At times it seems like “normal” life is threatened from multiple directions: our culture is changing, First Church has sure changed, the UMC continues to wrestle with change. Families are being threatened in many ways. Communities are being threatened by challenges from within them and outside of them. “Normal” for individuals faces threats from addiction, from illness, from job loss, from choices made by children or siblings. These threats can make it seem like life is falling apart. An Old Testament prophet felt that way about life in his day as well, and talked to God about it. Little is known about Habakkuk, but the record of the conversation between he and God about life that seemed to be falling apart can be a helpful resource for the times when it feels like our life is falling apart.
AUGUST 17 AND 18
Be Honest (WATCH HERE!)
Habakkuk feels that life as he knows it is threatened. He apparently has talked with God about the situation, and God has not participated in the conversation - until this moment. But when God does get involved, what God offers Habakkuk seems like more bad news - not the answer he was looking for. The important thing to see in this exchange between the prophet and God is that Habakkuk’s honesty and vulnerability with God does not bring wrath from Him, but interaction. The message here for us? When life seems to be falling apart - when we’ve talked to God about it and God seems silent - God receives our honest frustration about our situation and responds in his time. Even when what God says causes us additional concern, we have the freedom to talk with God honestly no matter how we feel.
Monday 8/19: Psalm 13
Tuesday 8/20: Psalm 74
Wednesday 8/21: Jeremiah 12:1-4
Thursday 8/22: Mark 15:21-34
Throughout the history of Christianity many have said you should not question God. One of our biblical Prophets Habakkuk helps us know this is wrong. God is not threatened by our questions, our challenges, our doubts, our fears, God invites us into open communication with Him. The very name Habakkuk means “to embrace.” As God invites Habakkuk’s questions and challenges God embraces humanity in all its glory and all its mess. Pay attention for the ways in which God embraces us.
Friday 8/23: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Saturday 8/24: Amos 9:11-15
Sunday 8/25: Habakkuk 2
AUGUST 24 AND 25
Remember to Look Long (WATCH HERE!)
When God responds to Habakkuk’s first complaint, the news seems to only make matters worse for him: invasion and captivity by a powerful pagan nation from the north. Habakkuk engages God again with something like, “surely this cannot be...as bad as things are, surely they can’t get worse!?” God’s response focuses Habakkuk beyond the present struggle - beyond what doesn’t seem to make sense to him - and shows him God’s bigger plan down the road. The present struggle will not be the end of the story. God is using Babylon on purpose - but GOD is in charge of the present and the future, even when it seems like Nebuchadnezzar is writing the script. For us - when what God offers in response to our honest and vulnerable conversations about life that seems to be falling apart doesn’t sat isfy or make sense - God invites us to remember the bigger plan at work in what doesn’t make sense - remember to look longer than what’s right in front of you.
MONDAY (08/26): Psalm 37:1-11
TUESDAY (08/27): James 5:7-11
WEDNESDAY (08/28): Psalm 115:1-13
THURSDAY (08/29): Isaiah 26:1-11
To prepare for our next times together in worship, read these scripture texts. As you read, note the “rehearsals” of the ways God has acted in the past.
FRIDAY (08/30): Psalm 136
SATURDAY (08/31): Acts 22:1-21
SUNDAY (09/01): Habakkuk 3
AUGUST 31 AND SEPTEMBER 1
Rehearse Regularly (This sermon is coming soon)
Taking It Home
Habakkuk reflects on the conversation between he and God so far, and offers a prayer filled with praise for who God has been and a recitation of how God has worked in the past. The reflection time leads to the prayer concluding with a proclamation of faith and trust that God is working and will continue to work in the same way in the present and future. The conversation that began in frustration and uncertainty ends with a peace-filled, confident conclusion. When life seems to be falling apart, take time to rehearse who God has been and how God has worked in the past - both from a scriptural perspective and from the personal perspective of your own life. As it did for Habakkuk, that intentional rehearsal will lead to a shift in perspective: from “God what are you doing!?” to “God, as you’ve done, so I believe you will do again.”
As you read these scripture passages, note what they say about the faithfulness of God.
MONDAY (09/02): 1 Kings 8:54-61
TUESDAY (09/03): Psalm 89:1-16
WEDNESDAY (09/04): Lamentations 3:19-26
THURSDAY: (09/05): Hebrews 10:19-25
NEW SERIES! EPIC!
In his book, EPIC, John Eldredge says, “Life, you’ll notice, is a story. Life doesn’t come to us like a math problem. It comes to us the way a story does, scene by scene.” (p.2) Each one of us has a life story - places we’ve been, things we’ve experienced, a people we belong to. This story in part defines who we are. But our stories take place in the context of a larger story that has been unfolding since before the dawn of time - the story of God and His interaction with all that has been created. Understanding how our stories take place within this larger story provides powerful perspective for interacting with what happens to us - a perspective that can dramatically alter how we live. This series will explore four basic principles that can be applied to how we live day by day - principles that will challenge and encourage and comfort us.
To set the stage for this EPIC journey, read the following passages, paying attention to the intersection between the story “beyond time” and the stories that we live “in time.”
FRIDAY (09/16): Revelation 22:12-16
SATURDAY (09/07): John 17
SUNDAY (09/08): John 1:1-5