Faith, Lifestyle

Hope with Habakkuk

We could all do with a little bit of hope right now. The world is unsettled and uncertain, nothing is sure and things feel a little bit hopeless. This is just how Habakkuk felt.

600BC Israel was being invaded, the fig trees did not bloom, the fruit did not grow, the crops failed, the flocks disappeared. Sound familiar? Right now we are being invaded by a virus, lives have been taken, jobs have been lost, income has stopped, food is scarce, the future uncertain.

Habakkuk had gone to God with his requests. He had watched to see what God would do, he had worked on his faith as he waited to see what God would say, and now he was faced with an answer that he hadn’t expected.

So what did Habakkuk do next? He worshipped.

His response astounds me, and challenges me. It is not easy to thank God when your prayers are unanswered. It is not easy to praise Him when your problems remains, yet this is exactly what Habakkuk did.

Yet I will celebrate in the Lord – I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! The Lord my God is my strength; He makes my feet like that of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights. Habakkuk 3:18

The key to Habakkuk’s response is in the first line of this scripture; I will celebrate IN the Lord. Not when He has fixed my problems, not if He provides the miracle, not once He has removed me from the place of danger. Habakkuk celebrated IN the Lord, right where he was, with unanswered prayers and an uncertain future. Why? Because he knew God and he knew Him to be good. He knew that God had his best interests at heart.

Even though Habakkuk did not understand what God was doing,
he understood who God was.

Do we praise God even when our problems remain? Do we sing of His goodness even when we are still surrounded on all sides? Do we raise our hands even when the rain is still falling down?

God doesn’t always remove us from the mountains that we face, but in verse 19 we see that He gives us HIS strength and makes our feet surefooted like a deer and ENABLES us to walk on mountains. Have you ever seen deer on a mountain side? They look so precarious on craggy cliff edges, just a step away from a fatal fall, but they are surefooted. Why? Because they were designed to navigate this terrain and because they know the terrain.

The mountain you face right now may seem unpassable to you, but know that the God of the heavens and the earth knows every inch of this terrain. He will give you strength, He will lead you forwards and He will show you where to place your feet.

Habakkuk had confidence in God because he knew Him. Even though, still God.

The book of Habakkuk is a story of waiting and it reminds us that we are not required to be motionless while we wait. Habakkuk encourages us that we need to go to God with our prayers then do three simple things;

WATCH + WAIT  |  WORK + WAIT  |  WORSHIP + WAIT

Watch and see what God is doing, how He is weaving this into His bigger story.

Work on your faith, deepen your relationship with God and download His peace.

Worship God for He is good, and He works all things together for our good.

I don’t know where this finds you today, but I pray that you would be encouraged and equipped to keep pressing in in prayer, keep pushing forward in faith and keep praising Him in everything.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle

HIIT with Habakkuk

Do you love HIIT? I do because I don’t have time for hour long workouts and need something that is going to give me the most impact. I have discovered that approaching my Bible as a HIIT workout right now is super helpful too. Let me explain why.

I have been studying the book of Habakkuk in the Bible and learned so many lessons about life in lockdown. Habakkuk had to wait. A LOT. Much like us right now.

Here is a recap; In chapter 1, Habakkuk complained to God about the Assyrian takeover that was causing chaos all around him. He waited for God to respond but God’s reply was to send an even crueller race – the Babylonians – to sort the men from the boys. Habakkuk was horrified, and complained a second time, before watching and waiting to see what God will do. In Chapter 2, God responds to Habakkuk and says that the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Another way of saying this would be that those who remain faithful while they wait, who don’t give up or give in, will survive this season. Why is this important? Because being faithful requires hard work.

Being faithful requires hard work.

I don’t need to tell you about hard work. You are already doing it. From navigating social distancing in supermarkets to teaching kids a curriculum, while managing businesses, keeping in touch with relatives, and trying to hold it altogether, you are already doing a lot of hard work. But I believe that above all this, God needs us to keep our eyes fixed on Him while we wait this out.

Right now, we are under pressure. We are facing a global pandemic, a crisis like the world have never seen before. People are losing their lives, their loved ones, their jobs, their homes. There is utter chaos all around us as everything that we took for granted now slides into uncertainty. While under pressure, it can be so easy to cut corners, to compromise, to let standards slip.  But God tells us that the righteous live by faith, so we need to exercise our faith while we wait for God to move.

