Bible, Despair, Joy, Modeling, Peace, Praise, Scripture, Singing

GLOOM, DESPAIR AND AGONY

ZEPHANIAH 1:15

“That day is a day of anger, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness,”

Back in the 1970’s a comedy show hit the airwaves of the U.S. entitled “Hee Haw.” One of the songs that was sung regularly on the show was about gloom and despair. The lyrics were:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me

These words may not all fit today’s verse, but they sure come close to how someone who was facing the day of the Lord and His judgment would feel. Of course, it wasn’t about having bad luck. It was all about bad choices – specifically one – rejecting Jehovah in favor of idolatry and rebellion. That choice would certainly bring gloom, despair and agony.

APPLICATION

We who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and have accepted Him as Lord and Savior have no reason to worry about gloom, despair or agony. Our hope is in Him. Certainly, none of those words describe our Lord. He is joy, light and radiance. He brings peace and comfort. He exudes the glory of God.

So, why do so many Christians walk around singing that old Hee Haw song? They almost act like Eeyore, the donkey from Winnie the Pooh. Every time you see them all you hear about is how bad things are. They are children of the King, but they act like a lowly peasant who has been downtrodden and forgotten.

I choose to walk in victory. I choose to sing a different song. I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. He has put a new song in my heart. Will you sing with me? Will you praise His holy name? Let the world know about the joy you have because you have chosen to follow Jesus. They need to hear it and you need to proclaim it.

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!

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Battles, Belief, Bible, Blessing, Praise, Rejoicing, Reverence, Scripture, Victors

AS FOR ME

HABAKKUK 3:18

“Yet I will triumph in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

That little phrase, “Yet I,” can be translated “as for me.” I kind of like that better. It reminds me of another verse – one from Joshua 24:15. “‘But if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served, which were beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.’” I’ve always loved that verse.

Habakkuk is responding to what he said in the previous verse (read yesterday’s blog entitled “Even If”). If all fails, I will triumph in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. No matter what comes his way, Habakkuk had determined to worship and praise his God. He knew, because God had just spoken through him, that a lot of trials were coming. He still chose to be faithful.

APPLICATION

Can we say the same thing in our hearts? Can we say no matter what comes our way that we will worship our King? It’s easy to say that while everything is going well, but when the trials come, that’s another story. I am reminded on James 1:2-4. “2 consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Can you agree with Habakkuk and James? Testing is hard but worthwhile, in the end. As believers, we have the confidence that God is with us and will never desert us. We can honestly say just like Habakkuk, “As for me, I will triumph in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

As we approach the New Year, you may be writing down some New Year’s Resolutions. I know I have a few written down already. Some people call them goals or even mission statements. Call them what you want, but you won’t find a better one that today’s verse. Make it yours in 2023.

O Father, You are worthy of all praise. I will triumph in You. I will rejoice in You.

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Bible, Exalting, Praise, Rejoicing, Scripture, Singing, Worship

SELAH

HABAKKUK 3:13

“You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for the salvation of Your anointed. You smashed the head of the house of evil to uncover him from foot to neck. Selah”

I like to sing, and to be able to sing you must know when to pause or rest. It helps if you can read music, but a lot of people sing without ever having learned to do that. A pause in music can be powerful, if done well and done right. It accentuates the rest of the music.

Why am I giving you a music lesson? Because remember when I started chapter 3, I told you that Habakkuk wrote these verses in combinations of three Hebrew words. He wrote it to be able to be sung to music. So, it makes sense that he would say “Selah” to mark a pause. Think about that. Why a pause? What was he trying to point out?

APPLICATION

Maybe you need to take a pause. That pause, that Selah meant something. The word “selah” actually means to lift up or exalt. Hmmm! Think about that. How can we pause in order to lift up or exalt our Lord? What could you do this holiday season to lift up Jesus?

We get so busy with all the holiday trappings that we forget to stop and thank Him for all He has done. We forget to take a breath and actually enjoy our family instead of hustling and bustling from this house to another house. We try to cram as much into the holiday as we can.

I want a slower Christmas this year. I want one in which my family can say “Selah” and pause to lift up and exalt my Lord. I want to think about the true meaning of Christmas. It is not about the tree or presents or Santa Claus. It is about Jesus. Don’t make light of that this year. Selah!

Thank You, Father, for reminding me here in this verse to pause and lift You up. I exalt Your name.

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Bible, Creation, Glorify, Power, Praise, Scripture

NATURE RESPONDS

HABAKKUK 3:10

“The mountains saw You and quaked; the downpour of waters swept by. The deep raised its voice, it lifted high its hands.”

I have said it before, but creation groans at the presence of God. When we keep our mouths shut and don’t extol His greatness, the trees and birds will take up the slack. God’s presence can be seen everywhere around us if we will just look.

Habakkuk is telling us the same thing. The mountains see God and quake. Perhaps there were actual earthquakes or the thunder echoing off the mountains made them appear to quake. The waters sweeping by like the judgment of God on His people. The ocean deep raises its voice, and its waves lift high His name. What a beautiful picture.

