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The Christian and the Kingdom of God: Do You Have Kingdom Priorities?

The Christian and the Kingdom of God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The kingdom of God is the reign of God in the universe and by extension, the reign of God in the believer’s heart.

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Text: Haggai 1:1-8 “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.” (Haggai 1:1–8, NIV)
Theme: The kingdom of God is the reign of God in the universe and by extension, the reign of God in the believer’s heart.
Are you a Kingdom Person who has Kingdom priorities? ILLUS. The late Dr. W. A. Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas once told the story of preaching in the North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago. That evening, he was entertained at the home of deacon James L. Kraft, who was superintendent of North Shore’s Sunday School. This same James L. Kraft just happened to be the founder of Kraft Foods.
He told Criswell that as a young man he had the desire to be the most famous manufacturer and salesman of cheese in the world. He planned on becoming rich and famous by making and selling cheese and began as a young man with a little buggy pulled by a pony named Paddy. After making his cheese, he would load his wagon and he and Paddy would drive down the streets of Chicago to sell his cheese. As the months passed, the young Kraft began to despair because he was not making any money, in spite of his long hours and hard work.
One day he pulled his pony to a stop and began to talk to the horse. He said, "Paddy, there is something wrong. We are not doing it right. I am afraid we have things turned around and our priorities are not where they ought to be. Maybe we ought to serve God and place him first in our lives." Kraft then drove home and made a covenant with the Lord that for the rest of his life he would first serve God and then would work as God directed. God blessed that decision.
Kraft told Criswell, "I would rather be a layman in the North Shore Baptist Church than to head the greatest corporation in America. My first job is serving Jesus."
Have you made your first job serving Jesus?

I. GOD’S PEOPLE MUST HAVE A KINGDOM PRIORITY

1. in this evening’s message, I want you to consider a number of questions ...
a. Do you live for the sake of the King and His Kingdom?
b. Are your energies directed to Christian aims?
c. How do you spend your time and money?
d. Are you willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ?
2. these questions all deal with the priorities in your life
ILLUS. A recent survey, George Barna asked American adults about their priorities. Here are some of the results: 91% of adults listed having good physical health as their top priority in life. 75% of adults said that living with a high degree of integrity, which was defined as having one marriage partner for life, having close friends, and having a clear purpose for life. Seven out of ten adults say having a close, personal relationship with God is a top priority, (that’s the good news) but at the same time, only half of all adults identify being deeply committed to the Christian faith as a top priority (that’s the bad news).
a. it appears that Americans want to be spiritual, but they don’t necessarily want to be Christian
3. I submit to you this evening, that to be truly spiritual, Temple Building must be your first priority in life

A. BACKGROUND OF HAGGAI

1. the opening statement in the Book of Haggai is about having right priorities
2. Haggai is the first prophet to preach in Israel after they have returned from the Babylonian captivity
a. because the people of God failed to put God first in their lives, God allowed the Babylonian militarily machine to conquer their nation
b. most of Judah’s inhabitants were sent off into exile as slaves
3. through the providence of God, (which you can read about in the Book of Daniel) the Jews in exile were finally allowed to go back to Jerusalem 70 years later
a. a group of about 50,000 Jews returned to their land with great joy
1) they put God first in their lives
2) they began to build a Temple to God
2) they worshiped the Lord
b. but their courageous faith was met with opposition from the local people
1) this opposition, accompanied by several poor harvests, and the broken walls of Jerusalem caused the people to become discouraged
2) they lost their spiritual focus and turned their attention toward things other than worship and God’s Temple
4. along comes the prophet Haggai
a. this prophet, along with Zechariah, will challenge the people of God to reconsider their priorities
b. he calls them to reverence and glorify God by completing the Temple in spite of opposition
5. Haggai’s challenge is still valid in the Christian’s life today
a. just as Haggai called the people of God to focus their attention on building God’s Temple, so the Holy Spirit calls every believer here to focus their priorities on temple building

