From the pastor, 2011 - 2012

oct   ·   nov   ·   dec - jan   ·   feb   ·   mar   ·   apr   ·   may   ·   jun

 

    Water   (September 2011)

    Water is essential for life. According to Genesis, before God ever created light, there was water. More than half and as much as three-quarters of the human body is water. Without water, we die.

    Water quenches thirst. A wilting flower hanging on to existence in a bed of hard, dry soil speedily perks up after a steady downpour of gentle rain. A human being parched from heavy exertion on a hot and sultry afternoon is quickly revived with a cold, clear glass of spring-pure water.

    Water sustains life; water refreshes and renews.

    What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual. Jesus asked the woman from Samaria for a drink at Jacob's well, eager for physical refreshing. Yet He also offered Himself as the "water of life" to the woman -- and to all who would receive Him -- as the means for providing, sustaining, and renewing, spiritual life.

    Initially, the woman is confused, mystified at this stranger who is standing at the well and without anything to draw up water. She questions Jesus. But Jesus seeks to help her see the difference between physical water and physical refreshment, on the one level, and spiritual water and spiritual refreshment on the far more important level:

    John 4: 13-14 - Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (NIV)

    The image of Jesus as spiritual water quenching our spiritual thirst for meaning, understanding, and purpose in our lives is very powerful and satisfying. Yet Jesus also goes on to add to the picture the image of Christians (those in whom Jesus lives) also being springs -- who are life-giving spiritual water-sources providing continuing refreshment for others.

    Here is an application which is intended to sustain and inspire. Just as others may enjoy the beauty of a physical flower garden maintained by the rain and perhaps the aid of some timely applications with the garden hose (after and absent any outdoor watering bans), so God intends our lives to be spiritual oases which refresh and renew others whose lives intersect ours.

    Let us aim to water with the Spirit those upon whom our shadow falls. This we can do, if the Lord Jesus, the water of life, is welling up with us.

    Refreshed by summer rains,

      Your pastor,

        James T. Hurd

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    Always Reforming   (October 2011)

    The phrase, "A beehive of activity" comes from the observation that bees around a hive always appear to be "on the buzz" -- moving, working, always active. Sometimes the church is described as a beehive of activity. Is this a good description? Is this a good thing?

    Once a year, a number of the presbyterian and reformed congregations in Ottawa share in a rally to celebrate our Reformed heritage and to encourage the continuing reformation of the Church today.

    The theme of this year's Reformation Rally (to be celebrated at St. Paul's Church, 971 Woodroffe Avenue on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.) is "Always reforming". The phrase, "always reforming" is the English translation of the Latin "semper reformanda". Michael Horton pointed out in an article in Tabletalk (October 2009) that the original quotation came from a Dutch theologian, Jodocus van Lodenstein, who wrote (translated to English): "The church is reformed and always [in need of] being reformed according to the Word of God."

    To re-form is to form again, or to form in a different way. The church is the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the church. God in Jesus is doing the forming and reforming of the Church: "Jesus said, I will build my church ... " (Matthew 16:18, NIV) Since "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and for ever" (Hebrew 13:8, NIV), we must ask, What does it mean for God to reform the Church?

    I want to suggest that the idea of "always reforming" does not mean that we are constantly to be changing for the sake of changing. In fact the original idea of "always reforming" was not that the church would be doing the reforming but rather that the Spirit of God working in the body of Christ would be causing the church to be re-formed. In other words, the "reforming" is more passive (done to us) than active (done by us).

