How Will God Judge Me?

Whether we I like it or not God designed life to bring continued changes in every area of our life.  Knowing that, Connie and I intend to grow old gracefully.  The only exception to involuntary changes is in our spiritual life. Although He purposes for each believer to become like Jesus, our daily decisions determine the pace of that spiritual formation process and whether we will endure to the end.

Peter, Jesus’ outspoken lead disciple, wrote, … if you call on [God] as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 1 Peter 1:17 (ESV).   We may think we judge impartially, but we invariably respect some more highly than others and treat them accordingly.  God does not prefer one over another because He has nothing to hope or fear from any of His creation.  So how is it that He will “judge” us if He is impartial?

Did you notice that Peter pointed out God will judge … according to each one’s deeds and not according to Christ’s deeds on our behalf?  Now that is thought provoking.  On which of our deeds will He focus His attention and make His judgment?  Paul added some insight here when he wrote For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… Rm 8:29 (ESV).  If God purposed for each believer to be conformed to the image of Jesus, then anyone not continually becoming more like Jesus will be judged for not allowing the Holy Spirit to reshape them.

Here is a revealing paradox.  The sobering judgment challenge is set in contrast to the incredibly desirable hope of being conformed to the image of Jesus.  It is stunning to think of being able to literally be like Jesus as when He endured all He did between His resolution prayer in the garden to His final breath.  He hardly said a word, certainly NOTHING evil to his abusers!  Plus, to think I can literally experience the intense pleasure of His joy (Jn 15:11) along with the other fruit of the Spirit.  Who could possibly look askance at those things?!

The Bible teaches healthy fear and love for God result in the same promises and fruit in our lives.  Both are essential for authentic faith in God just as two sides of the coin are needed to validate its value.  The difference between healthy and unhealthy fear is unhealthy fear focuses on you potentially getting hurt while healthy fear focuses on not hurting others—God in this case.  Peter is saying the latter type of fear is essential to living the acceptable Christian life.

On the fear side of the coin, if I’m understanding what Peter is writing, God will judge each of us according to how far we have allowed the Holy Spirit to take us in our spiritual reformation.  If we allow ourselves to stall in our progressive changes, He will judge us for decisions surrounding that resistance.  It is in that context Peter writes …conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your [time on this earth] 1 Peter 1:17 (ESV).  The loving God side of the coin leads to being …filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 1 Peter 1:8 (NIV) and growing …to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ Ephesians 4:13 (ESV).   It all boils down to which side of the coin we focus our attention on.  When we chose the latter, fear fades into the shadows.

I, more than anyone else, know that I have a long way to go in my spiritual reformation.  I allow the unhealthy fear to affect my life far more than I would like.  But I take great comfort when His Spirit challenges me to change in one more area of my life—in fact it gives me great confidence!  I want to mature to the full stature of Christ.  How have you been doing in the process of being changed into the image of his Son?  I urge you to come grow with me.

God Encounter

What happens when you have developed a routine of reading the Bible and praying every day and then take a two-week family vacation?   Most of us mean well yet end up drifting away from our quiet time with God for those two weeks.  Imagine being forced to walk more than a hundred miles to live as captives among people who don’t speak your language and with no place to worship God—not for two weeks but for seventy years!   Do you suspect that maybe the practice of your faith would begin to become a fading memory?  This was exactly what happened to the Hebrews.

It was sometime in October or November of 445 BC, all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had given for Israel to obey  Nehemiah 8:1 (NLT2).  The Book of the Law of Moses consists of Genesis through Deuteronomy in the Bible.  If you’ve read those books, you’ve probably found it is easy to get bogged down in the last three of them.  Imagine listening to a solitary voice reading those books and trying to explain what the words meant.

Instead of drifting off to sleep, Ezra had to tell them “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law  Nehemiah 8:9 (NLT2).  What in the world would cause them to cry when hearing those books read?

