Summary: It's easy to get discouraged about our work for the Lord when we look at it from a worldly perspective. But God is doing a work that is not always visible to you and me.
“When God Builds His Church”
January 9th 2011
“'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the Lord Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the Lord Almighty."
Haggai 2:9 (NIV)
> We’ve all seen motivational posters hanging around offices encouraging people to dream dreams and focus on a great vision.
> Well one company, Despair, Inc., has created a line of demotivational products—posters and t-shirts that present things in grim reality. For example…
Insanity — It’s difficult to comprehend how insane some people can be. Especially when you’re insane.
Mistakes — It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.
Doubt — In the battle between you and the world, bet on the world.
Humiliation — The harder you try, the dumber you look.
Losing — If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.
Despair — It’s always darkest just before it goes pitch black.
Defeat — For every winner, there are dozens of losers. Odds are you’re one of them.
> It’s funny how motivational speakers always make it sound like there is a rainbow over every tragedy.
> But the truth is, disappointment is a reality of life. No matter how hard we try, we will all face death some day. For every winner there are dozens of losers. And in the battle between you and the world, the world often ends up getting the best of you.
> This is the way the remnant of Israel felt in Haggai chapter 2. Verse 1 says, “On the twenty-first day of the seventh month…” This was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles which coincided with the dedication of the first Temple by Solomon.
> The remnant of Israel was standing around looking at what they had built so far and they were getting discouraged. Those who remembered the first temple continued to point out how sad the new temple looked in comparison.
> And, on top of all of this, the deadline for completion had come and gone. It would have been the desire of these builders to reach a significant milestone or even completion on the anniversary of the dedication of the first Temple—Solomon’s Temple. Instead, the day of dedication was continually being pushed back. It seemed that the Temple would never be completed.
> To recap…
The second Temple was a pitiful comparison to Solomon’s Temple.
The second Temple wasn’t beautiful or luxurious like Solomon’s Temple.
The second Temple didn’t have the Ark of the Covenant—the central fixture of Solomon’s Temple.
The second Temple was facing all kinds of construction delays and problems.
All in all,
The second Temple was falling far short of Solomon’s Temple in every way!
> The exiles who had returned from Babylon were beginning to feel like they were losers who couldn’t win for losing! They were giving their best, and their best just wasn’t good enough.
> Last week God’s message to Israel was, “Give careful thought to your ways.” In last week’s message the remnant had given up on the Temple and had become apathetic to the spiritual condition of their nation.
> However, We saw how the they listened to Haggai’s message and the Spirit of the Lord stirred them to obedience and they returned to work on the Temple.
> This week, it’s not apathy toward God’s business—it’s discouragement. There is sadness over what is and what used to be in the past. They are growing discouraged and considering giving up.
> God asks the question, in vs. 3, “How does it look to you now?”
> What God is asking is, “What are you looking at?” and, “What lens are you looking through?”
> In Ecclesiastes 7:10, Solomon writes…
Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions.
Eccl 7:10 (NIV)
> Solomon is warning that we shouldn’t compare the past with the present. It’s a faulty perspective.
> The Israelites, in Haggai 2, are looking through a faulty lens. They are using a wrong perspective to evaluate their present circumstances.
> We do this today. We look at our circumstances or surroundings and we make judgments based on very worldly perspectives.
People often ask, “How big is your church?” because numbers are a measure of success.
We look at the car someone drives and evaluate how wealthy they are.
We compare the way things are today with they way they used to be and we begin to get discouraged and think God has abandon us.
> Let’s look at the faulty perspective of the Israelites and consider at look at our own perspectives…