Nahum 1:1-7 Giving Comfort

Nahum 1:1-7 Giving Comfort

The oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.” (Nahum 1:1, HCSB)

The chapter opens by describing an oracle to a city and nation. Nahum – whose name means God’s comfort, is given a vision. He is given a picture of God’s comfort. Although we may look at these verses and think they are not comforting, I assure you God is a comforting God. When we look our situation, we think about how big the problems are, and how difficult it will be to deal with them. We need to be reminded that God’s comfort is larger than our circumstances. God is in the business of giving comfort to His people.

When we compare the two prophets that spoke to the nation of Assyria in the capital of Nineveh, we see some interesting things.1 

God is the same throughout these two events. He uses two different prophets with two different messages and reaches the nation. The nation has changed over time. They have gone from an obedient to a disobedient nation. However, God never changed. His characteristics are the same.

If we look into the character of God, we will see a God who really cares for us. How does He do this? Let me share with you EIGHT characteristics of a comforting God. 

EIGHT CHARACTERISTICS  OF A COMFORTING GOD

God is a comforting God. He expresses that comfort in a variety of ways. These eight characteristics describe the way God comforts His people during a difficult time. You will remember Jonah was sent to Ninevah and he was given a message to tell the people to repent. Even though Jonah didn’t like the job, nor the audience, He obeyed God. The people repented for a time.

However, years have passed and the nation has fallen back into sin. So God sends another prophet to the same town and same nation to tell them that there will be a judgment. You may be thinking: What does this have to do with God comforting me? The first five characteristics illustrate how God comforts us by the way He acts toward our enemies and our circumstances. The last two characteristics illustrate how God comforts me in the time of my difficulties. In other words, the first five deal with the circumstances. The last two deal with how He comforts me personally.

Let’s look at these characteristics and see how God comforts us.

1. God is zealous.

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies.” (Nahum 1:2, HCSB)

Modern translations use the word jealous. However, that is not what the word really means. God is really zealous in His comfort, not jealous. Unlike jealousy on the human plane, which unfortunately involves all the wrong attitudes (suspicion, distrust, rivalry), God’s jealousy shows itself as an eager zealousness to maintain the integrity of His own character and truth.2 Therefore, because God is a comforting God, He is jealous.

Here is a way of looking at the jealousy of God:

You see, when I get jealous it is because I am worried someone is going to take something or someone from me. Not so with God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are completely content in and of themselves. God isn’t saying, “If I lose Jon, My whole world will collapse and I’ll be miserable.” No, God is all-sufficient. He has need of nothing. This means His love for me is not based upon my satisfying Him or my fulfilling a void in His life. Therefore, because He needs nothing, God’s jealousy is vastly different from man’s.

God is jealous not because He’s worried about His loss—but because He’s concerned about our hurt. Think of it this way: If we were at the zoo and a cobra slithered out of its cage and was face to face with my kids, I’d be very jealous for them. It’s not that I would worry that the cobra would steal them away from me or that they’d like the snake better than me. No, I would simply be concerned that the cobra would hurt them.

That’s the kind of jealousy God has. “Kids,” He says, “I’m not concerned that you’ll hurt Me but that you’ll be hurt in leaving Me. The cobra is sure to strike, so I will deal with those things that will hurt or harm you. I will take vengeance on My enemies in order to protect My children.”3

2. God is avenging.

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies.” (Nahum 1:2, HCSB)

God is zealous for His people and He exacts vengeance against His enemies. He works for His people and He works against His enemies.

God avenges His people in the sense that He champions their cause against their enemies. He does so because He is jealous or protective of His people. While God is avenging for or on behalf of His people, He is avenging against His adversaries.4

I realize that this may sound like God does not care. However, the caring of God is to and through His people. Yes, God loves the world. However, He loves the world only when they have come to Christ.

The movie The Avengers are about superheroes who correct a wrong that has happened. A man is killed in the line of duty by the villain Loki. Iron Man says: We may not be able to protect the Earth, but we sure will be able to avenge it.

To avenge means to inflict harm in return. It is usually associated with the other person who has done harm on the defenseless or weak. God is the One who works for the weak.

