Title: Perspective Changes Everything (No Matter What) 

Sermon Summary

This message is the first in a series of sermons exploring the difference between human perspective and God's perspective. What we're going to do over the coming weeks is to take a close look at some of the greatest human dramas in the Bible. We're going to see how perspective changed everything for those individuals. This message looks at the prophet Habakkuk and the conversations he had with God about difficult things in life. He came to accept God's perspective on things and even when circumstances were extremely difficult, Habakkuk made a decision to trust God no matter what!

Community Group Discussion Guide 

1. Habakkuk asked God some pretty hard questions about circumstances in life. Have you ever heard someone say "never question God"? Have you ever faced circumstances that caused you to have questions, but you felt guilty for even thinking them?

2. Habakkuk was gut honest with God about his questions about life's circumstances and the dilemma it caused his faith. God didn't scold him for asking questions, but took the opportunity to dialogue with him on a deeper level. Do you think honesty in your relationship with God would hurt or help? 

Proverbs 2:3 indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

3. Human perspective is limited, God's perspective is not. What are some ways finding God's perspective could change everything? 

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55:9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NIV)

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

4. Three truths are found in God's response to Habakkuk in the following verses. Read the following verses and then discuss what it means to trust God's timing, to be patient, and to live by faith.

Habakkuk 2:2-4 Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous will live by his faith —

5. Habakkuk ultimately decided no matter what, he was going to trust God. What do you think about his conclusion?

Habakkuk 3:17-19 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes 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, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

Full Sermon Notes

When we think of being free from our chains we immediately think of things like sin, bad habits, anger, and you could fill in the blank, but some of the strongest chains in life are the chains that come from life's circumstances. How many times have you been chained by fear, worry, disappointment, discouragement, uncertainty, mistreatment, misunderstanding, or other things that you may not have any control over? Today we're going to begin a series that I pray will change your perspective on everything! Let's pray and ask God to help us learn to trust Him no matter what!

Father God, I humbly come before You today acknowledging my total dependance on You! Life's circumstances can be overwhelming at times and sometimes we just don't know what to do but reach out and let You take us by the hand like a little child would take his or her Father's hand. You are many things to us, but loving Heavenly Father is one of the most comforting! Those of us who are earthly fathers need You to teach us how to hold on to our faith no matter what life throws at us so our families will see in us what it means to have a Godly perspective on everything! I pray today's message will speak to Dads, Moms, Sons, Daughters, married, single, young and old alike! Please let Your Holy Spirit anoint the speaking and the hearing this day! We want to be a people who trust You and follow You no matter what we face in this life! Thank You for being there for us through all of life's circumstances. We love You and we trust You no matter what! In Jesus Name I pray and I believe, Amen!!

If you will, open your Bibles to the book of Habakkuk. It is in the Old Testament a little to the right of the center of your Bibles. It's after the Psalms and Proverbs. Habakkuk 3:17-19. While you're turning there, I've got to tell you something really funny. I was on vacation week before last so I decided not to shave my head and just see if I could still grow any hair at all. The staff kind of wondered if I just forgot to shave. I told them my son was showing me some cool hair styles for people who were hair challenged. One was a really awesome Samurai warrior hair style. It's sort of a reverse man/bun. Andrew said, "Oh no you don't, you wouldn't!" Jay said he was just jealous! I think Andrew is going to suggest a personnel policy that no senior pastor shall have a man/bun hair style! I'm really having fun with this!

Ok, now it's time to get serious, really serious.

Have you ever wondered why a loving God would allow bad things to happen? Why is there evil in this world? Is this a new question? No it’s not and here’s one of the reasons I love this book called the Bible so very much: The writers of this book did not hide their questions about God or their faith. They were intellectually honest almost to a fault. In fact, sometimes I get a little uncomfortable when some of the writers of the Bible start what seems to be grilling God or interrogating Him about things. But God patiently listens to their complaints especially when He knows they genuinely have questions and don't understand something.

He listens because He understands they don't understand! And then He ask them to listen to Him as He explains things to them. Now He doesn't explain because He has to, but because wants to. He desires a personal relationship with each of us and honest dialog is a must in any good relationship!! And not only does He desire a personal relationship with us, He also desires to work in our lives! He wants us to get a God perspective on things and believe me when I tell you this: Perspective Changes Everything! If you always only look at life and circumstances from a human perspective it's going to be difficult, not impossible, but very difficult to have hope in this world and impossible to have hope beyond this world. Why? Because human perspective is limited at best!

Human perspective is always subject to the powers, authorities, circumstances, situations, and realities of your earthly position and place! Human perspective can be no bigger than the human! And if a person choses not to see things from a Godly, eternal perspective, then all of their hope is logically tied up in whatever time and resources they have in this life, nothing more!

What we're going to do over the coming weeks is to take a close look at some of the greatest human dramas in the Bible. We're going to see how perspective changed everything for those individuals. Today we're going to talk about Habakkuk. He was considered one of the minor prophets but there was nothing minor about his message. It was and is a powerful message.

This morning we're going to do what Hollywood sometimes does…we're going to start at the end of the story and then go back to the beginning and work back to the end we started with! Ok, Habakkuk 3:17-19...

Habakkuk 3:17-19 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes 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, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.

We don't know much about the prophet Habakkuk, but evidently he was a musician.
Gotta love a prophet with a guitar!

What did he just say? Basically he said "no matter what, no matter what happens, I'm with God! He described catastrophic crop failure, loss of all livestock, which meant losing the farm back then. Bankruptcy! Financial and business failure. Game over. But then he says..."yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights."

