Yet, I WILL Rejoice in the Lord

Give thanks with a grateful heart

Give thanks to the Holy One

Give thanks because He’s given

Jesus Christ, His Son (Repeat)

And now, let the poor say, “I am rich,

Let the weak say I am strong,

because of what the Lord has done for us”

Give Thanks

The book of Habakkuk is located between Nahum and Zephaniah near the back of the Old Testament.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NRSV) 17 Though the fig tree does not blossom,

and no fruit is on the vines;

though the produce of the olive fails,

and the fields yield no food;

though the flock is cut off from the fold,

and there is no herd in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;

I will exult in the God of my salvation.

19 God, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

and makes me tread upon the heights.

This is the Word of God for the people of God.

Thanks be to God.

 Let us pray: Father God, you alone are the source of every good thing in our lives. Help us today to know, understand and believe that all of our hope is in You. May we have the joy that comes in knowing you and trusting in you. Amen.

How many of you have never even heard of Habakkuk? For some reason, there are not many sermons or Bible studies on Habakkuk, who was a prophet in Jerusalem, probably around 609-598 B.C. since he spoke of events that would occur around the time the Babylonians defeated the Northern Kingdom.

Called the questioning prophet, it is easy to see where he got his name.  Habakkuk constantly questioned God, not with “are you really God?” but instead, “why are you making me see these horrible things”, and ultimately, “why will you use a people even more wicked than we are to bring us to judgment?”

Habakkuk reminds us of Jonah, except while Jonah ran from God’s words, Habakkuk began to pray. And notice that when Habakkuk prayed, he didn’t do all of the talking. He listened. Habakkuk was asking the same questions many of us are asking today. “Why do you allow evil to continue upon this earth? Where is justice?  And, reading this scripture  reminds us that while God may seem silent and uninvolved in our world, He always has a plan.

After years of questioning God, Habakkuk finally came to know the One, True, and the Living God. With that knowledge came the understanding that, even in the midst of turmoil, we can learn to praise the Creator of the Universe, the One Who gave His only Son for our salvation, and the One Who waits to embrace us when our journey here has ended.

Habakkuk shows us that we should not just praise God only for what He has done, but for who He is.  We were created to have relationship with God, and part of that relationship is the desire to praise Him. What has happened to that desire to give God the glory, not just for the great things He has done, but for His very nature?

Where is God in all of this chaos in which we now live? God has not changed, and God has not moved. God is the one constant in each of our lives.

One of my favorite books is “Hinds Feet on High Places,” by Hannah Hurnard. Written in allegorical form, it is the story of a little deer who was afraid of everything. But she heard the sound of the Good Shepherd, who beckoned her to join him in the High Places. It was a treacherous journey, and when she finally reached the peaks of the mountains, she looked down and saw a cross that would have made her journey so much easier.

Today, I encourage you to turn off the news for even one day, turn away from the world, and turn toward Jesus and just give thanks. Allow Jesus Christ to make your feet like the feet of deer, swift and sure, so that you can climb above the cares of this world.

Receive now this blessing: Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Be thankful and take the name of Jesus with you and share Him with all you meet.

 

 

 

There’s Something Wonderful About Today

Today we are quarantined from a virus

We are not living our normal days

Yet we can still lift our eyes to the King of all Kings

We can still lift high our praise.

 

We witness anger and chaos

It chills us to our bones

Yet because Jesus said, “I will never leave you,”

We can be assured we are not alone.

 

Today is unlike any other,

do not let it slip away.

Rejoice in the minutes and the hours,

There is something wonderful about today.

©2020 Carol J. Grace

Ripe unto harvest

John 4:30-38 (NRSV) 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

A few months ago I retired from preaching due to my health. But, may I tell you I did not retire from ministry. There are people all around us who need help. Some need healing, others need to know that someone cares, and still others need to hear about Jesus.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus was with His disciples and they were concerned about His well-being. How could He continue His ministry if He did not take care of Himself. Surely He needed to stop long enough to eat. But Jesus told them that doing His Father’s will was “food” for Him.

Jesus went on to say that the time to bring people into the Kingdom was not in the future, but it was at that very time. You see, there are many things in our life where we can say, “I’ll do this or that tomorrow.” Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ is not one of those things that can be put off.