3. God is “wrathful.” (Ba’al)

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies.” (Nahum 1:2, HCSB)

The word for “fierce in wrath” is the Ba’al. This word means Lord. He is the master of everyone. So when we talk about God is fierce in wrath, we mean that He is the God we should submit to. The reason is because He has the power to avenge. He expresses His power of “angry” or fierce mastery.

Master of the house gets angry when one of the tenants does something wrong and the master is willing to punish the tenant. God has that capability. He uses it on people who don’t listen to Him.

If you are a parent, you don’t like it when the children don’t listen to you.

If you are manager, you don’t like it when the workers don’t listen to you.

If you are the owner, you don’t like it when the renters don’t listen to you.

If you are God, you don’t like it when the people who You created don’t listen to you.

That is wrathful. It does not mean however, that God blows His top. Thank God that God doesn’t blow His top. He is slow to anger.

4. God is slow to anger.

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB)

Haven’t you found that when your temper boils over, you always end up in hot water? I have! God is not like that. Over and over again, our Father identifies Himself as One who is slow to anger5

5. God is very powerful.

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB)

God is slow to anger and yet He is powerful. Isn’t that a great thing to know? Many people have great power and are slow to anger. They don’t keep their anger under control. However, God is able to keep His anger under control until it is appropriate. When He does get angry, He is very powerful and He is quick.

6. God is quick

The idea here is that God is quick with His judgment. God doesn’t wait too long to punish those who have wrong Him and His people.

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?” So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.” (Revelation 6:9–11, HCSB)

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB)

It took Him one hundred years to get around to executing judgment against this city, and He is just and righteous in doing it. He is not going to let the wicked off. Never will He let the wicked off unless they turn to Him. Unless they accept Christ as their Savior because He paid the penalty for their sins, they will have to be judged for their sins. God is not going to let them off—He is just and righteous.6

Notice the speed of the whirlwind and the storm. See the picture of clouds rolling under the feet of God. God is a God of justice. He will punish the guilty. It will be swifter than they think.

God’s righteousness demands that the guilt resulting from sin cannot just be overlooked (Prov. 11:21; Hab. 1:13). The “wages” for sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and God cannot leave the guilty unpunished and still be righteous (Exod. 34:7; Num. 14:18; Deut. 7:10; Nah. 1:3). The only way God can forgive sin in us is to impute that sin to Christ and punish it in Him:7

God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26, HCSB)

God therefore has to avenge for the righteous. He has to punish the unrighteous. He is quick in His judgment of the guilty. However, in order to forgive the sin that prevents us from connecting with God, God made a way to “impute” that sin. He punished His Son instead of us.

Now the choice is on us to accept that forgiveness or to receive the punishment that we are due. Because God is powerful, He could choose to punish us. However, because He is also caring, He wants us to come to Him. Don’t look at this as a God who doesn’t care. He cares. The problem is that we don’t care to come to Him when it comes to our sin problem. It is because He is slow to anger and great in power that we have the opportunity to come to Him now.

In this chapter, we see three different ways in which God expresses His power. These three areas also reveal how God cares.

HOW GOD EXPRESSES HIS POWER

God expresses His power over nature

He rebukes the sea so that it dries up, and He makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither; even the flower of Lebanon withers.” (Nahum 1:4, HCSB)

The mountains quake before Him, and the hills melt; the earth trembles at His presence— the world and all who live in it.” (Nahum 1:5, HCSB)

God  expresses His power over His enemies

Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His burning anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, even rocks are shattered before Him.” (Nahum 1:6, HCSB)

God expresses His power through His goodness to His people

God doesn’t just express His anger over nature or His enemies. God also expresses His power through His goodness. Notice that in Nahum 1:7, God expresses His power through His goodness. 

7. God is good.

The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7, HCSB)

When we encounter trouble, He becomes the stronghold on which we can anchor our soul. We can lean on Him.
When we are responsible with our relationship, He recognizes us. This means that He makes the distinction between who is wicked and who is just. He will not judge harshly those who are responsible with their relationship with God. Notice the relationship is a two-way relationship. God has made the way possible through Jesus Christ. But our relationship can grow through trust and obedience. When we encounter difficulties in our life, we can know for certain that God will provide.
8

By His very nature, God is good.

