Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sermon Starters: God is on His Holy Throne

Title: God is on His Holy Throne
I preached tonight at the Sunday evening SAGE service at College Wesleyan Church. The title is taken from Habakkuk 2:20.

Text: Habakkuk 1:2-4, 5-7, 12-13; 2:1, 2-4, 20

I. Introduction
Habakkuk was written at a sad time in the history of Israel, perhaps the last decade of the 600s BC. Habakkuk looks around him and sees all the wickedness in Judah. The northern kingdom is gone, destroyed by the Assyrians in the 700s. He cries out to God, "How long, O LORD?"

God's answer is not what he had in mind. Don't worry, God says. I'm bringing the Babylonians to take care of the unrighteousness in Judah. Let's just say it's not what Habakkuk had in mind.

II. Body of the Sermon
Point 1: It's OK to cry out to God.
  • We have all sorts of reasons to cry out to God. Why am I suffering? Why is someone I love suffering? Why did my spouse cheat on me or leave me? Why am I alone? Who do we have these two candidates for president?
  • The Scriptures repeatedly model the righteous crying out asking God why (e.g., Ps. 2:1-2; 13:1-2; 79:4-6; Zech. 1:12--and that's not the half of them)
  • They always end in faith or thanksgiving.
  • The psalms model praising, thanking, lamenting, even anger towards enemies. But don't stay angry forever, and make sure your questioning always ends in faith.
  • We need to learn to live without knowing what God is precisely doing. We know it will all work for eternal good, although sometimes he lets us be destroyed by the Babylonians now.
Point 2: God's solutions aren't always the ones we'd prefer.
  • I know I'd rather have God remove the ungodly leaders of Judah, not destroy the whole place by the Babylonians. But this was apparently God's plan in this case.
  • When I look at the presidential race right now, I think of bringing the Babylonians. I don't know many people who are actually enthused about either candidate.
  • Important to take an eternal perspective. God is in his holy temple. God is still in control. God is still on the throne.
  • We have to believe that God has his reasons for letting bad things happen, for letting the Babylonians come and destroy our world.
  • But what is the alternative--everything is meaningless if there is no God. Other pictures of God don't give us something better.
  • We need to look at things through an eternal lens.
Point 3: The just will live in faithfulness.
  • This is what God tells Habakkuk in 2:4.
  • God took this verse in another true direction with Paul, justification by faith.
  • Here it is about faithfulness--we continue on in faith, even though we don't know what God's doing.
  • One step at a time.
  • God is at work in us, both to will and to do his good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13).
  • You will hear a voice behind you if you deviate off the path God has for us (Isa. 30:21)
  • Do all to the glory of God and act with love toward your neighbor and enemy.
III. Conclusion
God is on his throne, though we don't often know what he's doing. In the meantime, the righteous will live in faithfulness.

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