Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Luke 1 Meditations (Pt 3)

Luke 1:24-25 (ESV)

[24] After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, [25] “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

 

Luke 5:1 says, “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.” These things were done at a specific time in history, with specific people, from a particular family of Israel, and a specific division within the Levites. This is not a tale or myth around which we build our faith. It is an actual event rooted in real time and space.

 

The description of Zechariah and Elizabeth is of particular interest. Luke 1:6-7 say, “And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child. . .” The perspective of the religious community at that time would be that their childlessness was an indication of sin. The Mosaic Covenant promised blessing and fruitfulness as a result of obedience. If this couple were really “walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord,” then surely they would have children. The fact that they are elderly and have never had a child would have been considered evidence of sin in their lives. Yet God’s description of them is that “they were both righteous before God.”

 

Things are not always as they appear. Individuals who appear to be righteous and holy may be found to be hiding secret sin. Those who appear to us to be sinful, may in fact be truly listening to God and growing in faith. Our judgments are almost always made based on outward appearance. When Samuel went to anoint the next King of Israel, God warned him, “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1Sam 16:7). What we see is not necessarily what God sees.

 

A childless, elderly couple is considered righteous by God. An unmarried, young woman from a small town out in the country finds favor with God to carry Messiah into the world. Messiah arrives on the scene as a child born of humble circumstances and as an adult, goes on to be crucified as a criminal. We are too often concerned about appearance, titles, roles, . . . We want people to know how important we are. As a result, we rarely let people see who we really are.

 

I recall thinking, as a young pastor, that if people really knew who I was they wouldn’t want me to be their pastor. If they really knew the thoughts that cross my mind, they way I treat my wife, the way I spend my money, they would reject me. Rather than humbling myself before God, I was trying to maintain a certain fa├žade before men. That kind of thinking still pops up regularly and I need to confess and reject it. But let’s be honest, we are all too concerned about appearance and too little concerned about the true condition of our hearts.

 

For Elizabeth, God removed her reproach by giving her a child (Lk 1:25), but the more important truth is that God found them both righteous in his sight. Who but God would have started the story of Messiah with a childless, elderly couple and an obscure young woman? At the heart of the Christmas story is the concept of humility. Life is not about me, and it is not about what people think of me. Just the other day I met someone and the thought popped into my head, “I wonder if this person knows how important I am?” Wow! Really? Shouldn’t I be thinking about how important that individual is in the sight of God? Shouldn’t I be listening instead of talking? But pride raises its head at the most inopportune times. In those times we can only make a silent confession to God and listen better. At the heart of Christmas is the concept of humility. May that be increasingly true in our lives.

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Luke 1 Meditations (Pt 2)

Luke 1:14-17 (ESV)

[14] And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, [15] for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. [16] And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, [17] and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

The passage quoted above is part of a prophesy concerning the birth of John the Baptist. His father, Zechariah, was a priest in the division of Abijah. King David had divided the priesthood into 24 divisions. Each division served in the temple twice a year for one week. The priest who served in the Holy Place was chosen by lot. Given the number of priests serving at that time, this was likely a once in a lifetime opportunity for Zechariah. He was an old man. According to Numbers 8, priests served from age thirty to fifty. Given that Zechariah is called an old man, this may very well have been his last year of service. He was likely about fifty years old. While serving at the end of his eligibility, chosen by lot, he enters the Holy Place and encounters an angel. God’s timing in all of this is perfect.

The Old Testament parallels in these few verses are incredible. An angel brought a message to Zechariah in his old age that he would have son, just as an angel brought a message to Abraham in his old age concerning a son. The phrase “you will have joy and gladness” connects back to promises of the restoration of Israel. Zechariah is to name his son John, but “he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” That is a description that parallels Samson in Judges 13. Of course, “He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah” connects to the story of Elijah. The reference to Elijah coupled with the final phrase, “. . . to make ready for the Lord a people prepared,” is a quote from Malachi 4:5-6.

This is not just an interesting story. This is a direct connection between the Old Testament promises and the birth of Jesus that will follow. The timing is perfect. The prophecies are clear. There is no denying that this child promised to Zechariah and Elizabeth is a special child with a special calling. The son of a priest, John will become the last of the Old Testament prophets pointing the people of God toward Messiah.

Why do we care? Can’t we just enjoy the story without getting all caught up in whether it is true or not? Your eternal fate hangs on the answer to that question. If this is just a nice story then the story of Jesus has no validity either. The death of Jesus then becomes meaningless. We are left with a nice story to motivate us to try and be good, nothing more. But if this is truly the record of an encounter with an angel connecting back to Old Testament promises and pointing us to Messiah, then we have hope.