God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart.” (Psalm 73:1, HCSB)

This verse reminds me of a verse in Psalm 107 when the Psalmist is reflecting on the goodness of God. God is good because of how He has helped and protected His people from the enemies. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim that He has redeemed them from the hand of the foe” (Psalm 107:1–2, HCSB)

8. God is caring

The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7, HCSB)

God is good and He cares for us. The word for “cares” means that He knows us. The point is that because He knows us. He is able to care for our deepest needs. He can comfort us because He knows us.

casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7, HCSB)

We can come to Him in prayer because we know that He cares for us. We can take shelter in Him because we know that He cares for us. We know He is good and He will help us.

Don’t think you have troubles simply because you’re a Christian. The unbeliever has just as many difficulties as you do. The difference is, you have access to the Problem Solver. You can turn to the Lord, the “stronghold in the day of trouble”—but he doesn’t know he can.9

God is good and comforts you. However, He also expects you to give comfort to other people. Remember that the first characteristics deal with how God takes care of our circumstances? That is why God never calls us to be “wrathful” or jealous or avenging. Only God can be this way. However, He does expect us to share how God has used His comforting characteristics and to share them with people in their time of need. It should be part of our testimony. When we share how God has been comforting to us, we are revealing God’s goodness and His caring nature through us.

1 Paul G. Apple, When God Is Your Enemy – Commentary on the Book of Nahum. November, 2006. Commentary series hosted at http://www.bibleoutlines.com. PDF found at: https://sites.google.com/a/solidrockmd.org/www/home/free-bible-commentaries. Accessed on 15 October 2014.

2 Walter C. Kaiser and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, vol. 23, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1992), 107.

3 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 848.

4 Elliott E. Johnson, “Nahum,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1497.

5 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 848.

6 J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Prophets (Nahum/Habakkuk), electronic ed., vol. 30 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 23.

7 E. Ray Clendenen, “Guilt,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 693.

8 Jim Erwin, “Nahum 1:1-7 Our Responsibility to God.” Sermon. http://jimerwin.com/2013/08/10/nahum-11-7-our-responsibility-to-god/. Accessed on 18 October 2014.

9 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 849.

#theheartofgod, #theminorprophets, #givingcomfort,

Hosea 1:1-2:1 How God Reveals His Purpose Through Prayer

Hosea 1:1-2:1 How God Reveals His Purpose Through Prayer

God is a working God. God reveals His work through prayer. If you want to know what God is going to do, then you have to learn to listen.
God first reveals His purpose for our personal lives.

When the LORD first spoke to Hosea, He said this to him: Go and marry a promiscuous wife and have children of promiscuity, for the whole land has been promiscuous by abandoning the LORD.
(Hosea 1:2 HCSB)

God’s first word to Hosea was about something in Hosea’s own life. Before God would speak about His grand purpose in the world, He was first going to speak about what He wanted to do in the life of the person to whom He was speaking. This means that generally when God wants to use you, He is going to test it in your personal life first. God doesn’t speak to you about how the government will change, how the world is going to end, or how great another person will be – first. Instead, God shares with you His own personal purpose in your life at that time. God will never share with you the bigger things that impact the world, until He shares with you first about what He wants to do with YOU.

God continues to test our obedience as He reveals His purpose.

So he went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
(Hosea 1:3 HCSB)

Before God will reveal more in your life about Himself and His purposes, God wants to test your obedience to Him. God gave Hosea a very tough test: God and marry your unfaithful wife. Hosea passed this test. He did what God asked Him to do. Now I do not think that Hosea chased his wife down to get a word of prophecy from God. Hosea truly loved his wife. But before Hosea could be trusted to help other people in turning from their spiritual unfaithfulness, Hosea had to experience it for himself.

As will be made clear, when Hosea married Gomer, she did not give up her career as a prostitute.  It wasn’t that Hosea found a fallen woman and through love and kindness restored her to virtue.  He married a prostitute – no doubt hoping she would give up her sin and be devoted only to him – and she stayed a prostitute.

