UNDER UMBRELLAS OF PROTECTION

 

NAHUM 1:1-7 (NIV BIBLE):

[1] An oracle concerning Nineveh: The book of the vision of Nahum the El-ko shite.

[2] 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.  [3] The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; he will not leave the guilty unpunished.  His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.  [4] 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. [5] The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away.  The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.  [6] Who can withstand his indignation?  Who can endure his fierce anger?  His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.

LIVING ‘UNDER THE UMBRELLA’ – (verse 7)

[7]  The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.

AN UNINTENTIONAL DECEPTION –

We live in an age when even the CHURCH has tried to become politically correct.

We have tried to candy coat God into a nice little good God who loves and never hurts anyone.  He never gets angry at sin, or judges or condemns anyone–let alone sends them to hell.

In our efforts to sell God to the world we have often sugar-coated the awesome reality of God, then question why people don’t take God in the Bible seriously.  In our efforts to bring in proselytes through the hallowed doors of our buildings on Sunday…telling only of God’s LOVE and avoiding His burning HOLINESS and His fearsome WRATH.   We have left it in the Old Testament as if God has changed (evolved) over time to a kinder, gentler God, who overlooks our sins and just wants to bless us all.

All of that’s fine and dandy, but CHURCH…we are in for a rude awakening.  We can’t keep avoiding the bible passages that speak of God’s WRATH, pretending they don’t exist.  If we do, we are spiritually and morally negligent.

THE FACT OF NATURAL DISASTERS (rarely can they be blamed on man directly) –

It is rare for a single generation in a given locale to be spared at least some kind of natural disaster.  Without warning, tornadoes sweep down from the afternoon sky and destroy in moments fury what it took decades or centuries to build.

HISTORIC FLOODING FAR FROM OVER…

I was reading the headlines in the paper while in a doctor’s waiting room this past week:  Nine deaths have been blamed on flooding in several states across Midwestern and Southern United States this past week.  More than 270 roads remain closed across the state of Missouri, with some 200 homes have been impacted by the floods and another 1,500 are in danger (Associated Press).

Do these types of natural disasters represent merely isolated, infrequent events? Hardly.

Throughout history, man has recorded many such tragedies:

  • In 526, an EARTHQUAKE hit the country now known as Turkey and left 250,000 dead.
  • A similar EARTHQUAKE in China in 1556 killed over 830,000 people.
  • In 1889 the famous “Johnstown Flood” occurred in Pennsylvania.  Over 2000 people were killed when the South Fork Reservoir dam burst during heavy rains.

Each time natural disasters happen across the world humanity suffers.  And each time there are those who ask “Why?”  Why them and why now?

The struggle to understand a Good God and the fact of natural disasters is common.

ORIGINAL SIN CURSED THE WORLD (Genesis 3).

MAN’S PERSISTENT UNCONFESSED SIN opens the way for disaster to strike giving Satan a place to establish a STRONGHOLD.

So…MAN’S SIN takes him out of God’s Protection.   

AN UMBRELLA can show us something of God’s Protection and to be covered and protected we must walk close.  If we walk out from under the UMBRELLA we are no longer protected.

  • God is not in every STORM – (He allows them–in that He doesn’t stop them from happening).
  • God is in some storms (He causes some).
  • Time and Chance happen to all (Ecclesiastes).

We blame a lot of DISASTERS on the devil, but the biblical record shows very few times when he was personally responsible (example Job).

However, very often God says I SENT THIS DISASTER AND HERE’S WHY:

GOD IS ON RECORD –

  • Joseph in Genesis 41 (God’s plan to enlarge His people in Egypt) – FAMINE in Egypt–Psalm 105:16 caused by God.
  • David’s 2 Samuel 21:1 – Saul’s sons the reason.
  • David’s Choice 2 Samuel 24:13 – Because of SIN.
  • 1 Kings 18:2 – Elijah-Ahab- Because of Ahab’s SIN.
  • Jeremiah 24:8-10:  (vs. 10)  “And I will send the sword, famine, and pestilence among them until they are consumed from off the land that I gave to them and to their fathers.”

EARTHQUAKES, PLAGUES, AND DISASTERS –

God has POWER & AUTHORITY over the earth, so why does He allow all the destructive storms, plagues, and disasters to occur?

THE ANSWER is found in the first chapters of Genesis.  God created everything perfect and beautiful.  When Adam and Eve SINNED, He placed a CURSE on the earth and everything became broken and degraded.

Although the CURSE brought about CONFLICT, DISEASE, AND DEATH, much of the original beauty can still be seen in God’s Creation.  It continues to show His Power, Wisdom, and Design ability.

But why do Christians suffer?  Couldn’t God protect us from the powers of evil?

The ANSWER is YES, He will.

