service genset jogja
Haggai 1:5, Luke 11:31

Think About It

Haggai’s prophecy calls for the people to think about their lives. In 1:5, we read, “Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.”  Haggai calls God’s people to reflect on their lives. At least six times in this short book, God says, “Consider your ways.” He wanted the Israelites to think about their lives. That causes me to want to think or consider my life as well. It’s one thing to ask about what you believe, but it’s another thing to ask if what you say you believe is really acted upon in the way you live. He suggests that we should be looking at what we do. By looking around at their activities, the Israelites would be able to discern their priorities. We can readily discern our major priorities also. Haggai points to the fine houses they are living in and contrasts them with the broken-down temple, God’s house.  He’s saying, “Think about it. Doesn’t your actions really indicate what you truly believe in?” Jesus once said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I think Haggai is making a similar point.

I don’t think any warning could be more relevant for us today in a world that is running rampant with more things to do and activities to be involved in. We all live at such a hectic pace today, and we often get so caught up with it that we have no time for God. I went to meet some friends for coffee the other day and left my cell phone at home. I was halfway there before I realized it and decided to go on without it. That was a hard two hours! I need that lifeline in my life. I couldn’t wait to get home to my phone. My grandsons, all teenagers now, come over for dinner twice a month and I’ve noticed them checking their phones on and off throughout the dinner. When we become obsessed with things like that, it is not good for us. When this happens, we truly lose out on what matters most in life. Such obsessions rob us of the joy of our moments. The technology and fast-paced lives we live do not bring a sense of fulfillment and meaning to our lives. As a matter of fact, it seems to take them away.

Haggai wanted the people to look at the business of their lives and “consider” it. The people were planting but harvesting little. They ate but would never have enough. They would earn wages that would be stored in a bag with holes. The end result of all the effort was more dissatisfaction and discontentment. It reminds me of Jesus’ words to the woman at the well in Samaria. “Whoever drinks this water will thirst again.” The things of earth will never satisfy. That includes all the modern Xboxes, PlayStations, computers, and high-definition television screens. I’m not speaking against all those things. I have them. But, if we let them rob us of our intimacy with God, we’ve lost what matters most. We do want what it takes to live a satisfying life. Everyone does. Jesus tells us that he wants us to have those things as well and instructs us, “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God… and all these things will be added unto you.” Luke 11:31

Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11:6-9

A Tsunami Of God’s Presence

I watched the news with great interest when Japan had its major earthquake sometime back. I remember seeing the tidal waves break through the levies and sweep away everything in their path: cars, houses, buses, trucks, trains, and even huge buildings. It was incredible. Just a few years ago, we had bad floods in eight states. The news reads, “Police were going door to door in search of more possible victims and drawing up lists of the missing in the US north-east on Friday, as the death toll rose to 49 across eight states in the region after the catastrophic flooding set off by the remnants of Hurricane Ida after it roared up from Gulf coast.” Then, last year, 2023, over 400 people perished in the floods in Northern India. Water can become unstoppable. Nothing can escape! Genesis also tells of a flood in the days of Noah. During the deluge, the waters engulfed all life.

Habakkuk is using that image of the floods to give us, in powerful symbolic language, the picture of a coming spiritual deluge. Yes, there will come a time when no one will be able to escape the grandeur and glory of God Almighty. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Just as the waters overtook all life on earth, the knowledge of God will similarly overtake all life on earth. It will be catastrophic for those who have turned their back and rejected God. For those who embrace God, it will be a time of great rejoicing. Evil will be washed away from the face of the earth as the knowledge of the Lord seeps into every nook and cranny of the earth.

Injustice and suffering will be totally destroyed. When Isaiah uses this same language in 11:6-9, he says, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together, and a little child shall lead them.  The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” We live our lives in this world of evil, pain, and much suffering with the conviction that God will set it all right in the end. We trust God to do what he says he’s going to do, and that helps us live with an optimistic spirit, like Habakkuk did, no matter how dark the days may be. We trust God. Indeed, Habakkuk 2:4 says, “The just shall live by faith.”

