Nahum 1-3, Psalm 132
At the age of 15, Joni Eareckson Tada, opened her heart to Jesus at a weekend retreat and made Him Lord of her life. Around 3 years later, just after her high school graduation, Joni misjudged the depth of water and dove into a shallow section of Chesapeake Bay. The dive caused her to hit her head on the bottom and snapped her neck, rendering her immediately paralyzed from the neck down. Her becoming an immediate quadriplegic caused her to sink into a deep depression and her faith was nearly uprooted. But the faith and prayers of her many Christian friends turned her darkest moment into a beautiful life of serving Christ. As she puts it, her wheelchair, more than anything else, has become the theology textbook that has shown her so much about the sustaining grace of God. She paints with a brush between her teeth producing high-detail fine art paintings. She has authored many books, hosts a popular radio program called Joni and Friends, has spoken in numerous countries. Recently, she was even up for a Grammy Award for the song, "Alone yet Not Alone". If you actually take the time to look at the video of her singing the song, you see her husband, Ken, kneeling alongside her actually helping her push in her diaphragm in order to hit the higher notes. So often our lives take an unexpected "bad turn", which can lead us to question, "where is God?" Many mistakenly believe that due to these circumstances that their lives are over. But like Joni, if we learn to lean on God during these times, we can be used mightily for the glory of God.
We actually know very little about the prophet, Nahum. His name means "comforter". He was from a city called Elkosh. Though there were a number of cities called Elkosh, most commentators believe he lived in the city by this name several miles north of Ninevah, the capital of Assyria. This would mean that this Jewish prophet was led away captive or his family was led away captive by the brutal Assyrians. He was displaced from his country and from the place where he could freely worship his God. For many this would be enough to turn their lives away from God. But we read in Nahum, in the middle of his pronouncement of judgment against Ninevah, in 1:7, "The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust Him." We see that he never lost hope, as we read in 2:2, "For the Lord will restore the excellence of Jacob Like the excellence of Israel, For the emptiers have emptied them out And ruined their vine branches." How important it is for all of us to realize in the midst of a crisis that, "The Lord is good." The contrast between those who place their hope in God as opposed to those who place their hope in their own strength is huge, as we read in Nahum 3:19 concerning the Assyrians, "Your injury has no healing, Your wound is severe. All who hear news of you Will clap their hands over you, For upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?"
It is interesting, we read the words, "It is finished" by God two times in Scripture. For those of us who belong to Christ they are the most beautiful words ever spoken from the lips of Jesus while on the cross in John 19:30. This statement by Jesus which means "Paid in full", means that He accomplished it all and paid the ultimate price for our sins releasing us from the bondage of sin and death. But when God sends the angel carrying the seventh bowl judgment in Revelation 16:17, saying the same thing. "It is done" or "It is finished" it signals to those who have chosen to resist God that there opportunity to turn to Him was over and they were then without hope. We live in a nation which has completely lost its moral foundation. Like Ninevah, our nation will one day be judged for the sins (abortion, sexual perversion, complete apathy towards God, etc.) perpetrated against God. We are surrounded by family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. who have chosen to reject God. Whether or not they are pleasant to hang around with, unless they put their hope, trust, and faith in Jesus, their only Savior, they will be counted as enemies to the One True God and be without hope. People and situations do not have to change first in order to allow Jesus to heal them. In Romans 5:8, we read, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." No matter what we have done or no matter what has happened to us, if we accept the free offer of salvation from Jesus, the healing process will begin. Though our difficulties may remain, He will give us a joy and a hope that can never be taken from us.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: