Justice And Mercy Combined

Courtroom
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble. —Nahum 1:7

When a defendant stands before a judge, he or she is at the mercy of the court. If the defendant is innocent, the court should be a refuge. But if the defendant is guilty, we expect the court to exact punishment.

In Nahum, we see God as both a refuge and a judge. It says, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble” (1:7 niv). But it also says, “He will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness” (v.8 niv). Over 100 years earlier, Nineveh had repented after Jonah preached God’s forgiveness, and the land was safe (Jonah 3:10). But during Nahum’s day, Nineveh was plotting “evil against the Lord” (Nah. 1:11). In chapter 3, Nahum details Nineveh’s destruction.

Many people know only one side of God’s dealings with the human race but not the other. They think that He is holy and wants only to punish us, or that He is merciful and wants only to show kindness. In truth, He is judge and refuge. Peter writes that Jesus “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). As a result, He “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (v.24).

Nahum’s prophecy in many ways is a reflection of his name, which means “consolation.” Some believe that the prophet Nahum may have been from Galilee because the fishing village of Capernaum was on the shores of Galilee and Capernaum means “the village or town of Nahum.”

The whole truth about God is good news! He is judge, but because of Jesus, we can go to Him as our refuge.

Lord, never let us underestimate You by seeing only one side of Your role in our lives. Help us to enjoy Your love and kindness while recognizing how much You hate sin.

God’s justice and mercy intersect at the cross.

By Dave Branon

The Death and Resurrection of the Self, A Prayer

Matthew 16:24-25

Lord, You said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

These words of Yours, these very hard-to-understand words, are even harder to live. Yet I want to live them. I just don’t know how. Part of the problem is that I don’t know what You are asking of me. Part of the problem is that I do.

Help me to realize what You are doing in my life, Lord, and how You are doing it. You are changing me into Your likeness—and You are doing it day by day, decision by decision. Thank You for this incremental wonder. And help me, incrementally, to work with You in bringing it about.

And so I ask . . .

May I feel the weight of that cross on each thought I think, so my thoughts could die and Yours be given life.

May I feel the hardness of its wood over every word I speak so my words could be silenced and yours be heard.

May I feel the roughness of its surface against all I do, so that what I do is what You would do if You were here. Because that is how You are here. Through me.

When I am tempted to think more highly of myself than I should, bring to mind that though You existed in the form of God, You did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Yourself—taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in the appearance as a man, You humbled Yourself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross (Phil 2:6-8).

When I am tempted to respond to harsh words by returning the harshness, help me to realize the example You set for me on the cross, that while You were reviled, You did not revile in return; while suffering, You uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Yourself to Him who judges righteously.

When I am tempted to act selfishly, draw me once again to Your cross, where You gave so freely and so fully. To Your executioners, You gave forgiveness. To a thief, paradise. To Your mother, a son.

May I never grow weary of living like that, Lord, seeking rest from the responsibility of that cross, understanding that this dying to self is not a one-time crucifixion but a way of life.

by Ken Gire

Aceldama

“And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.” (Acts 1:19)

Never was a tract of land more fittingly named than Aceldama, an Aramaic word meaning “field of blood,” for it had been purchased with blood money, “the price of blood” (Matthew 27:6). The purchaser had been Judas (through the “executors” of his estate, as it were, following his suicide), but the blood he sold, to acquire the price of the field, he had deemed “innocent blood.”

The miserable thirty shekels of silver which consummated this transaction was the price of a slave in ancient Israel (Exodus 21:32), but this slave was none other than God incarnate, so the thirty pieces of silver—the price set by the religious leaders of Israel—was the price for the sale of God.

The prophet Zechariah, more than 500 years before, had acted out a prophecy of these strange events: “So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver . . . a goodly price that I was prised at of them” (Zechariah 11:12-13). Next, according to both prophecy and fulfillment, this blood money was cast down in the temple and then used to buy the potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:5, 7-8).

These and many other such details in these accounts constitute a remarkable type and fulfillment of prophecy, and thus a testimony of both divine inspiration and divine foreordination. But, more than that, it is a striking picture of the price of our salvation, for the “field of blood” typifies that great field is the world (Matthew 13:38) and Christ is the man who, searching for “treasure hid in a field . . . selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matthew 13:44). All that He had—the very blood of His life—was willingly shed that we, dead in sins and hidden in the world, might be “purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). HMM

A New Type of Preacher

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. —Acts 20:24

If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation, it must be by other means than any now being used. If the Church in the second half of this century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher….

Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will be not one but many), he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom. Such a man is likely to be lean, rugged, blunt-spoken and a little bit angry with the world. He will love Christ and the souls of men to the point of willingness to die for the glory of the One and the salvation of the other. But he will fear nothing that breathes with mortal breath.

Send to Your church today many who have “seen visions of God and… heard a voice from the Throne.” Amen.

God Blesses His Children for Holy Intentions

Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me…. John 8:54

“Them that honour me I will honour,” said God once to a priest of Israel, and that ancient law of the kingdom stands today unchanged by the passing of time or the changes of dispensation. The whole Bible and every page of history proclaim the perpetuation of that law.

“If any man serve me, him will my Father honour,” said our Lord Jesus, tying in the old with the new and revealing the essential unity of His ways with men.

It seems plain that almost any Bible character who honestly tried to glorify God in his earthly walk was so honored. See how God overlooked weaknesses and failures as He poured upon His servants grace and blessing untold. Let it be Abraham, Jacob, David, Daniel, Elijah or whom you will; honor followed honor as harvest the seed. The man of God set his heart to exalt God above all; God accepted his intention as fact and acted accordingly. Not perfection, but holy intention made the difference!

In our Lord Jesus Christ this law was seen in simple perfection. He sought not His own honor, but the honor of the God who sent Him.

“If I honour myself,” He said on one occasion, “my honour is nothing; it is my Father that honoureth me.” So far had the proud Pharisees departed from this law that they could not understand one who honored God at his own expense.

Pour Yourself Out

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. JOHN 16:13

Science declares that nature abhors a vacuum. It should be happy knowledge to us, then, that the same principle is true in the kingdom of God—when you empty yourself, God Almighty rushes in!

The Creator God who fills the universe and overflows into immensity can never be surrounded by that little thing we call our brain, our mind, our intellect. Never can we rise to face God by what we are and by what we know!

Only by love and faith are we lifted thus to know Him and adore Him!

What a happy hour it becomes when we are drawn out of ourselves, and into that vacuum rushes the blessed Presence.

How wonderful in our humanity to sense the reality of the Holy Spirit’s invitation: “Pour yourself out! Give yourself to Me! Empty yourself! Bring your empty earthen vessels! Come in meekness like a child!”

Drawn out of ourselves by the Holy Spirit of God—for who knows the things of God but the Holy Spirit?

We are delivered from ourselves when we finally seek God for Himself alone! Yes, Lord, deliver me from myself today! Help me to live for You and for others.