27 February 2012

Pride Kills The Soul

Hab 2:4-20

We pretty much live in a “ME” centered culture......I want what I want and if I don’t get what I want, I will behave like a spoiled little brat until I get what I want. Do you know a person like that? That individual that can tell a better story then you. A great example of this is a show Brian Regan did [here is the link] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiUsfEkVRDYHis story trumps your story! It's that individual who seeks the center of attention in a group and wants everyone to notice them wherever they are. We have people like this all over the place! I've worked with people like this and have seen it on many occasions in the past. It doesn't matter where you are whether it's in church or the grocery store.....”ME MONSTERS” are all around us. Perhaps there might be a “ME MONSTER” in here this morning? See the underlining reality to a "ME MONSTER" is that it comes down to one truth! They are self absorbed...which is a person full of PRIDE! The bible has a lot to say about “ME MONSTERS” a person who is selfish and most of all proud.....[PRIDEFUL]. THE BIBLE CALLS PRIDE........SIN! Yes, pride is a sin! “A haughty look, a proud heart,........... are sin.” Prov 21:4. The bible also says that God hates pride  “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.” Prov 16:5. The bible says that pride defiles a man or woman  “And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.” Matt 7:20. The bible says that pride is forbidden in the life of a believer  “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Rom 12:3. The bible says that pride is a major hindrance to knowing God  “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.” Ps 10:4

Pride is so bad it’s characterized of this fallen world. “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16. It’s characterized with false teachers  “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” 1 Tim 6:3-5. It’s characterized with the wicked [the unregenerate and unrepented heart] “therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment.” Ps 73:6. Charles Spurgeon had this to say about pride..... When a man admires himself he never adores God.” J C Ryle had these humbling words to say about the issue of pride! “It is an dreadful fact, whether we like to allow it or not, that pride is one of the common sins which beset human nature. We are all born Pharisees. We all naturally think far better of ourselves than we ought. We all naturally imagine that we deserve something better than we have. It is an old sin. It began in the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve thought they had not got everything that their merits deserved. It is a subtle sin. It rules and reigns in many a heart without being detected, and can even wear the garb of humility. It is a most soul ruining sin. It prevents repentance, keeps men back from Christ – checks brotherly love, and nips in the bud spiritual desires. Let us watch against it, and be on our guard. Of all garments, none is so graceful, none wears so well, and none is so rare, as true humility.” This is something that we need to ask the Spirit today! Is there pride in me [in my life] that is hindering my walk or relationship with God? Why do I say this? Pride is a major issue...and we see the results first hand here in this letter by Habakkuk. God continues to tell Habakkuk......Write this down for future generations, so that they will understand my hatred and my judgement towards those who continue to have a proud heart to the end (v2)God has already characterized the fundamental difference between a proud heart and a faithful heart in (v4)The "proud" trusts in himself! The proud does the opposite and shakes his or her fist into the sky and says “it’s my life and I will do with it as I please” As the Atheist slogan goes "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." The opposite of this! The just [God’s imputed righteousness to the Christian] will live by faith.....even when they may not understand why God does what He does. In this portion of the letter we begin to see God’s displeasure for those who chose to live this way according to self!  Many theologians call this “Habakkuk’s funeral song for Babylon.” So let me warn those in this sanctuary who that thinks pride isn't that big of an issue. I would say think again! As we look at the FIVE WOES to those who continue down this road of destruction.

1. THE WOE FOR INTIMIDATION (V6-V8) Intimidation is to frighten into submission, to bully is to intimidate through blustering, domineering, or threatening behaviour. The Babylonians were consumed by selfish ambitions and they stopped at nothing to acquire wealth and expand their kingdom through the means of intimidation. The other side of this coin is that ambition can be a good thing.... if it’s motivated by pleasing a holy God, for the glory of God. But! If it’s for selfish reasons as in the case of the Babylonians, then it’s wrong! This is a prime example of a “ME MONSTER” They had hoards of stolen goods...plundered from helpless people for their own pleasures. It’s interesting to note that God warned them that those whom they stole from, would come collecting....We look at (v8) “the plunderer shall be plundered” as the same meaning that use today! "What goes around comes around” this is what is going to happen to Babylon for their selfish-pride. The Babylonians will become the victim one day of the bloodshed they have committed and so will the person who desires to live with a proud heart.

