Responding with Courage
Responding with Courage
We live in a world that is constantly changing. I guess you could call a lot of what we do, “responding”. In attempting to meet needs, we can now go to college and earn degrees without ever leaving our homes—electronic classrooms.
To help with our energy issues and air quality, there is Ethanol-fuel made of corn. One acre of corn can produce enough ethanol to run a car for 72,000 miles on E-10 unleaded(10% ethanol). Corn is used to replace petroleum in plastic, PLA is a cornderived polymer that is used to create fibers and plastics that are biodegradable and 100% renewable. One acre of corn can produce enough polymer to make about 188000 yogurt cups.
What if I were to tell you that the majority of churches in North America are either on a plateau or in decline? If the typical church were to check into the local hospital, the doctors would put it on life-support. George Barna writes in The Second Coming of the Church”, “at the risk of sounding like an alarmist, I believe the church in America has no more than five years, perhaps even less—to turn itself around and begin to affect the culture, rather than be affected by it”.
The key is to RESPOND with action.
In Haggai 1:1-11, we read that God reproves the children of Israel for neglecting the temple. The next few verses are a beautiful picture of response.
I. Response with a Right Spirit—Vs12
“all the remnant of the people”- the work on the temple resumed with a spirit of unity. This is the first time the word “remnant” is used in this book. It was only when the community began to obey the Lord were they worthy to be called the remnant.
Wholehearted--There is nothing better than for the spiritual leaders have the wholehearted support of the congregation—and we see this happening right here. This is how we are to worship our God—with our whole heart (Mk 12:33)
Obedient- Zerubbabel, Joshua and the remnant obeyed the voice of the Yahweh their God. They listened to Haggai and received his message as the very word of God Himself. They recognized Haggai as having the office of prophet, mediator. The remnant recognized that God had sent Haggai unto them. 1Sam 15:22, “to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams”.
Reverence- they obeyed in awe. They did fear before Yahweh. We read in 1Sam 12:24, “Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart, for consider how great things he hath done for you”. Does our awe of God push on forward?
What do you think kept these people from building the temple before this time? Could it be that God had sent Haggai to awaken them from their INDIFFERENCE? They had not compulsion for building the temple! The paralyzing fear of hostile neighbors was now displaced by the energizing fear of the Lord.
II. Response with Blessings Vs13-14
It was when the people got busy on the project that the Lord sent them a message of consolation through Haggai. The word Haggai was about to deliver was so grand, that he emphasizes his credentials in another way—He refers to himself as the Lord’s messenger.
The message was “I am with you, saith the Lord”—Despite the fact that they had ignored Him. What a merciful God, One who overlooks our failures. Yahweh was with them, empowering them, sustaining them, blessing them, and observing them. What a wonderful word to His people. They had just surrendered themselves to do what God had told them to do and now He assures them that He is with them.
This reminds me of Peter—“Lord if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. Peter walked on the water to Jesus”; “ Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him”(Mt 14:28-31).
“stirred up the spirit”- this signifies the work on the inner man. These who felt the stirring of the spirit of God were the same ones who had felt the stirring of the spirit of God some 16 years earlier.
In Ezra 1:1, “The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia”
God knows how to call us into action. He stirs our spirit!
III. Response with Haste—vs14b-15
They came and did the work in the house of the Lord of hosts their God. Imagine, they had to gather the materials, get them to the site. It has been 16 years. I’m sure they had to do some cleaning up around the site.
“all the remnant”—they all joined in on the project.
This happened only 23 days after Haggai began to preach. After 16 years of indifference, the might spirit of God, the preaching of His word, stirred this community to resume important work.
Are we willing to leave our personal pursuits for Jesus today?
With the right spirit?
Then and only then will you get the blessing!
Today, you will leave here in a car with a/c, go to a house with running water and inside toilets, watch a tv, maybe even get on the internet. You will most likely talk to someone on your cell phone.
You will have this opportunity because somebody somewhere has responded to a need.
What about us, the Bride of Christ? Will our worship and love for God increase this week? Will this community hear about Jesus from us this week? Will lives be changed? Will the church still be effective in 5-10 years?
The answer lies with you---will you respond with courage? Will you do so with a right spirit, reverently and right now??