There is a huge difference between studying words on a page and having the words on the page study you, getting such a grip on your heart that it would cause you to weep!  I’ve literally had that happen to me.  I clearly know the difference between intellectual curiosity and being overcome by an invisible power and knowledge much bigger than myself.

Interestingly, if you study the vast history of Christians over the millenniums, you will find in their writings how they too have had the same kind of supernatural experience these Hebrews had.  Trust me when I say that this experience is far more than just reading the Bible.  It not only assures a person the Bible is infallible, it tells us what can happen when you actually connect with the author.  You then are confident God is very much alive and well!!  I literally thrive on this happening to me nearly every time I take time not to read but to reflect on only a few verses.   If you have experienced that in your faith journey, you stand within a large body of believers with a common experience.

It’s my conviction God intends to meet with each one of His children as they take time to meditate on His Word.  If you can imagine a very intimate time with a very close friend, family member or a spouse, encounters with God are like those times on steroids multiplied many times over.

How long has it been since you have had such an encounter with your Creator, friend and lover?  If this is new to you know this, it IS possible to experience.  The French Catholic lady Jeanne Guyon wrote the classic book Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ on how to come to enjoy such encounters.  While it is not perfect, she has been able to best explain what I have learned from personal experience to be very profitable to my spiritual journey.   If it has been a while since you had such an encounter with God, why not schedule a time for solitude with God and His word, cleanse your soul, ask Him to open His truth to you through His Word and then allow yourself to enjoy His incredible presence.   I would love to hear your story of time with God.

Acid Test

Overly polite!  That was the give away!  I met a lady who was overly polite with me, even calling me “Sweetie,” as if she really might care about me.  We’ve all encountered people who are not authentic, but this lady was over the top.  One of my core values is authenticity, so that behavior flipped my recoil switch.  I wanted to politely get away from her as quickly as I could.  Do you recall ever being less than authentic with someone?

It’s no secret that we all put on artificial masks at times.  Unfortunately, we can wear them so often we begin to confuse our true identity with who our mask shows us to be.  Could it be that we are even inauthentic in our love for God and like Moses wear a mask to hide God’s fading glory?  We say we love God, go to church and even contribute our time and money.  But is authentic love for God defined by what we do?  Really?  I believe genuine love for God or another person is far more than how they behave.  I’ve counseled couples going through the motions of being married while their words and behavior betray what they feel in their heart.  A person can discern when their spouse is just going through the motions—just as God can and does.

Peter’s first letter was especially written to believers whom he called elect exiles who were passing through severe trials and enduring serious persecution.  Their homes and property were being stolen leaving them with nothing.  Some were imprisoned or even killed.  Their love and faith were being tested with fire. Peter’s purpose was to comfort them in their trials so they could bear up under their heavy emotional load.

One of the ways to know a person has authentic love for God is how they respond when they face serious abuse, mockery, rejection, or physical pain.  To reassure them as they faced these conditions, he pointed out 1 Peter 1:8 (ESV) Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.  When I read this verse, it causes me to pause to consider, how many Christians today would still love and believe in God to the point of literally rejoicing with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory if they were living in that condition?  I ask myself, would I have that kind of joy in those conditions?

There must be other qualities in the definition of authentic love and belief these believers had that are unfamiliar to us today.  I’ll never forget visiting a bedfast woman who had such severe MS her body hardly raised the sheet covering her.  She had to blow in a tube to turn the TV on.  But like those in exile, she had the most incredible joy and loved to talk about God’s goodness.  It is when our belief and love are put to the acid test that we know if we really believe and love Him and subsequently experience the joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.  It will look and feel like the joy we experienced when we were genuinely regenerated at our point of salvation.

What might it say to us if our joy has lost its luster?  Is it a symptom of having left our first love?  I suspect that the cares of life slowly choke out or otherwise fossilize our first love.  Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT2) Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. When David discerned his love for God had failed the acid test, he cried out to God, Restore unto me the joy of my salvation (Ps 51L12).   If you were to superimpose an acid test on your love and belief in God, would those virtues turn out to be as genuine as you want them to be?  If not, I’m sure David would urge you to cry out to God as he did and have your authentic joy restored today.