2. THE WOE FOR INTEMPERANCE (V9-V11) Intemperance is the indulgence of an appetite or a passion for something! It’s that “I must have it” attitude. Intemperance is like taking an intoxicating drink...it makes you want more. The scary thing is that God hates this form of behaviour..... The bible calls this covetousness and it’s so severe it’s the 10th commandment given to man. This is a problem that‘s been around for centuries!  It started back in the garden when Eve’s eyes were opened to the fact that she wanted what God had. She coveted what God had and wasn't content with what she had.  In Isaiah chapter 14:12-15 we see the beginning of a proud heart! “I will...” The Babylonians took [stole] land that wasn't theirs in order to build an Empire big enough to stop anyone who dared try to attack. Just like the Ninevites who built these big walls around their land.  See, the Babylonians thought the more land they secured the safer they would be from their enemies and especially God. Instead of having houses and families that brought honour, they would be disgraced and shamed and lose everything.  Instead of being content with what you had their end would lead to heartache and pain! (v10). Remember what Jesus saidFor what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Mark 8:36. Let me ask you!  Are you content or do you desire more than what you have? The answer to that question will determine if you’re a fool who built bigger barns.....like the man who was full of selfish pride. Or content like Paul when he said..... “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Phil 4:12-13. This portion of Habakkuk’s letter might have been like a flap in the face or a rebuke to some of the Jews. Why? For what they were doing by exploiting the poor and using the money to build expensive homes when they had control. Example!
“I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house; The houses of ivory shall perish, And the great houses shall have an end," Says the LORD.” Amos 3:15. In Amos 6:11 it says “For behold, the LORD gives a command: He will break the great house into bits, And the little house into pieces.”

3. THE WOE TO INIQUITY (V12-V13) Iniquity is a grossly immoral act; a sin! The lack of integrity or morality. Babylon was built on bloodshed...the blood of innocent victims. We see the same thing happening around us today! I recently was watching a video on the NUBA people in South Sudan who have gone through such pain and anguish over the death of so many people young and old because they do not and will not submit to the religion of Islam. The Babylonians were proud of what they done and they didn't care about how they got it. The sad truth is that this had no lasting value. This was only fuel for God’s flaming wrath towards these people who loved their sin. A prideful person thinks that he or she is getting away it because nothing is happening. God isn't a forgetful God! He will bring all things to court of His glory and judgement. The Book of Job says "For His eyes are on the ways of man, And He sees all his steps. Job 34:21. Nothing is hidden from His sight in your life! He knows everything that you are doing in the light and in the darkness. Remember the passage in Hebrews “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” 4:13

4. THE WOE FOR INDIGNITY (V15-V17) Indignity is Humiliating, degrading, or abusive treatment. The LORD uses alcohol as a metaphor to the destruction of Babylon, because of their pride and arrogance and vulnerability and how they used it against the nation of Judah. The Babylonians forced others to become intoxicated and poisoned, making them behave shamefully and become easy prey. This is what drunkenness leads too.....a person or persons unaware of the present danger. The spiritual application is that alcohol has the power to lead a person to destruction and violence.  We need to understand drunkenness and sensual behaviour usually go hand in hand.  I'm not here to preach that alcohol is evil in and of itself! But, I would preach to you abstinence from such drink! Why? Look what it does to person, a marriage, a family! It destroysHabakkuk says.....It brings about immorality (v15) “look on his nakedness”, It brings about shame and sickness (v16) “shame will be on your glory", It brings about destruction because of violence (v17) “the cup of the LORD’s right hand” [which implies God’s cup of wrath against the Babylonians]. Pride drives people to do foolish things. What's worse is that pride may drive people to drink from God’s cup! This is His wrath and judgement.....

5. THE WOE TO IDOLATRY (V18-V19) Idolatry is the worship of idol! The Babylonians were addicted to idolatry......Again they worshipped over 65,000 gods. Romans 1:25 says “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,.......” Paul also wrote to the Galatians “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, (v20) idolatry,...”Gal 5:19-20. See we have to be very careful! Your favourite sports team can be idolatry, your favourite car or hobbies can be idolatry, your farm or occupation can be idolatry, your possessions can be idolatry. See if you love your things or stuff or whatever it might be, more than Christ! It’s idolatry. Here is a good test I came across in my study for this message! Warren Weirsbe suggests the following test for idolatry!

1. Devotion test- For what are we living?
2. Dependence test- In what are we trusting?
3. Delight test- From what do we obtain pleasure?
4. Decision test- What guides our decision making?
5. Destiny test- To what are we looking forward?

Is it Christ? Or is it all about self? Are you the just or the proud? The Christian life has many obstacles and struggles and pride is one of those ones that kill the soul in Hell for all eternity.......If you're displaying any of these characteristics in your life, I plead with you this morning! REPENT or you will likewise perish as Jesus said in Luke’s gospel! You might be thinking that you can pull the wool over God’s eyes because you're getting away with something at the present time! Be warned! The LORD is no fool, He will not be mocked and He will deal with each and every one of us [you] in His timing. Habakkuk was beginning to understand that..... because God was revealing these things to him in real time! We have his written word and we are without excuse... because we get to have front row seats to God’s sovereign providence in the lives of His people. We get to see the plan He has for those who deny Him, His glory and the sovereign rule that He holds by His power and might! (v20) Remember the Psalm! “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Ps 45:10. God will destroy the pride of this world and punish it for all eternity in HELL. As J C Ryle puts it! “You cannot live forever. You must one day die. You cannot avoid the judgement after death. You must stand before the bar of Christ. The summons of the Archangel cannot be disobeyed. The last great assembly must be attended. The state of your own soul must one day undergo a thorough investigation. It will be found out one day what you are in God’s sight. Your spiritual condition will at length be brought to light before the whole world. Oh, find out what it is now! While you have time, while you have health, find out the state of your soul.” My question this morning is! What will He be doing with you on that day?

