Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Take a look at verses 1:5 and 3:17-19. God says:
“5. The Lord replied, ‘Look at the nations and be amazed! Watch and be astounded at what I will do! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” (Hab 1:5. NLT)
God says, “Trust me. You can’t understand what I’m up to, but trust me and find joy in that.” And Habakkuk does trust him and gives us this remarkable psalm of praise in 3:17-19. “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty; 18. yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. 19. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19. NLT)
Habakkuk says, “Look, even if every resource in my nation, the crops, the cattle, the entire way of life . . . even if all of that is wiped out, I’m making a decision to trust the Sovereign Lord with my future. And I will rejoice in the fact that no matter what, we win in the end.
Friday, April 24, 2009
The ancient prophet, Habakkuk, had the same feeling. He lived in a country that God had prospered known as Judah. But the country had become corrupt. In response, God told Habakkuk that he was raising up the Babylonians to conquer the country. Habakkuk felt helpless. On the one hand, he was frustrated with his country because it had become so evil. On the other hand, he knew the Babylonians were worse and would do terrible things to his people. He was between a rock and a hard place and you can almost touch his frustration when he talks to God. Take a look at Hab. 1:2-3. He says:
“How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! ‘Violence!’ I cry, but you do not come to save. 3. Must I forever see this sin and misery all around me? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight.” (Habakkuk 1:2-3. NLT)
That’s his own country. Then he points out what’s going to happen:
“14. Are we but fish to be caught and killed? Are we but creeping things that have no leader to defend them from their enemies? 15. Must we be strung up on their hooks and dragged out in their nets while they rejoice? 16. Then they will worship their nets and burn incense in front of them. ‘These nets are the gods who have made us rich!’ they will claim. 17. Will you let them get away with this forever?” (Habakkuk 1:14-16. NLT)
Can you hear his frustration? He feels horribly helpless. But God answers him and gives him protection from frustration. The Lord reminds Habakkuk how big He is and that he can trust Him to work all things out at the end. In other words, God reminds Habakkuk to have joy in his huge God even when things are frustrating.
Check out my next post for Our Protection from Frustration
Monday, April 20, 2009
- sexual immorality
But the problem with this is that it only adds misery to misery. Sin can’t deliver in times of real hardship. It’s not solid enough.
Job struggled with this tendency. We all know that Job experienced pain greater than most. He was a rich man with 10 children, 7 sons and 3 daughters. In an instant, his estate was looted by terrorists, his children were killed in a catastrophe, and he was struck with a skin disease that produced terribly painful boils. Yet he had done nothing to deserve all of this.
He was a good man. But in his pain, he became tempted to turn away from God to sin. A friend of his, the only friend of his who actually gave him solid advice, says to him in Job 35:21:
“Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction.” (Job 35:21)
And then he tells Job how to protect himself by telling him to audit sin’s cost. If we want to protect ourselves from escaping to sin, we need to audit sin’s cost.
Our Protection: An Audit of Sin’s Cost. Take a look at verses 5-8.
“5. Look up at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you. 6. If you sin, how does that affect him? If your sins are many, what does that do to him? 7. If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand? 8. Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself, and your righteousness only the sons of men.” (Job 35:5-8)
Job’s friend is telling him, basically, that if he sins he’ll only add misery to misery in his life and in the lives of others. Sin messes up the mess even more and messes up others in the process.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9a)
Paul talks about a time where tragedy broke him. It was beyond his ability to endure. And he says that he despaired and felt as if he had been sentenced to death. But he doesn’t stop there. He also describes his protection against this devastating enemy of despair. The protection is: prayer to a reliable God. Take a look at vv. 9-11:
“9b. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead . . . 10. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11. as you help us by your prayers.” (2 Corinthians 1:9b-11)
Paul says that all of the tragedy had an effect on him. It brought him to the end of himself so he had to rely on the supernatural power of God. And the vehicle he used to tap into that power was what? Prayer! Look at v. 11, he received God’s help through the prayers of his congregation.
