Be Strong and Build
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, January 9, 2000
Copyright © 2000, P. G. Mathew
On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: "Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 'Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,' declares the LORD. 'Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the LORD, 'and work. For I am with you,' declares the LORD Almighty. 'This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.'
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty. 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty. 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty."
The Need for Perseverance
The doctrine we find in this passage is the perseverance of the saints. This passage teaches us not to be quitters but to persevere in serving the Lord.
It is against our human nature to continue doing what we have resolved to do. For example, someone recently gave me an exercise bike. I have found that I will get on it with great enthusiasm and punch in thirty minutes on the timer. My intention is to work out the whole time, but after about five minutes my enthusiasm evaporates. As I continue pedaling, I begin to get depressed and start to feel a tremendous urge to get off the bike. But I don't give up. I don't quit. Instead, I encourage myself by thinking about all the benefits of exercise and how good it is for my heart. I tell myself that my body is the temple of God, and so I must keep it fit. I tell myself that when I exercise, I am pleasing God and that this kind of physical exercise is actually a form of worship. When I speak to myself like this, I am able to overcome my depression, gloom, misery, and discouragement. I keep going, and at the end of thirty minutes, I feel pretty good.
This illustration is true of all who make resolutions. We may be very earnest in our resolve to begin something, but once we begin to do it, we tend to lose our enthusiasm and give in to discouragement. When this happens, we must be encouraged to persevere in our resolution. As I said, we find this pattern to be true of any resolution we make, including our resolution to follow Jesus Christ. After some time, we experience discouragement, and we are tempted to quit rather than to continue doing what God tells us to do.
Discouragement and despondency occur whenever people decide to walk in a way pleasing to God. Every revival is followed by a time of discouragement and despondency. Look at the example of Elijah. There was a great revival in Israel after a dramatic demonstration to the crowd on Mount Carmel that Yahweh, not Baal, was the true God of Israel. But soon afterwards Elijah became discouraged when he learned of Jezebel's threat to destroy him. He fled to the desert where he was so discouraged that he asked God to take his life.
We must understand there is a devil who hates revival and will do anything he can to oppose our resolution to walk in God's ways. We need, therefore, to study the words of encouragement found in this book of Haggai so that we can be encouraged and continue in the path of obedience to God. We must comfort ourselves with the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: "If you continue in my word, you shall truly be my disciples."
Discouragement Sets In
To ensure that we persevere in the task he has assigned to us, God graciously gives us words of strong encouragement. This is the message of the prophecy of Haggai. In chapter 1, Haggai had rebuked God's people for neglecting their spiritual life while they sought their treasure in material things. They had stopped working on the temple of God, which they had been commissioned to rebuild, and, instead, had poured their energies into building luxurious, paneled houses for themselves.
Haggai's rebuke produced a revival, and the people repented of their sins. After neglecting the work on the house of God for sixteen years, they began to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and resumed building the temple on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. They worked vigorously for about one month but then they became overwhelmed with despondency and discouragement.
Chapter 2 deals with the despondency of the people. Why do you think they lost their enthusiasm? First, it seems there were some older people among the Israelites--people about eighty years old or so--who, as teenagers, had seen the first temple in all its glory. No doubt they still had strong memories of the gold-covered interior and the heavenly fire which characterized that temple. They remembered the ark, the cherubim, and the shekinah glory, all of which signified God's presence in their midst. They remembered watching all this magnificence burned to the ground by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 B.C.
This new temple lacked the wonderful things which had characterized the Solomon's temple. There was no ark, no gold furnishings, no carved cherubim, and no shekinah glory. There was a lack of good materials, a lack of progress and a lack of money, as well as opposition coming from the enemies who lived nearby.
Work on the temple, as we said, resumed on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. But as the work progressed, instead of rejoicing in this revival, the older people who had seen the glory of the first temple, began to weep, as they had done when the foundation had been laid when they first returned (Ezra 3). In the eyes of the older people, the new temple looked like nothing -- a big zero. The weeping of these old people only served to discourage the younger people and despondency set in. Once more, God's people were in danger of abandoning God's work.
