Hello friends, I pray everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Laura and I are in Indiana right now, spending time with my mom and dad. Today, my wife and mom (and a couple of Aunts) are going "Black Friday Shopping." I would rather go to the dentist than go shopping! As for myself, I will be working on school and church stuff. Next week I will be writing about my upcoming series for December...but, for today, let's look at
In the words of the (used to be famous) song: "It just another manic Monday." Without looking it up, tell me who sang that in the comments.
Anyway, I pray you all had a great weekend-and enjoyed you time of worship on Sunday. I have been pretty hit-or-miss on my blog recently-mainly due to my school courses this semester, so I apologize for that. Next semester, my course load is a bit lighter (thankfully). This past Sunday we looked at the 2nd chapter of Habakkuk. This week I am going to focus on:
Habakkuk 3: 1-16
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.[a]
2 Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
3 God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.[b]
His glory covered the heavens
and his praise filled the earth.
4 His splendor was like the sunrise;
rays flashed from his hand,
where his power was hidden.
5 Plague went before him;
pestilence followed his steps.
6 He stood, and shook the earth;
he looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled
and the age-old hills collapsed--
but he marches on forever.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
the dwellings of Midian in anguish.
8 Were you angry with the rivers, Lord?
Was your wrath against the streams?
Did you rage against the sea
when you rode your horses
and your chariots to victory?
9 You uncovered your bow,
you called for many arrows.
You split the earth with rivers;
10 the mountains saw you and writhed.
Torrents of water swept by;
the deep roared
and lifted its waves on high.
11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.
12 In wrath you strode through the earth
and in anger you threshed the nations.
13 You came out to deliver your people,
to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
you stripped him from head to foot.
14 With his own spear you pierced his head
when his warriors stormed out to scatter us,
gloating as though about to devour
the wretched who were in hiding.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
churning the great waters.
16 I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
I know this section is a bit longer than I normally cover, but I wanted to take the section as a whole for this blog entry. The book of Habakkuk is a conversation between the prophet and the Lord. We see that Habakkuk really struggles in the first chapter with the decisions of God. Yet, by the third chapter, Habakkuk is coming to the realization that he can trust the Lord, despite not understanding everything. When we go through periods of "silence," one of our best tools is the ability to remember the times where God came through-where we saw His faithfulness. Even though our lives might not be going well right now, we can trust in the sovereignty of the Lord. God's sovereignty is a difficult thing for you and I to understand. God sees time from beginning to end-while we can only see "in part." We have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. When we experience personal tragedy, it may hurt for a while, but God does not want us to wallow in our grief-we trust that He knows what He is doing.
Hello friends, I pray all had a productive weekend, and that you enjoyed whatever house of worship you attend. At OFA, our service was great-I could really sense the presence of the Lord. Today we are going to continue our look at the book of Habakkuk. I did not get a chance to wrap up Ch. 1 before I preached-I would encourage you to check out the sermon on YouTube (you can access it on our "audio/video" page."
Today, we are moving on to Ch. 2 of Habakkuk. We are going to look at the first 4 verses.
Habakkuk 2: 1-4
I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved. Then the Lord replied:
“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. 4 “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness
Chapter 2 is a continuation of chapter 1. Verse 1 could have been the last verse of Ch. 1-because it is still the prophet speaking. Habakkuk says that he will "stand guard," and keep watch for the Lord's answers. The idea here is that the prophet has to wait on God-which is never an easy thing to do; especially when we have been told something we don't like and are waiting for more information.
Verse 2 is where God answers Habakkuk. The rest of the chapter is God's response to Habakkuk's frustration. God being our creator, he understands that we have a very finite view of the world. Often times our perception is not reality. When this happens, we can become frustrated-like Habakkuk did when the Lord told him that the Babylonian army would capture the people of Judah. That said, Habakkuk is a man of God-even though he does not understand, he trusts that the Lord knows what He's doing. Vs. 4 is one of the most well known and most quoted verses in the Bible. Many people think that Paul is the first one to utter these words: "The righteous person will live by faith," but he was not-Paul was quoting the prophet Habakkuk.
This upcoming Sunday, we will be discussing 3 main ideas: waiting, perception, and the difference between God's wrath and God's discipline. I do hope to have an opportunity to make another post on Ch. 2-I will do my best to make the time. God Bless.
Hello friends, I pray you all are doing well...most are probably looking forward to the weekend. Yesterday I finished up a month long series on conflict and communication. It was a fun series to teach...I'm now praying about what I will do next on Wednesday evenings (after one of our elders does November). Today we are going to continue our look at Habakkuk. On Monday I posted the entire first chapter; starting today, we will look at some of the themes in Habakkuk Ch. 1.
