31 Jul

Wait! What’s going on here?

God!

How long?

How long must I call for help?

Why must I watch all this misery?

Nothing seems to be going my way.

Have you ever been there?

The walls and worries are falling in all around you?

Habakkuk can relate.

Habakkuk had a beef with God and he used a formal complaint to make his case.

Habakkuk didn’t just have a funny name, he was a prophet and considered to be a man of great literary talent. Said another way, he was articulate and had the ability to drive his point home.

Habakkuk was worn out with all the bad guys winning. He was fed up with injustice. The crooks, manipulators, deceivers, robbers, extortionist, liars, cheats and fakes all had the high ground and he hated it!

Perhaps you share in Habakkuk’s sentiments, “Will you let them get away with this forever? Will they succeed in their heartless conquest? Will you wink at their treachery? Justice has become perverted!”

Yes! Tell it like it is Habakkuk! Don’t hold back. Expose the passive aggressive, back stabbing, smiling, self serving, betrayers of friendship and trust! Hang them by their toes!

It is notable that God doesn’t disagree or even make light of the complaint. What he does do is ask Habakkuk to hang tight.

The Lord affirms that the complaint is warranted. They are deeply guilty. What has happened in the dark will be revealed by the light. Sneaks can’t hide forever. They rely on their own strength and it won’t last. Their day is coming.

God assures Habakkuk that he is on it. That he is orchestrating things that Habakkuk wouldn’t believe even if someone revealed the plan. It may seem slow in coming, but be patient, it is about to get real!

Sorrow awaits those who build big houses with money gained through dishonesty, corruption and extortion. Those who do, will be exposed and disgraced. Their glory will turn to shame! They may appear as tall oaks , but they will be cut down!

The Lord encourages Habakkuk to take a good look around. To recognize what God is doing, remember and to rejoice in what God is about to do!

Habakkuk calms down, takes a breath and re-centers his faith.

He respectfully reiterates that there is deep need, yet, he will recognize, remember and rejoice even though circumstances don’t currently give cause for celebration.

His response sounds like the lyrics of a good country song as he indicates that the blooms have withered, the grapes have disappeared, the crops have failed, the fields are empty the flocks have died and the barns are empty, nonetheless we will rejoice and be joyful.

How is Habakkuk’s attitude possible even when things look so rough?

Habakkuk laid it out for us.

When things are bad and you have been betrayed, abused and used, wait quietly, be patient, take a look around, recognize, remember and rejoice knowing that the God you serve is at work, he is just and he never wastes pain or suffering. And never ever forget that the Lord is your strength!

We can count on the Lord even when we can’t count on ourselves or others.

Hard times, troubles and injustices are certain to come. When they do, like Habakkuk, we need to pause, take a look around and rest assured that God’s got this. He is doing something we won’t believe even if someone told us what he was up to.

Even though, we don’t know, we must trust him.

He is working ALL things together for the good of those who are called according to his purpose!

It may seem slow in coming, but it will surely take place.

(Inspired by the book of Habakkuk and Romans 8:28)

28 Jul

Easy?

Jesus says his yoke is easy.

Hmmmm… then why are things so hard?

Maybe we have our head in the wrong yoke?

Maybe we are mismatched?

Maybe we are unknowingly or knowingly working against the Lord?

We get a hint of proper yoking, that’s yoke, not joke, in Deuteronomy 22:10. It is a subtle command. “You must not plow with an ox and a donkey harnessed together.”

The King James version of scripture says,”Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.”

That version of the scripture can bring a grin. No doubt, most of us have plowed with an ass or two in our lives!

What’s the point?

Turns out that an ox and a donkey, yeah, I dropped the KJV version, are poorly matched in many ways but the difference in strength and perspective is the obvious problem.

It is like saying, “You got the short end of the stick.” There is a whole lot less leverage with a short stick!

Sometimes we make things harder than they need to be.

Perhaps we need to take a good look at how the yoke is being handled.

