Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Triumph of the Christian Life

O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.
For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;
That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.
God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;
Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.
Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?
Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts?
Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.
~Psalm 108:1-13

The Christian life is a warfare. Every spiritually-renewed man has to do battle with corrupt opinions and practices in society and with temptations of the devil. The renewed man is assured of ultimate victory in this conflict. This Psalm very suitably represents the spiritual attitude of the Christian warrior, who, although he has gained many conquests, is not yet completely victorious, but in the strength of God is pressing on to the full and final triumph.

The complete triumph of the Christian life is promoted by the praise to God.

The poet begins his Psalm with praise to God. Observe the main features of his praise. It is:
  • Praise from a confident heart. "O God, my heart is fixed." A fixed heart is one which is firm and fearless by reason of its confidence in God. It's praise would be unfaltering and fervent.
  • Praise with the noblest powers. "Even with my glory." By his "glory" the poet means his soul, with all the capacities and faculties which belonged to him as an intelligent being, created in the Divine image. The praise of God should engage the noblest powers of our being. Soulless worship is repugnant to heaven.
  • Praise in the most public manner."I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people; And I will sing praises unto thee among the nations." The peoples of the whole earth along constitute a sufficient auditory for the praise which the Psalmist would offer.
  • Praise because of God's covenant relationship. "For thy mercy is great above the heavens, and Thy truth reacheth unto the clouds." The mercy and truth of God are the attributes which are celebrated by Hebrew poets and prophets as marking His covenant relationship with his people.
  • Praise of universal extent. "Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth." The heart which is fixed to praise God would exalt Him in the highest degree and wildest extent. He is worthy the praise of the highest intelligences of heaven, and of all upon earth.
How does this praise promote the complete victory of the Christian life?
  • It honors God. "Them that honour me, I will honour." (I Samuel 2:30.) If we honor Him with sincere praise He will honor us with courage, strength, and triumph...
  • It strengthens faith. As we heartily celebrate the Divine mercy and truth, our faith in them will grow stronger. And in moral conflicts nothing nerves the heart with heroism and the arm with power like faith in God. In the warfare of the spiritual life if we would "wax valiant in faith, and turn to flight the armies of the aliens," (Hebrews 11:34) it must be through faith.
The complete triumph is promoted b y consideration of the triumphs already achieved.
God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;
Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.

How would the consideration of past triumphs promote the complete victory?

They reveal the fact that many an enemy which seemed too mighty for us have been vanquished by our faith. In the Christian life we look back upon difficult battles that we have overcome, many temptations successfully resisted, many a foe slain, and are encouraged to hope and content for the full and final conquest. Past victories are an earnest (down payment) of future and entire triumph.

When Columbus sailed from Spain to discover a new land, the people began to complain. The storms were too furious and waves too high. The people said, "Let's turn back."

But Columbus said, "Sail on. Sail on."

Past triumphs bring into clear and impressive light the faithfulness and sufficiency of God as our helper. He had made good His promise to Israel in their past triumphs, which they had achieved by virtue of His help. He changes neither in His faithfulness nor in His power to help.

In the past of our individual Christian lives He has been our unfailing helper and supporter.

Our triumph is assured by God.

We discover this assurance in...
  • His interest in His people. David speaks of Israel as His beloved. "That thy beloved may be delivered." God's love for his people is a guarantee of their ultimate and complete triumph over all their foes.
  • His power to give His people the victory. "Save with thy right hand." "Through God we shall do valiantly; He shall tread down our enemies;" "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." (Isaiah 54:17) "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." (Romans 16:20)
  • His promise to His people is the Victory. "God hath spoken in His holiness." The holiness of God is the pledge that He will perform His promises. He has promised to those who believe on Him the victory over all their foes; and what He promised He will perform, for His word is both almighty and unchangeable.
Here is encouragement for the Christian soldier. Ours is not a doubtful battle. The Lord is on our side; therefore we must conquer.

