Rejoicing in the Middle of Problems

August3 2020

 Habakkuk 3:1–19

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On “shigionoth.” LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth.

His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal. I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish.

Were you angry with the rivers, O LORD? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode with your horses and your victorious chariots? You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. You split the earth with rivers; 10 the mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on high.

11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. 12 In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations. 13 You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot.

14 With his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding. 15 You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters. 16 I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

This little book of Habakkuk, we’re looking at for a number of weeks because it helps us know how to handle evil times, whether those are society-wide evil times or just your own personal evil times. We’ve seen that Habakkuk has learned the great Babylonian Empire is going to crush his country. The description at the very end where it says there are no figs, no grapes, no olives, no fields producing food, no sheep, no cattle, that is a starvation level social collapse.

It’s like Europe right after World War 2, in which not only millions of people were killed in the violence, there were also millions of people who starved to death in the winter times right afterwards. It’s an absolute social disaster. Habakkuk sees it and at the very end, he comes to face it with poise and patience. In fact, he says it’s possible to face that kind of disaster and still have a life of sustained joy in the midst of it.

 Sound impossible? Habakkuk says it is possible…

Are You Not?

July 14, 2020

Habakkuk 1:12–13

12 O Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O Lord, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish. 13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

 We have a political climate where republicans and democrats, conservatives and liberals are further apart than ever. There appears to be no civility. We are living in Evil Times.

California is out of control – creating an anti-business, anti-Christian, anti-family political climate with the most liberal agenda of any state in the union. Good people are leaving California because of what is happening here.

Our culture today blatantly exhibits immorality and deviant behavior as normal and acceptable and if you don’t go along with it you are intolerant. Our school systems from kindergarten on are promoting everything from gender creativity to global warming as accepted science.

College students shout down opposing viewpoints to the degree that free speech is no longer an accepted liberty. Speech that disagrees with the current cultural values may one day be illegal.

We fear that our children will be caught up in this net that is capturing the minds of foolish people. What are we to do?

Habakkuk is challenging God. In verse 12, he actually does something that is even more remarkable, but it doesn’t come out in the English.

In verse 12, you see he says, “O Lord, are you not from everlasting?” which means eternal or infinite. “Are you not infinite?” In English, that doesn’t come across as all that confrontational, but in Hebrew, it is a rhetorical question. It’s of a particular construction. Essentially, he was saying something like this.

“I thought you were infinite. You were supposed to be this great God, infinite, wise, everlasting, but you’re not.” He comes very close to saying that.

Have you ever felt that way? There is nothing like it anywhere in the Bible. God is not being approached with courtesy and respect. Habakkuk is in absolute anguish.” Do you know why? Because in verses 2–4, Habakkuk says, “Why are you letting evil and injustice reign? Look at my society. Look at Israel. You’re supposed to be bringing salvation out of Israel into the world. It’s all corrupt. It’s a mess. Why are you letting evil and injustice reign in my nation?”

I have had moments like that with God. The night before my father passed away I was sitting by his bedside watching him struggle for every breath. He was ready to go home and be with the Lord but his body would not give up. I remember going outside and looking up at the stars and crying out to God in a Habakkuk moment. “If you are God – do something!” But it wasn’t “if you are God” it was more like “I know you are God and you have the power to do it so I am begging you! Do something.” Not my finest moment, but that is what anguish does to you.

Is it ok to express that kind of emotion to God? Do you have moments like this too?

Habakkuk cries out to God in a moment of anguish and he seems to argue with God… and this finds its way into our Bible 2500 years later – it’s still here.


Thy Will Be Done

June 1, 2020

 Matthew 6:9–11

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come,

your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

It is a privilege to be able to pray to the God who created the universe and to come before him asking. But between adoration and asking there is this little thing we tend to gloss over… thy will be done.

Right in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer is the key to prayer. If you say, “Thy will” before you say, “Give me” you’ll have both satisfied God’s heart and satisfied your heart. If you say, “Give me” before you say, “Thy will be done,” you’ll have neither heart satisfied. See?

Jesus says you will never be able to relate to God unless you’re able to say, before you get to, “Give us this day our daily bread,” “… thy will be done …”

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, when we recite the Lord’s Prayer, we take a breath. You have to take breaths. We tend to separate, “… thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” from, “Give us this day …” Have you ever noticed that? You just separate them. That’s where you take your breath. “Give us this day our daily bread.”

You say, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” There’s a breath. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” There’s a breath. “Give us this day …” That’s all right to take a breath there, but let me suggest to you that those two things are to be linked. “Thy will” and “Give us this day our daily bread” are linked. One comes before the other, but they’re very tightly together. You’re not supposed to pray about bread unless you say, “Thy will be done.”

Also, here’s what I think. I think they probably stand and fall together. I think they intensify and de-intensify together. I think when you’re most hurting for your daily bread, if the things you feel you need … That’s what bread is (the things you feel you need, the things you feel you have to have to go on). If the things you feel that you have to have to go on are not coming through, if things aren’t going right, if your life isn’t going right, if there are problems and issues and tribulations… that is where you must pray, “Father, thy will be done.”