Christmas is a time of wonder. Not because the lights are pretty and the gifts are mysterious.  It is a time of wonder because what we celebrate at Christmas is the wondrous true story of the coming of the King. The story of John introduces us to that truth. In these times of uncertainty, may we turn our hearts to the truth and wonder of these almost unbelievable promises that came to pass at just the right time.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Luke 1 Meditations (Pt 1)

Luke 1:1-4 (ESV)

[1] Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, [2] just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, [3] it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, [4] that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

 

Apparently there had been several written records of Jesus doings and teachings. Additionally the early Christians had those who were eye witnesses who told the stories. As the church had grown and Jesus had not returned yet, it only made sense to put down the narrative in writing for future believers. Luke was a doctor, a believer, and a sometime companion of the Apostle Paul. He sought to put together “an orderly account.” To do so he researched what had been written and talked with the many eye witnesses including the apostles who were still living. James had been martyred early on, but he would have had opportunity to talk with Peter and John and others.

 

Luke’s gospel was specifically written for Theophilus. The name means “God lover,” or “Lover of God.” Some have suggested that Theophilus is not a real person, but a reference to all who are lovers of God. The name, however, was a common name in their day. This particular Theophilus seems to be someone of social status, perhaps in government. He is called “most excellent Theophilus,” a reference of respect. Whoever Theophilus was, he clearly distributed Luke’s writings to others in the church as they have been passed down to us today.

 

Two things should be noted as we reflect on this passage. First, this is not a theological treatise supported by a fabricated story of Jesus’ life. It is a carefully researched record of his life and teachings. Second, that means that our faith is not built on a foundation of fictional stories intended to support the church’s theology. Rather, our theology and our faith is built on the foundation of an accurate record of Jesus life and teachings. It is true truth.

 

Christmas is coming quickly, and for many the Christmas Spirit is a welcome change to the fear and anxiety of our day. But what is the Christmas Spirit? It has come to mean so much that it has become almost meaningless. For some Christmas is about trying to recreate some sort of homey, nostalgic feeling complete with snow, sleighs, decorated trees, and presents. For others the Christmas Spirit is about shopping, Christmas secrets, and surprises. For still others it is about giving not receiving, family, food, friends. For Christians it might mean attending a Christmas Eve service.

 

Every Christmas movie claims to tells us what the true spirit of Christmas is. When Luke wrote this record of Jesus birth in the first chapter of his gospel, he wasn’t thinking about Christmas Spirit. Most of what we have come to associate with Christmas would have been completely unknown to Luke. For Luke it was the story of the time when God became man.

 

It was a story worth recording accurately. It was a story worth telling because it was more than a story. It was the historical record of what really happened. As you are preparing for Christmas this year don’t let the “Christmas Spirit” overshadow the Christmas story. At a specific time in history God became man. He entered into our story so that we might be a part of his story. The birth record includes two miraculous births in specific family lines at a unique and specific time in history in order to lay the groundwork for the transformation of all creation. It began with an angel appearing to an old priest. The story continues today. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ as your personal savior, you are part of the story. The true Christmas Spirit is the story of a child born for the purpose of dying and raising from the dead so that any who might believe will have life eternal. May we never forget that truth.

 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Reflections on Psalm 71

 Psalms 71:5-8 (ESV)

[5] For you, O Lord, are my hope,

my trust, O LORD, from my youth.

[6] Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;

you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.

My praise is continually of you.

[7] I have been as a portent to many,

but you are my strong refuge.

[8] My mouth is filled with your praise,

and with your glory all the day.

 

In our recent presidential election there has been a lot of mud-slinging, fear-mongering, and hand wringing. Joe Biden has been proclaimed the winner while President Trump claims fraud. Only time will tell, but at this point it looks like we may have a new president come January, assuming all the court cases can be settled that quickly. In just writing those words I have already raised eyebrows and upset a few people. But as I read and reflected on Psalm 71 again this morning, two thoughts struck me that are worth our reflection and consideration.

 

First, our hope must be in the Lord, not in our political choices. The Psalmist understood that in the face of enemies and attacks, his strength was not in his armies, his ability to think strategically, or his position of superiority. His strength was in the Lord. He recognized that from before birth he had been and still was dependent on God. He had been a portent or threat to his enemies, yet his refuge and strength was in the Lord, not in himself. Our hope in this world is not dependent on which person sits in the White House. Our hope is not dependent on how one interprets the constitution of the United States of America. Our hope is not dependent on how many guns we have, nor how many people we can muster up to vote our way. Our hope is, was, and always will be in God alone. I fear that we forget that. Certainly we sometimes talk as though we have forgotten that truth.

