“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” – Romans 5:10-11 (ESV)
Before most of us came to believe by faith that Jesus Christ is our savior, we lived thinking that we’re pretty good people. We even believed a God exists. All we had to do was live a good life. However, we remained enemies because by not believing, we were rejecting God. We were at odds and in conflict with God. Our promise today is: God provided a way for all who would believe to be reconciled to Him while still enemies. He made a way for us to have peace. This was accomplished by the death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Since reconciliation was provided by Him for all who believed, all can trust absolutely in the truth that they will be saved by Christ. The promises don’t end with that. Our reconciliation comes with our rejoicing in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Imagine being in a serious conflict with someone who spent all his time doing what you need to cross over and join their side. Imagine all he does is to make a way for you to be able to be his friends and brother/sister with him. Forgive and forget – that’s His way.
“A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies.” – Nahum 1:2.” (NASB)
Again today, we find God’s promises in one of the Minor Prophets. Most of the promises we ponder are promises of blessings from God for us, His own people. Today’s promise is not like those. God has promises for those who by faith believe in Him. He also has promises which are warnings of judgment and wrath for those who do not believe. Those who refuse to believe remain the enemies of God. Nineveh, an ancient city full of wickedness and evil, was the capital of the Assyrian Empire during the period of Assyrian dominance throughout the ancient Near East. God instructed the prophet Jonah to go and preach to the inhabitants of Nineveh. He first refused, but eventually obeyed and the people of Nineveh repented. But by the time of Nahum’s prophecy, a century later, they had returned to wickedness. Nahum’s ‘oracle,’ as it is called, prophesied the city’s destruction by Babylon. Here is the promise God gives Nahum: “The LORD is an avenging God.” Those who remain enemies of God will meet the wrath of God for it is reserved for those who reject to the end the call of God, to repentance and faith in God.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” – Psalm 23:5 (ESV)
In this verse the psalmist changes the illustration. Now the example is more about people, not sheep. In this verse the scene is a feast where a gracious host provides lavish hospitality. Under this metaphor the psalmist is rejoicing in the Lord’s provision. What was comforting to David was that this meal was set in the presence of his enemies. Despite the danger looming around him, the Lord spreads out a table for him, once again telling how God provides for him and for us. The image of anointing the head with oil indicates a host who has great appreciation and wants to make his guest feel refreshed. Oil was soothing and aromatic. Its scent was extremely pleasant. This picture corresponds with the concept of a gracious host welcoming someone into his home. In view of the table and the oil, David knew that his lot in life was his cup which God was filling abundantly with His blessings. Our Lord cares about our ‘cup’ which is our life. Cups were important and precious as lives are precious and important to God. He wants to fill ours to overflowing with His grace and mercy and love.
“Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.” Psalm 66:1-3 (ESV)
Psalm 66 in its entirety is the story God’s dealings with His people, especially how He dealt with Israel in helping them escape slavery in Egypt and find how God wanted them to worship Him. We can know how great God’s power is from this passage. So great that His enemies cringe before Him. What He does is awesome and God is deserving of our praise, worship and to receive glory through what He does. In this Psalm, there is also a warning given as a promise of what God will NOT do if we cling to our sinful ways. “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear;” Psalm 66:18 (NASB) We cannot pray through a screen of wicked behavior and habitual sin. SOMETIMES people quote promises, and say that God is bound to fulfill those promises to them, when all the time there is some sin in their lives they are not willing to give up. It is well for us to search our hearts, and find out why it is that our prayers are not answered. Psalm, 19-20, confirms that if we are confessing our sin, God hears and will not turn away from our prayers.
“To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” Luke 1:74-75 (NASB)
The singing at Christmas time reminds us of the great things God has given us through His Son Jesus. This is in line with the songs recorded in our Bible before Jesus was born as well as when He was born. We look today at a song which Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist sang when his son John was born. A few days ago we looked at a portion of Mary’s song, The Magnificat. Today we select a passage from the prophecy by sung by, Zechariah. This, of course was just six months before Jesus was born. Our verses for today remind us about what God was doing in sending His Son to earth. Jesus came to earth to serve God in holiness and righteousness. He came to help us live pleasing to God through all our days. Jesus came to be our Savior to make our lives different so that we will bring glory and honor to God the Father and Jesus our Savior, God the Son. If He is your Savior, my Friend, He will help you live today in a way that pleases God. That is a promise.