Sunday 14th June

Service Transcript & Video

 

Recently someone had put a post up on Facebook of music that had influenced their life and one of the people they mentioned was Kylie. That threw back a ton of memories for me. When I was at Primary school, the TV program Neighbours came onto BBC and I loved it. Watched it nightly. I loved the Scott and Charlene storyline and their big wedding.

This began my obsession with Kylie – I liked Jason too, but Kylie was the one I loved. I bought every tape that she brought out – who doesn’t sing along to ‘I should be so lucky’?! I was so obsessed that I spent my pocket money on any magazine that featured her and I wanted any merchandise of her that I could find. My walls were covered with her pictures, I knew everything there was to know about her – favourite food, height, weight, eye colour… I was the ultimate fan.

I loved her until I went to secondary school and then things kinda changed. Kylie wasn’t so cool and everyone seemed to be more into boybands. So my love diminished. My music taste changed and The Cranberries became my new obsession.

Doesn’t that happen to us all with lots of things – you loved something for a time, invested your time, money energy into it, and then the passion faded a bit. Maybe it was a person, a first love – you obsessed over them, wanted to spend every waking hour with them, you wanted to know everything about them and you allowed yourself to be vulnerable with them too.

But things changed, love lessoned, or went… and so something else takes its place. Today as we look at the word, we are looking at someone who it is worth being obsessed over. God. We’ll see what we can do, if we find that our passion for Him has diminished.

And finally, we will see that not only is he worthy of our obsession and worship, that it is worth getting passionate over Him, but also, that we need Him in order to have any lifer hope. 

Habakkuk 3:1
“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. 

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time, make them known; In wrath, remember mercy.”

Habakkuk 3:2
So, if you remember back to chapter 1, we had Habakkuk complaining to the Lord. He was fed up with the situation. 1:2 How long must I call for help and you don’t listen?” Why are you turning a blind eye to the violence, injustice and wrong doing? Why are the wicked getting away with it? After God spoke and told him what was going to happen, Habakkuk went on, and asking why God was going to doing what he was doing and surely there must be a better way. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Perhaps this is the moment you are in at the moment? You are fed up with whats going on, you see no sense in it all and you wonder why God is not doing something about it? God didn’t remain silent and Alvin looked at God’s answer to Habakkuk in chapter 2 last week.

And so we get to chapter 3. And right on verse one we are told that this is a prayer – Habakkuk has moved from protesting to prayer. It says ‘on Shig-e-a-noth’ – no one is completely certain what this means but most agree that is a a musical term, some have said, wild enthusiastic and triumphal music. So this prayer was like a psalm, a song, a declaration, it was written to be sung with music. So what does he pray:

Lord, I have heard of your fame – I have heard all about you Lord – I know what you are like – Habakkuk would have grown up hearing the scriptures, but it is as though, here in chapter 3, the penny drops, the realisation of who God is becomes reality. The God who created the world and everything in it, the God who enabled the Israelites to be set free from slavery and led them to the promised land. The God who gave victory to the small and the weak, not because of anything they had done but because He was their God. As Habakkuk prays, its as though he is seeing that this is the very same God, who is  working in their situation right now. The same Holy, Awesome, mighty, powerful, faithful, loving God that He had heard about growing up, was the same God now. Habakkuk may not understand what is happening around Him but he knows that it is the same God who worked wonders before. 

And this awareness led him to “stand in awe of His deeds” – some translations say that it caused him to fear or to be afraid. When He recognised God for who God was, it led to reverence – it led him to submission – He is God and I am not.

Sometimes I wonder if our problem is that we don’t know who God is? We know some stuff about Him – maybe someone has told us, maybe we read it in the Bible or maybe, sometimes, he is what we like to imagine him to be. Perhaps our complaints, our frustrations, our questions, are more to do with not knowing who God is and therefore not knowing that we can trust him? Even in these uncertain and painful days, are we too busy looking at the situation around us, rather than looking to God who is over all.

When Habakkuk saw who God was, it filled him with awe and reverence. It shifted the focus from the situation that he was in, the situation that he was facing, it shifted the focus to who God was. And when he knew who God was, he knew everything was going to be alright.

Think of that famous quote by Corrie Ten Boom,

If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed, If you look within, you’ll be depressed, if you look at God, you’ll be at rest.

Do we need to get to know God better so that when we face situations that we don’t understand, when we go through painful and difficult times, we will look to God and trust that He is God, He is in control, He has done marvellous things in the past and we can trust Him to do it again. Do we need to get to know him again?

As Habakkuk continues, he prays, “Renew them in our day, in our time, make them known.” – In other words, God, we have heard of all the things that you have done in the past, we have heard of all the ways that you have moved and acted, we’re in awe of you, but Lord, we pray that you would do these things once more. Let us see you move and act in our day, in our time, in our generation.

