Point of No Return

Today we finished Nahum. Tomorrow let’s begin 2 Thessalonians. It’s only 3 chapters. Start tomorrow, you’ll finish Monday!


Nahum 3

SCRIPTURE

Nahum 3:19 “There is no healing for your wound your injury is fatal. All who hear of your destruction will clap their hands for joy. Where can anyone be found who has not suffered from your continual cruelty?” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

We don’t like to admit it, but there is a point of no return. You can wait long enough or choose to reject God long enough that he will give you exactly what you want. He will give you freedom from his grace. This was the fate of Nineveh. You remember Nineveh. After three days in the belly of the luxury cruise ship, Big Fish, Jonah arrived in Nineveh to preach a message of repentance. The people of Nineveh received the message. They repented, God relented. But that was another generation. The repentance of one generation became the rebellion of the next.

What do we hear of Nineveh today?

Their destruction is complete. Hebrews 10:31 says, “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.” That’s true, but perhaps there is one thing even more terrifying – being released from the grace of God to pursue nothing but our own desires.

Most people would think that kind of freedom, to pursue their own desires, is what they really want. But that’s because most people don’t really believe they really struggle with sin. We don’t think we’re that bad. We know we make mistakes. We understand not everyone is perfect, but we do all right. “I’m better than most,” we tell ourselves. “I’m slightly above average.” But it’s not true and somewhere, deep within, we know it.

Without the grace of God to guide us, the mercy of God to restrain us, and the love of God to sustain us we will go the way of Nineveh. Our wound will not heal. It will be fatal. And the world will rejoice at our passing.

APPLICATION

The solution is trust. We’re not very good at this, but it’s the answer. We need to trust that God knows more than we do. We need to trust that God has our best interest at heart. We need to trust that following his desire for us will lead us into everything we could ever want and anything we really need. Whatever God says ‘yes’ to we should pursue with our whole heart. Whenever God says ‘no’ we should stop and turn the other way.

If you’re a parent you understand how this works. You don’t stop your children from running out into the street because you want to limit their fun, but because you want to save their life. You don’t make them take a bath or brush their teeth because you’re mean and nasty, but because you don’t want them to go through life smelling nasty. With our kids the day comes when they approach the edge of the street and look both ways without our warning. They get up and take a shower and brush their truth on their own. But until that day we remain vigilant as parents.

That’s what God is up to. It’s why he gave his word. It’s the work of his spirit in our lives. May we receive his instruction, follow his word, trust his intention and surrender.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for showing the way. Thank you for continuing to speak through your word. Help me to listen, understand, receive and obey the ways you want me to follow. Please don’t let me or my family get to the point where we can easily ignore you. We need your grace, mercy and influence in our lives. There are times we are good at deceiving ourselves. Right now we have friends who have deceived themselves into believing you can’t be trusted. They believe they know better than you. Continue to speak into their lives. Help them see through this moment to the life you have for them in the next. Let them come to their senses and surrender themselves to you. Help us to be faithful friends to them. Help us speak the truth in love, practicing good judgement, but without being judgmental. Do in us and them what only you can do.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Bring the Pain

Nahum 2

SCRIPTURE

Nahum 2:2 “Even though the destroyer has destroyed Judah, the Lord will restore its honor. Israel’s vine has been stripped of branches, but he will restore its splendor.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

Today’s observation comes from Andy Harrison – you can read more from him on Facebook. Just click his name. I read his post just after reading Nahum 2 this morning. It fits today’s moment.

“Sometimes the rescue of God looks and feels nothing like a rescue. Sometimes it looks like an all out assault on the beaches of your life. His troops land and march straight to the headquarters of your sin. His reconnaissance has been perfect and He knows the exact location of your strongholds. Yes, the rescue you’ve been hoping for may not lie in the steadfastness of your resistance, but may come in spite of it, through the pain of your complete surrender.” – Andy Harrison

You may not understand the wrath and judgement of God. You may think him cruel for punishing sin or allowing people to experience the consequence of their choices but the heart behind the punishment is love. The purpose of the consequence is redemption. His desires is restoration. In these moments the brutality of his methods are not a reflection of his severity, but of our rebellion.

