Monday, September 23, 2013

"God, where are you?"- Habakkuk

Continuing reading through the Bible (trying to finally be able to say that I have read the whole thing), I have been mired in the minor prophets of the Old Testament. They are not the easiest read, and they are often difficult to discern anything relevant. Tonight though, I read through Habakkuk... and I could totally relate!

I have spent many, many times looking through headlines, news, Facebook, Twitter, and so on and just time again reaching a place where I just have to wonder... is God still there? Is He still in control?

"How long, o Lord, will I call for help and You will not hear? ... Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises. Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted." Habakkuk 1:2-4

I was brought back to this place many times recently, as we see Christians being murdered in countries far away, churches bombed, members of our adoptive family who are slain in the name of perverted justice.

"Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do you look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?" Habakkuk 1:13

I get to this place, and I just wonder how much longer this earth will endure... how much longer will God allow us to destroy ourselves, and His creation? How much longer will He allow the twisting of His word, and the perversion of His glory unfold? I find myself, often, much like this prophet, calling out to God... almost in an accusatory tone... asking, Why are You silent?

But, God being God, and ultimately sovereign and full of grace, mercy, and truth... He answers...

"Then the Lord answered me and said, 'Record this vision... For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by faith. Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man, so that he does not stay at home. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and his is like death, never satisfied." Habakkuk 2:2-5

God is still there, and He is still in control... these things continue to happen because the time has not yet come for them to stop. But the promise is there that those who revel in their own truth and their perverted justice will meet their fate... their souls are not right, their appetite for their own righteousness grows like the fires of Hell, never to be satisfied. Take rest in the knowledge that the world is storing up its wrath for eternity, but the truly righteous, the beloved, we have the peace that the wrath due to us has been poured out already... The promise is given:

"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea... Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix in your own venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness! You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness. The Cup in the Lord's right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory." Habakkuk 2:14-16

A promise to those who have twisted and perverted justice, who have filled this world with filth... who seek the destruction of others... you'll get yours. As well as a call to each of us to examine ourselves for this same debauchery ("for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23... sound familiar?) because the Cup in the Lord's right hand will come, and disgrace our glory. Sounds like a call to repent, a promise of the coming of Jesus. The light in the darkness that will reveal all we do as filthy rags... a reminder that God shares His glory with no one.

There is a lot going on in these verses... but if nothing else, they leave me with a few things:
1) God is in control, He is still God, He is not blind to what is happening
2) When the appointed time comes, His wrath will be poured out
3) We are all sinners, and must be careful to not only ever point out and call out the sins of others, but also to examine the sins of our own lives.
4) We must seek only the glory of God
5) Jesus has taken the wrath for all whom He has called to be His children
6) There is relevant, and good, news to be found everywhere in scripture... be diligent and persevere, keeping your mind open

I know this post was all over the place... but so is my mind lately.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Lesson from Tombstone

I'm sitting on my couch, watching Tombstone right now... I stinking love this movie... at the moment, we find Wyatt Earp walking into the Oriental for the first time, trying to get himself a stake in the house take. As he walks in, he purchases a cigar from the owner/operator of the establishment. The owner identifies himself, and Wyatt returns the gesture by telling Milt that he is Wyatt Earp. Milt just chuckles to himself in disbelief as Wyatt smiles, an unrecognized hero.
Wyatt then confronts the house dealer, who is bullying the few gamblers who wander into the room, managing to defeat the man with mostly words... the dealer, armed with a shotgun then approaches Wyatt on the street (still not recognizing who the man is), as he begins to shoulder the gun, he is called out by Doc, Wyatt's oldest friend. It is only after Doc identifies Wyatt in front of this man that the dealer trembles and backs down.

It strikes me this morning, as I am watching, how often we fail to recognize the presence of Jesus in much the same way. We struggle in our circumstances, we get impatient, wary, and frustrated that our life is not going down the path we would choose. We even get a glimpse, a direct introduction, that perhaps our situation is coming from God, that He is trying to help bring us through something. But even still, we watch skeptically, and when we again grow tired of waiting on God's timing, and trusting his sovereign grace, we begin to allow ourselves to elevate to anger, and wish to take the matter into our own hands. At times we only stop when someone else clearly shouts a warning to us and allows us to see that the object of our frustration is the work of God in our lives. And at that, we must choose our course to either drop our weapon and yield to His will, or continue to press through and accept the consequence of our deeds.

I am in a season of many trials, being made to wait through many things. Very few, if any, of these trials are even all that unpleasant... it is much more of a knowledge that on the other side of these trials lays a much different, and much better future for me, and my family. I am blessed to have the support of my family as I am moved through these times, and at times I am better at resting in the grace and sufficiency of God... but at times I start to rise up again, and threaten to attempt to retake control over circumstance. I forget the promises of scripture... and, sadly, at times it is only when I am on the edge of taking an ill-advised shot that someone is able to break my focus and remind me of the power of God's word and the effectual grace of His will.

These moments bring me back to remembering the promise found in Paul's words to the church at Ephesus:
        For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

Thursday, September 5, 2013

There is nothing good in me

People will often call out to God, offering a thanks that when they couldn't find anything good within them, that they are thankful that God saw something good in them and chose to forgive them... I have a little bit of an issue with this line of thinking... 

I really appreciate the sentiment, and I am thankful that we are able to admit that there is nothing good in us... but I think we sometimes miss the boat in thinking that God saw something in us worth saving. It laughs in the face of the total depravity of man for me to assume that, even though I couldn't see it, there was something good in me, and that one fleck of good was enough for God to rescue me. For me, the truth is that there was truly nothing good in me, not even that fleck... it was not because of ANY good that existed in me that God chose to empty Himself of glory, put on the flesh of man, come to earth as a baby, live a perfect life, be brutally murdered, stay in a tomb for 3 days, rise (conquering sin and death), walk the earth with His followers once again, to then ascend to the right hand of God. He did not choose to do that because there was something good in me, or you, or anyone else... He chose to do that for His glory

He chose to enter into history, to take utterly desolate, desperately wicked, totally depraved people like you and me and tell us that even though there is not one shred of good within us, that He can still restore us to what we were created to be... He can place us back into the right standing before God... He will become sin, never knowing sin Himself, and give us His righteousness... not because I deserve it or because there is anything good in me, but because, without Him, there never will be... but with Him, He can work through me and shine His glory through me, and others can see His love through me, and others can understand that their own brokeness is only healed through Him, and they can't earn it, or be good enough for it, or do anything to deserve it... 

He calls us to Himself by our name... when that amazing grace comes upon us, we echo the words of Paul that while I live, not I, but Christ who lives within me... transforming us from the inside out back into the image and likeness of God... so that after we live our lives on this earth, after we have gone through this sanctification, we are glorified and perfected into our right standing before God... but only because, as we abide in Christ, He abides in us... God didn't rescue you because of anything short of His glory being magnified through the redemption of a completely wrecked vessel back to perfection.

Its all for His glory, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone...