Introduction

Good morning everyone.  I pray that you have all had a wonderful week.  This week we are going to take a little break from the book of Joshua and we are going to step across to the book of Haggai for a moment.  As you turn there today, let me introduce what we are going to discuss today.  For all of us, when I mention the words home, there are thoughts and perhaps memories that are conjured in our minds.  For some of us, the mention of home might conjure up thoughts of pumpkin pie over thanksgiving or the turkey over thanksgiving.  For others, the thought of home might bring memories of laughter while for others it might bring memories of tears, fighting and a rough time in our lives.  For some of us that come from a far-off place, the idea of home might bring about scents, a scene of our childhood and maybe people driving on the wrong side of the road. However, we might remember home, home is of great significance in our lives.  Whether it is good significance or bad significance, it is of great significance.

So, this morning, I would like to ask you where is your home?  For those of us who know how to speak Christianese the quick response would be, well of course my home is Jesus Christ.  So this morning perhaps the better question would be, are you building your home?  You see it is easy to say that Jesus Christ is our spiritual home, but the key to experiencing this truth is by living the life of Christian builder or home maker.  It is so easy in the Christian world of today to claim that we have a spiritual home, but unfortunately for many of us we are strangers in our homes.  We have claimed Christianity but our homes lie in disrepair and the wood rot has begun to grip the very foundation of our home.  Perhaps the wood rot has already taken its toll upon your home and your home now lies in the rubble before your feet.  Today our Lord desires to restore that home within your life so how do realize that home once more.  When I ask you where your home is, is your response authentic and does your home stand abound with the presence of our Savior?  Our Lord wants to give us a home that is real, that is perfect in every way.  A home that is abounding with his presence, a home that brings forth happiness, content, peacefulness, laughter, tears of joy, a home that is beyond anything that we could ever imagine here.

So, turn with me to Haggai 1 and let’s read together how we can experience the building of this home in our lives.

Scripture – Haggai 1

The Command to Rebuild the Temple

1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”

The People Obey the Lord

12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.” 14 And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.

Engaging the Word

Stepping Back

In 538 B.C. the conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus king of Persia issued decrees allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and building the temple. The history behind the context of this passage can be found in the book of Ezra.  Led by Zerubbabel found here in this passage we see as 50,000 Jews find their way back home and begin the work on the temple.  However, about 2 years later the Jews finish the foundation of the temple and in the midst of the rejoicing the surrounding neighbors like the Samaritans feared the implications of the temple being built, so they began to oppose the building the temple in any way they could.  However, when Darius took power as king of Persia in 522, he was interested in the religions of his empire so he supported the building of the temple once more.  It was at this time that we step into a time where Haggai and Zechariah began to preach to the people in 520 B.C.  You see as evidence by the word evident in this passage, although there was opposition to the building of the house of God, the lack of work was more the result of the people rather than the opposition.

Timing

Here in this passage we begin in verse 4 where our Lord comes upon Haggai and calls him to ask the people “Is it a time for you to dwell in your paneled houses while the house of the Lord lies in ruins?”  This question in and of itself has both literal and spiritual implications for the people of that time and for us today.  The adjective here in verse 4 paneled is an illustration for the people of that day to the nice things of life.  Paneled homes were more associated with wealth or the well to do Jews out there.  So here, Haggai is illustrating to the people that they have focused their lives on the wants of this life and not the necessities of this life.

In this world today, we have come to a place that has unfortunately succumb to its selfish and egotistical self.  Even within the church, many of us have succumb to the same understanding as a believer.  This morning let’s just focus on our spiritual homes.  In Philippians 2:12 our Lord tells us through Paul to the Philippians “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  Here in this verse we see an instruction to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  It is evident that unfortunately we have become a society that likes to be baby fed on Sundays.  We come to church wanting the pastors and leaders of our church to tell us what we should believe, what we should do, how we should act, feel and think.  Yet, quite candidly it doesn’t matter what I tell you today, it only matters what God tells you.  Yes, it is important to listen to your Pastors and those who have been given spiritual authority over you, but it is more important to listen to God.  For on that day, when you and I face our creator we won’t be able to blame our actions upon our pastors or the books we read, for we will be held accountable to ourselves and not those around us.  That is why Paul tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, because how we think, what we believer and how we live in this life will determine our eternity.  For many of us in this world we claim that our lives are too busy to spend time working out our faith in this life, yet when one realizes the significance of this question, can we ever be too busy to work out our salvation in fear and trembling?

