Make a Choice to Rejoice

Joy in the new year
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Making a good decision is the first step toward success. This year I’ve made a choice to rejoice in the Lord. I’m not waiting until everything is perfect. Habakkuk made that choice, he said I will rejoice in the LORD. In this post I share how this one decision impacted Habakkuk’s life and what it can do for you. That decision is especially important this year.

This is my first post this year, so I really want to say…but maybe I’m too late to say it now?

There’s no doubt that I am late, but is it too late to say it? Please say, “Go ahead, say it.”

Here goes “Happy New Year”

Fireworks in the sky
I will rejoice in the Lord Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Skeptical?

There are a lot of folks that are skeptical about how happy this year is going to be especially since the last two have been one disaster after another. And here I am starting a conversation about rejoicing. Is there a reason to rejoice? You better believe there is and that’s why I am sharing Habakkuk’s story with you.

Skeptical!

Honestly, I understand their skepticism. It’s been rough, rough, rough for so many people! I can’t tell you that this will be a “happy” year, but I am confident that this year can be a joy-filled year with reasons to rejoice.

A picture containing text, outdoor, athletic game, sport
I will rejoice in the Lord Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

AND…How do I know?

I don’t have a crystal ball that gives me the winning lottery number or stock market insight, yet I have the words of an old song that I used to listen to on a cassette tape and Scripture for the foundation of my hope.

First, the song.

The words of one of my favorite Larnelle Harris songs has been bubbling up in my heart for days— his Grammy Award winning song entitled “All Year Long” has been an inspiration to me for years. I think of it every time I put away my Christmas decorations!

It’s a story song about a dad and his son cleaning up after Christmas. He’s holding the ladder as his dad puts away ornaments and decorations. The son is trying to figure out what to put away next when he innocently asks, “Dad, do I store away Jesus too?”

A picture containing Do I store away Jesus too?
I will rejoice in the Lord Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Do we?

A more important question for you is, “Have you?”

“Have you stored away Jesus?”

Let me be more specific,

  • Are you obeying Him?
  • Are you giving Him access to your heart?
  • Have you limited Him to a Sunday sermon?
  • Are you asking for His advice?

You know God is always with you, but do you

  • ignore Him because you have a “better” idea?
  • avoid Him because you don’t want to deal with things?
  • limit Him with unbelief?
  • trust Him?

Romans 5:10 says we are saved by the life of Jesus, but the benefits don’t end there. V 11 reads …, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

A sunset over a beach

I will rejoice in the Lord Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

We can enjoy our relationship with Him only when we make room for Him in our lives. It is vital that we allow His wisdom, power and love to flow into every area of our lives.

Here’s a life verse that absolutely convinces me that this can be a joy-filled year. It is found in Habakkuk (I kinda chuckle every time I hear his name. I can hear my dad say tabacca (tobacco)). Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

It’s easy to look at that verse and think “OK, so that’s a nice verse”. Some Prophet that lived a long, long time ago made a choice to “rejoice in the Lord”. Of course, he did. That’s what prophets do. If you think that, you’ll miss the power of his choice. Just like lots of people these days, he was facing a whirlwind of problems every which a way he turned.

Habakkuk’s choice to rejoice in the Lord isn’t significant to you unless you understand what that choice involved.

His choice to rejoice in the Lord gave me a very important Life Key to take into the New Year in 1972.

A picture containing key
I will rejoice in the Lord Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Wayne and I were newlyweds.

Wayne was in the Air Force and stationed in Minot, North Dakota. After our honeymoon, Wayne hitched a small trailer to his car, and we drove to North Dakota. We arrived on a snowy October day.

I had never been away from home. I was one of those kids that didn’t even like to spend a night at my friend’s house. So, it was hard leaving home. I called it my trail of tears.

There was a mess up in the accounting department, because of Wayne’s new marital status. His first paycheck after we got married was much less than usual. We didn’t have a savings account. I had spent all mine on the wedding, and he spent all his on the honeymoon.

North Dakota is a long way from Mobile, AL.

I was so scared. What were we going to do?

I was super discouraged, so after super, I put a Dottie Rambo record album on the record player. My heart was moved by the words of the song “I Still Believe”

I recognized the words of the song and looked them up in my Bible.

Let me take you to the words that I found in my Bible that night as I wrestled with my fear.

17Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,

and there are no grapes on the vines;

even though the olive crop fails,

and the fields lie empty and barren;

even though the flocks die in the fields,

and the cattle barns are empty,

18yet I will rejoice in the LORD!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

19The Sovereign LORD is my strength!

