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Right now not only is our country and our world facing troubles that seem to be coming with greater frequency and intensity, like  birth pangs, but many of our most faithful bloggers are in the midst of great sorrow and suffering. Suffering doesn’t make you a strong Christian, but it reveals where your trust is. How badly we need to practice giving thanks for unseen blessings, for the sure promises we have of an unshakeable world, for a place where there is no more tears, no more sickness, no more sorrow, and no more death, and for the promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Just last night in the middle of night I pulled out Tozer, and it is no coincidence that I read this. I believe God gave it to me for us, right now.

God should be real to all our senses  “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces.” “My sheep hear my voice.” “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”…A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His Presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality.

At the root of the Christian life lies belief in the invisible. He that cometh to God must believe that he is. …We must avoid the common fault of pushing the “other world” into the future. It’ s not future, but present. It parallels our familiar physical world, and the doors between the two worlds are open. “Ye are come,” says the writer to the Hebrews (and the tense is plainly present) “unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…”  May we not safely conclude that, as the realities of Mount Sinai were apprehended by the senses, so the realities of Mount Zion are to be grasped by the soul? And this not by any trick of the imagination, but in downright actuality… (A. W. Tozer   The Pursuit of God)

How do we “reckon its reality?” How do we taste, smell, see, hear, and feel it? The continual habit of giving thanks is huge is making the unseen world real to us. We saw it in Hebrews and we’ll see in Habakkuk — and we are going to practice, practice, practice for two weeks and realize His promise that He inhabits the praise of His people. These will be great weeks of Thanksgiving. And then we will head to Advent — and I am so excited at how clearly God has led me for what we will do!

(Last week Laura-dancer openly shared her depression about how terrible things are looking in our country — and several of you reached out to her, saying the very same thing — I know that was God. In the 2nd week of this Thanksgiving study I want to share a testimony from my daughter Anne, and how God helped her in her darkest time, but if you need to hear this right now, feel free to peek ahead to Week 2.)

WEEK ONE: NOV. 18, 2012


1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. These questions below are for your Thanksgiving table — but take one and answer it now.  Click here to download: [download id=”6″]


1. What can you be thankful for this year that you couldn’t have been last year?

2. Lift up the name of each person and have two to four people share one reason they are thankful for that person.

3. Is there a way that God met you in a challenging time this year? If so, how?

4. Did you receive an unexpected kindness this year?

5. Is there a Scripture passage that became more meaningful to you this year – if so, what is it, and how did it help you?

6. Is there something a little child said that delighted you?

7. Was there wisdom received from a book, a mentor, or a sermon?

8. Was there a time when circumstances lined up so you knew God was behind it?

9. God said He would shake our world so that what was unshakeable would remain – give thanks for one of those unshakeable realities



Prepare your heart to be with God in Habakkuk with this song:

Read the short book of Habakkuk in The Message. If you don’t have The Message, you can read it on www.biblegateway.com

3. Summarize Habakkuk in a few sentences.


5. What parallels can you see with our world and what applications for you as a believer?

6. The NAS translated Habakkuk 2:1 as above. Though our world is godless and deserves judgment, each of us has played a part as well, in failing to do what we ought. Take a time of confession here.

7. It is helpful to take the perspective from on high when trouble comes — to look at the long range view. What good things can you see coming from God removing His hedge? GIVE THANKS FOR WHO GOD IS WHEN TROUBLE COMES — FOR WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT HIM.

8. Read Habakkuk 2:18-20. What do you learn about idols? When you think of your heart idols, how does this speak to you?

9. Read Habakkuk 3:1-16

Keller sees the Exodus, and therefore the Gospel in this. Can you? If so, how?

10. Read Habakkuk 3:17-19

I memorized this and have savored it — it helped me through Steve’s death, and continues to help me. It is poetry at its best for in it is life, strength, and wisdom.

A. In what will Habakkuk rejoice?

B. No matter what we will go through, or what you are going through now, list some things in which you can rejoice and give thanks.


11. Share one thing you are thankful for that happened on Thanksgiving.

12. What is your take-a-way and why?


WEEK 2: NOVEMBER 25, 2012

Next week we will begin Advent and seeking His face daily. This is a great time to invite a friend to join you here. Please pray about that!