    Yet Christians are called to be active in the work of re-forming the church, because, left alone, we tend to drift into conformity with the culture and society around us. Paul exhorted the church at Rome, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12: 2, NIV) He is speaking not only to the ancient Roman church but to the contemporary Canadian one, too. He goes on to say to each one: "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

    Our minds, our hearts, and our desires; and our attitudes, our words, and our actions are all in need of reformation. The call to be reformed is sounded by the prophet Jeremiah: "This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place". (Jeremiah 7:3, NIV)

    God's call to each of us is to be reformed (by His work in us, through the presence and power of His Spirit). He will re-form us into His likeness: beautiful, whole, and well-pleasing in His sight. This is a life-long work, to be completed only when at last we are drawn out of this sinful and decaying world, and into the light and glory of God's perfect presence, presented to Him "without fault and with great joy". (Jude 24, NIV)

    Similarly, the reforming of the Church as the body of Christ is God's work that spans all time, until the body as a whole is purified and presented to Christ at the marriage feast of the Lamb, dressed in white and fit for eternal fellowship with a holy God.

    If the Spirit of God is active within each of us, reforming us into the likeness of Christ, and active among us together in directing our service to and for Christ in the world, then it is indeed good that we be described a beehive of activity.

      Your pastor, reformed, and always needing to be reformed, and striving for the reformation of Christ's Church,,

        James T. Hurd

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    The new norm?   (November 2011)

    Jeremiah 29: 7 - "Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." (NIV)

    In the days when the people of God were displaced from their home and native and promised land, the prophet Jeremiah addressed them. He wrote a letter to those who were in exile in Babylon, and challenged them to come to grips with the new reality. They were -- and were going to remain -- in a strange land. They were not "going home" any time soon. The false prophets and preachers who were telling them to "hang in" for a couple of years until they were released to go back to Jerusalem and Israel were speaking lies, and Jeremiah told them bluntly to pay such false prophets no heed. In fact, seventy years of exile were ahead of them.

    In this exile, however, God had not abandoned His beloved people. Rather, God intended his people to be salt and light in a decadent and dark culture. He challenged the people to accept their new situation, and to seek to improve it. He encouraged them to put down roots:

      "This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters. ... Increase in number ... seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile." (Jeremiah 29: 4-7, NIV)

    In many ways, we who are living in Canada today are in living in exile. Many new immigrants who have taken up residence among us have come from homelands from which they have been exiled. Some have fled war and violence; others famine and drought. Political and economic conditions have left many no choice but to move in order to live and not die. Those of us who are native-born also find that the society in which we live is very different from what we have known in previous generations. Landmarks of religious and spiritual significance have been lost or obscured. Customs and priorities have changed; biblical principles are often hard to find in practice. Though many Christians are physically living in the same place, we are within a society that at times and in many ways shows more devotion to "gods" other than Jesus Christ.

    Jeremiah calls on God-fearing believers in exile in Babylon to accept their position as a minority in a land of idols and false gods, and to seek the well-being of the people and society around them. He challenges them to practice their faith and to show by the way they live that their trust in the one living and true God enables them to live lives in hope, strength, and peace, even and especially amid very difficult surroundings. Their

    faithful practice of the ways of the Lord will bring blessing to themselves and to their disbelieving neighbours. God will be honoured through their lives and service, and the kingdom of God will advance.

    In the years immediately following Jesus' earthly sojourn -- after his death and resurrection -- the apostle Paul also faced communities and countries where Christian believers were few in number and lived in adverse conditions. When he surveyed the city of Athens, full of idols and false gods, he started with a realistic assessment of the conditions of the society in which he lived.

      "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and observed your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you." (Acts 17: 22-23, NIV)

    Paul's approach in Athens could well be a pattern for us to follow in post- and non-Christian Canada. In our pluralistic society, Christians are called to recognise the diversity of religious practice among us, and point the way to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. Not all will believe or accept our message, but we are called to proclaim it in love, and give others who are searching the option to see and follow us as we follow Jesus. Some will, and in the meanwhile, perhaps our society will prosper as we live for the Lord. God will be honoured, and the kingdom of Christ will be advanced.

    Rather than bemoaning our lot or situation, or the condition of the culture around us, let us live faithfully as exiles in the land to which God has led us, and honour Him for as long as we are here.

