Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Daily Encouragement (05/28/13) "My Faith Looks Up To Thee"

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Helen's poppies
A field of Lancaster County poppies
I took this photo
several years ago when Helen Martin grew them.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player. Note: Due to my quality microphone not working with Windows 8 the sound is rather poor and occasionally has a very annoying feedback type noise. A new microphone has been ordered, and will arrive hopefully today according to the tracking website!

"My Faith Looks Up To Thee"

"For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'But the righteous man shall live by faith'" (Romans 1:17). "But the righteous will live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4b).

My faith looks up to thee,
thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!

Have you found yourself earnestly seeking God about a weighty matter over an extended period of time and yet He remains silent. I recall a song that Brooksyne used to sing that starts with these words, "Sometimes we wonder why..." Whether it relates to our own personal story or it relates to the state of our nation or the world we certainly do have questions, some which will not be answered on this side.

Our first daily verse is a key text written by the Apostle Paul in establishing the doctrine of "Justification by faith". In this text Paul quotes the prophet Habakkuk who served God by providing comfort and hope during one of the darkest periods of Judah's history, a time during which she suffered the deserved punishment for her sins. But Habakkuk was writing to the remnant; those who remained faithful to God. How reassuring it is to know that there is always a remnant from every generation.

The book opens with a bold question from Habakkuk,
who bluntly asks the Lord, "How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, "Violence!" Yet You do not save" (Habakkuk 1:2). Do you find yourself asking God questions like this? We sure do! When God did answer, it wasn't the answer Habakkuk expected or longed for and frankly it's often that way for us as well.

Some historical background is needed. Judah had recently experienced the exhilaration of the glorious days of Josiah, marked by freedom, prosperity, and a great religious revival. But so soon they lapsed again into unfaithfulness. The Assyrians, once the scourge of the Middle East, were phasing out as a world power. In their place, however, stood the Babylonians, (whom Habakkuk calls the Chaldeans, named for the region from which their rulers came). The Babylonian armies were led by the ambitious Nebuchadnezzar, who was soon to succeed his father as king.

Habakkuk asked God questions and God answered.  God revealed that He was at work sending the Chaldeans as the instrument of His judgment (1:5-11).  The prophet shrank from such an idea and posed another question which essentially asked: "Lord, why would you use someone even more sinful than us to bring us punishment?" (1:12-17).

When the answer was not forthcoming immediately, he took his stand in the watchtower to wait for it. It was worth the wait: "See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright-- but the righteous will live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). Here the term "faith" has the sense of faithfulness or conviction that results in action. God contrasts the proud and ungodly whose lives are not upright with the righteous who in the end will emerge victorious.

You see, the Israelites had a "recurring cycle of sin, sorrow, supplication, salvation, and then sin again.  The continuous repetition of this cycle obviously weakened the people's love for God and respect for His authority."* The godly remnant would emerge victorious as the wicked would undergo punishment. Those who remain faithful to God will always be victorious in the end (if not in this life, the life hereafter)! It was in the midst of his deep affliction that Job proclaimed, "I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth" (Job 19:25).

Some 650 years later this phrase was taken by Paul as a central element in his theology (Romans 1:17 & Galatians 3:11). Some 1,500 years after that this passage came alive for an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther, setting off the Protestant Reformation, one of history's greatest and most significant religious upheavals. Thus a so-called "Minor" prophet had a major influence on those who followed him! 

Today we are all enriched and indebted to a relatively obscure but faithful man who served God. Are you living by faith today? Is your hope and confidence anchored in the Lord? Over a 2,600 year span the equation has not changed.  Actually the equation was fundamentally clear to Adam and Eve but willfully broken in the garden. It was also very clearly understood by Abraham in Genesis 15:6: "Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness." The righteous continue to live by faith, during the good times but also during the judgment period!

While life's dark maze I tread,
and griefs around me spread, be Thou my guide;
bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow's tears away,
nor let me ever stray from Thee aside.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we know that without a fresh manifestation of Your Holy Spirit power in our lives, our faith will not prevail in the midst of the evil that abounds in our day. Just as Habakkuk pleaded for You to manifest Yourself to Him, we also pray for renewal in our spirit so that we remain a part of the faithful remnant fully committed to You. We choose to rejoice in the Lord our God who enables us to hold tightly to our godly faith in the midst of enemy invasion. We pray for deliverance and sustaining power so that we emerge victorious during the battle even as Job declared, "Though God slay me yet I'll trust Him".  Amen.

*Myrna Alexander "With Him in Life's Struggles"

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"My Faith Looks Up To Thee"  Video  Homecoming  Video Acapella by a men's quartet   Video  a Mennonite congregation

"Living By Faith"  Video  Homecoming

"Be Unto Your Name"  Video  Travis Cotrell

"The Church's Fading Influence on American Culture"  Article

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.
Stephen, Brooksyne and Ester Weber 04/21/13
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

(Click on photo to enlarge)
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Personal Mission Statement
"I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
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