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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Personal Joy During National Calamity (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

 "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights."

God revealed to Habakkuk His plans to use the Babylonians to punish Judah for their idolatrous ways. How does Habakkuk handle that kind of news? What happens when all seems lost, when the future seems bleak and hopeless?

Habakkuk reflects upon the LORD's great fame and the awesome deeds He had done for Israel in the past. He also considers God's use of nature to accomplish His purposes. And he knows that the Babylonian captivity isn't permanent. His view of God and specific promises given by God sustain Him during this awful period in Israel's history.

Regardless of what occurs in the national realm Habakkuk is able to maintain personal joy. Circumstances don't dictate joy. Joy is the result of a right attitude toward God. Habakkuk chose to rejoice in the LORD rather than fret over his and the nation's circumstances. He was able, therefore, to experience God's strength and leadership individually while the nation experienced fear, turmoil, and hopelessness.

Reciting the past deeds of the LORD is a spiritual discipline. It is intentional. And, it is beneficial as our eyes move from our immediate circumstances to the greatness of our God. We can say with Habakkuk, "I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. Praise turns into intercession.

Today's Chronological Bible reading:
Jeremiah 22:1-17
  • What was God's message to the king of Judah through Jeremiah? What kind of response does this message require of the king?
  • What does God promise will happen to His people they disobey His instructions?
  • What does the king's palace represent to Jehoahaz?
  • How old was Jehoahaz when he became king and how is he described?
  • What happens to him as a result of his doing evil before the eyes of the Lord? What does this tell you about God?
  • Who does God use to accomplish His will? What does this tell you about God?
  • Take a look at the timeline in the front of your Bible and note how closely Judah is to being taken into captivity by the Babylonians.
Habakkuk 1:1-3:19 (Habakkuk prophesied in Judah just prior to the first captivity of Judah--see timeline in the front of the Bible)
  • As Habakkuk looks around him what does he see? What is his prayer?
  • How does God answer Habakkuk?
  • Read Proverbs 21:1. How does God view and use kings?
  • What is Habakkuk's view of God? Which character of God does Habakkuk base his prayer upon?
  • What does Habakkuk do after he completes his prayer?
  • How does Habakkuk respond to God's promise of judgment? Where is his trust?
  • What parallels do you see between Judah's situation and ours today?
Turning truth into prayerPray for our nation and our city. Pray that God's people will see and comprehend what God is doing in our day. Make a list of the past deeds of God in your life. Turn that list into a psalm of praise to the LORD