II. GOD’S PASSION IS THAT ALL MEN MAY SEE HIS GLORY

1. God had instructed His people to build the Temple for one reason and one reason only
a. that purpose is found in King Solomon's prayer of dedication of the very first permanent Jewish Temple
“And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.” (1 Kings 8:59–60, NIV)
2. God is not playing cosmic hide-and-seek
a. He wants to be known and to that end He has given us convincing revelation of Himself that we might turn to Him through repentance and faith

A. GOD HAS ALWAYS DESIRED A PRESENCE AMONG HIS PEOPLE

1. He walked with Adam & Eve in the garden in the cool of the day
2. He appeared as an angel to the Old Testament patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
3. He met with Job through the whirlwind
4. He met Moses at a burning bush
5. He visited Samuel, and David and Solomon and the prophets through dreams and visions
6. He journeyed with the Hebrews during their exodus wandering as a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night
7. God has always desired fellowship with His people
“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” (Leviticus 26:12, NIV)

B. THE JERUSALEM TEMPLE BECAME A PLACE OF MEETING BETWEEN GOD AND HIS PEOPLE

1. the Temple which Solomon built was a magnificent structure
a. it was not a large temple by standards of that day, but its opulence and lavishness were renowned throughout the world at that time
2. Scriptures tell us that at the dedication of the Temple, God's glory filled the Temple with such an overpowering presence that the officiating priests had to leave
“When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.” (1 Kings 8:10–11, NIV)
3. the Temple was a place where one could ...
a. meet God
b. offer sacrifice
c. find forgiveness
“Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” (Psalm 48:9, NIV)
"But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." (Psa 5:7, NIV)
4. the Temple represented God's presence among His people
a. but the Jewish Temple is no more
1) the third and most magnificent of the Jewish Temples – the one of Jesus’ era – was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Roman General Titus when he quashed a Jewish revolt
b. if there is no Temple to Yahweh, where can man go to meet the Lord if God doesn't have a Temple?
5. God still desires a dwelling place among men — and He has one, that’s what the New Covenant is all about

III. GOD’S PLAN IS TO HAVE A TEMPLE IN THE HEARTS OF MEN

1. God's plan has always been to make His Temple withing the hearts of men
“And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; And he shall grow up out of his place, And he shall build the temple of the LORD: 13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; And he shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule upon his throne; And he shall be a priest upon his throne: And the counsel of peace shall be between them both. 14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD. 15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.” (Zechariah 6:12–15, KJV)
a. in case you don’t know it, this Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon those disciples gathered in the upper room
1) they scattered into the streets preaching the gospel of salvation in Christ
b. on that day thousands of people from every corner of the Mediterranean world were swept into the Kingdom of God
1) these people of every nationality and ethnic group are the they that were afar off of Zachariah's prophecy
2. the church was born that day
a. those 3,000 new believer's became God's new Temple
b. that Temple continues to be built today
1) every man or woman, boy or girl who confesses Jesus as Lord becomes a stone in the Temple of our Lord
2) listen to the words of the Apostle Paul as he speaks of this Temple within men
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Eph. 2:19-22, NIV)

A. BELIEVERS ARE THE TEMPLE OF THE LIVING GOD

1. in the days of Solomon, God inhabited His Temple through what is called the shekinah glory
a. shekinah literally means the dwelling of God and is a reference to the physical manifestation of His presence in the pillar of smoke and fire
2. since the Day of Pentecost, God has chosen to live in the lives of those who call upon the name of Christ
a. we are living Temples of a Holy God
". . . ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (2 Cor. 6:16, NIV)
3. Temple Building needs to be your priority in life
a. so let me ask you again . . .
1) Do you live for the sake of the King and His Kingdom?
2) Are your energies directed to Christian aims?
3) How do you spend your time and money?
4) Are you willing to sacrifice for the cause of Christ?
4. here is one of the mysteries of the Gospel that sets Christianity apart from every other religion, faith, or cult
a. that mystery is, Christ in you, the hope of glory