What do I need to know?

When I was younger I used to think I had to understand everything in order to preach or teach it.  Unfortunately, all too many of us continue to feel that way and use that as reason for not taking on teaching a class or small group, or even sharing our faith in Christ.  We’re afraid we might position ourselves where we will be asked questions and don’t know the answers.  Have you been reluctant to take a step of faith because you didn’t feel you knew enough to satisfy the questions still bouncing around in your own head?  I felt that way when approaching my current district leadership position.

I have been very captivated with 1 Peter 1:10-11 (NIV)  Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,  trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.  That took courage to give prophecies about salvation and grace while not even understanding them.   Would you have the nerve to do that?

I suspect all of us have made statements that made sense when talking to our friends or family then later discovered our words meant far more than we thought.  In the last 24 hours I commented on a slightly misguided statement someone had made.  While doing so, I noted that what I said had never even entered my mind before saying it.  Yet something within me resonated my statement was true.  I knew it had come out of my spirit rather than out of my mind or emotions.

The prophets in this passage did not understand what they prophesied but they had the integrity to acknowledge they did NOT understand.  Admirably, they understood the Spirit was anointing them to speak, but instead of putting their own spin on the words, they “searched intently and with the greatest care” to gain more knowledge of them.  It was then revealed to them the words they had been anointed to speak were not even about them or their generation but for generations to come!!!  What might have happened if they had dogmatically taught their assumed speculations of what the Spirit had meant in the words given them?  They would have misguided many through the centuries.

It is important that we try to minister in faith. This means we may not fully understand the message we have been given yet can minister with humility remaining open to additional insights new to us.  Can we have peace with not fully understanding yet have the courage to teach, preach or share what we have found to be true?  How might that more noble approach to teaching controversial doctrines allow for there to be less divisions in the body of Christ?  How might that approach provoke others to maintain a searching heart to seek to learn more from God’s Word and have attentive “ears” for what the Spirit may want to say to us?  How might that approach minimize conflicts in relationships, especially in our marriages?  Such humility is vital to authentic Christianity.

I desire to have greater integrity and transparency in order to enjoy deeper peace within when I minister.  But I also want to provoke a hunger within others to study and learn more from God and His Word about things they don’t fully understand.  I wish I would have learned this truth earlier in my life!

Presumptive Expectations

Try as Connie and I do, we still misunderstand each other from time to time.  When we realize that we try to clarify each other’s expectations.  Expectations make a big difference for everyone.  But it is more frustrating when Connie tells me multiple times when an event is coming, and I still forget!   I’m grateful for her patience especially as I get older and my “personal computer” bogs down from overload.

Although Jesus had explained many things about the kingdom of God (e.g. the kingdom was within them) minutes before He ascended into Heaven His disciples …kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” Acts 1:6 (NLT2) They obviously had heard but totally misunderstood what Jesus had taught about the kingdom of God!!  And now, Jesus would no longer be there to straighten out their thinking!

I’ve witnessed people misunderstanding, even misinterpreting, God’s promises in the Bible.  It is easy to read verses like Mark 11:24 (ESV), Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours; and Matthew 7:8 (ESV) For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened; then assume the Holy Spirit will answer what they request.  But that is clearly NOT the case!!

Jesus said to [blind Bartimaeus], “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51 (ESV)  He then received not only his healing but also his salvation!  Jesus also asked two of his closest disciples, James and John, virtually the same question, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36 ESV) But this time, Jesus did not give them what they asked.

What!!  Why would Jesus say “yes” to the blind man He hardly knew and “no” to men closest to Him in ministry?  Consider the motive of the hearts behind each request.  Bartimaeus’ heart for Jesus would go on and faithfully share with others God’s grace to him, but James and John asked for what they would consume on themselves.  James explained it this way in James 4:3 (NLT2), And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

Jesus clarified the issue when He said Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them Mark 11:24 (NKJV). What we ask for when seeking God’s heart will be very different than when pray seeking soulish lusts.

