Posts Tagged “Habakkuk”

Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

November is the official start of the holiday season in our house – Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas follows quickly behind it. I love reading the book of Luke in November because it tells the Christmas story so well. It’s the book that will be our New Testament focus this month. Near the end of the month we’ll begin to read the book of Revelation – God’s final words to us.

Our readings take us through the Old and New Testaments over a two year period. We’re winding up our two years this month and next, so here at Apprehending Grace we’re already thinking about our 2014 plan. If you have any thoughts about how you’d like us to organize the readings, let us know. Comment on the blog, send me an email or past a message on our Facebook page.

The following buttons will open PDFs of the November/December bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the Sept/Oct 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The November Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

Enjoy your reading! We’d love to hear what God speaks to your heart. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for November is below.

2013-11Nov RecRdg

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

The holiday season will quickly be upon us, friends. Let me encourage you to make a new commitment to continuing your time reading through the Bible. Track your reading along with us using the table below, the half-page PDF you can download here or the November/December Bookmark you can download here.

Share with us what God is speaking you as you read this month! E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Word of God, speak to us again this month!
Sandy

Download all 2012 bookmarks here Download only the November/December 2012 bookmark here

Download a half-page PDF of the November Reading Plan here

Here’s the November reading plan:

RARE November 2012 Reading Plan JPG

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Lessons from Habakkuk, Part 5 (Habakkuk 3:16-19)

In my last blog we looked at Habakkuk’s awesome prayer of intercession for his nation. “Lord, I’ve heard of your fame;” he prayed. “I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day.”  That prayer stirs my heart greatly. Habakkuk continued in prayer with a phenemonal recitation of God’s tremendous acts throughout Israel’s history. The language is powerful, building to a crescendo…and then suddenly in verse 16 he takes a turn.

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.

Habakkuk 3:16

Habakkuk knows that Israel is headed for a “day of calamity” because of her sins. I didn’t blog about the meat of the prophecy Habakkuk received, but it was one of destruction for a nation that had turned its back on God. God began his description of what would happen with chapter 1, verse 6:

I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
Habakkuk 1:6

Habakkuk returns to that Word from God as he ends his prayer in chapter 4, and he says his heart is pounding, his lips are quivering and his legs are trembling. “Yet, I will patiently for the day of calamity to fall on the nation that God uses to punish Israel.”  Notice Habakkuk’s confidence in God. He knows that God is true to His Word and the Babylonians would eventually be punished for their treatment of Israel. When we are confident of God’s faithfulness, we can wait patiently, without fear of the future – even when we know the future will bring calamity.

Then Habakkuk ends with this powerful prayer:

17Though 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,
18yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

Just as I have prayed Habakkuk’s opening prayer often, there are times when I repeat his closing prayer: “Lord, our income is low and our prospect for future work is dim. Our cupboards are being depleted and our bank account is drained. Yet we will rejoice in the Lord. We will be joyful in God our Savior. You, Sovereign Lord, are our strength. You give me strength and a lightness of foot to climb the highest mountains. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” OK, that last line is Philippians 4:13, but it fits, doesn’t it?

Friends, we serve a faithful God! No matter how bleak our circumstances, there is cause for rejoicing in Him. There is cause for being joyful in His presence. He has made it possible for us to spend eternity with Him. He has provided all we need for life and godliness. He is our comforter and our wisdom and our strength. He is our sustainer and enabler. He loves us with an everlasting and passionate love. Jesus gave up the glories of heaven to join us on earth to teach us how to live and then die so that we might live forever. Hallelujah! He is the Alpha and Omega. The everlasting One who existed before time began. He saw me and formed me in my mother’s womb and looked upon me and said “She is my chosen one. I’m not going to let anyone or anything separate her from me.”

Wow! The next time you are facing lack in any area of your life, remember Habakkuk’s closing prayer. “Even though I don’t have anything and the prospects are dim, I will rejoice in you, Lord.” It honors God and builds your faith. Give it a try!

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Lessons from Habakkuk, Part 4 (Habakkuk 3:2)

We last left Habakkuk as God was revealing to the Old Testament prophet what the New Testament writers elaborated on: That “the righteous will live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)

That’s the life I want to live. It’s the life Habakkuk wanted to live as well. Yet he found himself living in the midst of a country and culture that had forgotten their God. He was living in the midst of people who either ignored God or practiced “religion” instead of experiencing and living for the True God. Does that sound familiar? Yep. I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ and the church family that surrounds me, but when I step outside that circle, I am increasingly aware how far we have moved from God as a nation.

