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When The Answer is Disaster Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
November 1, 2021 1:00 am

When The Answer is Disaster Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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November 1, 2021 1:00 am

Do you ever feel perplexed when injustice seems to be winning? Where’s God when evil seems overwhelming? The prophet Habakkuk had the same issue—complaints which belong in today’s news. Evildoers were having a field day and the foundations of the nation were being torn apart. Yet amid the turmoil, the prophet has a burst of faith, knowing that God is still in charge. How can you move through your own honest questions to keep praising God? 

 Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Habakkuk the prophet's complaints belong on today's front page. Evil-doers are having a field day, and the foundations of the nation are being torn apart. Yet, in the midst of turmoil, the prophet has a burst of faith that God is still in charge. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, in many ways, America is a land in crisis. Does prayer make a difference when everything is going downhill?

Dave of course prayer makes a difference, but I was speaking at a conference recently and I pointed out that it's not just prayer, we need repentance, and there is a difference. I also pointed out at this conference that we are losing the next generation, and that is very troubling, because as you think of America, parents oftentimes have one set of values but they aren't passing this along to their children. I'm holding in my hands a book that I'm very excited about. It was actually written by my wife, Rebecca, entitled Awesome Bible Verses Every Kid Should Know and What They Mean. This book has about 20 different topics written for children, oh, between the age, say, of 6 and 12. It has to do with issues regarding God, creation, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the devil, the armor of God, the Ten Commandments, justification, on and on. By the way, another topic I'm just looking at right now is temptation, guarding your mind, another topic. Now, for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Habakkuk was in a culture that had lost its way just as we are, and really the hope for the future is, of course, in God, but we must pass our faith to the next generation. When Habakkuk hears about God's sovereignty and God's judgment, he says, finally, in verse 20, but the Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before him. Earlier in the first chapter, he said, oh, God, how can you be silent when all this is going on in the world? And now he begins to back up and to say, now it is my turn to be silent. As a matter of fact, it is the turn of the entire world to know that God is in his temple and in his presence, our mouths have to be closed.

We might not understand his ways, but it's all under his control. So notice that we have moved now and we have moved from the idea of his prayer to his perplexity to his position. And now I'd like to talk about his praise.

We're going to go through the text, then I'm going to tell you what's going on, and then your life is going to be changed forever. You'll never be the same if you are open to what God has to say to you today through his word. He goes on in chapter three, and he prays that in wrath, God would remember mercy, last part of verse two, and then beginning at verse three and going on, he begins to talk about what God has done in the past. As he's contemplating the works of God, the splendor of the heavens, verse four, his brightness was like the light, rays flashed from his hand. Before him, verse five, there went pestilence and plague followed at his heels.

He scattered mountains. You can look through this yourself and see the wonderful hyperbole that Habakkuk has regarding what God is doing. Most commentators believe that what he's really talking about is the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt.

You know, it talks about the seas and the rivers opening and the pestilence that came upon Egypt and so forth, and Habakkuk here is lost in wonder when he looks at the past and begins to think what God has done. And then we conclude, you'll notice it says, verse 16 of chapter three, I hear and my body trembles. My lips quiver at the sound. Rottenness enters into my bones. My legs tremble beneath me. Don't you feel that way when things go bad and when we read the headlines? Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon the people who have invaded us. I am willing now to have patience, to let God do it on his schedule and his agenda and not mine.

So that's what he's emphasizing. And then this book ends with this unbelievable, almost surprising burst of praise. Though the fig tree should not blossom nor fruit beyond the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food. The flock shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herds in the stalls. Yet will I rejoice in the Lord.

I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord is my strength. He makes my feet like the deers.

He makes me tread on high places. And then he ends with a note to Jerry Edmonds. It says right here to Jerry Edmonds, the choir master with stringed instruments. That's right. That's right there. This apparently was sung.

This was sung. What's going on? What's the connection between what Habakkuk is learning about God and suddenly this great burst of admiration and praise?

What's the connection? How can we move from all these questions to praising God? How can we make that transition?

That's the question. There are two things that Habakkuk concluded about God. And he said, if these things are true about God, I can praise even though everything that has been nailed down is being torn up and everything is falling in around me. First, God is in control.

God is in control. The Chaldeans are coming. That's scary. They were wicked. They were evil. They used to skin people alive.

They were known for their violence. The Chaldeans are coming. God says, I'm the one that is raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation that shall come against you. That is part of my work as a discipline and as a judgment for your sin.

But I am in control. Have you ever wondered how strong the Chaldeans were? Have you ever wondered how strong radical Islam is, for example?

