Summary: Let's keep the main thing the main thing.
Putting First Things First
Rev. Brian Bill
A couple weeks ago, Reed Blunier, age three, came up to me and gave me a gift. He said it was for “Pastor Cheesehead.” It was a book called, “Kids Say the Cutest Things About God.” I’d like to read a few of the things kids say.
God wants kids to be quiet in church so we don’t wake up all the sleeping people.
God doesn’t mind if I do a not-so-nice thing if I say I’m sorry to him at night.
God made the dinosaurs, but they didn’t work out.
If God makes everything, like the sun and the trees and lakes, why can’t he make my bed?
Our minister does all the talking, and God does all the listening.
I like Sunday School because God doesn’t give us any math to do.
I love the faith of kids. I heard about a young girl who was not allowed to go to the Sunday School picnic because she had misbehaved in church. For the next few days the girl behaved so well that her mom changed her mind and said she could go to the picnic after all. Surprisingly, the child’s reaction was one of gloom and sadness. The mother asked, “What’s the matter? I thought you’d be glad to go to the picnic?” To which the girl replied, “It’s too late…I’ve already prayed for rain.”
This morning I want to submit that it’s never too late to do what’s right as long as we keep the main thing the main thing.
We’re in the third week of our series on the Book of Haggai. Here’s what we learned two weeks ago:
• Let’s proceed and stop procrastinating
• Let’s prioritize God and stop living for our own pleasure
Last week we discovered that God wants us to:
• Pause and Ponder
• Look and Learn
• Go and Get
Today we’re going to see in Haggai 1:12-15 that God’s people responded rather quickly to God’s commands: “Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. Then Haggai, the Lord's messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: ‘I am with you,’ declares the Lord. So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius.”
Haggai’s preaching first moved the leaders and then the rest of the remnant to respond.
1. They hear and obey. In 1:8, God is very specific on what He wants them to do: “Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored.” God takes great pleasure when we treasure Him and obey what He says. I love how verse 12 begins: “Then…” As a result of what they heard, they heeded God’s call: “Then Zerubbabel…Joshua…and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God…” That reminds me of the words from that great hymn: “Trust and obey, for there is no other way.”
We’ve taught our girls this truth: Delayed obedience is still disobedience. If you’re drifting and want to get back, then practice immediate obedience. Good intentions don’t matter; only obedience does. Is there something you have not done and you know that God wants you to do it? I like what one person has said: “We have only one day to follow God and it’s not yesterday because that day is gone. It’s not tomorrow, because we can’t be certain that it will come. All we have is today.” As Hebrews 3:7-8 says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Would you notice that in verse 2, they are called, “these people” and now they are referred to as the “remnant”? The first term reveals that some distance had happened in the relationship. The second term shows that they were not rejected but were redirected. They were disciplined in order to get back on duty.
2. They fear and don’t delay. Check out the last phrase in verse 12: “…And the people feared the Lord.” We’ve been taught that the word “fear” means “to revere.” And that’s true…most of the time. But here it refers to being frightened or to have consternation. Literally it means “to fear in the presence of.” Like us, they needed to have “the fear of God” put in them.