APPLICATION

Where do you face resistance? What is the cause of the friction in your life? Maybe that friction is an indicator. I know a lot of people who have had knee replacement surgery. Before their knee gave out they experienced pain. The pain was an indicator of a problem that needed to be addressed. The surgery itself was painful. The recovery required work. Sin produces the same effect in our lives. Where are you in the process?

The friction in your life is an indicator. The pain helps identify the source of the problem. The solution may hurt. It may require time to recover, but the outcome is preferable to the devastation of sin left untended. Today – examine the pain.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your forgiveness and mercy. Thank you for caring enough to not let me go. Today, help me pay attention to the friction in my life. Help me notice the challenges and difficulties. Help me see them the way you see them. Use these moments to reshape me into your image, to strengthen my character, to allow me to become what you’ve designed me to be. I don’t want to resist, but to surrender, to your work in my life.

Do this same thing for my family. When it’s time to correct or instruct my kids let them understand the correction. Let them see what’s right and choose it. When I’m wrong let me confess.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Jealous Rage

Nahum 1

SCRIPTURE

Nahum 1:2 “The Lord is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and rage. He takes revenge on all who oppose him and continues to rage against his enemies!” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

We don’t know much about Nahum. He’s another minor prophet, but like all minor prophets he has a major message. His book sits chronologically in order between the prophecies and events of Micah and Habakkuk. The entire book is a poem about the destruction of the the nation of Assyria and the release of the Jewish people from Assyrian captivity.

The first half of chapter one seems to describe a side of God we don’t like to talk about much in this New Testament age of grace. Verse 2 proclaims that God is jealous, filled with vengeance and rage. That doesn’t sound like the kindly old man people like to think of when they envision God. But it’s true.

Our God is a jealous God.

Jealousy is a word that’s gotten a bad wrap. Mostly because we often confuse jealousy with envy. Envy is wanting what someone else has. Jealousy is wanting what rightfully belongs to you.

My wife can be jealous for my attention and not really cross any boundaries. If I demonstrate that I prefer another woman, person or activity over her jealousy is an appropriate response. We are married. I committed my life to her. In my vows I said, “All that I am, all that I ever will be I give to you.” It’s a covenant relationship and by that covenant I belong to her and she belongs to me. This is the kind of relationship God has with his children. Jealousy is wanting what’s rightfully yours. And in that context jealousy can be an admirable quality.

Envy is another thing all together. Envy is wanting something that doesn’t belong to you. Couples that are dating don’t suffer from jealousy – that may be the word they use to describe it, but what they really mean is envy. The relationship isn’t yet established by covenant. They’re dating. They may want their significant other to be exclusively theirs, but until the covenant is made all they can do is envy the kind of relationship they don’t yet have.

We can envy other people’s things. We can envy their influence, position or power. But as long as it’s not rightfully ours it will never be jealousy. It will always be envy.

Nahum 1 says that God’s people, by covenant, rightfully belong to him and he is jealous for them. His rage and vengeance are fierce. His protection for his people certain.

Again we see prophecies similar to the ones made in the other minor prophets we’ve read so far. Israel will stand. The other nation will fall and be wiped from the map. This is what happened to Assyria. To this day Israel is a nation, yet the people and culture of Assyria are long gone, fit only for the pages of history and the dust of an archeologists foot.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.

There’s a friendship and a fear here, an awesome realization that his jealousy for me causes his rage to confront all who intend harm for me or who would stand between me and him. It’s jealousy so strong he is willing to do anything to remove that which separates me from him.

Let’s take this thought further. He has forgiven me of the worst thing I’ve ever done. More than that – he’s forgiven me of the worst thing I will ever do – that thing I’ve not yet even considered. It’s forgiven.

Now consider this – in order to secure that salvation he did the most horrifying and terrible thing one could imagine. He exhausted his rage over me by crushing his only son.

No wonder he is jealous for me.

APPLICATION

Are you jealous or envious of other people? What are you doing right now that makes God jealous for you? How can you influence your world so they don’t experience the same fate as the people of Assyria?

Nahum 1:7 says, “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.”

With what will you trust him today?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your deep love for me. Thanks that your love produces such a strong and passionate reaction in you when I am unfaithful and when others threaten me or my family. Thank you for the words of the David Crowder song, “How He Loves” – they are the cry of my heart today.

He is jealous for me.
Love’s like a hurricane I am a tree.
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory.
And I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.

And we are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way…

He loves us, oh
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves all
How He loves

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad