My dear prison ministry friend, Linda Strom, showed up at my door this week with part of her beautiful team. My house guests and I welcomed them with delight and moved to the back porch to experience the joy of God connecting His family.
Linda’s pastor from Temple, Texas, Gary DeSalvo, told us of his shocking diagnosis of eye cancer in 2013. He joked with me about his glass eye. His attitude was so jovial that I joined in his banter, telling him, because I was on his blind side, that I was really beautiful. I was assuming, because of his joy, and because of his wife’s peace, that all was well now. And when I asked him to confirm that, he shocked me, telling me he has been given a thirty percent chance to live two more years.
So, from wherein comes this joy?
Our own Renee nailed it last week as she pondered the purpose of the wilderness,
which she realized was not a forest, but a desert.
It seems like a place where because of a lack of “stuff,”
God’s glory becomes more evident,
a place where “the things of earth grow strangely dim
in the light of his glory and grace.”
That’s exactly it.
We gorge on earthly delights and have no appetite for God.
So He takes them from us as a merciful gift so that:
- We become hungry for Him
- Discover His amazing presence
- And are surprised by joy!
Pastor DeSalvo then told me, and the timing seemed too much to be coincidence, that he asked his family and his large church family to memorize the close of Habakkuk to prepare them for whatever might come. This was a confirmation to me of what I felt led to ask you to do. This week our primary homework will be the memorization of the Habakuk 3:17-19 in whatever translation you like.
Because His Word has power, as you hide it in your heart, it will also illumine truths to you, which you in turn can share with us. Though it is natural to fear the desert wilderness, if it is coming, let’s go into it with the living water in our hearts.
I will also give you some questions and a few parallel references to help you as you ponder this powerful poetry of God. At the close of the week there is a final (and free) sermon on Habakkuk from Tim Keller. And then, with these truths tucked in our hearts, we will move on from Habakkuk to our next summer study.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday-Thursday: Habakkuk 3:17-19
My friend Twila, who has memorized a good portion of the New Testament, suggests writing out the portion to memorize for the day and memorizing it immediately. Then you can take it with you wherever are through the day to keep reviewing it.
2. Read Habakkuk 3:17-19 and summarize it.
3. How will you divide these three verses into six days to memorize?
As you memorize this week, please simply come on the blog and share your insights. You don’t have to do any more homework — but if you like, these things may give fuel for your ponderings. And these pictures may jog your mind for memorization.
THOUGH THE FIG TREE SHOULD NOT BLOSSOM
NOR FRUIT BE ON THE VINES
YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD;
I WILL TAKE JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION
GOD, THE LORD, IS MY STRENGTH;
HE MAKES MY FEET LIKE THE DEER’S;
HE MAKES ME TREAD ON THE HIGH PLACES.
One of the biggest evidences that Scripture is inspired by God is how, though the 66 books were penned by many authors and span centuries, it all hangs together, and important truths repeated throughout. This theme that the wilderness can produce joy occurs in the New Testament as well. Meditate on Romans 5:3-5. In context, find the key command in Romans 5:3 and 5:11.
4. Why should we rejoice according to these passages?
5. How can suffering produce endurance?
6. And endurance produce character?
7. And character produce hope?
8. If you studied the Song of Songs with us, how was the wilderness a gift to the bride? (Hint: How did she come out of it?)
9. What are you learning from your pondering and memorization?
10. Share your notes and comments on Generosity in Scarcity.
11. What is your take-a-way and why?