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Count it all Joy

Count it all Joy







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,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

(Habakuk 3:17-19)

26 When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, 2 take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name 3 and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God. 5 Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. 7 Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him. 11 Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.  (Deuteronomy 26:1-11)

The ending of the book is a beautiful lyrical song in which the Bible teaches that no matter what happens you can rejoice in the Lord and be generous.

In ancient times wealth was measured in livestock, land, produce and crops- so Habakuk is saying all investments are gone. He is describing total economic collapse.  How do you face economic scarcity?

1. Give in a way that alters your lifestyle 

God said to give the first fruit- not the proportion you can afford after you’ve counted it.  This principle means to give to God the first fruit- not the left over fruit.

God says I don’t want you to give your leftovers- I want you to give out of the first of your income.  I want you to give until it hurts.  I want you to give sacrificially- to the place that it changes the way you live.  How can we this kind of giver when times are difficult?  Think of it this way- If this is how you give all the time, it doesn’t change when things get difficult.   Giving should effect the way you live.

Spurgeon tells story about man who gave king his most prized carrot.  The king rewarded him by giving him more land to grow more carrots.  A member of the nobility witnessed this and immediately gave the king his prized horse.  The king said thank you and walked away with it.  The man asked him why he wasn't treated the same by the king.  The King said, “The farmer gave out of his love for me.  You gave out of your love for yourself.”

2. Give out of a heart of joy 

It should be done joyfully, not out of duty. Think of the difference in the way they gave in the Old Testament and today.  In that day people brought their gifts and then gave a testimony of what God had done.

They were not allowed just to give anonymously, but before they gave they had to connect that gift to the gospel. Does this relate to us in our modern situation?  Of course- because everything you have was given to you by the Lord.

No one pulls their self up by bootstraps.  If you were born in a mountain in Tibet in 13th century - you would be poor.  But you were born in this place at this time and all of it is God’s grace.

All I have is a gift of God and therefore I give sacrificially.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:19-20)

Example: If you love the Thunder, you don’t care how much it costs to attend games- if that’s where you treasure is, it doesn’t feel like spending.  If your heart is somewhere- isn’t it true that you have to be careful not to spend too much?.

If you have brought into your heart what God has done for you, your giving will be a joy.

How do you know God is your treasure?  Answer:  even when things are going wrong and you’ve lost everything, you still rejoice in your salvation.

That is the example of Habakuk:

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,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Some of you say you can’t do it.  You can't because you are feeling  crushed by it.  You can’t just try to be like Habakuk.  Instead, you have to look to the one to whom Habakuk points.

When I look at Habakuk as an example, it crushes me, but when I look at the one to whom Habakuk points, I’m set free.

We have the benefit of looking back.  The Israelites could not have fully known why the Lamb was an object of salvation.  John the Baptist knew-“Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”

When you see the grace of Jesus who didn’t just give in a way that changed his life, but in a way that cost his life, it changes your heart.  When you see that grace, you are changed by it. When you grasp the grace of God it transforms your heart so that you can give in a way that changes you and in a way that brings you joy.

Christians who understand the grace of God are giving people, even in tough times- that is the message of Habakuk 3.

Questions:

  1. What does it mean to give in a way that alters your lifestyle?
  2. Is it truly giving if it is not a sacrifice? How is Jesus our model for giving?
  3. How does the gospel change our perspective on giving?
  4. What does it mean that where your heart is, that is also where your treasure is?
  5. How does giving challenge us to think of where our heart is?







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