Build The House #1
A Call To Build The House
I read an imagining yesterday of if Noah happened today. The Lord tells him to build an ark because he’s going to destroy the world. “I’m going to save your family and two of every animal.” And God gave him instructions and specifications for building. “Get busy, cause destruction is coming or you better learn to swim.”
Some months passed and the Lord returned, skies clouding, thunder rumbling but Noah was just crying in the front yard of his lot with a pile of wood.
“Forgive me Lord – I did my best … I had to get a building permit and they said your plans weren’t up to code. I had to get an engineer to redraw the plants. I got into fights over whether I met the fire systems requirements or if I needed sprinklers.
MY neighbors said I was violating zoning by building it in my yard, so I had to get a variance from the planning commission.
“I had a hard time getting enough wood because they were limiting the cutting down of trees to save the owls, and I said I was trying to save the owls, but they told me I couldn’t get two owls because they were endangered, I said ‘I know, we all are’. Still no owls.
“The carpenters’ union picketed my work site. I had to negotiate a settlement with Labor Relations. So, I have 16 carpenters working for me, but no owls yet.
I got sued by animal rights groups when I started gathering animals. I dealt with that but the EPA hit me with needing to file an environmental impact statement on the proposed flood that you are sending. The Army Corp of Engineers wanted to see the expected flood plain so I showed them a globe.
“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying to decide how many different groups I’m going to hire. The IRS is investigating my attempts to leave the country assuming I have back taxes. The city has hit me with a use tax.
“Lord, I don’t think I can finish this for at least 5 years!”
Suddenly the sky clears and a rainbow comes out as the sun shines. Noah asks “you’re not going to destroy the earth?”
“No,” said the Lord “The government already has.”
Building can be a hard thing
Nearly 587 BC Nebuchadnezzar had defeated Judah and Jerusalem. The Temple of God had been destroyed.
The bulk of the population of Judah was carried off into captivity in Babylon
But the Lord does not forget his people. Nor does he forget his promises.
Along came the Persian conqueror, Cyrus. He destroyed the Chaldean empire.
In 536 BC he gave the order that the Jewish people in exile could return home to rebuild the Temple.
But it had been roughly 70 years. Most of them had been born in captivity. They never knew anything BUT captivity. They were comfortable in their life, jobs, way of living.
We live in a country that was founded by people with a heart for God and for a place where people could freely worship him. It was a country with many faults but with a sense of God’s truth and ways. In the late 1700s, in the mid 1800s, the late 1800s, and the early 1900s God’s hand was evident in Revival and Awakening.
But as we moved further in the history of this country, our hearts have become hardened toward God.
It used to be that at least once in a Generation, much like Israel of old, God would soften the hearts, and draw them back to himself.
But today we are into the 3rd Generation since the last Great Awakening in our Country.
The book of Ezra deals with this time in Israel’s history as well.
Ezra 1:5 says Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites – everyone whose heart God had moved – prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem
Those Family Heads and Levites who were moved in their hearts by God.
Only 42,360, according to Ezra 2:64, were moved by God
Looking at the state of our world, looking at the state of our country, are there any left in Florissant, in North County, in St. Louis, in Missouri, in America whose hearts are still touched by God?
Are there still any preachers who will lead people?
Are there still any Family Leaders who will soften their hearts to the move of God?
Will we listen to his voice?
Will we follow his lead?
Are we MORE committed to the way of God or to our way of life?
Would we be more content to keep our jobs or follow God
Would we rather keep our connections or connect with the move of God?
So, if you read Ezra, you will find that these 42,000 whose hearts had been moved returned to Israel.
So this message from God, through his prophet Haggai, was to THOSE whose hearts were toward God
This letter isn’t so much toward the supposed unfaithful but the faithful
But you know sometimes we are guilty of having our hearts touched by God, our emotions are stirred, plans are made, but sometimes we don’t follow through.
So these “faithful” returning ones, had laid the foundation for the Temple. But then it just sat there for 16 years!
Well folks there are many different levels at which we can approach this book for encouragement, exhortation, and instruction.
We must approach this from the standpoint of a country which has wandered or been in exile
We can approach as individuals or families that have wandered or been in exile and need to return
And we can approach it as a church that too has wandered too.
In all three instances, we need leadership from the family heads and the ministers of God to follow the Lord.