    A pilgrim, living in a place that is not my home, but seeking to bring blessing to others here and now,

      Your pastor,

        James T. Hurd

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    No anonymous gift-recipients   (December 2011 - January 2012)

    As a child, one of the wonders of celebrating Christmas was the breath-taking beauty of beholding the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. No matter how beautiful it may have looked in advance, set up and decorated several days as it always was, it was a different sight to behold when we awoke on Christmas morning. Late into the evening, after we had gone to bed, my parents arranged for certain packages to be wrapped, delivered, or fetched from other hiding places, to appear under the tree in the morning. Others might arrive marked "from Santa", but there was always at least one parcel for each of us. If, on the rare occasion that we had one or more guests staying with us for Christmas, or due to visit over the Christmas holiday period, there would also be at least one parcel with a name tag for that individual "under the tree".

    No one who was part of the gift-opening scene on Christmas morning could escape without having someone say, "Here's one for you!" In other words, there were no anonymous gift-recipients.

    I thought about this when I read again the incident of Jesus and the woman who had been suffering with bleeding for twelve years.

    Luke 8: 44-48 - She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. "Who touched me?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you." But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

    God allows no anonymous gift-recipients. Each one of us who receives the gift of God's saving grace is known to God. Even though the woman's name is not recorded (and therefore she is "anonymous" in the eyes of the world), Jesus speaks to her personally: "Daughter, your faith has healed you." She may have "taken" the gift of healing, but Jesus "gives" her the gift of peace.

    Jesus may have been dispensing gifts "to the crowd", but he distributes the grace of God individually and personally to each one. In this season, many of us prepare to give gifts which are packages earmarked personally for individuals. Even when we contribute gift boxes or offer "white gifts" that are intended for those who are in need, whose names we may not know, we may be assured that when those gifts are finally delivered, they are addressed to an individual by name. There are no anonymous gift-recipients.

    Let us rejoice in this season of giving and receiving. The packages which may or may not appear under our Christmas trees are secondary. The parcel of God's love who appeared in the person of Jesus whose birth we celebrate is the one which matters. If, by the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus appears in your heart and mine as the parcel of God's love to heal and transform us, then we are blessed indeed! Jesus is God's gift of peace to each one.

    With prayers for a merry and peace-filled Christmas and new year,

      Your pastor,

        James T. Hurd

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    Fountain of life   (February 2012)

    "The Lord, the fountain of living waters" (Jeremiah 17: 13, KJV)

    Who is God?

    The Bible, which offers us God's self-disclosure, gives us many answers to the question, "Who is God?" Several of the answers provide vivid, concrete images. I propose to identify and reflect on some of these images in this space in the current and future issues of the Pulse.

    The first image which catches my eye is from Jeremiah 17: 13. God is here revealed as "the fountain of living waters".

    When I first went to school, one of the most exciting objects was the water fountain. It was located in the hallway outside the classroom. Cold, clear water was always available. It was refreshing. Bottled water was unheard of in those days. Returning to class after vigorous, outdoor exercise at recess, we were eager to stop at the water fountain for a drink.

    God is the One who satisfies our spiritual thirst. We long to be refreshed. We want to be invigorated - filled with strength, and energy, and purpose - to live. The prophet Jeremiah is commissioned to tell us - and show us - God as the fountain of living waters.

    The NIV translation puts it this way: "the Lord, the spring of living water". The picture of a spring, with its origin hidden deep in the ground, but bringing forth a stream of cold, crystal-clear water, supporting life, is a beautiful one. We associate such springs with the beauty of an unspotted, unspoiled creation. A mountain spring often feeds a natural lake or river. Such waters support life, for many kinds of creatures, and sustain and refresh us.

    God invites us to know Him as the fountain of life. Jesus, who took on human flesh to show us God living among us, told the Samaritan woman at the well that "whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst". He went on to explain that whoever welcomes and receives Jesus will receive "a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4: 14, NIV). In His great proclamation at the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus went on to say of the one who believes in Him that "streams of living water will flow from within him" (John 7: 38, NIV).

    The great Puritan preacher and writer John Flavel sent forth a series of teachings in which he aimed to present "a display of Christ in his essential and mediatorial glory". He called his work, "The fountain of life".