Here is counsel for the Christian soldier. If we would conquer we must be found in the way of duty. Trust and fight, watch and pray, so shall you come off at last more than conqueror through Christ.
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39
In intense turmoil, Luther wrote his greatest hymn, A Might Fortress is Our God. It was the worst of times, 1527, one of the most trying years of Luther’s life. On April 22, a dizzy spell forced Luther to stop preaching in the middle of his sermon. For ten years, since publishing his 95 Theses against the abuse of indulgences, Luther had been buffeted by political and theological storms; at times his life had been in danger. He was suffering severe depression. Sometime that year, Luther wrote the hymn he is most famous for.

This verse, translated by Frederick Hedge in 1853:

And though this world with devils filled
should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God has willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
we tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
for lo His doom is sure.
One little Word shall fell him.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Looking Unto Jesus

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:1-3
This whole book is full of life. It's source is God the living one. (God on His throne.) It's mediator is Christ the risen one. (On the right hand of God.) It's power is the Holy Spirit of God. For this reason God's salvation is not something which has only historically happened and was completed in the past, but it is a continual process. It is not a gift received once and for all, but a giving which increasingly presents us with something more. Every grace is a vital dynamic action given to us by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. There is no standing still but a marching forward, no looking aside or backward, but a striving towards the goal of heaven.

This morning I want us to look the Christian race that we are in. The author of the Hebrews declares that we should run with patience the race "that is set before us." This race is God-appointed. This means that you must take your personal responsibility very seriously. Concentrate on the goal. The new birth is not the finishing post but the starting post. Live in the holy energy of a consecrated life. That is the picture which this text brings before our eyes, as the likeness of the Christian life.

We are in the arena; the race has to be run by all Christians. All around and high above us, are fixed gazers beholding us as we run. On His throne God is looking on, Whose smile is better than any crown that we might win.

We have at least three that we are responsible to:

1. To Jesus. Hebrews 12:1: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. He gave His all and finished the race!

2. To ourselves. Our Spiritual warfare is both honorable and necessary!

"Every Christian is enlisted under Christ’s banner, to strive against sin, against sinful doctrines, sinful practices, and sinful habits, and customs, both in himself and in others." Matthew Henry.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Hebrews 12:12-15
3. To others.
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Hebrews 12:14
What a dreadful thing to be responsible for others failures. Because we fail others fall, too.

This verse is taking about Apostasy and it’s results. It bankrupts us of the grace of God. It produces a root of bitterness in a person which produces bad fruit in themselves and others.

When we fail, others are looking on and may fail also because of our actions. Then we are responsible!

Weigh seriously all the paralyzing powers which emanate from the enemy. Satan, the great adversary, who will never admit being beaten until his final overthrow (Revelation 20:10) is out to paralyze you so that you can't run the race set before you.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:12-13

What attitude of mind must we have if we wish to win the race?

A poet has rightly said: "To fight is not enough alone; 'tis only victors mount the throne!"

In order to be a winner a very definite spiritual attitude of faith is required.

"Let us look unto Jesus," the victor. The battle which He fought on Golgotha is at the same time our example for our own personal race. His victory is the foundation for our victory.

The remarkable thing about the race of faith is that we do not properly have to strive for victory but we possess it already!

We have the victory in Christ, our forerunner, our Conqueror. Therefore we do not have to battle for victory but we can fight from the victory He has won. For this reason we can live out of His fulness. In Christ is opened unto us an everlasting source of riches. Joy in Him is our strength to conquer.
"For the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10
During the first world war in the German cities was every kind of suffering and need. Many housewives had great difficulty in giving their loved ones enough food from the small rations obtainable. One day a simple woman arrived at the seaside from a north German city. It was the first time in her life that she had been able to enjoy a sight of the vast ocean. She was quite overwhelmed with the magnificence of the view and with the endless waters. In her astonishment she cried out: "At last, something which they cannot ration!"

Well, God's help for us is not rationed!

I was born right after the depression in 1942 and we were taught to save because things were still hard to come by. But according to our scripture we have the inexhaustible heavenly resources at our asking. We can have them by faith. Three words from our scripture covers them all. "Looking unto Jesus."

