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- Happy New YearHappy New Year! How is 2020 so far? I don’t know I can’t make up my mind about how I feel about New years. My logical side is like what is the big deal it is just another day. Right? I mean what is the difference between December 31st and January 1 anyway. Another trip around the sun, big deal. No need to change things are going pretty good. I always make minor tweaks to my life and stay on track. Maybe you are in that camp, and I get it. Part of me is like that, but there is another part of me that likes New years too.slideI am from the Windows computer age. Anyone else use a windows computer a lot. I admit it isn’t so much like this anymore but this is what used to happen. When you first turn it on, especially after you first get it, it runs pretty good right. It is quick and snappy, but as you open more programs and perhaps neglect to close them, after a while of working on it, the computer would get slow. And what was the solution? The three finger salute right? Control-ALt-Delete. Reboot the computer, it takes a while, the screen goes blank and allows you to have some time and reflect what are doing here at this sluggish computer, then it springs back to life and is snappy as ever and you happy.Perhaps it is time to give 2019 the old three finger salute, pause and reflect at what we are doing, and embrace a new 2020, going forward.I really like the idea of a clean slate. An opportunity at new possibilities. A time to put the past behind and move forward. Even when things are good, this can be time to build on the past and move on forward to even better and even greater things.Believe it or not we aren’t the first people to need a reboot, or a refocus. To plan at going forward to build on the past. In fact let me take you back and tell you about a group of people that needed just that.slidePicture yourself living in the Middle East. Your great-grandparents and all your friends great-grandparents would tell stories of the Jerusalem in the good years. Of the great temple built by Solomon, and how wonderful it was. They would fondly remember the bustling city of Jerusalem, that is until the war started.The war they referred to was when Babylon from the south, or Modern day Iraq invaded. It was a horrible war, people died, lots of people. They would remember all the friends they lost. For the most part they would keep quiet about the horrors of war. When the war ended those that survived were shackled and had to march all the way from Jerusalem to Babylon. Probably 1700 miles.There, in what is now Iraq they lived out the rest of their lives. Your grand-parents and all your friends grandparents would have only lived in Iraq, yet they always wished they would be allowed to go home, and visit their parents homes and see if anything was left, but they never had the chance, but now you have the chance.You are young enough and fit enough, you and your friends are allowed to go back. After all those years. You set out with enthusiasm, to rebuild what once was. To be part of something bigger than yourself, to bring Jerusalem back to its glory days. To see with your eyes the land that you only heard stories about, maybe you could actually find where your great-grandpa’s house was imagine!So in 538 BC you pack up what you could carry, kiss the elders goodbye, and you and your friends set off on this fantastic, life-changing journey to reclaim your past. But man, 1700 miles on foot is a long way. You have a couple of leaders who are real motivators, and they are pushing you along, giving you hope, but it is a long way.slideEventually you arrive, and the first glimpse of this city you heard so many stories about is depressing to say the least. It is overgrown, you have to dig through the weeds to find any remains of walls or buildings, you will never find your great grandparents house, and as far as the eye can see, nothing but weeds, and rocks and wilderness.Suddenly a sinking feeling hits your stomach and you think, what have I done? But again there is this great motivator guy, named Ezra and they keep cheering you on. The work looks overwhelming but they say start here, and they tell you about one day how great this place will be so they keep you going.You take a deep and although the task seems overwhelming and impossible, with faith in God, you pitch in. You put your life on hold. ANd you work. Hard in the hot desert sun, for two solid years.ANd in 536 BC you and all your friends complete the foundation of the temple. A cheer goes up, people are celebrating, and things are going to be good. You can almost see the temple standing again it all its glory.To your complete surprise, not everyone feels this way. There is a group of people who are less than enthused about this project. The samaritans. The samaritans are the group of people that lived just to the north of Jerusalem. They weren’t fully jewish, they were a mixed people. Kinda half jewish.If you remember, the nation of Israel divided, many many years before. The northern tribes, separated from the southern tribes. The southern tribes had Jerusalem and the temple. The place to worship God.The northern tribes had to make due without the temple. So they had their own places, called high