Are we mismatched?

Do we have the wrong business partner?

Do we come at things differently and therefore are working against each other rather than with each other?

Do we have different capabilities and capacities?

A lineman for the football team doesn’t make for a great point guard on the basketball team. It’s a mismatch! It doesn’t fit! It’s not easy or effective.

Stop and take an assessment of your situation.

Are you working with God or against him?

Are you following his lead or your own?

He says he works with us but are we working with him?

Teamwork makes the dream work!

Don’t resist his way. With God on our team we are unstoppable but if we stray from his way we will be pulling an unnecessary load.

In effect, we have gone out on our own.

We need to be properly yoked and know our role on the team.

Sometimes that means leaving one yoke and joining another.

Sometimes it means staying where you are but following the leader.

Other times it means simply getting in step and aligned with the direction things are heading.

Find the right seat on the bus. Find your place and you will thrive!

Working together is the key to being properly yoked.

We need to let the Lord lead the way and when we do, the work may be hard but the yoke will be easy because we are properly matched and aligned with the greatest of all team leaders.

(Take a good look at the image.)

24 Jul

Take heart!

A lack of blessing is not a sign of disapproval any more than prosperity is a sign of approval.

It rains on the just and unjust alike.

The secret is to trust the Lord regardless of the circumstances.

Be careful not to equate God’s love, acceptance and blessing with ease, comfort and abundance.

There is no guarantee of comfort in a calling.

God is often more evident during challenging times than times of ease.

Don’t allow the blessings you observe in the lives of others to cause you to doubt your value, calling or obedience to God.

He often calls the strongest to the hardest assignments. If it were easy, anyone could do it.

You were hand picked to demonstrate what your daddy can do through a kid committed to his training program.

Stay the course.

His coaching is to be desired more than applause from the crowd.

Seek the blesser not the blessing. His presence not the present.

Enjoy the good times. Cherish the blessings. Express gratitude for abundance and prosperity but also recognize hard times bring refinement, experience and strength.

Be careful not to associate challenging times, rejection, setbacks or a lack of blessing with his absence. He is more present now than ever!

God works all things together for good. We do well not to limit the means by which he nurtures, grows and matures his kids.

He is more interested in building our character, developing our trust and deepening our dependence on him than calming the waters, softening our seats and lifting our loads.

He desires to make us stronger, more confident and more like him. Such is often accomplished through adversity, struggle and hard work.

Take heart. He is with you and will see you through.

What a blessing!

(Inspired by Habakkuk 3:2,17,18 and Matthew 5:45)

“I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by.”Habakkuk 3:2

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Habakkuk 3:17-18

“… he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” Matthew 5:45

23 Jul

Here it comes.

It seems some days are just smoother than others.

A great day is one that is healthy, wealthy, happy, peaceful, fun and without concern.

A good day is making it through another 24 hours without setbacks, put downs or threats.

A poor day is surviving but not without having to overcome a few nags and drags, being a bit discouraged or even somewhat depressed with it all.

A bad day includes feeling hopeless, desperate, sad, mad, hurt, pain, suffering, defeat or incurring a significant loss.

If I have learned anything, it is to cherish the great days, appreciate the good days, learn from the poor days and remember the better days when things are bad.

It never hurts to count my blessings. It always seems to make things better, no matter what type of day it is.

Whenever I find something to be grateful for, it is not always easy, but it is usually there somewhere, things seem a little bit brighter and better. An attitude of gratitude helps me navigate the platitudes.

Everyday is better when faced with a loyal, caring, fun and listening friend.

Life is meant to be shared, no matter what kind of day it is.

 

 

19 Jul

Longing for home

Vacations are great. Business travel makes work fun but nobody likes to be unwillingly displaced and stuck on the road.

Living in exile, away from all that makes life normal, can suck the life out of you.

You aren’t where you want to be. Where you want to be is home. Truly, there is no place like home, especially if you want to be there and some unforeseen circumstance keeps you at bay.

