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.”

Continue reading ““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”

“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.

I Demand My Rights! Heir Conditioning 015

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, (though it was doubtlessly offered out of hospitality) but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work, quietly, and to earn their own living.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 ESV)

When was the last time you routinely gave up something you had every right to in order to lighten the burden of someone else and to be an example of genuine sacrificial love?

Do Something God! Digging into Nahum 007

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3, ESV)
“The way of God is in the whirlwind and in the tempest.”
While he is patient, God is also very often quiet. He doesn’t storm around like a petulant child while he is waiting.
Yet this verse can also be translated “God has his way with even the whirlwinds and the storm.” Our God controls even the typhoons and the hurricanes!

When he acts, he shows his awesome power. Case in point? The flood of Noah’s day. God showed patience while the world went out of its way to oppose him. He showed patience while Noah prepare the ark. Then came the absolute destruction of the surface of the entire planet, along with billions of people, in mere minutes. Those who do not know about this aspect of God are greatly deluded and often offended, either by his patience when they think he should “do something”, or they are offended when he does not “do something” on their timetable.

“In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds. The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire. And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils”. (Psalms 18:6-15 ESV)
God rescues those who turn to him. He is fully able to rescue all who turn to him. “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other”. (Isaiah 45:22, ESV)
But only those who turn to him.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21 ESV)
The same God who offers salvation tells us what we need to be saved from. His justice! “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth… For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened… Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:18,21,32 ESV)
Do you think our countrymen would do the things they are doing if they understood this? I believe, according to Romans 1, they do know. They know, but they suppress the truth because they love their sin.
Just like the people of Nineveh did.
Pray for your countrymen that they go the way of Nineveh during Jonah’s time, not Nahum’s time.

First Century Panhandling. Heir Conditioning 014

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6, ESV)
Many people who are able-bodied grasp at any excuse to not work, especially when there is any sort of charity to make laziness nearly painless. Many more don’t even bother to make excuses. They simply subsist on handouts – government or otherwise. We may think this is something unique to our current society. But we would be wrong.

At the very beginning of the church nearly 2000 years ago, new believers were overcome with generosity towards each other when they realized God’s generosity demonstrated in Christ. As a result “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. (Acts 2:44-45 ESV)
Unfortunately, it appears there were some freeloaders even in the early church who took unjust advantage of this charity intended for those truly in need. That’s why the Thessalonians were told point blank to not tolerate anyone who abuses the generosity of others, whether the generosity came through individuals, churches, other charitable institutions, or government agencies. “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6)

Eternal Patience? Digging into Nahum 006

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.  (Nahum 1:3, ESV)

“The Lord is slow to anger and/but great in power, and will not acquit the wicked.” This verse continues to express the nature of God, not in full, but with more detail of his character quality of patience.

Continue reading “Eternal Patience? Digging into Nahum 006”

Trading Up. Heir Conditioning 013

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” (Proverbs 31:10-11,15, ESV)
Oh no! Not that Proverbs 31 woman!
I know you ladies feel like you never measure up, but take a breath. And guys, this the a description of a wise man as well. It was describing a wise woman so nobody felt like they had a right to be a sluggard.
This woman was to mirror her husband in that they were both worthwhile to each other, to the family, and to society. Whatever their respective rolls in their family, and whatever the stage in life, diligence is a virtue. One of her habits was to get up and get the day started early. Whether your responsibilities involve an outside job or not, caring for little children or not, what time do you start your day? If you do not get up early, why not? Did you stay up late? Doing what?

No! Stop right here and answer the question. Not a lame excuse and not a one time unusual occurrence. What is your excuse for routinely staying up late?
When we get up and get the day started in a timely manner we are less rushed so we are less stressed. We also get more useful things done in the same 24 hour period with the same amount of sleep than when we start late and stay up late. Argue with me if you want to but that’s the truth the world over.
So, what are you valuing more than being diligent and productive for your family? What do you do most evenings that is more important than being calm and productive in the early mornings?
Was the exchange worth the price?
“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. Like vinegar to the taste (sets my teeth on edge) and smoke to the eyes (extremely irritating) so is the sluggard (man or woman, parent or child, husband or wife) to those who send him.(and to those who are counting on him) (Proverbs 10:4,26, ESV)

A Few More Minutes. Heir Conditioning 012

Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread. (Proverbs 20:13, ESV)
What time is your alarm set to go off? Why? What would happen if you set it 30 minutes earlier?

No. We already ruled out hitting the snooze.
If you made a new habit of getting up and getting you day started, at a reasonable pace, one half hour earlier would the world end? Then why not give it a try?
When you change a habit it feels weird for a while because you brain is lazy and likes routine. Routine is easy. Routine means you don’t have to think. But if your routine is not helpful it is worth the effort required to make a new routine. Research tells us it takes around three full weeks to make a new daily routine a habit that no longer feels weird. Three weeks. Why not give it a try? Reset you alarm. Get up when it goes off the first time. And thank God he has supplied you with a great reprogrammable brain.
Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread. (Proverbs 20:13, ESV)

Ending Rush Hour. Heir Conditioning 011

What could you accomplish in a day if you got up at the first alarm instead of hitting snooze? How would your day go if you did not start the day off rushed? What if you actually had a few minutes to do a little reading – say, maybe some morning devotions that were not hurried through, but actually contemplated?
What if you even had a few minutes to fill the dishwasher or throw in a load of clothes before leaving in the morning instead of having it all to do when you got home?
I’m simply asking, “What if…”
“I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” (Proverbs 24:30-34 ESV)