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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Matt Hagee » Matt Hagee - How Long Will It Last?

Matt Hagee - How Long Will It Last?

Matt Hagee - How Long Will It Last?
Matt Hagee - How Long Will It Last?

Tonight I want you to turn to the book of Habakkuk. He's an old testament prophet. In doctrinal and theological terms, he's considered one of the minor prophets, but he's a very important individual, because I believe even though his writings are found in the stories of the old testament at a time in Israel when they were facing a very real threat brought on by Babylon: that Habakkuk has a lot of information that we can draw from tonight considering the world that we live in. Habakkuk is the prophet that's asking a question that maybe many of you ask from time to time when you face struggle, and that is, "How long will it last"?

Have you ever felt that way? I know, for me, if you can tell me when it's going to end, I can grit my teeth and get there. That's how I got through about half of my university courses. This is going to last until December. In Habakkuk 1:2 here is what the prophet says to the Lord. The Bible says, "The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw", Habakkuk says in verse 2, read with me, "Oh Lord, how long shall I cry and you will not hear? Even cry out to you 'violence!' and you will not save"? We have a problem. Habakkuk the prophet is saying, God, I'm praying my prayers and you're not answering me. I'm on my knees and I don't think you're hearing me. I'm pointing out these problems that are on this earth, and I'm not sure that you see them.

And when we read these words, sometimes they become difficult for us to understand because, as individuals, we want to know how can a man question God. But let's not pretend like we ourselves don't see the evil in the world around us, and sometimes wonder in the same manner, God, how is all of this going to work? I know the promise that all things work together for good, but how are you going to extract good out of so much evil? And before we indict Habakkuk for being disrespectful, we have to recognize these things: one, he is speaking to God. He's sharing his heart. But he's not speaking against God. And there's a difference.

In your life, if you're going to get to know God and you're going to get a relationship through his son, Jesus Christ, you're going to have to be able to speak to him. But don't you ever speak against him. Habakkuk never did that. He just said, hey, I'm down here doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Are we on good terms? Have you ever felt that way? Maybe sometimes you wonder how long the evil of the world's going to last. Or maybe the questions that you ask are more personal in nature. Maybe you're going through a problem in your home. Maybe it's in your marriage. Maybe it's with your children. Maybe it's in your finances. And just like Habakkuk, you go, "God, if you're the one who supplies all of my needs, and you see this need, where's the solution? Breakthrough is coming, but all I've got is a burden. How long is it going to last"?

In Habakkuk 1, Habakkuk is focusing only on the problem. He says, "Lord, how long am I going to cry and you don't hear me? How long am I going to scream about this violence and you're not going save? Why don't you cause trouble to those who are committing such lawlessness"? You see this is where sometimes spiritual skepticism comes from. And this is something you have to be careful with, because the devil will use these kinds of moments to create doubt in your mind. I was having a conversation with an individual, who professed himself to be an atheist. He was skeptic. He was agnostic. He was all those things that pride themselves in not believing in God. And he was trying to use all kinds of logic to argue with me about my faith.

And so he says, "Well, is God all powerful or is God all good"? I said, "He's all good all the time". He said, "Yes, that's one of those spiritualisms". I said, "I've got plenty: keep coming". He said, "Well, if he's all powerful, then how come he allows evil"? I said, "Well, man has volition". He said, "But if he's all powerful and he's all good, then why is all things wrong"? I said, "Well, it's a fallen world". And he says, "Well, if he's all good, and he allows evil, then he's not all powerful to stop it". You see he's trying to make God one or the other. And the truth is God is both. He is all powerful. He could stop evil just like that.

If God wanted to, he could say, not one more baby will ever die in an abortion mill, and it would be over. If he wanted to, he could get up and clean house in a second. And no one could say a word against him, because the Bible says that his judgments are righteous and his actions are true. But see not only is God all powerful, and he could crush evil in an instant: and not only is God all good, meaning that he has a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, and he doesn't want to withhold any good thing from you, but in terms of these two things, God's not just good and powerful. God is also merciful. And I'm so thankful that he's merciful along with all powerful, because if in his power he got up to crush evil, not one of us would see the sunrise, because when you compare us to his holy standard, the Bible says, "There is not one righteous among you".

