Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas.  In all the hurry of the season I had become stressed and feeling not very festive.  My phone went missing last Friday, so that only adds more stress.  It's still missing.  Last night I had no Christmas cheer, then I started to think about why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.  It is not about finding the best deals on gifts, being stressed about trying to get everything done or dealing with family visiting.  It is to be in awe of the miracle of the birth of a little baby that was to become our King.  Jesus came for you and me, He came despite our constant sinful nature.  This is an amazing moment in history that is often overshadowed by the chaos of getting stuff.

When I started to focus on Jesus my stress diminished, I saw how unbelievably selfish I was being.  Today was a bit nerve racking, but I was trying to focus on watching my kids.  The excitement they got over opening presents and playing with them for hours.  That was the best present of the day for me.  I am thankful that I was able to spend Christmas with my family and share a great breakfast & dinner with them.  This post would have been done earlier but, due to a migraine (see above about stress) I am finishing this late before bed.  Besides stress I am one of those people that can only take being around other people for so long.  It's nothing they do, just the way I am.  Some great writers have been hermits, so I'm on the right track.  I am a loner at heart so gatherings take a tole on me.

I hope that no matter what the events are from today, you enjoyed celebrating with loved ones and were able to enjoy the greatest gift of all.  Even if you had no one to share the day with, you have a kind and loving Father who gives the gift of a warm embrace.  When the King of all nations descended upon this earth He shared the Father's love and mercy with all people.  We have been given a gift to share God's word with the world.  I hope you will join me in trying to share, despite our nature to sin and get things wrong many times.  If our hearts are filled with Jesus, there is no telling the amazing things we could do if we would only take a step of faith.

Merry Christmas to you and you families.  God bless you.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nahum 1:1-5

You may wonder why it has taken me so long to start my next book in the Bible.  I just found my study Bible after many months of not knowing where it was.  I am very disorganized, even before the move, this is a problem area for me that I am trying to work on.  I have been feeling a bit strange lately.  I just feel that I'm off balance.  I know that the time I have been spending with God has grown smaller over these last few months.  I am not to the point of Nineveh yet sometimes when we are slightly off then it doesn't seem like a big deal.  That is when it can be the biggest deal, even small sin is disobedience and can look like nothing compared to the "big" sins.  Not putting God first can change the dynamic of your life.  So I am happy to focus on getting back to where I am in a peaceful place with God.

v. 1-5 "An oracle concerning Nineveh.  The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.  
The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
and maintains his wrath against his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power;
the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and dries it up;

he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
The mountains quake before him
and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
the world and all who live in it."

We are here again in this painfully familiar place.  Making the same choice and continuing down the same path that we know will only lead to discipline.  Some will never make better choices, others will slowly start to make better choices so that their lives will have a vastly different outcome.

Nahum is another prophet who spoke of the problems in Nineveh.  This was nearly one hundred years after Jonah's time.  After an entire city turn to God they eventually started back to their old ways and are now in the same position they were when Jonah came to town.  The newness wore off, the light got pushed out by bad habits and old ways.  Maybe each new generation heard a little less about what God had done in the lives of their families and town until nothing was said about Him at all.  There was great suffering in Judah because of the invasion by Assyria.  This book is a warning to turn from sin and repent, it also gave hope to the Israelites who had been crushed by these people.

An oracle is a message from God that was given to the prophets to let the people know what the word of God was.  v. 2 says that God takes vengeance and He is filled with wrath.  People turn away because they see a mean God and hypocrites in His churches.  Yet in every instance I can think of in the Bible, God becomes this way only after wrong choices are made by mankind.  He gives free choice to all people and only after bad decisions are made does He reacts to those choices.  God's vengeance and jealously are not within our understanding.  When we react in the same way it is with different motives in our hearts, we get jealous out of envy, pride or selfishness.  God punishes those that misbehave just as a good parent will discipline their children.  These people were an enemy to God.  I think a reason why this section starts off with showing God's vengeance is to grab our attention so we can focus on not making those same mistakes as the people of Nineveh and it shows His power and authority.

"When people wonder why God doesn't punish evil immediately, help them remember that if he did, none of us would be here."  NIV Notes

v. 3-5 shows the nature of God.  He is slow to anger and He gives us so much time yet there comes a point when He intervenes.  This also shows He is great in power so much so that when He chooses to act there are physical disturbances in the earth.  That is some kind of power!   God is patient and gives us time to repent, but judgement will come.  Bashan, Carmel and Lebanon were known to be extremely fertile lands so this gives people a picture of what God's power could do if He could make those places wither to nothing.  Willful disobedience is rebellion against God and if the Holy Spirit is inside of you then it is rebellion against the very core of you being.