Are you for or against? Are you trusting or doubting? Do you believe or abstain? Do you have hope or despair?
Do you scheme against God’s plan? Do you worship someone or something other than God?
Will you be willing to listen and hear the good news? Will you be willing to receive the good news? What if it is a message of peace?
Where does your hope come from?
My hope comes from God! His Word found in the Bible! His promises found in the Bible! His Son Jesus Christ who created the way! Jesus who loved us so much that He not only gave up His life on the cross, but also conquered the grave by resurrecting on the 3rd day and is now seated at the right hand of the father interceding for me.
Where are you at? Where is your country at? Where is the world at? Where are we standing? Is it time for a change? Is it the…
End of an era?
Today’s reading begins at an interesting place. It begins in the book of Nahun at a time when the Assyrian Empire was about to end. His name means comforter and the message came at a time when the people needed some comforting. So let’s jump into our reading and learn what God has to speak to us in and through His Word today…
1This message concerning Nineveh came as a vision to Nahum, who lived in Elkosh.
The Lord’s Anger against Nineveh
2The lord is a jealous God,
filled with vengeance and rage.
He takes revenge on all who oppose him
and continues to rage against his enemies!
3The lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great,
and he never lets the guilty go unpunished.
He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm.
The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet.
4At his command the oceans dry up,
and the rivers disappear.
The lush pastures of Bashan and Carmel fade,
and the green forests of Lebanon wither.
5In his presence the mountains quake,
and the hills melt away;
the earth trembles,
and its people are destroyed.
6Who can stand before his fierce anger?
Who can survive his burning fury?
His rage blazes forth like fire,
and the mountains crumble to dust in his presence.
7The lord is good,
a strong refuge when trouble comes.
He is close to those who trust in him.
8But he will sweep away his enemies
in an overwhelming flood.
He will pursue his foes
into the darkness of night.
9Why are you scheming against the lord?
He will destroy you with one blow;
he won’t need to strike twice!
10His enemies, tangled like thornbushes
and staggering like drunks,
will be burned up like dry stubble in a field.
11Who is this wicked counselor of yours
who plots evil against the lord?
12This is what the lord says:
“Though the Assyrians have many allies,
they will be destroyed and disappear.
O my people, I have punished you before,
but I will not punish you again.
13Now I will break the yoke of bondage from your neck
and tear off the chains of Assyrian oppression.”
14And this is what the lord says concerning the Assyrians in Nineveh:
“You will have no more children to carry on your name.
I will destroy all the idols in the temples of your gods.
I am preparing a grave for you
because you are despicable!”
15Look! A messenger is coming over the mountains with good news!
He is bringing a message of peace.
Celebrate your festivals, O people of Judah,
and fulfill all your vows,
for your wicked enemies will never invade your land again.
They will be completely destroyed!
–from Nahum 1
Do you see destruction in your past? Do you see despair in your past? Do you see pain in your past? Do you see suffering in your past?
Don’t let your past define you! Hear God calling you to Himself today and turn to Him! Receive the good news and ask Jesus into your heart! Allow your life to be turned around and transformed so that things can be different! Allow the hope that is within you to grow and to flourish! Allow yourself to be new! The old is gone and the new has come! Don’t be held back by the lies of the past! Don’t allow the lies of the devil to try and hold you back from all that God has planned for you! The devil’s plan is to rob, kill, and destroy whereas God’s plan is that we will have a full life.
The Fall of Nineveh
1Your enemy is coming to crush you, Nineveh.
Man the ramparts! Watch the roads!
Prepare your defenses! Call out your forces!
2Even though the destroyer has destroyed Judah,
the lord will restore its honor.
Israel’s vine has been stripped of branches,
but he will restore its splendor.
3Shields flash red in the sunlight!
See the scarlet uniforms of the valiant troops!
Watch as their glittering chariots move into position,
with a forest of spears waving above them.
4The chariots race recklessly along the streets
and rush wildly through the squares.
They flash like firelight
and move as swiftly as lightning.
5The king shouts to his officers;
they stumble in their haste,
rushing to the walls to set up their defenses.
6The river gates have been torn open!
The palace is about to collapse!
7Nineveh’s exile has been decreed,
and all the servant girls mourn its capture.
They moan like doves
and beat their breasts in sorrow.
8Nineveh is like a leaking water reservoir!
The people are slipping away.
“Stop, stop!” someone shouts,
but no one even looks back.
9Loot the silver!
Plunder the gold!
There’s no end to Nineveh’s treasures—
its vast, uncounted wealth.
10Soon the city is plundered, empty, and ruined.
Hearts melt and knees shake.
The people stand aghast,
their faces pale and trembling.
11Where now is that great Nineveh,
that den filled with young lions?
It was a place where people—like lions and their cubs—
walked freely and without fear.
12The lion tore up meat for his cubs
and strangled prey for his mate.
He filled his den with prey,
his caverns with his plunder.
13“I am your enemy!”
says the lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“Your chariots will soon go up in smoke.
Your young men will be killed in battle.
Never again will you plunder conquered nations.
The voices of your proud messengers will be heard no more.”
–from Nahum 2
How is society looking these days? Does it seem people are living aligned with God or are they rebelling against Him? Are you seeing some pursuing God and others running from Him? Are you seeing people who are trying to live His way and others who are revolting against it? Are you seeing people holding tightly to the promises of Jesus and others who are trying to tear it down? Are you seeing it in the news? Are you hearing about it on the news? Do you hear what is happening around the globe? Do you hear of the troubles? Do you hear of the trials? In the book of Revelation, we see that Jesus wins! In the book of Revelation we see how we will all have to go before the judgement seat to give an answer for how we have lived! In the book of Revelation we also learn the importance of being in the book of life where those people will get to spend eternity with God whereas those who aren’t in the book of life will have to spend eternity apart from God.
