Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 19 December 18:
Note: Here is a video overview of Habakkuk: https://youtu.be/OPMaRqGJPUU
Note: When was the last time you heard a sermon from Habakkuk? Congratulations on reading all of God’s word this year.
1. Habakkuk 1:1-4 – “O Lord…. Why?….” God’s plans won’t always make sense to us, and God will often leave our questions unanswered. During the exam, the Professor is silent.
2. Habakkuk 1:3 — “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?” In times of desperation, even the most faithful will question why God allows injustice, iniquity, and suffering. God values honest prayers.
3. Habakkuk 1:5 – “Look among the nations and watch–Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.” From Henry T. Blackaby — Christians habitually seek God’s voice through prayer, through His word, or through His messengers. Yet sometimes we fail to hear God speak through His activity, even though He is working all around us. Unbelievers see God’s activity without understanding what they see. God encourages His people to watch for His activity so they will know how they should respond and adjust their lives. The disciples discovered much about God’s power by witnessing Jesus calming a raging storm with a command. Seeing Jesus dine with the notorious sinner, Zacchaeus, taught them a poignant message about God’s love for sinners. Watching Jesus hang upon the cross communicated a compelling message of what God was willing to do to free people from sin. Discovering the empty tomb revealed an astounding truth of God’s victory over death. To those with spiritual discernment, God’s activity is a significant revelation about His heart and His will. If you are sensitive to what God is doing around you, He will clearly speak to you through His activity. You will know that God is at work, because what you see will astound you, and human power and wisdom will not explain it. If things happen that are direct answers to your prayers, God is speaking to you. When you experience events that surpass your understanding and ability, it may be that God is communicating a critical message to you. If you want to hear God’s voice, look around you to see what He is doing. When you are watching for God at work, what you see will reveal His character, and you will have a fresh understanding of how to respond to Him.
4. Habakkuk 1:6 — “For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own.” God uses evil nations and people to accomplish His good purposes.
5. Habakkuk 2:1 — “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.”
– Life is full of hard questions. Too rarely do Christians wait for God’s answer rather than choosing their own answer, often convincing themselves in their impatience that it is from God when it isn’t. The world would say, “Don’t just stand there; do something!” But God says, “Don’t just do something; stand there, and wait on me.” Getting ahead of God results in sin (missing the mark). As the old Marine Corps saying goes, “Go with what you know.” Keep doing what you know God told you to do until you understand clearly what His next directions are; but, make sure you are really listening. Don’t let emotions drag you away from your watchpost.
– The watchman’s job was vital. An approaching army left residents of an ancient city precious little time to flee or to prepare for battle. Everyone’s life depended on the alert watchman as he peered into the horizon for the earliest glimpse of an approaching threat. It was critical that the people be alerted as soon as possible to what was coming. As a Christian, God places you as a watchman for yourself, your friends, your family, and your church family. It is essential that you be attentive to what God is saying. It may be that a friend is in crisis and needs God’s word. As you study your Bible, God may choose to give you words of encouragement to share with your friend. It may be that as your children face difficult challenges, God will speak to you as you pray and reveal how you can help them. If you are spiritually alert, you may receive a warning from God that addresses specific dangers that those around you are facing. If you are careless, on the other hand, your family may be struggling, but the answers God has for them will go unheard. If you are oblivious to God’s message, those around you may miss the encouraging promise from God that He wanted to share through you. God holds His watchmen accountable for their diligence (Ezek. 33:6). Strive to be attentive to every word that comes to you from God. Your diligence will benefit you and those around you as you heed God’s warnings and follow His commands.
6. Habakkuk 2:2-4 — “And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.’” Habakkuk the prophet complained to the Lord because wickedness and injustice seemed to prevail while the Lord appeared to stand idly by. Yet, God reminded Habakkuk that, in fact, He was still God and His perfect timing was not Habakkuk’s. “If it seems slow, wait for it.” As the old pastor says, “The Mills of God’s justice grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.” When Habakkuk reconsiders the Mightiness and Sovereignty of the God He serves, he is left with but one conclusion: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19) Do you have the faith to wait of the Lord?
– Psalm 37:7 — Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
– Psalm 37:34 — Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
– Isaiah 25:9 — It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
– Lamentations 3:26 — It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
7. Habakkuk 2:6 — “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own— for how long?— and loads himself with pledges!” God will hold all evil doers accountable in His time. God will not be mocked. We cannot understand what God is doing; we must trust and obey.
8. Habakkuk 2:12-17 – “Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity!… You will have your fill of shame instead of glory.” Terrible judgement awaits those who take advantage of others.