Encouragement from God's Word
Seeing how discouraged his people were becoming, God sent words of encouragement to his people through the prophet Haggai. Haggai was told to prophesy to Zerubbabel the prince, Joshua the priest, and to the people--the remnant of the Israelites.
If we are discouraged and despondent, we must turn to the word of God, because it alone is designed to strengthen, encourage, and comfort us. As we look into it, it will remove our depression and build us up. In 1 Corinthians 14:3 we read, "But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort." And in Romans 15:4 we read, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
The word of God gives us strength, comfort, encouragement, and hope. If you are experiencing discouragement, the counsel of God to you is to look into God's word.
God's word of encouragement came to his people through Haggai on the twenty-first day of the seventh month. It was the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, which was supposed to be a time of joyous celebration. It was not a work day, so the people gathered together. Haggai took advantage of this situation to give the people God's word of encouragement.
In this study we want to look at three things: the divine imperative to persevere; the divine reasons for persevering; and the divine promises of God for those who persevere.
The Divine Imperative to Persevere
1. Be strong
We find the first word in Haggai 2:4: "'But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,' declares the Lord. 'Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the Lord, 'and work.'"
Three times God gave this imperative: Be strong! In other words, "Prince, be strong! Priest, be strong! Leaders, be strong! People, be strong! Fathers, be strong! Mothers, be strong! Workers, be strong! Children, be strong! Do you want to build? You need strength. Do you want to build spiritually? You need spiritual strength."
After the death of Moses God told Joshua to lead the people into the promised land. How did he encourage him? "Be strong!" he told Joshua. "Do not fear! Take courage! Look into the law of God! Do not turn to the left or to the right! Know that I will be with you."
When David was old and about to die, he told the new young king, Solomon, to be strong in the work of ruling as well as in the work of building the temple. We read this in 1 Chronicles 28:20: "David also said to Solomon his son, 'Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished."
Be strong! That is the divine imperative for us as well. Be strong, church! Be strong, students! Be strong, parents! Do not give up! Do not quit! Persevere! Be strong!
How do we get this strength? In Isaiah 40:28-31 we read, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
The apostle Paul says the same thing in Ephesians 6:10-11: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."
If we are Christians, we must be strong, especially as we encounter opposition and difficulties. If we don't, we will fall into murmuring, grumbling, and self-pitying. We need strength to persevere in the Christian life and the spiritual warfare to which we are called, because both Satan and the world are against us. We need strength to be witnesses of Jesus Christ in this world. We receive this supernatural strength from God. Remember the words of David against Goliath, "I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty" (1 Kings 17:45). And the Lord Jesus Christ himself told us, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you."
God himself will strengthen us with his might. Therefore, I urge you: Be strong! Give up your depression, gloom, misery, self-pity, and grumbling. Be strong in the Lord!
2. Do not fear
The second word God spoke to his people is "Do not fear." We fear when we are looking only at our problems. Now, we must see our problems, but we must also see God. When we see God, we need not fear.
We find this imperative several places in the Scriptures. When Abraham was afraid in Genesis 15, God told him, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." Do not fear!
Are you afraid? In Isaiah 41:10-11 God tells us, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish." Do not fear!
In Mark 6:49-50 we find Jesus Christ walking on the lake in the middle of the night. As he approached the boat, the disciples were afraid and cried out, "It's a ghost!" But Jesus said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
Jesus is saying the same thing to us today: "Do not fear; it is I. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you. Those who rage against you will be disgraced." And in Romans 8 Paul tells us that nothing in all creation is able to separate us from the love of God.
Whatever your situation is, I encourage you to listen to and obey these imperatives of God. What are they? "Be strong!" "Do not fear!"
The third word is a command to build. You see, God gives us strength for a purpose. In the case of the people of Haggai's time, the strength God gave them was for building the temple of God. They had been using their strength and energy on their own houses, but now God was commanding them to build his house.
What was God's third command? Build! In other words, persevere in building the house of God! Don't give in to discouragement and gloom! Persist in your spiritual tasks! Continue to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness! Keep on serving God in the place he assigned you! Be faithful in the task God has given you. Why? No matter how insignificant it may seem to us, the task God gives us to do is significant in the total scheme of his divine plan. We must be faithful till death in obeying God, as we read in Revelation 2.