No doubt, this happened after the pattern of human nature.  When Hosea and Gomer first married, she probably promised eternal love and devotion.  She probably showed every sign of being committed to Hosea.  But after a while, and in difficult circumstances, she fell back into prostitution.  Perhaps it was out of boredom.  Perhaps it was out of a feeling of neglect.  Perhaps it was out of a sense of need.  Sadly, we share the same inexcusable reasons for our idolatry, when we prefer another god to the Lord God.

Some commentators believe this never really happened, and that Hosea is only telling a vivid story.  They think it could never have happened because God would never have a prophet marry a prostitute.  But James Boice rightly observes, “If Hosea’s story cannot be real (because ‘God could not ask a man to marry an unfaithful woman’), then neither is the story of salvation real, because that is precisely what Christ has done for us.”

But notice that God tested Hosea in not only retrieving his wife. God tested Hosea in the naming of his own children. Most fathers take the privilege of naming their children seriously. However, God spoke directly to Hosea and told him the names that he should use. In the naming of the children, God reveals to Hosea what God is going to do for the fate of His own country.

Look at the names:

Jezreel (Hosea 1:4)

What does God reveal about the people of Hosea’s country in the name of his first-born son? God says that He will end the independence streak of the nation. You need to realize that at the time of this prophecy, Israel (the northern kingdom) was very rich and prosperous. They have had some stability and the people are very well-off. In their freedom, they have decided to forget God. A very prosperous, rich, and free nation is now told that God will break their military power. Why is this important? Because the strength of a nation is revealed in the strength of their military. Look at all the great nations of history. They all had very powerful military forces. God is saying that He is going to break that. Why? Because relying on military power has diminished the need in the eyes of the people to rely on God’s power.

Freedom and independence and military strength can cause a nation, and the people in the nation, to stop relying on God’s power. Let me say it another way:

An independent, free people with a strong defense system, have little need to pray.

This problem was not just a national problem. It was a family problem. The families stopped listening to God. So in order for Hosea to have enough passion to speak to the nation about what God was going to do, Hosea would need to experience personally the independent streak in his own family. This is the reason that God told Hosea to name his first child Jezreel AFTER Hosea chased down and retrieved his wife. Gomer was being promiscuous with other men. So Hosea had to learn personally that God meant business.

Lo-ruhamah (Hosea 1:6)

God reveals to Hosea in the naming of his second child – a girl, that He will not love His people. What a name for a girl – “Unloved”.

Lo-ammi (Hosea 1:9)

God reveals to Hosea in the naming of his third child – a boy, that the people of Israel will not be His people. So the name means – “Not my people”, or more precisely – “Not my family.”

How horrible is that to name your children. Unloved and not my family. While that may sound strange, God does have a reason for these names.

Reminds me of a man I knew. He was from South Africa. He was half-German, half-South African. The first time I met him, he introduced himself as “Frieden.” A very strange name to have, even in Germany. Frieden means “peace.” And I thought to myself, why would someone name a man “Peace?” Is the father some kind of hippie? I later discovered after talking with Frieden, that his name really is this:

“Frieden mit Gott in Jesus Christus” Rousseau. Originally, the name in English is this: “Peace with God in Jesus Christ” Rousseau. Yes folks, that is his name. The father wanted other people to know about Jesus through the naming of his son. Frieden is now married with two children and had been involved in a church plant in England. He will probably end up somewhere else doing God’s work. But my point is this:

God has a point in revealing Himself through a name. In the case of Frieden, people will hear about Jesus. In the came of Unloved and Not my people, God will warn His people about their independent ways.

But notice how God reveals Himself to His people. Even though He tells His people how much God is hurt with the way they are acting, He will come and work in their lives.

God reveals three ways in which He will work in the life of the nation of Israel:

1. He will free His people without the need of weapons or armies.
2. He will later increase the prosperity of the people (very similar prophecy that God gave Abraham in his name.)
3. God will return His people from an exile.

God reveals that although there will be tough times ahead, He will still be with us.

