Enough? Heir Conditioning 020

One of the traps of our digital age is the sheer volume of messages we see telling us how unsatisfied we should feel with our current situation in life. Look how happy those people are. A wise person knows those posts and images are not the full story. A wise person knows what photo editing is and what creative storytelling is. A wise person knows that advertising is designed to make us unhappy until we part with our money to buy the thing being offered. A wise person knows they are being played. But maybe?
Its that maybe that causes us to break the tenth commandment – you shall not covet other people’s stuff. Being satisfied with our current situation does not mean we can’t work to improve our circumstance. Quite the contrary. Work diligently to provide well for your family. But do first things first. Work and save. Spend less than you earn. Impatience will sabotage you. Plan for the future but concentrate on doing today’s work today.
“Prepare your work outside; (this assumed you were a self employed farmer) get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that (you can) build your (dream) house.” (Proverbs 24:27)

Unstoppable Digging into Nahum 012

“But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.” (Nahum 1:8)
In this metaphorical and highly illustrative language Nahum warns God’s enemies of the utter futility of resisting His judgment. Their destruction will be as futile to defend against as a tidal wave. They will be pursued by destruction as relentlessly as night pursues day.
Men can defend themselves against men. Armies can defend themselves against armies. But who could defend himself against the Almighty if He is bent on destruction? He is the ultimate immovable object. He is the ultimate unstoppable force. This realization is rightly a reason for terror to those who choose to be His enemies instead of His friends. Yet this same description of our Savior’s omnipotence is our reason for the greatest comfort.
Commenting on this passage, Calvin points out “we see that when destruction comes on God’s enemies it is not incremental, but is swift and sure.” While corrective punishment is meted out in carefully measure doses, punishment in judgment is as subtle as a tidal wave, and as swift and complete as night encompasses day in a single hour. “As soon as God’s wrath shall break forth or come upon the Assyrians, it will be over, for consummation will immediately follow; by inundation, He passing through, will make a consummation in her place.”
It is reportedly common, when we see these old Hebrew writings, for the passage to only use pronouns throughout most of the literature, then only at the end to define who the passage is specifically about later. This is mentioned to caution care as we interpret and apply scripture. God may use this to make many portions of scripture applicable to many different people in different times because, being no respecter of persons, He often deals with rebellious nation after rebellious nation in very similar ways. However, the specifics of one nation in one time may rightly call for different treatment than another. God surely has destroyed entire nations in a single blast, as He promised to do here through Nahum. He can just as well allow nations to slowly eat themselves alive, whimpering into forgotten history. We are to be wise in application to today’s headlines. As God has in the past destroyed nations in sudden overwhelming floods of justice, He is perfectly justified to do so again. But He is not required to do so, nor if He decides to do so must He hurry or delay on our own estimation of proper timing.
Back to Nahum, their devastation would come suddenly, like a flood, and would be as total and long-lasting as the night.
A second century Greek (secular) author reports “Nineveh has already been destroyed, and there is no visage of it remaining, nor can you say where formerly where it was.”

8 hour?s pay for How much work? Heir Conditioning 019

Yes, the same verses from yesterday, bit with a different unit of measurement. “You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small.” (Deuteronomy 25:14 ESV)
Consider that you have a job selling your time to an employer. Your price is $15 per hour of work. When you sell your hour of work how much money do you expect? I know the math is tough but you expect $15.

How much work should the buyer expect? Right, one hour’s worth. Not 3/4 of an hour. Not 7/8 of an hour. The deal was $15 for one hour’s worth of work. Evidently dishonesty in financial transactions was as much of a problem in bible times as it is today. We call it getting to work exactly on time but needing to get that first cup of coffe and hanging up our coats on the boss’s time, or taking a 40 minute lunch instead of the allotted 30 minutes, or knocking off a half hour early to clean up and get stuff put away when 10 minutes is all it would take. God calls it something else?
“A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 25:15-16 ESV)

Unbeatable Defense! Digging into Nahum 011

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. (Nahum 1:7, ESV)
In verse 6 Nahum exclaims “who can stand before, or in the face of, his indignation?” This is a rhetorical question. In verse 7 “Yet Jehovah is good!” Though he is the destroyer of all the strongholds of those who oppose him, God himself is and impenetrable stronghold for those who trust him. Furthermore, God does know precisely and personally those who trust him!

