Devotional on Habakkuk

Questions answered
Habakkuk 2: God is in his holy Temple! Quiet everyone – a holy silence. Listen!
Chapter two is mostly a listing of the sins of Babylon. The Lord may intend to use this godless nation in his dealings with Judah but that doesn’t mean its despicable evil will be overlooked. As a series of “Who do you think you are?” judgments is being listed, the prophet suddenly has a vision of God. Immediately, the prophet calls for “holy silence.” This isn’t the time to preach sermons of condemnation. The only thing a human being can do at this point is to bow in silence before the Lord. This, I think is God’s second answer to Habakkuk. The prophet has asked how a holy God can use a sinful nation to punish Judah. One answer is that God is well aware of the sin of Babylon and that he will decisively deal with it. The other answer is heard as the Almighty reveals himself to Habakkuk. This is similar to what happens in the Book of Job. Job has asked for an audience with God that he might plead his case. However, when God appears, Job is speechless and all he can do is bow in worship and adoration. When I see God my questions are answered. My need is not for the Lord to explain to me everything I think I want to know. The need in my life is a fresh vision of God.
Take Away: All our questions are answered when we genuinely experience the Lord.

Devotional on Lamentations

The fine art of silence
Lamentations 3: Enter the silence.
Jeremiah advises: “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.” I don’t know much about silence. My life is filled with noise: music on the radio, something on the TV, conversation. Even when I pray, I refer to my prayer list. After all I have much to say to the Lord. I’d say my list is a pretty good one, with not only requests, but plenty of praises as well. Still, though, Jeremiah says that there’s a time for silence. The thing is that when I try to be silent before God my mind races off in a dozen directions at once. The prophet specifically says silence is good for times when life is hard and recommends our getting away from it all, not to talk to God but to experience silence before him. Many years before Jeremiah David described the “quiet waters” experience. He said it was there that the Lord restored his soul. I need to work on “entering the silence.” Maybe I need to pass through the “Lord, here’s my list” and the “when I finish here I need to do this” stages so I can arrive at the “enter the silence” stage. There’s a spiritual depth that can only be found when I “enter the silence.”
Take Away: There’s spiritual depth in silence.

Devotional on Lamentations

Quiet Hope
Lamentations 3: It’s a good thing to quietly hope…for help from God.
In the midst of this book of laments I find the wonderful oasis in chapter three. Like a desert traveler I can’t help but to stay for a while and pitch my tent and enjoy the beauty of this place. Jeremiah has seen all the worst of life and it’s likely that he won’t live to see things get much better. Still, he’s concluded that “it’s a good thing to quietly hope” in God. I love the phrase “quietly hope.” I remember praying with an individual once about a legitimate concern in their life. However, their prayer was loud and emotional to the point that I don’t think that they managed to get much of a prayer prayed. Now, let me quickly add that I’m not against emotional prayers and I don’t want to go on record as opposing “loud” prayers either. However, the individual I prayed with wasn’t praying so much as working up some emotional state. Hopeful trust isn’t best displayed in a loud, emotional prayer. To truly hope is to calm down, to look to God, and to place things in his hands. Jesus warned against praying as though we think God will be impressed by our many words and as I visit this passage, I think Jeremiah’s making a similar statement. Without making a lot of noise, without working up our emotions, we turn our faces to heaven in quiet hope in God. Remember, Jeremiah isn’t speaking theoretically here; after all, we’re in the heart of his book of Lamentations.
Take Away: To truly hope is to calm down, to look to God, and to place things in his hands.