Sermons

Summary: It’s a wonderful thing when people finally decide to obey God and get busy doing the work He’s called them to do. But there’s always a problem when we decide to get to work, isn’t there? The problem is not necessarily that work’s hard. Most people don’t m

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Week before last, we started looking at this little book of Haggai. And we saw how the Jewish remnant had been in exile in Babylon for many years. The temple had been destroyed, Jerusalem had been destroyed, and they were far away from home. But after a period of time, God allowed them to come home to Jerusalem. And when they got home, they found that everything was in ruins. But when God allowed them to come home, He commanded them to rebuild it—starting with the temple. When they first got there, they were so excited and motivated that they got to work right away. And in no time, they had cleared the area for the temple, built its foundations and laid the altar. It was a wonderfully joyous occasion. They were back home and doing the work that God had called them to do. But then what happened? They quit. Not intentionally. Not deliberately or out of open rebellion. It just sort of happened. They were satisfied with what they had and where they were. And then days turned into weeks. And weeks turned into months. And months turned into years. Until, before they knew it, 16 years had passed. 16 years had passed in which absolutely nothing had been done. The temple was still in ruins. The city was still in ruins. The wall was still down. Nothing had been done to accomplish the work that God had called them to do. And then, out of His grace, God sent a couple of prophets. He sent Haggai and Zechariah to remind the people of what they were supposed to be doing. This book is God’s reminder through Haggai. Do you know what I think is wonderful about it? God didn’t remind the remnant by blasting them. He didn’t threaten them or chastise them. What did He do instead? He encouraged them. Not with a false rah-rah kind of encouragement. But with a joyful, hopeful kind of encouragement that only comes out of a relationship with a loving God. Once again, in our passage, Haggai sets the timeframe for us. He says that we are now in the 21st day of seventh month of the second year of the rule of Darius. If you want to translate that to our calendar, it was October 17th, 520BC. In other words, it was about 7 weeks after the prophesy we talked about last week in chapter 1. You remember that prophesy focused on the Lord telling His people to consider their ways. He wanted them to think about why they always seemed to be working so hard and didn’t have anything to show for it. And then He showed them that their real problem was that their focus was in the wrong place. They had become focused on their own personal wants and needs rather than what God required of them. They had become more concerned with the daily grind of life than they were with glorifying God. They had become more focused on dealing with the relationships within their own houses than they were with dealing with their relationship with God. And then in verses 12-15, once they had considered their ways and saw what the problem was, they set out to fix it. They weren’t satisfied to just sit there and do nothing anymore. They weren’t satisfied to just sit back and say, “That’s the way it’s been for 16 years, no need changing things now.” They were no longer satisfied with the ruins around them. They were no longer satisfied with living in the middle of God’s unfinished work. So they got busy. Verse 12 says that they obeyed the voice of the Lord their God. And when they began to obey, God stirred up the heart of the leadership. And God stirred up the heart of the people. And they got to work doing the work that God had called them to do. But there’s always a problem when we decide to get to work, isn’t there? The problem is not necessarily that work’s hard. Most people don’t mind hard work. The problem is that sometimes it can be overwhelming. On the news the other day, I heard a reporter from Haiti do something that you don’t hear too often. He was off camera and was describing all of the devastation and death and destruction. He was going over all of the problems with infrastructure and how that was making it impossible to get aid into all of those people who desperately needed it. Then he just started listing all of the things that needed to be fixed before those people could be helped. Clearing roads, but roads couldn’t be cleared without heavy equipment. Security, but security couldn’t happen because most of them were unaccounted for and communications were down. The port and the airport were damaged. Then he just completely broke down. He began to see the situation as completely hopeless, because he didn’t know where to begin. There was so much devastation, he didn’t have a clue where to begin. Isn’t that where a lot of good intentions go to die? We have the best intentions in the world, but sometimes they seem so big and we don’t really know how to get started. That’s where the remnant found themselves. After 16 long years, they were finally ready to get busy. But then they looked around. They looked at themselves. They were just a small remnant. One of the ones who would later oppose them called them feeble Jews. And that was after they had gotten a couple more rounds of reinforcements. They were small and feeble and certainly not equipped for the task at hand. And then they looked at the task. What a task it was! The temple was in complete ruins. Nothing was there except weed-covered rubble. And they were supposed to build a temple fit for the living God. Sounds like an impossible task, doesn’t it? How do you get started on a task like that? Did you know that the Lord has given us a job to do too? Matthew 28:19 tells us what that job is. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” And then Jesus clarifies it a little more in Acts 1:8. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” What is our job as individuals and particularly as a church? To reach our neighborhood, our city, our county, our state, our nation and our world with the Gospel. That’s a big job, isn’t it? Especially when we look around at all that’s wrong. When we see the poverty around us. When we see the abuse around us. When we see the neglect around us. When we see the drugs and alcohol abuse around us. When we see the crime and sin and despair around us. Broken homes and families and destroyed lives. That’s an overwhelming task, isn’t it? And we’re so small and feeble, aren’t we? When we look around at the magnitude of the task that needs to be done, how can we muster the energy and strength that it will take to do the impossible? Just like the remnant did, we need to do three things. First, we need to ask the question. Look back at verse 3:


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