Today I want to speak to you about God’s blessings. But before proceeding, we must define what a blessing from God is. The word blessing, as it relates to a blessing from God, is defined as follows: “a thing conducive to happiness or welfare.” This is why on other occasions, I have explained that God's blessings are more spiritual than material. Now, why do I want us to explore this theme today? I want us to examine this issue because the reality is that there are many who don’t receive all of the blessings that God desires to give His people. Why don’t we receive them? Let’s now turn to the Word of God and study this issue in detail.
Haggai 1:2-9 - “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.”’” 3Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” 5Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! 6“You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” 7Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD. 9“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the LORD of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.
Like I always say, to have a better understanding of the message that God has for us today, we will need to conduct a brief history review. Around 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar invaded and conquered Jerusalem. The city was completely sacked and the Temple was completely destroyed. God’s people were taken captive to Babylon, and the captivity lasted for a period of seventy years.
This exile was a punishment from God because of the rebellion and idolatry of the people. Some fifty years after the fall of Jerusalem, Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon, and the Babylonian empire ceased to exist. Around 538 BC, King Cyrus issued a formal decree that allowed the Israelites to leave their exile, and return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. This is something that we find in Ezra 1:2 when we read: “…Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah…”
In the book of Ezra we also find that the first return was led by Zerubbabel, and that in 536 BC the work of rebuilding the Temple had begun with great enthusiasm, but that soon after it was stopped due Samaria’s threat. This is something that we find in Ezra 4:23-24 when we read: “…Now when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem against the Jews, and by force of arms made them cease. 24Thus the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem ceased, and it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia…” It was during this time that Haggai’s ministry began; around 520 BC.
The book of Haggai is one of the last books of the Old Testament, and he is recognized as a minor prophet. The reason, as to why Haggai is recognized as a minor prophet, is not because his prophecies were less important than others. He is recognized as a minor prophet because of the size of the book. Something that is very important to note is that Haggai was one of the prophets who ministered to the Jewish people after their return from exile, and that he urged them to restore God’s Temple.
The problem that Haggai confronted was that in 534 BC, the rebuilding of the Temple was halted, and now some fourteen years later, the Temple was still not finished. I want us to pay close attention to the meaning of all of this; the work began in 536 BC with enthusiasm, but was stopped in 534 BC and now in 520 BC, the Temple had not been completed. This means that about sixteen years after starting the reconstruction, the people had failed to complete the project. Why hadn’t they finished? Let’s now continue our study today, to find out why they hadn’t finished the reconstruction, and at the same time, to discover the main reason why so many don’t receive all of the blessings that God wants to bestow upon His people.
In the scriptures that we are studying today we read: “…Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.”’” 3Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?..” Why hadn’t they finished the reconstruction? The reason why they hadn’t finished the reconstruction, and the reason why so many don’t receive all the blessings that God wants to bestow upon them is because they, like many today, didn’t give much importance to God’s things.
I say this because here we see that in their hearts they thought: “…The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built…” In other words, God saw that they had stopped rebuilding the Temple because they were tending to their own personal wants or needs, instead of tending to God’s work. And that’s why the Lord says: “…Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?..” In other words, the Lord said, so you have time for your stuff, but you don’t have time for me. Now we must think for a moment and ask ourselves: do we do the same? Are we so busy and wrapped up in our personal affairs or interest, that we don’t give importance to God’s things? Are we so wrapped up and occupied in our personal affairs, that we haven’t finished building the Temple? Does the Temple lie in ruins, and are we continuing to think that there will be time for the construction or reconstruction later?
I know that some of you may already be thinking something similar to: I knew this was too good to be true, he is about to ask us for money to build a church building. But if this though entered your mind, rebuke in the name of Jesus. Rebuke it because the Temple that all of us need to build, rebuild, or strengthen is not a building of bricks and mortar; the Temple that we have to build, rebuild and/or strengthen is our life. Look carefully at what we find in 1 Corinthians 3:16 when we read: “…Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?..” God wants us to build, rebuild, and/or strengthen a Temple in our life for the Holy Spirit. And that’s why we must constantly reflect on our path and ask ourselves, is there something stopping God’s will in my life? Brethren, God is looking for men and women willing to face the battle without fear. God is looking for men and women willing to do great things for His kingdom. God is looking for men and women willing to give Him their best. God wants to glorify Himself in our life, but for this to happen; we must first give God the place He deserves in our life. Tell the person sitting next to you: build the Lord’s Temple.
Continuing with our study we read: “…Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! 6“You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes…” What did God mean by this? What God was saying to the people of that time, and what He is telling us today is: think about what you are doing. Tell the person sitting next to you: think about what you are doing. These words should resonate in our minds at all times. I say this because when we do things without thinking, that is, we let ourselves be influenced by the things of this world, then sooner or later we will fall into our enemy’s trap, and God's work in our life will be stopped. It’s for this reason that I’ve often said that as faithful believers, we can’t allow circumstances or difficulties to influence our relationship with God. Tell the person sitting next to you: remain steadfast.