Did you know God's children are royal children? They should live royally by enjoying these spiritual riches in their life of faith in Christ.

Paul talks about the greatness of Christ, by using words that express a greater meaning.
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in wisdom and prudence. Ephesians 1:8

And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. Ephesians 1:19

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherein he loved us. Ephesians 2:4

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:7

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Ephesians 3:7-8

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. Ephesians 3:14-16

The expression "according to the riches of His glory" conveys very much more than if the writer had only said: "out of His riches."

If a beggar were to meet a millionaire in the street and if the rich man were to give him at his request $1,000 then we could say that the rich man had given "out of his riches." But had the gift been according to His riches then the gift would have been greater.

How does our God act? Does He only give "out"of His riches or does He give according to His riches?
As thy days so shall thy strength be. Deuteronomy 33:25
This is the reason one of Paul's favorite expressions was abound.
  • Abounding faith... I Corinthians 8:7
  • Abounding love... II Thessalonians 1:3
  • Abounding liberality... II Corinthians 8:2
  • Abounding diligence and knowledge... II Corinthians 8:7
  • Abounding hope... Romans 15:13
While you are running this Christian race and fighting this Christian warfare, stop once in while and fill up on God! Pace your self for the long run.

When I was in the 8th grade we had an interschool track meet between the 7th and 8th grade. That was before the days of traveling between schools for the lower grades. I did the high jump, the 100 yard dash and the 440 relay. I won the high jump and came in second in the hundred yard dash. Now it was time for the 440 relay. I was the last leg on our team. When the baton was passed to me, my team was behind about 20 to 30 yards. I knew the other boy who was on the other team and I knew that he was not very good. I kept my eyes on his back while pacing myself. I wanted some kick left for the last ten yards. I caught him on the last turn before the finish line. Because I had paced myself at the beginning I knew that I had him. With fifty yards to go I blew by him like he was sitting still. I won by more than 20 yards. I still remember the victory celebration the class had.

I want that feeling one more time. But since I am old and fat I will not be able to see it on earth. But, boy, wait until we get to heaven. "What a day that will be!"

God does not merely want us to be victors but he want us to be super victors.

See you at the finish line!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Friend After Your Own Heart

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants. I Samuel 18:1-5

Friendship is a powerful need in our lives. How many of you have a friend? Almost everyone would raise his hand. So you know the satisfaction of having someone you can share with and count on. In fact, a person without friends is a person in utter poverty... even if that individual has all the wealth in the world.

A year or so ago, Hollywood released a film called The Aviator. Does anyone know who that movie was about? That’s right, Howard Hughes. When he died, Hughes was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived - worth approximately 2.5 billion dollars. He owned a private fleet of jets, hotels and casinos. He had everything a man could possibly desire… except close friends or relatives who knew him and cared about him.

When asked to claim his body, his nearest relative, a distant cousin, exclaimed: "Is this Mr. Hughes?"

When he died, not a single acquaintance or relative mourned his death. The only honor he received was a moment of silence in his Las Vegas casinos. Time magazine put it this way: "Howard Hughes’ death was commemorated in Las Vegas by a minute of silence. Casinos fell silent. Housewives stood uncomfortable clutching their paper cups full of coins at the slot machines, the blackjack games paused, and at the crap tables the stickmen cradled his dice in the crook of their wooden wands. Then a pit boss looked at his watch, leaned forward and whispered: "O.K., roll the dice. He’s had his minute." (Time, Dec. 13, 1976)

Let me repeat: People without friends are people who live in utter poverty.

For most people, friendship is one of their deepest needs and desires.

Now, Scripture tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart.
"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4
As you might imagine, since David was a man after God’s own heart - a man who delighted in the LORD – God supplied him with a close companion – a real friend. A friend named Jonathan. And this was not just any friend… this was a son of the king.

This friendship with Jonathan was so powerful and so true, that it has been practically a Biblical standard of friendship ever since.

