October 21 – I Will Remember: Two-Way Communication

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Read Habakkuk 2:1-20, Genesis 32:22-32

A quick glance at the Old Testament prophets tells us that although each played a critical role in speaking truth to God’s people—often prior to or during times of tragedy and crisis—prophets had hard lives. Most were the target of persecution and attack. They were sometimes beaten, imprisoned, and mocked. 

However, each also possessed a quality which we can demonstrate during times of personal or global crisis—open communication. Habbukuk, the 7th-century prophet who prophesied an imminent Chaldean invasion to the people of Judah, is a fascinating example of what it looks like to communicate openly with God during times of uncertainty and fear. 

Meaning “embracer,” his very name foretells what we will see as we read through the three chapters of Habbakuk. It’s a back-and-forth conversation which goes something like this: Habbakuk cries out to God for help and God responds with reminders of what he is doing. 

In one moving verse, Habbakuk exclaims, “I will take my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me” (2:1). Can you just imagine? It’s the picture of stubbornness—of complete trust that God will answer and that Habbakuk will wait as long as necessary to receive that answer. Only a few verses later, the Lord does respond; but in his response, he tells Habbukuk that his answer will not come now: “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (2:3). 

Perhaps this conjures up images of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32 and his cry that “I won’t let you go unless you bless me” (v. 26). In times of difficulty, we keep pressing forward with God. We believe and trust that the more we press into him, the more he will offer back to us. 

Crisis reveals a communication channel that is two-way. We cry out to God, and he responds. We wait upon God, and he answers. It’s time to sit on our watchposts and see what God is trying to say to us. 

Questions for Reflection

Cry out to God. And then wait. Believe he will answer. And be in awe of his response. 

How can we speak the truth to those around us that communication with God can be a two-way street?

April 14 – Jesse Tree – Waiting

Read Habakkuk 1:1-52:1-33:16-19

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” Hab 2:1

Christmas is coming! The gifts are bought, cards addressed and sent, decorations up, cookies baked. We are ready. Now the waiting begins. We wait …and wait …and wait. The days between December 1st and the 24th seem to last FOREVER! Then, when Christmas Eve arrives….time stands still! Will Christmas EVER come? Will you get what you wanted or will you receive socks and underwear?

That is kind of what Habakkuk is going through. He is seeing all the corruptness around him and is pleading with God as to when will He finally intervene on behalf of his people. He is waiting for God to wipe out his enemies. But God’s answer is like the sock and underwear present. It isn’t what Habakkuk wanted. God will do His will by raising up the ENEMY, of all people!

God makes it clear, however, that eventually the corrupt destroyer will itself be destroyed. Habakkuk will need to wait and see what happens. Habakkuk finally decides to make his wait time a time of rejoicing in the Lord. (See verses 3:17-18)

Today it seems that corruption is all around us. People cheat on taxes or steal from their employers, kids get bullied, and politicians lie. Sometimes we want to go to God and say like Habakkuk, “What’s going on? Where are you?”

Yet God’s answer is, “Be patient. I know what you are going through. I am still in control. Trust me! WAIT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!”

March 26 – COVID-19: Life in the New Normal (Day 1)

Read Habakkuk 1:1-6; 3:17-29

I am a handful of days ahead of you on this “stay at home” order. My wife, Celeste, and I returned to the US from ministry in Europe one day before a mandatory “self-quarantine” for European returnees went into effect. Nevertheless, we chose to self-quarantine. By God’s grace, we are healthy and showing no symptoms of COVID-19.

I don’t pretend to have learned all of what God would have me to learn. Nor have I perfected the few things that have already become glaringly obvious. So, as a fellow “stay-at-homer,” I invite you to journey with me as I ponder biblical truths in the face of our current realities. I plan to summarize each day’s lesson with a single word.

Today’s word is “sovereignty.”

I must admit, that I have found myself posing some of the same questions in my mind that the prophet Habakkuk posed 2600 years ago.

OK, I will concede that his situation was different. Rather than a pandemic, he and his people faced injustice, oppression, strife, conflict, and opposition. Still, like all of us have done, he called out to God for help.

How did God respond? Silence…The prophet could hear the crickets chirping in the background. It seemed that God neither made an effort to rescue or even to listen.

