“The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.” - Nahum 1:2
The obstacles and hardships we face might seem never-ending at times, and it can feel like we are in the eye of a hurricane. The good news, however, is that even in the middle of these storms. There is peace, comfort, and hope in the Lord, even in the storms of life.
UNDERSTANDING GOD’S PEACE AND JEALOUSY
Nahum 1:2 shows us that God is jealous, though this seems counterintuitive to all we are usually taught about God. How can He be peaceful, benevolent, and loving yet simultaneously harbor jealousy? His jealousy becomes understandable when we consider who God is and the connection He longs to have with us.
The reason God made us is so that we may have fellowship with Him. He longs to be loved and adored by us. In truth, "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3) is the first Commandment for a reason, and God's jealousy for His people is the source of this commandment. He asks that we are entirely devoted to Him and not to anything or anyone else.
But why is God possessive? Does He feel insecure? The answer is simple and complex at the same time. The jealousy of God is righteous. This possessiveness stems from His love for His people and His desire to keep us safe at all costs. He wants us to experience peace during chaotic times.
Anything, and anybody, that we make more important than God becomes our idol. When we worship an idol, our faith is in something other than God. By rejecting God, the One who loves us most and wants to offer us life in abundance, we are closing our hearts to Him. This is why God cares so much about who we are worshipping and where our focus is. He knows we will be happiest and most fulfilled when we worship Him alone. He knows we can only be at peace when we have an intimate relationship with Him. He wants to guard us against the anxieties and cares of this life by giving us security and assurance of His presence and provisions.
So what happens if our worship of God falls short of what it should be? Can His envy turn into wrath? Nahum 1:3 states, “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”
Despite His jealous nature, God is slow to lose His temper, as this scripture reveals. Out of His great love for us, He allows us to make amends and return to Him. However, those who choose to disobey will eventually face His anger and judgment.
What does this imply for us right now? The implications for how we approach God in worship are profound. We must show Him the respect and love He deserves. We must abandon any substitutes for God that we may have been worshiping. We may need to walk away from some games, friends, or activities that have taken the place of God in our hearts. We must return to God.
God's jealousy may be hard to wrap your head around, yet it stems from His great love for us. Jesus seeks our adoration not because He is weak or insecure but because He understands that we can find completeness, satisfaction, and happiness in Him alone. Let’s give God the praise He so richly deserves. He is a jealous God who loves us fiercely, and His jealousy always leads us to find true peace and refuge in His presence.
FINDING PEACE AND REFUGE IN GOD
In his introductory words, the prophet Nahum addresses the people of Judah, who were bracing themselves for a big storm in the form of the imminent threat posed by the Assyrian army. In Nahum 1:3, Nahum tells the people that God is both just and mighty and that He will bring vengeance against those who have been unjust. On the other hand, he also tells them that God is slow to become angry and that those who seek Him can find safety in Him.
Nahum 1:7 goes further, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him..” It is clear from this passage that the Lord is not only just and strong but also merciful and good. In times of adversity, He is our sanctuary, and He is familiar with people who put their trust in Him. We can always take refuge in God, no matter what kind of storm we go through. He is faithful.
But how can we remain calm despite the turmoil that surrounds us? The solution is clear: we need to look to God for help. In Nahum 1:7, the prophet reminds us that the Lord is our fortress. We can look to Him for defense and safety when confronted with obstacles and hardships. When we put our faith in God, even in the middle of the most turbulent circumstances, we can discover a sense of calm.
We need to have faith in the plan that God has for us. He is in control and has a plan for each of our lives. We must remain as focused and devoted to Him as He is to us.
Remember the words of Nahum while you are in the thick of the storm, my beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord. Put your faith in God, seek refuge in him, and be confident that he will never leave your side. We can find calm in the middle of the storm if we put our faith in Him.
I pray that the Lord will bless and keep you and that His peace will always be with you. Amen.
"Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." Jeremiah 33:3
One of the most effective ways that God has provided for us to connect with Him is through prayer.
Jeremiah 33:3 is an excellent reminder for us that the purpose of prayer is not to request that God meet our requirements but to seek a closer relationship with God.