At this point in our story, David is a very fortunate young man.
  • Not only has he has just killed Goliath - the champion of the Philistines – and thus become the beloved hero of the people…
  • David has also been the personal servant of King Saul. Before the incident with Goliath, David had already been a regular visitor to the King’s palace.
  • Saul had been plagued by an evil Spirit and only the singing of David could alleviate his torment. But now that David has slain the giant, Saul makes David a permanent part of his family.
  • And… not only is David a favorite of the people, and of the King… but God Himself has honored David by selected him to be the next king of Israel.
So David is a very fortunate young man… but life is about to get very uncomfortable for this young shepherd boy.

For example… let’s read the next few verses in this chapter -
And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants. And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?" And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand. And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, "I will smite David even to the wall with it." And David avoided out of his presence twice. I Samuel 18: 5-11
You see, King Saul became jealous over David’s popularity, and a number of times Saul attempted to kill young David. Eventually, David needed to flee for his life, but even then, Saul pursued him into the wilderness to destroy him.

David had been a very blessed man, but he soon came to understand that there are times when life gets hard… things go wrong… experiences are harsh. As one person put it: We need "someone who will walk in when the rest of the world walks out." And that’s why God gave David a friend like Jonathan.

We’re given a very detailed description of what kind of friend Jonathan was to David. And I believe that this is no coincidence. I believe God gives us this description for a purpose.
So, let’s examine the "details" of what made Jonathan’s friendship so powerful:

  1. This friendship started in Jonathan’s heart.
    After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 1 Samuel 18:1
  2. Jonathan made a commitment to David.
    And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 1 Samuel 18:3
  3. Jonathan was willing to share whatever he owned with David.
    Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt. 1 Samuel 18:4
I believe this is the kind of friendship God wants us to have with each other.

When Jesus died on the cross, He did so to give us forgiveness of sins and a whole new life… but He also had another reason: Jesus came and died upon the cross to create something. He came to create "the church." We (the church) are His bride whom He is preparing for the great Wedding Banquet.

I believe that the friendship that Jonathan displayed toward David is the same kind of friendship we should have for one another in the church.

When God created the church, His intention was to create an atmosphere of friendship that was like what Jonathan modeled.

God’s church is to be a group of saved people who have been changed in their hearts, so that they could learn to love others. People who are vicious and mean spirited could never live together in the same building… that is, unless God changed their hearts. God saved us. He changed us. And He showed us how to love each other. As John wrote: We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) God changed our hearts so that we could be friends with each other. That’s why God created His church.

God created His church for us so that we could b committed to each other. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us that we should "consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

What’s that mean? It means that God wants us to be committed to each other. It means that God wants us to work at making each other successful.

God wants us to think of ways...
  • help each other learn how to love.
  • help each other find good deeds that we can do.
  • encourage one another.
God wants us to think this way… not just within these four walls, but also when we are working and dealing with each other throughout the week.

In the Gospel of John we read about Peter sitting by a fire on the shores of the sea of Galilee, talking with Jesus. They’d just got done eating breakfast together when Jesus looked Peter in the eye and said:

"Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"

"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "FEED MY LAMBS."

Again Jesus said, "Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?"

He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "TAKE CARE OF MY SHEEP."

The third time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "FEED MY SHEEP."

If we love Jesus… we will take care of each other… look out for each other.

We’ll love each other, because that is the way to show that we love Him.

Lastly, God created His church for us so that we might be there as friends to share with each other. In Galatians 6:9-10 Paul tells us "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

That’s what Paul is talking about. We should do good to all people, but especially to those who are part of our family.

Here you are, Darrell, telling us that God expects us to be friends to each other. But… I want my own friend. I want somebody who’ll always be there for me. I want someone who’ll do good things for me, someone who will watch my back and protect and listen to me. I want someone who will always be there for me!

Well, God has supplied you with that kind of a friend. He’s supplied you with Someone who’ll always be there for you, Someone who will never leave you, Someone who will never forsake you.

Remember how I told you that God loved David so much that he didn’t give just any old friend? God gave David the son of the King for his friend. Likewise, God didn’t give you just any old friend. We have the Son of the King - Jesus - as our friend.

