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Graduation Sunday

Putting the Cart before the HorseóHaggai 1:1-15

Sunday Morning, June 27th, 2004

Haggai 1:1-5

1: In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,

2: Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built.

3: Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,

4: Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?

5: Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

The patriarch Isaac, when it came to the worship of the LORD, knew how to put the horse, properly before the cart.As he arrives in Beersheba with his family, his servants, and his cattle, consider Isaacís priorities. The Scripture says:

Genesis 26:25

And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well.

Isaacís first priority was his worship (he built an altar).His second priority was his home (he pitched his tent). And his third priority was his work (he dug a well).

These should be the same priorities for every Christian home.

But, sadly, for too many Christians, the cart most of the time comes before the horse; as in the case of those that returned to Jerusalem after the seventy year captivity in Babylon.

1: In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,

2: Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built.

God is sending His message first to the leaders of His people, the religious and civil rulers.

It is being sent to Zerubbabel, the Governor of Judah.(Zerubbabel means ďsown in Babylon,Ē or born in captivity.Although he was fully Jewish, he had a heathen name.) He was appointed by Cyrus, the Persian King, to be the governor of Judah.

And then the message is also for the ears of Joshua, the High Priest.

This is not the Joshua of the battle of Jericho. This Joshua is the spiritual leader of Godís people.Heís the high priest.

These two rulers were responsible for making sure that the work of rebuilding the temple and the walls of Jerusalem was completed.

Where is the temple of God today?

Is it in Jerusalem?

†† Is it in Mecca?

††††† Is it in Rome?

††††††††† Is it in Salt Lake City as the Mormons would like for you to believe?

NoÖThe Temple of God is in the individual heart of the believer.

1 Corinthians 3:16

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

No longer is the governor, or the high priest, or the pastor or the Sunday School teacher responsible for the temple of God, which is your own body....but you are held completely accountable to God for His temple...which you are!

And so, the message that Haggai brings to the people of Israel of old, he brings to us today:

2: Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built.

Godís people, the Israelites, had been released from captivity in Babylon.

They returned to the land of Canaan, to Jerusalem, to rebuild the temple and the city walls.

And they came with joyful hearts.

But, after a while, they became discouraged, and the work came to a standstill.

They were constantly being threaten and harassed by the Samaritans.

The task seemed insurmountable to them.

And they said to one another, ďMaybe itís not Godís will that we build now.Ē

GODíS WILL, by the way, for many Christians has become a will of their own personal convenience.

When we first gave our lives to Christ, we were joyful.

This temple of ours was going in a whole new direction!

We were thoroughly convinced that we could truly, ďdo all things through Christ who strengthens us.Ē (Philippians 4:13)

But after awhile, the going got tough!

The world seemed against us all the time!

Our worldly friends left us!

And we began to think this Christian life too hard!

But guess what? The Christian life is hard!

Listen to the words of the Lord Jesus:

Matthew 16:24

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

There is a cross to bear when we decide to follow Christ.

The world is pulling on us to go its way, and the Holy Spirit is encouraging us to follow a completely different path.If we are going to follow Jesus weíre going to have to swim against the tide.

John 16:33

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

God says, tribulation in this world is a clear sign that you belong to Him.

AND SO THEREíS GOING TO BE SOME HARDSHIP, SUFFERING, and PERSECUTION, IF YOU FOLLOW CHRIST!

Godís people were tired, discouraged, and worn out! They were constantly being harassed by the Samaritans.

They just wanted to give up!

SO THEY PASSED THEIR WEAKNESS ON TO GOD...

The time is not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built.

In other words, Godís not ready! Itís not Godís will that we move ahead!

NOW GOD COMES WITH A QUESTION FOR HIS PEOPLE!

3: Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,

4: Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?

This is very interesting -Godís people were too tired, and too discouraged, to apply themselves to the task of rebuilding Godís temple, but they werenít to tired to set about building there own ďniceĒ homes.ďcieled housesĒ means well-paneled homes.

