15 July 2018

GOD ANSWERS HIS PROPHET



Hab 1:5-11

Habakkuk opens his prophetic letter lamenting about the deplorable state of Judah. This lament reflects a heart that is deeply concerned for his people and to see the Word of the Lord honored by God’s people. We need to understand that Habakkuk is “flaming angry” as R C Sproul says in his book “The Holiness Of God” with the present situation. He is so heated that he goes over the top a little bit when he laments and says “Justice never prevails”. Now! I’m sure there are some things where injustice is awaiting final overhaul, but to say that justice “never” prevails is going a little overboard. We sometimes feel that way that when justice seems silent and the wicked seem to get away with murder. Again, some cases fall through the cracks of the legal system, but a good number of crimes committed big or small, have been brought to justice. We have this idea that some people are getting away with sin and God has turned a blind eye to man’s behavior and destruction.

God has not changed that’s what makes Him immutable. His standards or His dealings, even though His executions against evil have not yet been performed against those who do such vile and evil things. His judgment is sure to come in God’s perfect timing, not oursHave we forgotten what Paul said in Rome “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works:” Rom 2:5-6. Like Paul, Peter reminds us that sins done in private or the back yard will be revealed on the Day of Judgment. He said “But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” 2 Peter 3:7. John penned these words in Revelation about the intensity of this judgement “Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" Rev 6:15-17

Do not think for a second that those who do evil committed undercover of the backyard are now done openly in the front yard go without justice or unnoticed by God. What are we to do in the meantime? Paul told us what we are to do “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom 12:18-21. What Paul is saying is the “effect” of doing good to an enemy would be to produce pain. But the pain will result from …shame, remorse of conscience, a conviction of the evil of his conduct, and an fear of divine displeasure that may lead to repentanceUs like Habakkuk we want justice now, instead of later. But unfortunately God’s delay in justice comes a time of learning and shaping God’s children.

What is the best thing to do when you’re hurting and witnessing such destructive behavior? You go to the Lord with your petitions through prayer. As David Platt said “We can learn from this prophet’s example of lamenting alone. We can learn from this prophet’s example of a lament to God in the form of a prayer. When we turn to the Lord and present our complaints to Him in faith, He will hear us and respond according to His purpose.” We know this to be true in the verses that follow Habakkuk’s lamenting heart as he pours out his anger and sadness over the nation of Judah.
  
This lamentation prayer is very familiar with David’s plea. “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!” Psalm 4:1. This is also a cry of relief from the sinful behavior caused by the present state of Judah. This opening verse of David reflects a deep sense of agony and desperation as the prophet Habakkuk is experiencing in his appeal to a holy God to deliver him and his people from such wickedness.


The question we need to ask ourselves is…… Are you ready to receive the answer from a holy God, even if it’s not what you want to hear? Look what God says! (v5-v11) Let’s break this down a little bit because God says some incredible things here in His response. God says “look”, “Observe”, and “be astounded” gives the idea that something amazing is going to happen. It’s like watching the fireworks, you hear the sound then “bam” you see the brilliance of the colors and lights and you are amazed and astonished to what you are witnessing. Just when you think you have God and the situation all figured out, God comes in and changes your plans for the His glory and you’re good. God is about to do something unthinkable and astonishing that will blow the mind of His minor prophet. It’s like what Isaiah penned “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

What is God’s plan to relieve His weary burdensome prophet’s pain? He’s going to send a mighty nation who are loving, respectful, honoring to God and loves to help the weak and the hurting. They are a people who care about children and women, who are wonderful protectors and outstanding citizens, who contribute much to society. A people you would love to have in your country, a people you would love to have over for dinner and to maybe babysit your children. NO! You think things couldn’t get any worse, but they do! God is going to send the Babylonians into the nation to overrule them and put them into captivity. God will employ the Babylonians as His instrument of divine judgement and justice against His people of Judah. This is not the answer I’m sure Habakkuk was hoping and praying for. He is probably thinking to himself “How this is good or how is this going to help us?”

What is wrong with this picture? This is terrible news for Habakkuk and the people that he loves. How did God who is transcendent, holy and sovereign, come up with this plan thinking it’s going to help His people? The state of Judah is already in a terrible place, and the Lord brings words of divine judgment that no one would have ever expected, not even Habakkuk himself. Again the Lord’s ways are much higher than mine and yours. This is terrible news for a prophet who is already feeling the pressure of a vile and wicked people who are insubordinate to the word of God. This only adds to the fire a whole new level of present and future suffering. Why? The Babylonians are a wicked and perverse people group, who has the imperial ambitions, aggressiveness and tactical skill to succeed such a task. The Lord uses “metaphors” (a figure of speech) to describe such a wicked and vile people group.

“Bitter and hasty nation” the Babylonians were a hostile, cruel, and without mercy and they applied these characteristics to their policies and practice. They knew how to inflict intense harm on their enemies and by doing that they developed a reputation for doing so. They were a brutal violent group of people that reflect the imagery of savage wild animals that will attack anything.

“They are dreadful and fearsome” (v7) they strike fear into their prey and this would be doubled for the Jews, considered they were most hated people in the land. They were an unstoppable; self-sufficient elite force that executing their own laws and practices on the land.

“their horses are swifter then leopards” (v8) this pictures a fierce majestic creature that has great speed and precision. Their military has the strength and size of a noble steed and the speed of a leopard.

“more fierce than evening wolves” (v8) this pictures long fasting by day as they come out at night hungry like a pack of wolves who haven’t eaten in days. Jeremiah a contemporary of Habakkuk uses identical language to describe the coming judgement at the hands of the Babylonians Jeremiah 4:13-14 “Behold, he comes up like clouds; his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles— woe to us, for we are ruined! O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved. How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you?”

“They fly like eagles swift to devour” (v8) this pictures speed and swiftness in flight as they will never miss their prey from afar.

As an eagle hunger increases their flight becomes increasingly quicker, bolder and daring. They are unyielding in their assault, which makes it hard for the victims to react and respond.
  
“They all come for violence” (v9) refers to acts of physical aggression resulting in physical harm or death. “Violence” had been the sin of Judah from the very beginning of this letter (v3-v4) and now violence shall be her punishment. What this means is? God is going to give Judah a large dose of its own medicine as a means of discipline, correction and judgment.

“at Kings they scoff” (v10) they are battle hardened and unafraid of other nations who had reputations of military might or power. They also “scoff” this means they “mock, joke and laugh “at their enemies, which indicates a hardened attitude towards opposing forces in war. Kings, rulers, and fortresses were easy take downs by their military and they knew precisely how to conduct a successful siege against a city and its defense.

“pile up earth” (v10) the armies would pile up sand to construct earthen siege walls around the a city to take it captive. These ramps could be used to bring siege machines to make a breach in the wall and well to provide access to the boots on the ground to attack. They were skilled in siege warfare and experienced at making war and frightening their enemies.

And to top it off!

“whose own might is their god.” (v11) they were hell-bent and were known to sweep through areas like a hurricane force. They trusted in their own strength and their military might. They idolized their strength to subdue nations for themselves. This fantasy they lived makes them guilty before a holy God who is sovereign over the nations. What the Babylonians did was the exact same thing Paul was preaching to his generation and to us.

Paul said “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man…”Rom 1:22-23They worshipped themselves and knowing that God is sovereign; this will be short lived by anyone who lives this way. Man’s power is temporal, but God’s power is eternal and infinite. Man’s power is limited, but God’s power is limitless. Man’s power is confined to space and time, but God’s power is not confined to anything or anyone. So these people were not a nice people! 

But what makes us think we as a nation are any better than the nation of Judah? 

The nation of Judah created idols for themselves. 
The nation of Judah was the ones who turned their backs on the God. 
The nation of Judah was acting in willful disobedience to a holy God who promised them so many things through the patriarchs. 
The nation of Judah was the one willfully sinning against an Almighty God. 
The nation of Judah was the ones who did what was right in their own eyes. 
Are we as a nation much different than what you read in the opening prayer or concern of Habakkuk?