places. Without the torah and the priests to teach them and they ended up worshipping in a way that was more pagan. They took the true pure religion and mixed it with the world. This while it didn’t start the feud certainly kept it going.The people in Jerusalem were trying to worship the true God, and the samaritans, had their own system and the two didn’t get along. So now with the temple going up, they were quite unhappy. Why are you bringing up this thing all over again?As a result, they cause trouble. Real trouble. Life and limb type trouble. They got the kings involved by writing a letter fabricating charges of they sop ANd so the work comes to a halt.Now you and your friends, kinda throw up your hands, You wonder what is going on here. What is God doing we had a good start. As the years go by the foundation sits in the ground, and weeds start to cover it, the dream seems more out of reach.You are done fighting, after all if God would have wanted this, he would have overcome the obstacles, so you begin to find other things to do. Maybe you find a nice girl or a guy to settle down with. You start a business, you have a few kids. You raise some livestock, life gets good. Maybe you have been meeting with a few people to pray and honor God but life gets busy earning a living, maintaining the house, and raising the kids.Then on August 29th 520 BC something remarkable happens, a man named Haggai comes and explains what God said to him.That sets the stage for the book of Haggai. I will read from chapter 1. Before I begin reading let me pray.Pray1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest: 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ” 3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” 5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” 7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” 12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord. 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. In the second year of King Darius,verse 11 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest:This is a very specific date. Sometimes, in the Bible we have only vague dates, however here we have a very specific date. August 29th, 520 BC.slideNow, you can say, oh come on now pastor how do we know that? Well I’m glad you asked. There are sources apart from the Bible that verify this History.There is something called the Behistun Inscription. The Behistun Inscription is a relief carving that details the fall of Babylon, and the rise of the Persian empire and the reign of King Darius. Archaeologists found this inscription in what is now Iran and it verifies the events of the exile and many of the events of the book of Daniel.So on August 29th 520 BC, 16 years after the work on the foundation ceased, The word of the Lord came through Haggai.This phrase the word of Lord came through Haggai is significant. It means it as If Haggai is speaking the very words of scripture.Haggai, was an old testament prophet, and Old Testament prophet is a very specific title, office, and gifting. The Old testament prophet was at times, speaking with the same authority as God. Not everything they said had that authority like I’m hungry or I will see you later, but they would signal that the message that they were about to proclaim was coming from the Lord, and it was required that you give those words the same authority as if God was speaking. SO they would say Thus sayeth the Lord, then the words that preceded should be obeyed just as if God had spoke.2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ”This is what the LORD Almighty says, notice here that God uses the title Lord Almighty! This is a name of power. It is a term referring that God is powerful and mighty, the commander of an army. This is not a tender loving name.Sometimes, Dads or managers or other authority figures are loving and tender. For example, a police officer explaining to kids bike safety, might be tender. Or a dad comforting his child after getting hurt.The child might call him daddy. But other times, the leader needs to project authority. Like if the child runs out in traffic, or is playing with matches, a new authority voice may be used.So it is with God. Here the word of the Lord is coming as the commander of armies, and then he says-THESE PEOPLE.By the way--You don’t want God calling you these people. Sometimes God comes as the covenant Lord, and he is tender and loving and he says my people, right. My people will call on my name. That means you have a relationship with the Lord. I will be their God and they will be my people.But here it is these people. You don;t want to be these people. Look at these people from Isiah9 He said, “Go and tell this people: “ ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”God is actually giving up on these people.Or10 This is what the Lord says about this people: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the Lord does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.” 