They were taking care of themselves...but Godís temple was suffering.

Godís temple, like Isaacís altar, was the place where God could be present with his people.

Abraham considered Godís altar the first priority for his home.

His son Isaac considered Godís altar the first priority for his home.

And Isaacís son, Jacob, considered Godís altar priority one for his home.

Why?Because they were men of faith.

And because they were men of faith, God blessed them wonderfully!

But when the flesh becomes priority one, and the Spirit is priority anything else, youíre going to begin to suffer problemsómaterial, physical, emotional, and/or spiritual!

The Jews werenít too tired to build themselves fancy homes, to spend their time, their energy, and their money on themselves, but their worship was going to hell in a handbasket!

THE SAME APPLIES TO THE TEMPLE OF YOUR BODY:

You can feed and entertain the body with all kinds of things, but if you fail to feed the spirit...the spirit, will become weak, begin to deteriorate, and eventually, collapse.

HOW ARE YOU REAPING TODAY?Materially, spiritually, emotionally?

For the people of Israel there had been crop failure and famine, which resulted in little money to buy food or clothing, and they had no savings account, and no insurance to protect them from these disastrous times...yet not once had they given consideration to the fact that Godís hand was against them!

AND SO GOD ASKS THEM TO CONSIDER THEIR WAYS

5: Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

6: Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

You work 60 hours a week, and still canít make ends meet!

You work to achieve, and find only failure.

Blame anybody you want to for your failures.

But itís very possible that Godís hand is against you, because you neglect his temple!

Question:Should God bless you, while you neglect Him?

THE LORD SAYS, CONSIDER YOUR WAYS

7: Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

8: Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.

SIMPLY PUT, GOD SAYS, GO BUILD THE TEMPLE!

YOUR SPIRITUAL, EMOTIONAL, AND PHYSICAL LIFE PROBLEMS COULD BE SOLVED WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR HEART TO CHRIST AND GIVE HIM FIRST PRIORITY IN YOUR LIFE!

9: Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it.Why?saith the LORD of hosts.Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.

WE HAVE SPENT SO MUCH TIME SERVING THE FLESH THAT THE TEMPLE IS WASTING AWAY.

OUR TEMPLE IS EMPTY!

WE SEEK THE THINGS OF THE WORLD TO MAKE US HAPPY...BUT STILL WEíRE NOT HAPPY.WEíRE MISERABLE, AFFRAID, AND INSECURE.

WE CANíT GET EXCITED ABOUT COMING TO CHURCH BECAUSE WEíRE ALREADY OUT OF FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD.

10: Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.

11: And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.

In our society today we would quickly blame everybody else becasue the land is not producing ďgoods and services.Ē

The President

The Congress

The Governor

Maybe we aught to go look in the mirror!

It may be that God is not happy with me and heís withholding from me, because Iím withholding from him.

WHAT TAKES FIRST PRIORITY IN YOUR LIFE?

ARE YOU GIVING ANY TIME TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST?

ARE YOU GIVING ANYTHING TO GODíS WORK ANYWHERE?

ARE YOU SUPPORTING GODíS WORK HERE AT POWHATAN?

OR ARE YOU COMPLETELY SATISIFIED LETTING THE 35% OF THE CHURCH TAKE CARE OF 100% OF THE BILLS?

IF YOUíRE NOT HAPPY IN THE LORD TODAY, ITíS BECAUSE THE LORD IS NOT PRIORITY ONE IN YOUR LIFE TODAY.

12: Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, 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 did fear before the LORD.

WHAT IS IT IN YOUR LIFE THAT IS PRIORITY ONE?

TO ISAAC IT WAS THE ALTAR...HIS WORSHIP.

(Iíve yet to read anywhere where Isaac ever had a need.)

ISAAC PUT GOD FIRST IN HIS LIFE.

Matthew 6:33

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Luke 6:38

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Matthew 11:28

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

WHAT IS PRIORITY ONE IN YOUR LIFE TODAY?

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