Do You Love The Church

24 February 2012

Wretched: Run!

The Blessing of Waiting Upon God

Hab 2:1-4

There was a story I came across about a 3 year old boy named Todd, from Rhode Island .........”who went down to the seacoast to fly a kite. Never having flown a kite before, Todd had obvious doubts. His father assured him that all was well, and the kite would go up as planned. As Todd unravelled the string, and watched the kite go up, he was heard to say, "I knew it would fly, daddy. You said it would.” A simple statement, with profound implications. Something as simple as trusting your dad that the kite will fly. The same thing could be said about the Christian life........trusting that your Heavenly Father knows what He’s talking about in the written word. “.....Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 18:2-4. Throughout the New Testament we see God or His apostles refereeing to you and me as children. Why? For the same reason Jesus said we must come to Him as children who need His direction and guidance......."My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin....” 1 John 2:1. Paul said  “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,” Gal 4:19. To the church family in Corinth, he said  “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.” 1 Cor 4:14

We are to have faith like a child! "I knew it would fly, daddy. You said it would.”  What does this faith look like? What does it mean to have faith? By definition faith is a complete trust or confidence in someone or something. The biblical definition is our complete trust and confidence in the Lord of the universe.  For example the object of Abraham's "faith" was not God's promises.....his "faith" rested on God Himself. John Calvin defined faith this way! “we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

The greatest definition is found in Hebrews chapter 11 “Now faith is the assurance [confidence] of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (v1) “of things hoped for”  What are some the things hoped for? Eternal fellowship with God.....The vindication of Christ....The display of His power.....The meeting that we shall have with Him.....The redemption of our bodies.....The judgement and removal of sin and wickedness...to name a few! “the conviction of things not seen.”  True faith is not based on observed evidence but on divine assurance...which is a gift from God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” Eph 2:8.  Faith is a gift from God given to the child of God to have confidence in things that are unseen.  I can’t see Heaven...but I know I’ll see Him one day, because of the promises that are written in His word. I've never seen Jesus literally die or resurrected! But, I know He died for my sin and rose again on the third day and that He is seated in all His glory at the right hand of the Father. See faith is not mere human hope. Faith is based on the Word of God alone. This is the faith that you and me possess! I have no faith in my ability apart from the saving grace and truth found in God’s word.  If I had faith in myself I am destined for failure and destruction.

Faith plays an important part in the life of the believer....The bible says “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Heb 11:6

God is the object of our faith.....Jesus said "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1

It’s essential for the Gospel.....“For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.” Heb 4:2

Faith produces obedience.....“but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith” Rom 16:26

Faith is necessary for spiritual warfare.....“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Tim 6:12

Faith works love towards others.....“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Tim 1:5

 Faith is the ultimate ingredient to become and be a Christian! J C Ryle said these words.. “A true believer’s religion does not consist in mere intellectual assent to a certain set of propositions and doctrines. It is not a mere cold belief of a certain set of truths and facts concerning Christ. It consists in union, communion, and fellowship with an actual living Person, Jesus the Son of God”. Faith is vital to God's redemption process as we see here in this portion of Habakkuk’s letter. On aside note... this simple statement carried all the way through some 600 years later into the New Testament!

·         1st Rom 1:17 “the just shall live by faith”
·         2nd Gal 3:11 “the just shall live by faith”
·         3rd Heb 10:38 “the just shall live by faith”

So let’s look at a man called out by God..... and watch how he deals with the two questions he asked the Lord previously by faith. Let’s learn and apply these same principles [biblical truths] in our lives this morning and tomorrow and the next day and so on....


Faith produces a readiness and alertness... Look at (v1) Habakkuk says “I will stand my watch”. This gives the idea of duty or act of watching from a high place......from a watch tower overlooking the grounds. In ancient times the watchman was responsible to warn the city of approaching danger. And if they weren't faithful with this responsibility their hands would be stained with the blood of the people who died. Eze 3:17-21 says this...."Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul." Eze 33:1-6 it says..... The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand."

This was a serious responsibility! This image of the watchman carries a spiritual lesson and principle for you and me. As God's people, we know the danger that approaches....we may not know when it's going to comes.... But we know it’s going to be frightening and devastating for so many people. It’s our responsibility to warn people of this pending danger without hesitation. John the Baptist said these words....“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Matt 3:7. If we don’t share the Gospel truth with lost sinners their blood may be on our hands. Seriously think about...we’re not responsible to save people [God does the saving] but it is our responsibility to share Jesus Christ with the lost because we are the watchmen of our generation. See my [our] passion for the proclamation of the gospel and the burden for lost souls should give us a clear conscience as Paul when he said......“Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:26-27. As the late great Spurgeon said.... “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”  Habakkuk was a man whose faith keeps him alert and ready watching from his tower.  Does your faith keep you ready at all times?


