This weekend, we talked about taking the first steps toward what God is calling you to do.
Have you ever woken up in a certain stage of life and had an unsettling, sinking feeling that by this point in your life, there would be more? That by the time you reached this stage, there would be something different. Something better.
This, was the mood during the time when the book of Haggai was written. The people were saying, “I really thought we would be in much different shape than we are now.”
Here’s the backstory before Haggai came into the picture. During the fourth year of King Solomon’s reign, King Solomon started construction on the most magnificent temple for God. People from all over the world traveled just to see this temple and offer their worship to God. But after King Solomon died, the people’s hearts turned away from God. They got distracted, like people often do, and they started worshiping idols. God allowed a series of events to take place in order to pull the people’s hearts back to Himself.
- In 587 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar and his army crushed the Southern kingdom of Judah destroying the temple.
- The Jews were taken into captivity for decades.
- In 538 BC, about 50,000 people were allowed to travel back to Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, to rebuild.
The Jewish people went back and started to rebuild the temple for God. They built the foundation and the built the altar. Then the Samaritans came in and opposed their work and suddenly, the work was too hard and they gave up.
So for 14 years, people didn’t work on the temple. Even though during their captivity, that’s all they thought about. When it got difficult, they put the project on hold and instead of working on God’s house, they started building their own houses and they built very, very nice houses and forgot about God’s house. This is when God raised up the prophet Haggai to call the people back to rebuild the temple for God.
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ” Haggai 1:2 (NIV)
They thought the time wasn’t now because they received opposition. The Samaritans were opposing them. We done the same thing. Whenever we’ve received opposition, we think it must not be God’s will. It’s too difficult.
The closer we get to doing something that matters to the heart of God, the more likely we are to face opposition.
Receiving opposition isn’t a sign that God is against you. Many times, it’s a sign you’re doing what God wants you to do. Often we’ll say, “It was a God thing,” when it was easy or just fell in our lap and came together. But sometimes it’s a God thing even when there’s blood, sweat, tears and opposition.
The prophet Haggai and the apostle James have a lot in common. They dealt with the nuts and bolts of this life. Action is spiritual. A “do nothing” attitude is wicked. The moment you start to move forward and be obedient to what God called you to do, mark it down. There’s very likely spiritual opposition on the way. When you find yourself being obedient to God and it gets difficult or challenging, and it often does,
CHOOSE THE HARD RIGHT OVER THE EASY WRONG.
Ask God to enable and empower you to choose the hard right over the easy wrong. It would be so easy to quit focusing on God and started focusing on ourselves. It would be so easy, when someone hurts your feelings, to hold a grudge or to be angry at them, but it’s hard and right to forgive others as Christ has forgiven you. It’s easy to continue to spend more than you have and just buy whatever you want and to go into debt. It’s hard and it’s right to begin to climb out of debt, live beneath your means, and live in such a way you can be massively generous with other people. It’s so easy to give up. It’s easy to live without making a difference, but as followers of Jesus, with the help of God, we can choose the hard right over the easy wrong. This is what the prophet helped empower the people to do. He essentially told them The Time Is Now.
Ask yourself this, “Is there some unfinished assignment in my life.” Just think back. It could’ve been yesterday. It could’ve been a month ago. It could’ve been 14 years ago, when God put something on your heart. There’s something that you had a burden for, but you didn’t do it. Think about that for a moment and if God shows you something, read the rest of this post through the lens of what might be that unfinished assignment.
“Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?’ Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.‘” Haggai 1:3-5 (NIV)
Give careful thought to your ways. Think about how you’re living. Don’t misunderstand this. God is not upset that they have nice things. But at this point, the people are putting their own comfort ahead of God’s house and God’s priority.
As you look at your unfinished assignment, are you putting your own comfort ahead of His calling? Are you trying to make a name more than you’re trying to make a difference? Are you putting your household before God’s household? Are you consumed with yourself instead of being consumed with God and showing His love to other people? Give careful thought to your ways. God wants us to choose the hard right over the easy wrong.
Don’t wait to be generous. Don’t wait to serve. Don’t wait to develop this gift inside of you. If there is something in your life you know you’re supposed to do, God’s called you to do it and you’re taking the easy wrong when God wants you to choose the hard right. The time is now.
“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.” Haggai 1:6 (NIV)
Here’s the modern translation of that verse. You’re working your tail off and you still don’t feel like you have anything. You’re pouring your life into some career and it just feels empty and hollow. You have more than you’ve ever had before and you still don’t feel satisfied. You entertain yourself, go to games, you go to movies, you eat out, yet there’s still a longing for something more.
