Building the House #3
Responding to the Lord’s Message
We are in our third week of a study in the book of Haggai. Judah had been in captivity for 70 years. Cyrus the Persian conqueror had defeated the Babylonian Empire and in the process had freed all who were willing to return to Jerusalem and rebuild God’s Temple
The returned home, they laid the foundation for the Temple and then stopped. 16 years passed and now the verbal word of the Lord came to them again.
The important thing was to see that it was NOT that God was silent, they just weren’t listening
He had been talking through correction. He had been disciplining them but they had missed his communication.
Droughts and increasing difficulty were from the hand of God, but they had missed it
Now his message came through the Prophet Haggai.
He reveals what he has been doing. He signs his signature to the difficulties they had been facing.
But the question for us is how we apply this word to our lives.
I want to keep in front of us three areas at all times.
First, we need a Spiritual Infrastructure to be rebuilt in our country. This is NOT a Christian Nation any longer. We live in a Post-Christian culture and nation. I am not one to say that I believe that we can save the world. But I AM crazy enough to believe that Jesus is STILL the Answer for America.
I believe that we ought to be engaged in politics. I believe we ought to try and pass good laws based on right and righteousness. But the hope for American is NOT in electing the right people. The hope for America is for Presidents and Legislators, Judges and Lawyers, Governors and Mayors coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and being born again from above. So we need to be praying for our government officials that God will move on their hearts and bring them saving faith that we might rebuild the house of God in this country.
Second, we need to give consideration to the state of the church inclusive in America and of THIS church. Are we the House of God.
1 Cor 3:9 says “we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” We need to look at ourselves as a church and ask “are we the house of God that he intends for us to be?” or are we just living on the foundation. This church over the 80 years has had highs and lows. Currently I think we are somewhere in between. We need to seek the Lord to build house of God that he wants us to be … no more, no less
But finally we also need to look inside our own house. Are we all God wants us to be? Have we given our hearts to Christ, but not built our personal Temple into the fullness of what God intends.
1 Cor 6:19-20 says “do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which you have of God, you are not your own, you are bought with a price therefore glorify God in your body and in your Spirit which are HIS.
We belong to Jesus Christ. We are indwelt by the Spirit of God … how’s the Temple?
So, in our first two messages, we have seen the problem, we have seen the hand of God’s correction, now let’s see how the people responded to the message of God.
I’ve got to tell you as a Preacher of the Message of God, I can relate to this challenge. I preached my first message in 1978. I began preaching in other church in revivals etc. in 1981 and have been preaching ever since. But it’s always a concern for the preacher, you try to hear from God. You try to prepare the Word that God would have you preach. You try to be faithful to preach his message not YOUR message and then you wonder, how will they respond? You hold your breath. Will they ask me back? Will they keep me on? Will they tar and feather me? Will they smile and tell me it was nice, but go away unchanged?
Jeremiah spent his whole ministry with no one receiving his message favorably.
Not everyone has the return of Billy Graham. But even there with the millions who have responded to God through the messages of Billy Graham, think of the millions that have gone away unmoved. It is part of the challenge and burdens of being a preacher of the gospel.
How did they respond?
Notice the scope of this response.
Zerubbabel – the Governor … his name meant “sown in Babylon” … he had been born in captivity … He had never known The city of God. He had never known the Temple in it’s glory. Haggai, by the way was 80 years old so he had known Judah before the destruction of the Temple and the captivity.
He was the leader of Judah now.
But also mentioned here is Joshua, the High Priest, the leader of the “Church of Israel” … the Leader of all the priests/preachers
Finally it says “the whole remnant of the people” – that is to say “all of the faithful ones” all who had returned to Judah …
How do we BUILD the House of God, the Temple of God
If we have not build on the Temple of God?
There are four things here
How do we Build the House of God that is New Life Baptist Church and that is the larger Church of the Lord Jesus Christ? It is here
How do we pray for the Rebuilding of the Spiritual Infrastructure in America?
It is here in the Response of Judah, from Government to the Church to the People of God …
FIRST They …
1. Obeyed the Voice of God
Obedience –shama’ /shaw-mah/ to hear, listen, obey
Harper’s Bible Dictionary says Obedience is “submitting to the will or authority of another” … it is interesting that in interesting that in Hebrew there is not a separate word for Obey. It is the word “to hear” … in the Hebrew to hear means to obey
If you don’t obey, you didn’t hear
Did your mother ever say to you “do you hear me”? She wasn’t asking you if your ears were working, she was asking you are you going to DO something about it.
If we are going to Build the House of God we have to DO what God says …
Obedience is the MARK of one who belongs to God.
We are not God’s people because we are a member of a church, because we where a cross, the people of God are the ones who do what he says, who submit to his ways and his will for their lives …
Two things about their obedience that we need to notice here.
Because to DO the will of God, you need to KNOW what God has said.
Two things … the VOICE of God and the Message of God
A. The Voice
Voice – qol /kole/ voice, sound, noise
God didn’t come down and speak to Zerubbabel and Joshua … but he SENT his VOICE …
What is the VOICE of God? Do we have his voice?
YES … it is found in this book. Two Sections, 66 books … it IS the Word of God
We have to come to this conclusion – This is the Word of God, This is the VOICE of God
If we want to know what God wants from us, it begins and it ends in this book. If you will start with knowing this book, and then make everything you believe the Lord is telling you be obedient to the truth of this word, you can obey the VOICE of God
The beginning of every problem we face in our country, our churches, and our homes is when we do NOT believe that this Bible IS the WORD of God
What do you believe about this book?
Is this book the word of God?
It is and we must believe it
Then we must know what it says so that you can obey it
This Bible is the VOICE of God
Hold it up and say it with me
“THIS IS THE VOICE OF GOD”
And we must obey the voice … and
B. The Message
This is where it gets down to business
Our churches are full of people who say they BELIEVE this book is true and the voice of God but when it comes down to the actual words, the message, we draw the line there
Zerubbabel, Joshua, and faithful obeyed the voice and the message
“Message” “words” – dabar /daw-baw/ speech, word, thing
Believe the Message AND the Voice
They obeyed not just the voice but the message
This Word of God is NOT like the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon … “wah, wah, wah, wah” …
There are people who say “yes this is the word of God, but we can’t be sure what it means” … That’s ludicrous … except in rare cases this word is VERY Clear and we CAN know what it says. Yes there are a few symbolic passages where the meaning is up for interpretation but even THEN there is a message underlying that we CAN know and respond to in faith and obedience
What does the Word of God say?
To build the house, we need to read this word, we need to study this word, we need hear it taught, and faithfully preached and then we need to OBEY THE MESSAGE
You should ask the Lord after every time of personal study, after every Bible Study, after Every Message “what are you saying to me?”
And then you need to respond to him “Yes Lord”
We need to reorder our lives to submit to and come in line with the Message from the Voice of God
The People of Judah lead by the preachers and the government responded in faith to the voice and message of God
2. Feared the Lord
The PEOPLE Feared the Lord
The Government can get right with God or can pass righteous laws
The Preacher and the Church can get right with God and faithfully proclaim the Word
But it has to come down to a personal experience for a Holy Fear of God.
The NIV says they FEARED God … which seems a bit passive for me
The word is yaré /yaw-ray/ to fear, revere, be afraid, to stand in awe, honor, respect
As you can see it’s a hard word to translate simply
The Holman Christian standard note on this word says “no single English Word conveys every aspect of the word ‘fear’ in this phrase. The meaning includes worshipful submission, reverential awe, and obedient respect to the covenant-keeping God of Israel”
The HSBC says “feared” like the NIV
The KJV says “DID fear” and
The NASB says “Showed Fear”
Again it’s more than just a state of belief, respect, fear, wonder, awe, IN ACTION
Just like obedience is an action response to hearing, so also, fear of God is an ACTION …
Can people SEE that you fear God?
Does the awe for God that you have SHOW in the way you live?
The people of God that truly fear God will ACT on the Fear …
Proverbs 5:7 “now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say”
Several years ago, I was able to do something I had wanted to do for a long time. That is, I was able to drive a convertible down Highway 1 in California south from San Francisco. It is an amazing drive. But the ONLY way to enjoy that drive is with a healthy fear. We drove that road about 300 miles to San Luis Obispo. It was a beautiful drive, a beautiful destination but it was dangerous. If you’ve never been, it winds back and forth, with hairpin turns and sheer cliffs that rise as high as 3000 feet. I can enjoy the drive with a healthy fear. Fear of the potential danger if I don’t follow the path. I can enjoy the ride as I have a great desire to stay between the lines and want to get to the destination
Fear for God is a health respect for God, with fear of the consequences of deviation as well as a desire for the destination of the way of God.
They showed … ACTED on
Reverence is a faithful active response to the salvation we are given by Grace … Phil 2:12 tells us to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” – this is not FOR our salvation but in response to so great a salvation
Acts 9:12 – the church … was strengthened, and encouraged by the Holy Spirit … living in the Fear of the Lord
It is a lifestyle of reverence, respect, wonder, awe, and love for God
It is a motivation for Evangelism
THEY don’t fear God but WE do so …
2 Cor 5:11 says “since then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also to your conscience” and Paul then explains the Ministry of Reconciliation we have been given to bring people to God, because of OUR fear for God
It is a response of our accountability to God as his children, his people, HIS Temple
1 Peter 1:17
Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear
If we want to build the house we need to hear and act in obedience to the Word of God
Because we FEAR the consequences, we Fear where it will take us if we go our own way
Because we fear being a people who do not display love For God
They Feared and
Thirdly They …
3. Heard From God
Hadn’t they already heard from God?
Yes and no
You see until we respond to the Message “REPENT” “COME TO ME” … there is no other message for them
Jesus said he didn’t Throw pearls before swine.
What did he mean? He wouldn’t give his most valuable things to those still unclean and without the ability to appreciate it
I don’t need to teach a person who doesn’t know Christ, the deep teaching of the Truth of God.
