Following God Takes Courage
Title: Following God Takes Courage.
Text: Haggai 2:1-9.
CIT: People are encouraged to follow the Lord courageously.
Theme: Follow the Lord courageously.
The devil, according to legend, once advertised some of his tools for sale at public auction. When the prospective buyers showed up, there was one oddly-shaped tool which was labeled “Not for sale.” Asked to explain why this was, the devil answered, “I can spare my other tools, but I cannot spare this one. It is the most useful tool that I have. It is called “Discouragement,” and with it I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible. When I get this tool into a person’s heart, the way is open to plant anything there I may desire.”
Haggai’s second message to the remnant of Israel was all about “Discouragement.” Almost a month has past since the construction on God’s House had began. It was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. A great crowd had come to town and the item which drew all their attention was the rebuilding of God’s House. People flocked to look at the progress.
Faced with the relative absence of progress, human nature reared its ugly head. Look what they are doing here! This will be a half-baked building compared with the old temple that Solomon built! And perhaps there were a few octogenarians present, people who had actually been familiar with the original temple before its destruction. Wistful recollections of the splendour of the past produced frustration and discouragement.
There’s always a great danger in looking back. That’s why Paul said, “Forgetting those things which lie behind, I press on toward the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14).
God attempts to bring them out of their discouragement by pointing out three things.
I. The Present Reality (Haggai 2:1-3).
In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month (October 17, 520 B.C.), the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying: “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying: ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?
We don’t know how much work had been done in a month, but evidently it was just enough to give the people an idea of what the new temple would belike. The timber frame looked inferior to the dressed stone of Solomon’s Temple that had been destroyed. Solomon had a vast amount of gold and silver from David’s treasury, fine stone, marble, and other valuable material for its construction. It took almost two hundred thousand workman approximately seven years to build it. Perched high upon Mount Moriah, it was impressive.
In contrast, the remnant number around fifty thousand and they had very limited resources. They had worked for a month. No wonder there were many who were discouraged and wanted to quit.
The same situation is revisited many times and many places today. When I was a boy, I remember some of the adults talking about the good old days. Can I tell you the truth, I don’t remember any good old days when I was a boy — those days when I was growing up were hard. I remember the first little church I served in Missouri. It was a little white building. I wasn’t there but for seven months because I was still in the Army and I was transferred. During that time we had a revival and God blessed. Many people were saved. A few weeks later, some of us sat and we were talking about what a wonderful meeting it had been. There was one old man there. He said, “You’ve had some good meetings, young man, but I remember….” When someone starts that, you are headed for the downhill run. He told us, “When I was a young man, we really had revival meetings!” As he told us about the meetings, ours seemed pretty small and insignificant. I learned later that he exaggerated a little. What he said was discouraging. And in Haggai’s day the folk, who had been so enthusiastic, became discouraged.
How is God going to meet this situation? Well, I’ll tell you how we would do it today. We would appoint a committee to see what could be done. Amen! I am a committee person. I want to get as many people involved it the process as possible. But the committee must seek God leadership and go to work.
As someone has said, most committees are a group of people who individually can do nothing and who together decide that nothing can be done. Having been a pastor for many years, I am confident that we would use the committee approach to handle this problem. But that is not the way God solved it. He faced the problem squarely and came up with a very simple solution. We will see it a little later. Next see:
II. The Past Reviewed (Haggai 2:4-5).
Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’
I want you to notice that God was not critical of the building. In fact, He was pleased with what they had accomplished. Can I say to you that the enemy, Satan, always attempts to minimize any genuine work for God.
“Be Strong!” That was God’s answer. Three times Haggai says “Be strong.” If God has given you a task that is overwhelming, He says, “Be Strong!”
This is Nominating Committee time in our church. It is the time when you hear “I can’t do that!” You hear them say, “I couldn’t do as good a job as so and so did” Can I say that God is saying to you “Be Strong!”