If God doesn’t give us what we ask, we should evaluate our prayers. Are our motives selfish? Are we asking for far less than God wants to give? (2 Ki 13:19; Ep 3:20). Are our requests worthy of the God we approach? Do we lack the faith God requires to give us our desires? (Mt 17:20).

Perhaps it might help if, before we ask, we filter our attitude with the Jesus’ words Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.   If we will ask according to His will, like Bartimaeus, we will receive far more than we anticipate! (Je 33:3).  Just think of all the gifts God has planned to give us when we align ourselves with His plan and purpose on this earth rather than our own selfish desires.  Can you imagine what power can be released in this world when that happens to all believers in Nebraska alone?

Believing What Jesus Believed

While attending college I took a local youth group to camp where the leader manipulated the youth to artificially speak in tongues.  I was appalled, determining to separate myself from that teaching if that was how it was supposed to be done.  The good side of that experience was my hunger for truth led me to research that doctrine in the Bible.  Through that I discovered truths about the gift of tongues I had never read or heard before.

When sitting in a seminary grad class on 1 Corinthians, the professor interpreted a passage about that gift of the Holy Spirit identical to what I had discovered in my studies.  I could hardly sit in my chair!!  I felt validated!!  I’ll never forget that professor!

Dallas Willard once raised the question, “Do you believe what Jesus believed—not just what He said but what He believed?”  Great question!  It is one thing to say, I believe what Jesus said, but quite another to say I believe what Jesus believed!  If I believed what He believed while on this earth, I would behave like He behaved and talk like He talked and even think like He thought.

What did Jesus believe about serving others when He taught the parable of the good Samaritan?  What did Jesus believe that motivated Him to forgive the woman who had broken the law by committing adultery then told her to, “Go and sin no more”?  What did Jesus believe about paying taxes when He told Peter to go fishing and he would find a coin in the mouth of a fish that would pay their taxes?  What did Jesus believe about forgiving others when He told the parable in Matthew 18:21-35 about forgiving from the heart someone who owed you something or who you felt had somehow abused you?

No one can believe what Jesus believed without first having a personal spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit.  Nor can one learn to believe as He believed without desiring to spend significant amounts of time mediating on God’s Word.  The Bible is an expression of God’s mind.  As a person reads and studies it intelligently, humbly and openly, that person comes to increasingly think like He thinks.  There is a natural connection between a proper use of God’s Word and the fruit of being connected to the vine as Jesus said.  John 15:1-2, 5-8 I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.  But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!  When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

I’m certainly far from thinking or believing all of what Jesus believed or thought.  But I so want to be that kind of Christ-follower!  That is one reason why I have such a passion to dig beneath the surface of what is said in His Word.  By His grace I am convinced that His Word will transform my way of thinking and believing.  If we dig in His Word together, we will be able to learn and be transformed faster.  Can we take this journey together?

Sustainable Faith

Elijah, my youngest grandson, asked me to play a game with him.  Within five minutes of getting the game set up, he didn’t want to play anymore.  Hum!  His childish, short attention span was alive and well.   On the other hand, he absolutely loves playing games on his iPad.  He can become so riveted to his video games that he doesn’t hear grammy call him for dinner!  Are children capable of extending their attention span about important things before their mind properly matures?

I applaud school teachers, especially those who teach kindergarteners like our Elijah.  They not only have to teach the children their ABCs but also stretch their attention span.  I wonder if the teachers must be equipped with a touch of super patience to keep from going crazy trying to keep the children busy in an instructive way.  Wow!!

By adulthood, people’s attention spans have dramatically expanded—at least in some areas of life.  When speaking in a church recently, I had not even finished my introductory comments before one man’s head nodded and he was “out” (asleep)!  I wondered if spiritual truth was the only thing he struggled to concentrate on.  What is it about attention to faith or spiritual truth that makes it so vulnerable to becoming unattractive?

