Summary: This sermon encourages the church to stop looking at the past but rather to focus on God's hopeful future.
MORE THAN WE USED TO BE
July 12, 2015 Pastor Buddy Cook
Introduction: Song my mother used to sing when I was growing up: The Old Gray Mare The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be, Ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be, The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be, Many long years ago. Many long years ago, many long years ago, The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be, Many long years ago.
Transition: This song might aptly be applied to the culture of our world today.
Recent rulings by the Supreme Court
Crimes and actions we see daily on the news
The church in the USA also seems to be fading in her luster. (Attendance is lower/ Commitment appears to be waning/ Younger people losing interest in the church etc.) As the sun appears to be setting on the church in the US, Many of God’s people are looking wistfully back hoping for a return to glory but their hope is fading.
It could appear to the outside observer that “the ole girl just ain’t what she used to be”.
Perhaps this was the feeling of the people of Israel who became emotional when they saw the foundations of the new Temple in Ezra 3 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
This was an emotional time for the people of Israel and they could easily be excused for such emotion. They had suffered much with the defeat of their nation. The Temple of the Lord had been laid waste at the hands of the Babylonians and all of this was followed by 66 long years in exile. Finally they had been allowed to return and the temple was being rebuilt. However for some who could still remember the previous temple it just wasn’t the same. Perhaps this is why the Lord prompted Haggai to speak to the people in our passage today Scripture: Haggai 2:1-10 1 on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 2 “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 3 ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? 4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares
the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ 6 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” Transition: Perhaps these words from the prophet Haggai can teach those of us in the 21st century church something important. Just because times look bleak doesn’t mean God is finished. I. HAGGAI POINTS OUT OUR DISCOURAGEMENT. ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? Haggai 2:3