He protected the nation of Israel in Egypt from most of the PLAGUES and could still do the same today.

Some Reasons Why God Allows Natural Disasters…

ONE reason is to make us realize we are totally dependent on Him:  Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). With all that we have and need, we tend to forget this prayer and God’s ability to answer it.  This is a reason why God keeps many of us poor.  If we had all we wanted we would become independent and turn from a close relationship with our Father.

To Cause Us to Call Upon God in the Day of Trouble:

Our TROUBLES give God an opportunity to keep His PROMISES, otherwise, we forget we are dependent upon God for everything.

God says, “And call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you shall honor and glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15 AMP).

To Sort Out Our Priorities:

During times of DISASTER, we realize that RELATIONSHIPS are more important than things–especially our Relationship with our heavenly Father and belief in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul said, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

A Call to Repentance:

DISASTERS serve as a wake-up call to REPENTANCE for mankind.  Disasters can have a sobering effect upon the human mind.  When WAR breaks out, or an EARTHQUAKE destroys countless lives and property. or a DROUGHT burns the crops and dries up the water supply, or an EPIDEMIC DISEASE victimizes millions of people, many call out to God either in a curse or in prayer.

It was C.S. Lewis who penned “pain is God’s megaphone to a deaf world.”

 

The DROUGHT in California

 

  • It was an earthquake that caused a Philippians Jailer to cry out “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 17:30)
  • It was a famine that sent king Ahab searching everywhere for the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:10).
  • It was a plague that brought Pharaoh to his knees confessing before Moses: “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.  Now, therefore, forgive my sin, I pray you, only this once, and entreat the Lord your God only to remove this death from me.”  (Exodus 10:16, 17)

The manifestation of divine judgment through calamities is intended to summon people to repent. 

AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE COMING FINAL JUDGMENT:

God’s final judgment is called the Day Of The Lord in the OT.  It reminds us that the Day of the Lord is nearing (Joel 1:15).  They are also to remind us that the Judge of all mankind is standing at the door! (James 5:9).

TO SHOW GOD’S POWER TO RESTORE:  (All Natural Disasters are Redemptive in Nature)

Our Father wants what is best for us.  We don’t know the future.  God does and will shape events to bring true the promise:

“All things work together for good to them who love God”

That’s our UMBRELLA folks.  Knowing that our heavenly Father will work out for us the best deal in town and we do not need to worry when bad times come.

“EACH TIME GOD SENDS HURRICANES, FLOODS OR OTHER CALAMITIES HE IS SPEAKING TO HIS PEOPLE”  by Henry Blackaby.

While not expecting unbelievers to connect anything with God because they don’t think He exists.  Blackaby goes on to say he “expects God’s people to be paying attention and for the most part they aren’t.”

GOD IS IN CONTROL OF WORLD EVENTS (ISAIAH 28:2):

NATURAL DISASTERS are a humbling reminder that there is a God:

Isaiah 13:13:  “Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; the earth shall be shaken out of its place at the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of His fierce anger.”  (AMP Bible)

Joel 2:31:  “The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and terrible day.” (AMP)

Amos 4:13:  “He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, whom turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth–the LORD God Almighty is his name.” (NIV)

Is God Judging the Nations Today? YES.

HIS JUDGMENT IS BASED UPON OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM!

WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE?

Feel free to add your comments and observations in the REPLY section at the bottom of this page on God’s control of world events whether NATURAL or manmade.

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CREDITS:

QUOTES BY Henry Blackaby, Founder of Blackaby Ministries and author of Experiencing God.

Photos:  Google Advance Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted in the text.

God Is NOT An Emasculated, Mushy God!

EZEKIEL 9:1-11 (Amplified Bible – AMP):

[THE SPIRIT] cried in my ears [in the vision] with a loud voice, saying, Cause those to draw near who have charge over the city  [as executioners], every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.  [2] And behold, six men came from the direction of the Upper Gate, which faces north, every man with his battle-ax in his hand; and one man among them was clothed in linen, with a writer’s ink bottle at his side.  And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.  [3] And the glory of the God of Israel  [the Shekinah, cloud] had gone up from the cherubim upon which it had rested to  [stand above]  the threshold of the [Lord’s] house.  And [the Lord] called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s ink bottle at his side.  

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[4] And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in the midst of it.  [5] And to the others He said in my hearing, Follow [the man with the ink bottle] through the city and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ant pity.  [6] Slay outright the elderly, the young man and the virgin, the infant and the women; but do not touch or go near anyone on whom is the mark.  Begin at My sanctuary,  So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple [who did not have the Lord’s mark on their foreheads].

