His hands and wait on Him to move in the situation.

It is okay as Christians to pray for the justice of the Lord to be poured out.  We are God’s sons and daughters, and yes the Lord is full of grace and mercy.  But He is also our protector and more than anything He is our Father.  He will come against those who stand against us and all we need to do is bringing it before Him in prayer.

Today if your heart is broken over injustice or wickedness simply cry out to the Lord.  Ask him to move in that area and pour out His justice in that area.  The armies of Heaven respond to the prayers of God’s people.  The ministering and warring angels move mightily when we go before the Lord in prayer.  The Lord desires to accomplish much in the earth and He is simply waiting for His people to be moved to the place of prayer.  We are co-laborers with Christ and before the Lord moves on the earth He always move on the heart of someone who is faithful in prayer.  As the Lord moves on your heart this day simply pour out your heart before Him in the place of prayer.

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John 14:19-24: He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me

19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.  John 14:19-24.

Obedience is a huge part of our relationship with God.  Some in the body of Christ have distorted the truth of God’s grace.  God’s grace does not give us a license to sin, God’s grace does not give us the right to live in disobedience, God’s grace does not make disobedience okay.  I have heard some say who are pretty much living in rebellion that it is okay because the grace of God covers me.

The grace of God is God’s unmerited favor on our lives.  it is His hand upon us that enables us to accomplish the supernatural in this world.  It is not earned because it is based upon our faith in Jesus Christ.  When we place our faith in Jesus Christ we are born again and the grace of God covers us.

But some in the body of Christ teach a distorted version of God’s grace.  When this happens it enables people to live in compromise and lukewarmness.  Much of the church in America lives in a spiritual state of lukewarmness because of compromised preaching and teaching of God’s word.  Many throughout the United States instead of being led by the Holy Spirit when planting and leading a church, instead they have followed models based on the wisdom of man.

This models call pretty much for entertaining and appealing to the flesh.  Yes it brings in large crowds because people are entertained and it preaches a message that fails to challenge but allows people to live in their sins.  What this creates is an atmosphere and environment where the holiness of God is never mentioned and the holiness of God is not present or manifest in the lives of God’s people.

Righteousness is a gift from God and cannot be earned.  It is given the moment we come to salvation.  But holiness is righteousness lived out.  There is a different between holiness and righteousness.  Righteousness is a spiritual truth that needs to be understood before holiness can take hold in human life.  But holiness is the natural result of abiding in the Lord and drawing near to Him each day.  It is the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us throughout our time on earth bringing us to a deeper place of maturity in Christ.

Jesus has made it very clear that those who love Him will walk in obedience.  We cannot claim to follow Christ and live in wanton sinfulness and rebellion.  Does this mean we won’t sin and make mistakes, no.  We are human and we will fall down from time to time.  But every time we sin we need to learn from it and move on.  But there is a vast different between sinning once in a while and living in habitual sin.

Someone who lives in habitual sin knows what they are doing is wrong.  But they have set their heart upon it and what they fail to see is the deceptiveness of sin.  As we indulge more and more, sin will harden our hearts and throughout the church age there have been those who have abandoned the faith.  The only way to salvation is faith in Jesus Christ.  If we abandon the faith because our heart has been harden and faith no longer exist, then salvation no longer exist.  The doctrine and belief of once saved always saved is simply a lie and deception from the heart of Satan.

If we are to be the sons and daughters God has called us to be then we need to live a life of holiness and obedience.  Now this doesn’t happen in our own strength or power.  It only happens as we abide in the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us daily.  But the key word is daily.  Not just once in a while or just on Sundays.  Walking in holiness and obedience is simply a byproduct of walking closely with Jesus.  The only thing that hinders us from walking closely with Jesus is ourselves.

The Lord has called us to come boldly to the throne of grace with confidence.  The only requirement to be able to draw near to God is faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  The moment we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we have the ability to draw near to Him.  Don’t waste your life on things that have no eternal value.  Make Jesus Christ the priority and simply seek Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

He was pierced for our rebellion

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

Isaiah 53:5-6 NLT

Jesus simply came so that we would be healed.  He came so that we would be saved and set free.  There is nothing within us that deserves salvation.  God the Father could have left the human race to destroy themselves.  But because of His love, grace, and mercy He chose to send His Son to die for our sins.  Because of Jesus love for us He chose the cross.  Nothing was out of obligation, everything was driven by love.