Strangers in our own Home

At the beginning of today’s sermon, I stated; “It is so easy in the Christian world of today to claim that we have a spiritual home, but unfortunately for many of us we are strangers in our homes.” In verse 6 of this passage, Haggai asks this same question to the people of Israel and to you and me today.

  • Have we found ourselves sowing much, but harvesting little?
  • Have we found ourselves eating and eating yet still hungry?
  • Have we found ourselves drinking and drinking of all that surrounds us but always thirsty?
  • Have we clothed ourselves, yet still cold?
  • When is enough, enough?

People have struggled for millennia over these very questions.  Whether it was in 520 B.C., men and women have tried to find fulfillment in the stuff of this life, yet time after time found themselves empty.  Whether it is money or love, or family, or stuff, or power, fulfillment is never found in any of these.  Even within the church, we have found ourselves trying to fill the empty hallways of our homes with the stuff of Christianity rather than the presence of our Lord and creator.  Whether it is twelve step programs, or our purpose, or goodwill, these do not provide nourishment required for our souls.  The truth is “Jesus invested in people not in programs”.  Why is it that, it is so easy to be a part of programs yet so hard to understand God’s Word?  Self Denial!  God’s word is not hard, it is not convoluted, and our inability to realize the fulfillment of God’s Word within our lives, can be broken if we will hide God’s Word in our heart.  What does it mean to hide God’s Word in our heart?  It means;

  1. That we have to read it.
  2. That we have to study it.
  3. That we have to embrace it
  4. That we have to live it.
  5. That we have to reside within it.

So, what does this mean for you and me?  Haggai brought the question to us as believers, have we found ourselves sowing much but harvesting little?  Now it is easy for us to look at this question in verse 6 and consider it within the context of that day, or maybe within the context of a non-believer for today.  Yet, maybe we should consider it within our own lives today.  Have we as believers sown much over the years?  Have we done this program and that program and where is the evidence of the harvest?  Just the other night I was talking with Dorothy and Lynn and we commented about how many of the lives this little church has touched.  Yet we need to ask ourselves, if we have been sowing and sowing, is God’s harvest been realized in the hearts of us and those around us?  If you have found yourself struggling with an area in your life where the presence of God can not be found in that room of your life, perhaps it is time to put down the programs of this life and start picking up the program of eternal life?  Our Lord desires to feed each us with His fulfillment.  Our Lord desires to fill us with rivers of living water.  Our Lord desires to give us a home, a home filled with his presence.

Conclusion – The Work of God’s Pleasure

Finally here in verse 8 and 9 we see as our Lord tells us to

  1. Consider our ways,
  2. Go get wood,
  3. Build our Lord’s home.

These are three specific instructions for the believer to build and home filled with God’s presence.  First it requires that we consider our ways.  What does this mean?  It means that we look at all that we do, all that we say, all that we think and all that we feel and consider whether that aspect of our lives honors the presence of God in our lives.  How do we know whether something honors God’s presence in our lives?  It requires that we know God’s word in our lives so that we can have a standard to which we can measure against.  Secondly it requires that we go get wood.  What does this mean?  In 2 Timothy 2:15 God’s word tells us to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”  Note that it says workman.  In other versions, it says worker.  Preparing God’s home within our hearts requires at time work within our spiritual lives.  It requires more than just coming to church on Sunday.  It requires studying God’s Word when we don’t understand.  It requires spending time on our knees at length when we desire his fresh Holy Spirit to teach us something anew.  It requires spending time just remaining pressing into his likeness so that we might see his perspective.  Lastly Haggai tells us to build our Lord’s home.  What does that mean within our lives?  James puts it this way in James 1:23-24 “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”  So many in the Christianity today live this very truth unfortunately.  We hear a good sermon, we read a great verse, our Lord speaks to a specific situation in our lives, or he uses a brother or sister to speak into our lives, and we go home saying great word but fail to build the Lord’s home within our lives.

Today if you have found yourself always spiritually thirsty, or not seeing fruit within your spiritual walk, perhaps it is time to stop paneling the life that you hold so dear and begin to build the home of God in your life.  Perhaps there is a struggle within your life that you have failed to see the fruit of God in your life.  Maybe your home is in shambles and you need to start from the foundation all over again.  Today is day to begin.  Not tomorrow or the next but today.  For it is in the building of God’s home within our lives that we will see the presence of the God beyond any measure.  God’s glory is waiting to be revealed in yours and my life if we will just build his home.