This movie epitomizes what is means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and is a great example for our society today.
This movie epitomizes what is means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and is a great example for our society today.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer. Habakkuk 3:19
The doctor’s words landed in her heart with a thud. It was cancer. Her world stopped as she thought of her husband and children. They had prayed diligently, hoping for a different outcome. What would they do? With tears streaming down her face, she said softly, “God, this is beyond our control. Please be our strength.”
What do we do when the prognosis is devastating, when our circumstances are beyond our control? Where do we turn when the outlook seems hopeless?
The prophet Habakkuk’s situation was out of his control, and the fear that he felt terrified him. The coming judgment would be catastrophic (Hab. 3:16–17). Yet, in the midst of the impending chaos, Habakkuk made a choice to live by his faith (2:4) and rejoice in God (3:18). He did not place his confidence and faith in his circumstances, ability, or resources, but in the goodness and greatness of God. His trust in God compelled him to proclaim: “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (v. 19).
When we are faced with difficult circumstances—sickness, family crisis, financial trouble—we, too, have only to place our faith and trust in God. He is with us in everything we face.
Dear God, I thank You that I can always turn to You. When I am faced with the difficulties of life, I can put my trust in You. Thank you that You are my “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
When faced with difficult circumstances we can trust God to be our strength.
How does the story of Habakkuk encourage you as you face your own challenges of faith? Mart DeHaan
Sometimes we need a wake-up call that opens our eyes so we can see who we truly are. And watching someone else do what we should have done can be a most effective eye-opener. When Jesus started washing the disciples’ feet, they must have felt an instant sense of uneasiness, especially after their recent discussions about which of them was the greatest (Mark 9:34-35).
As we noted earlier, foot washing was the task of the lowest slave in the household. But since Jesus and His disciples were eating in a borrowed room, there was no slave posted at the door. All the disciples considered this job beneath them, so everyone’s feet remained filthy until Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, humbled Himself to serve those who should have served Him. After three years of teaching and modeling humility to His disciples, Jesus finally got their attention with a towel and a bowl.
I can imagine how the disciples felt, because I remember the time a friend came to my office, wanting to wash my feet. I immediately protested, but he dropped to his knees and proceeded to take off my socks and shoes and wash my feet. He did it as an act of humble service, but I felt humiliated because in the process, I saw something in me that I didn’t like—ugly pride.
If we want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps of humility, we must do an honest self-evaluation by asking the Lord to reveal any sinful attitudes hiding in our heart. The purpose is not to make us feel worthless but to give us a yearning to become more like Christ.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
Christians have a glorious position before God. As our text indicates, God has in effect already “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Yet, our actual spiritual condition here on Earth often seems to belie our exalted position in heaven, so we repeatedly need to be exhorted not only to believe the truth but also to live the truth. Theoretically, we are dead to the world, and our “life is hid with Christ in God,” yet we must continually be exhorted to “mortify [that is, put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Colossians 3:3, 5). We “have put on the new man” but nevertheless must repeatedly be “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (v. 10).
While in doctrine we are “complete in him,” in practice we must “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” yet each believer is commanded to “follow after righteousness” and to “work out your own salvation” (Romans 10:10; 1 Timothy 6:11; Philippians 2:12). We are “all the children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and we are to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). Paul prays that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (3:17), yet already we have “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
These truths are not contradictions, of course, but exhortations. “If” (and the Greek word actually means “since”) we are “risen with Christ,” then by all means we ought to live as those that are alive unto God! HMM
Saul proved his valour by defeating Nahash king of the Ammonites, whereupon the people assembled to establish him more fully in his kingdom. Samuel took advantage of this to end his official life and to warn the people.
1 Samuel 12:8-11
Bedan or, as some read it, Barak
1 Samuel 12:18
It seldom or never rains at that period in Palestine. Samuel’s prayers were as mighty as those of Elijah.
1 Samuel 12:19-22
A precious passage indeed. Election ensures to its objects immutable love, but where the reason for election lies none can tell.
1 Corinthians 4:1
When I was first starting to study New Testament Greek many years ago, I pulled out Greek New Testament one day and flipped it over to First Corinthians 4:1. There I discovered that the Greek word for “ministers” was the word huperetas—the Greek word that was used to depict the very lowest class of criminals. I knew Paul must have had a reason for selecting this word to describe “ministers,” but it made me wonder.
The huperetas of ancient times were the criminals assigned to live the rest of their lives in the bottom galleys of huge ships. In those galleys, they became the engines that moved the ships through the seas. As I pondered this, I could see so many reasons why Paul used this word to describe those of us who are serving in the Kingdom of God!
For instance, a great number of these criminals were held in the bottom galleys of ships. They were seated and chained to a bench along with other criminals—and together they shared common chains, held a common oar, and worked the same number of hours. They all had to provide equal labor to the task. Their entire lives became a group effort. They became inseparable from the other men who were on the bench with them. As I reflected on this, I thought of how God never calls you to do a big job all by yourself. He will call others at the same time to assist you. When you say yes to the will of God—when you jump into the middle of your assigned task and surrender your time, money, talents, and ideas to the Lord—you will discover that others will be right there by your side to help you with the task. You’re not the only one God has been speaking to!
The ships on which the huperetas served were so huge that it would have been impossible for one servant to move an entire ship by himself. It required the strength and effort of many servants working together in order to move those huge ships.
In the same way, you cannot accomplish what God has called you to do all alone! Look around you! Look at the people God has placed around you to help you fulfill your dream. Don’t ignore them, thinking you can do it alone. If your vision from the Lord is big, it will require others to become involved in what you are doing.
I wouldn’t be able to do what God has told me to do if I had to do it by myself. The vision is too big and demanding. That’s why God didn’t stop after He called me. He also called others to stand with me, pray with me, and stay for the long haul, working beside me “on the under-rowers’ bench.” Their call is just as real as my call. They will answer for their part just as I will answer for mine. And when rewards are given, they will be rewarded for how they helped “row the boat” and keep this ministry moving forward to reach millions of souls.
For example, the Lord has called me to take the teaching of the Bible to spiritually hungry people in the former USSR every day through the vehicle of television. But at the same time He placed this vision in my heart, He also called partners to pray for the program, pay for television time, and support our ministry in the United States. Without our partners, I could not do my part in the territory of the former USSR. They are equally as important as Denise and me and our ministry team.
How about the staff members of our television ministry outreach, such as our television producers, editors, and secretaries? How about the dedicated work force who answer letters from our television viewers? Since 1992, this television staff has answered millions of letters from those who have written to Denise and me as a result of watching our television program. Our television department has also edited thousands of television programs and distributed several hundred thousand separate showings to eleven time zones of the former Soviet Union.
These precious staff members are the ones who do the work behind the scenes so that these programs can go into millions of homes every day of the week. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t be able to minister to the masses of people God has entrusted to me or help the hundreds of churches and pastors located all over the former USSR who look to me for apostolic guidance. I am so thankful for the others on my team whom God called to help me with this awesome task, because this job is too big for me to do alone!
Likewise, if you are going to fulfill the dream God has given you, you will have to learn how to cooperate with other key people—your partners in life— who can assist you in fulfilling that dream.
The huperetas in Paul’s illustration lived together and worked together. And when rewards were given for their extremely hard work, every man in the group was rewarded. Since they labored at the same task, shared the same oar, and sweated the same amount of sweat, the entire bench of workers was equally rewarded. On the other hand, if one rower on a bench was lazy and kept the whole bench of rowers from carrying their share of the load on the ship, every rower on that bench was punished.
In other words, the difference in one coworker’s attitude was so powerful that it had the ability to bring about victory or defeat for all of them. Since each member of the team was vital to success, their entire existence became a group effort. Therefore, they had to learn how to function as a team.
When these men rowed, the boat moved. When they stopped rowing, the boat stopped. These servants were the driving force behind the speed of the ship. If they ever stopped working hard at rowing, the ship stayed motionless in the water. It was totally dependent on the rowers in the bottom of the boat, which was powerless to travel anywhere without them.
Similarly, if you are going to move ahead with what God has called you to do—whether it is your ministry, your family or your business— you must learn how to be a faithful servant, working together with others as a team “in the bottom of the boat.”
The bottom of the boat may not be the most pleasurable place to be. Serving day in and day out may seem monotonous and almost boring at times. But sticking with the vision and continuing to row will eventually produce eternal results for the Kingdom of God! So surrender to the plan of God, take your place in the ship, grab an oar, and start rowing! If you want to get to your destination more quickly, put your whole heart and soul into rowing that boat!
Lord, I thank You for the life-changing truths I just read! I want to take my place in Your plan for my life—and I want to give 100 percent of my attention and strength to see it come to pass in my life. With all my heart, I tell You that I want to follow You and to do whatever is required to see that vision come to pass in my life. And thank You for calling others to come alongside to help me move this vision along a little faster!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I have taken my place in God’s plan. I have grabbed hold of an oar, and I am rowing and rowing with all my strength and energy. The assignment God has given me probably won’t be achieved quickly, so I have mentally prepared myself for a long-term stint at doing what God is calling me to do. It will take unbelievable strength and energy to move that vision from the realm of dreams to the realm of reality. But because of the power of the Holy Spirit in me, I have all the strength I need for this wonderful and awesome task!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
If you are going to fulfill the dream God has given you, you will have to learn how to cooperate with other key people who will assist you in fulfilling that dream.
When a child enters the world from the warm and secure environment of the womb he announces, “I have arrived, and I expect you – all of you to respond at once to my every need, whim and desire!” And we, the enthralled parents of this little bundle of cuddly “Goo-goo-ga-ga” joyfully comply. Immediately.
And thus the “kingdom of self ” is established as “Goo-goo-ga-ga” develops into a paragon of self-centered indulgence in a society where personal “rights” have been elevated to near deity status. And just how does the adult version of “Goo-goo-ga-ga” manifest itself ? In at least three ways:
The insatiable quest for self-gratification focuses on the greedy longings of the mind(uncontrolled imagination, greed, etc.), the physical craving of the body (uncontrolled indulgence in sex, food, sleep, indolence, etc.), and in the unquenchable quest for recognition. (1 John 2:15, 16)
The former CEO of a company that went belly up told me how he was hauled into court and queried by the judge as to why the corporation had failed. “It was my fault. I failed in running the company. I am responsible,” said he. Stunned, the judge sat in muted silence. Finally, after gaining his composure he uttered, “In my 20 years on the bench, you are the first person to voluntarily admit they were to blame.”
Self-protection says, “It‘s not my fault.” “I couldn‘t help it.” “You don‘t understand my background” (Thank you, Freud!) “The devil made me do it.” (Remember Flip Wilson?).
Self-pity declares, “No one appreciates me.” “I got the shaft.” “Why does it always happen to me?”
So what is the solution to relinquishing the enslaving “kingdom of self “?
How about a daily funeral for “self.” Better yet, how about a moment-by-moment funeral? “I am crucified with Christ… ” (Galatians 2:20). In order to die to self we need to win the battle on at least two fronts:
(1) Regular quality time alone with God in meditation on His Word, worship and prayer.
(2) Cultivating the art of living moment-by-moment in His presence.