APPLICATION

I do not want creation to outdo me when it comes to giving God praise. I want to “out glorify” the trees and rivers, mountains and oceans. I want my praise of my King to be loud and proud. I want the world to know where my allegiance is.

Today, we are so busy worshipping creation that we forget the Creator. So many environmental groups will fight to protect a single salamander in a forgotten stream somewhere but won’t pause for a second to recognize the creative force behind it all.

This Christmas, as you celebrate Jesus’ birth, take a minute and celebrate our great Creator. Thank Him for His presence in all of creation which points us back to Him. But also, glorify Him above all. Don’t let the trappings of Christmas “out glorify” you. Make your voice heard above the clamor of Christmas. Jesus is born in Bethlehem.

I will shout it from the mountaintop that Jesus is Lord. Praise the God of all creation.

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Bible, Glory, Light, Majesty, Praise, Radiance, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

RAYS OF LIGHT

HABAKKUK 3:4

His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, and the hiding of His might is there.”

I love to see rays of sunlight when they pierce through the clouds. The sunbeams radiate and brighten a dark day. They seem to come from nowhere, yet they contain such power. I have witnessed them bursting forth on a frosty morning, and as those beams of light hit the frost covered ground, the frost just melted away.

Habakkuk is still in his prayer describing God in all His glory. Now he turns to His light which seems to burst forth from His hands. Don’t miss that. God’s hands are the symbol of His power and might. When God lifts His hands, things happen. There is power in those hands. His brightness burst forth from them.

APPLICATION

John 1:9 tell us, “This was the true Light that, coming into the world, enlightens every person.” That light Habakkuk describes in his prayer was the same light that existed in Christ. He is the light of the world. John tells us He came to enlighten every person. That includes you and me.

So, if His light exists in us through the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we let it shine? Shouldn’t we take off the covering that is hiding His light. Perhaps by doing so we may lead someone else to that indescribable light that exists only in Jesus. Those who are lost in darkness can find that light.

Most of us know that children’s song, This Little Light of Mine. The second verse is my favorite.

     Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine!

     Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine!

     Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

Will you let your light shine today. Let the radiance of the King of kings shine through you.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!

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Bible, Blessing, Choir, Praise, Scripture, Singing

SET TO MUSIC

HABAKKUK 3:1

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.”

I love to sing. Currently, I am singing in my church choir, and we are preparing for our Christmas program this weekend (those in the Chattanooga area are invited to attend either Saturday at 2 p.m. or Sunday at 5 p.m. – Brainerd Baptist Church. You can also watch it online at brainerdbaptist.org). I love singing praises to our Lord. Obviously, Habakkuk did also.

Why did I just say that? Because the word “shigionoth” means exactly that. Chapter 3’s verses are written in groups of three words which made them match up to melodies sung by someone. I don’t know if Habakkuk sang this to the people or just wrote it in such a way that others could sing. Singing your prayers to the Lord is a great way to worship Him.

APPLICATION

Think of some songs that you have sung in the past or are currently singing that could be sung as prayers to God. I truly believe the Lord loves to hear us praise Him in song. In fact, we know there will be choirs in heaven, so He must enjoy the sound of choirs. Revelation 19:1 says, “After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God,’”

We also saw the angels singing and praising God at the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Luke 2:13-14 tell us, “13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army of angels praising God and saying, ‘14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.’”

It is obvious God loves music, especially choirs. Are you singing praise to Him today? Do you have a melody in your heart? Spend some time this Christmas season singing your prayers to the Lord. Lift your voice! It doesn’t matter if you can sing or not. Your voice will be pleasing to Him. I promise.

I will lift my voice to You, O God. Hear my praise and let it be pleasing in Your ears.

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Bible, Glory, Majesty, Praise, Scripture, Testimony

ALL CREATION GROANS

HABAKKUK 2:11

“‘For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the rafter will answer it from the framework.’”

Just the other day, my little sister (whom I affectionally call Nappyhead) and I were talking about her recent drive up to TN from South Georgia. She said, “How can anyone see the beauty of the mountains and rivers and not believe in God?” I agree. Truly, all creation does cry out to Him.

In this last verse before the second woe, God is saying that very thing. All creation cries out to Him. Even the stones and rafters of the buildings cry out to God. Just like the stones and beams are “imprisoned” in the buildings, the prisoners of Chaldea have cried out to God.

APPLICATION

Luke 19:40 says, “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you, if these stop speaking, the stones will cry out!’” We see the same thing being exclaimed by the Psalmist in Psalm 19:1. “The heavens tell of the glory of God; And their expanse declares the work of His hands.”

As believers, we should not be outdone by creation. We should exclaim loudly how great a God He is and tell all about the great things He has done for us. Proclaim His majesty. Extol His greatness. He is worthy of all our praise. Don’t hold back. Don’t let that rock beat you, lol.

