Monday, July 6, 2015

Do Not Pervert Justice

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Micah Calls for Justice among Unjust People


No Tolerance for Corrupt Leaders and People


Exodus 23:1-8  The Message

23 1-3 “Don’t pass on malicious gossip.
“Don’t link up with a wicked person and give corrupt testimony. Don’t go along with the crowd in doing evil and don’t fudge your testimony in a case just to please the crowd. And just because someone is poor, don’t show favoritism in a dispute.
4-5 “If you find your enemy’s ox or donkey loose, take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, don’t walk off and leave it. Help it up.
“When there is a dispute concerning your poor, don’t tamper with the justice due them.
“Stay clear of false accusations. Don’t contribute to the death of innocent and good people. I don’t let the wicked off the hook.
“Don’t take bribes. Bribes blind perfectly good eyes and twist the speech of good people.
 
For Reflection 
"Go along to get along." Peer pressure or the pressure to conform to our cultural norms is a monumental force to regulate our behavior.  However, a problem arises when that pressure influences one's relationship with God and results in action contrary to God's intentions.    Take the admonishment of corruption to heart.  Help others when they need help.  Champion justice to those most venerable to injustices.  Avoid false accusations and turning away from the challenge of confrontation.  Ask yourself, "What might it take to bribe me?  Evaluate the desires or weaknesses that make you vulnerable to bribes of all kinds.

Pray
that you know yourself and trust your relationship to God.  Pray that you will not be seduced to turn from God's will by your desire to avoid cultural confrontation.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Righteous and the Wicked

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Micah Calls for Justice among Unjust People


No Rest for the Wicked



Proverbs 11:1-10  The Message

Without Good Direction, People Lose Their Way

11 God hates cheating in the marketplace;
    he loves it when business is aboveboard.
The stuck-up fall flat on their faces,
    but down-to-earth people stand firm.
The integrity of the honest keeps them on track;
    the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin.
A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart,
    but a principled life can stand up to the worst.
Moral character makes for smooth traveling;
    an evil life is a hard life.
Good character is the best insurance;
    crooks get trapped in their sinful lust.
When the wicked die, that’s it—
    the story’s over, end of hope.
A good person is saved from much trouble;
    a bad person runs straight into it.
The loose tongue of the godless spreads destruction;
    the common sense of the godly preserves them.
10 When it goes well for good people, the whole town cheers;
    when it goes badly for bad people, the town celebrates.
 
For Reflection 
I want my epitaph to read, "He was a good man."  What do you want yours to say?

Pray
that you will lead a righteous life.  Pray that you will never abandon the Holy imperative to live a life filled with the grace of God.  Pray that you will immerse yourself in the Holy Spirit.  Pray for healing.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Lord Executes Judgment

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Micah Calls for Justice among Unjust People


No Rest for the Wicked

Psalm 9:15-20  The Message

15-16 They’re trapped, those godless countries,
    in the very snares they set,
Their feet all tangled
    in the net they spread.
They have no excuse;
    the way God works is well-known.
The cunning machinery made by the wicked
    has maimed their own hands.
17-20 The wicked bought a one-way
    ticket to hell.
No longer will the poor be nameless—
    no more humiliation for the humble.
Up, God! Aren’t you fed up with their empty strutting?
    Expose these grand pretensions!
Shake them up, God!
    Show them how silly they look.

For Reflection 
The wicked are maimed by their own hands.  What folly it is to think that we can tell God how to conduct God's business.  We know that judgment is God's prerogative.  So why, I ask, are we so hell bent on declaring judgment and assigning blame; or more arrogantly, taking punishment into our own hands and assuming rewards from God for doing so?  Is our fight for justice only about assigning responsibility and extracting retribution?

Pray
that you look for sin in your own heart.  Pray that you will repent for your transgressions.  Pray for the grace of God to heal you when you are faced with human dilemmas, where possible action may lead to sin.  Pray for mercy and forgiveness.  Pray for those who choose to separate themselves from God.  Pray that all people will find their way to peace.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Test My Mind and Heart

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Micah Calls for Justice among Unjust People


No Rest for the Wicked

Psalm 7:9-17  The Message

9-11 Close the book on Evil, God,
    but publish your mandate for us.
You get us ready for life:
    you probe for our soft spots,
    you knock off our rough edges.
And I’m feeling so fit, so safe:
    made right, kept right.
God in solemn honor does things right,
    but his nerves are sandpapered raw.
11-13 Nobody gets by with anything.
    God is already in action—
Sword honed on his whetstone,
    bow strung, arrow on the string,
Lethal weapons in hand,
    each arrow a flaming missile.
14 Look at that guy!
    He had sex with sin,
    he’s pregnant with evil.
Oh, look! He’s having
    the baby—a Lie-Baby!
15-16 See that man shoveling day after day,
    digging, then concealing, his man-trap
    down that lonely stretch of road?
Go back and look again—you’ll see him in it headfirst,
    legs waving in the breeze.
That’s what happens:
    mischief backfires;
    violence boomerangs.
17 I’m thanking God, who makes things right.
I’m singing the fame of heaven-high God.
 
For Reflection 
The result of sin is the Lie Baby!  Evil begets evil. Mischief backfires.  Violence boomerangs.  NOBODY GETS AWAY WITH ANYTHING!  God sees to it.  Are you a flaming missile, a lethal arrow, filled with the fire of justice, compassion, and forgiveness? Are you an active angel of God or merely a silent witness? 

Pray
that you will arm yourself with humility.  Pray that you will wear the armor of justice.  Pray that you will carry flaming missiles of truth and lethal arrows of compassion and forgiveness.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Judge Me O Lord

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Micah Calls for Justice among Unjust People


No Rest for the Wicked

Psalm 7:1-8  The Message

A David Psalm

1-2 God! God! I am running to you for dear life;
    the chase is wild.
If they catch me, I’m finished:
    ripped to shreds by foes fierce as lions,
    dragged into the forest and left
    unlooked for, unremembered.
3-5 God, if I’ve done what they say—
    betrayed my friends,
    ripped off my enemies—
If my hands are really that dirty,
    let them get me, walk all over me,
    leave me flat on my face in the dirt.
6-8 Stand up, God; pit your holy fury
    against my furious enemies.
Wake up, God. My accusers have packed
    the courtroom; it’s judgment time.
Take your place on the bench, reach for your gavel,
    throw out the false charges against me.
I’m ready, confident in your verdict:
    “Innocent.”

For Reflection 
How many times have you prayed to God to save you from untoward circumstances?  How many times have others misrepresented you?  David sang this song of prayer to entreat God to stand on his side.  What song would you sing as an appeal to God's protection?

Pray
Sing songs of praise.  Sing songs of adoration.  Sing songs to invoke God's protection.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Good Deeds for the Oppresessed

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Micah Calls for Justice among Unjust People


No Rest for the Wicked

Job 29:7-20  The Message

7-20 “When I walked downtown
    and sat with my friends in the public square,
Young and old greeted me with respect;
    I was honored by everyone in town.
When I spoke, everyone listened;
    they hung on my every word.
People who knew me spoke well of me;
    my reputation went ahead of me.
I was known for helping people in trouble
    and standing up for those who were down on their luck.
The dying blessed me,
    and the bereaved were cheered by my visits.
All my dealings with people were good.
    I was known for being fair to everyone I met.
I was eyes to the blind
    and feet to the lame,
Father to the needy,
    and champion of abused aliens.
I grabbed street thieves by the scruff of the neck
    and made them give back what they’d stolen.
I thought, ‘I’ll die peacefully in my own bed,
    grateful for a long and full life,
A life deep-rooted and well-watered,
    a life limber and dew-fresh,
My soul suffused with glory
    and my body robust until the day I die.’

For Reflection 
Ask about Job.  What answers would you get?  Good Guy, blessed by God, fair, good to the needy, champion of the underdog, Job's reputation as a righteous man preceded him.  Job knew God and God new Job. Job's faith was deep-rooted in God's grace.  Job was God's poster child, an archetype of Godliness.  Yet, even Job, a child of God, will enter darkness.  This story of Job is a tale of faith's victory in the darkest of times.  Each of us experience dark times. In Job's shoes, how would you fair?

Pray
for the faith that will carry you through the darkest of times.  Pay that you will not succumb to the common understanding of the human plight.  Pray that your faith will not be undermined by those who would have you trivialize God and God's love, compassion and faith in you.

Friday, June 26, 2015

God Will Remember Their Iniquity

God's Prophets Demand Justice
Amos Rails against Injustice


Judgment on Israel and Judah


God Will Never Forget

Jeremiah 14:1-10  The Message

Time and Again We’ve Betrayed God

14 1-6 God’s Message that came to Jeremiah regarding the drought:
“Judah weeps,
    her cities mourn.
The people fall to the ground, moaning,
    while sounds of Jerusalem’s sobs rise up, up.
The rich people sent their servants for water.
    They went to the cisterns, but the cisterns were dry.
They came back with empty buckets,
    wringing their hands, shaking their heads.
All the farm work has stopped.
    Not a drop of rain has fallen.
The farmers don’t know what to do.
    They wring their hands, they shake their heads.
Even the doe abandons her fawn in the field
    because there is no grass—
Eyes glazed over, on her last legs,
    nothing but skin and bones.”
7-9 We know we’re guilty. We’ve lived bad lives—
    but do something, God. Do it for your sake!
Time and time again we’ve betrayed you.
    No doubt about it—we’ve sinned against you.
Hope of Israel! Our only hope!
    Israel’s last chance in this trouble!
Why are you acting like a tourist,
    taking in the sights, here today and gone tomorrow?
Why do you just stand there and stare,
    like someone who doesn’t know what to do in a crisis?
But God, you are, in fact, here, here with us!
    You know who we are—you named us!
    Don’t leave us in the lurch.
10 Then God said of these people:
“Since they loved to wander this way and that,
    never giving a thought to where they were going,
I will now have nothing more to do with them—
    except to note their guilt and punish their sins.”

For Reflection 
Who are the people God is abandoning to their own devastation?  From these passages it is hard to discern.  Although the prophet pleads for God to help these people God will stand down in this case.  These are the people who lead others to worship false Gods.  These are the people who followed the false prophets.  These people are not pleading their own case before God.  They are not repentant.  The prophets plead their case for them.

God condemns blind leaders and blind followers equally.  God has not commissioned them. God has not sent them on an angel's mission.  Impenitent sinners will fall from their own folly.  When those who deny God are overwhelmed with trouble they suffer from their own wickedness.

Pray
that you will not fall barren in the shadow of false prophets.  Pray that you will abide in God's household.  Pray for those who are seduced by the promises of false teaching.  Pray that they will come to know the folly of their ways and escape the inevitable fate of their choices.