He makes me as surefooted as a deer,

able to tread upon the heights.

Let’s not forget that Habakkuk lived in an agrarian culture. This list exhausts the food sources in an agrarian culture. He is saying a barren fig tree isn’t going to stop me. If my olive crop fails, I’m still going to be OK. If my fields are empty and barren, if my flocks die in the field, if my barns are empty… I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.

A picture containing outdoor, grass, sky, field

I will rejoice in the Lord Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

But how did he get there?

I wondered. What’s his story and what brought him to this place of dependance on God? It’s a short book so I dove in.

2How long, O LORD, must I call for help?

But you do not listen!

“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,

but you do not come to save.

3Must I forever see these evil deeds?

Why must I watch all this misery?

Wherever I look,

I see destruction and violence.

I am surrounded by people

who love to argue and fight.

4The law has become paralyzed,

and there is no justice in the courts.

The wicked far outnumber the righteous,

so that justice has become perverted.

Does this sound familiar to you today?

Habakkuk is asking some hard, but painfully honest questions.

I summarize God’s answer to Habakkuk with verse 6

6I am raising up the Babylonians,

a cruel and violent people.

They will march across the world

and conquer other lands.

God’s answer was shocking and alarming…I just used two pitifully inadequate words to describe Habakkuk’s emotions.

I summarize Habakkuk’s 2nd barrage of complaints with verse 12. (This story is amazing. I hope you’ll read through the details in your favorite version but, let me give you the overview first.)

12O LORD my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal—

surely you do not plan to wipe us out.

O LORD, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us,

to punish us for our many sins.

Habakkuk wasn’t complaining!

He was interceding and desperate for answers. He was horrified at the increasing evil around him! The sin and brokenness around him broke his heart.

God’s wisdom and justice were beyond Habakkuk’s ability to understand.

It is commonly believed that his prophecy was given a short time before Babylon invaded Judah. He couldn’t understand why God would use such a wicked nation to judge Judah.

Habakkuk was desperate to hear God’s answer.

2:1I will climb up to my watchtower

and stand at my guard post.

There I will wait to see what the LORD says

and how he will answer my complaint.

God begins His answer with instructions; write this down so a runner can carry the correct message to others.

3This vision is for a future time.

It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.

If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.

It will not be delayed.

The last part of verse 4 says

“…the just shall live by his faith.”

I am so thankful for that verse!!!!!! Oh, how it has carried me through tough times.

God’s answer is so powerful, but again I will summarize it with a single verse.

2:14 New Living Translation
For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the LORD.

Something radical happened to this scared, but dear prophet of God in the events of chapter 2. Because chapter 3 is so different that you hardly recognize Habakkuk response to God.

Habakkuk doesn’t need a high tower to get close enough to God to be heard. Nor a microphone because he knows…he knows God is listening. Habakkuk has encountered the very heartbeat of God in this encounter.

His words are sung, not murmured.

The instructions to the musicians are that the song be accompanied by strings. Not horns. Not tambourine.

This song was coming out of a broken man who finally realized in the middle of all this heartache that God is good.

His circumstances had not changed. The road ahead would not be easy, Judah would be taken captive by the Babylonians. But the just live by their faith…a faith that takes you through storms.

A bird sitting on a tree branch
I will rejoice in the Lord Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

This prayer is not a report of what he sees with his eyes.

Habakkuk has caught a glimpse of the nature of God. Look at his prayer.

2I have heard all about you, LORD.

I am filled with awe by your amazing works.

In this time of our deep need,

help us again as you did in years gone by.

And in your anger,

remember your mercy.

After listing all kinds of devasting things that could happen to the things that he had previously put his trust in, he sings verse 18,

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

It was a choice based on the reality that the righteous live by his faith. And when our faith is rooted in God we can rejoice.

I wept that cold December night as I read about Habakkuk’s encounter with God. I wept tears of relief that I didn’t have to be depressed even though Christmas was approaching, even though we didn’t have any money for bills. Wayne persisted until the finance department got it all straighten out. We had money for the bills… and presents.

Even though I found a powerful key in the life of Habakkuk that night, I haven’t always used it. There have been sometimes that I have responded to difficult situations with fear instead of faith. Sometimes, I have chosen a private pity party instead of the joy that comes with rejoicing in the Lord.

Jesus is trustworthy and because of that I can rest in Him. I don’t have to wait until all my problems are gone or my circumstances line up to give me what I want.

I can rejoice right now, in the middle of every problem, because He is my strength and He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

Choosing to “rejoice in the Lord” is the key that unlocks your joy all year long.

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