Proverbs 18:24 speaks of Him as "a friend that sticks closer than a brother."

"The Furnace Keeper"

One of the ancient kings of Persia loved to mingle with his people in disguise. Once, dressed as a poor man, he descended the long flight of stairs, dark and damp to the tiny cellar where the fireman, seated on ashes, was tending the furnace.. The king sat down beside him and began to talk. At meal time the fireman produced some coarse black bread and a jug of water and they ate and drank. The king went away but returned again and again for his heart was filled with sympathy for the lonely man. They became very good friends as time passed.

At last the king thought, "I’ll tell him who I am, and see what gift he will ask."

So he did, but the fireman didn’t ask for a thing.

The king was astonished and said, "Don’t you realize that I can give you anything—a city, a throne?"

The man gently replied, "I understand, your Majesty. You have already given the greatest gift a man could receive. You left your palace to sit with me here in this dark and lonely place. You could give nothing more precious. You have given yourself and that is far more than I could ever deserve."
You know, the very mention of Jesus as our friend has the power to calm our souls and give us the comfort we need in our lives… even if we’re not Christians.

Syndicated columnist Deborah Mathis wrote about a day in her life in the nation’s capital when she was passing through Union Station. The first thing stamped on her memory was the noisy hubbub of sounds. The public address announcer calling out arrivals and departures. Scores of pagers, walkie-talkies, and cell phones crying out for someone’s attention. She could hear horns honking, machines clinking out change, and babies crying. There were voices from every direction. A nervous security guard yelled at a man about to enter a forbidden area. Three women stood up from their bench in order to press the points of their squabble with more emphasis. The man in line in front of her was pacing in tiny, agitated steps.

Then she heard someone singing.

"What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear; What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer."

She wrote there was a perceptible change in the cacophonous crowd.

"O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer."

The quarreling women quit their arguing and quietly took their seats. Tense shoulders seemed to relax.

As the lone voice sang the remaining verses of from the song Mathis realized she was singing along now. So were the three women who had been bickering. And several more.

"Nice, huh?" offered the man who had been pacing his tiny, tight circle in front of her. "I don’t even believe in Jesus, but that’s nice."

Who is your friend?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Prayer for God's Renewing

O Lord, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive your work in the midst of the Years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2
Habakkuk is a short book, only 3 chapters long. It has only one focus but oh, what a focus that is!
Habakkuk was frustrated in ministry. He was doing his very best to reach the people around him with the truth. He was attempting to get them to turn things around spiritually. They had left the faith of their fathers. They were involved in idolatry. They were deceitful and crooked in their political dealings. The wicked were prospering and Habakkuk wanted to know why.

Do you ever feel like Habakkuk?

God is working even when we can’t see it.
Look among the nations and watch. Habakkuk 1:5
God challenged Habakkuk to open his eyes and look about him. He needed to get a world view of what God was doing.

One great crisis after another had taken place. The great Assyrian Empire in the north had been conquered, and Nineveh, its capital, had been destroyed. On the banks of the Euphrates River, a kingdom was arising which already had won a victory over Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar was the victor, and he was bringing Babylon to the fore as a world power.

God was saying to Habakkuk, "Behold ye among the nations—you think I’m not doing anything?"

We need to be reminded of what is going to happen in the last days. The word of God is filled prophesies of things that will happen in these last days and like Habakkuk’s day things are not looking very good. Like Habakkuk there is a certain amount of fear.
O Lord I have heard your speech and was afraid. Habakkuk 3:2
Where there is no vision the people perish. Psalm 29:18
God is not twiddling his thumbs.
I will work a work in your days, Which you would not believe. Habakkuk 1:5
Lift up your eyes and look on the fields for they are white for harvest. John 4:35
He was very much involved in Habakkuk’s day and He is very much involved in our day. We may not be seeing it but that does not change the fact. God is getting His church ready for His soon return.

Faith has to reach beyond the trouble around us. A faith that God is watching and will not leave us nor forsake us. A faith that says that God will supply all our needs.

