Build the House #2
When God’s House Isn’t In Our House
Last Sunday we began a short series in the book of Haggai. I have to admit to you that while I have read the book a few times, I have previously not given any extensive study to this book.
We began last week and I believe we will find this to be an important study for us as individuals, as members of New Life Baptist Church, and as citizens of the United States. If you missed last week’s message, I would encourage you to request an audio tape of the message. You can also read the newsletter article today for a summary of this command from God in verses 1-8.
Remember that within two generations after David, Israel had split to a northern and southern Kingdom. The northern being Israel and the southern Judah. The people of Judah had been in Captivity for 70 years. Then in 536 BC, they returned with instructions to rebuild the temple. However, after returning and excitedly laying the foundation for a new temple, they became busy with the concerns of life and left the work of God undone. 16 years passed and the Lord spoke through the Prophet Haggai. He spoke to the Governor, Zerubbabel, and the High Priest, Joshua. He challenged Judah to give thought to their priorities. He challenged them for living in lavish houses while allowing the House of god and thus the work of God to go on undone. They were also reprimanded for determining for themselves the timing on the will of God. Finally, the Word of God was “it IS Time to stop living on the foundation and get on with rebuilding the temple.”
Today we live in a country that was started on a good foundation, but which by in large is too busy pursuing the “American Dream” to have time for God. We have become “practical atheists”. That is to say that they lived as if God didn’t exist while saying that he does. They lived with no recognition of his authority of recognition of the consequences of such actions. And most in America do as well.
God’s message “you live in paneled houses, while MY house is in ruins.” Can I word that another way? “You ARE the Temple of God, even in their day the Temple was not intended to be a place but a possession. Not to be in their country alone, but in their hearts and in their homes and lives.
So, God was in essence saying “My House is NOT Your House.”
So we have to ask today, “What happens when God’s House Isn’t In Our House?”
Let’s pick up a couple of verses back from where we finished and read a sobering text today.
Well from these verses we can gather an idea of what life was like for much of the previous years
Drought, Small Crops, Weakened People, Harder Work
What are our priorities? Do have a LONGING for the Things of God
Psalm 63:1-3 (NIV)
1 … O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
“Your love is better than life”
What is it that YOU would rather have than anything else?
If we do NOT truly, in word and deed, find our satisfaction in God and God alone, we cannot know the joy of HIS pleasure. If our heart’s desire is not to honor him and to bring him pleasure, then HIS House is not in OUR house. His house is not in our jobs, or marriages, or really in our heart of hearts.
What is on your lips? David said, “your praise will be on my lips because your love is better than life.”
Well, Haggai, delivers the Lord’s answer to the question, “what happens when the Lord’s house isn’t in OUR house”
We we set the Lord aside there are consequences
This is Not to say that every time there are problems or challenges in life that we are experiencing discipline from God. All difficulty is NOT the result of sin.
However, we cannot read scripture without recognizing that sometimes it IS the Lord’s discipline and we often don’t know, or don’t care. So, God explains it to them. He points out what they weren’t seeing.
Can we search a little today? The house without God at the Center is …
1. Is A Bare (Empty) House*
When we lived in Houston, there was a subdivision near where we lived. It was full of very nice houses. Some of those were spectacular inside AND out. But there was something interesting in many of them. Many looked great on the outside, but when you went inside there were little or no furnishings. The young couples that were status oriented had moved in for the appearance. But they spent all their money on the house and didn’t have any money for the inside, they had bare houses.
God’s not near as concerned with the outside as the inside. Judah was full of Bare/Empty Houses
A. Empty in Quantity
“you expected much but it turned out little”
1. The danger in preaching this introspection is it may cause us to take things to the extreme or make assumptions about our circumstances.
2. But when things don’t appear to be as they SHOULD be, we should look first within. We can’t always blame someone else.
3. Take a look at the things you are pursuing. Is there a bareness in the quantity? Could this be a heart issue, a spiritual issue? Well, it was for Judah and they weren’t even noticing it.
4. I’m not talking about unrealistic expectations but just the simple and natural expectations. When you plant a full field and it grows far below expectations, you don’t say “oh well, but the foliage was pretty?” No, you have to say “what happened?”
5. God said “You expected much” NIV or “You looked for much” NASB
The word there is panah/paw-naw/ to turn, to turn toward or away
Can I offer to you that the problem was that they were turning toward the wrong things and that’s why their expectations were dashed.