    Physical life cannot be sustained without water. Spiritual life cannot be sustained without God. "Blessed are those who ... thirst for righteousness", said Jesus, "for they will be filled" (Matthew 7: 6).

    Let us give thanks to God as the fountain of living waters; let us drink deeply of Jesus Christ, the fountain of life; and let us experience streams of living waters flowing from within us. Such will sustain us, and overflow to supply others.

    Glad beyond measure that Jesus Christ is living water that cannot be bottled,

      Your pastor,

        James T. Hurd

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    A consuming fire   (March 2012)

    Deuteronomy 4: 24 - The Lord your God is a consuming fire. (NIV)

    Some people have many names. Some gain many "nicknames", usually because of some trait or characteristic. Such nicknames may be designed to show affection, because of some endearing quality or action. Others show disdain, because something about that person is thought to be unattractive.

    God has many names. Those disclosed in the Bible each reflect some aspect of His nature or character. Last month, we considered in this space how God is "a fountain of living waters". This time, I invite you to see God as "a consuming fire".

    When God revealed Himself to Moses, He did so in the form of flames of fire from within a bush. He caught Moses' attention because the bush burned with fire, but was not destroyed. The bush lived; the fire was lively. The voice which spoke from within the fire, though, made the meaning clear: "The place where you are standing is holy ground." (Exodus 3: 5 NIV)

    God told Moses, "Do not come any closer." We are drawn to fire; it is a focal point. Yet at the same time we do not want to get too close.

    One of my favourite stories is the encounter between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, recorded in I Kings 18: 21ff. Elijah as God's servant is trying to lead the people to follow God, but the people waver back and forth between following the one true and living God and following the false god Baal. Baal seems to have more followers; Elijah counts 450 prophets for Baal, and he fears he is the only one left serving the living God. He challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest on Mount Carmel. The contest is to prepare a sacrifice and then to pray, asking that the one to whom each prays would show up to accept the sacrifice. The interesting thing is that Elijah asks that the real God would show himself "by fire". (I Kings 18: 23 NIV)

    The prophets of Baal prepare their sacrifice, and then call on their god, who fails to appear. Since their god is not, this is no surprise, especially to Elijah. Elijah, on the other hand, not only prepares his sacrifice, but soaks it with water. Then he prays. God appears all right; fire from heaven falls and consumes the sacrifice, the very stones of the altar, and all the water in the trench around it. God is a consuming fire.

    Because God is holy - pure and righteous - all that is unholy and unclean cannot live in His presence. That is why Moses was ordered to come no closer.

    We are told, though, by the writer of the letter to the Hebrews that although "God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12: 29 NIV), we are being drawn to Him, through Jesus. Since God, who is a consuming fire, lives in fullness in Jesus, those to whom Jesus comes and who in turn come to Jesus, are welcomed and enabled to live with and in the presence of this holy God. We are made holy when His Spirit dwells within us. We are invited not to Mount Sinai, where God met with Moses alone, while telling the rest of the people to keep their distance, but to Mount Zion, where in company with Jesus as the mediator of the new covenant we are invited to be and live and worship in God's immediate presence, in thanksgiving, "with reverence and awe".

    I am reminded that the central, focal points of most camps are usually the water and the campfire circle. Certainly this is so at our congregational retreats at Gracefield. We are drawn to the water as the source of life and the spring of vitality and refreshing. We are drawn to the fire as the source of warmth and light. We are eager to be refreshed and renewed on, in, or near the water. We rejoice together in life and fellowship around a bright, blazing campfire. God shows Himself to be both the fountain of life and a consuming fire.

    May the fire of God's presence burn among us - consuming all that is sinful and unholy, and burning brightly with the glory of His presence - even as we know Jesus as the fountain of living water, welling up within unto eternal life.

    Your pastor, glad our God discloses Himself as both fire and water,

      Your pastor,

        James T. Hurd

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    God... our refuge   (April 2012)

    Deuteronomy 33: 27 - The eternal God is your refuge. (NIV)

    We have just witnessed the spectacle of a fishing boat, swept away from the shores of Japan during the tsunami in March 2011, being found on the high seas off the coast of British Columbia. Apparently there is no sign of life aboard the ship. Most likely, the boat was docked in harbour when the storm struck.