Our lives are hectic, and it’s easy for us to forget to pray. We may even consider it merely one more thing to check off our lists. But prayer isn’t simply a spiritual practice; it’s essential to our connection with God.
When we pray, we invite God to be a part of our lives and make ourselves available to accept the blessings and direction He offers. The life of Jesus exemplifies the power of prayer in one of the most straightforward and compelling ways observed. Over the entirety of His mission, Jesus considered prayer a top priority, and He frequently retired to isolated locations to commune with His Father to pray and ask for guidance. Jesus prayed earnestly to God in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He was crucified, begging God to take away the cup of pain that He would have to endure, willingly submitting to the will of God when the answer was clear.
During one span of Israel's turbulent history, Jeremiah was a prophet. His job was to warn Israel of God's judgment and call them to repentance. Like Jesus, Jeremiah was known for his prayer life. And we are shown in Jeremiah 33:3 that God answered his prayers.
We can learn from Jeremiah's prayer life. Jeremiah prayed. He prayed to God for direction, and He revealed great and hidden things to him. Jeremiah's prayer routine was a ministry tool and a personal habit. He gained insight into the hearts of the children of Isreal through prayer. He could console, warn, and encourage because he was close to God.
Jeremiah's prayers show the power of persistence. When God didn't answer right away, he kept praying. He continued to seek God, crying out to Him and waiting on Him. God responded.
In the end, Jeremiah prayed, listened, and obeyed. His example reminds us that prayer is not a ritual but a potent tool for spiritual growth and mission. It’s time to follow his example of praying and believing that God will answer.
PRAYER IS A PRIORITY.
Jeremiah made prayer a priority. When we make prayer a priority in our own lives, we have the opportunity to experience the transformative power of prayer. When we pray, we are conversing with God, who is responsible for everything in the cosmos. We can bring all of our concerns to Him. We can leave our needs, hopes, and anxieties in His hands and have faith that He will hear and answer us.
Pray daily. Choose a time when you won't be interrupted, such as first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or before you sleep.
Find someplace where you can pray in peace and be free of interruptions.
Keeping a prayer journal will help you see what your prayers have been in the past and give you a place to reflect on God’s goodness as you see how He has answered them.
Join a prayer group. Praying with other people and encouraging one another as you travel the path of your faith is an amazing way to grow closer to God.
PRAYER IS AN INVITATIONAL PLEA.
God is still speaking. It doesn't matter if you're in a prison-like situation. There is a reason to shout for joy because God can still talk to you. I have a hunch that someone is in a situation that seems too hard, but God can still speak to them. God spoke to Jeremiah. Here's what's going on: I will send a relative to bring you an opportunity, and whatever you do, don't miss it. Here's your chance: buy land in the city where the Chaldeans and Babylonians will attack. Jeremiah, I want you to have land because that's not the end of the story. Even though they may be in captivity for a while, I'm going to turn it around, and when I do, the land that will be destroyed will be a land I've set aside for you to use, and I'll bless you even through that.
God is speaking to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 33:3 with this beautiful invitation to call upon Him, to trust that He has everything under control. The first thing we should think about in any test is the same. Call to Me—that's an invitational plea to pray, and the reason many of us don't pray is that we call on everyone but God. When something bad happens in your life, you call on everyone and everything but God. God tells Jeremiah, "call on Me.”
PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17
This verse serves as a reminder that prayer is not merely a spiritual practice but a way of life. Praying without ceasing indicates that we are always conscious of God's presence in our lives and that our relationship with Him is unbroken at all times.
That means we pray not only when we have a particular need or request but throughout the day and every circumstance. Bring God into every decision you make, and have faith that He will direct you and give you the strength you need.
As we prioritize prayer in our lives, we will encounter the majesty and might of God in fresh and exciting ways.
Therefore, let’s follow the call of Jeremiah 33:3 and pray, having faith that God will answer in ways that will show great and unsearchable things to us that we do not know.
As you seek the face of God in prayer, may He bless your efforts and grant your requests.
