Friday, 29 November 2013
How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Hab. 1.2
Habakkuk is likely referring to Judah during the reign of Jehoiakim who was an ambitious, cruel and corrupt leader. The land at this time was rife with social corruption and spiritual apostasy.
Yet God seemed not to take any notice whatsoever, and Habakkuk had had enough. His frustration is obvious in these words. Evil appears to go unpunished indeed, on the contrary, it seems to prosper. God is not responding to prayer, Habakkuk knows that too well.
But God does respond and His answer, and action, astound Habakkuk. God gains his attention and tells him to be utterly amazed, “For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” And what God tells Habakkuk truly shocks him. God is going to raise up the Babylonians, a people much more ruthless and impetuous than the miserable Judahites, and He is going to punish Judah through these barbarians.
There is, understandably, further response from Habakkuk, but that is not for now.
I have two points pertaining to this reading. The first is that God does indeed hear and respond. He has heard Habakkuk’s long-standing pleas and He now comes to respond.
The second point is clearly illustrated by Habakkuk. God will respond – in His own time, and also in His own unique and sovereign manner. It is clear by Habakkuk’s response that he is not prepared for the extreme solution that God is proposing for the infidelity of His people. And history has borne out just how severe this action was to be. Did people learn from it? I’m not sure. Am I prepared to learn from Habakkuk’s experience? It seems that, yet again, I am reminded to persevere in prayer, to know that God hears, and will answer. But both the answer and the timing will be with God. Meanwhile I might just need to develop patience.
You heard Habakkuk and You responded. Both the response and the timing of it were in Your will. I thank You for this reminder. I continue to pray for things that have seemingly been unanswered or not fully addressed by You. I will continue to pray, believing that You do hear and You will answer in Your time and in Your way.
I shall try not to anticipate Your response, and be willing to receive and accept the answer that You bring, for I know in my heart that this is the divine response, and the only way to go.
Holy Father, I pray for the patience to wait upon You however long it might take. May I wait in expectancy and peace and be ready to act in whatever manner You require. Amen.
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. Ezek. 47.9a
Ezekiel had experienced the vision of the water coming from the temple. This is water of life. The narrative describes how the water flows from the temple to the sea – the Dead Sea. And life flows with it, not just any form of life but a life to match the very best: The fish will be of many kinds – like the fish of the Great Sea (the Mediterranean) (v. 10b).
I have a picture of water coming from the temple. My picture is of the living water Jesus promised. It comes from the throne room of heaven and it touches, washes, cleanses and fills any who will receive it. Is this the water of the Holy Spirit? Yes, it is! But it is also any way, whatsoever, by which God will touch me.
And I want God to touch me. I want to tingle with life, His life flowing into me, flowing through me and reaching out from me to touch others, to bring them into awareness of God’s love for them and to share that love with them – in the fullness of life.
I truly seek the fullness of life that comes with the living water from Your throne room. Wash me in the river; take me deeper; swamp me, if You will, in You. Let me receive joyous, unbounded life in You.
I feel the water now. It is strangely invigorating whilst soothing. I sense Your great peace with me. I feel both calm and excited at the same time. Is this possible?
Is this the way of the water of life? Dear Lord, I believe so. What this seems to tell me is that the river of God is everywhere. Yes, it is all things, and I will find all I need in the living water.
Wash me, Lord, more and more. Today I would like to go swimming with You. Lead on, I’m here and I’m wanting You.
I love you. Draw me deeper into life in You,
In Jesus’ Name I ask.
Saturday, 23 November 2013
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Phil. 4.12
Paul seems to have experienced it all, and his writings appear to bear out what he says here.
I agree with him that being content is a secret. It is something that is not shared by everyone. It is known by only a few. He is also correct in saying it must be learned. I don’t think it comes freely, but is hard won as we work our way through the various experiences that come upon us.
Paul says I have learned. I cannot say this. I am still learning, and I can attest that it is not an easy lesson. How do I do it? I am tempted to say with great difficulty, and no small measure of angst! But these are no more than my reactions. The positives that I try to work on are essentially to trust God, to believe that He is with me – as His Word clearly says, and to seek to live, always, in His will.
This is not plain sailing for circumstances can, of course, present formidably. And the enemy is ever ready to play his silly tricks of deceit and questioning. But the primary support is in constant declaration of who I am in Him.
I also have many witnesses to overcoming in Christ, of whom Paul is one. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of this glorious and great cloud of witnesses as he exhorts us to fix our eyes on Jesus. This is the way to go.
I can be content in You. You are all that I need. Let me fix my eyes on You in all that I am, all that I do, and all that I need.
Let me see You in others.
Draw me close, precious Saviour. You called me to follow You. I desire to do this with all my heart. May this happen today as I look to You, and the way in and through You. Lead me on. Let us travel the day together, in Your precious Name I ask. Amen.
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. Phil. 1.9
Paul’s letter resonates with the partnership he enjoyed with the Philippians. His wonderful Christ hymn of chapter 2 exhorts them to live Christ-like as he himself tries to. Here the partnership extends to a threesome: Christ-Paul-the Philippians.
And this verse reminds me of partnership, although this might not be apparent from an initial reading. I see in it a facet of my partnership with God.
Paul’s prayer is for an increase in love, indeed, abounding more and more. He sees this coming through knowledge and depth of insight. This is my part. It is my application to learning. I am keenly aware of the shortfalls in my learning ability, but I can, and hopefully do, apply myself diligently to God’s Word.
Then God enters the partnership. For I see insight as God given. As I apply myself to the gaining of knowledge, God will work in partnership with me and lead me to a depth of insight in all that knowledge. I embrace this perspective. I would not be able to get any reasonable understanding without God’s help.
I certainly appreciate the partnership I have with Him.
I thank You for this reminder that we work in partnership. I recall all the valuable insights that you have brought to me through the years. I am ever grateful.
I pray for ongoing insights both in everyday life and in any specific ministry. You know my desire to be a faithful witness to Jesus. May I show this fully in my behaviour and may I encourage others to a place of their own true witness to Him.
I give myself afresh to our partnership. I look to be led by You, to be equipped by you, and to be loved by You.
I love You, Lord, and I ask You now to lead me into the fullness of the day. May we journey together in wonderful partnership. Hallelujah! Amen.
Sunday, 17 November 2013
Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD. Haggai 1.13
The remnant of Jews that had returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon showed more concern for their own welfare than for rebuilding the temple, the powerful reminder of God’s presence with them.
But their self-focused efforts did not prosper them. God rebuked them:
“You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” (Haggai 1.5, 6)
God challenged them to rebuild His house. The people responded to His call. Then He brought specific assurance that He was with them. He was pleased, and showed His pleasure to the people,
“From this day on I will bless you.” (Haggai 2.19)
I believe we can exercise choice in any and every situation. I also believe that when we think we have no choice it is just possible that the alternative is unacceptable to us. I choose God. I revel to hear Him say to me “I am with you.” I simply want to live in Him, to go forward directed by Him in all that I do, and to be shaped by Him in everything that I am.
You were with the Jews and You are with me. I know this, yet I yearn to hear You affirm it. I know I do not deserve You to be with me. I am so thankful that this does not depend on my deserving, but on Your grace, mercy and love.
I pray for You to be with me, more and more. I seek You in every living moment. My desire is to live fully in You. Receive me, Lord. Consume me such that I am impregnated through all of my being with You. I invite You to take me over, and make me wholly Yours. Make me who you want me to be. Lead me to do only what will please You. Dear Lord, may my life conform to Your full and perfect will, in Jesus’ Name I ask. Amen.