Think about! Do we not see these same things that concern our hearts and the next generation? Unfortunately we see things through me centered glasses. We tend to look at people and compare them with other people and come to a conclusion were not as bad as they are. We tend to watch the news, read articles, and say “they are wicked people”We read about history and some of the worst most despicable people and we say “they are wicked and they got what they deserve.” We observe a person walking in the mall with tattoo’s and piercing thinking to ourselves “they must be wicked to do that to their body.” We see others as the problem because they are open with their sin and behavior. But! What about us? We may not do it on the front yard, but we do it in the back yard and in private? The danger you and I face when we see others as the problem we are no different than the Pharisee who went to pray. Jesus spoke this parable "The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.'…." Luke 18:10-14

Are we obeying God with our lives?
Are we not covenant- breakers ourselves at times?
Are we not any different than the nation of Judah or the Babylonians?

We need to understand that God warned His people time and time again and all they did was laugh and ignore the warnings. Instead of repenting, all it did was hardened their hearts even more. 2 Chron 36:14-16 we read this “Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the LORD which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” God’s answer to Habakkuk’s prayer is to use the Babylonians as a tool of discipline for His covenant breaking people.

What God said in the opening of His comments to Habakkuk were “For I am doing a work in your days..” (v5) Meaning! its going to be difficult for you believe it, but in the end it’s for your good and for God’s glory. This statement that God says reminds me of a story about two sisters in a concentration camp. “In the barracks where Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy were kept in the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbruck were terribly overcrowded and flea-infested. They miraculously had been able to smuggle a Bible into the camp, and in that Bible they read that in all things they were to give thanks, and that God can use anything for good. Corrie's sister Betsy decided this meant thanking God for the fleas. This was too much for Corrie, who said she could do no such thing. Betsy insisted, so Corrie gave in and prayed to God, thanking Him even for the fleas. During the next several months, a wonderful, but curious, thing happened. They found that the guards never entered their barracks. This meant the women were not assaulted. It also meant they were able to do the unthinkable, which was to hold open Bible studies and prayer meetings in the heart of a Nazi concentration camp. Through this, countless numbers of women came to faith in Christ.”

Only at the end did they discover why the guards had left them alone and would not enter their barracks. It was because of the fleasWe hear stories like this and say “how terrible “and yes rightfully so. But behind the fleas and suffering we see God’s goodness and providence in the lives of His children. The same rule of thumb applies to each and every one of us today! So! Watch, observe and be amazed in your day to see God at work. Do you believe that God is at work in your life despite how things presently look? Rest here and know that a sovereign God has your life, my life and the rest of this world under His control; and He know exactly what He is doing even if we can’t see it today or tomorrow.

Remember! God is not obligated to explain anything to us, but He does graciously reveals Himself and His work to those who seek Him. The big problem we face is…. that we depend upon our own strength, our own power and our own ability. The only solution to this is repent, trust and obey and most of all rest in His sovereign grace to see you though for His glory and your good. Then Job answered the LORD and said: "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.' Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 'Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.' I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:1-6

08 July 2018

THE SOVEREIGN GOD SPEAKS



Habakkuk 1:5-11

The word “Sovereign” means chief or highest; supreme in power; superior in position to all others. God is Spirit, self-existent, immutable, changeless, infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and holy. When we become God’s children, we tend to play God and look at the sin and all the terrible things in everyone around us. We tend to always ask the question ‘Why doesn’t the Lord do anything to His disobedient people?’ ‘Why doesn’t He see what his people are doing in the world that He created?’ Charles H. Spurgeon says “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength”. That statement is so true; I myself have the tendency to do just that. I worry and judge the earth and say “God do you see what your people are doing? Hurry up and do something about it!” We can learn a great deal from the prophetic book of Habakkuk, because this is the problem we see here in this little letter written by minor prophet.

