Make the Connection

Haggai 1:2-13

What is the most important aspect of the process we are now going through in preparation to build? Turn to Haggai 1 and let’s read beginning in vs 2…

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, `The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.'” 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 have 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 the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9″You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.” 13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD. 14 So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God…
We are examining the Challenge to Build process, our individual involvement, and God’s will regarding the future of our church. Toward this end I want us to look closely at this passage…
From Haggai, let’s first consider why God’s house was to be built. It’s because God is consumed with His glory. He is obsessed with it. Nothing is more important. His house was designed so people would worship Him. In verse 8 God says to build it “so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored.”
Our God is holy, mighty, and all powerful. He alone deserves, and is worthy of, worship, honor, and praise. Jehovah is God and there is no other. His name is above all names. It is at the name of Jesus that every knee will bow and every tongue confess He is Lord. Therefore it is only right that a place of magnificence be built for honoring and worshipping the name of Jesus.
Listen to John 4:23…
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
God seeks people who will worship Him. People who are consumed with the same passion He has… worship and honor of His Holy Name. God desires people who are totally surrendered to HIS call… HIS will… HIS purposes… and HIS glory.
Building our worship center is to glorify God. It is for the purpose of lifting up the name of Jesus to draw all men unto himself. Our God has a name that is above all names, one that is worthy to be praised. He is “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). THAT is the primary, first, and sole reason to build a place for worship!
Building is not to make a statement to the community, a monument to our own wisdom, wealth or power. Nor is it to impress anyone. Those are sinful motivations and will not be honored by God.
Man builds humanistic churches! Malls are Meccas of materialism. Stadiums are for adulation of athletes. I’ve never been to Las Vegas or a Casino, but from the pictures I’ve seen, no expense is spared for purely hedonistic worship. Millions of dollars are spent catering to ourselves while eternal matters are neglected or given token attention.
Don’t you think God deserve a place for adoration of His name that is better than a mall, stadium, or casino? Aren’t our priorities out of whack when we care more about fulfilling our own desires than providing a place of beauty to honor the name of God?!
This was the case God brought before the people in Haggai. For that reason God said, “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” (Vs 4).
Those people were consumed with their own comfort, their own lives, plans, dreams, and goals. So God called them to a time of serious inspection… a time of evaluating their priorities. He tells them to stop and take a hard look at what all has taken place in their life and UNDERSTAND what’s happened!
** Aren’t we guilty of sailing through life with little spiritual discernment?   Is life just a series of unrelated events? Or is there a connection between our emotions, the condition of our marriage, work, the weather, our physical health and our devotion to the Lord?   Wouldn’t you agree that most people give little thought to God’s activity IN their life? Look in verse 5 again…
“5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have 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. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands
God points out that because they were SO self centered, HE withheld blessings from them. And not only that, but HE caused discomfort in their life. Their priorities were upside down and their lack of joy, fulfillment, and happiness… in the midst of great prosperity… was His way of calling them back to Him.
Could GOD cause anxiety? Could HE prevent emotional fulfillment? Would GOD bring about failure, drought, floods, freezes, and physical illness? YES! (See 1 Corinthians 11:30; Acts 5; 1 John 5:16).
Twice God says, “Give CAREFUL THOUGHT to your ways…” There IS a connection between an unfilled life and lack of devotion to God. There IS a correlation between adversity and being self centered. There IS a link between obedience to God and His blessings!
The connection is that GOD sends blessings OR adversity directly related to obedience!
PAUSE
Here’s a true statement… We are comfortable one step inside heaven…
PAUSE.
I heard a person say this, “I don’t care if the gate hits me on the rear end as it closes, as long as I’M IN!” As long as we are saved, little else captivates our spiritual attention and devotion.
The youth and young people will make a quick connection with what I am about to say. We have a “Mombo #5” type Christianity.
Just a little bit of prayer is all we need… Just a little bit of Bible… Just a little bit of church… Just a little bit of giving… Just a little bit of Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit! But we don’t want God to encroach into EVERY area of our life.
Too many keep their faith separate from business… separate from family… separate from finances… and separate from their conduct in the CHURCH!
In all pastoral sincerity, we need to honestly determine what our direction and devotion will be here at our church. And I’m not talking about the building when I say that! We need to make up our mind whether or not we are going to be serious about Jesus. We need to hear God and consider what our OWN priorities are! Are they truly Godly… or are they self centered?
WHY?  Because God hates half hearted Christianity! That is why he says to either be hot or cold, for Him or against him. Lukewarm faith is so repulsive to Christ that he spits it out (Revalation 3:16)!

Is it possible that the reason we have so much materially, socially, and intellectually… and yet are still so unfulfilled and empty because we are not surrendered to God? Is THAT the reason so many people have hard hearts, are full of anger, resentment, jealousy, and depression? They have a form of godliness but deny His power?…

Is it possible that our own actions have caused difficulty and NOT your home life, spouse, job, the preacher, deacons, or some other convenient scape goat that has been blamed?
Listen, I want to build a new sanctuary and educational space as much as anyone here. I want a place that will accommodate scores more people in worship and Sunday School. But there is one thing more important to me. One that I would be willing to trade the building and all the money this church has in the bank for… Do you want to know what that one thing is?
PAUSE…
A church on fire with awakening and revival! That would mean we would be living holy lives. We would be evangelizing the lost. We would be devoted to prayer. We would be ministering to this whole community. We would be consumed with worshipping, praising, and glorifying the God who saved us! THAT IS WHAT I DESIRE MORE THAN ANYTHING!
Listen close to what I am about to say. This is the most important statement I will make about Challenge To Build and the plans for a new sanctuary and educational space… Before any of that can glorify God, we need to be right WITH God as a congregation!
And that begins on an individual level. It doesn’t begin with someone else, it begins with you. It moves beyond a Sunday School only faith. If moves beyond a Sunday morning only faith. It moves beyond a Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night faith. It is a life surrendered to God!
So let me ask you a personal question… at what level is your faith on this morning? Do you exist each week on two hours from Sunday morning? Do you live on what you retain from Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night? Honestly… how much do you REALLY retain from church? Could you state right now the focal passage for Sunday School? See what I mean?…
Here is something I believe about many here. You are saved. You want to serve God. You want to do what is right. However… you have exchanged what is best with what is good. The best thing we could do right now is to “Give careful thought to our ways…” Make the connection between life events and our relationship to God… and then respond appropriately!
You may very well need to make some significant lifestyle changes related to job, recreation, family, and goals. By “giving careful thought to your ways” God may reorder your life in such a drastic fashion that it will literally scare you to death. But “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Trust Him and follow Him. He always honors those who honor him (1 Samuel 2:30)!
There are others here who need to surrender their life to Christ for the first time! You are not saved and if you died today you would be separated from God for eternity in hell. Come to Jesus now and he will cleanse you from your sin!
Once our heart is right with God, then everything else will fall easily into place. The building, your job, your marriage, your emotions, and your eternal state! So now the ball is in your court… What will you do in response to God and His call to “Give careful thought to your ways…?”

Ron Ethridge

Graduated from Samford University with a B.S. in Accounting, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity, and Beeson Divinity School with a Doctor of Ministry degree. He has served churches as pastor since 1989 in Mississippi and Alabama.
Ron Ethridge

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