This week I want you to listen to at least one Keller sermon on Habakkuk. I promised you I wouldn’t make you buy more sermons this year, so I will summarize the paid one if you cannot afford it but I’m praying God will provide the funds. In the paid sermon, which is called “Rejoicing in Tribulation,” Keller elaborates on how Habakkuk was able to rejoice in tribulation and says he:

  1. Repeats (God’s promises)
  2. Remembers (God’s goodness)
  3. Rejoices (in God His Savior)

Steve the summer before he died

During the hardest time in Steve’s life, when he thought he might be dying and leaving his vulnerable family, that is what Steve did. He kept repeating the psalms, remembering the promises such as God would be a husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless, and rejoicing in God His Savior. Steve was particularly concerned about his three girls still at home, and prayed for godly husbands for each of them, and also for godly fathers-in-law. In the three years after Steve died, each daughter married a pastor’s son. Then, as many of you know, they all gave birth to girls, (along with my only daughter-in-law) in the summer of 2010. This Christmas we will all be together and those babies are now two and a half. (There will be pictures!) Steve repeated, remembered, and rejoiced in God His Savior. Did God meet him? Indeed, He did. And He gave Steve an assurance of that unshakeable world.

Each girl did go through a deep time of depression, but God met each of them. I want you to hear Annie tell her story here — it’s just 3 minutes. She is our daughter from Korea, the child of my heart. She is a nurse on the cancer ward and I know God used her suffering to fill her with compassion. You will be blessed!

Click here to hear Annie:



Annie and Miabelle Thanksiving time of 2010


1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. What is one repeated promise in Scripture to which you can cling? Why are you thankful for it right now?

(I have a live television program on Monday with Harvest — some of you have that channel — but I’d love you to pray! Then on Tuesday I am on Moody radio live with Midday at noon central doing Chapter 3 of Idol Lies — and I’ll play Rebecca’s testimony. Then we tape four more programs and I’ll be on again Friday for Milrose Club on Midday. I’m supposed to come up with a light question — I’m better at heavy questions! 🙂 Please pray.)

Monday-Friday: Keller Sermons (One is Free, so you can at least listen to that, but I’m hoping you can listen to both.) Also, each day, I want to give thanks.)

Free Link: Generosity in Scarcity: Link

Paid Sermon: Rejoicing in Tribulation: Link

3. Share your notes.

4. Each day give thanks for how God has manifested Himself in your life the day before.



5. What is your take-a-way and why?

Please join us for Advent and invite your friends — we will be seeking His face each day during Advent!


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  1. 3. Share your sermon notes.

    I loved the others’ sermon notes for “Rejoicing in Tribulation” so I will just comment about one thing that jumped out at me. When Keller talked about our names engraved on Jesus’ heart, as on the breastplate of the Ultimate High Priest, I had this beautiful picture of Jesus standing before the Father with our names over his heart interceding for us. It is so comforting that Jesus and the Father are caring so deeply for each of us in our suffering, treasuring us, discussing what has happened and what they are planning to do to rescue us. “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure.”

  2. I woke up this morning without having a panic attack. First time in a long time. It was a very nice change. Still have anxiety, but it isn’t as intense. I been praying a lot today, even on my knees. Giving it ALL to Him. It’s the only way I can have peace.


    1. Rejoicing with you and praying for you, Krista!

    2. Just thought of something — Krista, you mentioned waking up in the morning with panic attacks. This may not be the case for you at all. But when I had what I thought were panic attacks, I became even more anxious UNTIL (after many years) I figured out that the physiological reactions I associated with panic attacks were related to what I ate (or didn’t eat). They often came when I either had skipped meals or hadn’t eaten enough protein and/or fat the day before. I sometimes still have the same reactions, including when I wake up, but now it’s a cue to eat rather than to panic.

      I associated your phrase “waking up in the morning” with “break-fast.” Interesting that no one ever asked what I was eating or that I didn’t make the connection with most of my own “panic attacks” and even some of anxiety much sooner. Blood sugar fluctuations may not be impacting you, but if they are, it’s a much easier fix than depression!

      Sorry to give advice on here if it is completely irrelevant…(ignore if it is!)

      1. I appreciate your suggestions, Renee, and will make sure Krista sees this. This may be part of the problem so it is best to check it out.

        1. Diane,
          I’ve never been tested during those episodes, and I’m not even sure a blood sugar test would pick it up. I realized it when I had the zillionth panic attack when grocery shopping. I associated hating grocery shopping with having had an eating disorder, but the “panic attacks” were only indirectly related. I waited too long to go grocery shopping because I dreaded it, but the “panic attacks” were from being hungry or not eating the right stuff before grocery shopping. During those times, I often walked through all the aisles and would leave with something like one lemon or one lime, which made matters worse.

