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Monday, Dec 18 | The judgement seat

Editor's Note

About the author: Misty Soderstrom and her husband Stan have been members at ZPC for almost 20 years! They have two adult children who are both married - one daughter and one son. Misty has served as a ZPC deacon, sings in the choir, and currently coordinates ZPC's Inquirers Classes.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Redemption | 2 Corinthians 5:10

For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

A few days ago I served on a jury. It was my fourth time to be chosen, and I’m always glad that I’m not the one on trial before the judge. Our justice system is about determining guilt (or innocence) and dispensing appropriate punishments. We use judges, juries, and lawyers to try and arrive at just verdicts or judgements.  

God’s justice doesn't involve juries, lawyers, or any human element. It is intrinsic to who he is — God is just. God also is love, and because of his love for us, he sent his son to take the punishment for our guilt. Jesus is sinless and blameless— the perfect Lamb of God sacrificed for us. Jesus redeemed our lives by giving his own in our place. Redemption is possible because Jesus took our punishment. 

Our scripture for today says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he’s done in the body, whether good or evil.” 

Just as the person was standing trial in the case for which I recently served, each of us will stand in judgement. However, we will not have a jury of our peers. We will stand before a holy God.

If you're like me, the thought of having every deed judged makes you uncomfortable. Our broken selves and our broken world get in the way of always choosing good over evil. Before a human jury we can try to make a case for ourselves, but how can we even begin to make a case before God – blameless, just, and the holiest of holies?

God knew that in our human-ness we would fail him. And he sent His Son Jesus to humbly bare our guilt and allow us to be acquitted on every charge.

Activity

The Christmas season can be very difficult when we are experiencing strained relationships. Ask yourself if you are in the position of judge, jury, or executioner over someone in your life. Are you holding someone in the prison of your unmet expectations? Maybe someone has unfairly judged you.

Ask God to open your eyes to all the ways he has redeemed your life. Pray that he will show you any areas where you are not living out your redemption. Choose to forgive and release those who have hurt you (or hurt your loved ones). Praise God for what he has done and is doing to bring reconciliation in your relationships.  

Prayer

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for taking my sin and giving me your right standing before God. Thank you that I need not fear your judgement seat because you have redeemed my life. Lord, help me to live a life that is pleasing to you. Help me to bring honor and glory to you, Lord God Almighty.  

Shine your healing light on any areas of darkness in me and the relationships in which you have placed me. Help me to be an instrument of your peace and love. Show me all that you would have me do to live into the redemption that I have in Christ Jesus. Continue to strengthen me and encourage me in your ways so that I will not slip into unloving habits. May your kingdom come and your will be done.

In Jesus name,

Amen

Posted by Misty Soderstrom with

#digzpc | meditation

It’s been said that worry is a form of meditation – a very negative form of meditation. I learned that the world is not a safe place at a very early age. From the time I was born I was the target of my mentally ill brother’s physically abusive behavior. I have a scar on my mouth from an arrow that I took in the lip as an infant. My home was not a place of safety for me, although my protectors outnumbered my brother five to one, that ratio narrowed over the years as siblings grew up and left home. Other random acts of violence occurred in the form of head injuries (two separate occasions), from a neighbor child, and later from a complete stranger while we were vacationing. 

I’m very grateful for the love of my family because it made me resilient, even in the face of inexplicable evil, but it was only through the grace of God, and his Word, that I am able to turn my thoughts from worry to worship. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) states, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." This isn’t just feel good advice - this is a serious and effective weapon against the darkness that tries to infringe on our minds. Meditation is all about our thoughts - what we allow our mind to stay on. There have been great Christian leaders over the years that have tried to continually keep the thought of God at the forefront of their minds. Brother Lawrence and Frank C. Laubach are two examples of this and their lives reflected the light of Jesus beautifully.

There is power in our thoughts. Thoughts influence our behavior; producing the courage to act, or the paralysis of fear. Our thoughts toward God, others, and ourselves determine the quality of our relationships…the quality of our lives. God's Word (the Bible) is living and active - it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Meditate on the Word of God - it makes for a successful life (Joshua 1:8).  We can destroy strongholds by taking every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). When meditation on God's Word is coupled with prayer the resources of heaven are brought to bear.

The assignment for this week involves meditating on Psalm 8 throughout the day. As you think about the majesty of the Name Above All Names ask for God's kingdom and will to come to life in your circumstances (Mathew 6:10). God is trustworthy. Think about it - Jesus took everything we deserved on the cross so that we can have everything he deserves as the beloved Son of God. We can trust in that perfect sacrifice.

Posted by Misty Soderstrom with