Never Under-Estimate What God Can Do Through You!

 

A Bible Commentary –  Haggai 1:13; 2:1-19

We see in the Scriptures that God uses different people in different places, over different periods of time, for different purposes.

When Solomon was king of Israel, he built a beautiful temple in Jerusalem.  People from all over the world came and saw this wonder.  The Jewish people treasured the Temple because it was the place where God dwelled with a man and the place where they WORSHIPPED Him.

But as time went by, the nation began to turn from God, turning towards gods from the surrounding nations.

Civil war broke out and the Nation of Israel split into two kingdoms.  The Northern Kingdom (Israel) rapidly went downhill and the Southern Kingdom (Judah) followed close behind but at a slower rate.  The result of this turning away from God was Judah’s captivity by Babylon.  When the Babylonians came in, they destroyed the Temple that Solomon had built for God.

70 years passed, then God moved Cyrus of Persia to allow the Jews to return to their homeland.  About 50,000 people went back to Judah and when they arrived, nothing had changed.  Everything was in shambles.

Immediately, the returnees set about to rebuild the temple and re-laid the foundation during a great celebration; but then came opposition.  The Samaritans (who hated the Jews) didn’t want to see the Jews prosper, so they kept hitting back at them until finally, they stopped rebuilding the Temple altogether.

As the years passed by, slowly but surely, Jerusalem came back to life.  Homes were built, stores were opened, commerce re-established, fields planted, crops harvested, and life began to resemble something of a normal pattern, BUT there was a problem.  The Temple foundation still lay in ruins, overgrown with weeds.  Every time the Jews passed it, it stood as a reminder of their failure to take care of God’s house.

This situation remains for 16 long years.  Finally, God sent a prophet named Haggai to wake the people up.

From what history reports, Haggai’s ministry lasted only over a span of 4 months (Hag. 1:1; 2:1,10, 20).

We don’t know where he came from, we don’t know his lineage, his family – all we know is that he has come out of exile in Babylon with Zerubbabel.  God had a purpose for him after 70 years in captivity, and God had only 4 months for this man to minister.

And the effect of his ministry?

In just 24 days after his message, we see the people (led by their leader Zerubbabel and Joshua their high priest) started work again and reconstructing the Temple of God (Hag. 1:14-15).

THE WHOLE NATION turned around and completed God’s task because one new man spoke on His behalf.

This leads right into my title: Don’t Under-Estimate What God Can Do Through You!

GIVE TO GOD THE SMALL THINGS –

Fred Craddock, professor, and New Testament Emeritus says, “We think giving our all to God is like taking a $1,000 bill, laying it on the table and saying, ‘Here’s my life, Lord.  I’m giving it to You.’  But that’s not how it works!

God sends us to the bank to cash $1,000 bill – for 50 cent coins.  Then He asks us to give 50 cents here, and $1,00 there; to teach a Sunday school class, volunteer you help a hospice, or just clean up the sanctuary.”  The Small things!

So the question is – are we as prepared to be used by God?

  • It’s good to pause and think – what has God been calling you to do?
  • Does God expect anything from me?

What’s wrong with the people of Israel?

They’ve returned to their homeland Jerusalem more than 16 years earlier (586 BC, from captivity in Babylon).

  • They actually started rebuilding the Temple after their return with all good intentions.  [We all start out with good intentions, don’t we?]  But the work was suspended because of conflict with their Samaritan neighbors (Ezra 3-4).
  • They refused to let the Samaritans work on the Temple, the animosity grew, and the Samaritans fight back.
  • As a result, the work was halted and nobody bothered any attention to the unfinished work for another 14 years.

When God is out of mind, He’s out of your life.

The people had gotten indifferent about re-building God’s house.  They build “paneled houses” (1:4) for themselves.  It wasn’t a lack of resources; they have the time and the means to do it.  It was a lack of heart.

The Bible tells us where your treasure is for there your heart is also.  You can call it apathy, or being lukewarm, or just being lazy.  Whatever it is, God is neither in their mind nor in their lives.

So what’s the result of the God- absent life?

READ 1:6, 9-11

[6] “You have sown much but you harvest little”

Because the people had pushed God out the center of life, they were now suffering in every other area.  They had fields without produce, action without satisfaction. and labor without profit.  These occurrences appear to be a correlation between the blessings of life and our worship of God.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 (AMP),  “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.”

When our priority isn’t right, then we’ll see it in our lives, the fruit of our labor.

We can read a similar message given to the prophet Malachi.  The people had drifted away from God and no longer bringing their tithes and offerings into the storehouse – the Temple of God.

And God says in Malachi 3:10-12…

WHY WOULD GOD DO THIS?

He allows us to suffer the results of our wrong choices in life to wake us up, convict us of sin, and to lead us to repentance.  The longer they put it off, the longer they deprive themselves of God’s blessing.

Let’s stop procrastinating when God shows us what is right and good.  By putting it off, you’re just delaying God’s BLESSING in your life!