The lord’s Judgment against Nineveh
1What sorrow awaits Nineveh,
the city of murder and lies!
She is crammed with wealth
and is never without victims.
2Hear the crack of whips,
the rumble of wheels!
Horses’ hooves pound,
and chariots clatter wildly.
3See the flashing swords and glittering spears
as the charioteers charge past!
There are countless casualties,
heaps of bodies—
so many bodies that
people stumble over them.
4All this because Nineveh,
the beautiful and faithless city,
mistress of deadly charms,
enticed the nations with her beauty.
She taught them all her magic,
enchanting people everywhere.
5“I am your enemy!”
says the lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“And now I will lift your skirts
and show all the earth your nakedness and shame.
6I will cover you with filth
and show the world how vile you really are.
7All who see you will shrink back and say,
‘Nineveh lies in ruins.
Where are the mourners?’
Does anyone regret your destruction?”
8Are you any better than the city of Thebes,
situated on the Nile River, surrounded by water?
She was protected by the river on all sides,
walled in by water.
9Ethiopia and the land of Egypt
gave unlimited assistance.
The nations of Put and Libya
were among her allies.
10Yet Thebes fell,
and her people were led away as captives.
Her babies were dashed to death
against the stones of the streets.
Soldiers threw dice to get Egyptian officers as servants.
All their leaders were bound in chains.
11And you, Nineveh, will also stagger like a drunkard.
You will hide for fear of the attacking enemy.
12All your fortresses will fall.
They will be devoured like the ripe figs
that fall into the mouths
of those who shake the trees.
13Your troops will be as weak
and helpless as women.
The gates of your land will be opened wide to the enemy
and set on fire and burned.
14Get ready for the siege!
Store up water!
Strengthen the defenses!
Go into the pits to trample clay,
and pack it into molds,
making bricks to repair the walls.
15But the fire will devour you;
the sword will cut you down.
The enemy will consume you like locusts,
devouring everything they see.
There will be no escape,
even if you multiply like swarming locusts.
16Your merchants have multiplied
until they outnumber the stars.
But like a swarm of locusts,
they strip the land and fly away.
17Your guards and officials are also like swarming locusts
that crowd together in the hedges on a cold day.
But like locusts that fly away when the sun comes up,
all of them will fly away and disappear.
18Your shepherds are asleep, O Assyrian king;
your princes lie dead in the dust.
Your people are scattered across the mountains
with no one to gather them together.
19There is no healing for your wound;
your injury is fatal.
All who hear of your destruction
will clap their hands for joy.
Where can anyone be found
who has not suffered from your continual cruelty?
–from Nahum 3
So will you take that hope that is within you and share it with the world around you in hopes that they too may receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior and be saved? Will you hear the good news and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior and be saved? Will you allow those who hear the good news to be lifted up? Will you move beyond any hierarchy to helping others reach their full potential? Will you be an encourager to them?
Barnabas and Saul Are Commissioned
1Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. 2One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” 3So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.
Paul’s First Missionary Journey
4So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. 5There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant.
6Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. 8But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing.
9Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. 10Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? 11Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him.
12When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
Paul Preaches in Antioch of Pisidia
13Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. 14But Paul and Barnabas traveled inland to Antioch of Pisidia.
On the Sabbath they went to the synagogue for the services. 15After the usual readings from the books of Moses and the prophets, those in charge of the service sent them this message: “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it.”
16So Paul stood, lifted his hand to quiet them, and started speaking. “Men of Israel,” he said, “and you God-fearing Gentiles, listen to me.
17“The God of this nation of Israel chose our ancestors and made them multiply and grow strong during their stay in Egypt. Then with a powerful arm he led them out of their slavery. 18He put up with them through forty years of wandering in the wilderness. 19Then he destroyed seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to Israel as an inheritance. 20All this took about 450 years.
“After that, God gave them judges to rule until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21Then the people begged for a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years. 22But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’
23“And it is one of King David’s descendants, Jesus, who is God’s promised Savior of Israel! 24Before he came, John the Baptist preached that all the people of Israel needed to repent of their sins and turn to God and be baptized. 25As John was finishing his ministry he asked, ‘Do you think I am the Messiah? No, I am not! But he is coming soon—and I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the sandals on his feet.’
26“Brothers—you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles—this message of salvation has been sent to us! 27The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath. 28They found no legal reason to execute him, but they asked Pilate to have him killed anyway.
29“When they had done all that the prophecies said about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead! 31And over a period of many days he appeared to those who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to the people of Israel.
32“And now we are here to bring you this Good News. The promise was made to our ancestors, 33and God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus. This is what the second psalm says about Jesus:
‘You are my Son.
Today I have become your Father.’
34For God had promised to raise him from the dead, not leaving him to rot in the grave. He said, ‘I will give you the sacred blessings I promised to David.’ 35Another psalm explains it more fully: ‘You will not allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.’ 36This is not a reference to David, for after David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors, and his body decayed. 37No, it was a reference to someone else—someone whom God raised and whose body did not decay.
38“Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. 39Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do. 40Be careful! Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you. For they said,
41‘Look, you mockers,
be amazed and die!
For I am doing something in your own day,
something you wouldn’t believe
even if someone told you about it.’”
42As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people begged them to speak about these things again the next week. 43Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them to continue to rely on the grace of God.
Paul Turns to the Gentiles
44The following week almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the word of the Lord. 45But when some of the Jews saw the crowds, they were jealous; so they slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said.
46Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, “It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. 47For the Lord gave us this command when he said,
‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’”
48When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers. 49So the Lord’s message spread throughout that region.
50Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. 51So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium. 52And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
–from Acts 13