[7] And He said to [the executioners], Defile the temple and fill its courts with the slain.  Go forth!  And they went forth and slew in the city.  [8] And while they were slaying them and I was left, I fell upon my face and cried.  Ah, Lord God! Will You destroy all that is left of Israel in Your pouring out of Your wrath and indignation upon Jerusalem?  [9] Then said He to me,  The iniquity and guilt of the house of Israel and Judah are exceedingly great; the land is full of blood and the city full of injustice and perverseness; for they say,  The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see [what we are doing].

[10] And as for Me, My eye will not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their wicked doings upon their own heads.  [11] And behold, the man clothed in linen, who had the ink bottle at his side, reported the matter, saying,  I have done as You have commanded me.

THE UNSEEN IDOLS (Ezekiel 8:5, 10, 14, 16).

When EZEKIEL 9 begins, God is instructing His angels of destruction, to KILL!  And so I must ask myself the question,  WHY?

In EZEKIEL 8, it is obvious that God shows Ezekiel in a VISION the extreme idolatries that were going on in Jerusalem.

FIRST, was the image of JEALOUSY (v. 8:5)

SECONDLY, was the leadership of Israel worshipping animals” (v. 8:10)

THIRD, the women weeping for Tammuz [ a Babylonian god, who was supposed to die annually and subsequently be resurrected] at the temple.

FOURTH, finally, the leaders of Israel, were at the inner court worshipping the sun-god with their backs to God.

And then the climax, “thumbing their noses” at God, even more, they then returned to God in order to have the appearance of GENUINE RELIGION.

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“IDOLATRY is worshipping anything that ought to be used or using anything that ought to be worshiped” – AUGUSTINE.

WHAT IS YOUR GOD?

“Whatever you LOVE most, SERVE most, SEEK OUT most, GIVE to the most, WORSHIP the most, and CARE about the most is your god.”

Your “god” is whatever you allow to control you, to be the ultimate guide in decision-making.

God doesn’t take IDOLATRY lightly!

Let me get personal here.  Most of my “idols” are what I think, as good things.  I have no intention of making idols out of them.

Mark Driscoll says, “We take good things and make them God things, and thus they become bad things.”

ALL SIN is actually worshiping issues (sex, food, appearance, attendance, smoking, internet–functional saviors).  And to put any of these “things” before God Himself is IDOLATRY.

In Chapters 8 & 9, the recurring phrase is, “the Lord does not see, and has forsaken the land,” which is wrong, but fulfills Deuteronomy 31 to the letter!

So what are your IDOLS? Not do you have any, but what are they?

What do you VALUE more that Christ according to your checkbook, your date book, your friends, your clothes?

The Certainty of JUDGMENT (v. 8:18-9:2).

Just like Deuteronomy 31 promised, the anger of the Lord will be stirred up upon the COVENANT BREAKERS, and not only curses of that book come into being, but JUDGMENT & DEATH will come.

GOD PROMISES here in Ezekiel, JUDGMENT without MERCY!

These angelic messengers are instructed to carry battle axes into the city to strike down old and young men, maidens, women, and children.

And there is but one reason: God is a HOLY God that will not tolerate or ignore spiritual infidelity at any level.

And note that JUDGMENT will begin in the house of God with those who are highest in their level of accountability.

A. W. TOZER:  “It was a common thing in other days, when God was the center of human worship, to kneel at an altar and shake, tremble, weep, and perspire in an agony of conviction.  They expected it in that day.  We don’t see it now because the God that we preach is not the everlasting, awful God, ‘mine Holy One,’ who is ‘of purer eyes’ than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.”

Old fashion thoughts?  I don’t think so!

In my bible study this week I was reading the story in Scripture about UZZAH (1 Chronicles 13:6-13).  You know, the story where Uzzah touched the ark, and God “smote him because he touched the ark; and there he died before God” (v. 10).

How can we explain such JUDGMENT?  How can a God of LOVE bring about such things?

I’ve heard those questions asked by many believers over the years, and this is my explanation, although a bit simplified:

LOVE isn’t His only attribute.  We need to get back to the HOLINESS of God in being our foundation in doing everything.

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AND GOD WILL BRING FORTH RETRIBUTION!

We must realize that if we, THE CHURCH, are truly saved, we will be spared “wrath” per se, BUT…the JUDGMENT of GOD upon our stewardship, our servanthood, is sure, and, to harbor IDOLS is sure to bring us the loss.

Where have the lessons on RIGHTEOUSNESS, on HOLINESS, and JUDGMENT of God gone?

Our GOD isn’t the mushy, emasculated god, but a God that will pour out WRATH upon ALL unrighteousness among the nations–active and passive.

The Only Remnant (v. Ezekiel 9:4):

So bad is the JUDGMENT, Ezekiel cries out, “Will you destroy ALL the Remnant?”

But God told the one angel, who is dressed like a Hebrew scribe, and who might be the Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to put a MARK (Hebrew letter “taw”, written like an X) on a small group of people who will escape death.

God says to find the people who sigh, or gasp, or shutter, as well as those who mourn or weep at the abominations of the people of God.

God said to mark those to spare who are truly broken over the sins of the SAINTS.  These are the ONLY REMNANT that will be left.  We are never told how many if any are marked.

*[See Revelation 7:2-3, 9:4, 14:1; Daniel 9:3-5; Neh. 1:5-9; Isa. 57:15; Matt. 5:4].

To MOURN means to have a BROKEN HEART–

In the GREEK, to have a deep inner pain which occurs when something tragic happens, like a death of a loved one.  It also means to have a desperate sorrow over evil and suffering.  *(See Footnote [i] )

What we need today is NOT ANGER but ANGUISH.  The difference being a BROKEN HEART.  

It is easy to get angry, especially at somebody else’s sins; but it is not easy to look a sin, mine included, and weep over it.

stock-photo-an-older-black-woman-mournfully-looks-out-her-window-570396466

The prophet had no time to PREACH a message, to WEEP, or INTERCEDE, BUT we do!  I don’t mean to simply talk about how it used to back in the ‘good old days’.

REPENTANCE IS A LIFESTYLE, AND NOT AN ONE TIME EVENT!

Where are the Daniel’s and Nehemiah’s, whose regular practice was CONFESS their sins and the sins of the people?

Is there ever true sadness on our part when we see SIN in the midst of the church?

Are our HEARTS so hardened that we feel no pain to see brethren caught in the grip of SIN?

“For A Time Is Coming…” (1 Peter 4:17 – AMP):

“For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?”  (v. 4:17)

I am convinced, as Shane Edelman pointed out in an article, that ‘the majority of the churches in America are seeking to please the masses rather than preach the Gospel truth.’

“REPENTANCE is rarely sought and sin often excused.  We want to build a church rather than break a heart.”  *[See Footnote [ii] ]

“If the church today had as many agonizers as she has advisors, we would have revival within years” (Leonard Ravenhill).

You might ask, “What’s the big deal?  We’re doing just fine!”

 BUT… 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says otherwise,  

[1] “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  [2] People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  [3] without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  [4] treacherous, rash, conceited, lover of pleasure rather than lovers of God–  [5] having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with such people.”

Sounds a lot like the conditions in the days of Ezekiel to me.

EZEKIEL 14:6 (AMP):  Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn your faces from all your abominations.”

TRUE REPENTANCE is when by the convicting POWER of God’s Holy Spirit, the sinner finally has a sense of… and Godly sorrow for the condition of SIN in his or her heart and comes empty–un-defensive, without pretension or ceremony, in the most personal and submissive posture he’s ever taken…

man making a disgusted face
man making a disgusted face

from a SINCERE HEART that says, “I’m sorry”, to the only One who can truly claim offense at sin; Holiness Himself, the God of the ages…Who alone can FORGIVE and REDEEM and REGENERATE and RECONCILE?

I want to make it clear here, that the Bible clearly teaches that ALL MEN, both living and dead, SAVED and UNSAVED, must give an account to Christ.  JUDGMENT isn’t saved just for the unbeliever.

The Judgment Seat of Christ.

The JUDGMENT of the believer’s works called the Judgment Seat of Christ, or the Bema Seat; where a judge sat in ancient Greece, not to punish contestants but to present awards to the victors (Romans 14:10).

2 Corinthians 5:10 makes it even plainer:

“For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body,whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].”  (Amplified Bible)

The Great White Throne Judgment (Unbelievers JUDGMENT).

I don’t want to get away from Ezekiel, so, IF you want to do some “Word Detective” investigation on your own regarding the unbeliever’s judgment, I’ll list some Scripture references to help guide you in your search:

[Revelation 20:11-13; Matthew 12:36-37, 10:15, 16:27; Luke 12:47-48; Rev. 20:12-13, 22:12; Matt. 25:46; John 5:28-29; 2 Thess. 1:8-9; Rev.  3:4-5].

bema-vs-white-throne-judgment1

Have you made a commitment, or will you make a commitment?

**NOTE DISCLAIMER:  Sourced material for this study has been gleaned from many different sources.  I have attempted to credit these sources wherever possible.  [See CREDITS & FOOTNOTES.]

 


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [i]:  (Strongs #3996) StudyLight.org GREEK THOUGHTS pentheo

Footnote [ii]:  “JUDGMENT Will Start in the House of God” – Charisma News.

Photos:  Shutterstock & Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP)

“Ready or Not, Here I come”– “But I’m Not Ready Yet!”

A STUDY IN 1 THESSALONIANS 5:

The blog-title for this POST came to me one morning, while remembering my childhood.

The past memories of growing up while living in Government Housing during the late 40’s, early 50’s.

What’s that have to do with a study in 1 Thessalonians?  Let me explain.

A Time of Celebration…

I had just returned from a Texas trip of celebration and joy.  My Dad had enjoyed his 100th birthday, along with a family reunion, and… three weeks later, he went home to be with the Lord.

So during the morning time of bible reading, it also became a time of reflection and memories of growing up in the San Diego area of California.

One thought lead to another as I laid the bible in my lap and closed my eyes, going down the proverbial “rabbit trail,” and finding myself at the end of the trail, as a 10 year old.

All the different games we would play in the neighborhood courts and protected front porches; Monopoly, Flashlight Tag, Kick-the-Can, Marbles in the nearby dirt alley ways.

No video games or “smartphones” to entertain us in those days.

When we got bored, our folks would calmly say, come “Go outside and play.  I’ll call you when to come in.”  Ouch!  But we did so, because that’s what all the kids did!  Sound familiar?

We could hardly wait for the opportunity while impatiently watching out the front door’s side window, waiting patiently for someone, anyone, to be the first outdoors:

“Hey dad…so-and-so is out playing, can I go out now?”

One game that every kid in the court and surrounding neighborhoods loved to play during the Summertime, was Hide and Seek.

The Game of “HIDE and SEEK” –

Hide and Seek
Hide and Seek

I loved playing hide and seek as a child.  Whether I was the one hiding, who didn’t want to get caught, or I was the one trying to catch the unsuspecting.

I remember that the seeker, or “it” as we always called him; who closed his eyes–count to 100, so everyone else could go hide.

Sometimes the seeker would close his eyes and then cheat a little–peep around and then you could hear him count,  “One, two, three, fourteen, fifteen, sixty-one and so on.”

Then you would hear him scream,  “Ready or not here I come!”  Four things I remember were always certain at that point:

#1.  He was surely coming.

#2.  He was coming when…He got ready.

#3.  He was coming whether you were ready or not.

#4.  And if you were not ready, then you would pay the consequences.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING READY- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11:

The simple Hide & Seek child’s game, how that fun game parallels the second coming of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul exhorted the church in Thessalonica, the importance of being ready and the certain return of Jesus Christ.

(5:1-2a)  “BUT AS to the suitable times and the precise seasons and dates, brethren, you have no necessity for anything being written to you.  For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the Lord…”

THE CERTAIN RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST –

The Second Coming of JESUS is one of the most repeated teachings in all of Scripture.

And yet, the LIE EXISTS: “YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO GET YOUR LIFE IN ORDER.”

The Apostle Paul was well aware of this in penning the letter as he explained to his readers in the church.  They should be perfectly aware that JESUS was coming again.

Reminds me of a song sung in churches years ago,

CHORUS:  Coming again, coming again;

Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening and maybe soon!

O, what a wonderful day it will be–

JESUS is coming again!

[Words and Music by John W. Peterson]

Not only did Paul tell them he shouldn’t even have to tell them again of Christ’s return, it should be obvious!

ILLUSTRATION:  A Tourist Driving Through West Texas.

991700f63d9427c720571a481bf68009While driving through West Texas, the driver stopped at a gas station to fill his tank with gas.  He happened to notice a piece of rope dangling from a sign labeled “Weather Forecaster.”

Being curious, the tourist asked the station attendant, “How can you possibly tell the weather with a piece of rope?”

“It’s simple, sonny,” the older man answered with a thick Texas drawl.  “When the rope swings back and forth, its windy, when it gets wet, it’s raining, when it’s frozen stiff, it’s snowing, and when it’s gone…tornado!”

There are some simple things that should be obvious without even asking.  The imminent return of JESUS is one of those things.

THE UNCERTAIN TIMING OF JESUS’ RETURN –

(5:2 b.)  “…as a thief in the night.”

The question is not “if” Jesus will return, but “when” will He return?

And Paul’s answer?  He’s basically saying, “No one knows.”  He describes the time of Christ’s return as a thief in the night.

Just as a THIEF plans his entry with uncertain timing when least expected, so will be the coming of the Son of God.

JESUS Himself declared in Matthew 24:36,  “But of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

And He later said in Matthew 24:44,  “You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

NOT BEING READY BRINGS CERTAIN JUDGMENT –

(5:3-5)  [3] “When people are saying,  All is well and secure, and,  There is peace and safety, then in a moment unforeseen destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them suddenly as labor pains come upon a woman with child; and they shall by no means escape, for there will be no escape.  [4] But you are not in [given up to the power of] darkness, brethren, for that day to overtake you by surprise like a thief.  [5] For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we do not belong either to the night or to darkness.

Paul refers to the Second Coming of Christ as the “Day of the Lord”  (vs. 2).

Throughout Scripture, the “Day of the Lord” was the designation of that latter time in history [Old Testament, Joel 2:31; New Testament, Acts 2:20]; God would pour out His wrath on the ungodly.

When the Lord Jesus returns–rapture His people–then soon after our Lord will begin to pour out His judgments upon the earth in a time which many refer to as the Great Tribulation.

The Tragedy of this day is that so many will be unprepared.  Not only unprepared, but actually deceived and actively deceiving others in the process crying out,

“PEACE AND SAFETY.”  Adhering to spreading the LIE… “YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO GET READY.”  

While thinking there is no real danger at all, when in fact, destruction is immediately upon them.

THE CONDITIONS OF WALKING IN READINESS –

(5:6-8)  [6] “Accordingly then, let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard) and let us be sober (calm, collected, and circumspect).  [7] For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.  [8] But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

Living Daily with an Attitude of Watchfulness (vss. 6, 7).

“let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard…”  (verse 6).

As a SOLDIER is commanded to “stay alert” — “keep wide awake” — “WATCH!”, so as true believers, we too are commanded… to have an attitude of “spiritual awakeness” (gregario – Greek. word used).  

So must we as Christians!

Paul’s command to “watch” is in the present tense; meaning this must be a continual practice of the Saints (the true believers).  A matter of ATTITUDE.

A Roman soldier would be put to death for falling asleep on his watch.

The outcome could be just as fatal for the person not constantly looking for the return of Christ Jesus.

DISCIPLINE comes into play at this point.

LIVING DAILY WITH DISCIPLINE OF SELF-CONTROL –

Paul’s warning must not allow anything within our lives to influence our moral alertness…not anything!

Just like alcoholic beverages will greatly influence and inhibit a person’s abilities to focus–to make important decisions; sin (not the ‘drinking’ of spirits, but the results) will affect one’s ability to make moral decisions.  A person doesn’t become drunk with just one drink, but one drink can lead to two and then three.

Slowly, the person becomes drunk without noticing it and all of one’s senses become blurred, making oneself a danger to self and also others around them.

In the same way, if we do not control sin in our lives–not “watchful”–we soon are overcome by its effects and become oblivious to spiritual matters.  Therefore unaware and unconcerned about the imminent RETURN OF CHRIST JESUS.

As a drunkard who has passed out and oblivious to the world, so is the uncontrolled sinner who has spiritually passed out.  It takes daily discipline and self-control.

THE NEED OF HAVING DAILY PROTECTION – 

(5:8)  God’s Armor  “…let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

As BELIEVERS, we are clothed “in Christ” as Paul describes in detail on many occasions in his letters to the churches.

In other words, what Paul is saying, that once we are SAVED…we are battle dressed with the Armor of God, and that ARMOR protects our spiritual organs–spiritual heart and mind.

What is A HAT?  What is its function?

A HAT can be used for decoration as an accent to an outfit; to dazzle those around you and just look good!

It may be used as RECOGNITION; for identification such as a policeman’s hat or a chef’s hat…

It might be used for PROTECTION, such as a football player, or like my Dad wore his Fireman’s Helmet.

The HELMET identifies us with our savior…

It identifies us with JESUS…

It reveals to the world who we want to be identified with…but it also identifies us on how we should be acting and living!

SPIRITUAL PROTECTION –

The ARMOR we are given as a believer in Christ protects us from the enemy who is always out to destroy us…from this evil and broken world…and protects us from ourselves, from the terrible decisions we sometimes make (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

The Blessings that should Come from Being Ready!

(5:9-11)  [9] “For God has NOT appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)…  [10] Who died for us so that whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ’s appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life.  [11] Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.”

The PEACE of knowing, of always being READY for Jesus’ return is surely a BLESSING.

Therefore,you will look for Christ’s Coming with excitement and with expectancy instead of Fear and Dread.

THE COMFORT OF KNOWING…that you will be SAVED from the Wrath of God!

Quote:

“God’s people should plan for a VOYAGE of a thousand years, but be prepared to abandon ship tonight!”  ~ Joseph Bayly.

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CREDITS:

Photos– Photo Pin and Google Images.

Bible Translation:  Amplified Bible.

Commentary:  Bible.org – John Walvoord, “The Rapture and the Day of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 5”; “how does the day of the Lord relate to the rapture?” – whenistherapture.com

Just A “One-Trick Prophet” In A Non-Believing World

“A ONE-TRICK PONY” —

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I was watching an advertisement on television this past week, regarding people who had gathered at a church wedding where the atmosphere gets out of control.  Someone shouts at a person in the second row holding a popular smart phone, “You’re just a ‘One-trick pony!’ and the chaos continues from there.

