PUNISHMENT OF THE GODLESS . . . . Do we receive what is truly due to us?

If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!” (Reference: Proverbs 11:31 )

A large message in just a handful of words – if the good that people do here on earth is rewarded, the evil that people do will also receive the consequences that evil doing deserves. However, according to some commentators there is another way to understand this verse – if those who try to do good get punished for the small sins they do, think how much more those who commit evil by intention and design will be punished! Or as historic Anabaptist Jan Hendrickss wrote to his wife, “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

But these are heavy thoughts for the day after Christmas. We are more likely to be thinking about the presents given and received, the fine feast that has been prepared and eaten, and the friends and family with whom we have enjoyed Christmas cheer. I am pretty sure we did not stop and think if these were things that were “due” to us as rewards. And it is doubtful we received them with as a punishment; more likely with joy and thanksgiving.

And looking at the theme of Christmas more specifically, the gift of the Christ child was neither something that was our reward for correct behavior, nor our punishment for sins. In fact what is due is thanks to God for the gift of the Messiah and salvation. Thanks for the love that God shows to us not just at Christmas but every day of the year.

I hope in addition to expressing thanks for the gifts you received, the meal you enjoyed, and the companionship that was offered, you have thanked God for the blessings that have been bestowed upon you. Beloved, I do not think we always receive what is due to us – either as reward or punishment. So let us take what good comes to us as God’s blessing to us. And if there are unfortunate things in our lives, let us not assume we are being punished. The historic Anabaptists had at times a dim and melancholy outlook on life. Let us, in the keeping of the season, raise a song of praise and thankfulness to God this Christmas season. And may God bless you abundantly. Selah!

Week of Christmas, Proper III: Let us celebrate that the wait is over!

The scripture passages of Proper III are ones of celebration and praise. Let us enter into the celebration, and praise our Lord for the wondrous gift of the coming Savior!

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. “ (Hebrews 1:1-2 [from verses 1 – 4])

Through the days and weeks of Advent you have spoken to us, our Lord. We have set aside time to listen. Bless the days that come after our celebration of Christ Jesus’ birth. Inspire us to share what we have heard from you, our Lord.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7 [from verses 7- 10])

The good news of Christ Jesus has reached us, and we are moved by God’s love and compassion on us. We have been called as the Lord’s messengers to carry the news of peace and salvation. Bless our feet as we spread this good news. And bless our words as we speak of God and Christ Jesus.

O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory. The Lord has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” (Psalms 98: 1-3)

A new song we sing; today it may be like a lullaby to the sleeping holy child. But let us remember, it is not just a child that has come into the world, but God breaking into our world to bring us new joy and new hope. The victory that is God and Christ Jesus comes in many ways into our world. So as Christ grew, may our faith grow also.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.”(Psalms 98:4-6)

Our hearts are filled with joy, and all of creation sings with us in praising our Lord and God! The long wait is over. The days of darkness are past. For we have a King who is above all other kings and whose glory will last forever!

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. (Psalm 98:6-9)

Our King has come! Let us renew our faith and recommit our lives to our Lord and King. He that was born in a stable grew to be our Savior. He knows our hearts and our minds. Let us raise up a joyful noise to the Lord. Let us also raise up our hearts; but then bow our heads in prayer pledging our lives to the God who has given us hope for this world and the world to come. Selah!