Jason took a trip to New York during spring break. One afternoon he and some friends piled into a cab and headed for the Empire State Building. To Jason, the ride on the ground seemed chaotic and dangerous. But when he got to the observation deck of the skyscraper and looked down on the city streets, to his amazement he saw order and design. What a difference a change in perspective made!
Habakkuk learned a similar lesson. When he looked at life from his earthly vantage point, it seemed that God was indifferent to the evil permeating society (Hab. 1:2-4). But God gave him a divine perspective and showed him that life is more than what it seems. The deeds of men cannot thwart the purposes of God (2:3).
Those who don’t show any regard for God may seem to prosper at the moment, but God will ultimately right all wrong. God acts sovereignly in all that comes to pass so that everything works toward His good purpose. God’s plan will surely take place and be on schedule (v.3).
We can’t sort out the whole picture from where we are in life; only God can. So let us continue to live by faith and not by sight. From His perspective, all things are working together for the believer’s good and for His honor.
Sovereign Ruler of the skies, Ever gracious, ever wise, All my times are in Your hand, All events at Your command. —Ryland
Our times are in God’s hands; our souls are in His keeping.
Spring had just turned into summer and crops were beginning to produce fruit as our train rolled across the fertile landscape of West Michigan’s shoreline. Strawberries had ripened, and people were kneeling in the morning dew to pick the sweet fruit. Blueberry bushes were soaking up sunshine from the sky and nutrients from the earth.
After passing field after field of ripening fruit, we came to a rusty pile of abandoned metal. The harsh image of orange scrap metal poking out of the earth was a sharp contrast to the soft greens of growing crops. The metal produces nothing. Fruit, on the other hand, grows, ripens, and nourishes hungry humans.
The contrast between the fruit and the metal reminds me of God’s prophecies against ancient cities like Damascus (Isa. 17:1,11). He says, “Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, . . . the harvest will be a heap of ruins” (Isa. 17:10-11). This prophecy serves as a contemporary warning about the danger and futility of thinking we can produce anything on our own. Apart from God, the work of our hands will become a pile of ruins. But when we join with God in the work of His hands, God multiplies our effort and provides spiritual nourishment for many.
Lord, I want to be a part of what You are doing in Your world. Apart from You, my work is nothing. Lead me, fill me, use me. Nourish others through me.
“Without Me you can do nothing.” —Jesus (John 15:5)
At the time of Isaiah’s prophecy, the Assyrians were a military threat to the region. The northern kingdom of Israel formed a military pact with Syria to fight the Assyrians. Because King Ahaz of Judah refused to join the alliance, Syria and Israel attacked Judah (2 Kings 16:5; Isa. 7:6). Isaiah had assured King Ahaz that God would protect and deliver Judah. But instead of trusting God for help and deliverance, Judah turned to the Assyrians for help and protection (2 Chron. 28:16-21; Isa. 7:1-12). Ahaz rejected God and turned to idols instead (2 Chron. 28:22-26). In Isaiah 17, the prophet pronounced judgment on Israel and Syria, warning that they would be defeated by the Assyrians (see also Isa. 7:17; 8:4).
Alf Clark walks the city streets looking for Zacchaeus. Well, not the actual one in the Bible—Jesus already found him. Alf and some friends who serve with an urban ministry do what Jesus did in Luke 19. They go purposefully through town to meet with and help those in need.
Alf walks house to house in his neighborhood, knocking on doors and saying to whoever peeks out, “Hi, I’m Alf. Do you have any needs I can pray for?” It’s his way of opening up communication and—like Jesus did with tax-collector Zacchaeus—seeking to supply needed counsel and spiritual life and hope.
Notice what Jesus did. Luke simply says that Jesus “passed through” Jericho (Luke 19:1). Of course, a crowd gathered, as usually occurred when Jesus came to town. Zacchaeus, being “height challenged,” climbed a tree. Jesus, while passing through, walked right over to his tree and told him He had to visit at his house. That day salvation came to Zacchaeus’s house. Jesus had “come to seek and to save that which was lost” (v.10).
Do we look for Zacchaeus? He is everywhere, needing Jesus. In what ways can we share Christ’s love with people who need the Savior?
God, guide our steps toward and not away from those who need You. Then guide our words and our actions so that we can be purposeful in our encounters with others.
God’s good news is too good to keep to ourselves.
When Zacchaeus said he would “restore fourfold” (v.8), he followed the highest pattern rather than the one required under Jewish law. While fourfold restoration was required for sheep stealing (see Ex. 22:1 and David’s response to Nathan, 2 Sam. 12:5-6), the restitution for normal theft was a return of the principal plus an extra 20 percent.