·     Look what the LORD tells him to do when He answers his second “Why” question. He tells Habakkuk “make it plain on tablets” In today’s terms....get a pen and write this down! Why? So that future generations will be able to see the promises fulfilled by a holy God. Habakkuk was to make the message plain and publicized. John Hoag my Hebrews professor said “The word of God can be publicized because it is a revelation that comes from Inspiration and is intended for illumination of the heart and mind." See! The word is for our benefit of understanding...so that it keeps our faith grounded in His love....through patience. (v3) “.....the vision is yet for an appointed time.” We see people getting away with things like each and every day and it makes us sick to our stomach. LIKE! Theft and tax evasion, murders and rapist walking away scot- free, wicked people beating and killing Christians around the globe, getting away as if they are untouchable, a nation like Babylon, who are so sick and twisted seeking whom they may devour in their dragnets.....(v15-v17). We sometimes seat back and wonder how or why the unrighteous......God hating people get away with everything all the time?  But that’s not true! We think that’s what happens all the time...but the truth is found in the word of God....the plumb line to our faithSee, when I read the word of God.......I see that God isn't slack or lazy in this area of life. God will bring all things to the front line one day! God will do exactly as He promised...but it’s according to His time table, not ours. In the New Testament it says......“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Heb 4:13. Jesus said these scary and humbling words..... “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:28. Paul told the church that we are to do the exact opposite of evil among evil people! “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. Therefore "IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21. We're to look past the evil and wickedness because Paul wrote this down for our instruction of righteousness which is only possible through Jesus Christ. See! We can look past what is going on in North America and around the world!  Because...... He has given a faith that endures with patience. That’s why the LORD says in (v3) “though it tarries...” We must be patient when it comes to God’s promises. We must at often times wait for the word to be fulfilled. Abraham waited 24 years for Isaac......Gen 12:1-3; 17:1, Daniel waited 70 years......Daniel 9:2, Simeon was a very old man before he looked into the eyes of his Saviour......Luke 2:25-32., My own wife waited 7 years into marriage that the Lord would save me.....Maybe your still waiting upon God for something?.......and God is calling out to you this morning....."Be patient!"

How? Through faith in your personal relationship with God the Father, by the finishing work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Our faith is a gift and a responsibility when it comes to our day to day living. Our hope lies with Him and the promises that still have not been fulfilled yet according to the Scriptures.....which is His return. As many have said in the past [Habakkuk] and today [the church].  Faith is what keeps us motivated and moving closer to Him every day, every hour, and every minute and every second! See! The beauty of this promise is that He has given us an eternal faith that will never fail even when we have moments of doubt. Remember what Paul said “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Tim 2:13

I want to close with a song [don't worry I'm not going to sing] It's a song that really spoke to my heart when we found out that we lost our baby a few months back! It’s called “Out of the Depths” from Sovereign Grace Ministries @ www.sovereigngracemusic.org

Out of the depths, O Lord, I cry to You
When I am tempted to despair
Though I might fail to trust Your promises
You never fail to hear my prayer
And if You judged my sin
I’d never stand again
But I see mercy in Your hands
So more than watchmen for the morning
I will wait for You, my God
When my fears come with no warning
In Your Word I’ll put my trust
When the harvest time is over and I still see no fruit
I will wait, I will wait for You
The secret mysteries belong to You
We only know what You reveal
And all my questions that are unresolved
Don’t change the wisdom of Your will
In every trial and loss
My hope is in the cross
Where Your compassions never fail
So more than watchmen for the morning
I will wait for You, my God
When my fears come with no warning
In Your Word I’ll put my trust
When the harvest time is over and I still see no fruit
I will wait, I will wait for You
© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

“I’ll wait for You” ............LORD! I may not understand why! But I will put my trust in your sovereign arms and wait on You. The God who is sovereigny in control of the situation. Whether it’s around the globe our in our homes.....He is in control! He told Habakkuk to write it down. He’s telling you me to....... read it...believe it....apply it and walk by faith to it. So let me ask you the Sunday question!  How is your faith holding up today? Is it filled with unbelief and fear as so many people around us today? Or  Is it filled with an inexpressible joy that is firmly planted in Him as you wait by faith?

The Few Find It!

14 February 2012

Wrestling With Problems (Part 2)

Hab 1:1-17
God, why do you let evil have its way in our world? Have you ever ask that question to God? Let’s be serious about this question this morning! This is what Habakkuk was asking the Living God of the universe in his opening remarks. Why do you allow these wicked people to over take your chosen children? But let’s stop and think about that statement! What make us [you] believe the Babylonians were more wicked then the Israelites. Don't get me wrong they were a wicked people group.....But! They weren't the ones in disobedience to the one who set them apart through His covenant promise back with Abraham. See......