As Christ followers we should be more serious than ever before about ministering to others in Jesus’ name. We should ask Jesus every day to send someone across our paths that we can help, whether physically or spiritually. Then, we need to have the presence of  mind to help the people we meet. Let us not get so caught up in our own lives that when God sends someone for us to help that we miss the opportunity. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Father God, we pray today that You will make us aware of the opportunities You provide for helping others. May we have Kingdom understanding and may we always see others through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

And the Word was Made Flesh

John 1:14 (KJV) 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Isaiah 55:7-11 (NRSV) 7 let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NRSV) 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, 15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

I may have lived too long. When I was a child, we carried our Bibles to church. When the preacher asked that we turn in our Bibles to the Scripture of the day, we did so. There was only one translation used at that time, the King James, and the words of Jesus were printed in red. The Bible was revered as the Word of God.

Today, men and women emerge from seminary with the belief that the Bible’s only role is to lead us to salvation. Once that act is completed, the Bible is no longer relevant, and we should change our thinking about the Word of God, seeking answers from our culture rather than being the change agent in our culture. In fact, we are encouraged to disregard much of the Bible lest we are thought to worship the Bible rather than the God of the Bible. I may have lived too long, because to me, when John said the Word was made flesh, it is impossible to separate the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit from the Word.

I may have lived too long, because we seem to have rejected the caution issued by Isaiah that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours, and instead have elevated our intellect to a level above God. We seem to have forgotten that Paul told Timothy that these sacred writings not only lead us to salvation, but also is used for teaching, reproof, correction, and righteousness.

In my life, I have come to understand that intentional discipleship, the search for holiness, is not a one-time event. Instead, we must be willing to submit our lives in their entirety to staying in relationship to the Most High God. How is this accomplished? We stay in relationship to God by staying in the Bible. We pray as we read the Word that the Holy Spirit would shine the light of truth upon the words we read, and that our hearts would be quickened so that we can embrace the truth and be transformed.

As a preacher, my job is to proclaim the Word of God. For this reason, when I stand in the pulpit the first thing I do is read the Word aloud. My sermons are based upon the Word–I explain the context of the Word, the author, the audience, and then I relate the Scripture to our world today. If my message is unrelated to the Scripture, then why am I there? To impart my own wisdom?

I believe without stipulation that the Word of God is more than history, although it is indeed the history of man, particularly the Jews. I believe that the Word includes the mystery of how this Holy Word was made flesh, born of a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus spoke the Word, and when there was a misunderstanding, He explained the Word. I believe the Word was meant for all time and all people, and that Jesus is truly the only way to salvation. I believe.

Father God, we pray that the Holy Spirit will pour out another Great Awakening, where new disciples are made, and those who have taught their congregations that the Bible is no longer relevant will either be given a fresh anointing  or be removed from their pulpits. pray that current disciples will stand strong, and will continue to use their Bibles not as weapons, but as guides. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

You, O Lord, Are Our Hope!

Psalms 71:1-6 (NRSV) 1 In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.
3 Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

This morning I awoke to news of one policeman and two policewomen slain in the line of duty over the last several days. My heart hurts. My tears freely flowed, partially because of the senseless loss of life, partially because the lives of the officers’ families will never be the same, and partially because there seems to be no spiritual or moral restraint left to prevent this type of atrocity.

Psalm 71 was written by David during his old age. David was not a perfect man, but he served a perfect God. David knew where his hope lay, and his faith never wavered. We, too, serve a perfect God, and regardless of the cruelties of this world, our faith must remain strong.

But how do we accomplish such a feat? First, keep a notebook and enter the times your faith was tested, but God proved stronger than your opposition. Trust me, doing this is a faith-builder.

Secondly, stay in touch with God through prayer, scripture reading, and attending a Bible believing church regularly. Can your faith be built up without going to church? Let me put it this way…when you are hungry all you need to satisfy your hunger is to go to the table. If we are spiritually hungry, or our faith is growing weak, one of the best things we can do is go to the Church’s table, where we will find grace, faith, and other Christ followers who will lift us up with their prayers and friendship.

Sometimes we may feel we are on this journey alone, but we are not.

5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
6 Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Father God, today we call on You for strength. May our faith be bolstered by You and by those You place within our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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