It’s interesting to note that God told them what they were thinking (1:2), “This is what the LORD Almighty says”

God not only knows the situation, He knows what you’re thinking!  He knows the condition of the heart!

So when God speaks to you and me, during the reading of His Word in the Bible, He’s addressing a NEED He sees in us.

A thought came to me, about the time when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan women at the well in John 4.  He was able to tell her of five husbands, and the woman said, “I can see you are a prophet.”  And when the conversation ended, she ran back to her village crying, “I can see a man that told me all that ever I did!”  The woman came for the water, but that wasn’t her greatest need.  She needed the LIVING WATER, and Jesus spoke to her need!

When God speaks through the prophets in the OT, He’s addressing the NEEDS of the people directly.

God was telling the people in Haggai’s time the real cause of their misery in life.  It pays to listen attentively to God when we are moved by a message.  We find this phrase repeated again and again (1:2. 3. 5. 7. 13; 2:1…):

“This is what the LORD ALMIGHTY says; the word of the Lord came through…”

Today God is doing the same thing – He is constantly speaking to us!

It may come as COMFORT, a WARNING, a word of WISDOM.  God is addressing a NEED in you, in me, or as a church.  And the result is the same – our heart is being stirred.

Being “stirred,” that’s the work of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter!  Taking the Word of God and showing it to us, convicting us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).  

So when God speaks, listen!  Don’t listen to – rely on, a sermon for someone’s sake.  The LORD says repeatedly, “Give careful thought to your ways” (1:5, 7; 2:15).

This is the right response to His Word.  Ponder carefully – to think about; reflect on, consider especially a matter soberly and quietly – and respond to Him.

1:12 says the “whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the prophet Haggai because the LORD their God had sent him…”

  • They recognized it as a message from God, not from Haggai, not man’s suggestion.

This one decision – to heed God’s Word – changed them completely!

You may have been indifferent to 14 years, it really doesn’t matter.  What’s important is to take note of what God’s saying to you and act upon it.  It might just be a simple decision, but you need to MAKE IT!  Procrastinate and you can find yourself still in misery for another 14 years.  “Someday” is the devil’s tool to keep us from growing in the Christian life.  It’s not a lack of resources, it’s a lack of a heart.  Many Christians know what’s right and good, BUT…just couldn’t…wouldn’t act to doing it.

There’s a legend that’s worth repeating because it contains an important truth to this study.  *[See CREDITS]

Satan held a passing out parade at the spiritual academy.  During the day he questioned 3 of his evil spirits.  To the first, he said, “When you get out into the world, what are you going to say to the people?”

“Oh,” the evil spirit replied, “I shall tell them there’s no God.”

“That’s no use,” said the devil, “Creation tells people that there is a God.  Not many will believe you.”  Then he said to the second evil spirit, “And what are you going to tell the people?”

“I shall say that there is not going to be a judgment,” was the reply.

“That’s not much use,” answered the devil.  “Conscience tells them about judgment.  Not many will believe you.”  Turning to the third evil spirit he asked, “What about you?”

“I shall tell people that there is a God and a judgment to come,” answered the third evil spirit.  “But I shall add there’s no hurry.”

“Excellent,” said the devil.  “Many will believe that!”

People believe that there’s no hurry about accepting Christ, turning to God and putting things right.  The truth is – the time is running out fast, and the time to respond to God’s voice may just be now.

____________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Legend Story:  “There Is A Legend” – June 18, 2007, Sermon Central.com; Mark Sutton, Missions Today.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP)

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Dictionary:  Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary – To “ponder”

 

“Blessing Blockers” Revisited

This past Sunday after church, a  young man said to me as I left my seat, “God bless you.”  In fact, every time he sees me, in greeting or in departure he repeats the same sentence and his intentions are true.

Should we as believers use the word “bless” as a greeting; when someone ‘sneezes’; at meal times or when we sing a patriotic song at a gathering?  Are we all blessed because we live in America?  In my questioning I decided to revisit a past blog of The Word, the Glory, and The Blessing, originally inspired by notes that I took from Dr. Creflo Dollar.  I decided to get a fresh look at the word BLESSING, especially during the economic restraints placed on the family plaguing society and the church today.

The Blessing of God is upon us:

“May blessing be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm”  (Ephesians 1:3).

Say out loud where you sit (no one is listening to you):  “I am Blessed!”  With every spiritual blessing; not with ‘some‘ spiritual blessings but every spiritual blessing.  And there is more!

[13]  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  [14]  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.  [29]  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs [of the “blessing”] according to the promise.   (Galatians 3:13-14; 29 NIV Version).

So, the BLESSING, according to the promise of God’s Word,  is  IN me; ON me; and AROUND me.  Then if we truly believe by faith, that we have received the blessing as our root, where then is the fruit on the tree of some believers?

Is there a DIFFERENCE between “The Blessing” and “A Blessing“?