Through Haggai, God gave his people a divine imperative to continue building the temple and serving God. But that was not all God did. He also gave divine reasons for the imperatives. So the second point we would like to examine is the divine reasons for the imperative to persevere.
1. The first reason was who the speaker was.
Who was telling these people, "Be strong," "Do not fear," and "Build"? The Lord of hosts. Haggai was only the secondary speaker, the voice. The speaker was the Lord of hosts, the Lord Almighty, the one who has all authority in heaven and on earth. He alone is the absolute Sovereign, the Creator of the ends of the earth, the only Redeemer and covenant Lord.
God acts in history and he will continue to do so until all his plans are accomplished, including his plan for our salvation. Thus, we must listen to him. It is important that we recognize who is commanding us. It is the Sovereign Lord, who does what he pleases and no one can resist him.
2. The second reason was that God told them, "I am with you."
This is the second time that phrase appears in the book of Haggai. We find it first in Haggai 1:13 and now in Haggai 2:4 we read, "'For I am with you,' declares the Lord Almighty."
God himself is with us! He is not sending an angel or some other agent to strengthen us in our task. He is Immanuel--God with us. He will not leave us or forsake us in the middle of our task. He never sleeps nor slumbers. He is the ever-vigilant, almighty, good shepherd who cares for us. Therefore, we may lean on him, listen to him, and rest in him who says to us, "I am with you!"
Do you think God can help us build? Oh, yes. Our God is the great builder, the one who said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." He is the first builder, and we are but secondary agents.
So God told the people of Haggai's time and he tells us, "Listen, the reason for not fearing, the reason for building, the reason we should be strong, is that I am with you--to guide you, to strengthen you, to encourage you, and to provide you with all your needs." It is this God who will provide us with manna and water from the rock. It is this God who will defend us, shelter us, go before us, go behind us, and will be all around us. It is this God who will fight all our battles. God is with us!
In Isaiah 43:1-7 we read,
But now, this is what the LORD says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth -- everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."
Floods will not sweep over us! Fire will not destroy us! God is with us, and we must take courage because of that.
3. The third reason was that God's covenant was still operative.
In Haggai 2:5 God says, "I made a covenant with you when you came out of Egypt and I have not revoked it." These people could take courage because the covenant of God, God's plan to save his people, was still functioning.
Things did not look all that promising to these people. There were just a few of them and they were under Persian control. Materials were scarce, money was tight, and their enemies were many. They knew that the temple they were trying to build could never match the magnificent temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
I am sure these people thought that maybe God had forgotten his promises and abandoned them. But, no, God was still on target. He was committed to his covenant, and in due course he would exalt and save his people.
So Haggai was exhorting the people to rely on God's promises, rise up, and build. They must do their part, being faithful in their God-given responsibilities. In other words, human responsibility matters. We believe in divine sovereignty as well as human responsibility. Our work, our faithfulness, our obedience matters.
In Acts 13:36 we read, "When David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep." We also must serve the Lord in our generation before we die. Why? Our service matters. So, if you are a father, be the father God wants you to be. It matters! If you are a mother, be the mother God wants you to be. (PGM) It matters! If you are a parent, train up your child in the way he should go. It matters! Our faithfulness is absolutely essential in the outworking of God's sovereign plan.
4. The fourth reason was that God's Spirit was remaining among them.
In Haggai 2:5 God tells his people, "And my Spirit remains among you." We need God's Holy Spirit to persevere in the tasks he gives us to do.
In the exodus story Moses was filled with the Holy Spirit, the seventy elders were filled with the Holy Spirit, Joshua was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit was among his people. In Isaiah 63:10-14 we read of the function of the Holy Spirit in the exodus:
Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them. Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people--where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses' right hand, to divide the waters before them, to gain for himself everlasting renown, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble; like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.
Through Haggai God comforted his people by telling them the Holy Spirit had not gone away. He was with them, abiding with them, and giving them rest.
The Spirit-filled life is a life of rest. Didn't Jesus Christ say, "Come unto me and I will give you rest"? He is the one who gives us the Holy Spirit. A life of being filled with the Spirit is a life of rest. That is why it is important that God's Spirit continues to be with us.