This is why I hate the bondage of religion and the lie of the religion.  The bondage and lie of religion is that God is distant and we in our broken humanity somehow have to reach Him.  We have to do so many good deeds or fulfill so many demands and maybe just maybe He will look upon us and have mercy.

But this could not be farther from the truth.  God in His mercy reached down to us.  God in His mercy knocks on the heart of people and draws them by the Holy Spirit.  God in His mercy desires to lavish His love on a people that are broken and in need of a savior.  He desires deep intimacy and He desires to draw near to us.  He desires that we would simply draw near to Him with our whole heart.

We are simply able to draw near because of the price that Jesus paid.  He paid the ultimate price and experienced the pain and punishment that we deserved.  He became our substitute and when we go before the Father and stand before Him, Jesus stands with us and when the Father sees us, He sees Jesus.  We are righteous not because of our behavior or our good deeds, we are righteous because of who Jesus is and all He has done.  Let us draw near and become lost in who He is.

He is faithful and just to forgive us

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

1 John 1:9 NLT

The Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins when we come before Him and confess them.  This is an incredible truth that when we take time to meditate upon it fills our heart with peace.  There is nothing that can separate us from God and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  The enemy will always try to heap condemnation on our lives for things we have done in the past, somehow trying to get us to believe that God is angry with us.

But the truth is that once we are in Christ our righteousness is not changed.  Our righteousness before the Lord is not based upon behavior.  It is not based upon whether I have sinned in some way or not today.  Righteousness is simply the result of placing our faith in Jesus Christ.  The only way for us to grow in maturity in our relationship with God is by drawing near to the Lord.  But the enemy will try to do whatever he can to try to keep us from drawing near to Jesus.

Our focus should never be upon sin or ourselves, but our focus must always be Jesus Christ.  We are told in God’s word to simply fix our eyes upon Jesus.  There is a reason for this because when our eyes are focused upon Jesus we experience the peace and presence of God in every area of our lives.  But when our eyes are off of Jesus we begin to sense and experience and uneasiness.

This was no greater personified than when Peter began to walk on the water.  When Peter began to walk on the water there was a storm all around them.  But as he focused his eyes upon the Lord he began to walk on water.  But the moment he took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink.  But the grace of God was revealed in that even though Peter began to sink the Lord reached down and pulled him from the water.

Today if you are struggling with having your mind and heart focused on the past, know that if your faith is in Jesus and you have asked Him to forgive you of your sins that you are forgiven.  Being forgiven is not based on a feeling, being forgiven is based upon the truth of God’s word.  Rejoice that you have been forgiven and simply run to the Lord and draw near to Him with all your heart.

That we might become the righteousness of God in Him

21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Jesus came to this earth to save us.  We don’t deserve salvation and it is only because of the mercy and grace of God that our eyes are opened to the truth.  But once we have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ we need to come to understand that we are righteous because of who Jesus is.

One of the great tactics of the enemy is to remind us of our past and to try to paralyze us with condemnation.  Condemnation is simply a lie and deception and when we experience condemnation we need to focus our eyes upon Jesus and that our past no longer remains.  Because any one who has placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ is a brand new creation.  The old has gone and the new has come.

The righteousness we have through Jesus enables us to go to our Father in Heaven with confidence.  We are no longer sinners when we come to Jesus.  Yes we may makes mistakes as we walk with Jesus, but we are no longer sinners.  A sinner is someone who is in bondage to the curse of sin and death.  But a child of God is someone who has placed their hope and trust in Jesus and is declared righteous.

This is a vital truth that many in the body of Christ still struggle with.  Many in the body of Christ continue to focus on themselves or their past and they simply struggle with sin management instead of walking in victory and authority.  It all begins with a right understanding of truth and we need to understand that the moment we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ that we are declared righteous.