As Calvin puts it, “these two verses together show us that God is hard and severe toward refractory man, and that he is merciful and kind to the teachable and the obedient. Not that God changes his nature, or that he puts on various forms, but because he treats men according to their disposition.”
No one can stand against God’s wrath. However, all are offered an alternative which is gentle, mild, merciful, and an indispensable help to the meek who are faithful to him.
After reading verse 6 some will doubtlessly claimed that God is mean and that God is harsh and that God is hateful. So God has made Nahum point out that just the opposite is true, God is good! His wrath for vengeance against evil doers never overcomes his merciful love, compassion, and goodness. His tender compassion never overcomes his wrath for holy vengeance. He is always perfectly the protector of the faithful and the destroyer of the hateful. Even in the day when the faithful are distressed and the hateful seem to prosper, remember Nahum 1:7 – “God is good!”.
If the all knowing, all wise, all powerful was not also the all good, he would have no trouble being a cosmic bully who reeks destruction in fits of rage, (or even indiscriminately). On the other hand, if he showed unjust mercy of the lawless who refuse to obey and who refuse to repent, he would be unjust.
But God is good. And since he is able to deal out perfect justice he is compelled to do so because he is good. It is his very nature, and we are to imitate him when possible.
“It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice.” (Proverbs 18:5, ESV)
“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:15, ESV)
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.
But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:8-9 ESV)
God is faithful to his word. And Nahum says “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”

A Pound is a Pound! Heir Conditioning 018

“You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small.” (Deuteronomy 25:14 ESV)
Imagine that you have a side business selling homemade spaghetti sauce. Your price is $4 per quart jar of sauce. When you sell your jar of sauce, how much money do you expect? I know the math is tough, but you expect $4.

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Fire-Fire Digging into Nahum 010

Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. (Nahum 1:6, ESV)
What a defender! What an enemy! Which would you choose to have him as, defender or enemy? It seems obvious which position would be the most desirable.
But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. (Jeremiah 10:10, ESV) His fury is poured out like fire, like molten metal, like lava. There is no resisting it.

In the King James we see “rocks thrown down”. Like projectiles, is my first thought. However Janison, Faust, Brown translate it more closely to “rocks burnt asunder” , The usual effect of volcanic fire. Even the rocks cannot withstand the fire of God. What chance do humans have? These commentators also report, I did not know this, that Hannibal demolished otherwise impassable and immovable rocks from his Alpine path to make a passage for his troops by use of what I call “fire-fire.”
I recently watched a television series that followed a small group of men who were gemstone hunters. Each episode these men traveled to a different remote area of the world where different gemstones were found. They helped the locals, usually very small poor communities or families, develop their mining process in return for receiving first opportunity to buy the gems produced.
In one episode, I do not remember where or which gym they were searching for, the locals had dug out by hand a pit approximately 50 feet deep. At the bottom of the pit they had uncovered a solid vein of quartz which contained the sought after gems. Their next problem was how to break open these solid seams of quartz with rudimentary handed tools.
The procedure they have used for years they called fire-fire. After excavating the soil and rocks above the vein they built a huge bonfire which they kept going for most of a day. This was somewhat effective at times in cracking the quartz a bit. Then, while the pit and quartz vein was still very hot they poured huge amounts of water into the pit.
The fire caused the crystals to expand. Then the water caused this vein of nearly impervious quartz to suddenly contract and fracture.
The procedure did work. However, it worked so well that not only were they able to get to the gemstones, the gemstones themselves also cracked, in many cases, so small as to be nearly unusable. Fire-fire worked. It worked too well. Fire-fire reduced even quartz and gemstones to gravel.
This gives me a whole new appreciation for the verse that says our God is a consuming fire!
“Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain (a way his enemies described themselves) declares the LORD, which destroys the whole earth; I will stretch out my hand against you, and roll you down from the crags, and make you a burnt mountain. No stone shall be taken from you for a corner and no stone for a foundation, but you shall be a perpetual waste, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 51:25, ESV)

Work is not a Curse. Heir Conditioning 017

Many people who know anything about the Bible see work as part of the curse that God pronounced on creation as a result of Adam’s sin. “And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17, ESV)
‘You see’, they say, ‘work is a curse.’ Is that what it says? Or does it say that even our work is now cursed?

