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Posts tagged ‘Habakkuk’

How to Pray ‘On Target’ With Your Spouse.


 

Do you and your wife know how to pray the Word together?
Do you and your wife know how to pray the Word together? (Lightstock)

Habakkuk was an Old Testament prophet who complained a lot to God. He thought God needed to show up and handle all the foolishness and sin that was evident among His people. So God shocked Habakkuk by announcing that He was preparing the Babylonians to bring a judgment upon His people.

In Habakkuk 2:3, God explained, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (NIV).

Did you catch that line: “For the revelation awaits an appointed time”?

Some months before my wife, Vicki, confronted me about my failure to consistently lead us in prayer for one of our children who was struggling, this verse had impressed that concept upon me. It is about God’s sovereignty. God reveals in His timing.

When the light goes on in our lives, usually it is not because we learn new information. Often we already have the information, and what we need is the revelation. In the mystery of God, it is also about His “appointed time.”

This is a mystery to me. Sometimes I think God’s timing is pretty bad, don’t you? But we are not God. Certainly only God always understands the reason for His timing. Sometimes we have a glimpse of understanding, but frequently we are in the dark. It is an evident call for us to trust Him.

That afternoon with Vicki, I had the revelation! As all of this came tumbling out of my wife’s heart—I literally lifted up my hands, as if being arrested, and said, “Guilty … Guilty as charged!” The conviction of God fell heavy upon me. The alarm was ringing with more force and volume than ever before, and I couldn’t hit the snooze button any longer. I was really broken. I felt terrible. I confessed to Vicki, “It hardly seems sufficient to cover the scope of what we are talking about here, but I want to tell you I am sorry. With all my heart, I am so sorry!”

It is a wonderful thing to realize the attendant grace of God. As the revelation of conviction and repentance fell upon me, simultaneously a firm resolve gripped my heart. I said, “You know what Vicki? By the grace of God, this is not going to happen again. I promise. It is not going to happen again!” I sensed my words were at the level of the vows I had given her at the wedding altar.

I continued, “The best we can, within the reasonable limitations and realities of life, we are going to pray together. I know life is very busy, unpredictable, a moving target, but daily prayer together will be the goal. And I am going to take the lead in initiating. I vow to be intentional.”

Suddenly, I even knew how we were going to make this work.

I told Vicki, “Here is how we are going to do it. We are going to pray the Bible! We will let the Bible literally be the guide for our prayers. The Bible will be our template. We are going to intentionally follow God’s Word in our prayers—Scripture praying.

“We will read a paragraph of the Bible together—see how the Holy Spirit might speak to our hearts—and then we will let the text of the Bible be the guide for what we will pray back to God.

“We will run on the tracks of the Scriptures to give us the ideas and content for our prayers. Then we will pray about a few of the other things that are immediately at hand in our lives, family and ministry – and that is it. We will keep it short and then we will be on our way.”

Since it is one my favorite books of the Bible, I suggested we start with the book of Hebrews. And you know what? It was just awesome!

Think about it! What could be better than praying the Word of God itself? The will of God, the truths, principles, prayers, praises, values, and doctrines of God.

Perhaps you have heard of “expository preaching.” An expository preacher preaches through the Bible, verse-by-verse, paragraph-by-paragraph. He allows God’s Word to bring forth the message for God’s people. The Bible becomes the guide to provide the content, ideas, concepts, and exhortations of his preaching and teaching. This approach allows the message to emerge from the Word of God.

So let’s call our approach “Expository Praying.” We can follow the Bible with our prayers. God’s Word will be the guide to show us the topics, ideas, praises, and requests. In doing so, we allow God to show us what to pray about. We “call out” God’s Word in our prayers. The Bible gives us the tracks to follow, and in this way, we can be sure our prayers are on track.

I am either not creative enough or spiritual enough to pray with the same person on a daily or very regular basis and sweep the heavens with all kinds of “thees,” “thous,” spiritual insights, and wonderful intercessions. Praying every time about basically the same things in the same way, I would be boring and/or bored in short order.

But by following the Word of God and by letting the Bible literally be the text of our prayers, then the Bible will take care of keeping our prayers fresh. It will enable us to be as creative and comprehensive as the Bible itself! We will be praying “on target”—the Word and will of God over our lives, family and ministry—in an ever fresh and empowered manner.

SAM INGRASSIA

This second in a series of three articles is adapted from “Just Say the Word: A Simple Way to Increase Your Passion for God and Your Wife” by Sam Ingrassia. Click here for part one. For more information about creating spiritual intimacy by praying with your wife, please visit justsaytheword.net.

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Give Thanks to the One Who Remembers.