As we enter this Advent season, find a reason each day to proclaim His glory. Tell someone each day about how He has saved you and that He can do the same for them. Join me today in doing that. There is no greater joy than to lead someone to the saving knowledge of Christ.

I will glorify the King of kings. I will glorify the Lamb. I will glorify the Lord of lords, who is the great I AM.

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VILE

NAHUM 1:14 

“The LORD has issued a command concerning you: ‘Your name will no longer be perpetuated. I will eliminate the carved image and the cast metal image from the house of your gods. I will prepare your grave, for you are contemptible.’” 

Psalm 101.3 says “I will not look on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do. I will have no part in it.” That should be our attitude towards anything that is vile. But what does that mean? It’s the last word used in today’s verse – contemptible. It means to be cursed or despised. If it is not godly, have no part in it. 

Nahum tells the Assyrians that their time was up. The Lord is going to wipe them away like crumbs from a table. “Your name will no longer be perpetuated…I will prepare your grave.” Those are pretty harsh words. God meant business. He had used them as His battering ram against Israel to judge them, but they had taken it too far. 

APPLICATION 

Today we are bombarded with the vile. All around us are worldly, ungodly things that try to lure us into a lifestyle that is abhorrent to God. Movies, television and commercials all attempt to point us toward a lifestyle that is anything but embracing a Christian viewpoint. 

So, what do we do? We cannot live outside this world – at least not yet. While we are here, we must insulate ourselves with the Word of God. Only His Word can give us the protection we need against the evil one. His flaming arrows are always trying to find their mark against us. 

I am thankful that God has given me the desire to memorize and meditate on His Word. I know my quiver is always full of His Word to defend myself. The Spirit within me is quick to point out those things that offend it. Rely on Him to guard your heart and mind in your daily battles. 

I dedicate my life to honoring You, O Father. You are worthy of my praise and allegiance. 

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SHACKLES

NAHUM 1:13

“‘So now, I will break his yoke from upon you, and I will tear your shackles to pieces.’”

The first thing that I thought of when I read this verse was the song by Mary Mary called “Shackles.” The chorus says,

“Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just want to praise you
I just want to praise you
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise you
I’m gonna praise you.”

Nahum is telling the Israelites that God is breaking their shackles of captivity put on them by the Assyrians (Nineveh). He is setting them free. I bet they felt just like Mary Mary. They just wanted to praise Him. Their shackles were real, though. They felt the weight of the chains. They knew how it felt when they fell off.

APPLICATION

What has you shackled right now? It could be a sin that you have not been able to shake off. You pray and pray but return to the cesspool of sin. That stronghold has you shackled with seemingly no escape. You may not have real chains, but it sure feels like it at times.

I have good news for you. God is still in the shackle breaking business. Lift your hands to Him in prayer, shackles and all, and ask Him to break them. Lay out your feet, shackles and all, and watch them fall off as you yield to Him and give Him everything. Until you do that, those shackles will continue to bind you.

Walking without shackles is a lot better than walking with them. You lose that “shackle shuffle” that is so obvious. When people see you walking free, they will ask what happened. That is when you can tell them you story. You can join with Mary Mary in singing,

“Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just want to praise you
I just want to praise you
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise you
I’m gonna praise you.”

I love You, Lord, and I lift my hands to worship You. O my soul rejoice!

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TRUTH AND FAVOR 

MICAH 7:20 

“You will give truth to Jacob and favor to Abraham, which You swore to our forefathers from the days of old.” 

I like receiving gifts. Don’t you? I mean, come on, who doesn’t? But I really like receiving gifts that include things I need. I am at the age now that I really do not want many things. So, I am hard to buy for. When my family gets me a gift, it is usually something I have specifically told them I could use. 

Look at these two gifts that God gives Jacob and Abraham. The Hebrew word for “truth” can mean steadfastness, faithfulness and truth. The word contains so much more than what we consider truth. Then He gives favor. That Hebrew word is key to God’s covenant relationship with Abraham and the whole nation of Israel. It can also be translated as loving-kindness. 

APPLICATION

Oh, to have God’s truth and favor. Wait a second! I do! When we come to Christ, we receive both of these to their fullest extent. God’s truth is found for us in His word. God’s favor is celebrated through our covenant relationship with Him through Jesus. We receive the same gifts as Jacob and Abraham. 

Now, listen carefully. Both of these gifts are given for a purpose. God does not give us gifts to hoard and keep to ourselves. Oh no. These gifts are given to share. We share God’s truth with people everywhere. We introduce others to the covenant relationship we have in Christ. 

I am not worthy of these gifts from God. Neither are you. But God gives liberally to His children. The very moment you ask Christ into your heart, these gifts arrive. Hallelujah! Who can help but praise Him for these beautiful gifts. 

Thank You, Father, for giving me truth and favor, just like Jacob and Abraham. 

(This is my last blog on Micah. I will start the book of Nahum tomorrow.)  

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