"FROM FEAR TO FAITH"
I. I didn t like it, one little girl remarked.
It s scary going where you can t see.
I was afraid I was going to fall, the other girl agreed.
I kept taking little steps to be safe.
A. I can relate, can t you?
B. I don t like the dark, either.
You know how scary it is to walk where you can t see.
1. Perhaps at home . . . on a stormy night . . . the electricity goes off.
2. Or at camp . . . making your way down the dark, rugged trail.
3. Or in your life . . . living each day.
* And we, like those two girls, often take little steps so we won t fall.
-III. Of course, we have reasons to be afraid: We are blind.
We can t see the future.
A. This condition does not pass with childhood.
B. This limitation is something we all share.
*The wealthy are just as blind as the poor
*The educated are just as sightless as the uneducated
*The famous know as little about the future as the unknown
1. None of us know for certain how our children will turn out.
2. No one knows when he or she will die.
C. We all are like those 2 little girls, stumbling through a dark room - yet with one difference.
1. Their surroundings were familiar & friendly.
a. Ours can be hostile.
b. Their worst fear is a stubbed toe.
2. Our worst fear is more threatening: loneliness, divorce, death.
A. A young boy was trapped in a burning house. The two-story
structure was engulfed in flames . . . and the family - the father, mother, and several children - was on its way out when the smallest boy became terrified & ran back upstairs.
His father, outside, shouted to him, Jump, son, jump! I'll catch you.
The boy cried, But Daddy, I can t see you.
I know, his father called, but I can see you.
1. The father could see even though the son could not.
2. Isn't that the way it is with God?
The apostle Paul reminds us that:
We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever (2 Corinthians 4:18). (Pain, rejection, etc.)
As a result . . .
. . . we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
I. We live by faith . . . even though it s easier to live by sight.
Just ask the woman in Mark 5 . . . a woman who has suffered with a physical problem for 12 yrs.; She approaches Jesus in the midst of a crowd . . . risking insult from the people around her . . . thinking . . . If I can just touch His clothes, I will be healed. She was.
A. Throughout the Bible, we find God honoring lives lived by faith.
1. When a person lives by faith . . . an ark is built (Genesis 6) . . . a giant falls (I Samuel 17) . . . a wall crumbles (Joshua 6).
2. When I live by faith in the One who can see me . . . I will make it through this dark, scary world.
B. Living by Faith . . . we sing about it . . . God says it s the only way to live . . . but what does it mean?
TURN IN YOUR OLD TESTAMENT S TO THE LITTLE BOOK OF HABAKKUK
A. Some know him as the man with the strange name, found only in one book of the Bible.
1. Yet, Habakkuk was popular, well-known, in Jerusalem. He was known as the prophet (1:1; 3:1). When someone said, The prophet said, during his day, it was understood that Habakkuk had spoken.
2. From the appended notes at the end of the book, it seems that he was a Levite, the choirmaster of the temple. To be appointed to this position, he must have had great lyrical skills.
3. More importantly, he had discovered the answer to life s dilemmas.
One of the great joys in life comes from discovering the solution to a difficult problem. (Scientist struggling through repeated experiments, student laboring to solve a Calculus problem, etc.)
4. Habakkuk struggled to resolve life s inequities & God s justice.
5. How could God tolerate & even use evil to accomplish his purposes?
The answer? READ 2:4 his faith
B. His book provides the greatest expression of faith found in the O.T.
READ 3:17-19 (Wow! Was Habakkuk always at this point in his faith?)
1. His journey from doubt to understanding is marked with twists, turns.
2. Habakkuk s doubt, fear is seen in 1:1-3:
O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, Violence! And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble?
1. He shouts in pain.
2. Despair has gripped him. His hope is wavering.
3. The revelation of Judah s fall to Babylonian savagery was difficult.
4. The terrible curses of Deuteronomy 28 were about to become reality.
A. Like Habakkuk, we have asked the same question, Why?
1. Most of us have had a lot of practice with the question Why?
2. Our children ask, Why?
3. And many of these why s we just could not answer then, and many of them we cannot answer now.
B. Because of this I have decided to concentrate on whom rather than on why.
That s what Habakkuk learned to do.