Wait, what? How could he possibly have that kind of perspective? Well, Habakkuk had worked through a crisis of faith and made a decision to change his perspective from a human perspective to a God perspective. The crisis of faith came when he started asking gosh awful, brutally honest questions about things he saw in this world. Let's go back an look at the beginning of the story. Habakkuk 1:1-4

Human Perspective

Habakkuk 1:2-4 The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received. How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

Sounds like he could be describing our world today! Here's the situation in his day. The Northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to to the ruthless Assyrians a century earlier and now the southern kingdom, Judah, was under the domination and oppression of Babylon. On top of this there were serious internal problems. Commentator David Garland described it like this...

"It was an era which reflected a general deterioration of principle and conviction throughout society. Religion reached a new low. Those seeking to call the nation back to God did so at great personal risk." Broadman Commentary

This situation had Habakkuk perplexed and troubled so he was gut honest with God! It's okay to be honest with God. He knows the truth anyway so it's not going to bother God if you're honest and the honesty will help you work through your feelings.

So let's be honest…
Do you ever feel God's not listening?
Ever cry out to God to save you from a bad situation, but He doesn't?
Have you ever had to watch as injustice took place?
Ever find yourself in a destructive, violent, strife filled relationship where conflict abounds? Ever just want to cry out a big old “Why God? Why is this happening to me? God is big enough to handle your questions. And in fact, God is the One who inspired Habakkuk to write down and record his questions. Check out verse one again...

Habakkuk 1:1 The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received.

An oracle was a God-given, God-inspired revelation. It comes from a Hebrew verb that means to "lift up." God inspired Habakkuk to lift up his voice to God and then to write the resulting conversation down for others. It was written for the people of Habakkuk's day who may not have been so willing to ask their questions out loud but certainly had thought them inside their hearts and minds. Habakkuk's revelation was also written for your benefit and mine. God wants us to know that honest questioning is not wrong or wicked or forbidden. In fact it is welcomed because honest questioning gives God an opportunity to answer!

Habakkuk said the law was paralyzed and justice never prevailed. The wicked hemmed in the righteous! In other words, the law had lost it's effectiveness because the nation had turned it's back on the principles God had given them and the consequence was that justice was perverted! Habakkuk was troubled that God had not stepped in and fixed the situation. Now let's listen to God's response.

God's Perspective

Habakkuk 1:5-11 “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour; they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them. Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—guilty men, whose own strength is their god.”

What was God saying to Habakkuk and the people of Judah? He knew exactly what was going on! He wasn't blind! He understood! He was actually the one allowing the Babylonians to rise up. God knew how ruthless and impetuous they were. He knew they were an ungodly people, guilty men who saw themselves as gods. But here's the deal...

God was going to use them to help bring His people to their senses. God was going to use them for a greater good. God didn't make the Babylonians evil or bad, they made their own choices to do the wicked things they did and they would be held accountable in the end. However, God used them in the life of the nation of Judah.

Now this caused a theological dilemma for Habakkuk. And from his human perspective he had more questions. Look at verse 12 and following...

Human Perspective

Habakkuk 1:12 O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish.

Ok, Habakkuk is getting it a little bit. He ask a rhetorical question. "O Lord, are you not from everlasting?" He knows the answer is yes! And then he acknowledges that this is not going to end in the death of Judah. But he is still confused as to why God would allow such tough circumstances...

Habakkuk 1:13-17 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad. Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?

Have you ever wondered the same thing? Why does it seem that the people who are trying to good sometimes seem to struggle while the wicked seem to live in luxury at the expense of others and with impunity? Here's what Habakkuk said...

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

In other words Habakkuk says "I can't wait to see God's answer, because I know He's got a good one!" And boy does He! Check out God's response in chapter 2:2-4...

God's Perspective

Habakkuk 2:2-4 Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous will live by his faith —

There are three very important things in God's response...

God's Timing is Perfect

Habakkuk 2:3 "For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false."

We have to trust God's timing in our life. Don't get ahead of the Lord and don't lag behind Him. Walk with Him!!!
The Psalmist put it this way…

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Waiting for the Lord's timing and answered prayers can be one of the hardest things we are asked to do. Especially when things aren't so good. God never promised us that all things would be good for a follower of Christ or easy, but He did promise that all things would work together for the good of a follower of Christ...

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

And when you can’t figure things out, remember the word of God to Isaiah…

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)

Be Patient

Habakkuk 2:3 "Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."

The Psalmist lived what we are talking about. Listen to his words in Psalm 37...

Psalm 37:1-9 Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret —it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

There’s some amazing principles in those verses and we’ll explore them further in our message next week. But for today, one more thing and it’s extremely important…

Live by Faith

2 Corinthians 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.

For some Christians walking by sight is not so much what they see, but what they feel. If they don't feel good emotions or happy feelings, they feel they must not be right with God. They trust feelings rather than God's Word and promises. This is a terrible way to live. Some live from one emotional high to the next. The problem with this kind of living is the emotional mountain tops can be many miles apart, or should I say days or weeks apart. Walking by feelings doesn't do you much good in the valleys of life! Rick Warren put it this way...

"God is always present, even when you are unaware of him, and his presence is too profound to be measured by mere emotion."

I believe Habakkuk had learned that truth and it shows in the conclusion of the book that bears his name. Now we've come full circle! Let's look one last time at Habakkuk's decision to trust God no matter what...

Habakkuk 3:17-19 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes 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, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

No matter what, Habakkuk decided to place his faith and trust in God almighty. His trust was not misplaced! I pray you will ask God to give you His perspective with whatever your facing. It will change everything! Fathers, will you take the lead for your family and show them a “No matter what happens, I’m going to trust God? Will you help them see God’s perspective? Let's pray!!

Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.