• They were the ones who have turned their backs on the God that delivered them from Egypt.
• They were the ones who made idols for themselves.
• They were the ones who were wilfully sinning before an almighty God.
• They were the ones who did what was right in their own eyes.

The Babylonians were only doing what they knew best.....sin! But the nation of Israel, knew there was a real God whom they must obey....the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. The same goes for our generation! We know sin is wrong as born again believers...but the natural man [the Babylonians] don’t understand the things of God. We look at people and compare them with other people and we come to the conclusion were not as bad as those people. We watch the news and read the paper and we say "those people are wicked". We read the history of some of the world’s most despicable people and we say "they were wicked". We watch some the youth or person who has tattoos or piercings and say "they must be wicked people" because of their appearance. And this scares me! Because this way of thinking puts us in a place that makes us no different than the Pharisee who was praying! “God, I thank you that I am not like other men...” But the Bible says.... “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin,...............” Gal 3:22.

I can see myself at times thinking this way, can’t you? Sticking my [your] nose up to the sky and say “Lord why do you allow wicked people to live and your children to suffer?” And the answer that I keep coming back to is.......For the very same reason He allowed you [me] to live before the Gospel took a hold of our lives. Do you sometimes forget the hole in the ground that He pulled you out of? The only thing that separates us from them [unsaved, Babylonians] is the unmerited grace that He bestowed upon you in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember..... “.....that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8

Now we come to Habakkuk’s second question! Why, a God who is the sovereign LORD over everything would allow these fallen sinners to continue. (v12-v17) This isn’t a question that leads us to believe that Habakkuk is denying the God of the Bible. See! There’s a huge difference between someone who doubts from someone who doesn’t believe at all. The unbelief is a person who is rebellious against God........Unbelief is a refusal to accept what God says and does. Warren Weirsbe said “unbelief is an act of the will, while doubt is born out of a troubled mind and broken heart.” This is Habakkuk ““how long shall I cry,” (v2). See! The doubter questions God and may even try to debate Him...but he or she will never abandon God! Thomas is a prime example of this!
He loved the Lord without a doubt! But in his human nature he had a tendency to doubt at times. And The Lord used that opportunity to show Him that he doesn’t need to doubt the promises and plans the Lord has in store for His people. We have the Holy Spirit and His written word and the account of the early believers [Thomas, Habakkuk] to help us in our time of doubt! Have you ever done that? Have you ever tried to question God or debate Him? Questioning God .....

• Why He allows so many babies to die in the womb?
• Why He allowed this deranged man in the States to kill his 2 sons and then blow up the house?
• Why He allowed this 17 year old boy die and be found dead in the snow near Fisher Branch?
• Why He allows my family or your family to face so many obstacles as we make our way home [Heaven]

And the answer I remind myself with is found in Isaiah...."For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD Isa 55:8. We need to accept the fact that we are not all-knowing and in control of this planet! Many people today would like to think that we are in control!...... but we need to pay close attention to what Habakkuk is saying! As we look at his second “Why” question....We need to understand the foundation that Habakkuk is describing! The great and awesome God of the universe. Habakkuk knows who God is.... even in his present state of doubt and unsettled heart. Why do I say that? Look what he writes here! This is God’s resume.

Habakkuk is acknowledging that God is ETERNAL

(v12) “are you not from everlasting” What does Eternal mean?.........refers to the endless past, the unending future, or to God's present experience of all time. God has no beginning as man can understand beginning and no ending either, but God exists now and knows both the beginning and the end as we perceive them. See....

• God is the creator and sustainer of the universe and beyond!
• God is the One who spoke everything into existence.
• God [The Trinity] is self sustaining and needs no one’s help.
• God is the beginning and the end of everything.
• God is the sovereign LORD who is in complete control.

“The eternal God is thy [my personal] refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.” Deut 33:27. Habakkuk recognized God as His eternal LORD...but not only that!

Habakkuk is acknowledging that God is........HOLY.

“O LORD my God, my Holy One?” (v12) a personal relationship response to who God is. Holy......refers to His majesty and His perfect moral purity. There is absolutely no sin or evil thought in God at all. His holiness is the definition of that which is pure and righteous in the entire universe. “There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides Thee, Nor is there any rock like our God 1 Sam 2:2. R C Sproul said in his book “The Holiness of God”......“The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love, or mercy, mercy, mercy, or wrath, wrath, wrath, or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of His glory.”................He continued to say in the same book! “When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be ‘other,’ to be different in a special way. The same basic meaning is used when the word holy is applied to earthly things.” That’s why we see in (v13) “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,” God is so holy He cannot under any circumstance look upon sin and not do anything about it! God has a hatred towards sin and the sinner! Again we read in Psalm 5:5-6 [hear me before you jump on the angry pastor bashing wagon] “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors [means detests, repulsive] the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”

Does God hate the sinner? Yes.....look to the cross! Does God hate sin? Yes......look to the cross! That’s what the GOSPEL is all about.....The cross is ugly and beautiful at the same time. The GOSPEL is the display of God’s hatred towards the sin and the sinner! Jesus Christ became sin on our behalf......so that God could look upon a repented people like you and me and declare us to be His beloved children [sinners saved my His merciful grace]. Habakkuk is confused to why a holy God would allow wickedness to overtake His people. Do you ask that question when you look around at the peoplein our community?

