Traffic Court

Back in April I was driving from Chicago to Lafayette, heading down I-65, excited to be looking at houses as we planned our move back to the great state of Indiana.  I was moving along through Crown Point at about 7 AM listening to music and anticipating the next rest stop when those dreaded flashing lights appeared in my rear view mirror.  Turns out I was moving along a little too fast and I just happened to be in a construction zone.  After a nice chat with an officer of the law, I received my citation and few weeks later I received my court date.

Before this incident it had been almost 20 years since I had received a traffic citation.  The nature of my work involves a company car and regular driving record verification so it is to my advantage to keep a clean driving record.

Well today was my court date so I made the one and half our drive up to Crown Point, found my court room, checked in, and took my seat on a hard bench next to some of the hardest looking criminals in the state.  This room was full of seat belt violators, broken headlight drives, and rolling stop sign non-stoppers.  You know, the worst of the worst!

We all waited for the judge to come in, stood up, raised our right hand and confirmed that we understood the rights that had just been read to us and that we would tell the truth.  I watched as a few people went up to the podium and had their violations read aloud for everyone to hear.  People would plead guilty and provide some kind of reason for their misdeed and the judge would lower their charge, fine them a few bucks and charge them half a million in court costs.  Then my name was called…

Now I need to pause here just a bit to explain some things about the kind of work I do.  I apologize if any of this sounds arrogant, that is not my intent, but I believe it will add weight to the story.  Within my company I hold a position of relative power and authority.  Most everyone in my business unit knows who I am and shows me a certain amount of respect.  As part of my job, I meet with Senior Leadership to deliver business plans, discuss strategy, and develop tactics.  I am often in situations where I’m defending my ideas or my team in front of very powerful people.  Additionally, my work requires that I meet with CEOs, CFOs, Medical Directors, Pharmacy Directors and other influential people within the largest health systems in the country.  I commonly negotiate and conduct business deals that are worth millions and millions of dollars to my company.  In all these situations my knowledge, experience, and expertise provide me a certain level of confidence and I rarely get scared or nervous.  Back to our story…

As I walk to the podium my knees start shaking and I start to perspire.  I can tell my throat is getting dry and all the eloquent words I had prepared have vanished completely from my memory.  My heart is beating so loudly that I’m quite sure the prosecuting attorney sitting at the table next to me can hear it.  I had one clear thought.  I should have called one of those attorneys that had sent me a letter offering to represent me.  How nice it would have been to have an expert by my side.

The judge reads my violation aloud for everyone to hear and simply asks, “How do you plead?”  I open my mouth and, at first, nothing comes out.  What can I say?  I’m guilty!  I did it!  Everything the officer wrote down is true.  Everything the judge read is accurate.  According to the law I don’t have a defense.  No excuses, no lies, no negotiations, throw the book at me I’m done!  This confident, experienced, knowledgeable, well-spoken man was turned to mush by the authority of that court room and my own undeniable guilt.

On the way home I reflected on my reaction to that situation and started thinking about another courtroom.  Imagine standing before the throne of God, the creator of heaven and earth, the righteous Judge as He begins to read your violations aloud for everyone to hear.  Imagine looking into His eyes and seeing the deep sadness and disappointment in His face as every lustful thought and harsh word and selfish motive is laid out before you.  Every excuse, every feeble attempt to rationalize your life of sin vanishes in the overwhelming, undeniable evidence of your guilt.  You are guilty!  Everything written down is true.  Everything the Judge has said is accurate.  All you are left with is your shame and the terror of the forthcoming punishment.  And then…

From across the room you hear someone speak up.  His voice is loud and confident and without hesitation He says, “I know him.  He’s one of mine.  I’ve paid his debt, I’ve fulfilled his punishment.  Dismiss the charges.”

“For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;”  Hebrews 9:24

Of course we don’t know what that scene will look like, forgive my literary license.  I do know that my most terrifying nightmares don’t compare to what it would be like to stand before almighty God alone and without Christ.  And I know that my wildest dreams can’t imagine the joy and exhilaration of having my Lord by my side coming to my defense.

My friends we must all appear before the judgment seat of God.  If you have not put on Christ and been washed clean of your sins you will be standing there alone.  I beg you, by the mercies of God, submit yourself to Christ.

And just in case you were wondering…I have to pay a few hundred bucks and keep my nose clean for 12 months and nothing will be added to my record.  I’m thankful for the mercy of the court but that is a subject for another article.

God Has Given Them Work To Do

For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
(Ecclesiastes 2:26)

We all have work to do, whether we are righteous or wicked. God keeps us busy. But in the Scripture we see that God keeps the wicked busy preparing money and things that will in some way end up in the hands of righteous people. This is not to mean that we as God’s people sit around on our duffs and wait for God to take away money from others and give it to us. Nor is it to mean that because we are Christians we are going to be blessed with tons of money.

What it does mean is that God will take care of His people, and sometimes that means He takes care of His people by “transferring funds” from the wicked. How the Lord does that is up to Him, but we see lots of examples of this in Scripture.

What it also means is that the wicked think they are busy taking care of themselves and heaping up riches, but they are only busying themselves in vain. Their purpose in life is selfish and focused merely on getting more stuff. All that stuff eventually goes away, and it is through the merciful hand of God that He directs it toward caring for His children.