Have you ever wondered how much authority Pilate had over Jesus? Let me ask a different kind of question. Have you ever wondered how strong the devil really is? You say, yeah, I'd like to know. Today, I'm going to tell you. Whatever you may say about the service today, if you're listening by the internet, radio, however, finally, you will find an answer to the question of how strong the devil is.

Are you ready? He has as much power as God lets him have and not one whit more. That's how strong the devil is.

He cannot even harass you unless it passes Jesus Christ's test of control. The devil wants to get to Peter. And Jesus says, Simon, Simon, Satan has desire to have you that he might sift you like wheat.

But he can't get to you until I've passed off on it. Once you understand this, you will pray against Satan as we must and as we are instructed. But we will pray with great faith because we know that God is in control. And I will quote the words of Jesus to Pilate, words that I absolutely love. The words are, thou couldest have no power at all against me unless it were given to thee from above.

The evil people that are harassing you, what is happening in your life, the injustice that you are enduring, the feeling that you are being marginalized and misunderstood. Evil can have no authority over you unless it is given from above. God is in control. And that's why we pray to God. And that's why we have a day of prayer and fasting.

It is because we believe that ultimately we must submit everything to God and we can come to God about anything because God is in control. When Habakkuk realized that, he said, I realized that nothing is happening willy-nilly among the nations. Nothing is happening in the raising up of leaders and the taking down of leaders, that God stands back of everything. He does not do evil. He does not do evil. But through secondary causes he's involved in and everything that transpires on his planet.

So that's the first thing. Secondly, when Habakkuk began to go over the story of the Israelites and their deliverance out of Egypt, he learned something else about God. He learned about the control of God, but he also learned about the care of God. He began to think of how God led them through the Red Sea and how God dried up the Red Sea and how God fed them and how the mountains trembled and how everything else began to happen under his sovereign control. And God delivered his people. He said, you know what? I can also believe that God cares about me.

And Habakkuk finally realized something. He said, never again will I interpret the silence of God as the indifference of God. There are times when God is silent, but that doesn't mean that he's not working.

That doesn't mean that he is indifferent. It still means that the very hair of your head is numbered. Still means that he sees the sparrow fall to the ground and that you as a child of God are number one on his list of things to take care of in the universe. He says, I will accept, he says, the fact that there are times when God is silent, but he is faithful and he is working and that he cares about me. So what Habakkuk says in the last part of his book, verse 17, we could translate it for our era, something like this.

And though the refrigerator is empty and though I may lose my job or perhaps have, because that's exactly what Habakkuk is saying, the only means of livelihood was what grew and of course the animals in the field. Though things should turn against me and what I have planned not come to pass, yet I will rejoice in the Lord my God. I will take joy in the God of my salvation for the Lord God is my strength and I will go on believing and trusting no matter what. That's what the prophet is saying.

And so it comes down to this. Do you believe in the care of God and the control of God? Do you believe that when God puts us through the kiln, through the furnace, that he keeps his hand on the thermostat and therefore we can be assured that nothing is happening randomly? It is directed toward an appointed end. We have to understand that God is on a different timetable. God was saying, Habakkuk, you're absolutely right about my holiness. You're right about my justice.

You're wrong about the issue of time because I'm on a different schedule than you are. William Cooper struggled with insanity and tried to commit suicide. You say, well, who was he? He was the man who gave us the wonderful line that God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform.

He also wrote of the song, there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains. I mentioned that because there are people who are genuinely saved, who struggle with perhaps mental illness, with depression, with a sense of hopelessness. That's why, by the way, we need the church. That's why we have TMC communities is because not a one of us can live the Christian life successfully on our own. And it's not enough simply for you to be here though.

That's wonderful. You need to plug into our ministries. You need to get to know people. You need to become part of a body that helps us in our walk with God. But I love what William Cooper wrote based on this text.

Though vine nor fig tree, neither their wanted fruit should bear, though all the field should wither nor flocks or herds be there. Yet God, the same abiding, his praise shall tune my voice for while in him confiding, I cannot but rejoice. God says where you are, you can live differently. Now you say, well, pastor, I just don't see the connection. Now here's what we're going to do. In the next three or four minutes, God is going to bring deliverance to hundreds of you who are listening. And I explain what commitment means because you see, here's what we do as Christians. We hear a message like this and then we pray and we say, Oh God, I pray that things will work out. I pray that this will happen. And we're just fidgeting and we don't pray in faith because we keep praying over and over and over again and don't see anything.