Habakkuk is acknowledging that God is.......UNCHANGING

this is expressed in (v12) “O Rock” literally means “Mighty Rock”. This is a great picture that describes God as an unchanging rock that is stable and unmoveable! He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He. Deut 32:4. This pictures a God who unshakeable! The things happening to the nation isn’t causing the LORD to bit His finger nails or to have panic attacks! He is in complete control of the situation and the same goes for me and you! He is complete control of the situations in your life whether you think He is or not. We need to embrace that truth because this is where we find comfort and rest. Realizing that God is allowing things and doing things for our edification and ultimately for His glory. Rom 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Habakkuk is acknowledging that God is.......... TRUTH 

“You have appointed them” (v12) God is a covenant keeper! As He told Noah that he would never flood the whole earth again. The Nation under the Abrahamic covenant was still God’s chosen people. God is a God of promises and truths.....what He says He will do! You can put that in the bank. As the bible says “thy word is truth” He promised from the beginning He would send a Saviour and He did. He promised that we could attain eternal life through repentance and faith in His Son. He promised that He would call us home or come back again to reclaim what is rightfully His. Remember! God is a God of order! Not confusion. And the promise He made with Jeremiah would apply here for Habakkuk if the nation would only listen. Jer 31:33-34 says “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” All God asks of the nation is to repent of their disobedience and wicked and embrace the truth found in the promises of God. The same principle applies to me and you today! Repent and be restored or repent and believe the Gospel.

Let’s get serious this morning! Because Habakkuk is really struggling with this! (v13) Sin is a universal problem. [Rom 3:23 “all have sinned”]. God is holy and hates sin with a flaming passion. [Ps 5:5-6 “abhors the.....man”]. God is all knowing and will not turn a blind eye to sin [Heb 4:12 “stand naked”]. God is just and He will judge sin accordingly to His word.

• Sometimes its present.......Hab 1:13
• Sometimes it’s post-poned........2 Peter 3:9
• Sometimes it’s final.......Rev 20:12-15

God is not unaware of shortcomings and He surely isn’t unaware of our weaknesses. God knows we fall into sin easily.....Look at (v14-v15) He uses the analogy of the fishing industry! The Babylonians are the fishermen who entice and lure their prey [the fish] to grab a hold what they are offering..And then take their prey captive. Just like today! With the electronic and entertainment and post modern thinking to keep people occupied and busy so that they don’t focus on Christ. If you don’t believe look back at this past week! How much time did you spend in the word and fellowship with other believers? Not to say these things are wrong in and of themselves...but what is soaking up the majority of your time? Because if your day is not being consumed in Christ then you have fallen prey to the allure of the bait. It’s like the those info commercials and the person is saying buy now and you say to yourself “I got to have one of those pens that can write upside down.....it looks fancy and shiny so you get hooked on the pitch. Remember what John wrote.......“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16. See, sin is an accuser and enticer to fallen generation of any age. The nation was trapped by their [own] sin and wickedness and the Lord used the Babylonians’ to chasten them back to His caring and sovereign merciful arms. God took a nation who were.....self-righteous, puffed up, full of pride and worst of all they worshipped themselves. Do you know people like that? “we are all gods”......”It’s all about me!” This wasn’t the first time God has used a wicked people to discipline His children.... Isa 10:5 says..... “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger...”

So let me ask you! Is God chastening and dealing with you this morning? Habakkuk may have not been able to see that at the present time. God was working to restore and bring order to the ones that He called out of darkness. God loves the people of Judah but He needed to correct them in their disobedience. God loves you and me [the church] but sometimes He has to correct us for our disobedience. Remember the Hebrew writer says because this is for our good! “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” Heb 12:6-8. So let me ask you again! Is God chastening and dealing with you this morning? Is God dealing with your “WHY” question?

If so......you are God’s sons and daughters and He is doing a work in your life.

If not.....I plead with you this morning to embrace the cross and seek His face while it may be found......there is still hope for you.

God is eternal.....holy......unchanging....and truth! He does what he does for His purposes and for His glory. We as Christians need to embrace the sovereign providence of God and wait upon Him to see what He will do next....which will see next week! Why? Because it’s for our good! As Moses said “.......you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
God is in control! We need to accept that and embrace that truth found in God’s word.

11 February 2012

Where Is The Chruch Today?