1. I may not know why. I may not know when. I may not know how.
2. I just want to know whom.
3. And if I know whom (God), if my faith can become strong enough in Him, I can go on. I can go on even if I cannot see.
C. Habakkuk has his questions, Lord, why do you permit wrong to prevail? Why is that evil men seem to be succeeding while the godly, your children, are having such a hard time?
1. Yet, the most important thing to focus on is Whom.
(READ 1:12-13) God is Eternal . . . Powerful . . . Holy . . . The Rock!
2. How was Habakkuk s faith in God able to go from fear in chapter 1 to confidence in chapter 3?
3. How do you journey from doubt to tranquility?
4. How do you move from a weak faith to a victorious faith?
TURN TO HABAKKUK 2:1-3
I. DEMONSTRATE DEDICATION TO GOD
Habakkuk prayed: I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the tower, and will watch to see what He will say to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved.
PRAY TO HIM
A. One can always pray. If there were no other reason to become a Christian than the privilege of prayer, that would be enough.
1. Someone has said that A man on his knees is higher than a man on a mountain.
2. Go to Him with your questions, doubts, fears, etc.
3. Habakkuk went to God to regain a proper perspective.
4. Life did not seem fair, but the prophet did not give up on God.
5. Song, God Moves In Mysterious Ways
WAIT ON HIM
A. Habakkuk said:
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me.
1. Demonstrate commitment (keep praying, waiting) . . . Through your questions, doubts.
2. Habakkuk was confident that God would answer him. We can be confident.
3. But he would have to wait. So must we.
B. We want God to act according to our character, not His. Let Go and Let God
As children bring their broken toys with tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God because He was my Friend.
But instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help with ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
How can you be so slow?
My child, He said, what could I do you never did let go.
1. God is always the same (2nd Timothy 2:13).
2. Since He remains the same, and since His purposes cannot be disrupted, remain committed to Him even if life makes no sense!
CONFIDENCE (2:1; 3:17-19)
A. Only as we remain committed to God can we gain victory over our problems. Total commitment to God brings total confidence in God s power.
The apostle Paul said:
. . . For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.
(2nd Timothy 1:12) I know in whom I believe, not what I believe.
His faith rested in the whom (Christ).
1. When you know in whom you believe, you can face life s problems.
2. When you know in whom you believe, you can wait on God s will to be done.
Paul s great confidence in God is summed up with the simple phrase,
He is able to guard, keep.
In fact . . . He is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
PEACE (2:1; 3:17-19)
A. Habakkuk could not understand God s justice, but he did not give up on God. He took the matter to God & left it there.
1. This is the only way we can ever find peace when faced with adversity.
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7).
2. By demonstrating commitment to God, our faith becomes stronger.
II. DEMONSTRATE DEVOTION TO GOD S WORD
(And your faith becomes stronger)
A. Habakkuk was told to write down what he heard:
Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it (2:2).
WRITE GOD S WORD ON YOUR HEART (Believe It; Read It) Why?
God Has Answers to Life s Questions
1. God s Word is still the only answer to life s questions. (Why am I here? Where am I going?)
2. Habakkuk rejected human wisdom because he knew it could not give an explanation. He wanted to know what God had to say.
3. The Bible continues to offer answers.
4. Inscribe it on the tablet of your heart; show those around you
your commitment to His answers.
God Is In Control (1:5,6)
B. We may not be able to explain what is going on at the present, but we know God controls the future.
1. Life may appear as nonsense now, but in the future, when we are in heaven, it will make perfect sense!
2. Our perspective on life s injustices will change when we allow injustices to be corrected on God s schedule.
C. Israel prayed for deliverance from Egyptian slavery for more than 400 years. No doubt some wanted deliverance immediately, but God worked on His schedule.
1. God still provides deliverance, but it is on His schedule.
2. He can deliver you.
III. DEMONSTRATE DILIGENCE TO GOD S WORK
(No half-hearted effort, or, going through the motions)
A. Even though Habakkuk was surrounded with problems, listen to his diligence to duty:
I will stand . . . I will keep watch . . . I will be faithful!