And in his mercy, he's given a fallen world the opportunity to figure it out one more day. That's what the Bible says that his mercies are renewed like the morning: that because his compassions fail not, we have not been taken away. "Great is your faithfulness". Those words come from the book of lamentation and find themselves in one of our favorite hymns. But it's reminding us that the only reason we're going to see the sun rise tomorrow is because this all-good, all-powerful God is also merciful. So rather than just look at the problems of the world and obsess about what to do about the problems of the world and saturate with ourselves with all of the concerns of the world, sometimes we don't need to just look at the problem.

Sometimes we need to look at what God did about the problem, because God did something about the problem of evil in this life when he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to a place called Calvary where he took the evil off of your life, and he took the evil off of my life. And he nailed it to a cross so that when I go there, I become the righteousness of God. And the wicked chains of my past are broken. And whom the son sets free is free indeed. This is why Paul said, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Jesus Christ, my Lord".

You see how you see the problem is the problem. Habakkuk is like the guy that's listening to all of the news networks and all of the talk radio. And he's got all of the facts, and he's got all of the details, and he's got all of the issues memorized in his mind, but he's got no solution. He's saying, God, nothing good is happening down here. And God says, Habakkuk, you need a new perspective. So in chapter 2, Habakkuk changes his tune. Habakkuk 2:1, he begins. And the Bible says, "I", Habakkuk speaking, "I will stand my watch". Say that with me. "I will stand my watch".

Habakkuk is saying he's got a post as a prophet that he needs to fill. He goes on to discuss that he will stand his watch upon the ramparts, which is an elevated place that watchmen, who were standing on a city wall, would look for danger. And so he's saying that as a prophet, he has a responsibility to the nation that he should be on watch instead of worrying about this problem down here. So he gets an elevated perspective when he decides that he's going to play his role. Do you know one of the best things that you can do, as a Christian, concerning the problems of the world? Elevate your perspective by playing your role. Don't get down there in the world's mess. Get where God's elevated you to be.

The Bible says that we are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. You see, we don't have the problems of this world that we would deal with them like the world does down here on this level. We have problems of this world, and being seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, we get to go to the father with them like Jesus goes to the father. He's seated at the right hand where he makes intercession for us. Because we're seated spiritually in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, we have the opportunity through prayer, in Jesus' name, to say, listen God: these are the problems that we're facing down here on the earth. And from that elevated perspective, suddenly we begin to see God's view of how things are going to work out. Because in chapter 1, Habakkuk wants to know how long is it going to last.

And in chapter 2, he writes some of the words that we like to shout about every now and again. It says, "Then the Lord answered me". That's verse 2. And here's what he said, "Write the vision. Make it plain". How many of y'all heard that verse before? "For the vision is yet for an appointed time. But at the end, it will speak and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it, because it will surely come to pass". The thing that I love about verse 2 is that from an elevated perspective, Habakkuk suddenly hears God's answer. Now you need to hear what I just said. In chapter 1, he doesn't think God is speaking. But as soon as he changes his perspective from focusing on the problem to looking through the problem, he hears God's answer. God always has an answer. The Bible says, "Call upon me and I will answer thee". Say that with me. "Call upon me and I will answer thee".

The problem is not whether or not God has an answer. The problem is are we hearing the answer he has? God had an answer all the time. But when Habakkuk was focused on the problem, he couldn't hear what God had to say. You can either look at the problem or you can look past the problem. And when Habakkuk is looking at the problem of evil, he can't see past it to the God who can overcome every form of evil. Once he looks over the problem, and he begins to see what God has to say about the problem, he recognizes that there is going to be a period of time, in which the problem is going to exist. And that's a very difficult place for Christians to dwell in.