Second, our mouth should be filled with praise, not confirmations of everything wrong with our “enemies.” The Psalmist had enemies. He was under attack, but his focus was on God, not on his enemies. We tend to build echo chambers around ourselves listening only to those with whom we agree, and then we are surprised when we find that not everyone thinks like we do. We tend to spend more time talking about what is wrong with our “enemies” than talking about what is right with God. We talk more about the evil political plot facing us than about the sovereign Lord who assures us that whoever is in power was placed there by him.

That raises a final question for me. What if I spent more time thinking about the greatness of God than I did thinking about the vile wickedness of my political enemy? What if I spent more time in worship than in gossip about what is wrong with the world? What if my mouth was filled with God’s praise and glory all day, instead of bemoaning the everything wrong with the world? What if I took my fears to God and came away in worship and praise? How might that change my perspective? How might that change my conversations? How might that change me? Father, “Be thou my vision” today.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Daniel 12 (Pt 3)

Daniel 12:1-3

[1] “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. [2] And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. [3] And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

 

“Your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book” (Dan 12:1). The resurrection is our hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 reminds believers of the resurrection so that, “you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” It does not say that we do not grieve. Many have taken it to mean that, and as a result they have failed to grieve in a healthy manner. Believers grieve, as do unbelievers. Grieving is about coming to grips with loss. It is adjusting to life without someone we love. They are no longer there to call when we need a friendly voice. They are no longer there to bring life and conversation to the table. They are no longer there to share a beautiful view, or a deep joy. Their death is a deep loss, and so we grieve.

 

But our grief is not like that of unbelievers. We have hope. The resurrection assures us that our believing loved ones will be raised. They “shall be delivered” (Dan 1:1). At the resurrection there will be a mighty reunion. Death not only failed to hold Jesus, but it will fail to hold all believers. We have been raised to life, and we will be raised to life. In the resurrection is hope. In our grief we know that the loss is temporary.

 

As I have gotten older, it seems that I am surrounded by death. My list of widows and widowers for whom I pray seems to get longer by the week. I have friends and acquaintances that are nearing the end of their life. I have loved ones that I have lost. Each individual leaves a great hole in our lives, and an emptiness that we must learn to adjust to. But as believers, the loss is temporary. The emptiness will one day be filled. Heaven is not only a joyous time of meeting our Lord face to face, it is also a joyous reunion as we reconnect with family and old friends. This is the assurance of the resurrection. “At that time your people shall be delivered” (Dan 12:1). Ephesians 5:16 reminds us that the days are evil, but Daniel 12 and 1 Thessalonians 4 give us hope. Let us not lose sight of the truth of the resurrection.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Daniel 12 (Pt 2)

Daniel 12:10 (ESV)

Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.

“Many shall purify themselves . . . . And none of the wicked shall understand.” In these days of high anxiety and political divide, it is good for us to be reminded that people are not our enemy. “Many shall purify themselves.” That is the work of the gospel. “None of the wicked shall understand.” That is why people are not our enemy. These two truths stand in stark contrast, but they come together in Daniel 12:10. 

It is the gospel that transforms lives. It is the gospel of salvation by grace through faith based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that washes the worst of the worst clean. Paul called himself the foremost of sinners (1 Tim 1:15), yet he was washed clean by the blood of Christ on the basis of faith, not works (Eph 2:8-9), because of the “immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:7). The gospel turns enemies into family.

It is the gospel that transforms lives, not law. It is the gospel that transforms lives, not moralism. It is the gospel that transforms lives, not hard work and self-effort. It is the gospel that transforms lives, not freedom to do as we please. The gospel purifies, makes white, and refines us into the image of Christ (Dan 12:10)..

That being said, the natural assumption would be that those opposed to the gospel are our enemies. But such is not the case. When Pilate said to Jesus, “‘Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin’” (Jn 19:10-11). Jesus didn’t view Pilate as an enemy. He understood that there was something going on that was bigger than Pilate. Pilate was just a pawn in a game he didn’t even understand. He was not the enemy.