Habakkuk 1: 1-4
1. The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received. 2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? 3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
According to some, Habakkuk might have lived under King Josiah-the 16th king of Judah that instituted some religious reforms. He was considered a "Godly" king, as opposed to most the those who were before or came after him. This was a time of great revival for the nation of Israel. It is believed that Habakkuk wrote this after Josiah had died. While Israel had experienced a great resurgence during the reign of Josiah, Israel soon slipped back to her old ways. As Habakkuk saw the people he cared for turning away from the Lord, he became upset. The first 4 verses of Ch. 1 are expressing this sentiment.
When I read these passages, I can sense the frustration of Habakkuk. In my own life, the idea of injustice has always been difficult for me to understand/deal with. I understand why there is injustice in this world, but it has always been something that has bothered me a great deal. When I say "injustice" I am not referring to the modern version of the word that has more to do with victimhood...rather, I'm speaking of the classic definition or view of injustice, where there is no recompense for wrong, where people suffer under the hand of tyranny or cruelty.
Well, Habakkuk sees this going on all around him and makes his case known to the Lord. Of course, the Lord knows much better than you and I what is going on. It is difficult to understand that when things around us seem like they are falling apart.
Next, we will examine the Lord's answer to Habakkuk. Stay Tuned!
It's been a week since my last entry...I do not like going that long between posts. I had a couple of new classes start this week, so I've been doing some of that, as well as starting a new series that OFA will be starting in a couple of weeks...which is what I would like to start talking about today. This Sunday one of our elders is going to finish up our series on Doctrine. The week after that, I am starting a series on the book of Habakkuk. The overall message of the 4 week series has to do with God's silence. In other words, how can I trust God when what I see or what I am experiencing does not match (my perception of) the character of God. I actually had something different on my preaching calendar, but I felt led to go down this road.
In week 1 of the series we will be looking at
Hab. 1: 1-17
1 The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
Habakkuk’s Complaint2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
The Lord’s Answer5 “Look at the nations and watch--
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,[a]
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honor.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
9 they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on--
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint12 Lord, are you not from everlasting?
My God, my Holy One, you will never die.
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment;
you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
14 You have made people like the fish in the sea,
like the sea creatures that have no ruler.
15 The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
he catches them in his net,
he gathers them up in his dragnet;
and so he rejoices and is glad.
16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and burns incense to his dragnet,
for by his net he lives in luxury
and enjoys the choicest food.
17 Is he to keep on emptying his net,
destroying nations without mercy?
The first chapter of Habakkuk reminds me of some of King David's Poems found in the book of Psalms. There is so much going on here in this first chapter, I could not cover all of it in one blog post. So, over the next week, we will be looking at this first chapter of Habakkuk. Let's start with an overview of what was going on at this time In Israel's history.
The book of Habakkuk was written between 612 and 587 BC. The prophet foretold the coming captivity of Judah by the Babylonian army. Chapter one is a conversation between God and the prophet...they are going back and forth, almost conversation like. Habakkuk looked around at the violence and injustice going on in his day...wondering why God would allow such things to happen. Not only that, but he knew it would get much worse, before it got better. In my next entry, we will look at the conversation between God and Habakkuk in Ch. 1. God Bless.
Hello friends, it is very chilly this morning in Joliet, Illinois. The weather is getting colder, that is for sure. I am not a fan of winter...but I'm also not a fan of super hot weather, I guess I'm just a difficult person! Anyway, this upcoming Sunday, I am continuing the "Doctrine" series. We will be looking at 2nd Timothy Ch. 3 vs. 14-17.
2nd Tim 3: 14-17
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Can you take a wild stab at the doctrine we will be talking about??? Hopefully it's pretty clear that we will be looking at the inspiration of scripture. I will also be taking about the idea of salvation. While writing this sermon, I kept asking myself: in order to come to a saving knowledge of Christ, must a person must believe that scripture is inspired. Perhaps that is a strange question, perhaps it isn't. I've never really thought about it before, so I had to think long and hard about the answer. Think of it this way: an average person, sitting in a church service, having never been taught anything about God or the Bible, but they are listening to a sermon and feel compelled (via the Holy Spirit) to surrender their life to Christ. They know nothing about theology, they just know that they now want to live for Jesus, they have a kernel sized amount of faith that Christ died for their sins. Would we ask that person, before having them ask Christ into their life, if they believe that scripture is inspired? I think we can agree that the answer is "no." Learning this comes after the initial salvation experience...but, of course, that does not mean a person must not come to understand that scripture is, indeed, inspired. It's a difficult question, and I'm not sure we can fully understand, as finite humans. We trust the Lord that His plan for salvation was in place before humanity was created, it's not up to us to work out all of the details-we trust and obey, that is our job!