An old-fashioned, narrow-minded, fossilized person! (J.C. Ryle, "Needs of the Times!" 1879)

 There is a common complaint in these days, that there is a lack of power in Christianity, and that the church does not shake the world as it did in former years. Shall I tell you what the reason is, in plain words? It is the low tone of life which is so sadly prevalent among professing believers. I believe we fall far short in our standard of Christian practice. The times require a higher standard of personal holiness, and an increased attention to practical religion in daily life. I must honestly declare my conviction, that there never has been . . .so much profession of religion--without practice, so much talking about God--without walking with Him, so much hearing God's Words without doing them, as there is at this present date!

Never were there so many empty tubs and tinkling cymbals! Never was there so much formality--and so little reality! The whole tone of men's minds on what constitutes practical Christianity seems lowered. The old golden standard of the behavior which befits a Christian, appears debased and degenerated. You may see scores of religious people (so-called) continually doing things which in days gone by, would have been thought utterly inconsistent with vital Christianity! They see no harm in such things as theater-going, dancing, incessant novel reading--and they cannot in the least understand what you mean by objecting to them! The ancient tenderness of conscience about such things seems dying away and becoming extinct, like the dodo-bird. And when you venture to remonstrate with those who indulge in them, they only stare at you as an old-fashioned, narrow-minded, fossilized person, and say, "What is the harm?" In short, laxity and levity are the common characteristics of the rising generation of professors. Where is . . .
  • the self-denial,
  • the redemption of time,
  • the absence of luxury and self-indulgence,
  • the unmistakable separation from earthly things,
  • the manifest air of being always about our Master's business,
  • the singleness of eye,
  • the simplicity of home life,
  • the high tone of conversation in society,
  • the patience, the humility, the universal love--
which marked Christians seventy or eighty years ago? Yes, where is it indeed? We have inherited their principles--but I fear we have not inherited their practice! The Holy Spirit sees it--and is grieved! The world sees it--and despises us. The world sees it--and cares little for our testimony. It is life, life--a heavenly, godly, Christ-like life--depend on it, which influences the world!

09 February 2012

Wrestling With Problems (Part 1)

Habakkuk Chapter 1:1-17

One of the modern day “Christian myths” is that when you put your faith and trust in Christ the problems that you would find in a good country song seem to done away with. The sad reality and error to that kind of thinking is that your problems don’t all of a sudden go away! The biblical truth to God’s salvation is that our internal spiritual problem is over with because of the relationship we have with Christ through the finishing work of the cross. But our external lives are faced with a new set of problems along with the other problems that you and I face before Christ took hold of our lives. As Warren Wiersbe said “...Christians who claim to be without problems are either not telling the truth or not growing and experiencing real life.” See! Jesus didn’t come to save you from....

• Cancer
• MS
• Money
• Sickness
• Drought
• Famine
• Politics
• Death

He came to save souls so that they don’t face the greatest judgment that is yet to come, and the overflowing grace of His salvation is that you will be able to have a joy filled life as you face the possibilities of cancer...ms...the problems of flooding....or a bad year on the farm.The Christian isn’t exempt from problems! What do I mean about all of this? Usually the number one question most Christians ask [especially in the early stages of their pilgrimage]....

• Why do good people suffer and evil people prosper?
• Why isn’t God answering my prayer?
• When I’m doing my best for the LORD, why do I experience the worst from others?

Remember! We must face these questions with the understanding of the cross in mind. See God allows things to happen in our lives so that we grow deeper in His grace and in His word. See most people equate a good life with the blessings of God and there is truth to that. We see evidence of this in the Old Testament.....the nation was extremely blessed by God as He lead them through the wilderness. But we also see something else....How God deals with His children even in the midst of blessing. The greatest example of this is the letter of Job. He was exceedingly blessed by God and then one day God took it all the away for the purpose of worship and His glory. According to the scripture Job was a devote and righteous man of God, but God used this time to display the devotion Job had even through trails and devastation. Paul wrote these words and I remind myself daily when it comes to the why questions! In Phil 1:27-29 it says “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”

So we come to the short letter of Habakkuk who was a contemporary of Nahum, Zephaniah and Jeremiah. This book could easily be outlined this way! Chapter 1.......The problem, Chapter 2.......The prayer of Habakkuk and Chapter 3.......The praise of Habakkuk. As one great man of God said “Problem + prayer=Praise.” We come to a letter were we get front row seats to the question that most Christians are plagued with “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Habakkuk was a man who was deeply burdened over what was happening to his people. What was the reason the nation of Judah was going through this?

First of all! King Josiah was dead and his son and successor King Jehoiakim was leading the people into disaster. You ask yourself! What’s so bad about that? This is what God had to say about Jehoiakim and his self righteous and wicked behaviour. Jer 22:13-19 “....... (v17) “Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, For shedding innocent blood, And 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, 'Alas, my brother!' or 'Alas, my sister!' They shall not lament for him, Saying, 'Alas, master!' or 'Alas, his glory!' He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, Dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”

See there are four basic principles to why Israel went into captivity.

