Wicked over the Righteous

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I’ve been working on some new music here lately, and I’ve been drawn to a rather odd place in Scripture. I’ve been taken into my second favorite grouping of Scripture, the minor prophets (my first favorite being the Pauline epistles). I only say that it’s an odd place in Scripture because they seem to be the most infrequently used books of the Bible. I have heard countless sermons, read countless books, and done countless Bible studies; yet no one seems to think about the books from Joel-Malachi (with the possible exception of Jonah; that dude is always mentioned in children’s Bibles). However, there is a lot of really good wisdom to be found in these books.

I have been reading in the book of Habakkuk here lately. It’s pronounced exactly the way it looks (Ha-back-uck). The book is a conversation between God and the prophet. During this time, Judah has had many wicked kings, the people seem to be falling away from God, and the people of God were being persecuted against. Habakkuk is asking God why He does nothing while evil people prosper. God responds to Habakkuk showing how the wicked will be punished, yet He shows that this will happen in the future, not in the present (Habakkuk 2:3). 

This is a question that we all wrestle with. Paul writes about it in 2 Thessalonians stating, “In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.” (1:6 NLT). He goes on to talk about that punishment. I’m pretty sure the point being that the wicked maybe prosperous now while we suffer, but after death they will suffer for all eternity.

Honestly, it’s a question we all ask sometimes. When I get feeling down and wonder why people, who don’t follow Jesus, have more/better than me, I find comfort in the words of Habakkuk.The wicked may get a great life here on earth. The righteous may not. But ultimately, the true prize is salvation through Jesus Christ. He gave us eternal life, and blessings. Our true treasures are stored up in heaven, not here on earth.  I suggest giving the book a good read sometime. It can give some great comfort in a world that look like Judah did then. 

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Live by Faith (Romans 1)

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Well friends, it’s been a few days since I’ve done this but I’ve decided to do another book study! I’ve decided this time to cover the Book of Romans. Just like we did with Mark, I will do a chapter a day provided nothing comes up in the mean time. So let’s jump into this letter to find out about what God has to say for us.

Let me start by saying, Romans is probably my favorite book of the Bible. It was the last letter that Paul wrote, and is one of his prison letters (meaning he wrote it while in prison). He wrote it to a church that He hadn’t founded, but had the urge to visit (1:13). The Roman church didn’t just sit in the middle of a sin infested city, it was the middle of the whole world; everyone and everything either was apart of  or knew of the Roman Empire. Paul was excited for this church because they had the ability to spread the gospel throughout the world, because they were placed in Rome. However, we quickly see what the problem of the church is. He sets it up through he thesis for his letter, which is a quote from Habakkuk 2, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life” (Romans 1:17, Habakkuk 2:4 NLT).

It’s the truth isn’t it? Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one come to the Father but through me” (John 14:6 NASB) and “the gateway to life is very narrow” (Matthew 7:14 NLT). So what Jesus is saying is the same that Paul and the prophet Habakkuk both say, belief in Jesus is the way to life. The problem that the Roman church had, and what many of us have today, is that we think there are multiple things we still have to do other than have faith. As we will see, Paul shows that the old Jewish Law is dead because of Christ saving death. That’s it friends. Have faith.

So if it’s that simple, how come we get caught up in telling people they have to do this, this, and this, but we don’t mention Jesus one bit. I think our focus, as a Church, has shifted. We have accepted Jesus, we know the world knows about him, so naturally we feel that the world needs to be reminded how to live a Christian life. That’s all well and good, but we don’t live in a Christian world. Largely, Christ is fought, and mostly it’s because Christians have been finger pointing so long that we are viewed as judgmental. We get confused on what it means to hate the sin. It’s true, as Christians we are to hate what God hates, and love what God loves. But God only hates one thing, sin. That means we have to hate sin. Sin is not a person, it is a person’s actions. Sin is something you do, not what you are. And since we love what God loves, we get to love the sinner, despite what they do.

The other side is true as well. The world teaches us that the only way to love others, is to support everything they do. And if you don’t, then you must hate them. Rick Warren said it best, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

So where does that leave Christians? We’re stuck. We have to stand against sin. We have to love people. We have to share Jesus. We have to live by faith. We want the people we know and love to get to experience the life given to us by our faith. But largely, they are against the idea of Christ. My suggestion, we live like we are supposed to. We follow God, and seek after His heart. When our friends and family ask what the secret is, then we tell them about God and Jesus. This is the only way we can share our faith and help other get life, by example. Because as much as this world believes it’s alive, it has no idea that it is just a valley of dry bones. God can bring this world back to life (Ezekiel 37), but in order for Him to provide, we must have faith that He will.