IT IS RIGHT TO GIVE THANKS WHEN TIMES ARE GOOD
COUNTING EARTHLY BLESSINGS…
for babies plump with possibility, for Papa and Mama, for pumpkin pie…
ONE THANKSGIVING WE SHARED AROUND THE TABLE SO MANY TIMES
THAT THE SUN WENT DOWN, AND WE WERE STILL BASKING IN THE BLESSINGS OF THAT YEAR
MY DAD PUSHED BACK HIS CHAIR AT THE CLOSE AND SAID, WITH TEARS,
“THIS WAS A REAL THANKSGIVING”
THANKSGIVING: NORMAN ROCKWELL
BUT IT IS JUST AS IMPORTANT WHEN TIMES ARE HARD,
WHEN OUR COUNTRY IS IN DANGER,
WHEN THE PEOPLE WE LOVE ARE IN PAIN,
WHEN MONEY IS SCARCE, AND
WHEN THERE IS NO FRUIT ON THE VINE,
TO REJOICE IN GOD OUR SAVIOR
JOY WELLS UP
AND EVEN THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW HIM
THIS WEEK I WANT TO GIVE YOU SOME QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT USE AT YOUR TABLE
BUT I ALSO KNOW GOD IS LEADING US TO DO THE VERY SHORT BOOK OF HABAKKUK
WHEN I WOKE UP THE MORNING AFTER THE ELECTION
I THOUGHT OF HABAKKUK
AS DID MANY BELIEVERS
SO TO HABAKKUK WE WILL GO!
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″]
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR YOUR THANKSGIVING
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
BIBLE STUDY FOR MONDAY-FRIDAY OF THANKSGIVING WEEK
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.
4. IF A PASSAGE QUICKENS YOU, GOD IS SPEAKING TO YOU. STOP. WRITE DOWN THE PASSAGE AND DISCERN WHAT HE IS SAYING TO YOU RIGHT NOW. GIVE THANKS.
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:
- Repeats (God’s promises)
- Remembers (God’s goodness)
- Rejoices (in God His Savior)
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:
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!
GET READY FOR JOY!