In the position of having his faith clash with his reality, Habakkuk prayed this awesome prayer:

      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.

Habakkuk 3:2

I love this prayer! Do you pray for revival? I hope you do – for revival in your own life, in your family, in your church and community, our nation and around the world! (That’ll keep you busy for awhile!) I often repeat Habakkuk’s prayer – “Lord, I’ve heard of your fame – I’ve heard what you’re doing in revivals in Africa, I’ve read in Scripture and history how you’ve sparked revival in whole cities and nations – I stand in awe of your deeds! I am truly amazed and awed by what you have done in the past, Lord. Renew them in our day, Lord! Do it again! Show yourself strong in our city. Make your deeds known in our time – here, now, LORD! In your wrath, remember mercy – we deserve only your wrath. Forgive us. Show us your mercy and do a miraculous thing in our city.”

Again, I love that prayer! Habakkuk had it right! Many know the prayer of Jabez because of the book that was written around it. That’s a good thing. I’d love to see everyone come to know Habakkuk’s prayer. “Lord, renew your deeds in our day. Do it again, Lord!”

There is a second part to Habakkuk’s awesome prayer, but I’m going to save it for a final blog on the book of Habakkuk. I don’t want to dilute this short message.

May I encourage you to pray Habakkuk’s prayer over the next few days (or weeks or months)? Ask God to renew His mighty deeds in your family over the holidays and in your town in the coming year. Oh, Lord, do it again! And all God’s people said…

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Lessons from Habakkuk, Part 3 (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

In our study of Habakkuk so far, we’ve seen Habakkuk’s burden for his country and God’s response when Habakkuk poured out his heart. Remember, that God urged Habakkuk to “look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed.” Just as I wrote that I was again blessed that God so specifically told Habakkuk where to look and what to watch – He didn’t want Habakkuk to miss this! God is so good – when we take our complaints to Him and then listen for His answer to us, He will tell us where to look and what to watch for! Again, I am reminded of the verse Amos 3:7:

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7

We saw Habakkuk’s faith surge then falter again after God’s first response. So he poured out his heart again. After pouring out his burden to the Lord, he picked himself up and said:

I will climb up into my watchtower now and wait to see what the LORD will say to me and how he will answer my complaint.
Habakkuk 2:1 (NLT)

We have to do that sometimes, don’t we? After pouring our hearts out to God we kind of straighten our shoulders and say “OK, I’ve cried out about this enough. I’m going to quit talking and listen and watch for God’s answer.” Well, that’s where we left Habakkuk. Let’s begin to listen in on the Lord’s response by reading it in two translations:

2Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer in large, clear letters on a tablet, so that a runner can read it and tell everyone else. 3But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NLT)

2Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NIV)

There may be some historical reference in this passage, that public announcements were engraved or written in large letters and posted in the marketplace for all to see and read, but there is great application to our own lives. When we have cried out to God, then set ourselves apart to hear His voice, we ought not to forget the important step of writing down God’s answers. In Habakkuk’s day, the messages were written so that a runner could read them and carry them on to others. In our lives, writing what God reveals to us serves several purposes:

  • Like the runners of Habakkuk’s day, we also run through life. Taking time to write the message causes us to pause and consider it. These are not simply messages about upcoming events. This is revelation from God. God is revealing Himself and His plans to us. Is there a thing more worthy of being put in permanent form? Notice that both translations use the words “tablets” – these are not messages to be written on parchment. These are messages that deserve a more permanent record
  • The process of writing the message often helps to clarify it. Notice that Habakkuk’s letters are to be large and clear. God wants everyone to understand. I often find that writing brings great clarity and understanding to what God has said.
  • Revelation from God that has been clearly written down serves as faith mile markers with which we can track our journey. When I read my old journal entries, I am reminded that there was a time when I didn’t know some of the things I know now. As I read about the struggles I went through to learn some lesson of faith (often struggles that have been long forgotten), I am encouraged that my current faith struggle will also lead to growth and a greater understanding of the goodness of God.
  • Writing the message makes it available to posterity. I have one of my grandmother’s old diaries. While much of it is filled with everyday kinds of things, what a blessing it is to read the entries that talk about her dreams for life and answers to her prayers.

