The Rising and Falling of Governments – The Book of Nahum

The Rising and Falling of Governments – The Book of Nahum

                      October 11, 2020 The Rising and Falling of Governments – The Book of Nahum This morning we have come to the Old Testament book of Nahum in our journey through the Bible. This book is only three chapters long. To help you understand Nahum, I’m going to start in a very odd place. I’m going to take you on a brief tour through part of 20th Century Europe’s leadership to show you how that continent was littered with tyrants. Spain was ruled by Francisco Franco with the help of Nazi Germany (1939-1975). In Italy, it was the dictator, Benito Mussolini, who established dictatorial authority by legal and illegal means. (1922-1943) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benito_Mussolini Of course, in Germany, it was Adolf Hitler (1933-1945) who was the leader of the Nazi Party, who initiated World War II by invading Poland and was responsible for the Holocaust and the extermination of millions of Jews. In Romania, it was Nicolae Ceausescu (1965-1989). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolae_Ceaușescu In East Germany, it was Erich Honecker (1971-1989.) He “went from being a politician of the Socialist Union Party to a hunted, jailed, and exiled man at the end of his life.”https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:FtIw-KGQGyUJ:https://www.euronews.com/2018/06/21/europe-s-20th-century-tyrants-where-are-they-buried-+&cd=13&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari In Hungary, it was Mátyás Rákos, (1945-1956), known as Stalin’s best Hungarian disciple. (Ibid) In Poland, it was Wojciech Jaruzelski, (1981-1989), famous for his brutal crackdown on the Solidarity labor union when he declared martial law in 1981. (Ibid) In Bulgaria, it was Todor Zhivkov, (1954-1989), a Communist leader who oversaw a heavy crackdown on political dissidents and human rights groups. What do all these regimes have in common?...
Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly With Your God

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly With Your God

October 4, 2020 Micah A lot of people are still looking for work.  While work is hard to find for some, the job market seems wide open for some positions.   For example, here’s a company seeking a health travel nurse. This position is a 13-week contract assignment with the possibility of extension or direct hire. The position is paid by the hour and not by the visit. There is reimbursement, full benefits, and a bonus program. Health care has always been an excellent field to find a job. Here’s one for a Commercial Construction Project Manager. This person is responsible for the overall success of a construction project. You need a strong understanding of building systems, five years of experience in commercial construction, excellent planning, and problem-solving skills, some computer skills, and safety training. It pays very well and has excellent benefits. Hopefully, if you are in construction, our area will provide some excellent job opportunities.    Here’s one that sounds interesting, but I’ve never seen a job posting like this.     Prophet needed as a spokesperson for God. No experience necessary, but must have a calling from God to apply. Must be willing to confront injustice, point out wrongdoing in others, and be willing to take insults and rejection. Excellent communication skills are desirable. Must possess a high level of integrity. Must not favor any political party. Judgment and hope must be scattered like seeds over a plowed field.   The prophet must have a clear understanding of the history of God’s people and not be afraid to tell them what the future may hold. Prophets are always on call...
Look Up and Realize Where You Are

Look Up and Realize Where You Are

Jonah – Look Up and Realize Where You Are 09-27-2020 I have never owned sheep. I have been around cows a lot, and I am told they are a lot smarter than sheep. Sheep are quite dumb, and they are prone to get separated from the herd and getting lost. A sheep will keep its head down, nibbling and wandering, nibbling, and roaming, never looking up, moving from good grass to good grass, until eventually it looks up and discovers it’s all alone. It has walked entirely away from all the others and hasn’t a clue where it is. Unless the sheep owner goes looking for the unprotected, disillusioned sheep, and provides it with the protection it needs, it might not survive. The Bible uses the image of a lost sheep to describe people who have gone their way, separating themselves from God’s standards and plan. Lost sheep are compared to people who have kept their minds and hearts focused on things they think are right, but instead have led them far away from God. In the process, they become disillusioned. Sometimes it’s easier to look back and see some of our mistakes, times where we’ve been lost, disillusioned, where we kept our heads down too long, where we couldn’t see the forest for the trees, and ended up in a place that years later we can say, “That was the wrong place to be. We wandered from our values and God.” However, at the time, it might have seemed right. After the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, fear gripped our country. Anyone...

