The Hope of Consequences

“Fill their faces with dishonor, that they may seek Your name, O LORD.” (Psalm 83:16)

To love our enemies doesn’t mean we pretend their lives don’t need to change or that they shouldn’t be stopped.  Christians recognize that God’s punishment is oftentimes the best chance to lead an honest heart to humility.  This is why vengeance should belong to the LORD and not us.  He knows how to use consequences as a tool for hope, where we would be tempted to abuse such power.

We are to pray for those who mistreat us and not find joy in their suffering, but instead to hope that this becomes their wake-up call.  That they too might know the God we love and move from being our enemies to our brothers.

“But I say to you, ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven’ ” (Matthew 5:44-45)

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When God Rises Up

“O God, do not remain quiet; do not be silent and, O God, do not be still.” (Psalm 83:1)

When people offer well wishes like “sending good thoughts your way” or “sending good vibes your direction” – such sentiments may be well-intentioned but they aren’t effective.  The difference between prayer and good vibes is that prayer entreats the Maker of the universe to act.  

Prayer calls on the living God to speak.  The same God that spoke the world into existence can redirect the universe on our behalf as well.

Want to see what happens when God rises up?  Pray.

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Vindication, Justice, & Deliverance

“Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.  Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4)

Vindication, justice, and deliverance.  These are words of hope, a precious commodity for those whose lives are full of heartache and loss.  It isn’t a sin to be needy or weak, but the world we live in often treats the most vulnerable like pariahs.

God is the advocate for the weakest, and God’s people should be, too.  He stands in the corner of those whose circumstances have placed them in a position of powerlessness.

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Just Another Nation

“For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations.  As you have done, it will be done to you.  Your dealings will return on your own head.” (Obadiah 1:15)

The nation of Edom, to whom Obadiah’s message is directed, considered itself immune to the type of judgment and dangers that other nations faced.  Obadiah makes it clear – they as a nation would face God’s justice just like all the rest.

Whether we are talking about individuals or groups of people, such as nations, God will always act justly and we will “reap what we sow”.  All is laid bare before the Creator of heaven and earth.  This is of great comfort to those who belong to God and often face persecution and injustice from their fellow man.  For if we belong to the Lord we know that He will redeem and protect us in the end from whatever wickedness or folly we see in the world around us.

“Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Pet 2:9)

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Schadenfreude

“Do not gloat over your brother’s day, the day of his misfortune.” (Obadiah 1:12)

Your light does not shine brighter when other’s lights go out.

Don’t confuse the fall of others as a victory for you.  To relish the pain of another is the root of malice.

“wherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:8)

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Nothing Counts

“On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth…” (Obadiah 1:11)

The nation of Edom sinned by standing “aloof” as other nations wickedly plundered Jerusalem and God’s people.  They chose to do nothing while a nation they used to call brothers was attacked.  They chose to do nothing while their neighbors were mistreated and abused.

God condemns them for what they didn’t do.  Sin doesn’t always come in the form of action – sometimes it is our inaction that marks us as wicked.  Those who stand by and do nothing when it is in their power to do good have chosen comfort over conviction and laziness over love.  May we never be known as standing aloof when it is in our ability to act courageously.

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

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They Called It Unsinkable

“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’ 

‘Though you build high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ declares the LORD.” (Obadiah 1:2-3)

The Titanic was labeled the unsinkable ship, and Edom believed itself to be the unconquerable nation.  History tells us both labels were wrong.

Safety is a fickle thing and security is merely an illusion without God.  The greatest of nations and the strongest of strongholds eventual of torn down.  You cannot eternal safeguard yourself with temporary earthly thing.  Invest in spiritual protection instead.

“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:31)

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Public Sentiment

“We have heard a report from the LORD, and an envoy has been sent among the nations saying, ‘Arise and let us go against her for battle’ ” (Obadiah 1:1)

There are many fascinating details in the book of Obadiah – though it be small, it is mighty.  When God told Obadiah to proclaim that the nation of Edom would soon be destroyed, He began by saying that He had sent an “envoy” amongst the nations to stir them up against Edom.  How this angelic messenger stirred up the wrath of the nations around Edom, we can’t say, but that does not negate the fact that he did.

When God decided to destroy Edom, He merely needed to turn the public sentiment against them.  Many a nation currently sits in peace simply because its neighbors have no interest in attacking them… but that can change in a heartbeat.  All nations and their leaders rule at the pleasure of the King.  When He decides to depose or destroy them, He will.

“Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Romans 13:1)

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A Vow and a Choice

“Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king, that they would be the LORD’s people.” (2 Chronicles 23:16)

We will belong to is a vow followed by choices.  When we marry, we make a vow to belong to each other and then we make choices to stand by that promise through sickness and health, richer or poorer.

Christians have promised to belong to Jesus – may our choices each day stand by that covenant and strengthen our bond to Him.

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Bad People Have Kids, Too

“He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly.” (2 Chronicles 22:3)

Ahaziah was a bad king guided by an evil mother.  Bad people have children, too.  These truths are not popular, but they are truth nonetheless.

If you have grown up feeling that the picture of love and joy that family should bring you was never there – you are not alone.  May you find encouragement that not all bad parents in the Bible raised bad kids.  Sometimes wonderful people come out of very rocky soil.  You can be the beginning of a whole new landscape of love and joy in your family lineage.  Don’t take my word for it – read Ezekiel 18 and see that God says the same thing.

Regardless of your childhood, righteousness and joy can begin with you.  Simply choose different counsel and a new Way.

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