I know that not everyone is a writer and the thought of writing the vision and making it plain almost paralyzes you. There are other ways to record the vision. Here are some ideas for those of you who are disinclined to write the vision:

  • Record the vision. Speak into a tape recorder or record it through your computer. There is a website that allows you to record messages and share them with your friends. I’ve used it in these blogs.
  • Create a pictorial record of the vision. If you’re an artist, draw the vision. You may even have received the revelation from God more as a vision than as words whispered in your spirit. Be careful to include enough in the picture that the vision will be clear when you look at it next week, next month or next year.
  • Create a scrapbook for the vision. This record may include images and words that bring to life the revelation God has given.
  • Create a “treasure box” for the vision. Spend some time filling a box with items that bring the revelation to life in your mind and spirit. If God spoke a specific Scripture, write it out and include it in your treasure box. Find objects or symbols that represent the completion of the revelation or the process that will bring it to pass.

The goal is to record the revelation, making it clear, so that it points toward what God has revealed that He will do. This step is important because God makes it clear in verse 3 that “these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.”

Our microwave generation doesn’t do “slowly and steadily” well. Having God’s revelation documented helps us in those times when we begin to wonder if He will ever move on our behalf.

Finally, God gives Habakkuk and us instruction and reassurance: “If the vision seems slow in becoming a reality, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Having just said that it would occur “slowly and steadily” God wants to make sure we understand that it is not being delayed. In other words, no one is stopping the flow of His plan. No person or demon is delaying His plan. The writer of Hebrews encourages us similarly:

35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 8But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” 39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
Hebrews 10 (NIV)

We’re not to lose confidence, but to live by faith. Our life journey as a Christian is a walk of faith. Paul writes the same thing:

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:17 (NIV)

Where is it written? In Habakkuk 2:4. In verses 2-3 we’ve seen God telling Habakkuk to write the revelation and make it clear. God then turns to the message He wants Habbakuk to communicate and He begins with this profound statement:

“See, [the proud or wicked man] is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous will live by his faith—
Habakkuk 2:4 (NIV)

Isn’t that wonderful – all the way back in the Old Testament, God’s message of salvation by faith is clear! While the Old Testament provides the Law – rules and regulations about how to live a life of holiness, it also clearly points to salvation being the result of faith, not the result of following the Law. That message is embodied in the life and teaching of Jesus and written and made clear in the New Testament epistles. I love how this Book we’re reading paints a consistent, cohesive story!

What a great passage! Are you seeking God for answers to your challenges? Are you documenting His answers clearly? Then are you holding on to the revelation He’s given as you walk toward its fulfillment? That’s living by faith. Walking in such a way that you are always preparing for and expecting the fulfillment of God’s revelation. It’s where I want to live my life – in the adventure of God’s revelation. Will you join me? As my pastor would say, “Cowabunga, Dude!”

 

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Lessons from Habakkuk, Part 2 (Habakkuk 1:6 – 2:1)

In my previous blog we looked at the first five verses of Habakkuk. I was blessed by God’s response to Habakkuk’s burden – He urged Habakkuk to listen and watch closely because He was about to do amazing things. That’s just the kind of God we serve!

After the Lord urges Habakkuk to listen, He goes on to tell Habakkuk His plans. Habakkuk responds in faith…for all of one and a half verses (12 and 13a)! He then continues crying out about the evil around him and the Lord’s apparent delay in responding. Aren’t we so often like that? We so want to believe God, but our eyes quickly fall from heaven to earth and all we see is the sin around us. Lord, help us keep our eyes on you. Habakkuk concludes his second round of complaining to God in chapter two verse one:

I will climb up into my watchtower now and wait to see what the LORD will say to me and how he will answer my complaint.
Habakkuk 2:1 (NLT)

I’ll be honest with you – I don’t know how to interpret this verse. His attitude could have been that of a rebellious child who is going to pout in the corner because he hasn’t gotten his way, or it could be that of the faithful believer who is sitting and waiting upon God. It would be discernable in the inflection of the words, but I’m not sure from the words alone. It sounds like the former, but the latter seems more in character with the prophet.

