Monthly Archives: June 2012

LIVING BY FAITH

For the past several weeks or so, I have been studying the book of Habakkuk with my husband and a few new and old friends. It has been great coming together as believers — from all walks of life — and from a variety of churches.

At the outset, Habakkuk begins to question God. He asks why God has not dealt with the wickedness amongst the people of Judah.  God responds by telling Habakkuk that he would not be able to fathom what He was about to do even if he were told. God continues to speak to Habakkuk, telling Him that He is going to use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to bring judgement to Judah.

With this response, Habakkuk poses a second question — How could You use the Chaldeans, a people even more evil than us, to discipline us? Habakkuk decides to watch and wait for God to answer. God answers him in the form of a vision. He sees that God will not only bring judgement to Judah, but also to the Chaldeans. God makes it quite clear that He will judge the proud, those who have turned away from Him and chosen to serve another.  In contrast, God also shows Habakkuk that those who live by faith in Him, will be rewarded (Habakkuk 2:4). God assures Habakkuk that He will be just in what He does.

The book ends with Habakkuk’s prayer focusing on God’s faithfulness. He recounts God’s awesome works of the past on behalf of His people. With that knowledge and belief, Habakkuk is confident that God will also be faithful in this present situation.

So how has this book spoken to me? As I am writing, I can think of numerous insights that the Lord has allowed me to see.  Like most of us, much of what God is doing, we cannot see — and certainly cannot understand.  I think that if we were to look back at our trials, struggles, and disappointments, I believe that we can say without a doubt that we were not alone. He was there. And, He has always been faithful!

Thanks for visiting AnEncouragedHeart. Signing off…God Bless! Cynthia

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SAYING YES!

I am in the process of reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet and Spy by Eric Metaxas. If you aren’t familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I urge you to pick up a copy of this biography, or do your own independent research on this devout Christian who gave his life to proclaim the gospel of Christ during the reign of Hitler.

Much of his efforts and Christian walk were based on his understanding of the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, which is found in the gospel of Matthew.  Bonhoeffer believed that this passage of scripture depicted true Christian discipleship.  He defined discipleship as “our becoming like Christ who enables us to model our lives on his as the only ‘Pattern’ we must follow.”

 Matthew 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount by Themes)

5:3-12 – The Beatitudes
5:13-16 – Salt and Light
5:17-20 – Jesus fulfilled the Law
5:21-26 – Anger and Murder
5:27-30 – Lust and Adultery
5:31-32 – Divorce and Remarriage
5:33-37 – Oaths
5:38-42 – Eye for an Eye
5:43-48 – Love your enemies
6:1-4 – Give to the Needy
6:5-15 – How to Pray
6:16-18 – How to Fast
6:19-24 – Treasures in Heaven
6:25-34 – Do not worry
7:1-6 – Do not judge hypocritically
7:7-12 – Ask, Seek, Knock
7:13-14 – The Narrow Gate
7:15-23 – False Prophets
7:24-27 – The Wise Builder

Although I have yet to complete the bio, I am still compelled to share with you a quote from Bonhoeffer, which illustrates his life as presented in Metaxas’ book.

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.

God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.

We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks . . .

It is a strange fact that Christians frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them . . .

But it is part of the discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service and that we do not assume our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be rearranged by God.”

He believed that to know God, was to obey God!

Thanks for visiting AnEncouragedHeart. Signing off…God Bless! Cynthia

COMPLETELY HIS

Just wanted to share with you a thought-provoking devotional that I received in my inbox this week from www.insight.org.

What is God looking for? In the devotional, “Honest to the Core”  by Charles R. Swindoll, he answers the question in this way —

He is looking for men and women whose hearts are completely His—completely.

God is not looking for magnificent specimens of humanity. He’s looking for deeply spiritual, genuinely humble, honest-to-the-core servants who have integrity. . . . Today, we live in a world that says, in many ways, “If you just make a good impression, that’s all that matters.” But you will never be a man or woman of God if that’s your philosophy. Never.  You cannot fake it with the Almighty. He is not impressed with externals. He always focuses on the inward qualities . . . those things that take time and discipline to cultivate. (Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Wisdom for the Way (Nashville: J. Countryman, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2001).

And … after reading this message, I turned to Romans 12.  Here, Paul writes to the believers — encouraging them, and as always lifting up the name of the Lord while teaching sound doctrine.

Romans 12:1-2 (Message)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you (continue reading at biblegateway).

We all have to examine our own hearts, and honestly assess where we are — not according to the world’s standards, but the Lord’s!

Thanks for visiting AnEncouragedHeart. Signing off…God Bless! Cynthia