Who Are the Righteous and the Wicked? Part II

Righteousness and justice are what they are because God is who He is.


Who are the righteous? Who are the wicked?

This was the question prompted in my heart recently as I read Psalm 1, which begins with a warning not to walk in step with the wicked, stand in the way of sinners or sit in the company of mockers. I describe how that question was prompted in Part 1 of this blog series.

Beyond equating the wicked with “sinners” and “mockers” (and speaking to the company we keep), Psalm 1 doesn’t go into much detail on the characteristics of the wicked (or the righteous). I realized as I responded to the prompting in my heart that I had some old assumptions about those things that might not be true, or at least not completely true, so I set out to dig a little deeper.

As Christians, we know that no one is righteous; we have all sinned and fallen short. We know that righteousness is credited to those who believe God and have faith (trust) in Him. We might assume, then, that there isn’t much more to it – that believing God, and the Bible and going to church is all it takes to make a person righteous; and, of course, that these things distinguish the righteous from the wicked.

This view, though, is only partly right. Even demons believe (Jam. 2:19), but that doesn’t make them righteous! We need to dig a bit deeper to develop a more complete understanding of what it means to be righteous. God, of course, is righteous, and our righteousness is gained only in relation to Him – by believing in Him – by what does that mean for us?

Continue reading “Who Are the Righteous and the Wicked? Part II”

King David’s Secret

All of David’s life was lived in relation to and orientation toward God.

King David statue outside his tomb in Mount Zion Jerusalem, Israel. 

I am reading through the Old Testament in my daily devotions on a plan that will take me through the Bible chronologically throughout the year. I have been reading through the books of Samuel and Chronicles that chronicle David’s life, among other things, and I am reading some of the Psalms David penned. Today, I read Psalm 18.

Psalm 18 is a song David sang to the Lord “when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” In the plan I am reading, it comes toward the end of his life, though I don’t know if, in fact, that is the timing. If it was, however, the things that strike me about it are all the more… well… striking.

The most striking thing about the Psalm (and David’s life) is that he implicitly and intimately trusted God. We see this in the first five verses:

I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

David always turned to God. When he was overwhelmed, as expressed in this Psalm, he turned to God. When he was victorious, he turned to God. When he failed to live up to God’s standards, he turned to God, and when tragedy struck, he turned to God. In everything David did, he was intimately mindful of God. Here David said, “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to God for help.” (Ps. 18:6) All of David’s life was lived in relation to and orientation toward God.

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COVID-19 and Spirituality in the 21st Century

We are made for interaction and for relationship. 


To paraphrase from the article linked below, spirituality in the 21st Century is is a one-person-show. You tap in, you tap out. You are the curator of the experience; you are in the pilot’s seat. Self-betterment. Self-discovery. Self-awareness…. Spirituality in the 21st Century is a singular, self-focused pursuit.  You are your own god, attempting to build your own island paradise. Sounds like a dream.

That dream is a attractive to a recluse like me. As a child, Robinson Caruso and My Side of the Mountain influenced my impressionable psyche at an early age. Thoreau captured my imagination as a still impressionable, but disillusioned, teenager. Of the major world religions, Buddhism spoke to me as an early college student.

Retreating from the messy cacophony and harried competition of modern life seemed like Nirvana to me. Back to nature, isolated on my own island paradise, beholden to no one but myself, released from external duties and melting into the oneness of all life seemed like a laudable and desirable goal.

My inspiration comes from a blog I follow by a lovely lady and Christ follower. You can read the original blog post here: Eavesdropping on a Plane. She calls to mind the siren song that beckoned me up to a point in my life.

As I sit here in self-imposed quasi-quarantine (for the sake of others, not myself this time), some 40 years after a paradigm shift in my life that changed the trajectory of my journey, I recall the allure of that dream, and I am also convinced it’s a mirage, an unattainable state of illusory bliss.

We are social creatures, created for relationship with God and each other. The ordered, but largely self-regulating, isolation we now experience as we fight the threat of the alien invader, COVID-19, proves the point: we are uneasy, restless, and missing the regular, personal contact we need and thrive on.

Continue reading “COVID-19 and Spirituality in the 21st Century”

Wealth, God and Ananias & Sapphira

Depositphotos Image ID: 8644150 Copyright: jalmeida

This is the third in a three part series on wealth and relationship with God. In the first part, we looked at the story of the rich young ruler. He was self-reliant, self-righteous and saddened at the prospect of parting with his wealth and following Jesus. In the second piece we looked at Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who responded joyfully to Jesus’ invitation to stay with him and offered, without prompting, to give half his wealth to the poor and payback four times what he took by fraud from people.

We have considered that God knows our hearts, and His knowledge of the rich young ruler and of Zacchaeus made a difference in how Jesus related to them. We have considered that our relationship with God does not depend on how many commandments we keep, how much we give to the poor or what we can do to earn God’s favor. We can’t be good enough, and we can’t do enough to earn God’s favor.

God’s favor is freely given to those who freely and genuinely receive Him. Eternal life isn’t earned; it is wholeheartedly received.

With the third story, we face some sobering truth. The stakes are high. The story of Ananias and Sapphira[1] shows us that our heart’s condition is not only important, it is ultimately a matter of life and death. Pretense leads to death; while genuineness of heart leads to life.

Continue reading “Wealth, God and Ananias & Sapphira”

Wealth, God and Zacchaeus the Tax Collector


In the first installment of this three part series on wealth and relationship with God, we looked at the rich young ruler who was self-reliant and reacted with sadness at the prospect of being asked to sell all he had to give to the poor and to follow Jesus. We aren’t told what the rich young ruler does in response to Jesus’ challenge. What would you do?

I’m afraid I don’t truly know the answer to that question, if I am being honest with myself. It’s not as if Jesus has confronted me with that question in person. If Jesus is talking to me and telling me to do the same, I am not hearing His voice. Has He challenged me to do that same thing and I have ignored Him or refused to listen?

These are questions we can’t just brush aside or take lightly if we want to follow Jesus. A servant cannot serve two masters; we cannot serve both God and money at the same time.[1] One must yield to one or the other. In this second part in the series on wealth and relationship with God, we will look at the more heart-warming story of Zacchaeus the tax collector.[2]

Continue reading “Wealth, God and Zacchaeus the Tax Collector”