I recently reflected on Caleb and his sustained faith in God.  He was about 40 when he joined the other 11 spies as they crossed the border of Canaan in order to scope out the best way to take the land God had promised.  But 10 of them let giants in the land scare their faith out of them.  Those ten even led the majority of the Jews to vote against claiming God’s promise.  Only two adults subsequently survived the next 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and were able to finally enter the Promised Land.

Please consider this! Caleb was probably in his mid-80s when he requested of Joshua, Will you now give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim [giants] were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.  Joshua 14:12 (NKJV)  Really, at 85 years of age??!!!  Get this, Caleb’s attention span of faith in God had lasted over 40 years!!!

When adults today hit 65-70 and are challenged to “take a mountain for God,” all too many find excuses to not engage in the work of the ministry.  What was it that kept Caleb’s faith in God as strong as it had been 40 plus years earlier?  Is your faith still as strong as when you were first regenerated by God’s Spirit?

I admire men and women like Monte Standage and Faith Tyson who after achieving retirement age, rise up and ask for another mountain to take.  Is your faith fit to take a mountain at your current age?  If not, join me in getting a grip on our desire for comfort, stirring up our spirit, and determine a strategy for expanding our attention span for love and service to our God.  Do whatever is necessary to make sure doesn’t fade with time.  Remind yourself of Paul’s exhortation to younger Timothy, fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  2 Timothy 1:6 (NLT2)

Presumption

Politics these days has become excessively prejudiced, even though the idea of being open minded and tolerate has been given so much air time.  Ironic!!  It appears as though people hear each other yet do not really hear.  Instead, they hear only what they want to hear.  They then take liberty to turn their interpretation of it and use it to leverage public opinion in a negative way.  Is this intentional or has it become so much a part of their psyche they actually believe they are reporting truth.  Have we passed the point of no return?

When reflecting on that, I asked myself how often do I hear only what I want to hear from God, my wife, family or my friends and then act unwarrantedly on my selfish interpretation.  I suspect we all do this to some degree.  It is how our brain works.  It is observable in children as well as the oldest of adults and equally sad and dangerous no matter who or what age it may occur.

I was intrigued how in Paul’s letter to his friend Philemon, he was tempted to presume or take unwarranted action but caught himself and refused to do so.  In that case, Philemon’s runaway slave (Onesimus) had managed to travel from Colossae to Rome and get a job serving prisoners, one of which was Paul.  In their conversation, Paul found out Onesimus was his friend’s slave.   Paul led him to salvation and enjoyed their growing relationship and especially appreciated Onesimus’ care for him.  He wanted that to continue but was convicted that he was selfishly presuming upon his friend by not sending Onesimus back to Philemon.

Paul followed his conscience and sent Onesimus, who had become like his “son”, back to Colossae along with a letter to his friend.  In the letter he wrote that while he knew he could have presumptively left the situation as it was, Philemon 1:14 (NLT2) I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced.

What would I have done if I had been Paul?  Would I have voluntarily taken such a gut-wrenching risk to send a man who had become so close to me that I depended upon him back to his slave master not knowing what the outcome might be?  What would you have done?

These days we act presumptuously almost as casually as we eat a meal!  We presume upon our spouse, family, friends, government, etc.  Yet, God modeled the righteous way to live by refusing to presume upon us by giving you and I a free will.  Like Paul, He insists on us choosing to submit to His Almighty authority.  How have you been managing your freedom to choose to submit to Him?

Washing Machine

Connie and I have been getting some major landscaping done in our back yard.  I’ve found myself repeatedly becoming so focused on it I kneel down to do some work before changing into my yard-work jeans.  When it becomes too dark and I go in the house, I realize I had gotten dirt and stains on another pair of pants!!  Now Connie has to wash another pair of pants and I feel guilty!