God is sovereign and we are NOTWhenever God acts, he acts in a way that pleases Him. God is never constrained to do a thing that He despises. He is never backed into a corner where His only recourse is to do something He hates to do. He does whatever He pleases. This is why the sovereignty of God is emulated in His supremacy.

“Supremacy” being like His holiness is transcendent, superior and God is outside or above everything. In simple terms! He is the One who is in absolute control. (All saved & unsaved) God being infinite elevates His supremacy above beyond us and our finite understanding. He is the Most High God and He is subject to no one…not even you.

Isaiah 46:9-10 says “remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” Charles Spurgeon said “There is no attribute comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions that sovereignty overrules them, and the sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation, the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands, the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne.”

See God is sovereign over Nature…… 

The wind blows at His command.
The water moves forward and stops at His command. Jeremiah asked “Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O LORD our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things.” Jer 14:22. In Matthews’s gospel we read this “And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?" Matt 8:25-27

The Stars come out at night (by name) at His command.
The Sun radiates heat on the earth at the command of a sovereign God.
All animal and all species are under the sovereignty of God.

Psalm 139:7-9 says “To Him who made the great lights, For His lovingkindness is everlasting: The sun to rule by day, For His lovingkindness is everlasting, The moon and stars to rule by night, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. David wrote “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:3-9

God is sovereign over Nations……

He has the rulers of this land and the people of these lands in the palm of His sovereign hand.

What do I mean God is sovereign over….
Justin Trudeau
Donald Trump
Netanyahu
Merkel
Kim Jong Un
Prime Minister May
Stalin
Adolf Hitler
King Ahab
Nebuchadnezzar

God was sovereign over a wicked ruler like Nero, a Roman emperor who came into power 54 A.D. at the age of 17. At the age of 31 he committed suicide and it was under Nero’s reign that Paul was beheaded and that Peter was martyred. When Peter wrote his first epistle to the “elect exiles” 1 Peter 1:1. Nero had burned Rome including all its cultural and religious artifacts and put the blame squarely on the ChristiansSo the persecution these Christians were already facing was suddenly intensified. According to Tacitus (Ta-si-tus), the Roman historian, Nero rolled Christians in pitch and then set them on fire while they were still alive and used them as living torches to light his garden parties. Peter knowing and witnessing this terrible man in power was still able to write “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-8. Peter goes on to say in chapter 2:13 “Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors.” What Peter is saying is that we must live as obedient citizens in this world so that God will be honored and glorified. See! A rebellious Christian brings dishonor on Christ. So as Peter says in chapter 4:12-16 say “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” Peter was able to say this because he trusted in the sovereignty of God over his life and the nations.

Psalm 33:10-11 we read “The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” This is the Lord's doing, He is omniscient, and knows all the secret plots and designs of men; and He is omnipotent, and responds to them all according to His perfect will and timing.
  
God is sovereign over your life…..

Prov 20:24 says “A man's steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?” James half-brother of Jesus wrote “Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit" yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:13-14. God is writing a story over your life…you and I are the main actors but He is the director who is doing His perfect will for your life whether you like the story or not. Because in the end it brings eternal glory for us despite the minor sufferings that we had on this short time on earth. Remember what Paul wrote and think we should listen to him considering what he went through for the glory of Christ. Paul penned these words of encouragement “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor 4:17-18
  
Remember eternity is for eternity, this present life is temporal and we will be leaving here one day. That I can prophecy…. and it will happen wither by death or at Christ’s return. The sovereignty of God refers to the fact that God is in complete control of the universe and your life. Here is where confusion sets in for the believer! Some would say this is fatalism you’re preaching Pastor Mike. NO! A belief in God’s sovereignty is distinct from fatalism, which denies human free will.

“Fatalism” is the belief that “What will be will be,” since all past, present, and future events have already been predetermined by God or another all-powerful force, such as “Fate.”

Fatalism teaches that there is a blind, impersonal force over which no one has control, not even God, and that events are swept along by this blind, purposeless power.