    We use the word "refuge" to describe a safe harbour, and are glad to find refuge when caught out in the midst of a storm. We use the word "refugee" to describe someone who is fleeing danger and seeking safety elsewhere.

    There are many instances in the Bible of people seeking refuge amid the storms of life, and the Bible is filled with stories of refugees. In nearly a dozen different psalms (Psalms 7, 16, 18, 36, 46, 57, 62, 73, 91, 94, and 144), God is sought and celebrated as a refuge.

    In the law of God, in the book of Deuteronomy, we are told that "the eternal God is your refuge", and that "underneath are the everlasting arms". This image is a powerful picture of God, and many have sought and found God as a safe and secure refuge. One of the most memorable psalms, to which people of faith have turned throughout the centuries, is Psalm 46, which begins, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble." (NIV)

    Yet the context for the affirmation of Deuteronomy 33: 27 that "God is your refuge", and especially the Hebrew word used, tell us something different. Moses, just before he climbed Mount Nebo, from where his spirit was transferred to heaven, was inspired by the Spirit of God to pronounce a special blessing upon each of the tribes of Israel. After doing so, he concludes with a general word of blessing - a benediction - for the whole people of God. He tells them, "The eternal God is your refuge."

    The word he uses for "refuge", though, is a word which we would elsewhere translate "den" - as in an animal's "den" - the hidden place where an animal lives. It is a word which some of the older translations of Scripture translate as "habitation". A den is not a refuge in the sense of a refuge away from home; rather, it is "home". It is the place where the animal has made its home, secure from predators; it is a place where the animal can retreat in silence to sleep in safety. We use the word "den" to describe that part of our homes where we are most comfortable; the place to which we return or retreat when we want to simply "be" ourselves. It is the place within our world where perhaps we feel most "at home", most secure, most at peace.

    Moses, and the Spirit of God speaking through Moses, tells us that "God is our den." He is not only our refuge, but our home. It is in Him that "we live and move and have our being", as Paul puts it in Acts 17: 28.

    Jesus came that we might have life, and life abundant. He bids us find that life - and safety, and security, and peace - in "the eternal God, who is our refuge". Rather than fleeing from God, and looking for refuge elsewhere, let us come to Him, and make our home with Him, and settle safe and snug in the den. In Him, we will be secure, and whether the Lord carries us across the ocean or keeps us in our native land, we will have refuge in Him.

    At home in the refuge of God's embrace through Jesus Christ,

      Your pastor,

        James T. Hurd

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    My Rock   (May 2012)

    2 Samuel 22: 3 - "My God is my rock." (NIV)

    Rocks have been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. My grandfather, and his brother before him, travelled to northern Ontario in the early 1900s to explore rocks, in search of minerals. As a teen, my father went to the Haileybury School of Mines to study rocks, and then worked as a "rock hound" or prospector for twenty-five years. His oldest brother, who lived and worked until nearly eighty, hunted rocks all his life.

    My father collected rocks. He had rocks in the house, in the basement, and in the garage. He had rocks in his office, when he worked as the court clerk. At home, we were surrounded by rocks: in the living room, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, and sometimes in the bathroom. When we sold my parents' house, we had to arrange for a friend to haul away a half-ton truck full of rocks.

    As a student in university, I remember visiting the legislature building for the Province of Ontario at Queen's Park, where at that time there was on display in a glass case the largest rock of natural silver extracted from a mine in Ontario, in which my father's uncle had been involved. As I recall, it weighed more than a piano, though much smaller. I was never more proud of my ancestors as pioneers in the opening up of the wilderness of the great Canadian shield.

    Having visited the towering Rocky Mountains on several occasions, I am humbled and amazed when I read in the Bible that God is great enough to measure "the waters in the hollow of his hand" and to weigh "the mountains on the scales" (Isaiah 40: 12, NIV).

