August 13, 2016

Habakkuk - 
Living by faith is a bewildering venture.  We rarely know what is coming next, and not many things turn out the way we anticipate...That God-followers don’t get preferential treatment in life always comes as a surprise.  But it’s also a surprise to find that there are a few men and women within the Bible who show up alongside us at such moments....

Habakkuk speaks our word to God.  He gives voice to our bewilderment, articulates our puzzled attempts to make sense of things, faces God with our disappointment with God.  He insists that God pay attention to us, and he insists with a prophet’s characteristic no-nonsense bluntness...God was going to use a godless nation to bring God’s judgment on his own people---using a godless nation to punish a godly nation?!?!  It didn’t make sense, and Habakkuk was quick and bold to say so....then he waits and listens.  It is in his waiting and listening --which then turns into his praying--that he found himself inhabiting the large world of God’s sovereignty.        

Habakkuk 1-3 - 
God, how long do I have to cry out for help before you listen....You chose Babylonians for your judgment work?  Rock-    solid God, you gave them the job of discipline?  But you can’t be serious!...Why are you silent now?  This outrage!  Evil men swallow up the righteous and you stand around and watch!....Are you going to let this go on and on?... Look at that man, bloated by self-importance---full of himself but soul-empty.  But the person in right standing before Go through loyal and steady-believing is fully alive, really alive.  Note well:  Money deceives...Who do you think you are---living it up, acting like king of the mountain, acting above it all, above trials and troubles?...In ruining others you’ve ruined yourself....Who do you think you are---building a town by murder, a city with crime?....Who do you think you are---inviting your neighbor to your drunken parties, giving them too much to drink....What sense does it make to be a pious god-maker that can’t even talk?  Who do you think you are---                                

A prayer of Habakkuk - God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you, and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.  Do among us what you did among them.  Work among us as you worked among them...Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen.  Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted.  Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God.  I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.  Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and I gain strength...

Ephesians 3 - 
That is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so called. i take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody

As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order.  The mystery that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives...stand on the same ground be4 God.  They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus....

God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.. When we trust him, we are free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. My response is to get down on my knees before the Father... I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit--- not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength--- that Christ will live in you as you open the door & invite him in.  And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you will be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.  Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths!  Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.