Living Above Our Circumstances
SERMON SUBJECT:“LIVING ABOVE OUR CIRCUMSTANCES”
SERMON TEXT: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine, 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.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
SERMON THESIS: “Nothing should prevent us from faithfully rejoicing in the Lord.”
INTRODUCTION: I recently read a book that bears the title of my sermon, titled: Living Above Your Circumstances, by Bob George. Upon completion of the book, as I always do I record the date, and add my initials just inside the cover page. Sometimes I will add a comment along with the date and my initials. In this book, I wrote, “Read on 5/22/03, while going through difficult circumstances at church. I thank the Holy Spirit for leading me to read this book.”
This book, alongside the Word of God, with much prayer, has helped me through difficult days and although I have not yet fully arrived to the place I want to be, I am learning that one can live above one’s circumstances.
In this message, based on Habakkuk 3:17-19, I will share with you three basic principles that have sustained me through difficult circumstances, and I believe that they will help you as well if you will make application of them to your life.
Now for the first principle . . .
I. CONFIDENCE DURING CRISIS IS FOUND IN A SOURCE OUTSIDE OURSELVES.
In verses 13-18, the prophet finds himself in what I will define as a worst case scenario as he waits for the invasion of Babylon.
Read Habakkuk 3:13-18
The Psalmist was speaking with full confidence when he wrote . . .
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.”
I like that old hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His righteousness . . .”
The second principle is this . . .
II. A PROPER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD PRODUCES HOPEFUL REJOICING EVEN DURING DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES.
The prophet said, “Yet will I rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (v. 18).
While languishing in a Roman prison, Paul could say, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)
What is the key to our rejoicing while living under diverse circumstances? For both Habakkuk, and Paul, I believe it was the attitude of waiting on the Lord. One writer said it like this, “The key to Habakkuk’s remarkable praise is the attitude of waiting.” He goes on to add, Regardless of circumstances, Habakkuk would praise the Lord.” My friends, as the little chorus has it, “It’s Amazing What Praising Can Do!”
As we praise Him while waiting on Him, we can claim His promise . . .
“Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”
Both the waiting and the praise has its source in a relationship, out of which comes hopeful rejoicing, knowing that God is in control. Concerning our relationship with the Sovereign, one writer said, “Relationship to God can bring hopeful joy even in the midst of crisis and catastrophe.” It was James, the half brother of Jesus who wrote . . .
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
One writer said, “Nothing should prevent us from faithfully rejoicing in the Lord.”
Nothing can prevent us from rejoicing in the Lord when we have a proper relationship with Him. That is the key to our rejoicing, knowing that Romans 8:28, is at work in our lives. Regardless of the circumstance we face, we can know, based on this verse, that . . .
-God is at work
-God is at work for good
-God is at work for OUR good and His GLORY
As it was true of some of the saints of old who did not receive their rewards in this life, according to Hebrews 11, they would receive them in the afterlife. When we live by faith, God will be faithful to His promise, even though His promise may be delayed.
“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39-40)
As a commentary on Hebrews 11:32-39, The Disciple’s Study Bible, records these words, “Earlier heroes of the faith faced suffering courageously. Some experienced deliverance from suffering in this life, but others died for their faith. Christ’s resurrection gives us an even greater reason to remain faithful in suffering and wait for our reward.”
What do we do in the interim of our pain, suffering, and diverse circumstances? We do what the prophet Habakkuk did. We climb up on the watch tower, stand on the platform and wait . . .
“I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved.” (Habakkuk 2:1)
Yes, my friends, a proper relationship with the Lord produces hopeful rejoicing. That is living above our circumstances.
A third and final principle is this . . .
III. SUSTAINING STRENGTH IS AVAILABLE IN THE SOVEREIGN LORD DURING THE WORST OF CIRCUMSTANCES.
The prophet goes on to add, “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights”(v. 19).
It was the Apostle Paul who said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”(Phil. 4:13).
The Psalmist was relying on the sustaining strength of the Lord when he said . . .
“I Love Thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.”
“He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me. (Psalm 18:1-3; 16-19)
Nehemiah could say, “ . . . for the joy of the LORD is your strength”(Nehemiah 8:10).
What was the Lord teaching Habakkuk, Nehemiah, Paul, others, and what is He teaching us when He allows diverse circumstances to invade our lives? In his book, Living Above Your Circumstances, Bob George sums it up like this, “God wants to teach us about the sufficiency of His love and grace in the midst of our difficulties.”
You will recall what the Lord said to Paul, in his struggle with the “thorn in his flesh,” He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
As seen in the lives of the heroes of the faith, “God has a higher purpose for us than merely taking away our problems.” Bob George
Do you want to live above your circumstances and fulfill God’s higher purpose for your life? Then remember these principles and make application of them to your life . . .
-Confidence during crisis is found in a source outside ourselves
-A proper relationship with the Lord produces a hopeful rejoicing even during difficult circumstances
-Sustaining strength is available in the Sovereign Lord during the worst of circumstances
CONCLUSION: What are you going through? Are you trying to handle it alone? If so, turn to the Lord for help? He is your “Father in Heaven,” “Your Lord and Savior,” “Lover of your soul,” “Friend in need,” “Helper and encourager,” and He will hear the cry of your heart. Will you turn to Him now?