September 19, 2015

Walking by faith can be shocking

Habakkuk 1:1–2:5, Acts 17:1–34, Job 25:1–6

When I yield everything to God, He often surprises me. This week, I was attacked by another Christian who later apologized and said he was wrong. That helped, but at the time it was painful as well as startling.

Habakkuk was also startled by God. Shocked would be a better word. He watched the evil around him and prayed, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.” (Habakkuk 1:2–3)

God answered, “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own.” (Habakkuk 1:5–6) He went on to explain that He was going to use these evil people to correct the disobedience in Israel that Habakkuk complained about.

Habakkuk was mortified and could not make sense of it. He said, “Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof. You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?  . . . . (Will the Chaldeans) then keep on emptying his net and mercilessly killing nations forever?” (Habakkuk 1: 12–13, 17)

Then the Lord answered him: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:2–4)

Essentially God told Habakkuk the same thing as He told me when I prayed about His sovereignty in my circumstance: “Trust Me. I know what I’m doing.”

Job suffered repeated attacks to his character and actions. God explained what He was doing to Habakkuk, but Job had no clue. He claimed not to be sinless, but that he lived by faith as a righteous man. Bildad the Shuhite thought otherwise. He said . . .

 “Dominion and fear are with God; he makes peace in his high heaven. Is there any number to his armies? Upon whom does his light not arise? How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure? Behold, even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure in his eyes; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!” (Job 25:1–6)

When being accused like that, did Job feel like a maggot or a worm? When I was accused, I felt terrible. Living by faith is not always a walk in the park.

Paul was also a righteous man who lived by faith. He was in Thessalonica and went to the synagogue of the Jews to reason with them from the Scriptures. He explained how it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and said, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar . . . . (Acts 17:2–5)

From there Paul went to Berea, and went to Jewish synagogue, and “these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.” But those who stirred up the mob in Thessalonica came and did the same thing in Berea. Not everyone was happy to hear the gospel. (Acts 17:10–13)

Paul went on to Athens and was provoked to see that the city was full of idols. He “reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him.”

Out of this came a host of different reactions including some who wanted to hear more. Paul went on to speak to them about God and Christ, and “when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed . . . .” (Acts 17:32–34)

The Lord speaks to me from these passages of Scripture and verifies that life with Him is rich and abundant, yet it is sometimes a shock and completely challenging.

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