Habakkuk 2:3, Romans 8:24

Wait For It

I hate waiting! We live in a society that hates waiting. The faster, the better. It’s especially obvious for me when I’m on the computer. I want the fastest processor available, and I want the wait time to be microseconds! I can’t stand it when I have to wait for the processor to catch up to me. When it’s time to eat, I want my food when I want my food. Like the rest of us, I want what I want, and I want it now! I just found this entry in my daily journal from 2018. “Kathy was up, and I had to wait for her to get her coffee before I could get mine. I hate waiting. I set my clock five minutes earlier to prevent that, but it doesn’t matter. I still can’t guess when KJ is going to be at the coffee machine.”[1] Wow, that’s bad! Bouchelle confesses to a similar problem. He writes, “As a child, my impatience caused me problems in school. In junior high science class, we were all instructed to plant two red beans in separate styrofoam cups. We were to place one in a window and the other in a dark closet and water them both regularly. The idea was to chart the difference in how they grew. My experiment did not work. I kept digging in the soil to see what was happening and killed both plants. Waiting seems so unproductive—like nothing is happening. I am ready to get on with it. I want things to happen now, in a hurry. My epitaph will no doubt read, ‘Come on, let’s go!!’”[2]

Habakkuk knows what that’s like, but his impatience is for something much nobler than Mr. Bouchelle or mine. He wants the fulfillment of God’s promises now. His “vision” of God’s putting the world right is what he’s longing for and yearning for, and he wants it now.  There’s been enough evil and injustice in the world. He calls for its resolution now! Even for something as important as this, God has a purpose in making us wait. Habakkuk 2:2-4 gives us God’s response to his impatience. God consoles him in verse 3, “Wait for it. If it seems slow, wait for it. It will surely come.” God wants us to trust Him. That’s why in 2:4, he says, “The Righteous shall live by faith.”

 I’m truly an impatient, restless person. When I have to stop and stare at the screen for a few minutes, or even seconds, for the process to complete, I get restless. Yet, slowing down and waiting is part of the human condition. I like how Henri Nouwen talked about waiting. He said, “Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about him for whom we are waiting.” Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Romans 8:24 is a perfect expression of the positive aspects associated with not getting what we want when we want it. He says, “Waiting does not diminish us any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting.” In our hours, days, and months of waiting, God is vibrantly at work within us.

[1] Larsen, Charles. 2020. 2018 February Journals. MYJOURNALS. Larsen.

[2] Bouchelle, Dan. 2005. Acts 1–9: The Gospel Unleashed. 3:16 Bible Commentary Series. Joplin, MO: HeartSpring Publishing.

Habakkuk 1:5-6, 2:4, Isaiah 45:9

God Is Always In Control

Habakkuk shoots his questions at God like arrows.  But God quiets him with his answers. When Habakkuk cries out for God to act, God just patiently assures him that nothing is going on outside of his control. He tells Habakkuk, “I am doing a work in your days that would not be believed if I told it. I am raising up the Chaldeans…” Even the evil in the world is serving God’s good purposes in all of our lives. David Platt preached, “First, number one, God is sovereign. This line should just be a staple in pretty much every single sermon here because it’s evident in every single text. You might think, ‘Dave, why do you say this over and over and over again?’ Here’s why. Because I want you to be reminded—and the Bible seems to want to remind you—week in and week out that no matter what is happening in this world, no matter what is happening in your world, God is in control. He is on the throne. Always. God is in control, and Satan is not.” [1]

The purest mark of spiritual maturity is the confident acceptance and assurance that God is in control in all circumstances of one’s life and everyone else’s life as well. We need not understand the whys and wherefores or even the whens. We need to trust the one who is in control. It’s a waste of time to try to strive for control over what’s in God’s hands. Isaiah makes that clear for us in 45:9. He says, “Woe to him who strives with his maker! Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, what are you doing?”

Even in the midst of Jesus’ execution, He maintained complete control. A mob of soldiers came and arrested him in the garden, and yet he was perfectly in control. He even took time to heal one of his captors by restoring the ear that was cut off by one of his own disciples, who was famous for always wanting to take control. He said, “Don’t you think I could call thousands of angels to rescue me.” God never loses control, even when things get ugly. Even that which appears to us as the ugliest will work out for the best. The resurrection is conclusive evidence for that in Jesus’ case. As believers, we know God is in control; nothing happens outside His knowledge, and underneath are everlasting arms. I’ve often argued that faith is not just believing that God exists. James tells us that even Satan knows this to be true. Faith is trusting God to have our best interest foremost in mind regardless of the circumstances we are experiencing at the moment. Habakkuk will say all that in Habakkuk 2:4 with just six words, “The just shall live by faith.”

[1] Platt, David. 2012. “What Ultimately Matters Regarding the Millennium.” In David Platt Sermon Archive, 3710. Birmingham, AL: David Platt.

Habakkuk 1:2, 2:4

When God Is Silent

Habakkuk is full of questions for God. He opens up right away in verse 2 of the first Chapter asking, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” Every human being will wrestle with the problem of evil in the world. The problem is it usually comes too late. “Why did God allow such a thing to happen?” There will be no rational answer to that question in the middle of the suffering. No one can think straight in the midst of great pain. The time to reflect deeply on the existence of evil in the world is before it overtakes us. God’s truth works best as a preventative medicine. It should be seen more as proper diet, exercise, and vitamins, rather than radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or other drugs taken to cure the disease once acquired. The person who is well grounded in God’s truth is much more likely to be able to bear up under suffering than the one unprepared.

The Bible presents us with an all-powerful and all-loving God.  Therefore, if this is true we might expect God to prevent all evil and stop all suffering. But He doesn’t. Our emotions then drive us to think that God has abandoned us. This is exactly what happened to Job. Lawson points out, “The lack of response from heaven, despite his many pleas, had been a heavy burden for him to bear. Job had cried out to God again and again, but there had been no answer. The heavens had been as brass. Job had persistently appealed for an appearance before God, but there was no reply. Time and time again, he had requested a chance to argue his case before God in heaven. But permission had been denied by default. He repeatedly implored God for a change in his circumstances, but there had been no relief from above—only silence. This lack of response from God led Job to conclude that God was indifferent and uncaring toward him.”[1] But once Job repented of his need for God to explain himself, God spoke to Job. God led Job to understand that he did not know what God knew. He could not do what God could do. He was in no position to question God. It was this that led Job to say, “Though you (God) slay me, yet will I trust in you.”

All the Prophets make it clear that righteousness is not an issue of religious ritual. It’s an issue of relationship. We must trust God amidst it all. He has promised to deal with evil, and we must trust Him to do so in His time as we hold on to scriptural truths like Matthew 10:29-31, “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Habakkuk is going to come to this understanding as well through his questioning. He will tell us the most important verse, Habakkuk 2:4, “But the righteous shall live by faith.”

[1] Lawson, Steven J. 2005. Job. Edited by Max Anders. Holman Old Testament Commentary. B&H Publishing Group.

Habakkuk 1:13, John 11:25-26

God, How Could You?

Habakkuk was the prophet with all the questions. He challenged God! Why me? He didn’t want to be the one who confronted the people with God’s word. There is no way to be popular with that. Then Why the Chaldeans? The Chaldeans were the Babylonians, a wicked and cruel civilization. Why did God allow this evil nation to destroy His own people along with the place of worship in Jerusalem? Yes, Israel sinned, but the people doing the punishing were far worse than those being punished! What’s up with that? I know I’m not perfect, but I’m not as bad as Hitler or even one of my neighbors. Why am I singled out? Why aren’t you punishing them?

Habakkuk 1:13 asks, “Why do you look on the treacherous and are silent when the wicked swallow those more righteous than they?” What’s up with that, God? Habakkuk challenges God to do something about this. Life isn’t always fair, is it? Live isn’t always good, is it? Of course not. The wicked do prosper, and the righteous do suffer in this world. I don’t like it! You don’t like it, and God doesn’t like it either. You and I don’t have the ability to do much about it except in small ways in our own personal lives and relationships. But God can, and, what is more important, He promises He will!

With Easter 2024 behind us now, I find I’m still thinking about the resurrection. It dawned on me as I wrote the above paragraph that this was the exact question facing the disciples of Jesus on Good Friday. Jesus, the righteous one, was accused by the unholy religious leaders, condemned by a “stand-for-nothing” Pilate, and executed by a band of torturing soldiers. What’s up with that? The resurrection was God’s way of doing something about that! The resurrection will also be the way he does something about all the wicked and evil in the world. The wicked will be judged! The righteous will be vindicated! That’s what Easter is all about! I can hardly wait! Jesus reminded us in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Amos 1:2

When God Raises His Voice

I think it was C. S. Lewis who said that God speaks to us in our pleasure, but he screams at us in our pain. Pain is God’s megaphone. This might be one way to understand Amos 1:2. It says, “The LORD roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.” It sounds like the roaring voice of God comes in the form of pastures that mourn or don’t have any sheep. That Mount Carmel is withering might be understood as a time of great calamity. Reading the rest of Amos’ prophecy leads me to think that it might be just the opposite. Amos held no official title in Israel. He was just a Shepherd of Tekoa, and not a very significant one because the text points out that he was “just one of the many” among the shepherds of Tekoa. He was a common person, like you reading this and me writing this. Yet, he saw something that others could or would not see. The prophecy tells us that the words that come from Amos are words that he “saw,” not just heard. The words are described as those he saw during the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam II in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The thing to notice about this timing is that it was the most prosperous time in both Nation’s histories.