When Your Heart is Separated From God

When Your Heart is Separated from God Obadiah – A Prophet to the Edomites September 20, 2020 Genesis 27 tells the story of Jacob stealing his twin brother Esau’s blessing from their father, Isaac. He’d already tricked him out of his birthright. Jacob had to leave home and find work with his Uncle Laban because Esau was so angry, he would have killed him. Many years later, the brothers reunited. Both had become wealthy and powerful men. Both met and embraced, but the brothers never developed a relationship. Chapter 36 of Genesis says that “their possessions were too great for them to remain together. The land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. So, Esau (also called Edom) settled in the hill country of Seir.” (Genesis 36:7-8) Then in the remaining verses of Genesis 36, you have a bunch of names of people that are descendants of Esau or Edom. The Old Testament storyline follows Jacob’s descendants until we come to the New Testament and we read about a man named Joseph of Bethlehem, one of Jacob’s descendants, who married Mary, the mother of Jesus. But God did not forget about the people of Esau, the Edomites. Just as God had sent prophets to warn the people that descended from Jacob that they needed to turn to Him, God also sent a prophet to the Edomites. His name was Obadiah.  Now you know why the book of Obadiah is in the Bible. This morning, I want to tell you what Obadiah’s message was to the Edomites. When Our Heart is Separated from God,...
Using the Golden Rule to Overcome Injustice

Using the Golden Rule to Overcome Injustice

Using the Golden Rule to Overcome Injustice September 13, 2020 In recent months I have reached out to my African American friends to listen about their struggles with injustice. A mother told me of the fears she has of her teenage son being treated unjustly because of the color of his skin. He said she had a responsibility to remind him that because he was black, there was always the potential that his rights could be violated.  She wanted him to be prepared to respond in the right way so he would come home alive. I’ve listened to a black man as he recalled his father returning from faithfully from serving our country when we were at war.  Despite fighting for his country like everyone else, he was constantly harassed in the community. He received threatening phone calls telling him to move his family, always laced with disparaging language.  He was passed over for promotions at work, even though he was qualified.  He said his father maintained his dignity, loved others, and taught his family to love God through it all. I spoke to another man, a pastor and chaplain, who told me he grew up in Nevada.  He said when you are driving out there, you can go miles and miles without coming to a well-lit area. One night, many years ago, he was driving, and the blue lights came on behind his car.  He wasn’t speeding and didn’t know why he was being pulled over.  But fear immediately became his predominant emotion. He drove until he found a well-lit area to pull over.  When the officers approached,...
Rend Your Hearts

Rend Your Hearts

September 6 “Rend Your Heart” Joel About 45 miles from my hometown is the city of Enterprise, Alabama. Downtown on the city square, there is a monument to an insect, the boll weevil. The monument credits the boll weevil with bringing economic diversification to the Southern United States. The boll weevil came out of Mexico and reached Alabama in 1909. By the mid-1920s, it had infested all the cotton regions of the United States. This tiny insect destroyed the cotton industry and the economic lives of thousands of people. Cotton had long been associated with slavery, as whites owned the land and used slaves to work it. After emancipation, whites still controlled the land. Blacks and poor whites remained at the mercy of those who owned the land, but it was mostly blacks that worked cotton, many as sharecroppers, to earn a measly wage. The boll weevil changed all of that. This year, a Journal of Economic History study found that the boll weevil contributed to fewer lynchings, less Confederate monument construction, less KKK activity, and higher non-white voter registration. http://economics.mit.edu/files/18472 I’ve never heard anyone say that God sent the boll weevil as a judgment on the South for how it treated blacks and even poor whites, but if Joel had been around during the 1920s and ’30s, it’s something he might have said. Joel was a prophet that lived around 800 B.C. during a time when Judah was experiencing prosperity and security. Then the prosperity and security came to a halt. The country was hit by an invasion of locusts that Joel said was unlike anything anyone had...