The word that Habakkuk uses here for renew is also translated as revive – isn’t that that we long for – to see God revive his people once again so that we will fall so desperately in love with him that his glory will be seen through us, through the church, across the land. We look at revivals that happened throughout the centuries – During these revivals – people fell in love with God again.

Perhaps you and I need to fall in love with God again? Perhaps the love that we once had, the passion we once felt, has diminished or seems to have gone. Our souls feel dull and empty.

Perhaps you look back to those early days when you became a Christian, when you first knew that you were forgiven and loved by the creator of the universe. Those first days when you would have sold everything and gone anywhere if God had asked you to. Those early days when you couldn’t get enough of the Bible and you longed to meet with God in prayer. Days when you loved talking about your faith and being around other believers.

But something has shifted and you don’t have that same passion and love that you once had. You try to obey God but sometimes you decide its easier do your own thing. Sometimes you like God’s point of view but other times you choose to go with the general consensus. No doubt, God is still important to you, you come to church, you give, you serve, but you know that deep in your heart that you don’t have that fire in your belly that you used to have.  

Habakkuk looked at his people and he saw the same thing and so he pleads with God for revival, renewal, restoration.

That needs to be our prayer in these days. Revive us God. Revive me. Do a work in my heart. I want and need you to be my beloved again – ignite the fire in my heart. Revival isn’t about people getting converted to Christ, it is about those who once had life, getting revived. You know when you have a fire and it starts to go out, but you know that if you work with it, you can get it reignited again. You can get the flames burning. That is what God wants for his people – we need to pray that God would send a revival. That God would fill our empty hearts once more.

There is a hymn we used to sing: Search me, O God, and know my heart today; 

3 Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine; Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine; Take all my will, my passion, self and pride; I now surrender: Lord – in me abide. 

4 O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; Send a revival – start the work in me. 

Send a revival Lord and start the work in me.

Finally, Habakkuk prays, ‘in wrath remember mercy’. Habakkuk knew that God’s judgement had to come. That God’s wrath was a natural result of the people’s sin and so he prays to God to remember, or to act upon, his mercy. To show mercy to the people, even though they are deserving of wrath.

The wrath of God is not something we like to talk about very much these days. We don’t like to think of God as being a wrathful God, a God who judges. Sometimes, we may even think that this was the God of the Old Testament and Jesus is completely different, he’s all about love. But the truth that we see in scripture is that God is both – he is both completely holy and completely loving.

Because God is a holy God, he can’t be in the presence of sin, he hates sin. What is sin –
it is choosing to live apart from God. It is shutting God out of your life and making yourself ruler and boss. Sin is when we make something in our life more important than God. And God says that there is consequence for living in this way. That judgement will come.

SO what hope it there for us… because the Bible tells us that we are all sinners?

Thats the thing – there is hope… because God is holy but he is also loving.
God is both completely holy and completely loving.

Because of his holiness, he has to punish sin.
But because he loves us, he has given us a way out, a way to be forgiven, a way to receive his mercy. God sent his own son Jesus to pay the price for our sin. Our holy God hates our sin, but he loves us so much that he sent his son to the cross to take the punishment, the judgement, the wrath that we deserve.

Incredible.

And so as Habakkuk prays, he prays, in wrath remember mercy.

He is not saying, look God, remember our merits, no he is saying, hands up, I admit it, I come clean, remember your mercy. Mercy comes from Him, not what we try to do.

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ
Jesus our Lord.”

Sin deserves death but, God has given us Jesus to take that punishment. But we must be willing to admit that we are sinners before God and desperately in need of his mercy and grace.

This is Habakkuks prayer. Remember your mercy God. If we don’t have your mercy, we’re done, we’re through, theres no hope.

This prayer is the gospel. This is the wonderful good news of God. He is holy, awesome, amazing, beyond our comprehension. He deserves to have our whole hearts. Sometimes our hearts grow cold, we forget who he is, and so we pray, God revive us, waken us up,

Sprit move in us, restore us. This prayer reminds us that we need God’s mercy if we are to experience forgiveness for our sin.

As you reflect on these verses… How are you going to respond today?

Do you need to get to know God – really spend time with him in his word, growing in your knowledge of him, so that you will be in awe of him? That you will see that he truly is worthy of your worship, worthy of giving your life to. To know him in a deeper way, so that you will trust his goodness and his plan no matter what happens in your life.

Do you need to join me on your knees for God to revive your soul – to reignite the passion that once burned bright, that you will fall in passionate love with God again and you will hunger after him?

Or perhaps this is the first time that you have sensed the need to come to God, admitting to him that you are a sinner, that you are not good enough, that you have no merits on your own and you need his mercy and grace, in order to have forgiveness and peace and love in your heart. If that is you, I encourage you to confess your sin before God and allow Him to change your life when he takes centre stage.

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