Perhaps in your life or family you have responded to God and laid the foundation, but that’s as far as it has gone.
As I wrestled with this passage, as Pastor, I have to think of our 6 years together and see a similarity. We moved quickly to lay a foundation for the rebuilding of a mighty work in this place. We saw God’s hand at work, we saw births into the Kingdom. The foundation has been laid, but I have to wonder if we have become satisfied with the foundation. It is time to move forward in building.
Perhaps you gave your heart to Christ as an individual and even as a leader in your family. You have eagerly entered into life with Christ, but that’s as far as it has gone.
Well this word is for us.
If our country will see God’s Hand move again in Revival and Awakening, then he must move on our families
If he is going to move on our families, he must move on the family heads and the preachers.
So, On September 1, 520 BC, the prophet Haggai delivers this message from God to the Governor Zerubbabel and to Joshua, the High Priest.
So, begin reading with me from Haggai chapter 1
I find one question and 2 admonitions, see if you can hear them too
So then, did you get them, one question and two admonitions from God?
The question that is implied is
1. What Time is It?vv1-3
This is the underlying question in verses 1-3
A. What Time do you THINK it is?
1. v2 – “the time has not yet come” – That’s what the people said. Remember these are the faithful ones. These are the ones who came back to Judah. These are the ones who had laid the foundation. These are the ones whose hearts had been touched by God. They weren’t saying “no” they were just saying “not now”
2. oh Listen people of God, most of us are smart to not tell God “no” but we sure will tell him “in a minute” … Do your kids do that to you? “will you clean your room?” “Yes maim, in a minute” … which means, when I get done with this show, when I don’t have anything else to do, when I get good and ready. In Luke 9 Jesus said to a man “Follow Me” … Now that’s a pretty clear command. It doesn’t have all the details, it doesn’t lay out a clear instruction for the outcome. But the instruction is clear, follow, come behind me, and do what I do. How did the guy respond in verse 59 … “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Doesn’t sound too bad does it? But cultural historians tell us that what he was saying was “after my Father dies, down the road and I dispense of all those duties.” In other words, his Father probably wasn’t even SICK … he was saying “sure Jesus, just not now” …
3. God had told them to rebuild the Temple and for 16 years they said “it’s not time for that now”
4. My goodness, who are we to tell an Eternal God, who invented time, “it’s not time” … That’s like us telling Tiger Woods he’s playing golf wrong, he should do it like this … Or trying to teach Lebron James how to play basketball, or Albert Pujols how to hit a baseball
5. We all have “time keeping” devices in our lives that tell us what time it is. We have expectations, desires, dreams, priorities … “it’s dinner time” “it’s play time” … “it’s play time” … “it’s time for work” … But what if our world is upside down? What our watch has stopped or is broken?
6. Another way to render this Hebrew word ‘eth is the time of fortune or occasion has not come. It’s not the RIGHT time … it’s not the FAVORED time … it’s not the BEST time …
But We need to ask …
B. What time does God say it is?
1. If you read Ezra, you find that there was a lot of opposition surrounding them from their neighbors to their efforts to rebuild the temple. Those efforts had made them less than excited about following through. But their time pieces were faulty or their point of reference was bad
2. I need a source of reality. I have an automatic watch at home and if I’m not wearing it all the time it will stop running and I have to reset it. I can’t just put it on and start from there. I can’t just set it at any time and go on with life. So, I have to find the RIGHT time and set MY Watch in accordance with the RIGHT Time
3. I need a north by which to set my watch or perhaps I need to get away from the little magnet that is throwing off my compass so that it can lead me according to the True North instead of a false indication of what is right. These people had responded to pressure and difficulty and assumed that it was evidence that God didn’t want them to do that … it wasn’t time
4. I need a reference point. In Luke 9:23 Jesus said “if anyone would come after me, let me deny himself, take up his cross, and follow ME.
So, in order to Rebuild the house of God, we need to ask God, “What time is it?”
Then after the question, God gives two admonitions
2. Give Careful Thought to your ways
We can’t build anything, not even a sand castle without careful thought, let alone the House of God.
There must be attention to what God is doing.