Prayer is a critical spiritual discipline that enables us to live a victorious life. It keeps us in a posture and position where we can experience God's blessings and favor, commune with, fellowship, and enter into God's presence.
Let’s look at 2 Kings 20 as we dive deeper into seeing a second prayer of Hezekiah.
We know that prayer is a fundamental aspect of our faith. But do we truly comprehend its power? Prayer is how we get in touch with God and ask for His guidance, help, and blessing. It is our means of interacting with God and one way to express our trust in Him. I want to offer Hezekiah as an illustration of how prayer can improve our lives.
A MAN OF PRAYER
Hezekiah was a king of Judah who reigned in the eighth century BC. He was a dedicated servant of God, a man of prayer who went to Him whenever he faced hardships. During his reign, Hezekiah did everything he could to restore the worship of God in the land.
In 2 Kings 18–20, we see Hezekiah's faith in action when he gets a threatening letter from the Assyrian king, Sennacherib. Sennacherib had already taken over many kingdoms and threatened to destroy Jerusalem and God's temple. Hezekiah understood he was fighting a tremendous enemy but did not lose hope. Instead, he went to God in prayer.
Hezekiah walked up to the temple and laid out the letter before the Lord. He prayed, "Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God." 2 Kings 19:15-16
Hezekiah's prayer was a prayer of faith, trust, and humility.
God heard Hezekiah's prayer and sent an angel to destroy the army of the Assyrians. Hezekiah's trust in God was justified, as Sennacherib was humiliated and forced to flee back to his land. The prayer of Hezekiah is a potent reminder of the significance of putting your faith in God and seeking His counsel in times of difficulty.
When we pray, we communicate with God, showing Him we have faith in Him. Hezekiah's prayer was a powerful reminder of how important it is to have faith in God.
The Power of Prayer
How many of us realize now how powerful prayer is? We have the ability to pray to God for direction, help, and blessings. Prayer is, without a doubt, essential to our faith. Through it, we can convey our love, appreciation, and needs to God.
2 Kings 20:3 is one of the hundreds of accounts of people praying in the Bible. "Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you sincerely and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." Hezekiah, the Judahite king’s dying prayer holds lessons for us still today. He was a devout believer in prayer, which proved to be his greatest weapon in times of hardship.
Hezekiah's prayer emphasizes the value of intimacy with God. He had obeyed God and done His will, and he knew that his connection with God was founded on faith, not works.
This verse teaches us three fundamental facts about prayer. First, prayer is talking to God; we can bring anything to Him. Second, prayer acknowledges God's kindness and faithfulness to us. Hezekiah knew God had been faithful to him because he had done what pleased Him. Lastly, praying takes faith.
Hezekiah's prayer expressed his belief in God's goodness and sovereignty. It shows us that we can remind God of our faithfulness and commitment when we pray, our confidence in Him allows us to argue our case before Him. As we pray, we should acknowledge God's sovereignty and trust His will is best for us.
While we are going about our day-to-day lives, let’s keep in mind the example that Hezekiah set for us. It’s time to make prayer a top priority in our lives. When we are confronted with problems and difficulties, let’s pray to God and put our trust in His steadfastness and goodness.
I pray that the world will see the power that faith in God has to transform lives through the testimony of our prayers.
“O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” - Nehemiah 1:11
Today, I invite you to peek through the window of Nehemiah's prayer life and learn how he prayed. It invites us, inspires us, and instructs us on how we ought to pray.
Let’s talk about the characteristics of a person of prayer.
A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
According to Nehemiah, the key characteristic of a person of prayer is their relationship with God. Although he holds a position of prominence and prestige as the king's cupkeeper, the Bible says that he has a greater responsibility, and that it is to God. And for Nehemiah, that is the most important thing.
Anytime life becomes a challenge, Nehemiah’s first response is always to pray. Seeking God is natural because he has a personal relationship with Him. When it comes to being a person of prayer, you must have a personal relationship with God. It is the most vital thing to have; if we want our prayers to be heard and answered.