Give thanks…to the One who remembered us in our low estate. —Psalm 136:3, 23

God made a choice to remember, and He wants us to choose to remember! He wants us to hold Him to His own Word. Nehemiah prayed this way (Neh. 1:8). The psalmist prayed the same way: “Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope” (Ps. 119:49). Hezekiah prayed much the same way (Isa. 38:2). With His own Word we can pray so as to give God “no rest” until He grants our request. (See Isaiah 62:7.) We likewise pray with Habakkuk: “In wrath remember mercy” (Hab. 3:2).

The most depressing book in the Bible (to me) is the Book of Judges. The unthinkable things that are described in this book show that there is a precedent for the worst kinds of sin and wickedness. The bottom line of the Book of Judges is, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Judg. 21:25). But there is an ominous explanation that lay behind this folly—an even greater folly: (1) They “did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies,” and (2) they “failed to show kindness” (Judg. 8:34-35).

God’s promise to remember His Word is recounted again and again:

God remembered Rachel. —Genesis 30:22

God … remembered his covenant. —Exodus 2:24

For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham. —Psalm 105:42

In other words, God keeps His promise to remember. He puts us on our honor to remember to be grateful. God kindly cautions us not to forget to be grateful. He puts it succinctly: give thanks.

Excerpted from Just Say Thanks! (Charisma House, 2005).

By R. T. KENDALL.

The Heights of Praise.


But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.
Psalm 22:3

Recommended Reading
Habakkuk 3:17-19 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Habakkuk%203:17-19&version=NKJV )

Hot air balloonists are subject to the winds. There is no way to control the direction of a hot air balloon when it stays at a certain altitude. But by venting hot air from the balloon and dropping to a lower altitude, or heating the air in the balloon and rising to a higher altitude, the pilot can find a stream of wind blowing in a different direction. Thus, the problem and the solution are found in the same place — only at different altitudes.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

Just as a hot-air balloon is a captive of the wind at a given altitude, so we often see ourselves as captives of our circumstances.

God, who could set us free, seems to be absent at the altitude at which we are living.

But He is never absent. As in ballooning, the solution is found in the midst of our problem.

The psalmist David realized that when God seemed to be absent, He was there all the time — in the praises of His people.

When we praise God in the midst of our problems, we find He has been there all the time.

Don’t be held captive by the winds of circumstance. Rise to new heights of praise and discover the presence of God.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
2 Peter 1:1-3:18

By David Jeremiah.

Unbelievable Success.


Look among the nations and watch — be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.
Habakkuk 1:5

Recommended Reading
1 Corinthians 2:9 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%202:9&version=NKJV )

Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of the Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, wrote a wonderful book with a complete message just in the title: Failure — The Back Door to Success. His point was that a failure or defeat is often the very thing God uses to open the door to victory or success in an unexpected way.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message   ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

The prophet Habakkuk had just such an epiphany just before the Babylonian destruction of Judah.

His prophecy is unique in the Old Testament because it is not addressed to the nation but to God.

His questions for God — “Why are You allowing wickedness to run rampant and are doing nothing about it?” — reflected the heart of the righteous in Judah.

It appeared that God was allowing the nation to fail — something Habakkuk couldn’t understand.

God’s answer to Habakkuk was that He was about to do something in Judah that Habakkuk wouldn’t have believed if he hadn’t heard it from God Himself.

When you find yourself on the verge of defeat, look for what God will do to surprise you. And allow Him to determine the definition of victory!

Read-Thru-the-Bible
1 Peter 3:1-5:14

By David Jeremiah.

Serving God in a Dry Season.


Dry ground
(© Jasenka | Stock Free Images )

While Hurricane Sandy’s floods dominated recent weather headlines, a very different weather pattern has cost us more than the superstorm’s $50 billion in damages. The United States actually needs rain—and lots of it.

Forecasters say our nation is experiencing its worst drought since 1954. As of this week, 60.1 percent of the nation is in drought, with six states—Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado and Iowa—entirely in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Lakes are drying up, crops are dying and ranchers are scrambling to feed their cows.

Some people figure this prolonged dry spell is just the result of cyclical climate patterns. Maybe so, but the Bible suggests that droughts and famines can be linked to spiritual realities. Sometimes the natural world reflects our spiritual condition. Man’s pride, greed, injustice and idolatry can actually disturb nature.

When you consider how hostile our culture has become to God and biblical morality, it’s no surprise we are in a recession—both economically and ecologically. (Note to all my green friends: Sin is actually very bad for the environment.)

The good news is that even in seasons of drought, whether physical or spiritual, God has a knack for getting His people through challenging times. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all experienced famine—yet they inherited a divine promise. Moses led God’s people through a dry wilderness. David wrote psalms about the dry seasons. And it was during a prolonged drought that Elijah called down fire from heaven.