There must be assessment
There must be a clear understanding of Reality
A. Consider your Ways
>When God comes to us with a plan you can be sure he’s NOT looking for our input. He’s trying to get us to see from his perspective and his perspective is always right. In Revelation 2 Jesus is talking to the church in Ephesus and he says “you have forsaken your first love” … he was NOT asking their opinion … he was giving them a revelation into HIS perfect knowledge. He tells them Consider your ways … he says “Remember the height from which you’ve fallen” … but he doesn’t ask them WHAT THEY THINK they should do about it, he tells them “Repent and DO what you did at first
>God’s Revelation is an invitation from us to Realign our lives with HIS instruction
>Consider your ways – What is God’s assessment?
1. you have planted much but have harvested little – you like starting but you don’t like finishing – “the end of a matter is better than the beginning” … I’ll tell you, often one of the most challenging things as a pastor is coming up with something new to keep people interested. We are often trying to come up with the latest, cutting edge things. We have to write new songs, come up with new studies, find new ideas or we get bored. Or we lose people to the church that has the latest things. Listen I’m not saying we shouldn’t be innovative. I’m not saying that we don’t need to be creative. I’m not saying we don’t have to stay current in our methods for reaching a lost world in a voice they can hear and understand. But there ought to be a difference with reaching the lost and teaching those who know Christ personally.
2. what you have doesn’t satisfy – you eat but never have enough – you drink but never have fill – you put on clothes but are not warm
What are the things that have greatest place in your life? Are you filling yourself with good things? When you are hungry, do you just have cotton candy? Might taste good, but will it fill you? Will it harm you? … consider your ways.
The third observation that God made of his people was that
3. what you invest in doesn’t produce a return. You put on clothes but aren’t warm, you earn wages but put them in a purse with holes in it. Consider your ways. Now this is not a sermon on giving, but as we walk through this text we can’t miss the point here. God’s churches are often kept ineffective not for lack of vision or lack of desire but lack of resources and manpower.
Consider your Ways … are they God’s Ways … and generally those ways follow our Heart, our Hopes, and our Dreams …
Do we have the Heart of Christ
B. Consider Your Hopes
1. Oh can’t you see that planting is wonderful, but so is nurturing and then harvesting. Does a farmer plant and then just watch it develop, grow and die on the stalk? NO he LIVES for the Harvest. He longs for the development. Do you dream of finishing the task God gives you? Ask God to give you the heart of a finisher. We need the passion of a winner instead of being satisfied with just competing. Is it enough for you to just be born into the Kingdom or do you long to grow up?
2. Never satisfied? Maybe it’s because what you long to fill your spirit with is not eternal and born of God’s Spirit. Paul told his churches that they needed to grow passed the milk to the meat of the word
3. Oh don’t you see that we have been saved by grace, through faith. It truly IS the gift of God so that we have no boasting ground. But Eph 2:10 follows by saying “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” I share this with great trepidation … please hear my heart … But the word of God here is that we take care of so many things but leave HIS work undone. We volunteer for the school, and the scouts, and neighborhood and we give to this thing and that, we might get our heart toasty, or remove the guilt of being involved, but does it go to eternal things?
Mat 6:19-21 do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
If you put all of your best energies in volunteering for this or that, you will prioritize your life there
If you put all your money in the stock market you will have a heart for the stock market and the paper
None of those things are BAD … but where is your Heart?
If you invest your best in the things of God on building his Kingdom then your heart will be set on those things and if the stock market crashes your hopes and dreams won’t be dashed because your heart is set on things above
Seek first the Kingdom of God and all his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well …
What time is it? It’s TIME to Follow Christ and Obey his Commands
Consider Your Ways / Dreams … is your Heart set on things above …
And so to this group that is made up of faithful people, people that truly want the things of God
People who have been basically sitting for 16 years … the clear admonition from God is …
3. Build the House
After 16 years it was time for a fresh stirring in their hearts
Their hearts had been stirred in Babylon but now The Governor, the High Priest, The Leaders of the Families and the people themselves needed a fresh stirring to complete the things God had given them to do.
Do you see the basis in verse 8 for rebuilding a house of faith. Now listen again, we are talking to God’s people here. We are talking to people that are already ones who have been stirred by God and placed their faith in him.
He doesn’t say “plant” he says “build”
Not Broadcast seed, though that’s important, not birth though you have to have life before you can grow, but he says build.