And we even get more nervous. God says you're praying and that's fine, but what you aren't doing is you don't understand the meaning of the phrase commitment. The best way to illustrate it is the life of Joseph. Potiphar, the Bible says he committed all the matters of his house to Joseph. And then it says, and concerned himself with nothing that was happening in his house. Now it turns out that Potiphar's wife tried to derail Joseph, but even then Joseph was faithful.

But here's the point. He's so committed himself. The Bible says to what Joseph was doing at such confidence in Joseph that he concerned not himself regarding the matters of his house.

Could you imagine what would happen if we committed ourselves to God like that? I told somebody yesterday via email who's struggling with anxiety. He believes that maybe he won't be able to earn enough money for his family. Years ago a young medical student met with me and said I am so full of anxiety I can't even sleep because I think I might flunk out of med school. I said that's no problem. We can take care of all that right now. What you need to do is to commit yourself to God in such a way that you take the burden from your heart, transfer it to God, and say God you are fully in charge.

I'll do the best I can but this is yours, not mine. He said I can't do that because he said if I do God might let me flunk med school anyway. I'm saying yeah but how would you like to flunk at peace or not at peace? You know you can go through it joyfully or you can go through it with you know it depends.

Sure it's no guarantee you're gonna pass med school but why not enjoy it? Either way and he left filled with anxiety. I never did discover whether or not he passed. I hope he did but if he didn't how can you go wrong to simply transfer that burden from your shoulders to God in such a way that you say God as of this moment I no longer concern myself with what is going to happen because that is your business, my confidence in you. See what God is saying is you pray you pray you pray you pray don't you think it's time to trust and when you trust you continue to pray but you pray very differently. Your prayers are filled with praise and adoration. You say even though the worst time should come I will still rejoice in God. You can't get that by praying, just praying.

You can only get it by that transfer of trust to God. Now I need to tell you from my own experience I know you can't do this in this meeting you can start. What you need to do is to take out an hour at least minimally maybe longer when you're alone with God and then you say God I'm here for serious serious business because I can't bear these burdens and you never intended me to. So what I'm going to do is I maybe get down on the floor in your face before God in silence and by the way if you were not here last week and you did not get one of those bulletin inserts those cards that tell you how to seek God we do have some extra ones over at the connection corner I understand. But what you do is you say God I'm going to spend time in silence I'm going to agree with you about everything and I'm going to make a commitment of my life and my future to God that is so complete. Oh I'll tell you there's it's going to be a struggle. The devil is going to be there and saying yeah but what if God doesn't come through yeah but you know you have to look out for yourself the whole thing. Stay there as long as you need to bring your lunch unless you want to fast and leave it in God's hands so that you can say even if the fig tree doesn't blossom even if the crop fails even if my job is curtailed even if there isn't enough money even if the relationship doesn't work out I will still rejoice in God because it's not my burden it's his. And then we think of the verse of scripture casting all your care upon him for he careth for you get rid of that burden woman riding a bus caught a bus heavy suitcase scarcely hold it the bus stopped she was so glad she got in the middle of the bus and continued to hold it up somebody said put it down she said I'm glad the bus is carrying me I can't expect it to carry my suitcase too. That's the way we are listen if you're on your way to heaven you're on the bus all right put down the suitcase and begin to do it right now let us pray father bring deliverance to your people bring the same faith that Habakkuk had because Lord we're going through difficult times all of us have challenges all of us have a future that is very very unknown all of us have issues that we bring to church and we keep in our homes all of us have that oh God we pray and I ask in Jesus name that we might be able to say though the fig tree rots we will continue to trust you grant that oh God we ask in Jesus name amen amen. You know when I think of my own upbringing I'm so glad for my parents who passed their faith onto me they kept on believing in the midst of difficulty in the midst of poverty and setbacks and health issues and because of their faith and their continuing obedience to God to pray it certainly affected all of their children how grateful I am to God for Christian parents but you know you and I have to pass our faith on to the next generation and that's becoming more difficult especially in an age of technology my wife has written a book entitled awesome Bible verses every kid should know it has a variety of topics about a page for each topic with an illustration for children perhaps ages 6 to 12 you'll want them for your children for your grandchildren here's what you can do for a gift of any amount you can go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 ask for the book awesome Bible verses every kid should know and what they mean you'll see topics here ranging from God creation to the fear of the Lord to worry all of the things that you want to communicate to your children and your grandchildren once again that contact info rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 and thanks in advance for helping us we appreciate so much your prayers and your gifts as we continue with running to win you can write to us at running to win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614 there are times when the answer to a Christian's prayer is a clear no we have a choice these times can either make us resentful or they can increase our faith next time on running to win how to react and respond when God denies the petitions we make to him thanks for listening for doctor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-29 08:48:25 / 2023-07-29 08:56:38 / 8

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