I checked four different commentaries and they all agree that it is the latter – Habakkuk is pulling himself away to sincerely hear from God. Matthew Henry had such a wonderful commentary on this passage that I would like to share a long portion of it. The language is a big dated, but the message is timeless:

The prophet humbly gives his attendance upon God: “I will stand upon my watch, as a sentinel on the walls of a besieged city, or on the borders of an invaded country, that is very solicitous to gain intelligence. I will look up, will look round, will look within, and watch to see what he will say unto me, will listen attentively to the words of his mouth and carefully observe the steps of his providence, that I may not lose the least hint of instruction or direction. I will watch to see what he will say in me” (so it may be read), “what the Spirit of prophecy in me will dictate to me, by way of answer to my complaints.”

Even in a ordinary way, God not only speaks to us by his word, but speaks in us by our own consciences, whispering to us, This is the way, walk in it; and we must attend to the voice of God in both. The prophet’s standing upon his tower, or high place, intimates his prudence, in making use of the helps and means he had within his reach to know the mind of God, and to be instructed concerning it. Those that expect to hear from God must withdraw from the world, and get above it, must raise their attention, fix their thought, study the scriptures, consult experiences and the experienced, continue instant in prayer, and thus set themselves upon the tower.

His standing upon his watch intimates his patience, his constancy and resolution; he will wait the time, and weather the point, as a watchman does, but he will have an answer; he will know what God will say to him, not only for his own satisfaction, but to enable him as a prophet to give satisfaction to others, and answer their exceptions, when he is reproved or argued with. Herein the prophet is an example to us.

1. When we are tossed and perplexed with doubts concerning the methods of Providence, are tempted to think that it is fate, or fortune, and not a wise God, that governs the world, or that the church is abandoned, and God’s covenant with his people cancelled and laid aside, then we must take pains to furnish ourselves with considerations proper to clear this matter; we must stand upon our watch against the temptation, that it may not get ground upon us, must set ourselves upon the tower, to see if we can discover that which will silence the temptation and solve the objected difficulties, must do as the psalmist, consider the days of old and make a diligent search (Psalm 77:6), must go into the sanctuary of God, and there labour to understand the end of these things (Psalm 73:17); we must not give way to our doubts, but struggle to make the best of our way out of them.

2. When we have been at prayer, pouring out our complaints and requests before God, we must carefully observe what answers God gives by his word, his Spirit, and his providences, to our humble representations; when David says, I will direct my prayer unto thee, as an arrow to the mark, he adds, I will look up, will look after my prayer, as a man does after the arrow he has shot, Psalm 5:3. We must hear what God the Lord will speak, Psalm 85:8.

3. When we go to read and hear the word of God, and so to consult the lively oracles, we must set ourselves to observe what God will thereby say unto us, to suit our case, what word of conviction, caution, counsel, and comfort, he will bring to our souls, that we may receive it, and submit to the power of it, and may consider what we shall answer, what returns we shall make to the word of God, when we are reproved by it.

4. When we are attacked by such as quarrel with God and his providence as the prophet here seems to have been—beset, besieged, as in a tower, by hosts of objectors—we should consider how to answer them, fetch our instructions from God, hear what he says to us for our satisfaction, and have that ready to say to others, when we are reproved, to satisfy them, as a reason of the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15), and beg of God a mouth and wisdom, and that it may be given us in that same hour what we shall speak.
(Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Old Testament)

So many things to learn from one little verse! Thank you, Matthew Henry for your time-tested wisdom!

What do I take away from such a lengthy analysis? The need to set myself “above” and “apart” from the mess and wait to hear God. So often life rushes past and I have some challenges that I need God’s wisdom on, but I try to hear Him in the midst of the rushing. Lord, help me to remember to pull away.

I hope you’re enjoying Habakkuk! There’s more good stuff to come. In the meantime, be blessed, my friends.

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Lessons from Habakkuk, Part 1 (Habakkuk chapter 1)

I like the book of Habakkuk! It was part of our Resting at the River’s Edge reading this week and I was so blessed by it. The book records Habakkuk’s cries to God for justice and God’s responses. It is filled with despair and hope; Habakkuk’s reality in this world and His faith-filled response to it.