We need to exercise our faith while we wait for God to move.

The best way I know to get to know God, and find out what He wants us to do is to spend time reading His Word. Time is precious right now, especially if you have a tribe of toddlers or teens in tow, and this is where HIIT comes in.

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training which shocks your mind and body into action. HIIT workouts increase your metabolism and your energy levels, while strengthening your muscles and cardiovascular system. Each workout typically takes 15-30 minutes max and are designed to repeated daily.

I believe that God wants you to approach your Bible like a HIIT workout, getting the maximum impact each time. He wants His word to shock your mind and body into action in order to strengthen your spiritual muscles. How can we do this? Here are some tips:

Be Intentional. Create a welcoming space somewhere in your home, with a candle burning, essential oils diffusing, coffee brewing, music playing; whatever works for you. Grab your Bible, a notepad and pen then set a timer for 20 minutes.

Bring Intensity. Pick a book and begin to work through it one verse at at time. Don’t just snack on the Bible or skim read through passages. Take your time and use different bible translations or commentaries online to help you draw the most out of each verse in a chapter. If you don’t know where to start the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are a great place!

Show Integrity. Make a commitment and stick to it! By choosing to show up with God each and every day you will discover the transforming power of God’s word for yourself. Because when we do the hard work, He does the heart work.

When we do the hard work, God does the heart work.

I believe that by bringing our intentions, our intensity and our integrity, each day, even if only for 15-30 minutes, God will reveal Himself to us. As we stretch ourselves He will strengthen our hearts. As we get into the Word, God will give us insight in to His plans and this will get us through the next few weeks of waiting.

It’s time to dig deep into the Bible so we can start flexing those muscles of faith.

R x

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Faith

Hold on with Habakkuk

The UK has been in lockdown for three weeks and we have just been told that this will be extended by at least another three weeks. Halfway can seem like such a hopeless place. Not at the beginning, no where near the end, and it can leave us asking where is God in all of this?

The good news is that we are not alone in thinking this. Habakkuk had a pretty hard time understanding God’s plans back in 7th Century BC. The Assyrians had overpowered the Israelites and corrupted the Holy City. The prophet, Habakkuk, was distraught and couldn’t understand why God hadn’t intervened.

There are a couple of things that you need to know about Habakkuk. Firstly, his name meant ‘someone who embraces’ or in more informal terms a ‘clinger’. Habakkuk was clingy, and he chose to cling to God. This is important, because you don’t cling to just anyone. (If you do, the chances are you will be thrown right off). To cling to someone, you must know them really well, know them intimately, therefore the fact that Habakkuk clings to God shows that he knew God.

Habakkuk clung to God because he knew God.

Because he knew God, he could get close to God, and bring complaints before Him in confidence. My kids don’t whine at their aunts, uncles or adults in the shops or at church about what isn’t fair. They whine to me (unfortunately!). Why? Because we are close, we have relationship, they know me and they trust me. My children can be real, honest and authentic with me, bringing me their deepest concerns because they know I can handle it, and I will love them regardless of what they say or do.

God is big enough to handle your complaint. Furthermore, He wants you to bring them to Him, because He is your heavenly Father. He wants you to take your problems to Him so He can fix it, because thats what Dad’s do.

God wants to take on your problems, because that’s what Dad’s do.

So Habakkuk brought his problems to God, and God said “Don’t worry, I am sending the Babylonians in to take care of it”.

This horrified Habakkuk even more! The Babylonians were know for their idolatrous ways, their injustice and their inhuman treatment of others. If the Assyrians had overpowered the Israelites, then the Babylonians would straight up obliterate them.

It is not always easy to see God’s hand at work. Right now we are int the middle of a global pandemic, a crisis such as the world has never seen. We have endured lockdown, but things aren’t getting any better. We have isolated from our loved ones and practiced social distancing but still jobs and lives are being lost.

Where is God? Habakkuk asked the same thing. But he didn’t do it from a place of fear and frustration. He put his problems before God, then he climbed into his watchtower and waited.

We need to watch and wait to see God move.

While the storm is raging, it is not clear how God is going to use or control this situation. But just like Habakkuk, we need to put our problems before God, climb into our spiritual watch tower and wait for the dust to settle. God wasn’t finished then, and He isn’t finished now. There is an unseen battle happening all around us, God is at work even when we can’t see how, or don’t understand why.