The Holy Spirit also enables God's people to do their work. The other prophet who prophesied at the same time as Haggai is Zechariah, and in Zechariah 4:1-7 we read about the Holy Spirit helping Zerubbabel complete the temple. In verse 6 we read, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty." In other words, the project would be completed by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by that of man. And in verse 7 we see a challenge sent by the church to her enemies: "What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!'"
"Zerubbabel," God was saying, "my Holy Spirit will enable you to build and complete the temple." Clothed with the Spirit of God, God's people can leap over walls and level mighty mountains. The mighty, divine reason they can do so is that God's Spirit is with them. Have you ever thought about that?
5. The fifth reason was that God's power still operates in this world.
In Haggai 2:6-7 we read, "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations. . . .'" What was the reason God could command his people to be strong, fear not and build and they would obey? Despite all the opposition and problems, his people could take comfort knowing that God's sovereign, almighty power was still operative in this world.
Church, understand that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Almighty, is the Lord of history, over all nations. He is all-powerful to shake the heavens and the earth, shaking and conquering the nations as he wills.
In Daniel 2 we see an example of God's mighty power demonstrated among the nations of earth. First, we read that Babylon will be defeated by Medo-Persia; then, that Persia will be defeated by Greece; and then, that Greece will be defeated by Rome. Then Daniel speaks of a stone not cut by human hands coming and destroying it all. That's shaking! That stone grows into a mountain that fills the earth, which is speaking about the mighty power of God establishing his kingdom.
Our God is a God of great power, and no obstacle can stand in his way. He is over history, men, and nations. Don't you think that is reason enough not to be depressed, not to fear, and to be strong to build?
Divine Promises to Live By
The third point we want to examine is the divine promises God makes to us that we can live by. As we serve and do our part, we must focus our attention on these promises of God.
1. God will shake the mountains.
In Haggai 2:6 we read, "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations. . . . '"
God's people had been looking at the mighty mountains, meaning the obstacles facing them and causing them to fear, and they were becoming discouraged. But God was telling them, "I will shake those mountains and they shall fall. I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
We must keep our eyes on that divine promise. God will shake and mountains will fall, but his kingdom will abide forever. It alone is unshakeable.
2. God will fill his house with glory.
God's second promise is found in Haggai 2:7: "I will fill this house with glory." We read about the literal fulfillment of this promise in Ezra 6, which speaks about Darius himself underwriting the work on the temple.
You see, these people were worried about having enough money and gold and materials to finish and furnish the temple. In Ezra 6 we read that Darius issued a decree commanding the enemies of the Jews not to obstruct the work but rather to support it out of their own resources. In verses 8-10 we read, "The expenses of these men are to be fully paid out of the royal treasury. . . . Whatever is needed. . . must be given them daily without fail. . . ." The enemies didn't want to do that, but Darius was saying, "Just do it!" This is a wonderful demonstration of God's sovereignty over the nations.
3. The glory of the later temple would be greater than that of Solomon's temple.
In Haggai 2:9 we read, "'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' declares the Lord Almighty."
Remember the eighty-year-old people weeping and groaning, murmuring and complaining, "What's the use? This temple is nothing compared to what was before"? You see, this is human thought and perception, not God's way of looking at things. No wonder God tells us in Isaiah 55, "Your thoughts are not my thoughts." It's amazing how different the thoughts of God and the thoughts of man can be! Man says, "This second temple is nothing," but God says, "The glory of this temple will be greater than the glory of the previous temple."
This promise of God was fulfilled subsequently in the history of this temple. King Herod of Judah worked very hard to beautify this temple, renovating, embellishing and adorning it. One day, after the temple had been under construction for many years, Jesus and his disciples were visiting it. The disciples were impressed by this great wonder, as we read in Mark 13:1, "As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, 'Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"
This second temple was a beautiful edifice, especially after Herod's great building project. But the glory God would give to this temple was much greater than anything Herod could do to it. Why? One day someone--a baby boy--showed up at the temple courts.
In Luke 2:22-32 we read:
When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. . . .Now there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."
In Matthew 12:6 Jesus said of himself, "I tell you that one greater than the temple is here." You see, the temple was built for God to dwell in, and it was glorious, but the greater glory was that someone who is greater than the temple was there.