I don’t need to teach Christian living to a pagan
So God calls “come to me”
Jesus came saying “repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” … It was to those who responded to this message and followed him that he preached the Sermon on the Mount.
But notice that one of the great blessings comes from responding to God’s Voice, is MORE of his Voice, Deeper Messages, Greater Revelation follows faith in the simple revelation.
When we hear his voice saying “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” and
“the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life” and
“whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”
When we hear that message and we respond in obedience, then we are ready to hear more from him
Also as his people who have wandered into the far country
When we hear the message “you have wandered come to me” and we leave our way and COME to his way in Reverential Fear … then we can HEAR his voice …
Notice that the FIRST Message was a message of reassurance
You know every year we hear stories about people who go off the path when they are hiking, or skiing or the like, they ignore the warning signs, they go their own way. Then they fall into a crevice or over a cliff and they need rescue.
Help responds …
Often the person is so far into the consequences of their deviation that help is going to take awhile …
What is the message they usually hear first? “It’s OK, we are here” …
What did God say to Judah when they obeyed and feared him?
“I am WITH YOU” …
Oh what a reassuring word that is …
Oh precious faithful one, you may have stopped along the way, you have may strayed, you may have turned back, you may be discouraged by circumstances … can you hear him today
“I am with you”
Remember God SENT the drought
God caused the Land to be unproductive
God allowed them to become weak and unproductive but he says
“I am WITH YOU”
In discipline I have been with you
In your faithlessness I have been with you
And now if you TURN to me you can Experience my Presence.
You sin put up a wall of separation but I haven’t gone anywhere
“I am WITH You”
Do you need to hear his voice today?
“I am WITH YOU”
That person will then hear the savior say ‘here’s what we are going to do’ …
If you respond to the Lord, you will hear him say “I am with you” and then he will reveal the path of repentance
And then the ball is back in your court … but by this time … YOU have changed
And finally look at the RESULT of the RESPONSE
4. Stirred Again to Action
Please notice that none of this happens overnight.
We didn’t get into the state we are in overnight
And we don’t get out overnight
But God STIRRED them …
Now, you might think this process is out of order
Shouldn’t God have stirred them FIRST … then they could have obeyed and then feared et al …
But that isn’t the way it works.
We’re talking about Christian living here
When you are CLOSE to God, you ARE stirred to action by his voice
But when we slowly move away, it doesn’t always happen that way
We get in a rut of following our own path, we get farther from him voice, his voice becomes more and more faint to our ears so it’s impact on us isn’t as strong
So as they say, “Feelings Follow Action”
If you want to make changes in life, a diet, training, exercise, habit restructure, you seldom FEEL like it.
Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
You have to DECIDE intelligently that it is the RIGHT thing to do
You have to begin doing it.
You have to start running
You have to start exercising
You have change your diet or your habits
And ALONG the WAY you will be STIRRED to desire to DO what you have DECIDED is RIGHT
The same is true spiritually.
God’s Spirit reveals the truth through the Message of God’s voice found in his faultless word, proclaimed by a faithful messenger
You recognize the rightness of it and fear not living up to the accountability of a Holy God
You adjust your life to the TRUTH
And God reveals MORE of himself to you
And a wonderful transformation takes place
As you WANT to continue in the truth
Your Desire changes
We sometimes don’t want to obey
We don’t CARE to obey
But in a STATE of Obedience and fear, believing the promises of his presence and continuance
God Stirs us within … and we WANT to Walk Worthy
That stirs the deeper desire to obedience
I promise you if you that the more you obey and fear the Lord, you more you will desire to obey.
Notice in verse 14 the Lord Stirred Zerubbabel, Joshua, AND the WHOLE REMNANT …
What was the result of the stirring in their hearts?
God stirred them … the word in Hebrew, uwr /oor/ to rouse awake, incite
Three quick things that will always happen if God has stirred us … they “Came, Began, Worked”
You can’t stay where you are
You can’t stay focused on YOUR things and do God’s things
They had to change their priorities …
The first true sign that the Lord has stirred is you abandon your priorities for HIS
The word is bow /bo/ to go in, enter, come go
We leave our ways and ENTER IN to his ways
You’ve heard … now start
Don’t worry about the results
Don’t be concerned for the consequences
The consequences of failure to start are far worse than they will ever be for failure in following
‘asah /aw-saw/ to do fashion, accomplish, make
They left their way, they got busy
Doing the things of God
Knowing his ways
Doing his ways
Following his patterns
They Got Busy doing Real Work
It took 16 years to get off the foundation …
The Word of the Lord came on the 1st day of the 6th Month, September 1, 520BC
And NOW on 24 days later … they got started doing what God had told them to do, on the 24th day of September 520 BC
They were Stirred …
And when GOD STIRS we MOVE
If Emotion stirs … we may adjust our path
But when obedience leads to fear, resulting in the revelation of God and we are truly STIRRED … transformation takes place
Evan Roberts - early 20th Century in Wales - brought a message "Lord Bend Us" Began with students in 6 months 100,000 welsh people had come to Christ
What would God do with you?