Summary: It is not by our abilities, wealth, popularity, etc. that we become successful in the eyes of God. We succeed whenever we rely on His Spirit to teach us and direct our steps.
1. THE IMPORTANCE OF FOCUS
When the Alaskan Pipeline was being built, there were many Texans who went to Alaska and found work on the pipeline. The Texans could only work a few hours in the frigid weather, yet the Eskimos, the native Alaskans, could work indefinitely in the cold.
They decided to do a study to find out why the Eskimos could withstand the weather. After much study they found that there were no physiological differences between the Eskimos and the Texans. There was nothing in skin thickness, blood, or any other thing physically that would explain the differences in the ability to withstand the temperatures. The solution came when they did a psychological study. The difference was the Eskimo said, "He knows it was cold but there was a job to be done." In other words, his focus was on the job and obtaining results rather than on the weather. The Texan focused on the weather and this kept him from focusing on the job at hand. (Taken from the Movie 5th Quarter).
You and I will focus on one of two things this week. We will either focus on how bad things are, the trials, and temptations or we will focus on Christ and His Word. Godly faith can help us to face and overcome the world we live. Whatever our troubles are: with family, loneliness, things that seem impossible, dealing with death, sin or whatever it is.
2. A similar situation occurred for the Jews returning from Babylonian Captivity in the 6th Century BC
a. Zerubbabel and about 50K refugees returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls; restore the temple; the priesthood; the religion of the Jewish people
b. They laid the foundation for the temple, met obstacles and stopped building for about 16 years
c. God raised up the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, to stir the hearts of the people to resume the building.
d. They did their jobs, focusing on the work, not the obstacles.
3. Zechariah 4.1-10
And the angel who talked with me came again and woke me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep. 2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. 3 And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” 4 And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” 6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. 7 Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”
8 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. 10 For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range through the whole earth.”
I. The Presence of Overwhelming Obstacles
"If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere."
Everything worthwhile has some obstacle. Note some things that confronted the Jewish Builders:
A. Obstacle #1 – Confusion
1. Confusion about God’s Revelation – Zechariah did not understand what he saw
b. Our Prayers – “God, what do you want?”
2. Confusion about THEIR MISSION
a. Sidetracked with selfish interests (Haggai 1 – wages/houses)
b. They forgot their mission –Do we?
George Shultz, when Secretary of State during the Reagan administration, kept a large globe in his office. When newly appointed ambassadors had an interview with him and when ambassadors returning from their posts for their first visit with him were leaving his office, Shultz would test them. He would say, "You have to go over the globe and prove to me that you can identify your country." They would always go over, spin the globe, and put their finger on the country to which sent.
BUT when former Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield was appointed ambassador to Japan and was put to the test, Mansfield spun the globe and put his hand on the United States. He said: "That's my country."