    But even more astonishing is the truth that God not only holds the rocks, all the rocks, in His hands - but He is the Rock! David personally celebrates knowing God as "my rock".

    Why is this image of God as a rock - or, more so, THE ROCK, so significant?

    A rock is a firm place to stand, contrasting with shifting or sinking sand. Jesus told the parable of the wise man who built his house on solid rock, contrasting the foolish one who built his house on shifting sand, with the result that in the storm the arrival of wind and rain led to the collapse of the house that had no firm foundation, whereas the house on the rock remained standing after the storm subsided.

    The psalmist celebrates the same truth in a personal experience of delivery: "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." (Psalm 40: 2, NIV) To have a place to stand gives one a sense of security and well-being.

    The ancient peoples used large rocks to mark the boundaries of property, indicating the limits of one's family land. "Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers." (Proverbs 22: 28, NIV)

    It was important for the peace and harmony of a community that neighbours knew where each other's property began and ended.

    Rocks form the foundation of the earth. God is the Creator of this earth, and He tells us that He is the Rock. If we know God as rock, we know where we are, and need not fear where we stand. In the storms of life, we will stand secure.

    Deuteronomy 32: 4 - He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (NIV)

    Have you found the rock - the solid rock? Do you know Jesus as the rock of your salvation? "My God is my rock."

      Your pastor, standing on the Rock,

        James T. Hurd

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    A righteous judge   (June 2012)

    Psalm 7: 11 - "God is a righteous judge." (NIV)

    In recent meditations in this space, we have reflected on different answers to the question, "Who is God?" A fountain of living water is an appealing image, especially on a hot, dry summer's day. Your refuge is a great blessing when one is being attacked or pursued. My rock is a tower of strength when change and decay are all around us, and everything in life seems to be slipping away.

    This time, though, we consider God as "a righteous judge". The image of God as Judge is sometimes fearful or foreboding. For anyone who has been in court, charged with an offence, standing before the judge who has power to declare the accused either guilty or not can be frightful. If found guilty, one is then often required to face the judge again, and learn what the consequences will be.

    Yet the image of God is as a "righteous" judge, and it is one that David welcomes and celebrates. David is willing to accept that if he has done wrong, he should face consequences; but, if he has been falsely accused or if he has been mistreated, he is eager that God mete out justice and set things right.

    In fact, in the first book of the Bible, Abraham in Genesis 18: 25 (NIV) asks the question, "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Abraham is confident, and pleads before God, that God's judgement and action will be right.

    God's righteous judgements stem from His perfect knowledge of the world and all that is in it, since He is the Creator. When Isaiah describes the ministry of the one who is announce the coming of the Messiah, he asks: "Who... has weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?" (Isaiah 40: 12, NIV) The answer is none other than God Himself.

    God's vast knowledge of the mountains is equalled by His intimate knowledge of the minds and hearts of those who are made after His own likeness. The psalmist says, "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord." (Psalm 139: 4, NIV). The apostle affirms that God knows and is therefore able to judge "the thoughts and attitudes of the heart". (Hebrews 4: 12, NIV)

    Well, therefore, is the psalmist able to celebrate: "The judgements of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether." (Psalm 19: 9, KJV)

    It is for our good that God is the righteous judge. He can be trusted to judge all things and all people rightly, and we can have confidence and peace in His judgements.

    We can also therefore leave to Him the work of judging. We are called to testify, to witness, but not to judge. Let us take to heart Peter's advice: "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, 'Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.'" (1 Peter 3: 9-10, NIV)

    Let us practice what Paul says, "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12: 19-21, NIV)

    When Paul is looking forward to his departure from life on earth, he says: "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing." (2 Timothy 4: 8, NIV)

    Let us know our God as the righteous Judge, and join Paul in looking forward to meeting Him, because we have first come to know and trust Jesus Christ the Lord as our Saviour.

    Praying for the righteous Judge to come and judge all things rightly,

      Your pastor,

        James T. Hurd
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