Please understand! Christians reject fatalism; rather, Christians understand that a wise, holy, good, and sovereign God has control of every detail of life. Jesus said “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matt 10:29-30. The man or woman who does not really want God to have this control or who despises the truth of God’s sovereignty does not love God and does not want God in his life. But God is sovereign, and He cannot deny Himself. We as image bearers are able to make genuine choices that have real consequences. God does not directly cause everything to happen, yet He does allow all that happens to happen. And, ultimately, God’s will is going to be accomplished in your life and the person beside you, whether you like that or not. 

Where do we see that most clearly? In the life of Joseph....Gen 50:20 says “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a] should be kept alive, as they are today. How about as Jesus stood before the rulers of His day! Luke 23:13-21 “Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him." But they all cried out together, "Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas"—a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!"

And from this point we later hear the famous words of or Lord “And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34. You meant it for evil but God meant it for good. All things that God chooses to put in your path are there for you to learn something of His great will for you. Sometimes he will also use circumstances that are difficult when He wants to chasten you back to the place where you were found: broken and in need of His grace. John Piper says “The climax of God’s happiness is the delight He takes in the echoes of His excellence in the praises of His people”. We need to look at the LORD Jehovah with reverence and praise for He is the Ruler of the universe and He honors a humble servant who lives with obedience and faithful praise to Him the “Sovereign God”. He had made a covenant promise with Abraham and then God promised a Son who would come and bear the sins for all mankind; He is truthful in everything He said He was going to do.

Romans 8:28-30 reminds us of this truth “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Remember when you get to the point of exasperation and doubt that you will never fully understand what God is doing. Submit in obedience to him and go to Him through prayer because He holds all the answers. That’s why I am the created and He is the Sovereign Creator of the universe. Listen to these comforting words by J I Packer about the sovereignty of God “We need not fear worthlessness. We can be confident that God will have His way and that it will be good. We can trust that the One who says He loves us is fully able to act on that love in all ways. We can trust that, even when the world seems completely out of control, God is in control. We know He has the big picture covered, so we can trust Him with our daily details.

Remember He is the Potter we are the clay! As R C Sproul said “To say that God's sovereignty is limited by man's freedom is to make man sovereign.” Listen to my words Habakkuk and listen to my words children of God as you face your present situation or momentary affliction. God is in control and that’s all you need to understand to face what today brings and what tomorrow will bring. Because the sovereign God of the universe is still on the throne and in complete control.

01 July 2018

WHY GOD WHY



Habakkuk 1:1-4

Why God why? Have you ever asked that question to God? It’s a question that many inside and outside the church ask on a regular basis. It’s a question that you might what to be very careful in asking a holy God who doesn’t need to answer any of our questions. One of the modern Christian myths of the day is that the when you put your faith in Christ, your entire life gets better and everything you touch turns into gold or for the better. I didn’t receive that memo when Christ got a hold of my heart through the gospel. The sad reality and error to that thinking is that your problems don’t go away they get elevated to Def-Con 4 at times. The biblical truth to the gospel confession is that our internal spiritual position is restored and secured by the grace of God through is Son’s death and resurrection. But! Our external lives are still faced with the present and new set of problems.

As Warren Wiersbe said “Christians who claim to be without problems are either not telling the truth or not growing and experiencing real life.” The hang up the church has been plagued with for so many years with kind of thinking and it has diminished the truth of the gospel message. With false truths “If you come to Jesus all your heartache and pains go away and the world becomes a fantasy land.”

