Monthly Archives: April 2014

Yet I Will Rejoice – Habakkuk 3:17-19

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 (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

This passage, and the book of Habakkuk in general, has at times been both my most favorite and least favorite in the whole Bible. We can all relate to the cry of Habakkuk at the beginning of this book:

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? (Habakkuk 1:2).

Unfortunately, the Lord’s answer to Habakkuk was not very satisfying. God only told Habakkuk things would be getting worse, not better. I was reminded of this passage last night when I learned that a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer. Why Lord?

Not many of us today have vineyards or stalls for our livestock. However, we all have the things of this world that are important to us and even dear to us. Our jobs, our homes, our health, our friends, and our families. If those were to be taken from us, then what?

Habakkuk realized that even if everything else was taken from him, the Lord God would remain. And that was enough. Enough not only to survive, but enough to rejoice. Rejoice in Him. Rejoice in our God who is also our Savior. Rejoice in His promises. Rejoice that we are merely pilgrims passing through this sinful land on our way to the homes that Jesus has prepared for us.

I have to admit that I do not feel like rejoicing much today. However, just like the Apostle Peter responded when times got tough and many other disciples were turning away,

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68).

I can look to the world and there are no answers. I can look to myself and there are no answers. I can look to Jesus and there are promises of eternal life. To whom else could we go? No one else. Because “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

So, in the end, I can only look to Jesus and that empty cross and, with Habakkuk, take joy in the God of my salvation.

 

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Full Assurance – Hebrews 10:22

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:19-23).

As we continue to work through the book of Hebrews in our Bible study, I am amazed time after time after time by the goodness of God. A wretched sinner like me can enter the holy places of God with full assurance? How can that be? Full assurance to come into the presence of God? Really?

If I look inside myself, I can never have that assurance. But if I put my trust in what Jesus, the great high priest, has done on the cross then I can have assurance. He shed his blood so my sins are covered. He paid the price to redeem me from my sin and spare me from the judgment and wrath of God. And God is faithful to keep his promises. So I do not have to worry that God will change his mind and decide that perhaps my sins are too great.

Do you have that assurance? The Bible tells us that we can. If you do not, then perhaps you are looking in the wrong place. No other religion can provide full assurance of salvation. But, be warned that Jesus also described false assurance:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

Those individuals had a false assurance based upon their good works. Look to Jesus alone for the assurance that you can draw near to God, because he alone is faithful.

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Let Us Not Grow Weary – Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:9-10).

It has been over a month since my last blog post. It started off as a couple of days of sabbatical while I traveled for work. It continued a little longer while I took care of a number of busy home and family things like moving. And then was compounded by a weariness from fighting and seemingly losing every spiritual battle.

whack-a-moleIt had begun to feel like I was playing Whac-A-Mole trying to fight off the false teachings and teachers that were popping up from every corner of my life. And every time I turned one way to beat down one of those pesky moles, someone would sneak up behind me to lovingly caress those moles and give me and my mallet the evil eye. And that does not even begin to address the sinful thoughts in my own life that pop up. Hitting my head with the mallet is not very productive.

But the time away from writing on this blog also meant less time in God’s word. Less time reflecting on how God is at work in my life. Less time pondering his holiness and the goodness of his mercy. Less time in marveling at his perfect plan of salvation. And a surprisingly fast drift away from God. Kind of like the book of Judges. Only faster.

choc_chipsIt was basically like my physical exercise. The less I exercise, the more tired I feel and the less I feel like exercising. It is a downward spiral that ends with my hand rummaging around the bottom of an empty bag of chocolate chips while I loosen my belt another notch. Not good. Eventually I have to decide to just get on that treadmill and run even when I do not really feel like it.

How much more damaging when I weary of being with God? I finally decided that I have to get back to this spiritual exercise of writing merely to keep me drawing near to God. It has meant some changes to my comments policy to try to fight off the weariness. But I have learned that this blog is one of the ways that God has equipped me to fight my own spiritual battles by forcing me to continuously pick up the sword of the Spirit.

So, God willing and whether any one reads them or not, on this blog I will be back to rejoicing in the goodness of the almighty, unchanging, sovereign, holy God and his perfect plan of salvation. And back to whacking those pesky, heretical moles. Universalism – WHACK! False prophecy – WHACK! Evolution – WHACK! Roman Catholicism – WHACK! Women pastors and elders – WHACK! Mormonism – WHACK! Homosexual marriage – WHACK! Prosperity gospel – WHACK! Aigghh! They never stop!

Come Lord Jesus!

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