When I sat down to write several hours ago, I thought I would write a single blog that would pull a few verses from the book that bless me. As I began to study it more, however, and it soon became apparent that more than one blog would be needed to share Habakkuk’s world and faith with you. So as you begin to read this short series of blogs, my prayer is this:

Lord, open our spirits to hear His message for each of us – spoken through Your Word and Your Voice heard deep within our spirit. Teach us Your Ways and give us hearts to be transformed. For the glory of Your precious Son, Jesus. Amen.

Habakkuk sees the world around him and asks God “How long?” Ultimately his cry is not answered, but the prophet stands in faith waiting for it with great tenacity and hope. My breath is taken away by his closing prayer…but that’s a message you’ll read about a couple of blogs from now. Let’s start with Habakkuk’s first lament and the Lord’s response. If you are reading the King James Version, the first verse is translated like this:

The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
Habakkuk 1:1 (KJV)

Notice that what you are about to read is Habakkuk’s burden – it is his heart’s cry to see justice. Instead all he sees around him is destruction, violence, strife and conflict. The book isn’t recording the annoyance that Habakkuk is experiencing today. It is the burden of his heart and he brings it before the Lord. Let’s read a portion of what he says to God.

2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?

3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Habakkuk 1:2-3 (NIV)

I don’t want to diminish Habakkuk’s circumstances – he was looking at the nation of Israel and seeing destruction – but I when I read the verses I personalize them. There have been times in my life when I cried out to God “How long must I call for help but you don’t listen, Lord?” Perhaps you have experienced times when it feels like your life is falling apart around you and you’re about to fall with it. Perhaps there have been times when you’ve been on the receiving end of injustice, destruction and strife. Take heart! God answers Habakkuk’s cry:

Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

Habakkuk 1:5 (NIV)

It’s as if God whispers in Habakkuk’s ear – “Just watch this! I am about to do something you wouldn’t believe if you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes!” Notice that God didn’t just start doing things in response to Habakkuk’s prayer – he simply told Habakkuk that He was going to do things. This teaches me several things about God and His ways:

1 – God wants to reveal His plans to us – He wants to draw our attention to what He is doing. Check out this verse:

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.

Amos 3:7 (NIV)

The Lord does nothing without first revealing His plans! That excites me! Let’s keep praying “Lord, show me Your ways! Draw my attention to the things You are doing so that I might give you glory.” That is my prayer during this month of thanksgiving – that He would open my eyes more and more to the things He is doing so that I can give Him glory. Our God is a God who constantly reveals Himself and His plans to us. Whether through His Word, the world He created around us, a conversation with a friend, or His whisper in our ear, He makes His ways known.

2 – God is actively involved in growing our faith muscle – our journey with the Lord is a walk of faith, not sight. We hear Him whisper in our ear “watch this” and then He shows us His awesome power and glory. He puts it into our heart to pray for something, but doesn’t answer immediately because to do so would reduce Him to a heavenly gumball machine – we put our prayers in and immediately receive gumball that satisfies our craving for sweetness and activity! Yes, God answers our prayers, but He answers them according to His will and His plans for us and for the world. Often times that means we wait for our answers. During the waiting, our faith is challenged and we are shaped into the image of Christ. We learn to curb that craving for sweet things and powerless activity while we wait for the richness of God’s presence and the powerful anointing of His Spirit.

3 – Our God is a God of hope. The time was not yet right for God to interrupt Habakkuk’s world. So instead of leaving Habakkuk to dwell in the midst of despair alone, God whispered in his ear “I’m coming…just a little while…and it’s going to be glorious!” When life is at its darkest, we can agree with the prophet Jeremiah:

21Yet there is one ray of hope: 22his compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. 23Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins afresh each day. 24My soul claims the Lord as my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him. 25The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him, to those who seek for him. 26It is good both to hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:21-26 (TLB)

Whew! Three wonderful lessons about the nature of God which fill us with confidence and hope in the midst of the most dismal circumstances. What a great start in this small book of Habakkuk! Chapter 2 continues the lesson…but would make for quite a long blog, so I’m going to resist moving on. Let’s use the next couple of days to let God’s goodness work its way deep into our Spirit before moving on.

I pray, friends, that today and tomorrow you would experience God’s revelatory nature – that He would reveal Himself and His plans to you in a greater way than He has before. I pray that you would be aware of (and joyful in) is activity in your life. That you would know that you know that you know that He is a God of hope – His compassion never ends. I pray that you would experience the goodness in hoping and waiting quietly for God’s response to your challenging circumstances.

