Habakkuk: Relevant Today

Saturday, October 31, 2015

This book of Habakkuk records the prophet’s dialogue with God concerning the things Habakkuk questions. The prophet Habakkuk was saddened by the violence and corruption he saw around him and he poured out his heart to God.   He was able to ask God hard questions—in this case, he essentially asked, “God, how can you punish Judah for its sins by using Babylon, when Babylon’s sins are even worse.  He goes on to describe what the Babylonians did to their enemies? In Habakkuk 1:15 we read, 
 Must we be strung up on their hooks and caught in their nets while they rejoice and celebrate?

Habakkuk fears that the people of Judah will be caught in the nets of the Babylonians and the Babylonians will not be punished. Instead they will rejoice and celebrate. “Nets” for the Babylonians are their gods - gods that give them power, wealth, and control. The Babylonians enjoyed capturing people because the captors helped them live in their pleasures. The more people they conquer, the more powerful and wealthy they become. It’s a game of power. The Babylonians love to gather their prey.

Do we get caught in nets today? Are there things that trap us and control us? Do we get caught up by things that love to make us captive? Are we tempted by nets of fame, fortune, power, greed, beauty, wealth? Are we trapped by what we traditionally call the seven deadly sins -  pridegreedlustenvygluttonywrath and sloth?

It happens too often that I am tempted by the hooks and nets of fashion and beauty. I love beautiful clothes and dressing in the latest colors and fashions. I also know full well that I have a closet and makeup drawer filled with everything I really need, yet I’m often caught by the hook and pulled into the net of fashion and beauty.

It happens too often that I spend too much time trolling social media sights looking at the latest happenings on Facebook and seeing the trends on Pinterest. I know full well that I can easily be caught in the trap of more, more, more by what I see.

It happens to often that I sit in front of the TV watching too much of 24 hour news cycle and other programming that just really doesn’t add to the value of my life.

Let’s pray that when ”hooks and nets” tempt us, we will recognize the temptation, consider what really adds value and meaning to our lives, and then choose wisely.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

Heifer or Lamb?

Monday, October 12, 2015

In Hosea 4 the prophet Hosea tells of the moral and spiritual decay of Israel. He describes the punishment that awaits the people and pleads with them to return to God. Verse 16 says, Israel is stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. In the next chapter Hosea says the leaders of Israel are so stubborn, “Your deeds won’t let you return to your God.” I wander if God looks at us, and thinks, “Yet another generation of stubborn heifers!” Heifers have consequences to their stubbornness. Farmers have to put cumbersome yokes and sometimes painful constraints on stubborn heifers. What are the consequences of stubbornness when it comes to our own moral or spiritual decay? Now look at the contrast to the stubborn heifer in the next part of verse 16 - So should the Lord feed her like a lamb in a lush pasture? Unlike the stubborn heifer, lambs are known for their willingness to follow the shepherd. Are you are heifer or a lamb? What are potential consequences for us as individuals, churches, cities, and a country for our immoral stubbornness? Think about steps you might take to become more like a lamb who is willing to follow the Great Shepherd.

Personal Worship: Read Psalm 23 and meditate on God as a shepherd who will guide, comfort, and love you.

Prone to Wander

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Message version of Isaiah 53:6 says, “We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.” This verse reminds me of the lines in the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing:” “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it— Prone to leave the God I love.” When we’re prone to wander we have a natural tendency to stray from the path we’re on and go toward another path. Think about times you’re prone to wander. Let’s imagine we are walking down a path in the woods headed toward a beautiful lake. What might make us stray off the path? We want to find a shortcut. We get distracted. We lose our way. Someone entices us to go another way. We get frustrated and discouraged because the path seems to get hard. We find a seemingly easier path. Another path looks better than the one we are on. How does this relate to our faith wanderings? How do people wander from their faith? What times in life are you most likely to wander? The hymn continues with words of restoration, words of returning to the faith. “Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.” Isaiah tells us Christ came to restore us and make us righteous. When we wander, let us be mindful to our way back on the path and then to go his way.

Take a few minutes to worship by listening to "Come Thou

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