December 30, 2017

Today you should read: Habakkuk 3

Today we read the prayer of Habakkuk, where he asks God to help the nation of Israel in their time of need. The Lord has told Habakkuk that the evil nation of Babylon is coming to conquer Israel as a punishment for their rebellion and disobedience.

Habakkuk praises the Lord for His “brilliant splendor” and “awesome power” (v. 3-4). He knows that ultimately while the coming judgment of Israel will be painful and miserable, the Lord will bring good from it.

He pleads with God, “in your anger, remember your mercy” (v. 2). Habakkuk remembered the mighty act of God to rescue the nation of Israel from the army of Pharaoh by parting the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross over into the wilderness while closing the waters on Pharaoh’s army. Habakkuk trusted that even though tough times were coming, the Lord would ultimately bring about good. He exclaims:

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; 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, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength!” (v. 17-19)

What can we take from this? I see a clear connection:

Even though it may be hard to put food on the table, and there might be little money in your bank account, and you can’t find a good job, and the car broke down, will you rejoice in the Lord?

Throughout the Christmas season, we have talked about how Jesus brings us joy in the best of times and the toughest of times. Are you being joyful in the God of your salvation? The Sovereign Lord is your strength.

What are some ways you can show your joy in Christ today?

My prayer for you:

I pray that you would find joy in the Lord.

I pray that no matter what circumstances you are facing, you trust that God is working all things for your good and His glory.

I pray that you would find strength in your Sovereign Lord.

By: Lucas Taylor — Worship Ministry Intern

December 29, 2017

Today you should read: Habakkuk 2

One of the main themes of the book of Habakkuk is God’s justice in dealing with wickedness. We saw in chapter 1 of the book that Habakkuk is a prophet who is seeing the sin of Judah and wondering what God was going to do about it. God said he was going to raise up the Chaldeans (Babylon) to execute judgment on Judah. Habakkuk didn’t understand how God could raise up a wicked nation like Babylon to punish, in his mind, a lesser wicked nation like Judah.

God gives his answer by showing that both Babylon and Judah will get their justice in His time. He also wanted to show Habakkuk that his opinion on the state of wickedness of Babylon and Judah is nothing compared to God’s sovereign understanding of it.

Two verses that really stand out to me from this chapter are verse 14 and verse 20.

For the earth will be filled
    with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea. (v. 14, ESV)

But the Lord is in his holy temple;
    let all the earth keep silence before him. (v. 20, ESV)

Verse 14 gives God’s purpose in exercising judgment. From Genesis to Revelation, God’s concern is for His own glory. The principle we can take away today is that our greatest concern should be that we be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. Can you say that knowing God is your greatest desire? Do you love God or his gifts more?

Verse 20 serves as a reminder that God is in control, and he is exercising righteous judgment and a plan that is far superior to our personal plans for our lives. Often, we worship the perceived control we have over our lives instead of trusting the true control God has. The next time you feel anxiety and worry over a situation, ask yourself if the source of your anxiety could be because you desire your own control over your life instead of resting in God’s control of it.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

December 28, 2017

Today you should read: Habakkuk 1

If you keep up with Jumpstart, you know that I am a big fan of the Bible Project videos on YouTube. They do a great job of framing the overall structure and story of a book. So, as we once again step into a new book, check out this video introduction on Habakkuk (it’s a little less than 7 minutes).  

What is the problem that Habakkuk cries out to God about in chapter 1? Essentially, wickedness, violence, and a perversion of justice exists in Israel and God is silent. It seems, however, that when Habakkuk lodges his complaint, he may or may not be expecting an answer. When God does answer, starting in verse 5, it is an understatement to say, it’s not what Habakkuk expected!

Despite Habakkuk’s charge, God is aware of the depth of Israel’s sin and he is currently raising up the nation of Babylon (Chaldeans) to bring judgement. Babylon was an ancient war-machine and they were particularly brutal to their enemies.

As God pronounces his plan for retributive justice, Habakkuk must then pick his jaw up off the floor where it lies flabbergasted. Habakkuk challenged God’s character in verses 1–4, especially verse 2, but it turned out he had no idea what he was asking. Like anybody who has overstepped with their boss, Habakkuk starts back pedaling asking, “Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?” (13)

Wait a minute Habakkuk, didn’t you just call Israel wicked, violent, destructive, yadda-yadda-yadda, and then you accuse God of not doing anything about it? Now you’re saying that Israel is, in fact, righteous? So, you want God to judge sin, but you don’t want anybody to get hurt?

The book of Habakkuk is super rich and deals with some really big ideas that I will try to distill down in a couple hundred words. First, Habakkuk answers the questions of “bad things happening to good people.” He illustrates in verse 13 that the idea of “good” is very relative when he speaks of Israel’s wickedness and then their comparative righteousness as it relates to the Babylonians. We see that “good” isn’t really good, it may just be “good” from our perspective. Also, God illustrates that wickedness will always face judgement. However, we know from the rest of the Bible, that it isn’t time for God’s final judgement because sin had not yet been paid for by Christ and all people would have been sentenced to an eternity in Hell. Therefore, God could not bring final judgement Himself and had to use providential means (i.e. another nation).

Second, although I give Habakkuk a hard time, he is right. Israel was bad, but no where near as bad as the Babylonians, so his question is valid, “How can God grant favor toward wicked people to accomplish his purposes and still remain just?” What we’ll see later in the book is that God has no intention of letting the Babylonians off scot-free. Their’s will be an even worse fate of judgement, but God essentially says it is within his power and prerogative to do as he pleases to accomplish his purposes.

There are two lessons for today, first, be careful what you wish for! Often, we pray for things while failing to understand how God is at work. Second, never forget that God is good. Life is hard and it is easy to fall into the temptation that God doesn’t care. He does! He cares enough that he sent his Son to pay for sin so that when the final judgement does come, we do not need to be afraid. Without Christ a fate far worse than the Babylonians awaits, but with Christ, even when the wicked invade there is hope eternal.  

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

April 25, 2012

Today you should read: Habakkuk 3

Habakkuk 3 – what a chapter of praise to God!  Praise is so very important.  It reminds us of who God is and of who we are.  If we’re not careful, very quickly we think too much of ourselves and we forget who God really is.  He’s almighty, He’s powerful, He’s sovereign, He’s eternal – He’s God!  A perfect example of this is found in Isaiah 6…

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.  Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies!  The whole earth is filled with his glory!”  Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” (v.1-5)

God loves it when His people praise Him!  It’s true of you too… don’t your kids or your friends get much further when they start out thanking you rather than demanding of you? (Psalm 22:3)

Habakkuk praises God.

I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works.  (v.2)

I see God…the Holy One coming…His brilliant splendor fills the heavens, and the earth is filled with his praise.  His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise. Rays of light flash from his hands, where his awesome power is hidden. (v.3-4)

He is the Eternal One! (v.7)

I will rejoice in the LORD!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!  The Sovereign LORD is my strength!
 (v.18-19)

Did you start your day like this?  Praising the Lord?  Before writing this, my daughter Sarah and I, spent some time together at Starbucks (imagine that?!).  After spending some time discussing the Word, we prayed together.  We used the A – C – T – S method.  A, as you may know, stands for adoration or praise.  Together, we spent several minutes remembering how good God is and acknowledging His attributes.  It changed my whole day!   It will do the same for you.  Don’t forget to praise – it’s very important.  It sets the pace for life…

Posted by: Tim Parsons