God’s vindication

Vindicate me, Lord,
    for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
    and have not faltered.
Test me, Lord, and try me,
    examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
    and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

Psalm 26

To vindicate means to declare someone innocent (NLT). In fact, read the NLT rendering of the psalm found in the link above.

We are not talking about sinless perfection, because if we were, God could vindicate no one, except of course, Jesus. And we’re not talking about a person who has no room for growth, perhaps especially in certain areas. If Paul didn’t think he had arrived at the goal to which God had called him heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3), how much less, we?

We are referring to a life of integrity, which actually would necessarily include making things right when one does wrong. A life devoted to God, growing in and through Christ. While we initially need to confine ourselves to the words of this psalm, we shouldn’t stop there. We also need to consider all of scripture, and particularly in the light of the revelation of Christ and the gospel.

Only God can vindicate. Self-vindication is not what we’re after. Although there are times quite trying, when we do speak in defense of ourselves and our lives and conduct, which is certainly the case of the psalmist here. Even though he is asking God for God’s vindication of his life, he is laying out his best case in defense of himself, even while asking God to probe his heart, and test whether or not these things are true.

Jesus is the one God vindicated, ultimately through his resurrection from the dead. And we are in Jesus, so that God’s vindication on us is through him. But within that declaration of innocence or righteousness, which begins by faith in this life, is a life of not only dependence on God, but devotion to him and his will in Jesus. Certainly a life in which ongoing confession of sin will be necessary, both to God and to others we have hurt.

God is the one who will vindicate us, our lives, our sincerity, and the reality of our walk in him in and through Jesus.

not having it all together, nor having all the answers

It is good to live in grace and have an assurance that somehow all is well in God’s will, even though that will has yet to take hold on earth as it has in heaven.

I for one often find myself struggling over something. Usually it is something I get over less than a day (as opposed to the past when it could stretch into days- knock on wood). Sometimes it seems in life I’m going up a normal hill which is more like a sand dune. You’re gaining little ground, but getting a good workout in the process. Or this or that or something else is wrong, one of the many challenges of life which can hit us on nearly every side. Challenges which come both from being a human who doesn’t have it all together and living in a world in which problems are a part of daily life.

I know there are formidable obstacles. I seem wired to look at and go on to the next challenge, even as I gladly take some deep breaths and enjoy in between.

I am glad we can turn to the Lord who can work even in the hardest places for good, beginning with myself, my heart played out in attitudes and actions. Being overwhelmed with life and all the challenges that come our way can have its advantage for sure. Then we ought to look to the Lord all the more and find our consolation and hope in him. That means I’m all the more in scripture as well as wanting to be in the fellowship or communion of God’s people in Christ. And wanting to be a witness to the world of the difference that makes.

It is wonderful and best to have lived by grace in a straightforward Daniel-like kind of way, to show others that in and through God such a life of integrity and wisdom is possible. We also need those who having failed along the way or been held in one stronghold or another to have overcome so that their lives tell the story especially to those around them everyday, of God’s saving, sustaining grace in Jesus. I am more in company with the latter. All of us together pointing to the one Savior for us and for the world, our Lord Jesus.

through the hard places with Job

Job is a good study, in fact the study we have on Job on Tuesday nights at church from 6:30 to 8:00 and past that, is hands down my favorite Bible study or study at church I’ve ever been a part of. Led by a seminarian, Jordan, who gets into the Hebrew, along with our Pastor Jack, and excellent participation by those who attend.

I can’t compare my life with Job, either in regard to his integrity (although I accept that which I have as a gift from God) nor in regard to what he experienced. I take Job as a story and not strictly speaking as history, in the inspired, inscripturated word of God. I’m not saying it can’t be history. But it is for sure a masterpiece of wisdom, giving us a slant on wisdom that is unique.

Job directed his complaints to God. He was righteous, period. And he was suffering. His friends could not put that together. If he was righteous, wouldn’t his life be blessed? But if not, than indeed he wouldn’t be blessed. Job has it out both with his friends and with God. In the end, God’s relatively much shorter reply deftly helps Job to see that the world, including Job’s world is much bigger than Job could possibly imagine. Something wonderful exists about it in terms of God’s working, yes in the midst of all the calamity, pain and suffering.

If I can just get hold of that thought and keep it. In my case I have to add that my life hasn’t been altogether one of integrity, as is the case of Job, though I believe by God’s grace I can say now that that part is a thing of the past. We are sinners, but the book of Job teaches that one can live with integrity in righteousness, and still suffer much in this life. And yet something wonderful, and big beyond our understanding can be occurring at the same time.

But Job is a puzzling book to me, just the same. Yes, he is restored at the end, praying for his friends as they offer sacrifices to God, so that his friends are forgiven and before Job was restored. And then restored, with the same number of children: seven sons and three daughters, this time the daughters being the most beautiful in the land. As wonderful as those children were, the loss of the first ten would be one that would remain for life. And all on a bet, so to speak, with Satan. But again, God is at work in wonderful ways beyond our understanding. Job did not receive answers afterward, but he did finally understand that in spite of everything, God was at work.

And so I look at my life and go on. Believing that God is somehow in it in a wonderful way. Even in the pain. In his grace in and through Jesus.