It is in the stillness that God speaks. It is when we come before him in quiet confidence, clinging to our Father that He whispers into our situation. We have access to God through Jesus Christ, we are His kids, and He wants us to climb into His lap and hold on to Him.

What are you holding on to? The news bulletins? The bank balance? The Doctors report? Whatever you are facing right now, at this halfway point, I pray that you would take a leaf out of Habakkuk’s book and choose to hold on to God and hang on His word.

 

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle

Consuming content or choosing content?

Staying home has meant more time on our hands. We are scrolling more, reading more and watching more. But what are you watching?

God has been really speaking to me out of Proverbs 31 and I wanted to share some thoughts from verse 27 with you.

She carefully watches over everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness ~ Proverbs 31:27 NLT

She carefully watches. She watches what is going on in her home, what her children are watching, what they are watching her watching.

Over the last two weeks I have found it so easy to mindlessly scroll, reading reports that bring fear and despair, watching programmes that make me angry or on edge. What we watch has an impact on our soul.

Jesus said “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.” What He meant by that was that we need to be mindful of what we look at. Be careful what we watch, because we cannot unsee something we have seen. The truth is the world is a scary place right now. But rather than consume content which further heightens our anxiety, we need to choose content that fills us and builds us.

The dictionary tells us that the noun content is a thought, a subject, or subject matter. Content can be a burden; as we consume it it can sit heavily in our hearts, dominate our thoughts. Jesus doesn’t want us to hold these burdens, He wants us to exchange them for His peace. But even more than that He promises to show us how.

Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fighting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly Matthew 11:29-30.

I won’t lay anything heavy on you or ill-fitting on you.

There is a lot of heaviness in the world, but we aren’t called to hold it. There is a lot of darkness in the world but we don’t have to be a part of it. If the eye is a lamp to our body then we need to make sure that what we are watching floods our soul with light not darkness. Watching movies and scrolling Facebook isn’t the problem, but what we are looking at can be.

As Christians, we can choose to be content despite the chaos. To choose to be still when the storms rise around us. But to do that we need to be carefully watch everything in our household.

R x

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Faith, Lifestyle

Speaking from Faith or Fear?

The threat of lockdown is now a reality. The ‘what ifs?’ are ‘what nows?’, and suddenly we are faced with a endless sea of uncertainty stretched out before us.

While I was doing my house work today, I noticed areas that had been overlooked for too long; cobwebs in corners and dust gathered in dark places. As I began to clean, God spoke to me so clearly and downloaded a message in my heart. He challenged me, as I was ‘keeping house’ at home and asked me what I was doing to keep house in my heart. What areas in my soul were dusty, what habits need to be addressed and what attitudes need to be swept out?

Proverbs 31 talks about a godly woman, and God drew me to verses 25-26; She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.

I know I haven’t spoken with kindness this week. Fear and frustration have crept in and I have snapped. I have spoken harshly and made curt demands over kind instruction. It is easy to get fearful in this current climate. Coronavirus is sweeping the world and taking not just freedom, but finances, friends and family members. It threatens to devastate hundred of thousands of households physically, financially and emotionally. Yet we know that God is greater than any virus, and we know that God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love and self-discipline. 2 Tim 1:7

We need to dive into God’s word and spend time in His presence to be filled with faith for this season.

We need to practice being in His presence to be filled with faith

When I start to feel overwhelmed by the news reports, I need to turn to God’s report. I need to open my Bible and open my heart, and let the Holy Spirit fill me up so that I have faith to face the day. This needs to be a daily practice. Jesus knew this when He walked the earth and that’s why He modelled it for us by setting aside time to pray each day.

When we spend time in prayer and worship we are changed. We are clothed with God’s strength so we can laugh with no fear of the future. God’s love pours into us and flows through us, so we can better respond to news and better relate to others. When we are filled with faith we can better lead our families.

Take a few minutes today to consider how you are feeling, to consider what you are saying online and to those in your home. If you are overwhelmed, angry or frustrated you are likely speaking from a place of fear. Don’t worry, Jesus loves you too much to leave you that way. Hey into the word and into His presence and ask Him to fill you afresh so you can speak from faith.

R x

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