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. 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 1:7-8 (NIV)
God tells them to do 3 things:
- Go to the mountain.
- Bring down the timber.
- Build my house.
Going up a mountain is hard work. Choose the hard right over the easy wrong. Bringing down the timber, that’s another hard task. Choose the hard right over the easy wrong. Come down and build the temple step by step. Our problem is that we say to God, “What about steps four, five and six? I need more details.”
Don’t worry about steps four, five and six, just do one, two and three. God’s Word is a lamp unto your feet, a light unto your path. Because he’s a lamp for our feet, not a spotlight for the path, He may show us steps one, two and three and we won’t see four, five and six until we take steps one, two and three first. You have to do what God showed you first before He reveals more to you.
I really want to get in better shape, but I don’t even know where to start.
- Start eating healthy.
- Start sleeping.
- Start exercising.
I want to get out of debt, but I don’t even know where to start.
- Get some help from somebody who knows what they’re doing.
- Spend less than you earn.
- Start paying down your debt.
This is what it means to walk by the Spirit. It’s what we’re commanded to do as followers of Jesus. We want to walk by sight. We want to know the details. We want God to show us everything. God’s not going to show you step four, five, and six until you take steps one, two, and three,
I can’t do the big thing until I do the next thing.
THE WAY TO GET STARTED IS TO QUIT TALKING AND START DOING.
Do something today. Do the next thing that God has showed you and do it today. Be faithful to God today. You have no idea what the blessings of God are on the other side of obedience. If you do what God calls you to do, maybe it’s reaching out to someone that hurt you. What if they don’t respond well?
You’re not responsible for the outcome.
You’re just responsible for the obedience.
Maybe you’ve got a sin that has been plaguing you and you’re keeping it a secret. It’s easy to keep it a secret. It’s hard and right to confess and ask for help. Maybe you’re playing fake, happy marriage and you’ve got everybody around you fooled. It’s easy to do that. It’s easy to lie. It’s hard and right to get counseling. Maybe God has prompted you at some point to serve in the church. You know you need Christian community. You need it. You will not do well alone. Maybe you want godly friendships and want to grow closer to God.
- Find a small group.
- Contact the leader.
- Show up.
It’s God leading you to be in Acts 2 kind of fellowship because life is better together. If there is some unfinished assignment, don’t make God raise up a Haggai in your life to call you back. Whenever God gives you an assignment, be obedient. Outcome is God’s responsibility. Obedience is ours.
We’re going to choose the hard right over the easy wrong and maybe God is saying to you today, The Time Is Now!
Review what you talked about last week.
Do you have any more questions or conclusions after reflecting on last week’s message on health and healing?
To hear the sermon online, go to rockbrook.org/sermons or listen to our podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.
Hear the Word
Read Haggai 1:1-8
Who has helped build or rebuild something? What’s the hardest part? What part of this sermon is still moving you?
- It’s easy to keep a sin secret. It’s hard and right to confess and ask for help.
- It’s easy to keep buying what you want. It’s hard and right to deny yourself.
- It’s easy to hold a grudge. It’s hard and right to forgive.
- It’s easy to follow a crowd. It’s hard and right to not conform.
- It’s easy to quit. It’s hard and right to press through with His strength.
The way to get started on what God has called you to do, is to quit talking and start doing.
- Go to the mountain.
- Bring down the timber.
- Build my house.
- Read Haggai 1:6. What is consistent throughout this verse?
- Why do you think the Jews stalled in their progress of rebuilding God’s house?
- What’s your greatest barrier to acting on God’s plans?
- Has your life ever looked like Haggai 1:6? What have you learned from that period?
- Which area of your life do you most need to rebuild your devotion to God?
- Describe what your three steps to laying a new foundation—based on Haggai 1:8—might look like.
- Have you ever had to lay a new foundation in your life before? What worked? How did it turn out?
- Holy Spirit, we’re going to need Your help to see where our lives need remodeling. God, we need Your strength to stay dedicated to the work You’re doing in and through us. Will You come today and refresh our passion to make You known? (1 Corinthians 3:16, James 1:22-25, Ephesians 2:19-22, Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Tell Someone Else
Who can you share this life-giving message with? Is there anyone in your life who is struggling with health and healing? How can you encourage them?
What are some practical ways you’ll make God’s work your priority? Write a list, and put it on your fridge.
Do something for someone else or for the church instead of yourself this week. Then, make it a new habit.
For Mobile Wallpaper