Fatal Injuries

From Lynda Lindsey  

 O king of Assyria, your shepherds slumber; your nobles lie down to rest. Your people are scattered on the mountains with no one to gather them. Nothing can heal your wound; your injury is fatal. Everyone who hears the news about you claps his hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?

Nahum 3:18-19

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. ... The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him, but with an overwhelming flood He will make an end of Nineveh; He will pursue His foes into darkness. Nahum 1:3(a); 7-8

The king of Nineveh to his people regarding Jonah’s prophecy: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish. ... He (God) had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened. Jonah 3:8-9; 10(b)

God, through the prophet Nahum, delivered a resounding judgment on the evil, wicked country of Assyria. Nineveh, the capital, was condemned as a city of blood, compared to a wanton, lusting harlot whoring against the poor, preying on the helpless, committing unspeakable atrocities in war to gain more and more plundered riches. A generation or so before this, God’s final judgement, the people of Nineveh had repented under the prophet Jonah’s preaching. But the country had turned back to its cruel, sinful practices. God, His patience at an end, decreed that Assyria’s wound was fatal.

God, slow to anger and abounding in love, is also just. Wickedness, evil, corruption, cruelty, may seem to go unnoticed, but omniscient God sees, hears, and knows. Though the rulers of our earth may devise ungodly, unholy, unspeakable evil, God will allow no one to thwart Him forever; His judgement will come to wrongdoers. God, our God, is a jealous and avenging God who is King over all, whether people or nations acknowledge Him or not; and sovereign kings have sole authority to do with their subjects and kingdoms as they wish.

God’s vengeance, never a welcome topic of discussion, is especially difficult in today’s “I’m ok you’re ok lets all just accept one another as we are” society. The question is often asked, “Why would I want to follow a destroying, vengeful, judgmental God?” A better question to ask is, “Why would I want to follow a God who allows evil, sinful and wicked people and nations to flourish forever?” The Lord is good. He is a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. But His patience will not last forever before He pursues His enemies into darkness. Sobering thought.

A J-u-s-t Right Heart

From Lynda Lindsey 

He (Josiah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David.  II Chronicles 34:2-3(a)

The Lord’s message to King Josiah through the prophetess Huldah: Because your heart was responsive, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, ... and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, ... II Kings 22:19

The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord —- to follow the Lord and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. II Kings 23:3

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And so Josiah did. Josiah’s reign began when he was only eight years old and he sought the Lord from the time he was young. Josiah, just as David had done years earlier, walked in the ways of God, not turning aside to the right or the left. Josiah began work to purify the land, repair and restore the temple, and initiated significant reforms based on the book of the Law found there. He purged the country of idolatrous high places, had the idols and Asherah poles cut down and burned, encouraged the priests and people to follow the Lord; and the work was faithfully accomplished.

When Josiah heard the words from the book of the Law read aloud, he tore his garments in despair, realizing the sinful, wicked condition of the people and the nation. Josiah’s responsive heart, his humble, contrite attitude when faced with his, and his nation’s sin, and his repentant posture commended him to God. The king assembled all the people to the public reading of the Law; together they collectively renewed obedience to God’s covenant. Josiah even reinstated the Passover celebration, abandoned since Samuel’s time, giving liberally from his own possessions to ensure a joyful and proper feast.

In the children’s story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks wanders into the bear’s home while they are away and tries out their porridge, chairs, and beds, discovering that the only satisfactory items, for her, belong to the baby bear, whose things are j-u-s-t right. In the same manner, Josiah’s heart was j-u-s-t right. Josiah’s heart was responsive. Humble. Repentant. Tender. Josiah walked in all the ways of the Lord, not turning aside to the right or the left. He encouraged others. He loved the Lord God with all his heart, soul, and strength. Do we? If we faced a heart check-up, would it be found to be j-u-s-t right?

Overflowing Comfort

from Lynda Lindsey

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. II Corinthians 1:3-5

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. II Corinthians 4:8-10

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day any day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. II Corinthians 4:16-18

God isn’t stingy or mean, doling out His comfort in miserly amounts. In Christ we receive comfort overflowing all boundaries, like a river overflowing its banks or jars of olive oil filled to overflow during harvest. God, desiring that we not be left as orphans, generously gave us the Comforter, His Holy Spirit, as our guide, teacher, and friend. Yet the Spirit’s role for us is so much more.  The Holy Spirit, living within us, conforms and transforms us, making us more like Jesus. The Spirit strengthens and fortifies, making us strong and brave, enabling us to fight the good fight of faith. 

We learn by our sufferings and trials to draw on and receive help and comfort from God so that we don’t lose heart, become discouraged, and give up. We learn to stand strong and steady so that when we are hard pressed, perplexed, and struck down we are not crushed, in despair, or destroyed. God designed us to live purposefully, intentionally for Him, helping others along the way; this ability to comfort others gives our life, and our sufferings, purpose. Now instead of feeling isolated in our troubles, we see a grand design: what can I learn from this that will keep me close to Jesus and help others at a later time? Praise be to God, we who have been blessed with God’s overflowing comfort are then able to comfort others with the comfort we’ve been given!

Don’t lose heart. Our troubles here, though they seem overwhelming, are light and momentary in the light of eternity! Stand fast. Focus. See not with here-and-now eyes; rather see with heaven-eternity-focused eyes. Be heartened; strengthened, made brave.  As Paul so eloquently states, “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” God’s overflowing comfort to us yields overflowing thanksgiving! Praise be to God!