Gal 2:15-21: Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[d] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:15-21.

The apostle Paul made it clear that no one is justified by the works of the law.  The law of God is perfect and it is impossible for humanity to keep it and follow it to the letter.  When God gave the Jews the law it was not so that they could obtain righteousness.  It was to reveal to them the righteousness of God and their need of a savior.

All of the early apostles were Jews by birth.  From the Jewish perspective a gentile was dirty and not part of God’s people.  They had an inherent hatred for the gentiles because they represented everything a Jew was not to be.

But God in His love, grace, and mercy opened the door of salvation to all people,  both Jews and Gentiles.  Those of us today who are not of Jewish descent are able to take part in all of the promises of God because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul new and understood that righteousness was by faith alone.  Righteousness cannot be found in works.  Every good work a person does on this earth that they believe is going to earn their way into heaven is a complete lie.  You often hear people say they are good enough.  In God’s kingdom there is no such thing as being good enough.  There are only those who are righteous through Christ and those who are not.

All will stand before Jesus Christ someday and give an account of their lives.  When we stand before Jesus the only thing that will matter is whether or not we placed our faith in His finished work and who He is.  Good works will save no one because good works are not able to cleanse a person from the stain of sin.  The only thing that can cleanse the sin that exist on our lives is the precious blood of Jesus Christ.  It is through faith alone that we are declared righteous before God.

For unto us a child is born

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 NIV

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this promise.  Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus chose to leave His heavenly glory to come to this earth as a simple servant.  He didn’t have to come here because we as fallen people don’t deserve anything.  We are born into sin and the natural inclination of the human heart is wicked.

But Jesus chose to come to this earth and lay down His life simply because He loves us.  Someday He shall return and He shall establish His one thousand year reign upon the earth (Revelation 20:1-6).  But until that time He has called us to simply seek Him daily.  He has called us to walk in deep fellowship and intimacy with Him.

When anyone is born on this earth they are born into sin and as a result they are separated from God.  But it is through the blood of Jesus that we are able to go boldly to the throne of grace with confidence because our righteousness is found in Him.  We are not able to draw near to Him because of anything we have done, we are simply able to draw near unto the Lord because we have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

Let us simply spend our lives seeking the Lord with all our hearts.  Let us put aside any idols that would hinder our walk with God.  He is holy and therefore He has called us to be holy.  Let us hold fast to the faith we have on a daily basis and let us focus our hearts and our minds on our Lord and Savior. The day draws near of His return.  Let us be found prepared and ready by simply seeking Him with our whole heart.

A prophet like me

14 The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so.15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”  Deuteronomy 18:14-16.

When Moses spoke and wrote this long ago under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he had no idea that he was speaking of the coming Messiah.  On Mount Horeb when the people heard the Lord speak from the mountain in fear they cried out that God would not speak to them, but would speak through His man Moses.

The Father not only sent Jesus to earth to die in our place, but He sent Jesus to earth to reveal His heart.  In Jesus we see the glory of the Godhead in bodily form.  If we desire to know the Father and the Holy Spirit we simply need to come to know Jesus.  In Jesus we see the love of God at work in all things.  It is His love that defines who He is.

In our sinfulness we are not able to approach the mountain of God much like the Israelites.  But because of the shed blood of Jesus we are commanded by the Lord to boldly approach the throne of grace with confidence.  Through faith in Jesus Christ we are simply declared as righteous in the eyes of the Lord, it is His blood that washes away every sin.

So today if you find yourself afraid to approach the Lord because of something that has happened in the past understand that if you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ that the past no longer remains.  Jesus paid it all at Calvary.  When we take time to study the crucifixion of our Lord in depth we come to not only appreciate what He did, but we understand the depth of His sacrifice and understand that through faith the only thing that remains is righteousness through Jesus Christ.

He is the good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

John 10:14-15 NIV

Jesus is our good shepherd.  His hand is upon us and He protects us.  When we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ we become a child of God.  Our sins are forgiven and washed away.  Our sin no longer remains.  The Spirit of God lives within us and fills us because we are declared righteous because of the blood of Jesus.

We live in a world that honestly is frightening.  It seems as if there is war all around us and everything is in chaos.  But the truth is that God is fully in control.  His will is sovereign and He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

All that we see happening around us is because of the freewill and fallen state of humanity.  When people open their hearts to the darkness of the enemy through sin they become a vehicle through which he can operate.  Those who reject the truth of Jesus Christ are in bondage to Satan and the system of the world.  Those who believe they are free because they can indulge every selfish desire fail to understand that they are simply in bondage.

But we who are in Christ are free and the Lord is our shepherd.  He will provide all that we need when we need it.  He is calling us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  He is calling us to give Him our whole hearts.  Let us this day focus our hearts upon the Lord and simply become a vessel of His glory, power, authority, and love.

Why people do the things that they do

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.  Romans 1:18-32.

When we look at the world around us we can often times ask ourselves why people do the things that they do.  It is incredible how much wickedness and cruelty that humanity is capable of committing.  Everyday you turn on the news you can read headlines of people who have murdered others or have committed acts that seem incomprehensible.  As followers of Christ we may wonder how people can be capable of such evil.

But the truth is that all evil committed on the earth is simply a result of people rejecting the truth of who God is.  God is light and there is no darkness within Him.  When people reject the truth of who God is the only thing that they are left with is darkness.  As people hardened their hearts to the Lord and indulge in greater levels of sin they become desensitized to the things of wickedness when they get to a point where they see evil as good and good as evil.

Every one on this earth is born into sin and every person is born with a freewill.  As a person grows they come to a decision when they look at creation around them.  A person will either look at creation and come to believe that it was created or they will reject the idea of a creator and believe that things came to be out of randomness or by accident.  This is one of the highest forms of pride because creation is by incredible design down to the very smallest detail and for anyone to look at creation and believe that it does not have a creator causes their heart to become hardened toward God.

The Lord throughout a person’s life will reach out to them and knock on the door of their heart.  But the danger of sin and the deceitfulness of sin is that the more we indulge in sin the more our hearts become hardened toward the Lord.  In this life we are either moving closer to the Lord or we are moving away from Him.  The reason so many fall into lukewarm Christianity is they stop pursuing the Lord with their whole heart.

Many times humanity will want to blame God for things as if things are His fault, but the truth is that only ones who are at fault is us.  Everything that is wrong with this world is a result of sin and one thing humanity hates to do is take accountability for things.  You often see this in the lives of parents as they don’t hold their children accountable but blame everything on every one else.

God did not create evil, but evil is simply the result of humanity and angelic beings rejecting the Lordship of God.  This was seen in the life of Satan when we read Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezekiel chapter 28.  In both of these accounts we see that Satan was originally named Lucifer.  His name means light bearer and he was created perfect.  But somewhere during his lifetime he looked at his own beauty and became enamored with himself.  Being a cherub he was one who had the responsibility of guarding the glory of God at the throne.  But in his mind he wanted to be the one who all would worship.

As a result of his pride he choose to rebel and ascend the throne of God.  He deceived a third of the angels into following after him and as a result they were cast out of their heavenly position.  They exist today in the spiritual realm as Satan is known as the god of this age who has blinded the hearts and minds of so many.  Satan and his demonic agents are the ones who speak lies and deceptions into the hearts of so many and when people act on these desires we have sin as a result.

God’s desire is that all would come to salvation, but the truth is that there are those who will go their entire lives without every choosing Jesus Christ.  God is holy and righteous and cannot be in the presence of sin.  As a result He sent His only begotten Son to lay down His life that humanity could be saved.  But it is the responsibility of each and every person whether or not they will receive or reject Jesus Christ.

So when we look at the wickedness and evil happening around us it is clear that it is not God’s fault but is simply the result of humanity rejecting the truth of who God is and His word.  If we desire restoration the first step is fully repenting which means that we turn 180 degrees from the things we are involved in and we begin to move with all our heart towards the Lord.  Let us not be surprised by the wickedness around us but let us intercede that the harvest, the elect, the fullness of the gentiles comes forth to salvation.  The time is short and the return of the Lord is soon.