Sermon series: Minor Prophets, Major Messages
How many times in your life have you wondered why something was happening to you? How many times have you voiced your dismay to the Lord over a tragedy, accident, or unfortunate event? How many times have you realized the benefits of some of these experiences through hindsight?
The Lord has a plan for each life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah shared this with the Hebrews while they were in the Babylonian captivity. We can be assured today that He has good plans for us.
I. Habbakuk's question (1:1-4)
Habbakuk was heart-broken over Judah's sin and unfaithfulness to God. He was upset that the Lord had not done anything about it. He called out to the Lord - "How long are you going to let them get by with this sin?"
II. The Lord's answer (1:5-11)
The Lord heard Habbakuk's question. The Lord can handle our questions. He answered Habakkuk by assuring him that He was fully aware of Judah's sin. In fact, He had the consequences of their sin prepared and on the way. He was going to use the Babylonians to bring judgment upon His people.
III. Habakkuk's dismay (1:12-2:1)
Habakkuk cannot believe what he is hearing. How could the Lord use the Babylonians to judge His people? The Babylonians were a sinful terrible people. He concludes this section by stating that he was going to stand watch (keep doing what he knows to do) until the Lord brought the answers that he wanted.
IV. The righteousness will live by faith (2:4)
The Lord assured Habbakuk that everything was under control and to trust Him. Here we find the verse that Martin Luther often turned to: "The righteous will live by faith." The Lord encourages us to trust in Him. He has a plan for His children.
V. Habbakuk's conclusion (3:16-19)
Habakkuk boldly proclaims his faith in His Lord. We may not understand the Lord's plan but we can trust Him. When the world looks grim, the righteous will live by faith. When we do not see the answer or the deliverance, the righteous will live by faith. We need to trust in the Lord.
The Lord has plans for His children. Are you committed to the plans of God for yourself and family? His plans are for our good. We need to trust in Him even when we cannot see Him working.
God's plan for me
I can think of numerous examples in my own life where the Lord has worked in awesome ways. I can also think of several times when, only through hindsight, I realized how the Lord had worked in my life.
In the fall of 1996, I was finishing up my Master's degree at the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi State University. I was offered a position with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in Frankfort, Kentucky, starting in January 1997. The job was an entry level position. The salary was less than what I could make with a Master's, but it was in my home state. Most of all, the Lord assured me that I needed to take the position.
After moving and starting the position in January, I began to attend a church near my home. A long-time friend of my family served as pastor. In July 1997, I answered the call to preach. The church where I attended licensed me to preach. Not sure what to do next, I resigned my job and moved back home with my parents to western Kentucky. Three years later the Lord led me to move back to central Kentucky to attend seminary.
Soon I was called as pastor to a church near the church that had licensed me. When all of this happened, I was confused and searching, but the Lord had a plan. I praise Him for it.
God on the battlefield
One of my dearest friends is a Korean War veteran. Soon after he joined the army he decided to enter airborne training. Men willing to parachute received higher pay. My friend is a man of faith and character. He soon became convicted because he had joined the airborne school only for the money.
He requested a transfer, but was "punished" for requesting the transfer. He was put on "grunt patrol." Every day he was forced to march many miles. At the end of the day, the men were ordered to dig elaborate foxholes. This continued for several weeks until he was deployed to Korea. (My friend becomes emotional when he relates the next part of the story.)
He and his detachment of 20 men were ordered to hold a line one night during a fierce battle. He dug in with his men. Many of the men could not dig a decent foxhole. He helped them. That night they came under multiple attacks. When the sun came up, there were over thirty dead enemy soldiers laying in front of their position. My friend and two others were the only American survivors. The British Royal Marines arrived soon after and nearly shot them. The British were not expecting any allied survivors and entered the position ready to fight.
When they were moved behind the lines, it was brutally cold. Many of the soldiers rode in the troop trucks and suffered the loss of toes and fingers due to frostbite. My friend chose to walk. When darkness fell, they came under air attack. The lights on the trucks made them easy targets. My friend survived.
At this point in the story, my friend looks at me with tears in his eyes and says, "People wonder why I love the Lord." Three times in 24 hours he came close to death. He survived because he knew how to dig good foxholes and was in good enough shape to walk instead of ride. These abilities came from the punishment he had received earlier. The Lord has good plans for His children.
Hiking to share Christ
The Lord can use His people in many ways. Some missionaries are serving in China by hiking and backpacking to remote regions. This is an unusual way to witness and serve Christ. The Lord's plan includes these men with special with hiking skills! We get to serve Christ in neat ways if we will follow His plans for our lives.
(Chris Turner, Trail Stories, the Commission, International Mission Board, May-June 2003, 18-31)
Additional sermon starters
Why weren't you here? (John 11:1-44)
Lazarus suffered death in order for Jesus to be glorified. It was only after his resurrection that this became clear to everyone. The Lord's plan was for the good of His people and to glorify His Son.
His death brought life (Luke 21-24)
The Lord's plan included the brutality and suffering of Jesus' death. Through His suffering we can all gain eternal life.