There is a season when God uses a storm. And you've just got to get used to that. There are a lot of modern Christians that don't want the struggle to last but a few seconds. But you need to know that struggle is a classroom where God teaches you strength. Psalm 119 tells us very clearly that it was good that I had been afflicted. And David very clearly tells us in verse 71 that I may learn your statutes. Why was he afflicted? So he could learn. How many of you know that affliction is a teacher? Struggle is a place where you learn how God wants to use you in this life. The problem is that when we see the storms of struggle in our life, we begin to worry about the clouds, and we begin to worry about the waves, and we begin to worry about the wind, instead of remembering what Psalm 104 said: that God makes the clouds his chariot, and he walks on the wings of the wind.

We say it this way, "He rides upon the storm". You know he used storms with the disciples to teach them faith. In one chapter, he sends them into the storm, and he's in the back of the boat. We all know the story. They believe they're going to die. And they turn and they look at Jesus, and they say, "Don't you care"? And he stands up and he commands the winds and the waves with the words, "Peace, be still". But that's not the end of the illustration. He turns around and he looks at the disciples very clearly, and he asked them a very hard question. He says, "Why don't any of you have any faith"? And the reason that he says they had no faith is because before the journey began, before they saw the storm, before the winds and the waves threatened the boat, Jesus told them before they left the bank, "We're going to the other side".

And if they would have heard what he said and believed it, it wouldn't have mattered what happened with the weather. One of the disciples would have looked a the other and said, boys, this looks bad. But the guy who's sleeping in the back of the both said we're going to get to the other side. So don't worry about what's happening right now. He's already told us where we're going to end up. All we've got to do is believe we're going to get there. Now, just two chapters later, he sends them back across the sea. He's up on the mountain praying. In the midst of the sea, here comes another storm. Now if they've learned anything from two chapters ago, they would have said, guys, I don't know what's going to happen but this is going to be good. Instead it says their hearts were full of fear and they were afraid they were about to die. And then they look out on the water, and they see Jesus walking to them.

The last time, he was asleep and told the water to stop. Now he's using the water for a sidewalk. And they're still worried about the storm. Struggle is where Jesus teaches you to stop worrying about the storm, and start talking to the God who rides upon the wings of the storm. Struggle is the place where he tells you, no matter what the mountain, faith can move it. But you're not going to get there without struggle. So Habakkuk begins to change his perspective. And the first thing God tells them is this vision is going to tarry. You're going to have to wait for it. And that means that with perspective, comes patience. Everybody say, patience. How many of you like patience? Whenever you begin to develop patience, you're not worried about what's not happening: you're looking forward to what's going to happen. Because there's a promise that comes with patience, "Surely it will come to pass".

Perspective leads to patience and patience leads to promise. And you need to know something about the faith that we have. Our faith is not built upon explanation. Our faith is built upon promises. Peter said it this way, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promises," meaning he doesn't say something and then do something else. If he said it, that settles it. So how does this perspective help you in your life? How does this perspective give you the strength to know that however long it lasts, it's worth enduring? Because I promise you that God will keep his word in your life.

God's promises are true and they're for you. They will not explain the storm. They will not explain the why. But they will give you hope in what? My hope is in what God can do. My hope is in what God is doing. And my hope is based on what I've seen him do in the past. I don't need the explanation of why: I just need the hope of what. So Habakkuk, he has changed his perspective. He's patiently waiting on the promise. And in the meantime, it requires his participation. You see Habakkuk said, I'm standing my watch. I'm going back to the rampart. I'm done trying to solve the problems of the world on this level. I want to go to this elevated place, and I want to see what God sees. Upon receiving his opportunity to see it as God sees it, waiting upon the promises, not only is he participating, but Habakkuk has a perspective. And perspective leads to perception. And suddenly he sees something that he hasn't seen before.