Fast forward back to our situation. The daily COVID-19 reports seem to give greater cause for concern than reassurance that we have turned the corner. Has God not heard our cries? Is this outside of His awareness? Is it somehow beyond His control? Does it pack more clout than His power? Is God ignorant, uncaring, or impotent?

  1. In our hearts we may know the answer, but in our minds, we may still pose such questions.

Rewind back to the prophet. Did God ever respond? Yes, He did. He offered assurance of His awareness and activity. God was still at work. In fact, He was working in astounding, unbelievable, and (from a human vantage point) in unwanted ways. Although Habakkuk didn’t recognize it, God was at work. By the end of the book written by this prophet, he was finally surrendered to that truth. He trusted God even if he was unable to see visible evidence of change in the moment. Will you trust and rejoice in the sovereign God of the universe?

Friends, keep in mind:

  • The presence of pain does not mean the absence of God.
  • The reports of calamity do not negate the work of God.
  • The volume of our questions need not drown out the reality of the sovereignty of God.

God is loving and sovereign!

Steve Kern

April 27 – Songs of Praise – How Habakkuk was able to sing

Read Habakkuk 3:1-19

When I answered the phone that Sunday evening and heard news of my friend’s mother having been murdered the night before, the questions flew around my mind like snowflakes in a blizzard.  Why would God allow such wickedness?  How could He let such dark and horrid evil steal my friend’s mother, her children’s grandma, from this life so pointlessly?  It wasn’t fair.  It made no sense.  The whole event shook my faith in a way I’m not sure words can rightly portray.

I think that might be how Habakkuk felt when he wrote his book.  His name being “the embracer,” Habakkuk’s very nature needed to understand the why’s.  Why was God allowing His own people, Israel, to live in sin?  And, furthermore, why in the world would He use the Babylonians to serve the punishment due the Israelites?  Really, God?  You’re going to use them to right this wrong?!?  Needless to say, it was not how Habakkuk had imagined God’s justice to play out.  Not at all what he’d pictured when he visualized the end of the Israelites season of sin and their return to the One true God.

Nevertheless, Habakkuk knew Him whom He followed.  Though he knew not why He did things the way He chose to do them, Habakkuk trusted the very character of God.  And that is what prompted him to write this song of praise that we read today.

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, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  (vv 17-18)

Habakkuk could have looked around at the situation, thrown his hands up in despair and given up on the One he had chosen to follow.  Except, when he gave his life to God the LORD, he trusted not the things He would do.  He trusted Him alone.  He knew the character of the One true God, so placed faith on that.  God alone was Habakkuk’s hope.  Not the way he had hoped God would do it.  Not his own ideas of how things should be done.  God Himself was the strength of Habakkuk’s life.

When we follow the One True God, are we placing our hope and faith in what we think He should do or how we think He should act?  Or do we trust His very character enough to say with Habakkuk . . .

yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior?

Bria Wasson

September 21: Open Letters – Dear Depression

Read Habakkuk 3:16-19

(It would be beneficial to read the entire book to get the full understanding of depression and the deliverance we experience through Christ)

Dear Depression,

It is safe to say that you and I have an on-again off-again relationship. When you come back into my life, you hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s like a tug of war in my head; you’re on one side and Truth from God’s Word is on the other side…pulling, back and forth, while I sit in the middle as the dust from the struggle fills my mind, and I wait for clarity.

You are a part of my story, my history; however, when you come for a visit, I am not me. I forget who I am and whose I am.

We met when I was a young child, and I trained myself to depend on you through tough times. Yet, here I am, almost 30 years old, a believer and follower of Christ and someone who walks in the Truth that His Word is authoritative. I believe He IS good but, when you are here, you come when life hits, and it’s hard to get out of the hole that is you.

BUT…

That authoritative Truth, the words that are proclaimed by a powerful God, are mine too; verses that were a result of hard lessons learned alongside you and Him.

And so… when you come to visit, I will repeat them more to myself. Every time I need to step out of the hole or get up from between the tug of war, I will walk to His side and depend on His clarity. You may have won this battle before, but the war has already been won, and I am no longer enslaved to the words that come along with your presence.

So I will say…

“There is no one holy like the Lord, Indeed, there is no one besides You.  Nor is there any rock like our God” 1 Samual 2:2

“Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.” Pslam 28:6-7

“The steadfast of mind You will  keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You” Isaiah 26:3

You may come for a visit, you may come to fill the space around me with lies, but my God is good and He is my rock.