Just as in Haggai’s time, today there are many people who allow God's work in their life to be stopped, and this leads them to stop growing spiritually. Once this happens the person fails to see the blessings, and can only see the difficulties. Once this happens the person enters a state of rebellion and dissent. Look carefully at what the Word tells us here to determine if what I say is true; here we read: “…You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes…” Now I ask, does this describe your life?
In other words, have you ever thought that the more you work the less you have? Have you ever thought that the more you try the more you fail? I think that both of these thoughts have entered the mind of everyone here at one time or another. However, when we reflect on our life, and when we are honest with ourselves, I think that most of us, if not everyone, will find that these thoughts have invaded our mind because we haven’t given God the place He deserves in our life. I think most of us will discover that these thoughts have invaded our mind because we have strayed from God's ways, and we no longer hear His voice. The problem is that when we ignore, or refuse to hear God’s voice, then we are not living as He wants us to live.
In the verses that we are studying today we find that God speaks to the people of that time quite strongly, but these words and warning also serve us today. Why do I say this? I say this because the reality is that there is not much difference between the people of that time and us. The people of that time had stopped giving God the priority that He deserves, and ultimately, humanity today has done the same. Why has this happened?
This is something that has happened, and continues to happen because mankind has changed God’s truth for the devil's lies, and this is something that we have been warned about in advance as we read in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 when we read: “…For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables…”
When we pause to meditate about the direction that this world is heading, I think everyone here will agree when I say that things are headed from bad to worse. Nowadays speaking about fornication, adultery, violence, homosexuality, and the many other things that we know are an abomination to God, is better accepted by the world than to speak of the love and the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Speaking of God, speaking of His promises, and speaking about the great need that the world has to turn back to God is seen as absurd, is seen as offensive and outdated. However, evil is not forbidden, and is seen as normal. That's why in our public schools our children are taught about evolution, premarital sex, the use of contraceptives, and Mohammed; however, praying or teaching about the Bible is forbidden.
God told the people of that time, and He tells us today: “…Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD. 9“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the LORD of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house…” In these verses we find the reason why so many don’t receive God’s blessings, and at the same time, what we must do to receive them.
What stops many from receiving God’s blessings? The Lord tells us here: “…Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house…” What stops many from receiving God’s blessing is that God’s Temple in disarray or abandoned and empty. In other words, we are so wrapped up and consumed by the things of this world, that our conduct and behavior have expelled the Holy Spirit from our life. And what happens when this occurs? The answer to this question is well reflected in the Lord's words in Luke 11:24-26 when we read: “…When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. 26Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first…”
What must we do to receive God’s blessings? We must examine ourselves to discover what might be negatively influencing our relationship with God. Look carefully at what the Lord tells us here when we read: “…Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD…” Do you want to receive God’s blessings? Then “…build the temple…” What does this mean? To build the Temple means that we must concentrate on pleasing God, instead of focusing on pleasing the world. The reality is that if we don’t this, we are in fact only fooling ourselves. Tell the person sitting next to you: “…build the Temple…”
Something that we must remain very cognizant of is that our enemy will attack us in order to stop the construction and/or rebuilding of God’s work in our life. Our enemy will attempt to plant negative thoughts in our mind; he will try to plant doubt; he will try to plant discouragement; he will try to plant rebellion and apathy. He will try to plant everything and anything that will separate us from God. Our enemy will attempt to confuse us, and he will exploit any means or avenue available to achieve his purpose, including other believers. Why? Because he knows very well, and uses the military tactic that the Lord warned us about in Mark 3:24-25 when we read: “…If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand…”
How have governments (kingdoms) been destroyed throughout history? At times they have been destroyed or replaced by wars, but in most cases, it happened due to a revolution; in other words, turmoil and dissention from within. And this is why we must always keep mind that there is nothing that the enemy won’t do in his attempt to separate us from the place of blessings. Look carefully at how this is something that we have been warned about quite clearly in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 when we read: “…And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works…”
In conclusion; as a loving Father, God wants the very best for each one of us. God wants to glorify himself in our life and give us peace, harmony, and prosperity; however, for this to happen we must first give God the place He deserves in our life. In other words, we must do as Ephesians 4:22 tells us when we read: “…that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…”
We can’t allow ourselves to be influenced or pressured by the circumstances that surround us; as faithful believers we have to stop this demonic attack that attempts to stop God’s work in our life. We must allow God to glorify Himself in our life at all times; we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide each one of our steps.
Situations may arise, and difficulties may appear suddenly, but Christ gives us the strength to overcome them. So meditate well on the road that you find yourself in; meditate and ask yourself what stops God’s work in my life? Do you want to receive God’s blessings in your life? Then listen for He says: “…build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified…”
 Merriam-Webster Dictionary
 Public Schools Embrace Islam - by Reverend Austin Miles - Special to ASSIST News Service - January 10, 2002