Title: Counting the Cost of Your Life.
Text: Haggai 2:10-19.
CIT: Holiness in your life cannot be passed on, sin and corruption can be.
Theme: Living a life worthy of Jesus.
A hen and a pig approached a church and read the posted sermon topic, “What Can We Do To Help The Poor?” Immediately the hen suggested they feed the poor a bacon and eggs breakfast. The pig thought it sounded good, but he told the hen there was one thing terribly wrong. “For you it requires only an offering, but for me it requires total commitment!” Like the chicken, many people are willing to participate in church if it does not involve sacrifice.
But, our Lord called for nothing less than total commitment. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). The prophet Haggai urged God’s people to commit themselves unreservedly to God. I want you to come with me this evening and search out God’s message from Haggai for you. First,
I. The Blessing Wanted (Haggai 2:10-14).
On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, “If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?”’”
Then the priests answered and said, “No.”
And Haggai said, “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?”
So the priests answered and said, “It shall be unclean.”
Then Haggai answered and said, “‘So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.
This message of Haggai was received two months after his last message. This message came on the 24th of Chislev in the second year of Darius’ reign. This would be December 18, 520 B.C. Just a month earlier, Zechariah began his ministry. In this message, God told Haggai to pose two questions to the priests.
“If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?”’”
Then, after he received his answer, he was to ask them another question:
If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?”
The questions are object lessons. The message God was sending was this - holiness is not transferable. In other words, touching things that are holy or being near to holiness does not make you holy.
In regards to the remnant, building the Temple, serving God, did not make them holy.
For us, coming to church, serving on church committees will not make you holy.
But on the other hand, uncleanness can be transferred. It can be passed along. Let me give you some more examples: Throwing a clean shirt into the bag of dirty shirts will not make the rest of the shirts clean. But throwing a dirty shirt in among clean shirts will stain the clean ones.
Let me go one step further, if you are healthy and strong, you cannot impart your healthiness to the sick people around you. But, if you are sick, you can pass on the disease to those you come into contact with.
The Israelites wanted God’s blessings and thought simply because they were doing the right things, like working in the Temple, they should get them. Not so. God is asking, “Can any of you, by virtue of working in my Temple, or doing God’s work, become clean? Does working for me make you holy?” “NO!”
God is not interested in outward works, He is interested about what is on the inside. What is on the inside motivates us to holiness.
If you are expecting God’s blessings just because you do good works, you are in for a rude awakening. Life is more than doing the right things. It is all about being right with God. God wants to forgive you, He wants to grant you mercy and grace, if you would only turn to Him. Second, I want you to see:
II. The Blessing Withheld (Haggai 2:15-17).
‘And now, carefully consider from this day forward: from before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the Lord — since those days, when one came to a heap of twenty ephahs, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty baths from the press, there were but twenty. I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,’ says the Lord.
The neglect of God’s house and inward sin had caused poor harvests. With the blessing of God withheld, what they were expecting to harvest was cut in half. Wastage, spoilage, and shrinkage devoured all their profits. Their great expectations came to nothing.
Does that sound familiar? Mighten it be that people are doing the right things for God on the outside but the inside there is no commitment to Him? That is what was going on in Haggai’s world. And, when God sent judgment, it didn’t affect them. Look at it:
“…yet you did not turn to me,” declares the Lord.” Even after many signs that God has been showing shown through their daily experience. They didn’t turn to God.
Listen to God’s cry: “TURN TO ME!” God did not give them a list of do’s and dont’s. Just turn to Me, and acknowledge your need of My grace and mercy! “…yet you did not turn to Me,” declares the Lord.
Let’s not repeat the same mistake. You need to come to God, confess your sin and appropriate His grace, and allow the divine Surgeon to work on you. Last, I want us to learn of:
III. The Blessing Waiting (Haggai 2:18-19).
‘Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid—consider it: Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’”
I believe what happens in these verses is very important. Notice, the first thing God does is to reemphasize the date. They had worked for three long months on the Temple, and the misfortunes continued to happen.
There was still no seed in the barn, the crops had suffered because of their past indifference and sin. Fruit trees had been stripped by hail. The good influence of their new good intentions had not overcome the bad influence of all their previous sins.
It amazes me the number of people who come to Jesus seeking His forgiveness and are surprised that with forgiveness God does not guarantee a crop failure for the seed of sin they have been planting all their lives. The alcoholic may still have to suffer from severe damage to their liver. The person saved from a life of promiscuity may still have a diseased body.
God does not always remove the consequences of sin. What He does do is forgives the guilt and gives you grace to live with the abiding thorn. If the remnant, if you are expecting a miracle of a crop failure of past sins, you are going to be sadly disappointed.
Can I say something else, what God does do is even better. He gave them His word. Listen, “From this day will I bless you.” God’s word is His bond. If these people would plow, plant the good seed, and prune, God would keep His promise in His own time and way.
Initially, Haggai was not permitted to promise the people anything. He was simply to set the facts before the people. They were to put first things first. They were to take the appropriate steps to remedy their wrong attitudes and behavior. After three months, after they had a change of heart, Haggai was able to make a promise, “From right now!”
The same is true of you and me. We can do all the right things, but until we have a change of heart, there are no promises. But, when we make the decision to follow Christ with all our heart, He says, “From right now, I will bless you!”
Are you like the chicken in our earlier story and only willing to participate in church if it doesn’t call for commitment? God won’t bless that. God wants you to commit everything to Him. God wants obedience.
Be obedient to what He’s told you to do. If He’s called you to pray, pray. If He’s called you to study the Word of God with intensity, get back to studying. If He’s called you to witness, witness. If He’s called you to be a singer, write songs and sing. If He’s called you to be hospitable, open your house regularly. If He’s called you to the mission field, go. Don’t say the time is not now. Neglecting to do what He’s called you to do will lead to great emptiness in your life. It will also cause a crop failure on God’s blessings.
Tonight God wants you to count the cost of living your life without Him and with Him. Then, He wants you to turn from your sin and follow Him. When you do, God will richly bless your life.
In a moment, we are going to be singing a song of invitation. It is your invitation to come and do business with God. Won’t you come as we sing.
FBC, Hughes 08/21/09