Let’s start 2018 with renewal! I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year.
Yes, I am late to the party, sorry for taking so long to get this blog post out. I have many more, promise. 🙂
If you have enjoyed or benefitted from any of my blog posts, I’d sure love to hear from you, thanks!
And now for the message…
One of the great things I love about God is His ability to renew.
Over the next few posts, I’d like to discuss the various types of personal renewal that we can experience.
We’ll start today with what I call the “That’s not fair!” renewal.
This is the renewal that someone can experience when it seems that life is not going as planned and things don’t look good. Frustration sets in. You may not relate to this, perhaps everything is going well for you and that what is taking place on the planet makes sense to you.
But if it’s the case that things aren’t going well for you and the world doesn’t make sense, you may be moved at one time or another to say “That’s not fair!”.
This applies to those times when we are frustrated, confused, angry, grief-stricken, doubtful, depressed, exhausted, and so on.
Can you relate to Jeremiah’s emotions?
Let’s look at a couple examples in the Bible so that we can learn from the Master himself.
10 Then I said,
“What sorrow is mine, my mother.
Oh, that I had died at birth!
I am hated everywhere I go.
I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose
nor a borrower who refuses to pay—
yet they all curse me.”
Here I think Jeremiah is having a bad day, don’t you? Actually, it’s an extremely bad day, the man wishes he’s never been born! Let’s see how God responds:
11 The Lord replied,
“I will take care of you, Jeremiah.
Your enemies will ask you to plead on their behalf
in times of trouble and distress.
God seems to take it well, reassuring Jeremiah that he’ll be taken care of.
But Jeremiah’s not done complaining yet:
15 Then I said,
“Lord, you know what’s happening to me.
Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors!
Please give me time; don’t let me die young.
It’s for your sake that I am suffering.
16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.
17 I never joined the people in their merry feasts.
I sat alone because your hand was on me.
I was filled with indignation at their sins.
18 Why then does my suffering continue?
Why is my wound so incurable?
Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook,
like a spring that has gone dry.”
I don’t know about you, but this is hard for me to read.
Jeremiah is going through a lot of emotions here and is having a really rough go of it. Life is not fair and he’s making sure that God hears it. He seems ready to throw in the towel. I really think that what he says is ok up until that last sentence. I think that is what sparked this response from God:
19 This is how the Lord responds:
“If you return to me, I will restore you
so you can continue to serve me.
If you speak good words rather than worthless ones,
you will be my spokesman.
You must influence them;
do not let them influence you!
20 They will fight against you like an attacking army,
but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall of bronze.
They will not conquer you,
for I am with you to protect and rescue you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
21 Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men.
I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”
What can I say? God gives him great reassurance and instruction. He also puts Jeremiah in his place when He says “If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman.”
It seems as though only those who speak good words will be permitted to be His authorized spokesmen.
If you ever had “issues” with the Almighty, you’re in good company.
2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help?
But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
3 Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
4 The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
so that justice has become perverted.
Habakkuk lodges a general complaint about the state of his nation. Could this be a complaint we might use today?
Here’s God’s response:
5 The Lord replied,
“Look around at the nations;
look and be amazed!
For I am doing something in your own day,
something you wouldn’t believe
even if someone told you about it.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
a cruel and violent people.
They will march across the world
and conquer other lands.
Not good enough for Habakkuk, he had a second complaint:
12 O Lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal—
surely you do not plan to wipe us out?
O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us,
to punish us for our many sins.
13 But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil.
Will you wink at their treachery?
Should you be silent while the wicked
swallow up people more righteous than they?
14 Are we only fish to be caught and killed?
Are we only sea creatures that have no leader?
15 Must we be strung up on their hooks
and caught in their nets while they rejoice and celebrate?
16 Then they will worship their nets
and burn incense in front of them.
“These nets are the gods who have made us rich!”
they will claim.
17 Will you let them get away with this forever?
Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests?
These are great and legitimate questions. How does God answer?
2 Then the Lord said to me,
4 “Look at the proud!
They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked.
But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
5 Wealth is treacherous,
and the arrogant are never at rest.
They open their mouths as wide as the grave,
and like death, they are never satisfied.
In their greed they have gathered up many nations
and swallowed many peoples.
6 “But soon their captives will taunt them.
They will mock them, saying,
‘What sorrow awaits you thieves!
Now you will get what you deserve!
You’ve become rich by extortion,
but how much longer can this go on?’
God continues to answer throughout the second chapter of Habakkuk along these same lines. He seems to answer the same questions we all might have about the proud and the wicked and why injustice seems to prevail at times.
What effect does this insight and wisdom give to Habakkuk?
1 This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk:
2 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.
And in your anger,
remember your mercy.
3 I see God moving across the deserts from Edom,
the Holy One coming from Mount Paran.
His brilliant splendor fills the heavens,
and the earth is filled with his praise.
And he ends with this:
17 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,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.
It is rather difficult to explain how this renewal process happens but we see this time and time again through the Word of God. His people have their complaints; they bring them to God, which is what we all should be doing. God then reveals Himself to them mostly by demonstrating and explaining His awesome power and sovereignty.
This knowledge of the Divine has a way of giving us a proper perspective and helps us accept things as they are. He is in control and He knows what He is doing. It’s up to us to praise Him and give thanks for all that He does for us. This knowledge also leads us to share Him with others so that they might know they can experience peace on earth and have eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 94: 19 When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
Have you been renewed?
“Dear Lord you are Holy and apart from you, I am not. You are sovereign, who am I to question you? You are the Alpha and the Omega, my life is but a breath in comparison. There is so much I do not understand. Your ways are not my ways and your thoughts are so much higher than my thoughts, how can I ever imagine how great your purposes are?
Please help me keep this perspective. You are far too wonderful for me to comprehend. I give you all the praise for you’ve done many wonderful things in my life that I can’t even begin to count. Thank you for even thinking of me! Please lead me to a greater knowledge of you and all that you do. I long to know you more and seek a deeper relationship with you. Please be patient with me. In Jesus’ Holy name, amen.”