He says something else, “For I am with you.” They could accomplish the task because God was with them. That is the secret, “God was with them.” Yes, the job was to great for them, but not for God.
Any job, any ministry, you do for God is to great for you. You can’t do it on your own and if you could it wouldn’t please God. You see, we are sinners and anything we do is as “filthy rags” to Him. But don’t get discouraged. Don’t quit! “Be Strong, for He is with you.”
And, just in case they didn’t believe Him, God gave them a promise from the past: “‘for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’” God had covenanted with Israel and His covenant will not be broken. He also promised the Holy Spirit. What more could you ask? Trust Him.
You and I live in a big, bad world today. What is our encouragement? God’s work in many places is small and doesn’t seem to amount to very much. What is the solution? Well, here is God’s answer to us: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might”. The work God has called us to do seems to overwhelm us and we get discouraged. What is our encouragement? “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” We need to recognize that we can’t do anything but that God can do a great deal. Be strong in the Lord.
A last thing Haggai told the remnant, that is very applicable to us, “Get to work!” “I am with you so get to work!” Like the remnant, we need to “get to work.” We need to get to work doing Jesus things whether that is teaching Sunday School, visiting to sick, serving on the Nominating Committee, or washing dishes after a fellowship, we simply need to “get to work.” Last, I want us to see:
III. The Prospects Revealed (Haggai 2:6-9).
“For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
God shook the earth at Sinai and in these verses He says He will shake the universe. We need to see three things quickly:
a. The Lord and His Power.
These verses are prophetic. They refer to the Great Tribulation. There are to be wars under the seals, under the trumpets, and under the vials. There is to be a massive invasion of Israel and finally the terrible battle of Armageddon. Jesus is to come and place His feet to the earth and the earth is to split. There is going to be a whole lot a shaking going on.
He is saying to these people and us, I shook the earth once and I can do it again even more so. If you look at the completion of this temple, it had something that Solomon’s temple never had. It had Christ. It was to the second temple Jesus was brought as a baby to be offered to God. It was at this second temple where as a boy He sat in the midst of doctors. It was at this temple that Jesus sat and taught, did miracles, and revealed things hidden from the foundation of the world. God was shaking the world again.
The Apostle Paul and those who traveled with him were known as those who turned the world upside down. During the first and second great awaking, the world was shaken to its foundations with the Gospel message. I believe God wants to shake the world in our life time. I believe He wants to shake Hughes, AR to its very foundations with the Gospel message. All we need to do is be strong, claim His strength, and get to work. Second, see:
b. The Lord and his Presence.
“I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of Hosts.” We saw where He did this when Jesus visited this temple. But there is more. There were five things said to be missing from the second temple: The ark of the covenant, the sacred fire, the shekinah, the urim and thummim, and the spirit of prophecy.
We have been studying about God’s temple in heaven from the Book of Revelation. And we have found out that His last temple will have more of everything than any temple before it. Words cannot describe its glory.
Can I say to you that when two or more Christians are gathered together, that He is in the midst. When you and I meet together every Sunday or Wednesday, God is present in all His power and glory. He fills this house. We simply need to let Him shine. Third,
c. The Lord and His Peace.
When the Lord shows us, He will “give peace.” When Jesus reigns as both Priest and King there will be peace.
One of Satan’s major tools is discouragement. Are you discouraged tonight? In a moment we are going to be singing a song of invitation, and its your invitation to come and find strength and encouragement from God.
Do you know God’s peace tonight? Do you know God’s presence? Do you know God’s power? He want you to. He wants to shake your work and turn it upside down for Him. But, He won’t do it without your permission. In fact, you are going to have to invite Him in. Have you done that? Why don’t you do that right now?
Maybe you used to know that peace, that presence, and even that power, but the light has went out and it needs to be turned back on. We invite you to come tonight and get turned on to Jesus. Won’t you come?
FBC, Hughes, AR 08/09/09