You can’t turn toward Sunflower seeds and then look for Corn to come up
If you want godliness and eternal results we must turn to the Lord and set our hearts and homes on HIM.
6. MUCH – rabah/raw-baw/ - become great
You expected Greatness but
7. Behold – hinneh/hin-nay/ Behold, look, pay attention
8. (you have) – ma ‘at /meh-at/ littleness
Empty in Quantity
B. Empty in Quality
“what you have brought home, I blew away”
1. What do you “bring home”? What do you put in your home?
You bring home what is special
You bring home what is valuable
You bring home was is promising
You bring home what is significant
You bring home the best you can
And God says “I blew it away”
2. We often say “God this is the best I’ve got” – but when will we learn that “the best we can do” will never be good enough. “what we can afford” will never be enough. Give it all, don’t hold back, cause OUR quality is empty … When God is NOT in the House
3. I know this isn’t something you necessarily are going to say “Amen” or “so be it” to… but you might at least say “that’s right” or “guilty”
4. God’s message to Judah is “you don’t get it … for the bulk of these 16 years I have been TRYING to TELL you something. When you looked away from me, you got what you get. I was trying to tell you something. When you brought YOUR best, I blew it away like it was nothing. I was trying to tell you something.
5. God is saying that you have something, but what IS it? When the fire of judgment comes will what you have hold up?
When God’s NOT in the House, it is a BARE house and
2. It’s a Busy House
The Lord blows away the empty things with which we build our house and verse 9b asks “WHY?” it is because “my house … remains in ruin, while each of you is BUSY with his Own house”
“Declares the Lord Almighty”
1. declares naum/neh-oom/ declaration, revelation God says “I’m going to open your eyes …”
2. The Lord Almighty – YHWH Tsabaah /tsaw-baw/ that which goes forth, army, host, sun, moon, and stars
The God who leads the armies of heaven and directs the Heavenly Bodies says … “you want to know WHY you have emptiness within, I will tell you … You are TOO BUSY for ME”
3. are you too busy for God? If you ARE then you are too busy. It’s like hoarding monopoly money … when it’s all done, you have NOTHING to show for your effort. This is the REASON for the Correction of God, it was that their Priorities were out of line.
4. His HOUSE was left unfinished. Why was it so BAD that the house was unfinished? Have you ever seen a building project that suddenly stopped? A Church, a Company, a House. It is UGLY. And it Revealed underlying problems, fear, failure to trust, poor planning, shallow resources. God said “each of you is running, swiftly about the affairs of your own house … BUSY
1. If America does not return to the Lord we will be called into account that while we, each of us, were busy raising children, pursuing careers, being the world police, the global care takers, the feeder of the world … we in the meantime, failed in the most basic thing for which we were created, that is a relationship with God.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
2. It has been said that serving God has NOT been tried and found wanting, it’s been thought difficult and left untried.
3. the word translated “run” or “busy” carries an IMPERITIVE meaning ZEAL … They left the things of God to become zealously consumed with personal interests
4. Matthew 6:19-34 speaks about this kind of lifestyle
a. v19 – don’t store up treasures on earth
b. v21 – where your treasure is, there is your heart – David prayed “give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name (Ps 86:11)
But Judah lost their focus faster than a puppy playing fetch in a field of butterflies … GUILTY?
c. Mt 6:24 – no one can serve two Masters … there is nothing wrong with taking care of your house, family, or career, but those things should serve YOUR purposes not theirs. We can only have ONE master, because 6:24 says you will be DEVOTED to one and DESPISE the other … if you SERVE your retirement place or your stock portfolio, then everything else will be a threat to it.
d. what does this busyness reveal? Underlying WORRY. 6:25 – “do not worry about your life, what you will eat, drink, your body … what you will wear … Is life only about food, and the body only about clothes? Jesus goes on to explain that birds don’t worry about where food will come from because the Father cares for them. Worry about clothes? Are the flowers wondering what to wear? Yet aren’t they beautiful?
If busyness reveals worry, then Worry reveals what we BELIEVE about God
1) we don’t care about God, or
2) we don’t believe God cares about us, or
3) we don’t believe God is ABLE
Am I saying quit your job and lay around all day and let God meet your needs? NO
But the priorities are CLEAR
1) God First, serve him, follow him, love him
2) Live every part of life as a service to the Lord
e. 6:33 says – Seek First His Kingdom and His Righteousness and all these things (money, clothing, food, your future) will be added as well.