You don’t blame a blind man for being blind. You understand that he cannot see. In the same way, those who are opposed to the gospel, those who are promoting immorality and calling good evil while they call evil good, those are not the enemy. They are blind without understanding. We have an enemy, but Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “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.” When Jesus was crucified, Pilate was not the enemy. When the jailer locked Paul and Silas up Philippi, the jailer was not the enemy. When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, the Emperor was not the enemy. They were blind pawns without understanding being used by spiritual forces they could not see.

 So how then do we live when our world turns against our faith? We continue to preach the gospel that transforms lives. We pray for those who see themselves as our enemies understanding that they are attacking out of ignorance. They do not understand what is happening in their world. They do not understand the spiritual forces at play. They do not understand the transformative power of the gospel. They simply do not understand. Pray for them. That is what Jesus taught us to do. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). They don’t understand.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Daniel 12 (Pt 1)

Daniel 12:2, 13 (ESV)

[2] And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

[13] But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”

 I have heard it said that the Jews in the Old Testament didn’t really believe in a resurrection. They were more focused on the present world and the future of their people in this present world. Certainly in Jesus’ day the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection, but that is hardly true of all Old Testament Jews. After all the warnings and prophecies about a dark future, Daniel’s assurance is the resurrection. “You . . . shall stand in your place at the end of the days.” Remember that Daniel is close to 90 years old when the angel spoke those words to him. It was not a promise that he would live to see the End, it was a resurrection promise. That is even more clearly stated in verse 2. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

 The real issue is not whether he believed in a resurrection. He did. The real issue is whether one will be resurrected to everlasting life, or to shame and everlasting contempt. Twice in Mark, twice in Luke, and three times in Matthew Jesus says, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” That is the same message the angel is giving to Daniel in chapter 12. In Daniel 12:10 the angel says, “Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.” Some will understand. Some will not. Some will believe and some will not. We cannot believe for someone, and we cannot coerce or force anyone to believe. But we can share the Good News.

Daniel didn’t understand everything, but he understood enough. “I heard, but I did not understand” (Dan 12:8). He didn’t understand the prophecy, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end” (Dan 12:9). But he was assured that he would be raised to eternal life, “You shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days” (Dan 12:12). Resurrection to eternal life is not based on understanding everything there is in the Bible. It is based on believing God. In Romans 4:3 Paul argues, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’”

Abraham believed the promise of God concerning Messiah. Daniel believed the promise of God concerning Messiah. We are saved by believing the promise of God concerning Messiah, The message to the Philippian jailer was, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). Jesus said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14-15). Paul wrote, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Rom 4:4-5). That is the truth upon which the fate of every human being rests. Do you believe?

No matter what happens in this world, no matter how long you live, no matter how successful you are, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable your life, eternity rests on this one question, “Do you believe the promise God has given that acceptance by God comes because of Jesus?” When life gets dark, when the Enemy seems to be winning, when good is called evil and evil is called good, we have this one hope that there is coming a day when all things will be set right. Daniel was told that dark days were still ahead for his people, but that one day things would be set right. He didn’t understand everything, but he understood enough. He knew he had an eternal hope. In the confusion that would come, he rested in that truth. What do you believe?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Daniel 11

Daniel 11:1 (ESV)

“And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him.

 

The individual speaking in the above verse is the angel who brought a message to Daniel from God. An angel from God confirmed and strengthened a pagan king. How can that be? That is the same question Habakkuk had. He cried out to God, “When are you going to judge your people for their sin?” God answered, “Judgment is coming at the hands of the Chaldeans.” Habakkuk’s next question was, “God, how can you use them to judge us? They are worse than we are.” He was asking how  God could possibly use a pagan king. The question in Daniel is: How can an angel from God confirm and strengthen a pagan king?

 

Here in the United States of America some have been saying that Donald Trump is God’s anointed for leading this country. Others have been asking: How can God possibly anoint a man like Donald Trump? My question is: No matter who ends up in the white house after this next election, can you accept that God placed him there? Now, it is true that in the previous chapter of Daniel we saw that evil angels, or demons, can influence a leader and a country, yet Romans 13:1 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” How do we put that together?

 

Let’s establish a foundational truth here as we try to answer that question. God can and does use people who are not committed believers. If he can use a donkey to speak to a prophet, he can use anyone (see Numbers 22). For example, Isaiah 45:1 says, “Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus.” God calls Cyrus king of Persia his anointed. He anointed him for specific purposes, “to subdue nations . . . to loose the belts of kings, to open doors . . . that may not be closed.” A pagan king was God’s anointed.

 

Since Donald Trump is president of the United States of America we acknowledge that he is there by God’s will and purpose. If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris become the next President/vice-president of the United States, they will be there by God’s will and purpose. What God’s purpose is, he has not revealed. Can either of these, Trump or Biden, be influenced by demons rather than angels? Certainly, just at the Persian kings were influenced by demonic forces. But demonic powers can only go as far as God allows. There is a great battle in spiritual realms, but the good news is that God sets the parameters of the battle. Satan prides himself in being King of the World (see John 12:31), yet despite his delusion about being as great as God, his power and his time is limited.

 

We cannot see what is happening behind the scenes in the spiritual realm. Therefore, we need to be careful about calling anyone in political power either demonic or anointed by God. God knows. God is working his purpose. Whether it is a purpose of judgment or blessing, only time will tell, but God is working his purpose. Let us be careful then not to malign or exalt someone beyond what we can know. God knows. He is working his purpose. In that truth we rest, wait, and watch. In that truth we find hope even in the darkest times.

 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Habakkuk 3:16-19

 Habakkuk 3:16-19 (ESV)

[16] I hear, and my body trembles;

my lips quiver at the sound;

rottenness enters into my bones;

my legs tremble beneath me.

Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble

to come upon people who invade us.

[17] Though the fig tree should not blossom,

nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail

and the fields yield no food,

the flock be cut off from the fold

and there be no herd in the stalls,

[18] yet I will rejoice in the LORD;

I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

[19] GOD, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the deer’s;

he makes me tread on my high places.

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

 

As Habakkuk lays his concerns before God throughout this short book, his thoughts turn to the greatness of God. He reflects on God’s power, his majesty, and his frightening, awe inspiring presence. An awareness of God’s powerful majesty takes the strength out of his body. “my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me” (Hab 3:16). But as God said, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor 12:9). Habakkuk finds himself experiencing weakness in the presence of God, but it is in that weakness that he can finally say, “I will quietly wait” (Hab 3:16).

 

When we face difficulties, attacks, failure, or pain, we try to build up our courage and be strong. We even say really spiritual sounding things like, “Never question God,” or “Never ask why.” But that is not what Habakkuk did. He questioned God. He honestly laid out before the Almighty his questions, fears, and concerns. In his confusion he encountered God. Having reflected on the power and majesty of the Almighty he gave up trying to be strong. In his weakness he came to understand that God had everything under control. He did not have to be strong. “God, the Lord, is my strength” (Hab 3:9). His strength was not in his own ability to screw up courage and stumble on. His strength was in contemplating the immense greatness of God himself. God’s strength was made perfect in Habakkuk’s weakness.

 

When we are facing things too big for us, too painful, too difficult, too challenging, stop trying to be strong. Turn your eyes to Jesus. Be honest with him about your weakness, fear, uncertainty, and inabilities. Reflect on the greatness of God himself, and let his strength sustain you. With Habakkuk we can say, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab 3:18). It is in our weakness that the power of God shows up. Rest in him.

 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Habakkuk 2:2-4

 Habakkuk 2:2-4 (ESV)

[2] And the LORD answered me:

“Write the vision;

make it plain on tablets,

so he may run who reads it.

[3] 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.

[4] “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,

but the righteous shall live by his faith.

 As believers we give lip service to faith, but too often walk by sight. When we can’t see God’s judgment coming against evil and injustice, we begin to doubt. When we can’t see relief coming in our time frame, we wonder if God has abandoned us, forgotten us, or rejected us. Our faith is based on our sight rather than our sight being based on faith. The LORD answered Habakkuk, “The righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab 2:4).

What does it mean to live by faith? It means to trust God’s word when we don’t see how it is possible. It means to trust God’s presence when we can’t feel him there. It means to walk in God’s ways when we don’t see the benefit. For Habakkuk it meant being assured of God’s judgment coming even when he couldn’t see it and didn’t understand how God could bring it the way he indicated. Walking by faith means that I read the scriptures and listen to the Spirit. It means I see my world through the lens of the Bible and the Spirit, not the other way around.

What does your experience tell you? Does it tell you that the wicked keep getting away with their wickedness. Believe that it will not always be so. Does your experience tell you that the world is getting worse and worse, and that the Enemy is winning. Believe that it will not always be so. Does your experience tell you that there is no value in self-denial or sacrifice? Believe that the reward is coming. With Habakkuk we must learn to live by faith and not by sight. That is why it is so important to be meditating on God’s Word daily. It helps us keep a faith perspective for the righteous live by faith.

Luke 1 Meditations (Pt 3)

Luke 1:24-25 (ESV) [24] After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, [25] “Thus the...