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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Red maple

This stunning red maple is at the end of our country road.

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"Living By Faith"

"But the righteous will live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4).

Have you found yourself earnestly seeking God about a weighty matter over an extended period of time and yet it seems that He is silent.  I recall a line from a song that Brooksyne used to sing that honestly expresses, "sometimes we wonder why."  Whether it be on our own personal level or concerning the state of the world we certainly do have questions, some of thosel unanswered till the other side.

Our daily verse is from 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.  Judah had just experienced the exhilaration of the glorious days of King Josiah, marked by freedom, prosperity, and a great religious revival. 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 would soon succeed his father as king.

Habakkuk asked God questions and God eventually answered.  He 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 asks: "Lord, how can you use someone more sinful than we are to punish us?" (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).  God contrasts the proud and ungodly whose lives are not upright with the righteous who in the end will emerge victorious.
Here the term "faith" has the sense of faithfulness or conviction that results in action.

Habakkuk, in his experience of waiting, bluntly asked the Lord, "How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but You do not listen?" When God finally answered, it certainly wasn't the answer Habakkuk expected or longed for.

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.  The Babylonians would eventually receive their just punishment in God's timing.

Some 650 years later this phrase was taken by Paul as a central element in his theology (Romans 1:17 & Galatians 3:11).  Some 1500 years after Paul's writings 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 completely in the Lord?  In over 2600 years 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 times of judgment!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father, we know that without a fresh manifestation of Your Holy Spirit power in our lives, our faith will not prevail when evil 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 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.  Amen.

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

Brooksyne's Note:  Many have asked for updates so this is the latest:  Yesterday Stephen took me to the Orthopedic Surgeon to have the staples removed from the incision sight.  I broke the fibula (outside bone) of my ankle three weeks ago today.  It was nice to have the third heavy splint removed and see firsthand the progress of the healing.  There is still much swelling and healing needed.  I had hoped that I would receive a mid-leg aircast this time but the doctor wrapped my entire leg in a fiberglass cast and informed me that it would remain like that for four weeks.  I sheepishly asked him about gardening and he suggested that my gardening this year be limited to reading gardening books.  Any of you who garden know that only feeds the gardening fever and should be reserved only for winter months.  So…..I am trying to learn patience and the benefits of this inconvenient waiting time.  I've gone beyond admiring others who have physical limitations – I'm actually appreciating their overcoming spirit as I, for the first time in my life, have some understanding of what that means.  Just trying to open a public door restroom, in the orthopedics building of all places, was a major ordeal yesterday (while Stephen was parking our vehicle.)  He has been a great blessing to me and has stretched himself way beyond his normal self to tend to my needs.  Ester has helped care for me as well.  Thank you again for your continued prayers, cards, and well-wishes.

Maria Chapman
Here is a descriptive narrative of the memorial service for little Maria Chapman as viewed through the eyes and ears of Steven Curtis Chapman's manager.  It is a touching account and demonstration of overcoming faith.

Today's Suggested Music  and Supplemental Resources

"Farther Along"  Video  An old hymn of the church that has a great meaning for believers who struggle when seeing injustice along with the other day to day struggles.  It reminds us that our view is limited at the present time.

"You Are God Alone"  Audio  This is a powerful song of faith and this is a beautiful version.  Here's another nice audio version.   I found a Philips, Craig and Dean version as a video with great photos.

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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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. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
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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