 

Looking forward in anticipation to hearing from you and sharing the next passage from Habakkuk with you.

In the meantime…Enjoy God!

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One of the first verses that impacted me was in Job (yes, Job!). After losing his children, nearly everything he owned and finally his health, after his wife has told him to “curse God and die,” and after his three friends unjustly accuse him of sin, Job says the following:

19 All my intimate friends detest me;
those I love have turned against me.

20 I am nothing but skin and bones;
I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.

25 I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;

27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.How my heart yearns within me!

Job 19:19-20, 26-27

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” Wow! In the very depths of pain and sorrow, Job is able to make this tremendous proclamation of faith. When I first read this verse, my faith was quite new. Why was I reading Job? I have no idea – it seems such an illogical book to read for a new Christian. Perhaps, though, it was the hand of God who knew I would slog through the arguments found in chapters 2 through 18 until I came to Job’s proclamation of faith and that it would make an impression on me that would last forever. I remember pointing out the verse to Phil (“Look at this!”) and needle-pointing it on a gym bag.

I wanted, and still want, the kind of faith that says “I know my Redeemer lives” no matter what my circumstances are.

We find a similar verse in today’s Resting at the River’s Edge reading. Habakkuk cries out to God to save His people only to have God answer Habbakuk saying that things will get much worse – He will bring judgment on Judah. In chapter 3, you can hear the faith and the plea in Habakkuk’s heart:

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.
Habakkuk 3:2

As I pray with others for revival in my heart, in our churches and across our land, I often quote this verse. “Lord, we have heard of the great things you have done. We stand in awe of them. Do them again in our day, Lord! Do them again in our day. Show Your mercy, Lord. Send revival to our land.” “Lord, I have heard of your fame. I stand in awe of your deeds. Renew them in our day.”

Habakkuk isn’t finished there, though. He finishes with his Job-like proclamation of faith:

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.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

“Lord, even when my life falls apart – when my business fails and my cupboards are bare, when what I’ve dreamed about and prayed for earnestly does not come to pass – I will still rejoice in You. You are my Sovereign Lord in whom I will find my joy.”

God is blessed and is honored by such a faith. Prayers like this demonstrate our trust in an omnipotent God – One who knows what we need better than we know it, One who loves us more than we can imagine and One who desires to bless us. When He holds back on what He has promised, it is not from capriciousness. It is not from folly. It is for a purpose.

I trust God’s purposes because I have come to know Him over many years. That inexperienced faith that recognized Job’s statement as significant has taken root and is learning to “rejoice in the Lord” – because I not only know He lives and that I will see Him, but I also now know His character and His purposes. (Well, some of them anyway.) His ultimate purpose (and my greatest desire) is to bring glory to His Son. Sometimes that means trusting Him when my world falls apart.

“Thank You, Lord, that we can know of Your fame and Your awesome deeds and they can increase our faith. Thank You, Lord, that You enable us to climb higher when there seems to be no earthly reason for us to do so. Thank You, Lord, that You are my Faithful God.”

Bless and honor God today, friends, by trusting Him for something that you’ve held on to in the past. Trust Him with the solution you can’t find. Trust Him.

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Christmas is Coming – Soon!

We’ve planned the Resting at the River’s Edge readings to bring us into the Christmas season with a focus on Christ – prophecies about His coming, His birth, life, death, resurrection and second coming. If you have fallen behind or perhaps have stopped reading along with us, may I encourage you to begin the pre-holiday season by following our recommended reading plan.

In November, you’ll read Isaiah and find the very verses of Scripture that Jesus read aloud in the temple and then declared that He fulfilled:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

Isaiah 61:1

20Then he [Jesus] rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:20-21

In Habakkuk, we’ll read that the righteous will live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4), and we’ll end the month with the first eight chapters of Luke – the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus…

10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:10-14

…and Jesus’ early life and ministry. It will set the stage for moving into the month of December.

I pray that as you read during the month of November, God prepares your heart to see Christ during the Christmas season in a way that you have never seen Him.

Be blessed as you read!

Be blessed, all!

To download a PDF of November’s reading schedule, click here.

11NovReading


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