          I doubt some physicians I’ve seen would agree with me if I described the problem and the solution, but I know a couple therapists who would laugh if I told them because they would see it fits me so well.

          That’s the long way of saying that it’s safe to “play with” eating patterns (to some degree!) even if you don’t have medical support for doing so (would qualify that by saying “unless there is a nutrition-related disease such as diabetes in the picture.”) Anyhow, I have a nutrition background and didn’t even make the connection because I was focused on the anxiety as the cause of the problem.

        2. Thank you for your thoughts, Renee. I suppose it’s a slight possibility, but almost positive it’s related to something that is going on very recently in my life. But I appreciate your thoughts and concern. 🙂 I do need to be eating more, and healthy. I haven’t been eating much at all the past couple of weeks because of some circumstances. Major anxiety and stomach feeling sick most of the time.

    3. Wonderful Krista!

    4. Continuing to pray for you, Krista.

  3. Laura-dancer,
    Updates on your mom?

    1. Just getting ready to report, thanks for asking 🙂

      I have spent much of the week calling and talking to the doctor, the director, the physical therapist, the wound care nurse, the musical therapist, and the social worker. It comforted me to a certain extent. However my sister in law is convinced they are all lying and have not been doing the things they are telling me. Things such as working moms muscles and cleaning the wound. The trach will be taken out in the next few days. This will allow her to be moved, although I am not sure she is ready at this point. However, I suppose getting her closer to my brother is a good thing. Prayers that she is strong enough to breathe on her own when the trach is removed. Also, prayers that we find the right place for her with a loving staff. Thank you.

      1. Praying Laura!

      2. Praying for the right place and her strength/readiness.

      3. Laura-dancer,

        This must be so hard to see your mom going through this, and then not knowing if they are treating her well or not. Will pray!

  4. Sorry to have been so flakey the last few days and I feel like I’ve missed so much. Working through a bit more than usual (phys pain) still–but I do have a prayer request about one part. I keep telling myself I will not post about my health again and then I find myself desperate for the power of prayer. So honestly, I don’t need replies-I don’t want the attention, but I do believe in prayer so it’s a catch 22 for me! I just so appreciate the prayers.
    My (most recent) dr in all this ran my thyroid labs again (been on meds 18 yrs) and wants to increase my medicine again, the 3rd increase in the last 7 months. Anyway, just trying to trust-I’m really scared of more medicine–and it’s a big dose, but the labs do justify. I got it filled wed. and still haven’t taken it yet, but please just pray for wisdom and God’s protection/leading.There’s a chance it could ultimately help with my circulation and pain.

    Also wanted to give my thanks for the last few days–2 things, one is I have been praying for a new advent idea–we have been using the same things with he kids for a while, and God gave me a new idea and when I went to Hobby Lobby for all the supplies, it was all 50% off! I told the checker my idea and it was really fun, kind of gave me a lift.

    Also found out yesterday we got one of 35 slots to help feed the homeless at a mission in Charlotte ON Christmas Day–I am so excited. I tried last year and my son was too young–anyway, I am so thankful for getting to do that. I think it will really be a blessing as a family.

    1. That’s wonderful Elizabeth!

    2. Praying, Elizabeth!

      And I’m curious 🙂 What’s your new Advent idea?

      1. I’m curious too, Elizabeth…new Advent idea?

        1. hehe Elizabeth, we’re all waiting 🙂

    3. Elizabeth, Been praying-hate to hear this but glad this new med might help! 🙂 You always inspire me with the ideas you come up with for traditions with your children! I am curious what new idea you have-I am not that creative with things at home, so I need ideas!

    4. Praying for your health issues, and that the Christmas season and all you have planned will be a wonderful time for your family, building memories together. I am glad you got the slot at the mission!

      1. I just want to add Elizabeth, please keep us knowing how you are physically, I mean it, how can we pray well if you don’t share how you are doing?
        You love so well on the rest of us, you MUST allow us to love on and fuss over you!

        1. Well said, Chris. We love you, Elizabeth. Keep us posted on how we can pray for you.

    5. Dear Elizabeth,
      Please don’t ever feel that asking for prayer – that we would think that you are just trying to get attention! We WANT to know how you are feeling (like Chris said) so that we can pray – you always pray for us and invest yourself in others, so let us give back to you, too.

    6. I love hobby lobby! Yay for all the blessings. I understand about medicines; I rarely take anything. I am praying for you elizabeth.

  5. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    Persistence and trust. Steve and Annie persisted and trusted regardless of how they might be “feeling”…they continued the disciplines with persistent.

