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Hey everyone I’m Gary Hoban and welcome to Refinery Life Australia.

The Old Testament prophets were spokesmen for for their generation more than the future.

They were the proclaimers of timeless truths about God, humankind, and the critical issues of life.

“The Modern Message of the Minor prophets” is the theme for Sunday mornings for the coming months.

Today we are talking about God’s Work Must Go On.

Text

Haggai 1:4 (AMP)

4 “Is it time for you yourselves to live in your [expensive] panelled houses while this house [of the Lord] lies in ruins?”

Scripture Reading

Haggai 1:2-8 (AMP)

2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘These people say, “The time has not come that the Lord’s house (temple) should be rebuilt.”’” 

3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 

4 “Is it time for you yourselves to live in your [expensive] paneled houses while this house [of the Lord] lies in ruins?” 

5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways and thoughtfully reflect on your conduct! 

6 You have planted much, but you harvest little; you eat, but you do not have enough; you drink, but you do not have enough to be intoxicated; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns wages earns them just to put them in a bag with holes in it [because God has withheld His blessing].”

7 Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways and thoughtfully reflect on your conduct! 

8 Go up to the hill country, bring lumber and rebuild My house (temple), that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the Lord [accepting it as done for My glory].

Prayer

Father, help us to accept all things that we have as a sacred trust.

Give us the strength and grace to stop any attempt to serve both You and mammon.

May we centre our lives in Christ and place our full trust in Him.

May we strive to make His perfect will our goal.

Make us truly aware of Your presence as we give, and may our offerings today promote christ as Lord in the lives of those who hear the gospel because of our gifts.

In Jesus name we pray.

Amen.

Introduction

The temple in Jerusalem was burned in 586 BC.

Those who were left from previous deportations, with a few exceptions, were carried off as captives to Babylon.

For more than half a century, the Jews remained in this foreign country.

Though separated from their native soil, they managed to survive.

Babylon gave them a limited amount of freedom, allowing them to build their houses, cultivate their gardens, and work at jobs according to their wishes.

Later in 539BC, Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon.

One of his first official acts was to issue a decree permitting the Jews to return to their homeland.

They began the trip with great anticipation but became disappointed when they saw Jerusalem.

Nothing was left of its former glory, which they had rejoiced about in their songs during their exile.

The walls were heaps of rubbish.

The temple was a pile of charred stones.

The streets were overgrown with weeds.

After their initial reaction of discouragement, the Jews went to work setting the alter on its old site and offering sacrifices as in earlier days.

Then they began to rebuild the temple.

However, enemies caused he work to cease by order of the Persians, who had granted the Jews permission in the first place.

For around fifteen years nothing was done.

The people worshipped amid the debris of an unfinished building.

Yet they did build houses for themselves and provide for their own comfort.

Then the prophet Haggai appeared on the scene.

  1. God’s house is as important as our houses.
  1. Throughout history the issue of “institutionalism” has arisen.

Since God is spirit, it is more important to have our hearts in tune with Him than to have a fancy place to worship.

But another fact is equally true.

God’s people need a house of worship.

Billy Sunday used to say, “you may tell me that you can worship God just as well while out fishing on Sunday morning out in nature, just as you can in a plush place of worship.

I can tell you that perhaps you can, but you won’t!”

Another person has said that a man can probably have high and noble concepts of God coming out of a sand trap on the thirteenth hole of a golf course at eleven am on Sunday morning, but the chances that he will are not very great.

God’s people need to worship, and they need a house in which to worship.

B. The way people treat God’s house often indicates their love for Him.

It may be true that sometimes religious people “over institutionalise” and must be called back to simple faith, just as Jeremiah called his people in the temple sermon in Jeremiah chapters 7 and 26.

C. A greater danger is that people may fail to provide an attractive and functional place of worship.

When Haggai came on the scene, the Jews had started to rebuild the temple but quit.

Is anything more distressing than to see a house of God half finished?

The prophet looked at the people’s homes.

He saw that they had taken care of their personal needs regardless of the economic adversity that had come their way.

Why should they dwell in comfortable homes and let God’s house lie in waste?

It is not right to serve God with the leftovers in any area of our lives.

He deserves the first fruits of our time, talents, money, and enthusiasm.

God’s work must go on.

We cannot wait until we have everything in our lives satisfactorily arranged before taking care of the spiritual needs in our community.