RELIES COMPLETELY ON GOD
The second characteristic is placing our reliance on God. It's not just having a personal relationship with God, but I also put my faith in God. Just like Nehemiah knows that in the end, he must place his trust, faith, and reliance on God, we must do the same. When life has weighed you down, and you feel like you are pushed to your breaking point, you must realize that you can trust and depend on God because He is always faithful.
Here’s the problem. Sometimes we don't pray as much as we should. Why? It’s because we are relying more on ourselves than God. We rely more on our knowledge, capacity, and ability. But when we rely on God, we acknowledge that our resources are in Him. Since I have a personal relationship with God, I place my reliance on Him; when I place my reliance on God because I acknowledge that all my resources are in God.
Whatever we need to get through this experience called life is in God. David says in Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” He has it. If you need wisdom, God says, “I got it.”
ADORES THE SPLENDOR OF GOD
And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments... - Nehemiah 1:5
Look at the hope in Nehemiah’s prayer. Look how similar it is to the Lord's prayer. Nehemiah acknowledged the fact that God is marvelous and glorious. He started his prayer with a proper perspective on God. The Lord's prayer begins, "Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be Your name.” Jesus hallowed the name of the Father, meaning He recognized His name to be holy and revered the name of God. Nothing has changed today.
Nehemiah said, “My God, I recognize that whatever I'm dealing with may be challenging but nonetheless, God, no matter what I'm dealing with, You’re always sufficient, sovereign, and You’re the almighty God.”
We don't submit to God a shopping list of what we want God to do in our lives or the blessings we're asking Him to give to us. Pause and begin by saying, “God, I just want to adore You before everything else. I want to worship You and take the time to lift Your name on high. I want to take the time to celebrate You. You are an amazing God. You are an all-sufficient God. You are the almighty God.”
“Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned.” - Nehemiah 1:6
Nehemiah’s life was one of persistent prayer, never going to God just one time. Prayer was part of his spiritual DNA. He started the day praying and concluded his day praying, in fact, all through the day, it shows that he prayed.
I want to encourage you to keep praying. PUSH through! Pray like Nehemiah, until something happens!
Nehemiah's persistent prayer paid off. God heard his prayers and provided a way for the walls of Jerusalem to be rebuilt. Despite facing opposition from the enemies of Jerusalem, Nehemiah, and those with him, were able to rebuild the walls in merely 52 days.
The story of Nehemiah teaches us that we can experience the power of prayer when we pray with persistence. While we may face difficult circumstances and challenges, we must pray with faith, humility, and persistence.
Nehemiah's story is a powerful reminder that breakthroughs and victories happen with prayer. It’s time for us to follow his example and pray until something happens. Never give up, but instead, press on in prayer. God hears us and will answer in His perfect time and in His way.
“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.” - 1 Chronicles 4:10
Let’s spend some time contemplating the efficacy of prayer as we look at the following verse from 1 Chronicles 4:10: “Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
The events that transpired in Jabez's life demonstrate prayer's power in bringing God's blessings into our lives. Jabez was not content with the common or the everyday. He had the desire to receive more from God; and the faith to petition for that more. In his prayer, he requested God to bless him abundantly, to increase the size of his realm, to be with him at all times, and to shield him from the influence of evil.
Jabez was not thinking about himself in his prayer. Instead, he desired to be a source of blessing to everyone around him and not be the cause of any’s discomfort. This teaches us a valuable lesson, the focus of our prayers shouldn't be on our wants or needs.
Jabez's petition was also not a one-off request. He was steadfast in his petitioning of God and believed that the Almighty would hear him. This is an example for us to follow today. Even if we know that God hears us and will respond to us in his own time and in his way, we still need to have the faith to pray persistently.
God Remembers Us
In Scripture, Jabez is a person that epitomizes a deep prayer life. But, in fact, Jabez was an ordinary man with an extraordinary prayer life. He worshipped an extraordinary God and experienced some extraordinary results. Interestingly, Jabez wasn't born to royalty or nobility. He didn't have a great upbringing or education. In fact, he didn't have any huge natural talents or gifts.