The truth is….Jesus didn’t come to save you from
Cancer
Heartache
Brokenness
Sickness
Drought or famines
The present political climate
Physical death 

He came to save your/our wretched souls from the judgment that is being stored up for those you deny and suppress the truth of the gospel. Paul penned these words “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Rom 2:4. Jesus came to save us from this wrath! Not from our present problems and evil world system. The underlining truth to the gospel is that the overflowing grace of His salvation makes it possible to endure and to have a joy filled life as you face the present day. To be able to have joy as you face the devastating news that you have cancer, the loss of a job or relationship or just a plan old bad year so far. We are not exempt from problems or struggles in this present world system. Remember what Matthew’s gospel says “For He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matt 5:43-45. When we are faced with that question “Why God Why” we need to face this question with the understanding of the Cross in mindGod allows things to happen in our lives so that we grow deeper in His grace and to rely upon Him in every situation. Unfortunately some people equate a good life with the blessings of God and there is truth to that, but there are also blessings that flow in seasons of heart ache and pain.
Our devotion and perseverance in the good and the bad are evidence to the gospel transformation.

Do we call our sufferings and heartaches blessing from God? They are! Paul said this “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,” Phil 1:29. To go through sufferings in this life and to be tested as we walk the Christian walk is a blessing as it refines and refinishes us for eternal glory. So let me ask you again! Do think to yourself “Why God why?” Do you wrestle with this question? Maybe not right now in the present, but have you a one point in time? It is a question that plagues all of us in the Christian faith. Every one of us has questions to why God does and allows things to happen in our lives and in the lives of others.

Questions like…. 
Why do good people suffer and it seems that evil people seem to prosper?
Why aren’t you answering my prayer God?
Why are my unsaved loved ones still not responding to the gospel? 
Why did you take my love one so soon and so sudden? 
Why is that I’m doing my best for you Lord and all I experience is heartache and frustration?

One thing we need to understand when we ask questions like this is that we are now entering into the ring with a holy God who is sovereign. The warning signs are up and they are saying “Proceed with extreme caution” The bible is full of people who wrestled with this question. Jacob tried it when he chose to wrestle with a Holy God back in Genesis 32. Job refused to take the easy way out. He suffered the counsel of fools by listening to the advice of his friends, And finally he rose up to challenge God on the matter of whyHe rose to challenge God and he faced God alone while wrestling and struggling for answers to his misery. God’s reply was hardly comforting! We read this in Job 38:1-17 “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? "Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed'? "Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken. "Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
And it only goes from bad to worse for Job as God continues to pound Job with questions that he knows he cannot answer.

Why do I say that! “Then Job answered the LORD and said: "Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further." Job 40:3-5. And in last chapter Job speaks words of wisdom to your heart and my heart when we ask God why! “Then Job answered the LORD and said: "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 'Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:1-6. The full weight of God’s questions fell hard on Job, but he was able to live without having his questions answeredThe same goes for us as well! You might have legitimate questions towards God but don’t lose heart of joy if He chooses to never answer them.

This brings me to the book of Habakkuk We come to a letter were we get front row seats to the question “Why God why?” Habakkuk was a man who was deeply burdened over what was happening to his people.  What was his burden? King Josiah was dead and his son and successor King Jehoiakim was leading the people of Israel. You ask yourself! What’s so bad about that? This is what God had to say about Jehoiakim and his wicked behavior. In Jeremiah 22:17-19 we read this “But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence." Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: "They shall not lament for him, saying, 'Ah, my brother!' or 'Ah, sister!' They shall not lament for him, saying, 'Ah, lord!' or 'Ah, his majesty!' With the burial of a donkey he shall be buried, dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem." “the burial of a donkey “ means an offensive and detestable manner, that none would mourn or attend his funeral

See! There were four basic principles to why Israel went into captivity.
Their failure to keep the sabbatical year when it came to the land (Lev 25:1-7).
Their obvious and blatant display of idolatry (1 Kings 14:22-24).
Their noticeable display of ungratefulness (Exo 15:24; 1 Sam 8:19-22).
Their handling of the Lord’s anointed the prophets & messengers (1 Chron 16:22).

Habakkuk was just man like us! He was faced with a problem that left him with a heavy burden, not for himself, but his people. A burden heavy enough to get into the ring with God and willing to go a few rounds with the question “Why God Why?” (v1-v4)

God……
Why do you make look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Why do you tolerate the deceitful?
Why are you silent in front of my enemies?

