A Lesson on Thanksgiving When the Happy Ending Has Not Come Yet!

Habakkuk ended his prophecy like this:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will triumph in Yahweh;
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
19 Yahweh my Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like those of a deer
and enables me to walk on mountain heights! (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Now, Habakkuk was not always in this praise place. In fact, if you read the whole book of Habakkuk, he was very far away from this place.

Habakkuk most likely prophesied just before the beginning of the exile when the sin of Judah is at the peak. Habakkuk questioned God as to how long He would allow sin to reign in Judah (1:1-4). God answered back that He was preparing the Babylonians to deal with Judah’s sin (1:5-11). Habakkuk’s second question concerns how God could use the Babylonians, who were more wicked, to be the instrument of judgment against Judah (1:12-2:1).

When God answers Habakkuk’s questions we learn several important truths.

1. God is always at work even if we do not see how He is at work.
2. God will speak at the right time.

And so, we must learn to walk by faith.

Habakkuk’s name in Hebrew means something like “one who embraces” or “one who clings.” That’s what we must do sometimes—cling to or embrace our faith in God. Sometimes all we have is to cling to our faith.

Maybe today your prayer sounds a lot like Habakkuk’s opening words of his praise. Maybe your prayer goes like this:

Though the sugar cane crops yield no sugar
And the oil wells all dry up
Even though there may be no money in the bank
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord!

Though I share Christ with all my neighbors and family
But there are no decisions
And, even though, the Doctor called last week
And the news is not good
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord!
He is my salvation and hope!

You only get to those last words by faith!

What’s Happening This Week at FBC?

This really is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I pray that your Thanksgiving is blessed. Please remember that none of our regular Wednesday night activities are meeting this week. However, the Sanctuary Choir and Orchestra will be rehearsing Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m.

We are returning Sunday to the book of Isaiah. We will remain in this Old Testament prophetic book for the rest of the year. We have observed already that Isiah prophesied in a time of crisis. One struggle that we are likely to face in the midst of our own crises is to continue to be faithful to God. We will consider that Sunday. Be ready to open your Bibles to Isaiah 6:9-13.

Next week, our large Christmas Tree will go into place for this year’s The Singing Christmas Tree. Titled “Receive Our King,” this year’s presentation will use Bible stories from Creation to the Nativity to tell the story of Christmas. I hope you will help us to invite our community for one of these presentations on December 14-17. We need your financial support as well. If you have not already done so, as a member of First Baptist Church, please give a love offering this year specific to The Singing Christmas Tree. Your generous offering allows us as members to make this free to our community.

Four Questions to Ask about our Giving

Sunday, our church will carry out the annual exercise of approving our operating budget for 2019. This is a necessary part of the life of our church. I am always concerned that we will lose sight of the ministry reflected in the dollars. When we think of giving to the Lord and not the church, our perspective changes.

In 1 Chronicles 29, there is a wonderful passage that prompts important questions about our giving to God.

  1. Who does it belong to anyway?

The first nine verses of this text are a description of the giving of David followed by a description of the giving of the people.  Beginning in verse 10 is a prayer of thanksgiving for being able to make the offering.  The heart of this prayer communicates “the right perspective about possessions.”  Everything belongs to God.  Greatness, power, glory, victory, majesty—these all belong to God.

This list of praise leads David to ask a defining question, as recorded in verse 14, “But who am I, and who are my people that we should be able to offer so willingly as this?” And then the conclusive statement at the end of verse 14, “For all things come from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand.”

The only reason we have anything to give is because we have received from God.

  1. What is my attitude about my giving?

The obvious truth of this passage is that we should be willing and joyful when we give. Indeed, as Paul said, “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

  1. What am I seeking to benefit from my gift?

David and his people recognized that they were giving to the construction of the Temple of which they would never personally benefit. I love this description of giving. This is true giving. Let us be mindful that we give, not to get, but instead just to give and be a blessing to God and others.

  1. What if everyone in my church gave as I did?

Here’s a good final question. The question is not about amount, but about attitude and proportion of income. What if every person gave the way you gave? Would your church be better or worse if everyone gave according to the manner of your giving?