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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 35 ~ The Judge

Day 35 ~ The Judge

James 5:9 Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

If there is one thing we fear it is judgment. We get very defensive when we are judged by others. Just consider how you feel when you go in for a job interview. Typically, if we really want the job, we go in with some level of nervousness because we are about to be judged. So, we dress ourselves up very nicely, we put on our best behavior, and we present a resume which makes us look like we will be of great benefit to this would-be employer. All of this is carried out in an effort to be judged worthy of getting the job. There is just one thing we can't control: the one carrying out the interview. We cannot control the judge. That is why we fear judgment, it is beyond our control. We can dress ourselves up as nicely as we'd like, but we cannot control the judge!

If this is how we feel going into a job interview, how much more nerve-racking is it to stand before the Judge of the universe? The Second Coming of Jesus is immanent. It has been so for roughly 2000. We confess every Sunday that when He returns He will judge both the living and the dead. This is a very intimidating prospect for us because God knows our hearts, He knows our thoughts, He knows our deeds. All that stuff we thought was hidden and that we've gotten away with is known to Him. No matter how much we try and cover our sin and shame before God with good works and religious activity, we cannot tip the scales in our favor. Trying to use our good works to cover our sin is like a man with 10 DUIs on his record wearing a suit to an interview for school bus drivers. The suit is a weak attempt to cover the guilt.

The judgment seat of Christ could be a terrifying place for sinners, not just because of our guilt, but especially because we cannot control the Judge! It is His decision as to whether or not we are declared guilty or innocent. He has given us the standard in the Law we are to follow, and we know we've failed. So, no matter how much we dress ourselves up, we cannot control the Judge's decision.

We cannot control what God knows about us. We cannot control His judgment of us. We simply receive the verdict: "Not guilty." Wait...not guilty? The verdict is declared by a gracious Judge who forgives sinners for the sake of Christ's death on the cross. We could never cover our sins, so Christ covers them in His blood! We could never dress ourselves up enough to hide the truth of our sin, so Christ clothes us in His righteousness! We cannot control how the Judge will reach His verdict, but He who is in control forgives! As we await the immanent return of Christ, we do so in great anticipation, knowing that God's verdict has been declared on cross. We have been judged forgiven.

Confession: Father, forgive me for my lack of faith in your grace. Forgive me for trying to earn a place in heaven. Forgive me for trying to cover up my sins instead of confessing them. Forgive me for trying to control my fate instead of trusting your Son who has promised to save me. Teach me to trust in you and to look forward to your Son's return with confidence. Help me to forgive, just as you have judged me forgiven. AMEN!

Challenge: James says we are not to judge, lest we be judged. The flip side of that is to forgive as we have been forgiven. To repeat a challenge we've already done, tell someone that you forgive them out loud today. Do not hold their sin against them.

Pastor Bob

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