These kind of “Why” questions often shreds a person’s faith to bits. This is why we need to extremely careful when we approach God, when we observe what’s going on around us. This is one of the most difficult questions for Christians when they are dealing with pain, loss and suffering. The world knows this and they mock us by saying “Where is your God?” The answer! “For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!” Psalm 47:7-9

What does this mean? He is seated on the throne in all His glory and He is sovereign and He knows exactly what He is doing. God is sovereign and He is exactly where He is supposed to be and that truth alone should bring comfort to our weary and burdensome souls on a daily basis. But like Habakkuk we sometimes see things through foggy glasses. And we begin to question God with Why?

Look what Habakkuk says to God. Keeping in mind……..
The One who is infinitely worthy of all our praise.
The One who can stop our hearts from breathing whenever He pleases.
The One who created the universe from nothing because He can.
The One who loved us so much that He had to send His Son to die in our place because sinners are detestable to the holiness of God.

Habakkuk says “Why do you make me see iniquity and cause me to look at trouble” (v3) “Iniquity” and “trouble” are in parallel and indicate the general “depravity” of society. Are we saying the same thing today as Habakkuk did so many years ago? Well the answer to that question is Yes!

For example....
The celebration and public acceptance of perversion & fornicating lifestyles this past month. 
The abortion rate and the right to say “It’s my body” so I have the right to kill my child.” 
The corruption of government officials and their lack of concern about Canadian citizens, because they are only concerned about lining their own pockets. 
The lack of national security on the Canadian borders and crossings. 
The disregard to human life at any age, as you can get assistance in killing yourself if your “terminally ill” in Canada. 
The breakdown of the home, the sanctity of marriage and collapse of the Canadian dollar.
The lack of respect for the police and public workers and failing to understand  they are there to help and or to protect you…they are not your enemy.
Universities and Colleges campuses becoming so left wing and Liberal that a conservative view is sunned and ostracized and labeled a “ism” of the talking points of today’s socialist.
Young people taking their own lives and talking the life of other young people though gang or gun violence.
The hatred and divide that the main stream media is trying to propagate in your homes, and through Wi-Fi.
The fighting and bickering that goes on in the true church.
The fighting over versions of the Bible and spiritual gifts and the sufficiency of scripture.
The lack of biblical knowledge and true understanding of the gospel.
The compromise and lack of concern for biblical truth to fit today’s generation, because we don’t what to offend.

We too could say the same thing today as Habakkuk did in his day. The nation was under captivity by wicked men and leaders and they were placed there for God purposes. For the same reasons we see and witness the trouble of our present cultural landscape. Why? Because mankind loves to drink iniquity like water. This observation helps us to understand when we read scripture that says “What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight; how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks injustice like water!” Job 15:14-16. It’s a person who loves sin, and is as greedy of it, as a thirsty man is of water. They practice it as if it were their very nature; as much as it is to drink a glass of water on a hot day. Prov 19:28 says “…and the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity.”

Why does God allow us to see and go through the depravity of our day? So that He will be glorified by you and me, no matter what happens behind, beside and before us. So that we grow deeper in love with Him and His gospel that is filled with mercy and grace for sinners. So that we never sway from understanding who is in control and who sits on the throne despite the present cultural climate. But! To truly understand this passage, and to truly try to grasp why Habakkuk asks such questions…. One has to understand something that is foundational to this letter. God is sovereign and that truth alone should be enough! As Job said at the end of the letter “I know that you can do everything, and that no purposes of Yours can be withheld from You.” Job 42:2. As David said “You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.” Psalm 139:2. This is exactly what God wants us to do when we are faced with a burden and anguish with our present situation or problem with our present cultural climate. But! Before we see God’s response to Habakkuk I want us next week to look at the sovereignty of God so that we have the ground work and foundation to see God’s answer to Habakkuk’s genuine burden more clearly. So until next week we will stop here and lets leave our questions with God as Habakkuk did here.