I’m not superstitious, so I have no fear of the number 13. While I do believe 2013 will be a challenging year financially, I see some silver linings behind today’s storm clouds. As we enter this difficult time, remember what the Bible says about drought:

1. It is a time to repent. Back in the old days people repented when the rain stopped. They feared God. They knew they couldn’t rely on their sophisticated technology, scientific achievements or social engineering. The prophet Joel led the way when he wrote: “To you, O Lord, I cry; for fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness and the flame has burned up all the trees of the field” (Joel 1:19, NASB). When times are tough, make sure you are not offending God in any way. Turn from all known sin. Adjust your attitudes, starve your lusts and refocus on the Lord.

2. It is a time to seek the Lord fervently. Many of America’s trees are in danger because of the current drought. The only tree that can survive drought is one that has roots deep enough to soak up water that lies far below the ground. Your ability to survive tough times depends on how deep you are willing to go with God. Shallow devotion isn’t enough.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote about the righteous man: “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit” (Jer. 17:8). Instead of fretting about the future, extend your roots farther than you ever have before. Seek the Lord and tap into the strength of His presence.

3. It is a time to worship the Lord passionately. Worship has a proven therapeutic effect on our souls, but it also has the power to change our circumstances. When times are tough, the tough start praising! If your situation looks bleak, don’t fall into the trap of depression. You can worship your way out of this.

The prophet Habakkuk described a dark time in Israel when the fig tree did not blossom and there was no fruit on the vines. Still, he chose to praise. He said: “Yet I will exult in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (Hab. 3:18). As you enter 2013, use the weapon of praise to conquer your anxieties, fears and doubts.

4. It is a time to expect supernatural supply. King David said the righteous would enjoy abundance “in the days of famine” (see Psalm 37:19). That doesn’t make sense! How can we experience provision during a recession? It is possible because God’s economy is not linked to this world’s corrupt system. Just as the widow’s oil flowed even when her bank account was dry, you too can know supernatural blessing even when the nation is dangling over a fiscal cliff.

Regardless of what the history books say about 2013, it can be a time for God’s people to shine. Raise your faith level and expect a miracle.

By J. LEE GRADY

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His latest book is Fearless Daughters of the Bible.

David Shibley Offers Post-Election Advice for Christian Living.


People at Dawn
( © Dreamscatcher )

For the next four years, and for the rest of my life, by God’s grace …

I will be loyal. I’ll be loyal to the Lord, to His Word, to my wife, to my covenant relationships and to my calling (see Rom. 14:8).

I will be loving. Following Christ’s example and empowered by His Spirit, I’ll love all brothers and sisters in Christ, all unbelievers, and those who oppose me. I commit to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute followers of Christ (see Matt. 5:44).

I will be a light. In a darkening culture, I’ll let the light of Christ, the gospel, and the truth shine through my life (see Matt. 5:16).

I will keep laboring. I’ll give myself fully to God’s work, knowing that my labor in the Lord is never in vain (see 1 Cor. 15:58).

I will be lifting. I’ll seek to lift the burdens of the needy and be an advocate for justice. I will bring the hope of the gospel and point people to Christ, who delivers us from despair to hope and darkness to light (see Gal. 6:2).

I will keep learning. I’ll seek to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. I will deepen my relationship with God and stay fascinated with all of life (see 2 Peter 3:18).

I will keep laughing. Even in difficult circumstances I’ll remember there’s a brighter, lighter side of life. “I will rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:18).

I will keep looking. I’ll remember that “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15). I’ll be fruitful today, “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

DAVID SHIBLEY

Consolation When Things Don’t Go Well.


Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines … yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18

The very things Habakkuk had complained about—the fig tree wasn’t blossoming, no fruit, no herd in the stalls—were still not there, and yet he was rejoicing. He wasn’t complaining now. What changed his mind?

There were three things that consoled him. The first was that he could see that God was what he saw: “The Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it” (Hab. 2:2, KJV). What a relief to know that God sees!

The second thing that consoled Habakkuk was the knowledge that though full intervention might not come as soon as he wanted—”Though it tarry, wait for it” (v. 3, KJV)—it would nevertheless definitely come. There was a plan; there was a time schedule. Maybe it’s a little longer that you want it to be, but wait for it; it will come.

The third thing that consoled Habakkuk was the understanding that God imputes righteousness to the man or woman who lives by God’s faithfulness. When we say, “God, I don’t understand it. I don’t know why You have let me wait this long. I don’t know why You haven’t stepped in sooner. But I am trusting you,” we are cleansed in that moment and given rest of soul. He says, “I like it when you trust Me that way.”

Are you looking for the vine to blossom before you can rejoice? Are you waiting for the raise in pay? Or for that answered prayer? Are you waiting for everything to fit in before you start praising the Lord? If that is so, then turn in your badge now and give up. As Proverbs 24:10 says, “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small” (KJV).

Like Habakkuk, you will be given grace to trace the rainbow through the rain.

Excerpted from Worshipping God (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004).

By R. T. KENDALL.

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