Then the people of Judah and Israel will unite under one leader, and they will return from exile together. What a day that will be–the day of Jezreel –when God will again plant his people in his land.
(Hosea 1:11 NLT)

So God shares with Hosea parts of a prophecy. However, Hosea does not get this information in one burst. The prophecy comes in various stages. In various stages of his family life – the birth of a new child – God reveals the birth of a new part of His plan. Why is this important? Because God wants us to come to Him so that He can reveal the next stage of our lives that He wants to lead.

God doesn’t just want to give you a prophetic word about something in the far future. God wants to reveal to you how He is going to work in your own lives. At important stages of your life: birth, graduation, marriage, job change, new home, family reunion, holidays, or some other times, God wants to reveal to you something. It will be different for each of us. However, it will be personal, prophetic, and pleasing. But the purposes will only come when you get down on your knees and pray to listen to Him.

Church officials struggle to assist those with mental illness

As pastors, we need more training and resources concerning this issue. May God help us help others.
David Mandani heard voices telling him to kill himself. He was paranoid. He saw things others didn’t. He was spiraling out of control. Mandani was hospitalized but ran away. Family members found him in a park and asked police for help. He was put in an ambulance, tied down and taken to a psychiatric lockdown facility… Continue reading

Micah 6:6-8 Sharing Hope

Micah 6:6-8 Sharing Hope

As we continue in the series “The Heart of God” through the Minor Prophets, we come to a very important set of verses in Micah. These verses describe how worship impacts your world. Let’s dig in and talk about how truly worshiping God can let you share hope with others who need God.

What can I give God in worship?

Sometimes when I worship, I can give:

The best

What is the best I can give? The most healthy

What should I bring before the Lord when I come to bow before God on high? Should I come before Him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves?” (Micah 6:6, HCSB)

The most

What is the most I can give? The most amount in number

Would the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousand streams of oil?” (Micah 6:7, HCSB)

The costliest

What is the costliest I can give? The most previous in personal value.

“…Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the child of my body for my own sin?” (Micah 6:7, HCSB)

All of these acts have one thing in common – they are something to God, yes, but they do not impact other people at all. I can come in here today and stand and sing songs in worship and if I walk out of here without the attitude of sharing hope with others, then my worship is useless. My time here with God should challenge me, encourage me, strengthen me, weaken me so that I can share my experiences with other people who need hope.

I can give all that I have, but if it doesnt share hope with others who need it, then it is not truly good. Outward acts of worship to God without any kind of impact that affects other people is just a show.

Worship is not about a show. God doesnt want me to show off. He wants me to share.

All of these are important, but not what God considers good. What does God want from me? What does He value from me?

God has shown me what is good.

Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you:.…” (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

What does God expect?

“…and what it is the Lord requires of you:.…” (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

The ancient prophet Micah isnt exactly a household word. Too bad. Though obscure, the man had his stuff together. Eclipsed by the much more famous Isaiah, who ministered among the elite, Micah took Gods message to the streets.

Micah states exactly what many, to this day, wonder about pleasing God. Teachers and preachers have made it so sacrificial, so complicated, so extremely difficult. To them, God is virtually impossible to please. Therefore, religion has become a series of long, drawn-out, deeply painful acts designed to appease this peeved Deity in the sky who takes delight in watching us squirm.

Micah erases the things on the entire list, replacing the complicated possibilities with one of the finest definitions of simple faith:

He has told you, O man, what is good;

And what does the LORD require of you

But to do justice, to love kindness,

And to walk humbly with your God? (Mic. 6:8)

God does not look for big-time, external displays.What is required? Slow down and read the list aloud: To do justice.… to love kindness.… and to walk humbly with your God. Period.1

He expects me to:

1. Do right (justly) – “stand up” for someone in trouble (worship + justice)

Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly,…” (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

[Have everyone stand up while  you talk about this point]

This is sharing hope by standing up for others who cant get justice. Justice is what is morally right. There are people who need justice. Justice is what someone does right for someone else. Many people are getting wronged by others. They are being cheated, hurt, exploited, and denied the help they need. As Christians, we need to stand up for them.

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing.(Deuteronomy 10:18, HCSB)

Learn to do what is good. Seek justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widows cause.” (Isaiah 1:17, HCSB)

This is part of the character of God, part of His nature. Notice that Isaiah also says that it is good.