Being the Word detective that I am, I decided to investigate the background behind the EXPRESSION: “one-trick pony”– which so happens to fit in nicely with Scripture found in the Book of Nahum 1:1-3:

[1] “THE BURDEN of Nineveh.  The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

[2]God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.

[3]  The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked; the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet”

Where did the expression “One-Trick Pony” come from and what is the implication?”

Merriam-Webster explains:  “One that is skilled in only one area; one that has success only once.”

Paul Simon wrote the lyrics to a 1980 song entitled, One-Trick Pony:

He’s a one-trick pony

One trick is all that horse can do

He does one trick only

It’s the principal source of his revenue

And when he steps into the spotlight  You can feel the heat of his heart  Come rising through.

So, whether it be written on the front of a cereal box or the title of a tune, I think by now you get the idea of what it means of JUST A “One-Trick Pony”.  

 NOW, the “One-Trick Prophet”  Comparison:

THE BOOK OF NAHUM–THE PROPHET:

Announcing God’s impending destruction on the city of “Nineveh”–

The Book of Nahum has one theme, and one theme only–God’s impending destruction on the city of “Nineveh”:

“THE BURDEN or oracle (the thing to be lifted up) concerning Nineveh [the capital of Assyria]” ~ Nahum 1:1 AMP.

#1.   Described in detail in Chapter 3, verse 1“A bloody city”.

#2.  At the same time, God is going to destroy the “wicked” (Nahum 1:15) in the Assyrian Empire.

THE LARGER LESSON TO BE LEARNED IN THIS BOOK–

GOD is going to take vengeance (Nahum 1:2), whether immoral nations, pagan cities or corrupted individuals.  Sound vaguely familiar in the area where you are residing?  You’re NOT alone!

As verse three says “the Lord IS slow to anger”–and at the same time, He “will by no means clear the guilty”  (Nahum 1:3).

Verse 8 goes on to say, “He will make a full end [of Nineveh]”.  There’s an image that flooded my spirit here; both the severity and certainty of God’s coming wrath on ALL those who do not “take refuge and trust Him” (Nahum 1:7).

During The Time Nahum Received His “VISION”–

Nineveh’s approaching destruction must have seemed like wishful thinking.  The Assyrian Empire was still “at full strength” (verse 12); “safe” (as the NKJV puts it).

While verse 8 states “with an overrunning flood He will make a full end of [Nineveh”s very] site…”  (which history tells us literally came true!).

KNOWING THAT ONE OF GOD’S ATTRIBUTES IS HIS WRATH  (JOHN 3:36):

“And he who believes in the son has eternal life.  BUT whoever disobeys (is unbelieving toward, refuses to trust in, disregards, is not subject to) the son will never see (experience) life, but [instead] the wrath of God abides to him.”

Scripture says the Lord will pour out His WRATH on those who do not REPENT their sins, and profess (DECLARE) THEIR FAITH in Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15).  And then (by His enabling Grace), start imitating their Savior’s example (1 Peter 2:21-23; 1 Timothy 4:12).

Most Christians Know That Scripture Tells US–

We, as believers. are “not to take our own revenge”–but, ‘leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written,  ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay’ says the Lord”  (Romans 12:19).

What we’d rather hear in church or Bible Studies is about God’s LOVE for sinners (Romans 5:8).  To tell us about His mercy and compassion (James 5:11) regarding sinful people–tell us please about His saving peace (Ephesians 2:8).  And lets don’t dwell on His vengeance, His wrath, and His anger (Nahum 1:2-3), because a little goes a long way, right?

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Not Hearing, Seeing or Speaking the Truth

The message I found in the Book of Nahum, enables us to better understand what we’ve been saved from (Romans 5:9); also helps us to more deeply appreciate what Christ did for us on the cross (Isaiah 53:3-8).

ABOUT THE MAN AND HIS MESSAGE:

NAHUM’S NAME means “comforter”, “counselor”.  Sounds odd, given the severe tone of his book and his surrounding WORLD.  And to expand this further, it was obvious that the Assyrians found little comfort in Nahum’s prophecy–JUST A “ONE-TRICK PROPHET” as far as they were concerned.

A Day of Troubled Times–

Beyond the reference in verse seven, of God being “…a Strength and Stronghold in the day of trouble;  He knows those who take refuge and trust in Him (Nahum 1:7), can we in our modern society, learn the lesson the Assyrians didn’t?

While it is certainly possible individual Assyrians may have found COMFORT in Nahum’s words–there was no hope for the city (or nation) as a whole.  The impending disaster prophesied by Nahum wasn’t going to be averted, like the one in Jonah’s day had been (Jonah 3:9-10).

God was going to “…make a full end of [Nineveh’s very] site” (Nahum 1:8); Nineveh as a city, Assyria as a nation–even if some of the people living there believed God and repent (Jonah 3:5-8; Daniel 1:1-7).

