I will watch, wait. write, and walk

Habakkuk 2:1

Although I don’t know the plans He has for me, I will watch, wait, write, and walk in faith because God has a plan for me. We may not be able to see what God is doing yet, but we can rest assured, He is bringing about His great purpose in our lives.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 King James Version (KJV)

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

Today, I want to reheat some leftovers from Pastor’s Techia’s message last week. Have any of you ever had some left overs? You warm it up, and they taste good the second go round. Or, have you ever heard a song on the radio, and the D J would say, let’s back it up and play it again.

Well, today will be the third time that I heard this message. I preached it about 30 years ago. But last week, Pastor stirred up coals of fire in me. Pastor gave us the historical background about the book of Habakkuk. Today, I want us to go back and revisit Habakkuk, and take a closer look at why he said what he said.

First, Habakkuk, is one of the minor prophets. This book is unique in that it is not a prophecy addressed to Israel, but rather a dialogue between the prophet and God. Habakkuk had three questions that he wanted God to answer:

So, in chapter 1, v.2, Habakkuk writes,

1)    Why doesn’t God do something about the evil so dominant in Judah?

How long, LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

1)    The LORD’s Answer

“Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
I am raising up the Babylonians,[a]
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.

2)    Well, the answer only made him more confused. So, he asked God another question. Why does God punish His people with a nation that is more wicked than they are?  Then, he wanted to know why God wait so long to punish evil?

In Chapter 1, verse 12, Habakkuk was appalled that God would use such a wicked nation to attack Judah, yet he was confident that God would not allow His people to be completely destroyed by the Babylonians and cancel out His purpose for the human race. He knew that God had a plan, but he could not see what God was doing.

Habakkuk knew that God sees evil, because God observes everything. He knew that God is omniscient. But God does not look on evil to condone it or tolerate it. Habakkuk was perplexed because God was using a wicked nation to punish His people. Habakkuk was like us, we look around us and sometimes we see the wicked are living it up; it seem that they have no troubles.

3. So, when we get to chapter 2, verse 1, God gives Habakkuk an answer concerning how evil is so dominant in the world. (1) I Habakkuk 2 The Message (MSG)

What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst.
I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon.
I’ll wait to see what God says,
how he’ll answer my complaint.

I was Full of Self, but my soul was  Soul-Empty

2-3 And then GOD answered: “Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

“Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—
full of himself but soul-empty.
But the person in right standing before God
through loyal and steady believing
is fully alive, really alive.

In this chapter, God tells Habakkuk four things: WATCH, WAIT, WRITE, AND WALK.

“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.

Faith means a steadfast trust in God that God’s Ways are Right; Faith is a personal loyalty to God as Lord and Saviour; and a moral steadfastness to follow His Way.

What is the most difficult experience you have had to weather in your life? What event most wrenched you emotionally?

For some that might be:

  • the death of a spouse, or of a child, or of a parent;
  • for others it might be an act of violence committed against you;
  • for others, being ignored, rejected, or put down by someone you love;
  • for others, the consequences of a sin you yourself committed.

Think back, now: What were your thoughts toward God at that difficult time in your life? Did you pray? If so, how? With tears? With anger? With a broken and contrite heart?

Disappointments is a universal and timeless experience of all mankind. Some people believe that disappointment is the exact opposite of satisfaction. The question is, how do we view disappointment when it comes into our lives? How should we respond to disappointments?

Today, let me leave a few lessons that I have learned while on this Christian journey.

1)    Most of the important appointments that God has planned for us, will appear as earthly disappointments, and most disappointments will involve people.

2)    Disappointments occur in our lives when God’s perfect will or His permissive will intersects with our own personal hopes, dreams, and expectations.

3)    Disappointments arise from us not having ultimate control or choice over what does or does not happen in our lives.

Joseph is an example. Joseph had no control of being the youngest son. He had no control of been the favorite of his father. He had no control over being selected by God, to be the dreamer. He had no control of being sold into slavery (but God had a plan). He had no control over being promoted to overseer of Potiphar’s house, and he had no control over Potiphar’s wife being attracted to him (but God had a plan). He had no control over being thrown into prison (but God had a plan).

What is the point that I am trying to make? It is this. In all of Joseph’s disappointments, he never complained. Joseph knew that the Lord God Almighty is always in control. So, he chose not to worry about things that he had no control over. He decided not to become preoccupied with things that was out of his control. He knew that no matter what happened to him, God was going to get the glory. He knew that his only responsibility was to trust God, honor God, and give His all of the glory.

What is the most difficult experience you have had to weather in your life? What event most wrenched you emotionally?

Was there ever a time in your life where you felt stuck, trapped, or out of option?

Stuck in a dead-end job? Trapped in debt? Stuck with a health issue? Trapped in the past?

Well, the truth is that you may feel that you are backed into a corner, stuck with no options, but with God, there is no such thing as “no options.” God is the Light in darkness, God makes crooked paths straight. God is your Way Maker!

Isaiah reminded us of one of the Promises of God:

 Isaiah 43:19 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

19 Behold, I will do a new thing;
now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness,
and rivers in the desert.

Earlier, I asked the question, What is the most difficult experience you have had to weather in your life? What event most wrenched you emotionally?

Well, today, I want to tell you about the most difficult experience and the my greatest disappointment. It came on a Thursday night leading up to my 5th pastoral anniversary. I was riding high! I had just been elected to serve as the Executive Secretary of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. I had been offered the option of moving to Selma, Alabama, to open a state headquarters. The officers at the church told me that I should resign my full-time job as Business Manager at Carver State Technical College. I had a wife and six children.

 Jeremiah 29:11-14 The Message (MSG)

10-11 This is GOD’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

12 “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.

13-14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.

“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” GOD’s Decree.

“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—GOD’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

I have learned how to watch, wait, write, and walk:

 

Psalm 141:3-5 King James Version (KJV)

Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

Isaiah 40:31-41:14 King James Version (KJV)

31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Disappointments will occur in our lives, but remember today’s text – Habakkuk 3:17-19 –

Habakkuk is writing about 18-20 years before Jerusalem is destroyed in 586 BC.

Habakkuk has foreseen this event Jeremiah described for us: starvation of young and old; cannibalism of children; the destruction of Solomon’s temple; the apparent end of his country. And seeing this, he writes 3:17-19:

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like the feet of a deer, And makes me walk on my high places.

  • 17: I’ve lost everything!
  • 18: Yet I will Rejoice!
  • 19: For God Led Me Here!

We will then look at an example of a man who rejoiced in the midst of extreme trials, and draw out two final lessons for living by faith.

Verse 17: I’ve Lost Everything!

Though it looks like all God’s gifts have been taken from me.

How does Habakkuk respond to this situation?

Verse 18: Yet I will Rejoice!

Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

But don’t let the extremity of these circumstances blind you to their relevance for us today. Another way to think of this verse, which perhaps is easier for us to relate to:

Note here three reactions Habakkuk avoids:

(a)    He does NOT lash out at God in anger: He does not say, “God, you have no right to destroy your people! You are a faithless God!”

(b)   He does NOT pretend that the evil won’t happen. He doesn’t withdraw into a fantasy world, saying, “That’s too terrible to think about. I will close my eyes and think of something else. I’ll sit in front of the TV and get distracted.”

(c)    And, note carefully, he does not even say, “Despite all this, I will endure! I will keep a stiff upper lip and stick it out! I will still wait for the Lord! I will remain faithful!”

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