    2. What is one repeated promise in Scripture to which you can cling? Why are you thankful for it right now?

    Psalm 130:7
    O Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows.

    Hebrews 9:12
    With His own blood…He entered the most Holy place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

    This has been a hectic week at work for me…my work demanded much energy and focus on my part when unfortunately with lingering effects of a cold was woefully limited… My work and home responsibilities challenged me…I “felt” inadequate and tired on both fronts. These two scripture texts relate to redemption…the promises are beyond the troubles/challenges/disappointments of this world…exactly what I needed. God is SO good…

    1. You and Dee with these colds this week – ’tis the season for them! I hope you feel better soon and will pray for that!

  6. Hey Inka, if you should read this, I went away for a couple of weeks and haven’t seen anything from you since I returned, and I would surely like to see you posting again!

    1. I was also thinking of Inka and others who I haven’t seen lately.

  7. 3. Share your notes.

    I listened to the sermon on Habakkuk 3, Rejoicing in Tribulation. Here were the points that jumped out at me:

    First, this text is one for me to remember to turn to, to not forget about, because it contains what I need to know about how to handle evil, pain, trials, and suffering. How does the prophet face the coming level of social collapse – starvation – with poise, joy, and patience? I need to know!

    When do I usually say that God is good? It is when everything is going well. But what about Alan Gardner, starving to death, yet saying “I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God.” Gardner found a way to access the goodness and love of God APART from his circumstances, because everything in his life had gone terribly wrong.

    We INFER the goodness of God from good things in our lives, but Gardner came into DIRECT CONTACT with it. And so did Habakkuk. How do I do this?

    First, what is rejoicing in suffering? It is walking sure-footed on the mountaintops. The metaphor is that suffering will push me up to the heights spiritually – at least it can, but some people get harder, cynical and bitter, and are destroyed spiritually. I don’t want that to happen to me!

    When does it happen? It happens at the same time as the grief and sorrow. Habakkuk is saying that he is so filled with sorrow, weeping, can hardly stand up, yet he is filled with peace. Joy happens WITHIN the sorrow. And it doesn’t mean keeping a stiff upper lip. Men of great faith, like Job, tore their clothes and wept, yet were pushed to the heights spiritually. We have a tendency to be afraid of the grief and sorrow, but it can enhance our joy and enable us to feel the grief without it sinking us and that is actually emotional health.

    How do I rejoice in the Lord? It is a discipline (just what I have a hard time with!)
    By REPEATING. We need repetition, which the Bible does over and over. “God teaches us by this method of repetition through Scripture with good reason: the human mind is incurably centrifical, forever flying off at a tangent; it must be brought back to the great central truths of the gospel, over and over. Our minds must be made literally to con-centrate.”
    I certainly know the truth of having scattered thoughts, forever flying….
    Loved the example of how to do this because it is what we do here – you meditate, you take a passage of Scripture, you study it yourself, talk about it with a friend, study it in a small group, listen to a sermon about it and every time it goes deeper.

    REMEMBERING. Most of Habakkuk 3 is remembering the Exodus – that was Habakkuk’s gospel. He remembers it until it brings him to a place of peace. Psalms 42 and 103 – who is the psalmist talking to? His own soul, he is remembering. *I have to connect what I know about God – what He’s done in the past – to my present.* Jesus in the boat with His disciples in the storm – He asks them “Where is your faith?” In other words, “You know who I am, you’ve seen what I’ve done, you’ve got the faith – get it out, it should be here, where is it? You’re not connecting it to the storm, to your heart in the storm – there’s no reason for you to panic; you’re not remembering!”

    REJOICING. This word “rejoicing” doesn’t refer to feelings. In Philippians 4, Paul is not commanding us to always feel happy; he’s talking about a discipline. (Oh – there’s that word again!) Rejoicing means to treasure, savor, to take something that has happened and to say, what should this mean to me, how should I feel about this – look at what God has done, who He is – you are adoring, appreciating, praising, valuing and that gets you into the secret. It gets you to the place where you can rejoice in your suffering.

    Stop fondling your accomplishments in your mind – my money, my grades, I got into this school, look at who I am….If those things are your identity, when they’re gone you’ll fall off the mountain. Think instead about Jesus standing before the Father with my name engraved over His heart – Jesus, my High Priest! I am to live on a plane of who I am in Christ – treasure that and dream about that until I can handle anything!