IV. LESSONS IN ESTABLISHING KINGDOM PRIORITIES

A. LESSON ONE: TEMPLE BUILDING MUST BE OUR FIRST PRIORITY

1. the temples of the living God are never finished, need continual upkeep and an occasional purging
2. Haggai encouraged the people of his day to reconsider their priorities and finish building the Temple
a. in Haggai’s day the people had focused their priorities on the necessary things of life but not the really important thing of life
1) the most important thing in life is your relationship with God
b. their thoughts were, “The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.” (Hag. 1:2)
1) their attitude is, “Yea, yea, we know this is important, but it’s just not at the top of our ‘to-do’ list right now.”
2) they had become preoccupied with building their homes, and raising their families and establishing a business, and planting their crops, and the every-day aspects of life
3) those are not necessarily wrong, unless they overshadow the priority of God in your life
3. God comes back to them with a rhetorical question . . .
"Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” (Haggai 1:3-4, NASB95)
a. the people neglected the house of God while tending to their own material situations
b. because they have not put God first their lives are unsatisfying
"This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: “Think about what you have done. You have planted much, but you harvest little. You eat, but you do not become full. You drink, but you are still thirsty. You put on clothes, but you are not warm enough. You earn money, but then you lose it all as if you had put it into a purse full of holes.” (Haggai 1:5-6, NCV)
4. does this describe your life this evening?

B. LESSON TWO: BELIEVERS MUST CONTINUALLY MAINTAIN WHAT HAS BEEN CONSTRUCTED

"Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways! “Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the Lord." (Haggai 1:7-8, NASB95)
1. we too, need to reconsider our priorities and get back to building the Temple
2. it is a process that is never finished
a. there is never a time when you know enough about the Lord, or His Word or His Ways
b. there is never a time when God is through with you
3. spiritual maintenance is a never ending process
a. you maintain the temple of God through bible study, and fellowship, and prayer, and worship
b. these are the building materials for your temple

C. LESSON THREE: GOD DESIRES A PURE AND HOLY DWELLING PLACE

1. in the New Testament we find the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple
a. Jesus found the Temple in Jerusalem fouled, polluted and mismanaged
b. the vendors had turned a house of worship into a house of merchandise
2. let me ask you a very serious question:
“What does Jesus find when he examines your life?”
3. the purpose of God's Temple has not changed
a. Solomon built the Temple so That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
b. your life and my life should be so dedicated to the service of the Lord and His worship that all the people who witness our lives may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else
4. sin and iniquity can so foul and pollute our lives that it becomes almost impossible for others to recognize us as a Temple of the living God
a. many Christians have become spiritual Ichabods
1) ichabod is a Hebrew word which means the glory of the Lord had departed
b. their lives are so backslidden and lacking of spiritual vitality that the glory of the Lord has simply faded away
1) they have no peace
2) they have no joy
3) they have no spiritual contentment
5. if the world is going to see God in this, His earthly temple, you may need some purging from time to time
a. purging of selfish attitudes
b. purging of ungodly values
c. purging of sinful actions
"If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (2 Tim. 2:21, NIV)
d. that word purge means to cleans thoroughly
6. the cleansing of your life can be relatively painless or at times brutal
a. it's less painful if you have a regular devotional life and spend time with God daily
b. it can be very painful when you store up those selfish attitudes, ungodly values and sinful actions and then have to suddenly deal with an overload of guilt and shame when God finally gets a good hold of you
Over the last several weeks, I’ve preached on the themes: Do you have a Kingdom Identity, and Do you have a Kingdom Character. This evening I ask you to consider whether-or-not you have Kingdom Priorities. Like J.L. Kraft, have you made a covenant with the Lord to first serve God and then work as God directs you?
Are you busy about the task of Temple Building? What are you building on the foundation of Jesus Christ in your life? What do you need to let God purge you of this morning? Like the people of Haggai’s day, consider you ways . . . rebuild the temple of your life that God may be pleased with your life and be glorified in it.
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