Have you ever heard someone say, “I hope you will have many blessings in all the days of your life”? 

The Difference:

“THE BLESSING of the Lord–it makes [truly] rich, and He adds no sorrow with it”  (Proverbs 10:22)

The Blessing isn’t just any blessing. 

The Church over time has DE-synthesized the meaning over the course of ‘well-meaning’ greetings.  The Blessing is the empowerment; an ability that God puts on you.  His ‘super‘ on my ‘natural; an anointingIt makes“…when the blessing is on you and you won’t stay the same.  The BLESSING will attack lack in our lives.

You might be saying to yourself, “Okay, I think I understand what the Blessing is but what is ‘a blessing’ then?”

The glory is ‘a blessing‘.

GLORY is the manifestation of God; the manifestation of the Word.  In Genesis 1, God spoke and then He saw.  What He saw was His words manifested into His glory.  Therefore, the Garden became The Glory; which became ‘a blessing’.

If you look out your window on a blustery day and the trees are swaying to and fro, you might say, “I can see the wind blowing outside.” You can’t see the actual wind but are really seeing the manifestation, or the glory of the wind; the trees are moving as the result; ‘a blessing’.

John 1:1-5 – ‘Let there be the Light’  The LIGHT is not referring to ‘day and night’.  The Light is the Word and the Glory and out of Jesus came “the blessing”.

We are changed in God’s promise.

“And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever-increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit”  (2 Corinthians 3:18 AMP).

The “Blessing Blockers”:

“Like a sparrow in her wandering, like the swallow in her flying, so the causeless curse does not alight”  (Proverbs 26:2).

Is something BLOCKING the Blessing in your life?

A curse doesn’t come without a cause.  If a definition of the blessing is an empowerment to succeed, then a curse becomes an empowerment to fail at what you do!

A curse is a ‘blocker; there has to be a foundation for it as demonstrated by the inserted photo of the building blocks in today’s blog.  In the Old Testament; Numbers 23:8, 20, it says that ‘no one can curse what God has already blessed’.  But, we who have been blessed can cause a foundation that is not supporting a blessing.  Job 4:8 says, “those who plow iniquity (sin) and sow trouble and mischief reap the same.”  You are supporting a foundation that causes the curseThe Book of Job continues this thought:

“He withdraws not His eyes from the righteous (the upright in right standing with God); but He sets them forever with kings upon the throne, and they are exalted.  And if they are bound in fetters [of adversity] and held by cords of affliction,  Then He shows to them [the true character of] their deeds and their transgressions, that they have acted arrogantly [with presumption and self-sufficiency]”  (Job 36:7-9 AMP).

Revisiting the Ways to Withdraw the BLESSING:

“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse– The blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your god which I command you this day;  And the curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God…”  (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

When you set aside monies in your Bank; checking, savings, etc.; to redeem the money… you are going to have to make a ‘withdrawal slip’ of some sort.  God has already deposited the BLESSING IN you, ON you and AROUND you.  For you to be able to witness the benefits of the deposit you are going to have to make withdrawals.  “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God.” ~ Deuteronomy 28:3;  “The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouse and in all that you undertake” ~ Deuteronomy 28:8.

We have a ‘fat storehouse account’ that is sitting there for us; and in The Blessing, we are given a choice:

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curses; therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live”  (Deuteronomy 30:19).

4 – Ways to WITHDRAW THE BLESSING:

1.  OBEDIENCE to the Word of God in ALL things.

2.  FAITHFULNESS.

3.  A PURE HEART.

4.  THE TITHE EXCHANGE.

THE 4- OPPOSITE WAYS to BLOCK THE BLESSING WITHDRAWALS:

1.  DISOBEDIENCE.

2.  UNFAITHFULNESS.

                                                 

3.  NOT A PURE HEART.

4.  NO TITHE EXCHANGE.

The Choices –  Obedience Vs Disobedience:

Partial obedience and delayed obedience is still disobedience.

Faithfulness Vs Unfaithfulness:

“I am BLESSED!” According to Galatians 3:13-14; 29.  The Blessing deposit has been made, BUT…the BLESSING is blocked; ‘a curse without a cause can’t happen.’ 

Look at you life honestly where you are right now.  “A faithful man shall abound with blessings” (Proverbs 28:20).  Abound means to flow or richly supplied.  Faithfulness requires a test; it takes time of proving.  If we are not dependable through the testing; our hearts, minds, thoughts are not pure, we’re not tithing for whatever reason; that is unfaithfulness, a BLESSING BLOCKER.

Revisiting PURITY and THE TITHE EXCHANGE:

I didn’t want to revisit the Blessing Blockers of a UN-Pure Heart or Not Tithing in this blog; but if you need some encouragement and interest in the BLOCKERS, you might read,

1.  Purity–The Gateway to the Flow of THE BLESSING posted 2011/03/09.

2.  The 4th Key to the Flow of The Blessing – The Tithe Exchange posted 2011/03/11.