Everything about his life suggests that he wouldn’t be known by today's standards. Yet, Jabez is listed among 500 names; his life and prayer have inspired countless people to model their prayers after his. So what's the point? The point is this, like Jabez, we may not have had a fantastic upbringing or natural abilities, but God still remembers our names and has recorded them.
God is interested in you, and I want you to realize that you matter to God. Other people may not know your name, but God knows your name.
The Meaning of Jabez
Did you know Jabez means "son of sorrow and pain"? 1 Chronicles 4:10 gives some indication. Some Old Testament scholars suggest there was so much pain during childbirth that Jabez's mother called him “Pain.” However, Jabez did not let the name define him. Instead, he was determined to be resilient. He did not let his name hinder him from asking God to bless him. Jabez was so resilient that he lived above the labels and limitations imposed upon him.
At one point in our lives or another, many of us are persuaded to give up on an aspiration. We must be like Jabez, determined that we’re not going to allow someone else’s labels to hinder us.
There may even be times when life hurts too much to pray, Jabez has been there, and he is teaching us that life can hurt so much that we better pray. Why? Because of the pain in your life, you have to say, “God, I need you more than ever.”
This key phrase calls Jabez to stand out in the crowd: "and he was more honorable than his brothers.” The word honorable in Hebrew means “to be heavy or weighty.” This refers to his spiritual strength.
I want to suggest that you must live above those around you daily. Don’t act like you are better than others but just refuse to live by labels and limitations.
The Power of Prayer
Prayer is potent. We can connect with God and ask for his direction, protection, and blessings in our lives through it. The prayer of Jabez is an illustration of how we should pray. With confidence and belief that God will grant the requests that we make.
In this prayer, Jabez asks God for four things: first, he asks God to bless him, and second, he requests God to hear his prayer. Second, he prays to God to increase the size of his domain. Third, he prays to God, asking him to protect and be with him at all times. And fourth, he prays to God to keep him from being the source of suffering for other people.
Let’s look at these requests a bit deeper and see how we may incorporate them into our prayer lives.
“Bless me indeed.”
At the beginning of his prayer, Jabez asks God to bless him in every way possible. This request is significant since it demonstrates that Jabez is not pleased with how things are currently handled. He feels that God is able to provide him with more, and he expresses this desire to God regularly.
When we pray, we must adopt the same frame of mind as Jabez. Limiting ourselves to requesting insignificant things or merely enough to get by is unacceptable. Instead, we should pray to God for His plentiful blessings, mindful that He is a gracious God who takes pleasure in showering His offspring with wonderful presents.
“Increase the size of my domain.”
Jabez's second petition to God is for an expansion of his domain. We can understand this in several ways, but at its heart, it is a prayer asking God to expand Jabez's sphere of influence and increase his impact.
While we are praying, we should be praying for God to increase the size of our land. We need to pray that He will provide us with occasions where we can serve Him and make a positive impact on the lives of others. Additionally, we should pray that He will give us the means necessary to answer the call He has placed on our lives.
“Stay at my side and protect me from harm.”
Jabez's third petition is for God to be with him and protect him from harm. This prayer to God asks for His protection and guidance; both are necessary for any believer who dares to live a life that brings respect to God.
While praying, we should also ask God to be with us and protect us from any harm that may come our way. We need to pray that He will direct us in our choices and shield us from the assaults of our adversary. Additionally, pray that He will endow us with the intelligence and insight to deal with life's difficulties.
“Stop me from being a source of suffering.”
Jabez's final petition to God is that He keeps him from being the source of suffering for other people. This prayer asks God to assist Jabez in leading a life marked by love, kindness, and compassion.
While praying, we should ask God to keep us from being the source of suffering for others. When others around us are going through difficult times, we need to pray and ask God to help us love them the way He loves them; and to be a source of encouragement and support for them.
Truly the prayer of Jabez is an excellent illustration of how we should pray with confidence. Be bold in asking God for more and believing God will grant our requests. That is a prayer of faith.
Now, let’s model our lives after Jabez and make prayer an integral part of each day. Let’s go boldly before the throne of grace and beg God for his blessings, protection, and guidance. Let’s pray for one another and be a source of blessing to others.