Though he heap up silver like dust, and pile up clothing like clay, he may pile it up, but the righteous will wear it, and the innocent will divide the silver.
(Job 27:16-17)

Disaster pursues sinners, but the righteous are rewarded with good. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.
(Proverbs 13:21-22)

Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.
(Proverbs 28:8)

The Israelites walked out of Egypt with the wealth of the Egyptians. It looks like a lot of that wealth ended up being used to build the Tabernacle (Genesis 15:14; Exodus 12:35-36; 35:21-22). God’s house was built with the wealth of the Gentiles (compare with Isaiah 60:5,11). Moses’ mother, Jochebed, was paid wages from Pharaoh’s house to nurse her own son (Exodus 2:1-10).

Let’s end with two more passages, one from Deuteronomy and one from the Psalms. Why did God pour out the wealth of the Gentiles upon Israel? Look at the following passages.

He brought out His people with joy, His chosen ones with gladness. He gave them the lands of the Gentiles, and they inherited the labor of the nations, that they might observe His statutes and keep His laws. Praise the LORD!
(Psalm 105:43-45)

Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest–when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end–then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God.
(Deuteronomy 8:11-20)

Let’s not forget our purpose! Let’s not forget why God put us on our earth. If we are busy, let’s remember God in the busy-ness! Otherwise, we are just busy heaping up stuff that will go to someone else.

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
(Genesis 6:8-9)

The world was a pretty nasty place in the days of Noah, wasn’t it. The verses in Genesis 6 before and after verses 8-9 tell us of violence, corruption, and continually wicked thoughts in the hearts of all mankind. Noah was surrounded on every side with perversion and wickedness.

Here is the encouragement for me from this text and I hope you will be encouraged as well. Noah was able to live in a way that was pleasing to God even when everyone around him was doing the wrong things.

He was righteous when everyone else was unrighteous. Noah lived as a “blameless” man when all around him was corruption. Noah walked with God when all his friends and neighbors where walking the other direction.

So, can you do the same at work? At school? In your community? Absolutely. We are called by God to live the same way Noah did in his “generation.”

First we must be “saved from this crooked generation”:

And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
(Acts 2:40-41)

We then walk daily with God’s power working in us to transform our minds from worldly thinking to Christ-like thinking.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Romans 12:2)

As transformed people, we are called to live as blameless and shining lights in this “perverse generation” just like Noah did.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
(Philippians 2:12-16)

We can live like Noah. With God’s power and help, we can live a righteous life in this wicked world.

Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”
(Proverbs 9:6)

Plumbing Depth of God’s Love–Hold the Line

6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You, In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters, They shall not come near him. 7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. 9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:6-11 NKJV)

Today our discussion comes to a conclusion. We have covered a lot of ground and I am thankful to God that He provides us His word to study, discuss, and apply to our lives through reading it, studying it, meditating on it, discussing it and praying it. Here is a synopsis and checklist of sorts concerning the last verses of Psalm 32.

  • Pray: Seek the Lord! That means you must be talking to God at all times. Those conversations you are having in your own head…have them with God. Those conversations you wish you could have with those who mean the most to you…have them with God. Your groaning from physical, emotional, spiritual pain…give it to God. He is listening, reaching and waiting to lift off that what burdens you.
  • Now: Our days and lives are made up of individual moments. Though the moments might pile up on us and move so fast we don’t think there is time to take a pause…don’t be fooled. Now is the moment to seek out God. Have a sense of urgency in your prayer and service to God…remember He is who you need most.
  • Be secure: God will protect you. David is not saying you won’t have troubles but that God can get you through those troubles. Your pain and suffering is an ever-present reminder you need God, He will help you and you cannot hide or try to fix your sins, relationships, lives…alone.
  • God will not forsake you: We see this throughout scripture. In the verses above, God is speaking in 8-11 and He has an awesome way of encouraging us…just read, listen and hide His words in your heart.
  • God will lead you: What an awesome Shephard we have…follow Jesus and you will be able to shepherd those in your life. God promises to counsel you with His eye always on you. What a beautiful promise from the mouth of the Lord! God is watching you. He has his eye on you.
  • Trust in Him and Let Go: Don’t be stubborn like horses and mules who need to be driven in the right direction. It will not work. God does not force us to go the way we ought to go. God is a God of freedom…not limits…He doesn’t want you to be bridled and driven…but to be freed from your sins so you can be free to love others…God will point to the proper path and you must choose to follow His direction.
  • He will immerse you in His mercy!
  • You will be blessed and rejoice!
  • Be righteous!
  • Be upright!
  • Praise God!

The steadfast love of the Lord surrounds those who trust in the Him. Which would you rather have in life: the many sorrows of the wicked or the steadfast love of the Lord? The answer is obvious, but to have the steadfast love of the Lord then we must put our trust in Him. We must completely submit our lives to God. In the context of this Psalm, we must openly confess our sins to God and thank the Lord that our transgressions are forgiven, our sins are covered, and our iniquities are not counted.

Those most important to us as men are counting on that…need that. No other man can fulfill the role given to you and no other man can do for your wife, children, friends, co-workers, etc. what they most need from you. Hold the line brothers!