What is interesting to me is how water and laundry soap move through the fibers of material like my pants and carry out the dirt lodged within those fibers and make them look like new again.  Even though we can see and smell the difference, we are not able to see the soap and water working the cleaning process.

When we come to God, our minds and hearts are like my dirty pants, caked with twisted beliefs and bad attitudes, ugly feelings, corrupt habits and deeds, misguided dreams, hopes and fears.  We are so far out of alignment our soul groans with the agitation and turmoil from what is going on deep within while waiting for its redemption.

How is it that the sense of sorrow deep within us can somehow be made free, joy filled and clean again?  No counselor, brain surgeon or psychiatrist can bring the release and freshness to the mind, emotions, intuitions and conscience that our God can.  Titus 3:4-7 (NLT2) 4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.  Absolutely incredible!!

Like our clothes, unfortunately, we again soil our mind, emotions and spirit by the unintentional sins we commit.  The washing machine God uses to move through the fibers of our mind and spirit to keep us clean and make us more like Jesus, is our soaking or meditation on His Word.  Ephesians 5:26-27 (ESV) 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

We all value our washing machines that make our dirty clothes clean and usable again.  Do you realize that God’s Word does to our souls what a washing machine does to our clothes?  I suspect all too many of us are like young boys at kid’s camp who don’t take time to take showers or change dirty clothes.  We go for days without soaking and being washed by the water of God’s word.  God has designed for you and I to take spiritual showers in God’s Word so He can present [us] to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, …without blemish.  Oh, the absolute delight of the prospect of having no spots or wrinkles!!   This adds additional value to the time I spend in God’s word.

Misunderstood

President Trump has popularized the phrase “fake news”.   I get it because I’ve had reporters hear what they wanted to hear me say then printed “fake news”.  But then, I’m sure I too have misunderstood what someone has said even if I didn’t print it.  Chances are, you’ve had that same type of thing happen to you.  Fake news primarily happens because a person jumps to a conclusion and makes a judgement without taking the time to get to know the speaker’s heart.  Jesus did say Matthew 7:1 (NKJV) “Judge not, that you be not judged.”  But He also said, John 7:24 (NKJV) Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Paul wrote a letter to Philemon from prison sending back to him a slave (Onesimus) who had run away from him and somehow ended up in Rome with Paul.  Paul had assisted in Onesimus’ salvation and in turn Onesimus had served Paul while he was in prison.  If you isolate verses 8-10 in the letter to Philemon, the words Paul uses can appear to be emotionally packed and certainly sound like he is manipulating his friend Philemon into treating his runaway slave in an honorable way.  However, by reflecting on the game-changing verses 10-12, you are able to gain insight into the heart that motivated those words.  In Paul’s case, for a male to write such things, you realize they were penned out of gut-wrenching feelings and purely out of God’s kind of love for both parties involved.

Jesus’ word and deeds were misunderstood, even by his own disciples who knew His heart!!!  His disciples understood His deity (Mt. 16:16), but they misunderstand what He taught about the Kingdom of God and His death.   Peter couldn’t believe Jesus would die on the cross (Mt. 16:22) and the disciples could not understand why the kingdom of God didn’t happen as they had expected (Acts 1:6).  But they followed Him because they knew His heart.  In contrast, those who had only seen His miracles and heard some of His teaching ended up calling for His crucifixion.  If you are certain your heart is right, and you are still misunderstood, rest assured you are in the finest of company with our Lord.

Too often our initial wrong judgments influence how we go on to feel towards that person for decades.  Those first-time impressions are hard to unlearn when later we get to really know the heart of that individual.   Jesus’ admonition to that type of behavior is Luke 6:37-38 (NLT2) “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

How quick are we to judge a person before we know their heart, but it doesn’t feel so good when others do the same about what we say or do.  Holy Spirit, please keep reminding me to relax, love others as You do and let You be the judge of what they say or do.  Please remind all of us to allow You to settle the score.