2. God’s money is not our money.

  1. The people of Israel had done a very wrong thing!

Times had become tough, and they had siphoned the part of their money that should have been dedicated to God into satisfying their own desires.

Haggai said in Haggai 1:5-6 (AMP)

5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways and thoughtfully reflect on your conduct! 

6 You have planted much, but you harvest little; you eat, but you do not have enough; you drink, but you do not have enough to be intoxicated; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns wages earns them just to put them in a bag with holes in it [because God has withheld His blessing].” 

The prophet’s words were important.

A spiritual law is present in the world that applies to all people but particularly to God’s redeemed family.

When we spend God’s money on ourselves, the result is tragic.

People used to say, “God has a way of collecting His tithe.”

They were right!

B. Those who dedicate God’s money to God usually spend their own money wisely also.

Those that are so disorganised that they fail to give God the first fruits of their income are confused about their priorities.

God’s money is His, and we can never be happy until we realise this fact.

Someone told a story that may not be theologically accurate, but it certainly reflects a point.

He said that he had a terminal illness and the doctors gave him only six months to live.

He was still living, however, nearly twenty years later.

He explained it this way, “For many years I did not tithe.

Then I became converted on the stewardship question and began tithing.

My wife and I decided to give a little extra each week to catch up on our tithe for the many years that we failed to give according to God’s Word.”

At this point, he laughed and said, “When I was about to die, God checked my record and found that I had not caught up on my tithe, so He let me live twenty years longer so I could catch up.”

We may not agree with his theology, but from a practical standpoint, this is the way he felt.

We all would be wise to take our stewardship responsibility as seriously as this gentleman.

Haggai told the people that they were to put God first with their material possessions.

If we are right when it comes to the question of money, most often we will be right on other subjects.

But if we are wrong when it comes to the question of money, we are most likely wrong on all other matters of the Christian faith.

I know that may sound harsh, but I believe it with all my heart. 

3. God will reward His leaders.

  1. The last of Haggai’s four messages is about Zerubbabel the governor.

Haggai 2:20-23 (AMP)

20 And again the word of the Lord came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month (Dec 18, 520 b.c.), saying, 

21 “Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah, saying, ‘I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 

22 I will [in the distant future] overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the [ungodly] nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride in them, and the horses and their riders will go down, every one by the sword of his brother [annihilating one another]. 

23 On that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, My servant,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you [through the Messiah, your descendant] like a signet ring, for I have chosen you [as the one with whom to renew My covenant to David’s line],’” declares the Lord of hosts.

Zerubbabel was the grandson of King Jehoiachin and in the direct line of David.

Since he was the governor of Judah, he was the cicil ruler.

This passage has deeper meaning than simply personal reward to Zerubbebel.

Haggai refereed back to the theme of Haggai 2:1-9.

A shaking of the heaves and earth would take place, and the thrones of pagan kingdoms would be overthrown.

When this occurred, Zerubbabel would be exalted and given a position of honour.

The Lord would make him as a signet, the most treasured of all possessions at that time.

This means that Zerubbabel had been chosen byGod for special favour, and that God would keep him under His protecting care.

B. Many Bible scholars don’t entirely agree regarding the fulfilment of this promise, but one thing is certain.

God has His eye on His own, and in due season He will exalt them and give proper reward for their deeds.

God was still alive even during the dark days post exile, and had never forgotten nor forsaken His people.

Every generation needs to be freshly reminded of this truth.

Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:58 (AMP)

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

Conclusion.

Do you become discouraged amid situations that bring hardship or setback in your life? 

If so, the book of Haggai has a word for you.

God’s work must go on.

And it will go on because God stands within the shadow keeping watch and working to bring about His purposes in history.

Until next time

Stay in the Blessings

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I really want to encourage you to be diligent with your Bible study time, because God has so much more for us than we can get from just going to church once or twice a week and hearing someone else talk about the Word.

When you spend time with God, your life will change in amazing ways, because God is a Redeemer.

Theres nothing thats too hard for Him, and He can make you whole, spirit, soul and body!

You’re important to God, and you’re important to us at www.refinerylife.org

When it comes to prayer, we believe that God wants to meet your needs and reveal His promises to you.

So whatever you’re concerned about and need prayer for we want to be here for you! Or even if you just want to say Hi, you can contact us

2020 IS A YEAR OF CLARITY

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