Nahum’s Name Implies a Measure of “Comfort” or “Consolation”…primarily for God’s covenant people–in this instance, the people of Judah.

In the midst of all the BAD NEWS in the land, on how God was going to pour out His wrath upon the people of Nineveh– also find some words of “comfort” directed to the people of Judah (and by extension, all God’s covenant people living in every nation and every generation)–like chapter one, verse 13, where God said  “…I will break his yoke from off you and will burst your bonds asunder–verse fifteen “…Celebrate your fests, O Judah; perform your vows”–and chapter two, verse two, where the prophet said “…For the Lord restores the excellency of Jacob.”

Scripture as a whole, repeatedly offers God’s elect covenant people “comfort” and “consolation”, even in the midst of moral and social, political and spiritual decay–

One example can be found in PSALM 94:2-3, 14, 22-23:

“Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render to the proud a fit compensation!    Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall wicked triumph and exult?”  (verses 2 and 3).

“For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage. (verse 14).

“But the Lord has become my High Tower and defense, and my God the Rock of my refuge.    And He will turn back upon them their own iniquity and will wipe them out by means of their own wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.”  (verses 22-23).  

Another example is found in The Book of Revelation  (Revelation 6:9-11):

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.    They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”    Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed”  (NIV).

I DON’T WANT TO “BEAT A DEAD HORSE”:

I know, another cliché to ponder.  BUT, I want you to see the THEME–God’s retribution is not unique in the Book of Nahum–nor confined to the Old Testament.

Scripture does NOT present GOD as a God of wrath and vengeance in the Old Testament and a GOD of love and grace in the New Testament–He’s EXACTLY THE SAME IN BOTH (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).

It is the Old testament that describes Him in several places as “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and One who relents concerning calamity”  (Jonah 4:2; SEE Exodus 34:6-7; Psalm 103:8; 145:8; Nehemiah 9:17).

On the other hand…

It’s the New Testament that says:

“it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, DEALING OUT RETRIBUTION to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”  (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8).

Here’s the point–

There is NO “comfort” or “consolation” in the Book of Nahum (or anywhere else in Scripture) for those who “trample under foot the Son of God, regard the blood of the covenant unclean, and insult the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29-31).  For then, the Lord IS “an avenging and wrathful God, who will not let the guilty go unpunished” (Nahum 1:2-3).

LOVE, GRACE and FORGIVENESS PREACHED…BUT, HAS SOMETHING BEEN MISSED, SOMETHING SET-ASIDE?

Those three words, “LOVE, GRACE and FORGIVENESS” are paramount in preaching the Gospel in a “non-believing world”–but we must not put aside Declaring the Whole Counsel of God at the same time.  I know, that message isn’t popular in today’s churches.  But if we set aside the WHOLE TRUTH of Scripture because of our fears to offend someone, then only a few will walk down that aisle on Sunday mornings, if any.  And if you are satisfied with that approach, that’s okay too.  But if you are going to emphasize only ‘half-truths”, then you are NOT declaring the whole truth.

The New King James Version says it this way:

“For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God”  (Acts 20:27 NKJV).

Here is but another translation of the same verse:

“I have not FEARED to tell you ALL that God wants you to know”  (Acts 20:27 WE).

GOD’S WRATH REMAINS WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT!

The same wrath envisioned by Nahum remains over every nation today…where God and His laws are rejected or ignored.  And that would include are own (Nahum 1:1-3).

These nations may or may not fall as dramatically as Nineveh did, but fall they will!  UNLESS, we take heed to the words of John the Baptist  “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he [John the Baptist] said to them,  You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee and escape from the WRATH and INDIGNATION [of God against disobedience] that is coming?  (Matthew 3:7 AMP).

–by fleeing to JESUS who bore the full brunt of the WRATH on the cross for our sake, GOD’S ELECT.  And because he did, you and I can take “COMFORT” in passages of Scripture like these:

[9] “For God has NOT APPOINTED US to [incur His] WRATH [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)  [10] Who died for us so that whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ’s appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life”  (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 AMP). 

and again,

“…JESUS, Who personally RESCUES and DELIVERS us out of and from the WRATH  [bringing punishment] which is coming…”  (1 Thessalonians 1:10 AMP).

and one more,

“But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  [9] Therefore, since we are now JUSTIFIED (acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be SAVED by Him from indignation and wrath of God”  (Romans 5:8-9).

And, aren’t you glad that we who are Believers are…?

Not because we are so worthy, or better than the Assyrians living in Nahum’s day–but because our God and Savior has chosen us to be gracious to?

My next POST will spring off these thoughts concerning our DECLARING in a non-believing world. Keep watching!