Summary: A New Year's sermon based on the disappointments of the people and promises of God at the rebuilding of the temple upon the return from Babylon.

1. Sowing

An old farmer was about to die and he called his 2 sons to his bedside. He said, "Boys, my farm and the fields are yours. You each have equal shares. I leave you a little ready money, but the bulk of my wealth is hidden somewhere in the ground of the farm. I’m not sure anymore quite where it is, but it’s not more than 18 inches from the surface.

In time, of course, the old man died, the sons inherited the farm. Not long afterwards they set to work digging up every inch of ground. But they failed to find any treasure. But since they’d gone to all the trouble of turning the soil, they thought they might as well sow a crop - which they did, reaping a good harvest.

The following autumn as soon as they had an opportunity, they dug for the treasure again, but with no better results. As their fields were turned over more thoroughly than any others in the neighborhood, they reaped better harvests than anyone else.

Year after year, their search continued… and year after year they gained a good crop.

It was only when they had grown older that they realized what their father had done.

Remember: You reap what you sow - says God.

2. Haggai 2.1-9

3. What kind of seeds are we sowing?

I. Seeds of Despair?

A. Despair in the Return

1. 70 Year Captivity (per Daniel and Jeremiah)

2. Only a remnant returns – despairing that the majority did not want to return

3. Jerusalem; Walls; Temple; Religion all in Ruins

B. Despair in Rebuilding

1. The walls and Nehemiah (wound up rebuilding in 52 days)

2. Tabernacle replaced by the Temple

3. This Temple – not as eloquent as Solomon’s

a. Solomon used 183,000 workers in 7 years

b. 663,000 pounds of silver; 567,000 pounds of gold + precious stones and expensive wood

4. Discouraged when they saw how little they could afford [Herod would expand into a “Wonder of the World”

C. Do you ever fall into a despair that says “Why bother?” – They stopped building – we can, too

Apathy: Tim Hansen in his book "Holy Sweat" tells about teaching a group of boys in High School who were totally uninterested in what he had to say.

They were totally uninterested, so he decided that he was going to get their attention one way or another. He tried every innovative way he could think of to get them to listen. But day after day passed and they just defied him to get them interested in anything.

Finally, he walked into the classroom and in desperation wrote the word, "APATHY" in great big 3 foot letters across the blackboard, "A-P-A-T-H-Y." Then he turned around and looked at his class. He said that there was one big senior boy, just about to be unleashed on the world, sitting at his desk, squinting at those great big 3 foot letters, and reading them aloud, "A P A T H Y."

"A-pa-thy." The boy scratched his head for a moment, and then again spelled it and tried to pronounce it aloud. Pretty soon he turned to his buddy next to him and said, "A-pa-thy. What's that mean?" His buddy shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Who cares?"

I wonder if we don't have the same attitude sometimes when we look at ourselves and our world. Who cares? Who really cares that the suffering or the lost? Who cares about the situation of our world?

Ezra 3.12-13 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

1. They stopped the literal temple

2. We can stop building our lives (as the new temple of God)

II. Seeds of Hope?

A. God’s Encouraging Word – “Take courage/Be strong” – 2.4-5

1. To: Zerubbabel; Joshua; the People

2. Finances? Not an Issue – 2.8 [George Muller – 50,000 documented answers to prayer

3. A Glorious Place – 2.7, 9

4. A Covenantal Promise – 2.5

B. Taking God at His Word – a Step of Faith

1. Circumstances seem greater than we are

2. This is when God shines:

• Moses led Hebrews out of Egypt with a stick

• David killed the giant with a sling

• Gideon defeated 135,000 Midianites with 300 men

• Jesus changed the world with 12

• These shouldn’t have happened but God made it happen

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