Generous Justice

God is compassionate and generous. He “gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:45 NLT).

For the last few weeks, I’ve been attending a class in which we are studying Timothy Keller’s book, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just. It is an excellent description of God’s character, of what he desires, and how commands us to live.

The theme is giving to others what they deserve. That means treating everyone fairly. On the one hand, not taking bribes from the rich and powerful. On the other hand, not neglecting to help and support the poor and helpless– people who are often abused. Support does not mean “a handout.” It means helping the poor gain the education, jobs, and protection they need in order to live in health, peace, and prosperity.

My husband is part of a group of people who are displaying generous justice. They’ve established a residential home for women who are recovering from addiction. This recent article, written about one of the residents of GRACE HOUSE, testifies to the value of their work.

Keller says that Christians have often focused on inner holiness (which is important) but when we can become overly concerned about ourselves and neglect the needs of others. Or, like the self-righteous religious leaders of Jesus’ day, we can pat ourselves on the back for putting a few pennies in a homeless person’s hand and think God is pleased with our generosity.

When we see our deficiencies, we can either despair or make changes. In the following poems, I express my mind and heart on this topic of generous justice.

When I look at my deficiencies,
I end up in despair.
So, instead, I look at Jesus
And find perfection there.
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe
He has no unkept promises,
No uncompleted plans;
Everything he says,
In his time, comes to pass.
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe
His eye is on his children
The ones who fear his name
He feeds them in famine
And rescues them from death
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe
I will keep my eyes on Jesus
Compose a song of praise
With my voice and life
I’ll tell the world of his ways
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe

To the soul who feels deep agony
About her sin-filled history,
Grace is a soothing melody;
It sets her guilty conscience free.
That soul with joyful gratitude
Collects the gold she has accrued
And uses it to purchase food,
Blankets, shelter, new, unused;
This she gives without fanfare
To those whose earthly goods are scarce—
Widows and orphans, who in despair
Need to see God’s love down here.
God the Father is well pleased
About the righteousness he sees.
He gives her things for which she pleas
And her praises never cease.
To the soul who feels no remorse
About her deeply hurtful course,
Grace is a thing to be endorsed
For the folks who need it most.
In her gold, she puts her trust
Yet fails to see that hidden lust.
Because her heart is covetous,
Her gifts of mercy are unjust.
With trumpet blast in loud grandeur
This soul gives hand-outs to the poor.
Blind to the famine at their door,
She wonders how they could want more.
God the Father is not pleased
About the arrogance he sees
Because his justice does not cease
He will bring her to her knees.

Jane Ault

Someone Who Matters

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed.
Psalm 34:18 NCV

Yesterday was Valentines Day. A few weeks ago, my husband announced that he would be preparing for a colonoscopy on February 14th and jokingly said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

We both laughed and I knew he would not be taking me out for dinner. Of course, I would have enjoyed it. But having been married for fifty-one years, my assurance of his love is hardly dependent on how we spend Valentine’s Day!

For some people, Valentine’s Day means tears and loneliness instead of smiles and closeness. Those who live in an abusive relationship, those who’ve lost a family member, those who are retired and/or have lost some of their abilities, those struggling with addiction, those separated from family members and living in a culture with customs different than their own, and those in prison can feel, and be, left out and disappointed on Valentine’s Day.

In addition, there are people who live in an inner prison of fear, pain, and discouragement. They may have a crushed spirit, so even if they have social connections, they feel depressed. There have been times when I’ve felt that way. I’m so grateful for the friends who have taken the time to listen to me and remind me that I have worth.

I feel very sad when I hear statements such as “I don’t feel as if I matter.” Anyone can feel that way. One day, after hearing those words from a friend and empathizing with her, I shared the following poem, which I’d written a few days earlier. Reassured of her worth and the value of her gifts, she responded with laughter.

I hope you will read it, believe its message, and pass it on.

