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HAGGAI

INTRODUCTION

Have you found yourself asking and quot;What's wrong with our nation's values today?and quot; Why do many of our nation's leaders seemingly endorse the things that God hates? Dishonesty, slander, greed, and immorality have become all too common in Washington. What does this say about those who elect them, and who overlook or remain comfortable with this sin?

and quot;Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight!and quot; (Isaiah 5:20-21)

Maybe it's time for our nation to and quot;consider her waysand quot;, even as God told the nation Israel long ago.

It's a good time for us to ask God why we are in the condition that we are in, as a nation, as a church, and as individuals. This is the message that Haggai presented to his people, and we also would be well advised to consider our ways.

Bible teacher Kay Arthur writes in her November 1998 letter about this. Here are a few excerpts:

bulletWhy are we as Christians disdained, mocked, ridiculed, scorned, laughed at, defamed, oftentimes told to go home or lock ourselves in the church and shut up, to keep our narrow-minded beliefs to ourselves? bulletWhy aren't we more winsome to the world, more sought after? Why isn't the world awed at and envious of our marriages, our families, our peace, our confidence? Why aren't they baffled and wooed by our uncompromising faith and yet our unconditional love - not a week permissive love, but a tough love that walks through crises without encouraging and pampering another's self-destructive ways?

The Lord may be answering back, and quot;Consider your ways.and quot;

Can misplaced spiritual priorities bring physical penalties? Could it be that such things as weird weather patterns, turmoil among nations, and the economic woes many countries (including ours) are having are being brought about largely due to such a wrong focus (see Haggai 1:9-11)? Sometimes trials are meant to strengthen, to refine, and to increase our confidence in God. But sometimes they are a judgement that God is using to turn us around, toward Him again.

Let's take a look at these things right now, during the winter of 1999, in Northern California.

Let's consider our ways, and the effect that our choices have on our lives.

A Little More History

History brings perspective. Yesterday's lessons are meant to enrich today. Who has a better perspective than God, who has always lived, and knows every moment of yesterday, today, and tomorrow?

It was God who instructed His people to build His temple in the first place, and He laid out specific plans for David. But then the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, and the temple that David's son Solomon had built was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. Haggai apparently was old enough to have seen the original structure, in all of it's glory. Now, in 538 BC (48 years later), Israel was allowed to return under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua, and the rebuilding work began. In Ezra 3:7-8, we read,

and quot;Then they gave money to the masons and carpenter.....to bring cedar wood from Lebanon..... Zerubbabel....and all who came from the captivity to Jerusalem, began the work and appointed the Levites from twenty years and older to oversee the work of the house of the LORD.and quot;

But opposition from their neighbors (do you have some like this?) along with indifference by the Jews (have you ever asked, and quot;What difference will this make?and quot;) caused the work to be abandoned. Now, 16 years later, God prompted Haggai and Zechariah to motivate the people to get back to work! Two things needed to happen:

bulletRebuild the temple. bulletReorder their spiritual priorities. Hmmm......this might apply to me too

Forget It; It's Just Not Worth It!

I sure get discouraged sometimes, don't you? Look at who else did....

and quot;Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel....then work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased.....and quot; (Ezra 4:4-5, 24)

bulletWho are the and quot;people of the landand quot;? Do they live near you? Can you hear what they are saying? Are they asking to join you, or for you to join them?

and quot;This people says, 'The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt.'and quot; (Haggai 1:2)

If you are serving the Lord, you will hear them. What have they said to you? Did it make sense? Who did this advice please?

bulletO.K. You and I are both tempted to quit doing and quot;God stuffand quot;, because the results just aren't (visually) there on a consistent basis, right? Whose counsel is this? What is a good response?

A Still, Small Voice (1 Kings 19:12)

I believe that when a person accepts Jesus Christ into their life, the Holy Spirit enters into their heart and begins to control their thoughts (1 Cor. 3:16). God doesn't usually SHOUT to get our attention, but if He chose to, the whole world would notice. (Heb. 12:26-28 says that He will shake both the heavens and the earth at the end of the age.) Rather, He often speaks in a strong, clear, quiet manner. His voice is small, because He alone has it. When we are tuned into Him, we can hear Him much in the same way as can sense the power of a gentle wind blowing, without seeing it. But we have to listen.....quietly.

