Joy and Justice

At a conference in Asia, I had two eye-opening conversations in the span of a few hours. First, a pastor told of spending 11 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction before he was cleared. Then, a group of families shared how they had spent a fortune to escape religious persecution in their homeland, only to be betrayed by the very people they had paid to bring about their rescue. Now, after years in a refugee camp, they wonder if they will ever find a home.

In both cases, victimization was compounded by an absence of justice—just one evidence of our world’s brokenness. But this vacuum of justice is not a permanent condition.

Psalm 67 calls on God’s people to make Him known to our hurting world. The result will be joy, not as a response to God’s love but because of His justice. “May the nations be glad and sing for joy,” says the psalmist, “for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth” (v. 4).

Although the Bible writers understood that “equity” (fairness and justice) is a key component of God’s love, they also knew that it will only be fully realized in the future. Until then, in our world of injustice, we can serve to point others to our God’s divine justice. His coming will see “justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24). 

Love for Children

Thomas Barnado entered the London Hospital medical school in 1865, dreaming of life as a medical missionary in China. Barnado soon discovered a desperate need in his own front yard—the many homeless children living and dying on the streets of London. Barnado determined to do something about this horrendous situation. Developing homes in for destitute children in London’s east end, Barnado rescued some 60,000 boys and girls from poverty and possible early death. Theologian and pastor John Stott said, “Today we might call him the patron saint of street kids.”

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14 nlt). Imagine the surprise the crowds—and Jesus’ own disciples—must have felt at this declaration. In the ancient world, children had little value and were largely relegated to the margins of life. Yet, Jesus welcomed, blessed, and valued children.

James, a New Testament writer, challenged Christ-followers saying, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans… in their troubles,” (James 1:27 nlt). Today, like those first-century orphans, children of every social strata, ethnicity, and family environment are at risk due to neglect, human trafficking, abuse, drugs, and more. How could we honor the Father who loves us by showing His care for these little ones Jesus welcomes?

The Time Is Today

The musical group The Association sang “The Time It Is Today” in the 1960s, calling young people to live for something more than themselves—to make a difference in the world in their own generation. That same call comes to followers of Christ today. We are given this moment in time to represent our God in the world. And, like Elijah,…

Times Of Frailty

Few emotions so quickly expose the frailty of men and women as the emotion of despair. When we are battling with our own hearts—regardless of the reason for the struggle—we can find ourselves in a life-and death war. Despair, that darkest of human emotions, can woo us, entice us, and even destroy us. Sometimes we meet it...

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Times Of Conflict

Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:38). People are still asking that question today.

The issue was the same in Elijah’s day—the people had rejected the God of truth for the lies of the gods of the land. Truth had been lost in a culture of idolatry.

In the time that had elapsed since the prophet had left Zarephath,…

Times Of Faith

Someone has defined “faith” with the acrostic, “Forsaking All I Trust Him.” That’s certainly what happened with Elijah. He had forsaken all to trust God. After he confronted King Ahab and ridiculed his idol, Baal, he ran into the wilderness. But he had to trust God to provide for him in a desolate place.

Elijah had learned that God could provide…

Times Of Training

Several years ago, sports-shoe maker Nike ran a series of ads themed, “What are you getting ready for?” One showed an NFL football player throwing himself down a steep, rocky hill. Another had a soccer player doing everything in life with his feet. The point? What we do today is getting us ready for something.

What are you getting ready…

Times Of Courage

Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” (1 Kings 17:1)

With these few words, Elijah stepped into the pages of the Bible, and right into the middle of a hornet’s nest. Israel’s economy…

Average In Greatness

John Wayne was a movie megastar. In fact, film studios used to base their annual projections on his popularity. He was so bankable that his movies consistently drew crowds to the theaters in the 40s, 50s, and 60s—many of them filled with starry-eyed boys like me who watched the Duke’s adventures breathlessly, imagining that we were riding at his side…

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