Rebuilding a Spiritual house; rebuilding a Christian Nation
Rebuilding a church doesn’t happen through politics and programs or even just through evangelism but through discipleship.
A. Go Up to the Mountain
1. throughout the scriptures mountains are pictured as places where people meet God. Abraham went up on Mt Moriah which is part of Jerusalem today. Moses went up on Sinai. Jerusalem was also called Mt. Zion and was synonymous with Heaven and God’s presence
2. You have to Go Up to have necessary supplies to build. You have to go into God’s presence to have the tools to build a spiritual house. You and I must come together for the preaching of God’s Word from God’s anointed preacher. We must also submit ourselves to the church appointed teachers who have been given for the purpose of building you up. We must fellowship together for strength and encouragement, break bread and pray together. That’s what the early church did and that’s why the Lord blessed and they grew not only numerically but in Spiritual Stature as well
B. Bring Down Timber
1. Going to church should not be like a Sunday Drive, beautiful, pleasant but ultimately meaningless. God describes that type to Ezekiel …
Ezekiel 33:30-32 “(saying)… ‘come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ My people come to you as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.
2. We have to admit that we are all guilty of that when it comes to a worship service sometimes. We hear it, we talk about how it was, but we don’t adjust to it. If we are to go UP to the Mountain for Timbers for building, and we come back how and talk about how pretty the trees were, but we have no timber, what’s the point.
3. Oh people, you should be coming to Worship, to Bible Study, to private devotion for the purpose of getting Timber to build a household of Faith!
4. I promise you that if you come LOOKING for Timber you will find it. If you come prepared to take notes, you will find something worth writing
C. Build the house
1. Matt 7:24 Jesus says that the one who hears his words and puts them into practice is a wise man building on Rock … but verse 26 says the one who hears and doesn’t put them into practice is a foolish one building a house on a foundation of sand that will fall at the first sign of trouble.
2. Build the House … Matt 28:19 tells us to “Go and Make Disciples” … the word is mathetueo /math-ayt-yoo-o/ to follow precepts and instructions; to make a disciple – we are called not just to be born but to in that spiritual birth to enter into the school of Christ
Matthew 28:20 says that happens through Teaching … didasko – teaching through discourse with others
I need to close but people we have to move out of a consumer mentality Church is not simply an entertainment venue. This is a Work Group
We are Kingdom Servants
Jesus compares the Kingdom to a Master who puts people to WORK in his Field … not to a Carnival Barker who calls people in to watch his Show.
Adam had a garden to attend and a world to subdue
Noah had an Ark to build and a world in which to multiple
Moses had a people to deliver
Joshua had a land to conquer
Solomon had a Temple to Build
Jesus had a people to liberate and redeem
Peter had a church to build
Paul had a mystery to unveil a message to proclaim
We are not called to a Sedentary Life
Not a Life of Leisure, but a Life of Growth and Progress
Look at our physical make up. We are not even designed physically for a life of inactivity. Our body is intended to continue in growth and development
If you leave any part of our body to inactivity and it will atrophy, disintegrate or die
What is disintegration? It is a lack of integration. When we become dis integrated to the work of God through disbelief, distance, or disobedience something in us dies.
Our compassion or our passion
A baby, a child, or an adult must be fed, muscles must be challenged, growth must continually be stimulated or things die.
You have to partner with us
Yes, we are responsible to not just evangelize but also provide opportunity for growth and encougae you in growth.
But you have to work with us.
I heard of a man who wanted to join the church.
He told the Pastor, “don’t call on me for service, or committee work, teaching, singing, special projects, or setting up chairs, or helping with VBS or the nursery. I don’t want to greet cause I don’t really like people. My evenings and weekends are busy. And my money is already committed. But I’m happy to join”
The Pastor waited for him to finish and said, “I want to recommend the best church for you. It’s 3 blocks down on the right hand corner.”
The man was surprised, but took the directions and went down the street and stopped in front of a church building. It was boarded up, closed down, abandoned, dead, out of business!
Please hear me New Life. We want to build you up. We want to rebuild our neighborhoods, our city, state, and nation
But you have to come with us, you have to commit to teaching, you have to find a place of service.
And as you find your place here, then your household of faith is built up and then the community, city, state, nation, and our world can be rebuilt, One Home at a Time