Ask anyone who has suffered countless flight delays, following a long trip, and they are certain to agree, home is where they want to be.

The Hebrews were exiled and, yet again, they found themselves in captivity. They were stuck with no tow truck in sight.

They were homesick, discouraged and disappointed with where life had taken them.

Being displaced was depressing and dreadful. Yet, hope was given as a word was gained from the Lord.

One of their leaders had gained insight from the Lord and it assured them God was aware of their situation and that their current predicament was only a season.

The word was simple yet encouraging. Hang in there. Hold on. Get on with your life and don’t dwindle away. Make the most of it. You are still breathing and there is still hope.

Thanks for the pep talk, God, but why the delay? Our bags are packed and we are ready to roll. Where is the flight crew? The engines are fired up. If we leave now, we will be home in time for dinner.

God was not silent. He assured them he heard their prayers and they would be home again but on his time not theirs.

God is never in a hurry but he is never late. His timing is perfect.

We may not understand what is holding things up but we can have confidence he has a plan and it is good!

Rest assured, when God is our travel agent, we have a future and we have hope! He will bring us home and he will restore our fortunes!

In the meantime, what are we to do?

1. Work for peace and prosperity. Don’t sit around hosting a pity party. Get busy and get on with your life. It is easier to start if you are already moving. Make the most of it and be ready to fly.

2. Pray. Keep the lines of communication open. Listen for your boarding call. Stay close to the gate. Stay close to God.

3. Keep your eyes open. Look for the open door and expect things to happen when you are seeking direction from the Lord with all your heart. This is not a casual hunt. This is a hunt for survival.

Be ready. Keep a bag packed and your boarding pass in hand. But in the meantime, stay after it, stay active, go about your day and look for the Lord to call for your ticket.

He has a plan for good, and not for disaster, a plan for your future that is full of hope. You will be restored. He will bring you home again!

All aboard!

(Inspired by Jeremiah 29:11-14)

 

 

16 Jul

A wrong turn in the right direction?

Do you ever feel like you took a wrong turn in the right direction?

Initially, you regret the path you have chosen but ultimately you realize the redirection was protection that led to deep satisfaction.

Life can throw us a lot of curve balls but when we lean in and swing through, the grand slam lands in the stands.

The children of Israel had just left the field of victory and found themselves wondering what was next.

They soon realized they were under attack and were facing one remaining giant that needed to be slayed.

Their formidable foe, King Og, slept in a 13 foot long iron bed. He lived in a fortified city complete with high walls and barred gates.

Talk about obstacles to overcome.  A little overwhelming?

What is the likelihood of taking over a giant’s kingdom? Not very likely unless you are confident your wrong turn was actually directed by the Lord.

The instructions were clear:

  1. Don’t be afraid
  2. Remember, victory is yours.

All righty! Here goes!

The result?

Not a single town escaped their conquest. Victory was theirs. They were more than survivors, they were conquerors.

Have you made any wrong turns lately? Worried you might be on the wrong path?

Here is the good news. You can get there from here.

Yup, wherever you are, wherever you have been and no matter what you have done, you have a God that can take your wrong turns and make them right.

You may have lost a job or a limb. Life may have slapped you in the face with yet another setback, but be not dismayed or discouraged. You may not get out of jail anytime soon, but your cell can become a platform for good.

You are still in the game. There is a purpose for the days that remain. Hang in there, hold on, push through and look for your life to be used in ways you may not have chosen or ever imagined.

When you wonder what is next, don’t be afraid, feel defeated or be overwhelmed by the giant that lingers.

Remember, you are a survivor. You are a conqueror! You may be beat up, bruised, broken and bottomed out but you are still standing!

Don’t write yourself off yet! Your life matters. Your life has purpose beyond your current circumstances.

Your life is right on track for victory.

(Inspired by Deuteronomy 3:1-11)