It doesn’t take a college degree to recognize the similarities between Amos’ day and ours. We face very similar problems. Jesus himself addressed the dangers of prosperity on several occasions. He warns us much more about the dangers of pleasures than the dangers of pain. True, I’ve seen many who have turned from God because of pain in their lives, but I agree with John Piper, who says that more are lured away from God by their pleasures. Pleasures seldom awaken people to their need for God; pain often does.  The first danger of prosperity is complacency. I’ve seen many churches with huge endowments and debt-free buildings forget about why they exist and don’t care about being all that God intends them to be as a church. Another problem is arrogance. Prosperity often leads us to wrongly believe there is some kind of quality in us that makes us better than others. The third danger of Prosperity is self-sufficiency. Full barns often lead us to think we don’t need anyone, including God. All three of these dangers are addressed by Amos.

But Amos was alert to the fact that God wanted to break through all the luxury, financial security, and prosperity in the land. Thus, Amos tells us that “God Roars.”  A Study Bible says, “The Hebrew word for roars seems to compare thunder to God growling like a lion, the majestic king of beasts.”[1] Of all the things in that agricultural economy, that could not be ignored was a roaring lion. That’s the picture that Amos uses to describe God’s message to the healthy and wealthy nations. God must get loud to get our attention. God raises his voice because his children are distracted by their cell phones, fancy clothes, new cars, and comfortable homes. When God raises His voice, it does not bode well for his children. My mother used to say, “Wait till your father gets home.” But what was worse was when my father did get home, and he would raise his voice at us kids. We knew that he meant business. He would always scare us when he did that. We knew the next step would be the belt. “Jehovah will roar against them as a lion, terrible to shepherds and their flocks. His voice must be heard, and the message demands attention. God roars before he tears and warns before he strikes.”[2]

[1] Radmacher, Earl D., Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House. 1997. The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[2] Wolfendale, James. 1892. Minor Prophets. The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic Commentary. New York; London; Toronto: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

Luke 24:44-45, Various

An Open Mind

Jesus claimed to be the subject of all three major sections of the Old Testament. During His post-resurrection appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the text informs us that Jesus taught them how all the scriptures spoke about him “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets…” (Luke 24:27). This phrase captures the customary Jewish division of two of the three major parts of the Old Testament; the law and the prophets. But then, in Luke 24:44, Jesus adds the third section of the Old Testament: the writings. The writings include the Book of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, and the Psalms. The Psalms, being the largest part of the writings, is often used to refer to the entire collection of writings. This is how Jesus used it when He said, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” The Old Testament, from Genesis to Malachi, speaks of the coming one who will deliver his people from their sins.

Now, to understand what Jesus meant in His New Testament teaching, we must be familiar with the Old Testament prophecies relating to the Messiah or we will make some serious mistakes. Many today have missed the point of Jesus’ words about being the subject of the whole Old Testament. He said some things in the New Testament that can only be understood with the Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament in mind. On our trips to Israel, we always stop at the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter. This structure quotes Matthew 16:18 as being the basis upon which Peter is the first Pope and the foundation upon which Jesus will build his church. This verse says, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” This interpretation leaves out the context of the conversation where Peter makes his great profession as Jesus being the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. Peter’s recognition and acceptance of the fact that Jesus was the subject of the whole Old Testament is to receive Jesus as the Messiah. It’s Jesus’ complete fulfillment of all of the Old Testament prophecies that will form the foundation upon which the New Testament Church is going to be built.

Isaiah, the great Messianic Prophet, spoke for God in Isaiah 28:16. He said, “Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, an approved stone, set in place as a precious cornerstone for the foundation.” Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah. Therefore, Peter recognized Jesus as the cornerstone upon which the church would be built. Peter never thought of himself as the rock upon which the church would be built. He said so himself in 1 Peter 2:6-7.  He  says, quoting the Isaiah passage, “For it stands in Scripture: Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Peter knew the Old Testament and the messianic prophecies and didn’t fail to understand Jesus’ words in connection with the Law, the Prophets, and the writings.”  When Peter answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responded correctly, “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.” Jesus then said that Peter didn’t grasp this truth in and of himself, but the Father had revealed it to him. When Jesus revealed Himself to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:45 tells us that Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…” Jesus still opens minds today when His teachings are taken in light of the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

sewa motor jogja
© Chuck Larsen 2019. Powered by WordPress.