Kelly Lawson

October 31: Habakkuk

Read Habakkuk 3:1-19

 

When was the last time you felt overwhelmed? Not just feeling frustrated, or busy, or even stressed, but when was the last time you literally felt like you were a quickly sinking vessel destined for doom? Well to be quite transparent with you, the past couple of weeks I have felt a burden in my heart and mind like none I have experienced before. Maybe it’s the stress associated with the first two months back in school or the transitions I’ve been making in responsibility and leadership. But whatever it is, I don’t quite like the way it feels!

 

But who does? Who enjoys being overwhelmed? Nobody I’ve ever met. Generally it’s an emotion most try to avoid; yet, incidentally, an experience every human will encounter at least once during their walk on this earth.

 

However, few can comprehend how it feels to be overwhelmed quite like Habakkuk. In chapters one and two of this Old Testament book, the author describes the desperate pleas of Habakkuk who has been trying to get the Chaldeans to repent of their sins and begin to walk in the path of the Lord (Habakkuk 1:2-4). But God’s plan was entirely different. He

intended to use their disobedience and disgusting ways to punish the Jewish people for their rebellion.

 

You see, Habakkuk had an entirely different blueprint for these people than God did. And when Habakkuk found out God’s intentions, he was devastated. The work he had been trying to complete wasn’t going to be realized. Habakkuk was overwhelmed.

 

But what does Habakkuk do in this moment of trial? Does he get angry with God and curse Him? Does he throw in the towel and give up on life? Does he turn to sin to provide comfort and pleasure? No! He does the exact opposite! He prays to the Lord and praises Him!

 

“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Habakkuk 3:2

 

Even in the darkest moments, even when God’s will was drastically different than his plan, even when by all other worldly standards he had the right to just give up, Habakkuk put his hope in the true promise keeper, the Lord our God!

 

yet I will rejoice in theLord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.The SovereignLordis my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:18-19

 

-TAB

February 22: Habakkuk From Worry to Worship

Read Habakkuk 2:20 – 3:19

Habakkuk had come full circle.  He had complained to God, questioned God, and even doubted God’s motives.  God however had answered all his questions, complaints, and worries.  There was no more to be said.  Chapter 2 of the book of Habakkuk ends with an awesome statement.

The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the Earth be silent before Him.

When God answers you, you are left speechless, there is no more to be said.  No more to be questioned.  Chapter three of Habakkuk almost feels like it was written later.  It’s impossible to say, but Habakkuk is clearly a changed man.  Gone is the worry from earlier, replaced now with only praise.  As Habakkuk retells God’s past deeds you can sense his awe at God’s sovereignty, His dominion over the whole earth and everything in it.  Now heart pounding, lips quivering, legs shaking, Habakkuk is so moved by God’s power and majesty that he is physically shaken, full of fearful faith that God’s plans will surely be accomplished, in God’s way, in God’s time.

William Cowper was an eighteenth century poet, the son of an English pastor whose mother died when he was only six years old.  He grew up deeply troubled and tried to take his life several times.  After being admitted to an asylum he came to faith and after reading Habakkuk wrote these words which in part were later made into a Hymn titled “Sometimes a Light Surprises”

Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither,
Nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet, God the same abiding.
His praise shall tune my voice;
For while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

You likely won’t get a chance question God about his plans regarding your current circumstances this side of heaven.  You may be wondering how He could let calamity come on His children or their loved ones, but we have God’s answer, it’s right there in Habakkuk.  God says I am in control, I have complete and total power over everything in this world and there is nothing that will stop my plans from being accomplished.  Our job is simply to live with faith that it will all work out, trusting that God’s is in control.

ejt

February 21: Habakkuk’s Complaint – Part 2

Read Habakkuk 1:12-2:19

At the beginning of the book of Habakkuk we found Habakkuk complaining to God about His people and wondering why God hadn’t done anything about their rebellion.  Next we learned that God was going to bring punishment in the form of an attack from Babylon.  One would think Habakkuk would have been happy about this since after all it is what he was asking for, however Habakkuk is not done complaining.  The Babylonians!  How could you use a nation more wicked than Judah to punish your chosen people?  This was an untenable situation to Habakkuk.  But God answered Habakkuk again; His answer?