9. Habakkuk 2:20 “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” Habakkuk had a complaint for the Lord that may sound like what you hear from many today: “Why do you tolerate wrong (Habakkuk 1:3)…? Why… do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves (1:13)?” God explains that He intends to glorify His name before the kingdoms of men, “guilty men, whose own strength is their god (1:11).” Man wants to rule themselves apart from God, and God turns them over to the consequences of their own wickedness: “Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:13, 14).” God tells Habakkuk that His judgment comes in due course: “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it.” (Habakkuk 2:3). In the New Testament 2 Peter 2:3 also gives perspective on God’s delay in judgment: “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation…..’ The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…. You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming….. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation….”Your King is King, and His plan is in work. Trust in God. Make the most of every opportunity that remains to spread the Good News of His Kingdom. “The righteous will live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).”
– Revelation 15:3, 4 — “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
10. Habakkuk 3:2 — “O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear.”
– Habakkuk had heard about the works and ways of God and feared God because of what he had heard. But now Habakkuk is having a personal encounter with God, now making him a true witness. You are a witness of what you have experienced from God first-hand, not merely a person who talks about what you have heard. If you have a hard time witnessing to others, it may be because you have not had or fully appreciated personal encounters with God. Experience comes through faith and obedience as God reveals to you His power and faithfulness in your life.
– From Henry T. Blackaby — Only God can restore life to something that has died. If you find that your heart has grown cold to God, that the spiritual life of your family or church has waned, call out to God to revive you, for only He can give life. It is not your activity but your relationship with God that brings life! Spiritual fervor can ebb if left unattended. We all begin our walk with the Lord enthusiastically, with an excited sense of anticipation. But over time, busyness creeps in. We become distracted and let our sin go unchallenged. We may take our relationship with God for granted and not notice the gradual decline until we find ourselves drained of spiritual vitality. This descent can happen in your church just as it does in your personal life. Do you remember a time when the Holy Spirit was moving mightily in your church, and the members sensed God leading in an exciting direction? Are the services now lifeless and the power of God only a memory? At a time like this it is futile to try to bring back life yourself. You can organize many activities and exhort those around you, but only God can resurrect what is dead. If God has initiated something in your life, or family, or church, only He can sustain it or revive it. If you sense that the spiritual vigor has gone out of your life or the life of your church, this is God’s invitation to pray. He wants you to intercede with Him so that He might revive His work. Jesus said that He is Life. It is unnecessary to remain spiritually lifeless when He has promised vibrant, abundant life if you will claim it.
11. Habakkuk 3:18 – “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Only God can provide salvation. What God gives, no one can take away. Rejoice in the security of your salvation.
12. Habakkuk 3:17-18 – “Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail,And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls–Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” From Henry T. Blackaby — At times it seems that everything around you is collapsing. Endeavors you invested in may fail. People to whom you minister may disappoint you. The business or career you worked hard to build may crumble. These times, as difficult as they are, are opportunities to stop and examine what is truly important to you. Habakkuk witnessed the collapse of most of what mattered to him. Yet through the loss, failure, and disappointment, he was able to distinguish between what was precious to him and what was transitory and empty. He came to the point where he could sincerely say that even if everything around him failed, he still would rejoice in God. If the fig tree bore no fruit; if the vine produced no grapes; if the flocks and herds stopped reproducing; he would still praise God. His praise might not come easily, as he watched everything fall short of his expectations, but he would praise God nonetheless. Habakkuk could not make fig trees produce figs. He could not control the productivity of the flocks and herds, but he could control his own response to God. He chose to praise the Lord. Do things seem to be falling apart around you? You can still praise God. Your praise for Him does not depend on the success of your endeavors but on God’s nature and His love and faithfulness to you. Ask God to help you look past worldly concerns to understand the reasons you have to praise Him.
13. Proverbs 19:2 — “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” A goal without a realistic plan is just a dream.
14. Proverbs 19:9 – “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.” A false witness offers hope in something other than Jesus. We were not created to be ambassadors of organizations, philosophies, theories, morality, or bright ideas. We were created to be ambassadors of Jesus. People don’t need another self-help program, another positive motivational speaker, or a personal guru. They need Jesus.
15. Proverbs 19:11 — “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” God expects us to show mercy and grace to people as He has shown us mercy and grace. Mercy is not giving people the punishment they deserve, and grace is giving them the forgiveness they don’t deserve. Do you have good sense?
16. Proverbs 19:14 – “House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Character is more valuable than riches, and it cannot be transferred from one person to another. It comes from a life that chooses to follow Jesus one day at a time over time. Noble character only comes from God.
17. Proverbs 19:15 — “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.” God expects you to be a hard worker. He does not bless laziness.
18. Proverbs 19:23 – “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied.” Godly people are satisfied with what God has given them and content. Ungodly people are never satisfied.
19. Revelation 15:2 — “And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.” It would appear that God’s people encounter the beast and conquer him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 19 Dec 18: Tell people today how you have personally experienced God, not just what you have read or heard about Him. It is helpful to write down all the ways God has worked in your life. Tell your story as a first-hand witness. (Habakkuk 3:2)