A BIG Mistake!

Well, the Israelites didn't hear the wind blowing, because they had become discouraged. They took the beautiful cedar lumber that had been planned for God's house, and paneled their own houses with it! I can imagine that He was a little ticked at them! Their focus had turned inward instead of upward. Maybe they had refused to hear....so God spoke in a different way.

List below the ways that God and quot;spokeand quot; to these hard-of-hearing people.

and quot;You have planted much, but have 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.and quot; (Haggai 1:6, NIV)

Activity Result

bulletInvest prudently Little or no return

Has God gotten your attention in such a way before? How about today? Are you considering His way?

Take a moment right now and write down what you are hearing from God - from His still, small voice. About your marriage, your private thoughts, your future plans, the use of your money, your time......

A few choice lessons.....

Wow! God's voice really is powerful, isn't it?! I see some lessons here:

bulletIgnoring Him only makes Him more determined to get my attention. However, He will allow me to suffer the consequences of my poor choices. bulletNations, not just individuals, are subject to God's actions and His judgement. bulletChristians are not immune from God's discipline! bulletAn inward, self-centered focus will never please God. bulletIt's easy to misread my circumstances and thereby disobey God. For instance, a lack of money doesn't necessarily mean that He doesn't want to channel funds through me!

BIG Consequences

and quot;Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.and quot; (Haggai 1:10-11)

bulletDo you believe that Christians can suffer consequences for their disobedience? What are some likely consequences for the following:

Spending money foolishly on something unnecessary, rather than for a family need.

Neglecting to offer encouragement to someone near you when it's apparent to you that it would help them.

Breaking one of the Ten Commandments, such as:

- Dishonoring one of your parents (#5)

- Committing adultery in your heart (#7)

- Dishonesty (#9)

- Coveting (#10)

bulletWhat is the best way to minimize these consequences once you become aware of God's displeasure? (See Haggai 1:12 and 2 Sam. 12:7-13)

It's O.K. Now

Trisha and I learned early as parents that our kids craved our affection and approval. When they were disobedient and we disciplined them, we were quick to recognize their repentance and to draw close to them and affirm them. In Haggai 1:13, after God had seen His people listen to His rebuke and then turn back to Him, He said, and quot;I am with youand quot;.

bulletAre you certain that God is with you, right now? If not, what do you need to do to be certain? bulletHave you affirmed anyone lately? How about the person you live with? Why wait?

This One's For You (Lord)

and quot;So the LORD stirred up .... the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God...and quot; (Haggai 1:14)

What can you do to work on the Lord's and quot;houseand quot;? Is your spirit stirred up to do something? Consider Ephesians 4:11-12,

and quot;And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;and quot;

From this passage in Ephesians, we are to exercise our S G .

What is a spiritual gift that God has given you? (What do you enjoy doing for Him?)

When I Was A Boy

and quot;'Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory?and quot; (Haggai 2:3b)

Does your family tree have spiritual roots? Record below the degree that each generation of your tree walked with the Lord and taught others about Him. (Use a 1 - 10 scale, with 10 being the highest.)

Generation Walked with Christ Taught Others

(or is walking w/ Him) (or is teaching)

Great-grandparent(s)

Grandparent(s)

Parent(s)

YOU (Are you passing it on?)

Your kids (if any)

Now, circle the point on this and quot;treeand quot; where someone (maybe you) and quot;broke the chainand quot; and led the way spiritually for other family members.

Even if yours is an old, scraggly, non-spiritual tree, it can begin to blossom. Read Psalm 1 below, and answer the following questions:

bulletWhat is the key to breaking the chain (vs. 1)? bulletWhat is the key to receiving nourishment? bulletWhat is the key to blossoming and bearing fruit?

copyright Dan Kinnoin 1996, All Rights Reserved

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