When we do NOT seek God first, and are BUSY with our own interests, we get to the end of it all and find that what we worked hard for is empty and we missed God, the one and only thing that was important
Seek FIRST His Kingdom – that is
1) His RULE as mediator on earth
2) the blessing of this position in Christ
3) inclusion in the Church of Christ
His Righteousness – You want something with which to be Busy? Live up to the Grace of his Righteousness credited to you.
But the House that leaves God OUT is a BUSY House
The House that lets the house of God IN takes his yoke up and finds rest and peace that God has
When God’s house is not in YOUR house, it is a BARE House, it is a BUSY House and
3. It is a Barren House
Have you ever felt like the Whole World was Against you?
What if in a sense it is?
What If God is trying to get your attention?
What if God is disciplining you and you think that you are just having a string of bad luck?
>Illus< a Guy came into his Dr. and says “Doc, it hurts when I touch here (arm) and here (head) and here (stomach) and here (leg) …” The Doctor says “well we need some x-rays to confirm, but I can tell you … the problem is that your finger is broken”
Look the whole of creation was working as God’s chastening rod toward these faithful ones, because they had become double-minded and left their directive to build the temple
The problem here was that God was punishing them and they just thought it was the natural way of life. What good is discipline if it doesn’t bring change, correction, or growth?
Discipline is defined as “learning that molds character and enforces correct behavior” the goodness of God is that he disciplines us to restore us.
Hebrews 12:5-6 – “do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you. Because the Lord disciplines those he loves …”
Psalm 94:12 – “Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law”
But if you don’t recognize it, adjust to it, you can’t be blessed by it
God says “Look around you Judah” “Hello McFly”
The simple blessings that fall naturally … no longer there … seems the breaks aren’t there any longer …
The Earth eats your seed like baseball player eating sunflower seed. The seeds go into the ground, but no crops come out.
God is making the list so that Judah will finally see it … see the progression …
No Crops … but that didn’t get their attention, so it persists and so does his discipline …
A. Barren Fields for planting
1. a drought on the field and the mountains,
2. that is the 2 places where crops were planted
3. they became dry and hard to work … but with some effort they would produce …
But then it progresses
B. Barren Produce
1. eventually no matter how hard you work the field, the crops suffer
2. grain, new wine, and oil
3. grain grew in the fields of the valley
4. grapes for new wine and Olives grew in the Mountains
C. Barren Consumers
1. man and cattle
2. the planting fields were dry and then the crops failed resulting in the strength of men and beast failing because they can’t be nurtured by the crops and their strength fades resulting in
D. Barren Production
1. the work of their hands
2. poor ground produced poor crops, producing poor workers, resulting in poor production and all along the way it is God’s Hand causing it to get their attention because they had wandered from HIS work
Have you kept the Lord out of the House?
Look at the cycle again
- Simple blessings gone
- Natural production down
- Dry Fields
- Dead Crops
- Desperate Consumers
- Destroyed Productivity
Are you under God’s Discipline?
Are we under God’s Discipline?
Is America under God’s discipline?
We are busy saving trees and owls …
… while we are condemning innocent babies …
You Tell Me
Is the Lord trying to get our Attention?
We spend billions on rebuilding other countries …
… but can’t provide education, health care, or transportation for our citizens
Is the Lord in the House?
We can preach the religion of faith in unproven science in our schools …
… but not even consider the faith that believes God had a plan and design in creation
Is the Lord in the House?
There’s time for everything under the sun …
… but we are too busy for God
There’s money for everything we can imagine …
… but none left for the Lord’s work
Is the Lord in the house?
Look inside …
Check the signs …
Ask the Lord …
Is this a Just Fallen World …
Or is this God’s Hand of correction?
Have a great career,
Be a great parent
Have a nice house
Enjoy your hobbies
Waste time on mindlessness
But at the same time
Seek FIRST the KINGDOM and HIS Righteousness
And all THESE things will be added as well …
Then you won’t have to wonder if the Lord is in the House …
Because YOUR House IS His House
His House is Your House
Consider Your Ways
Consider His Ways
Rebuild the House