The righteous will live by faith.

Some believe this little sentence is the central theme of the bible; that the faith of the one who trusts God will accept what they cannot fully understand.  God does all things right, and all things well.  Furthermore, He does all things in His own time and in His own way.  His ways are higher than our ways and sometimes beyond our understanding.  Habakkuk couldn’t understand how God could use the unrighteous to punish the righteous.  God didn’t ask Habakkuk to understand or try to explain.  He simply asked him to believe.  It was not God who needed to change his plans; it was Habakkuk who needed to change his attitude.

When you are faced with a situation that doesn’t make sense and you are tempted to question God.  Possibly you are going through a difficult situation and God is silent.  Maybe you even feel like He isn’t acting in accord with what you believe to be true about Him.  Could it be that it isn’t God who needs to explain himself or intervene to bring the world into alignment with your understanding of justice?  Possibly, it is you who needs to take a moment and trust that the everlasting creator has a plan which will not fail and it is you who needs to adjust to what He is doing in the world around you.

ejt

February 20: Habakkuk’s Complaint – Part 1

Read Habakkuk 1:1-11

Do you ever look at the injustice in the world around you and wonder, how can God just let this happen?  People don’t seem to care about doing what’s right at all any more.  We are tempted to think that this current generation is surely the worst that ever walked the earth:  anarchy, rebellion, murder, and it can only go downhill from here.  Every generation is tempted to look at the world around them and think that their time is the worst, the most wicked.  Worse yet, what if your complaint involved those who should know better, Gods own people?

We’re often told that complaining is not godly behavior.  But complaining about God’s people can make you a downright unpopular character.  At the opening of Habakkuk we find this prophet doing exactly that; complaining that God’s people were simply not interested in following His laws and acting rightly any more.  But Habakkuk wasn’t upset at Judah; he was upset with God.  Habakkuk wanted some action.  He just couldn’t understand why God was keeping quiet while all this was going on.

God responded to Habakkuk that He was about to punish Judah and do it in a rather interesting way.  God said that He was raising up the Babylonians specifically to be a particularly brutal hand to carry out the job.  Certainly God was perfectly capable of delivering justice to His wandering people.  He had done it many times before, but not this time.  This time God was going to use a foreign nation, and a nation that was more wicked than those He had chosen to punish.

What can we learn from this?

  • God is not oblivious to our rebellion. He may be silent on the matter for a time, even a long time, but He sees it, He cares, and He is prepared to take action when the time is right.
  • God is not afraid to use others, even the wicked, to carry out His will.
  • God is not afraid to build up the wicked for a time to bring His people back into line.

ejt

December 22: Waiting

Read Habakkuk 1:1-5, 2:1-3, 3:16-19

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” Hab 2:1

Christmas is coming! The gifts are bought, cards addressed and sent, decorations up, cookies baked. We are ready. Now the waiting begins. We wait …and wait …and wait. The days between December 1st and the 24th seem to last FOREVER! Then, when Christmas Eve arrives….time stands still! Will Christmas EVER come? Will you get what you wanted or will you receive socks and underwear?

That is kind of what Habakkuk is going through. He is seeing all the corruptness around him and is pleading with God as to when will He finally intervene on behalf of his people. He is waiting for God to wipe out his enemies. But God’s answer is like the sock and underwear present. It isn’t what Habakkuk wanted. God will do His will by raising up the ENEMY, of all people!

God makes it clear, however, that eventually the corrupt destroyer will itself be destroyed. Habakkuk will need to wait and see what happens. Habakkuk finally decides to make his wait time a time of rejoicing in the Lord. (See verses 3:17-18)

Today it seems that corruption is all around us. People cheat on taxes or steal from their employers, kids get bullied, and politicians lie. Sometimes we want to go to God and say like Habakkuk, “What’s going on? Where are you?”

Yet God’s answer is, “Be patient. I know what you are going through. I am still in control. Trust me! WAIT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!”

Questions and Activities:

  1. Have you ever had a time when you prayed for something and you didn’t get it? Did God supply something even better?
  2. How do you feel when some people you know who aren’t very nice seem to get all the breaks? What if someone who is mean to you gets a promotion? How do you respond?
  3. Cut out, color, and display today’s ornament.

PMA