    What is Christian happiness?
    -Our bad things will turn out for good
    -Our good things can never be taken away
    -The best is yet to come

    1. Susan–your notes always bring the sermon even more to life for me–these are REALLY good. Love especially what you wrote about remembering–*I have to connect what I know about God – what He’s done in the past – to my present.*

  8. Well, my thanks for today, as it does just about EVERY day honestly, goes to all of you. I don’t know if any of you realize just how much this group here has come to mean to me. I can share more openly with you all than almost anyone in my life, including family–and the BEST part is you pray for me! Thank you all so much.

    OK, since I’ve made it sound WAY cooler than it probably is, but I AM really excited about it–here’s my advent idea. I have one of those big mirrored boxes I got from Target years ago, with 25 little small numbered doors. I went to Hobby Lobby and got a mini 2 ft tree, and a bunch of silver charms that I’m putting hangy things on to make into ornaments. So this year, each day of Dec, my kids will open the box and inside will be a small charm with a scripture to go with it. One will read the verse, and the other hang the charme on the mini tree. For example on day I have the verse ” I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 17:6, and the charm for that day is this little silver cell phone. There’s another little charm that is a heart treasure box that really opens–that verse is “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
    The fun part for me has been spending a week gathering the verses I wanted to use–it has been really encouraging my heart. OK, thanks for listening to all that 😉

    1. Like!

    2. I feel the same way, Elizabeth. Although I don’t share often, I feel free to say what I’m truly struggling with knowing that my sisters will be praying for me. Your advent idea is so great, wish my kids were small again.

    3. Elizabeth, Such a great idea! I am going to think through this-my kids are older but three of them like to draw so I am thinking maybe we could do something similar with drawing an ornament to match the verse instead and hanging them..hmmmm…Andrew, my 10 year old, made a huge Christmas tree out of paper and made paper presents but didn’t color them-it is really precious, but looks like someone hung a bunch of paper on the wall and threw paper on the floor..oh my..he has it push pinned to the wall downstairs-it looks ‘interesting’, but I don’t have the heart to take it down. 😉

      1. Rebecca–yours are old enough to probably LOVE doing a Jesse Tree. I’ve never done it–my kids aren’t quite there, but Ann Voskamp has an INCREDIBLE free printable book with all the daily devotions and a special ornament you can print out or color to make–it’s hard to explain–but here’s the link:

  9. I haven’t noticed anyone comment on the sermon “Generosity in Scarcity”. It’s a great though challenging sermon. It’s about giving God first before you know how much you will make because he has given us everything. He is enough. And there is more. I’m only half way through it and highly recommend it. And it’s free so enjoy.

    1. I only listened to that one three times 🙂

      1. As you would say, Renee, Like!

        1. 🙂

  10. My (very concise) notes from the Generosity in Scarcity sermon:
    1. Give Sacrificially–first fruits, not out of surplus. Give to the point that it changes the way I live.
    2. Give Joyfully-not just out of duty. Where my heart is, it will be easy to give–that reveals where my treasure lies.
    3. Give Graciously-it is all HIS. Everything I have is a gift of grace.

    My favorite part was when he said this portion of Habakkuk giving praise is a discouraging example, UNTIL we see who he is pointing to. Jesus was the One stripped of ALL, Who on the Cross cries out to His God. Jesus lost all, including God’s love–He did that for us.
    I appreciated this because before I heard the sermon, those verses of praise in Habakkuk were hard for me to read. I did not feel like I could ever truly mean them at my deepest place. But to remember what Christ has done for me–yes, I will yet praise Him.

    1. Your favorite part is mine too, elizabeth. Thanks for the notes. I listened without taking notes, but need to listen to it again.

  11. 4. Each day give thanks for how God has manifested Himself in your life the day before.

    I once heard Charles Stanley say that God pursues, chases after us, with His love every day. As Dee said at the beginning of these two weeks, and I put my name in here – I (Susan) need to practice, practice, practice giving thanks! Way too many days I see the glass as half-empty instead of full to overflowing.
    But, on Tues. I had a doctor’s appt. and as I was leaving the building, an elderly lady sitting on a bench by the door got my attention and said, “God loves you”. I stopped for a moment to speak to her, and said that even though we know Him, it helps to be reminded of that. Often I feel ‘more loved’ by God when I’m doing something “good” – praying, or serving someone else. But when I’m just going about my day – going to an appointment, running errands, cleaning – do I feel His love for me, that He is looking down on me with love?
    Most every morning this past week I saw a beautiful sunrise. It always reminds me that just as surely as the sun comes up, God’s love and compassion are new every morning. I am thankful for that. It is a manifestation of His love in our earthly world.