Before the fall and the curse God gave Adam work? “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15, ESV)
Work, useful tasks to expend our time and talent on, is not a curse. Work is a blessing. Something useful to do is a blessing. Because of sin it is also less productive, many times hard, sometimes boring, and often dreaded. But that’s the way with sin. It makes righteous behavior look like hard, unreasonable, boring drudgery to be avoided.
Are you going to listen to selfishness and sin, calling work a curse to be shunned and hated? Or are you going to agree with God’s word and call work, something useful to do in this sin-cursed world, a blessing from God that he has promised to reward?
Blessing or curse? Your attitude. Your self-talk. Your choice.

Ultimate Power! Digging into Nahum 009

The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. (Nahum 1:5, ESV)
In his commentary John Calvin points out that this not only represents God’s raw power but his power under control, since God’s attributes are never outside his control. The mountains are quaking, which is something mountains don’t normally do very much. The hills don’t normally melt, yet they melt at his presence by his design.

Even a nuclear bomb going off moves mountains and melt hills to a limited extent and in an indiscriminate way. This is raw power. God is the ultimate raw power but he is never indiscriminate. Unlimited power. Completely controlled and directed for his purposes.
What purposes? The execution of all his perfect will. The salvation of his chosen ones, for his glory. The due respect of his chosen ones, for his glory. And the destruction of all that is opposed to his holiness, for his glory.
God is glorified for his perfection. He is a glorified for squashing rebellion against his perfection. He is glorified for redeeming rebels. He is a glorified for damning rebels. He is glorified for waiting patiently. He has a glorified for ending his patients and acting with devastating finality.
When God looks at mountains and wills them to crumble and melt like wax in a blast-furnace, they do so. What will become of rebels, liars, murderers, and slanderers of his holiness?
What will become of those who, claiming to speak for him, speak of lies? Mountains crumble and melt. What is the fate of those who do actually oppose him?
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27, ESV)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. (2 Corinthians 5:10-11a ESV)

?You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can?t fool God! Heir Conditioning 016

If you are not employed (or not self employed), if you are not doing something useful to pay your own expenses (or do not manage your household responsibilities diligently, as a non-breadwinner) because you don’t want to, you are probably pretty good at making up excuses for why you cannot work, or why you cannot find work, “no matter how hard you try.”

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?We Ain?t Afraid!? Digging into Nahum 008

“His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers.” (Nahum 1:3b-4 ESV)
Just as an army stirs up dust while it moves, and as a bigger dust cloud would indicate a more massive army, so the power of the Lord in coming judgment is manifested by this – If God actually stirred up a dust cloud as he approached you to attack you, his dust cloud would blanket the sky over you from horizon to horizon!

When God moves in his own perfect predetermined time, the world is changed. If he wants the sea itself to become dry ground, it is so! If he decides to dry up great rivers, they are dry.
The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you? Command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’?
And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, etc? And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap?. and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho.
Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan. (Joshua 3:7-10, 13, 15-17 ESV)
Do you really believe that happened, pastor?
Without a doubt!
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not. “Do you not fear me?” declares the LORD. “Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.”
But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’ Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you. For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers (hunters or trappers) lying in wait. They set a trap; they catch men.
Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they do not judge with justice in the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
“Shall I not punish them for these things?” declares the LORD, “and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?”
An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their own discretion; and my people love to have it so! but what will you do when the end comes? (Jeremiah 5:21-31 ESV)

Our God is The Almighty?
“His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds themselves are merely the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers?” (Nahum 1:3b-4 ESV)
This is not figurative. It is a warning.