Happy Friday friends. Today we will continue our look at the Pastoral Epistles. On Sunday, I am covering 2nd Timothy Ch. 1. Let's look at a few passages.
2Tim. 1: 9-10
9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
In these 2 verses the Apostle Paul points out 4 very important ideas, as it relates to Biblical doctrine.
1. The believer is called to live a Holy life.
2. The sufficiency of grace.
3. The eternal preexistence and divinity of Christ.
4. The power of Christ’s work on the cross to provide eternal salvation.
All 4 of these ideas are necessary to believe, if we want to live a life for Christ. Once the believer recognizes their need for Christ, they are called into a life of holiness-but, in order for us to live for Christ, we must come to realize that we are unable to be good enough to please the Lord. If we do not understand this, we will try and please Him through our own righteousness. Recognizing that His grace is sufficient is key to living a holy life. Also, we must eventually come to understand, both the person and the divinity of Christ. The book of John says: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." Lastly, we should recognize, that without the cross, and the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, we would not have salvation available to us...not only that, but we need nothing more than what Christ offers in order to spend eternity with Him. Our salvation is not fragile, like some might contend-it is secure in Him who is able to keep us from falling; yet, over and over in God's word, we receive the warning to be on guard, so we will not loose our "secure position" (2nd Peter 3) I realize that this is a complicated subject...one that we should not have to worry about if we are true followers of Christ! On Sunday we will look at each of these in more detail. God Bless.
Hello Friends, I just wanted to take some time to say hi...so, "Hi." I'm just kidding! I am super busy this week with 2 final projects due by tomorrow at midnight. In addition, I am in the middle of creating 2 new series, one for Sunday mornings and one for Wednesday evenings. I enjoy this type of work, so it is not a burden, just busy. That said, I do want to share a verse with you today. On my next entry I will continue the "doctrine" blog entries. But, for today:
1 Cor. 3
3 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking [a]like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?
5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own [b]reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s [c]field, God’s building.
There is a reason I chose these passages. It does have to do with my doctrine series, but not directly. Within the church, it is easy for us to get so wrapped up in a particular teacher or ideology. Some of these teachers are great, and some of these ideology's are worth exploring and defending...but we must always remember that even the best teacher and their ideas can be flawed in ways that are difficult to see. I love how Paul makes sure to point people away from himself, telling people to get their minds on Christ-the author and perfecter of our faith. I try and constantly reevaluate some of those things in my life that tend to be outside of the core doctrines that are necessary for life and Godliness. Often it is these beliefs and ideologies that cause division amongst the body of Christ. God Bless you.
Hello there, happy Friday. Students and teachers have a long weekend upcoming up...my wife is very happy about this...as are her students. Let's continue our talk on 1st Timothy Ch. 1. My last few blog entries have been about the series I am starting on Sunday (Oct. 9th). This series covers the Pastoral Epistles: 1st & 2nd Timothy, as well as Titus. I would encourage you to go back and read those before you get into this one. For today, let's take a gander at vs. 6 & 7
1st Timothy 1: 6-7
6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
As I mentioned in my last entry, everything we do must be with a motive of love-including how we deal with people who are being led astray or are leading other's astray. Sometimes I feel as though there are two camps out there: those who go overboard and begin to teach things that are displeasing to God, and those who tend to be hyper-critical and very negative. It is difficult to find someone who is balanced. This is not to say these people do not exist, they do-but like every area of life, the "loud" people always get the attention (enough soap box).
In vs. 6 and 7 Paul is addressing men who cause much dissention in the body of Christ. They are distractions that give pastor's many headaches. I've found that most people who want to weigh down the Good News with needless, silly, and (as Paul says) fruitless discussions have become so hyper-focused on one aspect of God's character or one particular tenet or teaching, they loose focus on the big picture. Often these "discussions" have to do with the words that we say or the activities we are involved in. For example, let's look at the "prosperity gospel." This terrible theology says that if you are a follower of Christ, then you should never get sick or have a lack of money. If someone does get sick or lack a material resource (like money), it's probably because they lack faith. For many that teach this insidious doctrine, giving money to "God" can get you out of your problems. How can a person become so off in their beliefs? In my view, these people become hyper-focused on the verses that talk about provision and abundance.
18 But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be [p]food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until [q]it overflows.
2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (despite this verse, the prosperity gospel teaches that Jesus was wealthy)
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Paul says that the men who teach these terrible doctrines act like they know the Word, but they really do not...and the prosperity gospel is a great example of vs. 7. Not only are most of the verses that the teachers of the prosperity message use taken WAY out of context, but they choose to ignore the OVERALL message of scripture. Here is just one example:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. . . . No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
People put on blinders all of the time, in order to get scripture to say what they want it to say. People like this do not REALLY know God's Word.
Sorry, I know this entry was a bit longer. God Bless.