(Keep on standing, watching)
1. That s what living by faith is all about.
2. That s what enables our faith to grow.
B. Even though we are pounded with problems, we must continue.
1. Our hope may be shaken & doubts may arise, yet we remain diligent followers of God.
2. Like Paul urged the Christians at Corinth . . .
Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord
even when life s stresses tempted them to give up & compromise (1st Corinthians 15:58).
C. When we allow perplexities to keep us from working in the Lord s church . . . problems increase, fellowship is hindered, and trust will weaken.
1. Tempted to say, I ll get everything worked out, then I ll come back.
2. Yet, through the songs, prayers, reflection, etc., in worship we gain strength to again face life.
D. Failure to diligence assures further discouragement!
1. We must not quit!
2. Through diligence to our God s work, our faith will be strengthened. He Makes No Mistake
My Father s way may twist & turn; My heart may throb & ache,
But in my soul I m glad I know, He makes no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray; My hopes may fade away,
But still I ll trust my Lord to lead, For He does know the way.
Tho night be dark and it may seem that day will never break,
I ll pin my faith, my all on Him, He makes no mistake.
There s so much now I cannot see; My eyesight s far too dim,
But come what may, I ll simply trust, and leave it all to Him.
For by and by the mist will lift, and plain it all He ll make,
Through all the way, tho dark to me, He made not one mistake.
A. Habakkuk began his book with doubt, because his faith was not confident.
1. Yet, his prophecy ended triumphantly because his faith developed an unwavering trust that God will only do what is right for His purposes.
2. History has verified Habakkuk s words. Everything God promised came true. Babylonia was raised up. Judah was utterly destroyed. The Exile occurred. God s judgment fell upon Babylonia. And, the remnant was brought back into Palestine.
B. Yet, our hope tonight is based upon facts beyond the return from exile. We can believe in the facts of salvation which God has brought to us through Christ.
1. We can marvel at God s work to redeem His creation.
2. We can trust in the Resurrection, the triumph of Christianity.
3. History illustrates wonderfully the principle which Habakkuk learned: The righteous will live by his faith.
4. Through our dedication to God; devotion to God s Word; diligence to God s Work . . . Our faith is strengthened.
5. We move from fear to faith. And like Habakkuk, we too can say:
I will rejoice in the Lord; I will joy in the God of my salvation; the Lord God is my strength.
John had served on the seas since he was 11 years old. His father took him aboard & trained him for a life in the Royal Navy. Yet what John gained in experience, he lacked in discipline. He mocked authority. Ran with the wrong crowd. Although his training would have qualified him to serve as an officer, his behavior caused him to be flogged & demoted. In his early 20 s, he made his way to Africa, where he became intrigued with the lucrative slave trade. At age 21, he made his living on the Greyhound, a slave ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean. John ridiculed the moral & poked fun at the religious. That night the waves pummeled the Greyhound. John awakened to find his cabin filled with water. A side of the Greyhound had collapsed. Ordinarily such damage would have sent a ship to the bottom in a matter of minutes. The Greyhound, however, was carrying buoyant cargo and remained afloat. John worked at the pumps all night. For 9 hours, he & the other sailors struggled to keep the ship from sinking. But he knew that it was a losing cause. Finally, when his hopes were more battered than the vessel, he threw himself on the salt-water soaked deck & pleaded, If this will not do, then Lord have mercy on us all!
John didn t deserve mercy, but he received it. The Greyhound and her crew survived. John never forgot God s mercy shown on that tempestuous day in the roaring Atlantic. He returned to England where he became a prolific composer. You ve sung his songs, like this one:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
This slave-trader-turned-songwriter was John Newton.
For nearly 50 years, he told the story of the Savior who meets you in the storm. A year or two before his death, people urged him to give up preaching because of his failing sight yet . . . He wouldn t stop. He couldn t stop. What had begun as a prayer of fear resulted in a lifetime of faith. During his last years, someone asked him about his health. He confessed that his powers were failing. My memory is almost gone, he said, but I remember two things:
I am a great sinner, and Jesus is a great Savior. What more do you & I need to remember?