We need to be praying during these times. If you feel like you can’t make it, call someone up who knows God and pray with them. Pray, pray, pray!!! Prayer feeds your faith and protects you from despair. If you’re struggling with despair, fight it off with prayer! Fight despair with prayer!!!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
“If you don’t know Me, if you are not a Christian and don’t have a personal relationship with Me that acknowledges Me before men as God, you have something far worse to fear than the death of your body, you have the fear of Hell to worry about. You’re to be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell.” He’s talking about God the Father.
Are you sure you’re going to Heaven when you die? If you don’t know your Maker, the Bible says you need to make a decision right now to know Him. Because the truth of the matter is that if you don’t, you’re going to a place that has a lot more heat than a flaming building. If you do know the Lord, the death of your body is just a doorway into God’s house.
If you’re afraid and you’re a Christian, stand strong. If you’re right with God, nothing can touch you that is out of His hands and every pain that you feel in this world will be turned into joy in the next. That’s as sure as the fact that there is a God in Heaven.
If you’re not a Christian, I appeal to you to accept Jesus Christ right now as your Savior and be released from the fear of death. The Bible says the fear of death is slavery. Make a decision to accept Jesus as your Savior. Believe that He was and is God and that He paid for your sins on the cross, confess that you’re a sinner, and ask for His forgiveness.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
“28. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven. 33. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:28-33)
Jesus lists two fears in this passage.
One is de-fanged and one is sharpened. The de-fanged fear is found in verses 29-32. Here he says,
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven.”
Jesus is saying here that if you’re a person who acknowledges Him before other people, in other words, if you’re an obvious Christian, your life is in God’s hands. Nothing can kill you unless God wants it to. And if something or someone does kill you, it just means your job on Earth is over and you’re going to Heaven.
Every single Christian who has a real relationship with God in those WTC buildings died exactly when and where God wanted them to. Their deaths did not surprise Him and they’re not grieving their deaths now. They’re in Heaven with Him. If you’re a Christian this morning and your children are Christians, and if you’re living a life for Him and are close to Him, there is nothing that can happen to you that isn’t a part of God’s perfect plan for your life and that He won’t use some day for absolutely good purposes. If you are close to God, it is impossible for you to die in vain. God promises this over and over again in His word. So, you have nothing to fear. The wolf is defanged. He really has no ultimate power over you.
But there is another fear in the passage that Jesus doesn’t de-fang. And that’s the fear of the afterlife for those who don’t know Him. Take a look at v. 28. He says, “28. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”
Check out the 3rd part of this topic on my next post.
Friday, April 3, 2009
It may cause you to have more fearful thoughts: What if terrorists get their hands on a nuclear bomb or learn chemical warfare? Will my life end in a ball of flames one day? And what about our children, are they really safe in the environment we are creating for them? Some of you may be worried about the end times. You fear that the end of the world is approaching. And everything stable and safe in your life suddenly feels frail and insecure.
Jesus talked about these fears when He sent his disciples out in the world to do ministry on His behalf. He recognized the evil in the world and talked to his followers about it in Matthew 10:16. Take a look:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” (Matthew 10:16)
There are wicked elements of this fallen world that that can best be described as ravenous, blood thirsty beasts bent on consuming goodness. But Jesus doesn’t leave us hanging. As our shepherd, he defangs the wolf in verse 26 where he says:
“ . . . do not be afraid of them.” (Matthew 10:26)
Jesus says, “don’t be afraid of the big, bad wolf.” And as you read it, you think, “Why not? Why shouldn’t I be afraid of him? He can kill me with those big teeth and razor claws. His jaws just bit our largest building in the world in half and a bunch of sheep died. Why shouldn’t I be afraid, Jesus?” And Jesus answers, “You don’t have to be afraid because I’ve offered you protection. And that protection is a personal relationship with a heavenly God. A personal relationship with the Almighty heavenly God of all creation defangs the wolf. Take a look at vv. 28-33.
Check out my next post about "Our Protection"
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Why did Jesus fold the napkin at the tomb? No one knows for sure. The Lord could have done it to show that His body had not been stolen, as some officials would later claim. Thieves would not take the time to fold His burial cloth." (This is my humble Rusty view)
Regardless of the reason, it meant something or John wouldn't have noted it. One thing is for sure, it proved Jesus rose again.