11 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people.Di not even pray for these people. Again, you don’t want to be these people.What do these people look like here in Haggai.2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ”These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house. Wait a minute that seems harsh, doesn’t it? The project looked like it was dead in the water. There was opposition, the funding dried up, the political climate was such that the government wasn’t behind it, everything looked like it was not the time, and now God is mad at them for quitting, that is unfair.All they did is misread God’s timing, right? Well, maybe there is a but more to it, than that.3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”Wait a second, what’s this, is God saying we shouldn’t have a house? Wow God you are mean we aren’t even supposed to have a house, we are supposed to build your house first.Do not fall into that old trap, that is the enemy talking. The enemy will have you read that passage and say We are supposed to not even have houses, God the evil task master wants us to to be sad, have no life, and walk around without anything.Careful that old trick is straight out of Genesis chapter 3, right?Did God say you can’t eat from ANY tree in the garden? Of course not! you could eat from any tree just not the one tree.Here it is the Lord is clearly against paneling! And rightly so, that 70’s trend needed to die. No I’m only kidding. It is not the same as paneling in your basement.In those days paneled houses were an extravagant luxury. They were what palaces had, they were what kings had.What God is saying, you have extravagance beyond what you need. You do not need wood paneling, you can have a house a regular house, you don’t need to be dropping all that dough on your luxurious lifestyle. You need to decide between what you need and what you want.5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.Give careful thought to your ways. This is an assignment Take some time reflect. Think about it. Where are your priorities?6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”A test if your priorities are in the right place is your level of satisfaction. Even though you are rich, you actually have very little. You go from one expense to the next, there is that saying the more you make the more you spend. You are not satisfied, the harvest is poor, what gives? Do you want out of that cycle? Do you want to filled and satisfied? DO you want treasures that last? Do you want things that rust and moth cannot destroy, Do want to have your hunger fed and your thirst quenched?7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.Think about it? Is this what you want in life?8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.You cannot serve God and money right? Instead of working for yourselves, why not work me says the Lord? Build my house God says. Go get the timber, that you were putting in your own houses and instead of putting it up on your walls, so that you can look at it, and instead put it up in my house says the Lord.So you may be thinking is that the message?Build churches? Don’t have a nice house, and build a church building? People have thought thatSee what happens is we can get so focused on that simple literal interpretation that we end up becoming aesthetics. We take a vow of poverty, and we build extravagant Cathedrals with Marble and stone soaring 80 feet high. We commission artists to paint portraits and carve statues. We demand the people to give and to give until they can give no more. Then we lock ourselves inside and polish the pews.The building becomes more important than person. Is that what God is getting at here? TO think that is too miss the entire heart of God.God has everything. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.Ps 50. 10 He is not served by human hands.24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.God doesn’t need a building, to be honored.The key to this passage is found after the comma in verse 8.8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.SO that I may take pleasure in it and be honored. God wants the people to want God’s house to be great. He wants the people to honor Him, he wants the people to bring God glory! Nothing pleases the Lord more than for us to be pleased with him. Than for us to seek after Him, and that does not have to be through a physical structure.In the New Testament, we find that in the person of Jesus Christ-Emmanuel, God with us God himself has come to dwell with us. He is pleased and delighted in us, when we seek after Him first and foremost. God is pleased and delighted, when we seek to be rid of sin, when we seek to do what pleases Him in all we do.God is pleased and delighted when we as the Church, glorify Him in what we do. Not the the building, but in being a humble generous, authentic, and compassionate people. He is pleased and delighted when we his people seek to make Jesus know to the dark world. God wants to see sinners saved.God is pleased when we grow in himA repeating phrase in Haggai is “Give careful thought”. We already had it twice, in verse 1.5 and verse 1.7This week, you have an assignment, and I will ask you next week, Give careful thought to this. Is your heart dedicated to the Lord, Is your heart dedicated to building His house, his church, or is your heart dedicating to building your own house.Take time this week to Give careful thought. Build the House of the Lord..
- Go Tell It On The Mountain
- To God Be The Glory
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