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It is not often that I post this late on a Saturday night... but I am excited!!!

I have just checked out the work of Peter, Neil and Steve - and together, they have put together a sensationally God-honouring service for us to enjoy tomorrow. Please join us for church tomorrow - not live-streamed but enjoyed live in your own homes - by heading to (or staying at) '' and clicking on the service link.... And as you do, please give thanks to God for the way blokes like Peter, Neil and Steve are using their God-given abilities to serve him and his mob!
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Genesis 3:8-9
As we did last weekend, we are turning on the weekend to some favourite verses...

This seems a strange one, given all the others we could choose near by - like Genesis 2:23-25... But I think that these verses capture the template of God's incredible grace.

The context is bleak. Eve and Adam have deliberately disobeyed God. They have doubted his goodness, they have doubted his word, they have taken matters into their own hands, and their eyes have been opened not to a world of knowledge and power but of nakedness and shame (3:7). At this point, we know whose word is false (that of the snake) but we also know that now this word has been taken as true and enslaved humanity.

What happens next is an action of wonderful grace. The LORD God has started a walk in the Garden of Eden, at the time of the evening breeze. The whole image is one of glorious wonder - it seems a regular occurrence, it seems wonderful in its gentleness, it sounds beautiful in its description of fellowship. And Adam and Eve hide!

We know why. The LORD God knows why - he calls out to them.

At this point, I think we have the pattern of the LORD God's mercy. Given what we already know about the LORD God, it is not as if this action of Adam and Eve had escaped his attention or knowledge. He knew... and yet he still came and walked and called!

That is grace: the LORD God giving to humans what they don't deserve, at the very moment they deserve his judgement. And this sets the pattern for the rest of the Bible - in the face of human sin, when every human desire is to hide from God in shame, then the LORD God comes, walks and calls, to sinners... It is the pattern of Jesus - just look at Philippians 2:5-11!

As such, we are recipients of this grace - how wonderful is this! And, we are displayers of this grace - how wonderful is this! Today, as you navigate this COVID-19 world, please give thanks for such grace... and please look for opportunities to show such grace...

Collect (Psalm 6:1-5; 1 Timothy 1:15-16):

LORD, who judges sin as the rebellion against your glory, who is right and just in all such judgement: have mercy on me, a sinner. Please have mercy on me! Please forgive me! Please, by your coming and calling through Jesus Christ alone, save me from the terrors of judgement. Please work in me the display of your faithful love to those around me. Amen.
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Habakkuk 2:2-20
Before we leave Habakkuk 2, and move into Habakkuk 3 next week, it is worth asking ourselves: 'Has the LORD always acted this way - calling people to take him at his word, and live like it?' It is a good question because I think many people think that God is capricious, moody, even inconsistent.

If you look at Habakkuk 2:4, which is the heart of this section, you will see that the LORD is using words that should cast your mind, and Habakkuk's mind, back to a crucial event in the history of Abraham's family... Genesis 15:1-21 (in particular verses 1-6).

The LORD had chosen to commit to dealing with the sin of the world through Abraham's family. This was the LORD's initiative - giving humans what they don't deserve, at the very moment they deserve something else (better known as 'grace'!). There was little to recommend Abraham (Abram) at this point - he was a geriatric, idol-worshipping nomad married to a barren woman!

In time, Abraham struggled to take the LORD at his word and live like it - just look at Genesis 12:10 and 15:1-3.

In Genesis 15:4-5, the LORD reassures Abraham that he will do exactly as he promised. And he uses an example from our everyday rural living - 'Just look at those stars - that will be your descendants!'.

At this point, Abraham gets it - look at Genesis 15:6: he takes the LORD at his word, and lives like it - he has 'faith'. It is not airy-fairy or obscure - he trusts that God can do exactly as he says.

This is a statement of dependence. It is a statement that God is God, and Abraham is not. It is a statement that the LORD is the most significant thing in the universe. It is a statement that God is where he should be: in the centre of all things. And the LORD credits to Abraham something that he cannot have by nature or deed: the LORD declares that, in trusting God, Abraham is 'righteous' - 'in line with God's design'.

So, this is how the LORD has always worked - just as it was with Abraham, so it is with Habakkuk, and so it is with God's people always: to have faith is to take God at his word and live like it. This is what it means to be righteous. It is exactly what Adam and Eve were not in Genesis 3, and it is exactly what Jesus is when he comes, living, dying and rising for people like us.

Collect (Psalm 5:4-7):

Dear Father, who cannot stand sin or the sinner in your presence, we come to you in complete dependence by the abundance of your faithful love alone. It is solely by your initiative and action that we can enter your house. Please help us never to lessen in dependence upon, or delight in, your love, even as the world crumbles around us. Amen.
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Habakkuk 2:2-20
The LORD has given Habakkuk a vision to answer his second question. The vision is of two ways of life, two types of humanity: the arrogant and the righteous. The former is the one who lives saying, 'I am God and God is not'. The latter is the one who lives saying , 'LORD, I take you at your word and live like it'. The former is 'without integrity', crooked in soul and life. The latter is 'righteous' declared by the LORD to be 'in line' with his design.

The word of the LORD that Habakkuk is to take as truth is very simple - it is the commitment that the LORD made way back in Genesis 12:1-3, that he would deal with the sin of the world (the broken state of the world through human rebellion against him) through the family of Abraham. As Habakkuk has looked at the LORD's people, Abraham's family, he has lamented their broken state (1:1-4). And, yet, the LORD says, 'Take me at my word, Habakkuk, and live like it'.

In reassuring Habakkuk of this truth, this word, the LORD lays out five 'woes' (2:6-20). These are statements of judgement, against sin, against the sin in particular of the Babylonians besetting Habakkuk and the LORD's people. The LORD reassures Habakkuk that the violence and sin of the Babylonians is not endless (remember 1:17?). It will be met with his judgement, like all sin will be 'in the end'.

The aim of this is not a simple 'cause-and-effect'. The aim of this is to display the significance of the LORD and his rightful place at the centre of universe (2:14). It is to remind the world that the LORD does as he says - trust him to do so, and live like it! That is true life!

Whilst we are not under the siege of an invading army, we are under the burden of this broken world. As the LORD's people, we must be reminded to take God at his word and live like it. The one we serve - Jesus - did that perfectly, to the point of living the life we couldn't live, so that he could die the death we deserve, and he rose to show that the LORD judges sin in an astounding way, and that he has dealt with sin through Abraham's family (cf. Matt.1:10).

Let me encourage you to stand firm in taking the LORD at his word, and living like it. Wait patiently because h always does he promises.

Let me ask you... If you don't take the LORD at his word, what is sustaining you in this waiting period?

Collect (Psalm 4:6):

Father, whose desire is to show mercy to all your broken world, there are many who ask now, 'Who can show us anything good?' As your people, please enable us to display the mercy and grace you have shown in history through Christ. In a time of restriction and isolation, provide us with imaginative ways to introduce people to your historic and consistent goodness in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Amen.
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