Some like to look downat people. But God says to stand upfor them.

2. Love mercy – “bend down” to help someone in need (worship + mercy)

Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you:to love faithfulness…” (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

[Demonstrate and ask everyone to bend down and reach their hand as if to pick someone off of the floor.]

Some people need justice. Others need help. This verse talks about sharing hope for those who have needs. Mercy and compassion are expressing kindness to others. Remember about the religious man who asked about who his neighbor was? Jesus told him the story of the Good Samaritan. How does he end the story?

““Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” “The one who showed mercy to him,he said. Then Jesus told him, Go and do the same.”” (Luke 10:36–37, HCSB)

Jesus showed us that the person who bent downwas the person who really loved his neighbor.

3. Walk humbly – “walk” with God in humility (worship + prayer)

Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you:to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

[Ask everyone to stand and walk in place - like the march that the kids do at the beginning of VBS singing "Onward Christian Soldiers."]

God also expects us to walk with God. How we walk is very important. The faith journey requires a walk that is driven by humility, not pride.

Humility is the absence of pride and arrogance. God honors those who are humble. He tells us that He lifts up the humble, but tears down the proud.

He mocks those who mock, but gives grace to the humble.(Proverbs 3:34, HCSB)

Better to be lowly of spirit with the humble than to divide plunder with the proud.(Proverbs 16:19, HCSB)

“A persons pride will humble him, but a humble spirit will gain honor.(Proverbs 29:23, HCSB)

Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16, HCSB)

In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5, HCSB)

The Bible is full of verses related to this principle. He wants us to to walk humbly with God. If we walk in personal selfish (selfie) pride, God will force humility on us.

The path to humility is paved by a thousand humiliations, someone once said. God wants us to share hope by eating humble pie.

The Bible shows us an example of people who were not doing these three good things that God wants us to do. One time, Jesus criticized the religious people of his day. He said:

““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the lawjustice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.(Matthew 23:23, HCSB)

They were giving their tenth of even their spices. So they knew how to give God their tithes. They gave their money but Jesus said that God cared more about how we treated other people. Jesus wants us to give to the church, but He also wants us to give to the community. He wants us to not just share our cash (like the calves, burnt offerings, rams, and oil) but to share hope with people who need to know that hope.

1 Charles R. Swindoll. The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories, (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 1998), Kk – Kindness.

#sharinghope, #theheartofgod

 

Fear Him, Not Them

“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, HCSB)

At one time or another, everyone thinks about death. When death comes to the mind, fear usually follows. When people ask: “What happens when I die?” the question brings with it the fear of an answer that life just ends. Sometimes we may think about the way death can occur – cancer, murder, or a drug overdose. When we think about the way death can happen, we fear it. We get scared of death. We may try to avoid it, ignore it, or deny it.

However, Jesus has an answer to help us with this death problem. Jesus said: “Fear Him, not them.” By that I mean that Jesus does not want us to be concerned about the manner of our physical death. We may be able to delay our physical death, but we can’t avoid it. Jesus said that we should be more concerned with what is going to happen after we die.

He answers the question, “What happens when I die?” and says that there is a place for people who die. If you trust Jesus, then you go to be with Him. If you don’t trust Jesus, then He will be able to destroy both the body and the soul in Hell.

The Person who controls death is Jesus. He controls what happens to the soul after bodily death. Our soul will go on after our bodies die. It will go to one of two places – Heaven or Hell. In either location, our souls reside forever. In Heaven, it will be a pleasant experience. However, in Hell, the soul will experience eternal unpleasantness and torment.

Hell is a real place – it is a destination with a location, not an idea. Jesus will not end the soul’s existence (which is called annihilationism). Instead, Jesus will exact divine punishment. Jesus says to not worry about the ways in which your body can die. Worry about where your soul goes.

If you have not trusted Jesus, then you should fear Him because He has control over your soul after you die. To the question “What happens when you die?” in this case, Jesus says that He will deposit your soul in Hell.

So don’t worry about how you will die when you think about death. Instead, consider Who is controlling your eternal destiny.