Righteous Rock of Refuge

From Lynda Lindsey  

In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge to which I can always go; ...Psalm 71:1-3(a)

Be not far from me, O God; come quickly, O my God, to help me. Psalm 71:12

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. Psalm 71:20-21

God, our God, is a consuming fire; He is righteous, perfect, holy. He burns away impurities as dross is burned away in a furnace. When God met with Moses the earth quaked, the heavens thundered, and smoke billowed from the mountain in a terrifying demonstration of God’s power. Yet. Yet. For all His terrifying power He draws us to Himself with strong cords of love. He tenderly feeds us; bears our burdens. His ear is tuned to hear our cry; He is always available. God knows us intimately; He formed us while we were in our mother’s womb. He knows our every strength and weakness; He guides us through every season of life from birth to old age.

God, our God, is near to us, not far; He inhabits His people, individually and in community. God is our strength, an ever present help in time of trouble. An extremely strong and reliable person is called a rock; a refuge is a place of asylum where one is protected and kept safe from pursuit or danger. Our God is that! Regardless if we die in battle or in old age, the grave cannot hold us captive! He is our rock of refuge, our hope and comfort. When we are surrounded by enemies, hemmed in on every side, God, our deliverer, brings us up out of the pit and restores our life.

God, our God, is worthy of praise! Praise is the only reasonable response to a God who is, was, and always will be; a God who watches over His creation into eternity. The Psalmist’s mouth is filled to overflowing with praise; he declares God’s splendor all day long. He tells, proclaims, shouts, and sings of God’s righteousness, His mighty acts, and His marvelous deeds, to all who will listen. God, our God, is our praise; He has performed for us great and awesome wonders that we have seen with our own eyes. So shout! Sing! Bow down! Praise God with lips that declare His wonders; praise God with lives that reflect His goodness! Praise!

Our Treasures in Ruins

from Lynda Lindsey

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways, … Isaiah 64:4-5(a)

Your sacred cities have become a desert; even Zion is a desert, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and glorious temple, where our fathers praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins. Isaiah 64:10-11

Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “My servants will eat, but you will go hungry; my servants will drink, but you will go thirsty; my servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame.” Isaiah 65:13

Picture something treasured, highly valued, something adored that takes a great amount of attention to care for and keep in pristine condition. Imagine the sorrow one would feel to find that treasure spoiled, wrecked, a heap of crumbled ruins.  God’s people and His temple, once glorious treasures, had been wrecked, spoiled, left desolate. Sin and inattention to God and His ways left the temple, and people’s individual lives, in ruins. God again and again called His people to repent; again and again God’s people chose to ignore God. 

Spurning God leaves our soul’s shriveled; the more we ignore Him, the more we become distanced from Him. We eat and drink but still hunger and thirst. We pursue endless pleasure but shipwreck both body and soul. Empty, broken, our lives wasting away, we drift further away from God. What does it matter, then? What hope is there? God, our only hope, yearns for His repentant children to forsake sin and turn to Him. God, unlike a cold, lifeless idol of wood and stone, actively works on our behalf, actively participates in our lives. He pours out His help on those who turn from sin, remember His ways and gladly obey Him. 

God, righteous and holy by nature, rewards obedience and faithfulness, if not always in the-here-and-now, in eternity. God will restore to us the years the locust has eaten! He will restore our shattered ruined lives, remaking us into His treasured vessel! Just as blessings follow obedience, consequences follow disobedience. Our God will come one future day as a whirlwind with fire and sword to judge sin and righteousness. God will not be mocked; attend carefully to living a life that pleases God, laying up treasures in heaven where they can never spoil. Gladly obey; God’s righteousness is worth it!

Everlasting Light

 from Lynda Lindsey

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. ... But the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Isaiah 60:1; 2(b)

The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. Isaiah 60:19-20

Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, prophesying: And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. Luke 1:76-79

Darkness. Gloom. Inky blackness. No illumination. Clouds obscure the moon. Tossing, turning, covers twisted, nightmarish images reign until finally the sun’s faint glow begins to penetrate the gloom. Experiencing a night like this makes us appreciate waking to a sun-drenched room! What if the sun didn’t warm the earth by day; the moon didn’t shine by night? What if we only experienced darkness? This is exactly our spiritual condition; sin obscures the true light of Jesus; we stumble in darkness. Gloom. Inky blackness. No illumination.

Messiah entered our world as the Sunrise from Heaven come to visit mankind, shining His light for all to see. Jesus, radiant, righteous King, light of the world whose justice is a light for all the people, dispels the darkness of sin and injustice. He comes as a flaming torch and a smoking oven. A towering column of cloud by day and a flaming fireball by night. Jesus leads, guides, reassures, shields us from our enemies, and shows us His way by taking up residence within us. Jesus’ enemies sought to kill Him from the time of His first appearing; years later they thought they had succeeded when He was crucified. Yet death couldn’t hold him! His light has come; it is everlasting!

The great I am, the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is, who was, and who is to come, the Lord Almighty, will come again. Make no mistake, when He comes next riding on the clouds, every eye will see Him! He shall govern by peace and rule by righteousness for all eternity! There will be no more violence, ruin, destruction and sorrow. The Lord, our everlasting light, will be our glory, our eternal peace and righteousness; we will need no other light. The Lord God is now, and will forever be, our wall of Salvation! Enter the gateway of His presence with everlasting praise and joy!