1. Their failure to keep the sabbatical year when it came to land......(Lev 25:1-7); (2 Chron 36:20-21)
2. Their idolatry......(1 Kings 14:22-24)
3. Their ungratefulness......(Exo 15:24; 16:8) (1 Sam 8:19-22)
4. Their handling of the Lord’s anointed [prophets, messengers]..... (1Chron 16:22)

Habakkuk was a man just like us! He was faced with a problem that left him with a heavy burden! A burden just like many of us have faced or still faced with today in our Christian lives. One word could summarize the whole first chapter - "WHY?????" (v1-v4)

• Why do you make me look at injustice?
• Why do you tolerate wrong?
• Why do you tolerate the treacherous?
• Why are you silent?

What’s your "why" question to God? James Dobson says "why" so often shreds a person’s faith to bits.” He’s right! This is one of the most difficult questions for Christians to answer when they are dealing with pain and suffering. The “problem of pain,” as the well-known Christian scholar, C.S. Lewis, once called it, is atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith. The world mocks us and says “were is your God know” but God allows these things to happen even though we may never understand fully. Habakkuk has 2 questions for God about this problem that he faces. The first question of “why” isn’t your regular and ordinary burden!

Habakkuk is crying because of the burdened he is carrying about the people! (v2a) “how long shall I cry,” this word translated means “to cry out for help”. The second use of this word “cry out to You” (v2b) means “to scream, to cry with a loud voice, to cry with a disturbed heart.” Why was he so burdened? The answer is found in (v6) “I ‘am raising up the Chaldeans” The reason! The Babylonians were a wicked people group!

Look at how God describes them (v6-v11). It’s interesting that the LORD uses illustrations form animals to explain the Babylonian’s..... “their horses are swifter then Leopards” pictures a fierce creature, ravenous like a lion and much swifter...the speed with which they conquered........ “more fierce than evening wolves” pictures long fasting in the day as they come out at night hungry and fierce seeking their prey. Their horsemen are pictured as an “Eagles” pictures the speed and the swiftness of flight as they sweep down on its prey....... “they haste to eat” as a eagle hungers it makes their flight all the quicker, bolder and daring.

Then the LORD describes them as nature..... “their face is like the East wind” this speaks of a desert wind, hot, uncomfortable and continuing blowing. Which means... the Babylonians would keep coming...making their life unbearable........ “they gather captives like sand” Just as the East wind keeps blowing and shifting the sand before it, so the Babylonians would come and nothing could stop them. And to top it off! They Babylonians had no respect for kings, princes....or any authority for that matters. Accept the god of their idolatry [which was many]. (v10-v11)

This is what Habakkuk was faced with! Wicked people were hurting his brothers and sisters. This was a big problem and we see a man broken before God who hates to see his people go through such pain. Let’s make it personal this morning! Have you ever cried to God and ask why?

• Why did you let my husband or wife die?
• Why did this young girl take her own life?
• Why is my farm falling apart?
• Why did you allow the flood to come into our area?
• Why can’t I find work?
• Why do allows Christian’s to be persecuted.
• Why did you allow me to have cancer?
• Why did I have such a terrible childhood?
• Why did my parents’ divorce?

Why God....Why? I sometimes wonder myself why there is so many problems in the church today...the lack of true doctrinal teaching.....the fighting....the murmuring....the back-lashing at one another to name a few! And I think the simple answer for me is.... it helps me grow into a deeper love with Christ and His word.....It draws me closer to Him so that I learn to love the people who are not perfect....who have issues and are sinners like me. It strengthens my faith in Him, because I realize that I’m insignificant in comparison His perfect plan for the church and His creation. The church isn’t perfect and it never will be until we stand before Him in glory. We need to realize that God is working even when things don’t seem that they are.We must do what Habakkuk does here in his letter! Seek God with our burden or problem. Remember what Jesus said “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matt 11:28-30

Habakkuk was crying out to the only that could help him with this problem. Oh! How often we don’t though..... we try to solve the problem or complain about in our own strength. When we are unsure or confused there is nothing better than to turn to the One who created everything for His glory. As Job said at the end of the letter..... “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” Job 42:2. David said......“You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.” Ps 139:2. This is exactly what God wants us to do when we are faced with a burden or a problem. Again! We may not understand why God does what He does.... but again He is God and we are not! We need to trust that God knows exactly what He's doing!

If your heart is burdened for something this morning.....cry out to Him and seek His face for understanding or rest in His sovereign hands. He is there waiting for you. If your heart is convicted this morning and you need restoration because you have fallen into carnality.....I beg you to cry out to Him this morning in repentance and be restored to the loving relationship that He desires for you. Why? He is there waiting for you! If you don’t know the Lord and have never embraced the cross..... but your heart is filled with regret, remorse over your sin and your conscience is telling you that you need to be saved....Please! Cry out to Him this morning and seek His face at the cross of repentance and faith! He is there waiting for you! He is the only that can make sense of your problem or burden in your heart! Because Jesus said "....My yoke is easy and My burden is light" SO MY SUNDAY QUESTION IS......Have you truly cried out to Him with everything? Cast your cares upon Him and wait.....He will see you through it...... SDG