In Habakkuk 2:20, we read at the end of the second chapter, "The Lord is in his holy temple". Say that with me. "The Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth keep silent before him". Notice the difference in Habakkuk's voice? Habakkuk 1:2, "God, how long am I going to cry and you're not going to listen"? And I know that's not how I read it the first time, but now looking back, isn't that kind of how it sounds? And sometimes that's how we are before the throne of God. How long? Why? When? What? Explain it to me. And now he's got some perspective, and he basically says, guess what? I looked up above and God is still on his throne. And if he's still on his throne, it really doesn't matter what's going on down here: he's still in charge.

So all of you down here, just keep silent, because the king is about to make a decision. He's not looking down: he's looking up. And when he looks up, he recognizes that there isn't anything in this world that's so big, God can't solve it. I don't know what storm you're going through tonight. I don't know what struggle you're facing. I don't know if it's brand new or if it's been there all of your life. But whatever it is, no matter how large, I assure you, God is still on his throne. And the problem you have is not bigger than the God that you worship. And with this new perception, Habakkuk begins to stand his post, and he changes his tune. And here's how he ends the book.

Habakkuk 3:17 and 18. Now I told you we'd get three chapters: right? He says, "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor the fruit be on the vines, though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields will yield no food, though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls". Now how many of you've heard anything good so far? Habakkuk is saying, even if nothing changes, if the problem that I had back in chapter 1 doesn't get any better, if the evil can continue and nobody do anything about it, if it seems like it's only going to get worse, if it gets down to the last drop of food we've got to eat, because I've changed my perspective, I've decided that the problem is over. And what I'm going to do is rejoice in the Lord. I'll joy in the God of my salvation. It doesn't matter what happens down here on the earth.

God is still great and he's still greatly to be praised. He's still on the throne and he's still a provider. He's still a way maker. And he's still watching over the righteous. Yes, the wicked may have their day. But soon and very soon, the king is coming with a rod of iron. And he will smash the wicked as a jar of clay. And I'm not going to worry about when, and I'm not going worry about what: I'm just going to celebrate that my Savior has redeemed me! He's a strong tower, an ever present help in a time of trouble! He is faithful to the end! He's given me the victory that I need today, my hope for tomorrow! And I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! Rejoice in the Lord!

Can we stand as we bring this service to a close. You see how long it lasts is not a matter of hours. It's not a matter of days. It's not a matter of weeks, months, or years. How long the problem lasts is determined by how long you focus on the problem instead of the problem solver. It stops the second you don't look at it, but you look through it to him. And then you say, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. I will give him praise. I will give him glory. I will give him honor.

So I want you to give yourself the opportunity to do that before you leave this place. I know that we had worship in the front of our service. But now you've got a perspective on worship that you might not have had before. Suddenly worship is a way that you can look through the storm clouds and see the God who's riding on those clouds. So if you've got a problem, it may be bigger than you can solve. But I assure you, if you'll rejoice in the God of your salvation, you'll see the problem solver. And you'll say, I'll write the vision. I'll make it plain. And though it tarry, I'll wait for it, because it'll come to pass. Would you do that right where you are? Just lift your hands, and say:

Lord, I give you thanks. And I give you praise. And I worship you. You know the situation. You know the circumstance. You know what's going on in my home. You know what's happening in my heart. You know what's coming against my mind. You know what they've said about my circumstances at the school. You know what they've said about me in the workplace. You know what the bankers are talking about. You know what they're speaking about in the halls of congress and in the senate that could affect us. You know, heavenly father, all of these things. And we can't do anything about it, but we'll stand here and praise you. We'll offer our heart as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. We'll rejoice in the joy of the Lord that makes rich and adds no sorrow. We're not going to worry about what the wicked are doing: we're just going to celebrate the fact that God is on his throne. And because that's where he is, every promise will be fulfilled, every enemy will be defeated. Every weapon formed against us shall not prosper, because that's the kind of God we serve. He's got a promise for your family. He's got a promise for your future. He's got a promise for your marriage. He's got a promise for you today. Stand upon that promise. See it from his perspective. For he is great and greatly to be praised.

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