 You Matter to Someone
You matter to someone
‘Cause there’s no one like you;
And for someone out there
Nobody else will do.
No one else is designed
To create, say, and do
The magnificent things
So distinctive to you.
Please share your perspective
Your unique point-of-view.
There’s someone who needs it,
Someone waiting to hear it,
Who’ll gladly receive it;
Although others may not.
Don’t let that trouble you;
Don’t give it much thought.
Do not let your talent
Lie idle; it will rot.
Without cultivation
It will rot and decay.
With care, plant and trim it
Put it out for display.
Then joyfully share it
With someone who needs it—
A someone who matters
And needs to believe it.
Jane Ault

 Most importantly, remember this: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NCV).

Are You Enjoying Obedience?

Joyful are people of integrity,
    who follow the instructions of the Lord.

Psalm 119:1 NLT

The word “obey” and the concept of obedience is not one that I hear spoken and discussed in the Christian community as much as I used to. Yet Jesus frequently used it. He said, “Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them” (John 14:21NCV).

In Jesus’ mind obedience was connected with love and trust. Unfortunately, because of their sad experience, for many people, obedience is associated with abuse, loss of freedom, and broken trust.

How can anyone who’s experienced these things, under the false claim that this is what God wants, think that obedience could be positive, healthy and enjoyable?

Jesus never calls us to do anything that is evil. He does not tell us to throw away our mind. He tells us to count the cost and fully respects our “yes” or “no”.

Another block to obedience, one I often face, is the resistance of the sin nature (called “the flesh”). Again, Jesus provided for this by giving us the companionship and power of the Holy Spirit.

I “digested” the meaning of all this in a poem, which is a form of prayer for me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of obedience.

 It is possible to obey--
 The law with its demands has gone.
The comfort of grace has come.
By the Spirit, I trust and obey.
It is delightful to obey--
For I know by glad experience
The sweetness of Christ’s presence
By the Spirit, I trust and obey
It is possible to obey--
 I’m not concerned with pleasing me
From that bondage, I’m set free
By the Spirit, I trust and obey
It is powerful to obey--
Through strength and persistence,
I conquer my resistance.
By the Spirit, I trust and obey
It is possible to obey--
‘Cause Jesus who kept God’s commands
Gives me power to follow them
By the Spirit, I trust and obey.
It is satisfying to obey--
With a heart full of gratitude
And joy as my attitude.
By the Spirit, I trust and obey.

Jane Ault

DON’T Give in to FEAR

Does your life feel like an unfinished puzzle? 
Do you fear you may have missed some important pieces (experiences)?
God saw you while you were in your mother’s womb. (Ps. 139)
His plans for you were and are good. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I believe God has gifted me and called me to write. He inspires me almost every morning with words of a poem or lyrics of a song. Should I be content with that? I don’t know. I still want to complete the more difficult task of writing and publishing another book. I haven’t given up that desire, yet obedience to Jesus is the higher desire I’m committed to.

Fear that I won’t complete it tempts to hurriedly finish my book, without doing the research and praying needed for clarity and accuracy. Fear that it will be imperfect (which will undoubtedly happen) tempts me to quit working on it.

God is faithful. He knows my fears and recently, through the prayers of a good friend, gave me the encouragement I needed to continue working on my current manuscript. Fear is one of the greatest obstacles to finishing the good work God gifts us for and calls us to do.

Today, my challenge is this: “Let us strip off every weight [fear] that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT).

How do we do this? We  keep our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12: 2 NLT)

My prayer for all of you who read this blog, as well as myself, is that we will not cave in to the temptation of fear but faithfully pursue whatever good thing God has put on our hearts to do. We know when fear comes, the Spirit “will show [us] a way out so that [we] can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).

Constantly, I face temptation;
From it, there is no vacation.
But by the Holy Spirit’s power
I can triumph every hour.
If I listen to his voice,
I will make the proper choice.
This is God’s word to me:
“I will give you victory!”
Obsessive and compulsive sins
Are not obstacles to him.
This can be the year I win
The struggles I’ve continued in.
As I face another year,
It’s with hope not despair.
Greater victory lies ahead.
Jesus lives! He is not dead!
I’ll not give up God-given desire;
By his grace, I’ll climb higher,
Conquer giants in my life,
Take territories without strife,
Peacefully negotiate.
In loving patience, I’ll relate.
When temptation faces me,
To my Savior, I will flee.
To my Savior, I will run.
This earthly race will be won.
Jane Ault