God is active in hearing and answering our prayers.

We want God to be involved but we are not willing many times to say "Whatever you need to do." I know that sometimes we cannot see it in this life but God’s way is the best way. We pray for our family to be saved but we put conditions on God as to how that should come about.
There are times in our life when we can’t understand why God would allow or cause certain things around us.

The gold standard of faith is for us during those times to take His hand and just wait on Him.
Our faith and praise should be in who God is and not on what we see Him do.
When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. Habakkuk 3:16-19
God's interest is still in His people.

God goal is to help us in His own way!

Habakkuk’s prayer (3:2) was:.
  • A prayer of openness…"I heard you and that is really scary."
  • A prayer for revival…"Revive your work—"
  • A prayer for revelation…. "Make it known."
  • A prayer for mercy… "Even in your wrath and judgment…please show us mercy."
Do we really want to see God work in our world, nation, church, homes?

Are we willing to step out on faith and say "Lord, I will be faithful, no matter what"?

Are we willing to seek His direction?

Are we willing to place the "how" in his hands?

God answers according to our obedience!
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. Habakkuk 2:1
To Make this point we need to read from II Kings:

Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, "Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen."
And Elisha said unto her, "What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house?"
And she said, "Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil."
Then he said, "Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full."
So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.
And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, "Bring me yet a vessel."
And he said unto her, "There is not a vessel more." And the oil stayed.
Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, "Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest." II Kings 4:1-7
The measure of faith and expectancy became the measure of blessing.

There was an urgent need: a death in the family, a debt that could not be paid, a future of slavery. Overall a very dire situation.

There was a use of what was available. What do you have in the house? God wants to use what you have for His glory

When you surrender what you have to God some wonderful things begin to happen:
  • He gives hope.
  • He gives peace that passes understanding.
  • He provides in a way that is unlike what we would have expected.
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory… Ephesians 3:20-21a
The measure of faith and expectancy became the measure of blessing. The boys gathered all the vessels they could find in the neighborhood. God supplied enough oil to fill them all. The only limitation to God’s blessing came when they had limited space to receive it. God is not limited in His ability to meet our needs and bless us. We are the ones who place limits on God.

God will only give us His Presence, help and blessing as we make room for Him. Had the boys gathered 10 more vessels, they would have filled them. Had they gathered 100 or 1000 or 10,000 more vessels, they would have filled them. The amount of room we make for God’s presence and power in our lives is the amount we are going to get. The need was met miraculously from God’s storehouse of supply.

God never does anything in a small way. When Jesus fed the 5000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish, they took up 12 baskets of leftovers.

When Jesus told the disciples who had spent the night fishing and caught nothing to fish on the other side, they brought in so many fish, they nearly sank the boat.

When God sent down fire upon the altar of Elijah, the fire devoured the sacrifice, the wood, the water, and the altar itself.

When God meets a need He never does anything half way, if we will move out of the way and let Him do it.

Let's begin now expecting God to give us a renewing.

Let's begin to praise God in the midst of all the trouble in our world .

Let's have the attitude that Julia Howe had when she wrote:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.

He hath loosed the fateful lighting of His terrible swift sword.

His truth is marching on.

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory ! Hallelujah!

His truth is marching on.

Let us make room for God.

1. In our daily lives:
  • Prayer.
  • Reading and studying the Word of God
  • Walking in all the light God gives us in each service.
  • Displaying a cheerful, Christ-like attitude.
  • Enjoying Christianity enough that others can tell we enjoy it.
2. In our church:
  • Attend faithfully.
  • Invite God’s presence in each service.
  • Come expecting God’s presence to be here.
  • Pray one for another.
  • Invite others.
3. In our spirit:
  • Saying to God, "Your will be done in my life every moment."
  • Saying to God, "I will rejoice in You and be glad regardless of how bad things look."
  • Saying to God, "Help me to show others the way to You."
Our hope is in God. For the promise is from Habakkuk 1:5, "I will work a work among you."

My prayer is:

Lord, open our eyes that we might see You work.