Do you need something to fill the temple? There is something more than gold, more than platinum, more than all the precious things of this world, that will give greater glory to the temple. Someone showed up there--the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, how certain God's promises are!
4. God would grant peace in the new temple.
In Haggai 2:9 we find God's fourth promise: "'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the Lord Almighty." God was saying to his people, "Keep working, because it is important. The glory is going to be greater and it is in this place I will grant you peace."
This is the Aaronic blessing we read of in Numbers 6:24-26, "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."
How do we obtain peace? It comes as a result of war. God was telling his people that someone was going to show up in the temple, engage in a war against all authorities and enemies, and defeat them. He then would proclaim liberty to those who had been held captive by them. This is called peace by conquering, and it was accomplished by God's Son, Jesus Christ.
In Colossians 2:13-15 we read:
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
By his death on the cross Jesus Christ defeated all our enemies, and now he says to us, "Peace," and means it. He is our peace, accomplished through his death on the cross, and now God can say to us, "In this place I will grant peace."
Jesus Christ came to give us peace. In John 14:27 he said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." In Romans 5:1 we read, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
God's promise of peace--the Prince of Peace--came to the temple, defeated all his enemies, and proclaimed liberty to his people. And he has enabled us also to hear that proclamation of liberty which gives us peace.
Have you received God's message of peace? If not, let me tell you how to receive it: First, don't come to God telling him how great you are, but confessing that you are a sinner who deserves only his wrath. Tell him that you now trust in Jesus Christ's work on the cross, his death for your sins. Commit your life to Jesus Christ and he will save you and give you peace that abides. He will proclaim liberty to you and set the captives free.
God Is Building Another House
The second temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. and never rebuilt, but God is building yet another house. Jesus Christ said, " I will build my church" and that church is the temple of the living God. And let me assure you, this new temple is most glorious. God is building it with living stones--those of us who are the redeemed people of God--and he is constantly working on us to make us glorious. He is most glorious, so we are going to be glorious. Even now we are being changed from glory to glory.
In Revelation 21 we read something about the beauty of this new house God is building. In verses 1-3 we read, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.'"
In verses 10-11 we read, "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal."
What is God? God is glory. God is radiance. God is beauty. From all eternity he decided to make us glorious and he is doing that by working in our lives now. He is the temple, and we are the temple. He is glorious, and he is making us glorious.
Be Strong and Build!
Without pain there is no gain. Therefore, church, let us listen to God's commands: "Be strong!" "Do not fear!" "Rise up and build!" Let us serve the Lord in our generation, in full assurance that God--the God of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Peter and Paul, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards--is with us. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and he gives us his Holy Spirit to enable us to do his work. Our God is with us and he will help us persevere to the end.
When we begin to wonder and say, "What is this? It is nothing," we are despising what God is doing. God is saying to us today, "Do not despise the small beginnings." Therefore, let me challenge you: Be a Christian father and do your work. Be a Christian mother and do your work. Be a Christian husband and do your work. Be a Christian wife and do your work. Those who are workers in the world, do your work. It all matters.
As witnesses of Jesus Christ, let us do our work, knowing that his covenant is with us, that he is with us, that he is the Lord of Hosts, that he is powerful, that the Holy Spirit is with us, and that he is almighty.
Let us always remember that God is with us! Some people speak about God as being way out there, not involved in the day-to-day affairs of this world, but that is not a true picture of God. God is transcendent, but he is also immanent. He is with us and he helps us in our mundane affairs. It is he who takes care of us and causes us to will and to do his good pleasure.
God is with us! Take courage, then, for his promises are sure. He has defeated all his enemies on the cross and given us his mighty, powerful Holy Spirit to be with us. And above all, God has granted us peace, reconciling us to himself through Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Be like David who said, "I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty." The whole nation of Israel was shaking, but God raised up a little David who said, "In the name of the Lord I am coming." Persevere! Don't quit! Don't give up! Your work and responsibility matters! Know that it is all part of God's overall plan of redemption. Be faithful in your calling, in your job, and in your situation. Be faithful, knowing that God is with you, his Holy Spirit is with you, and his promises are sure. And on that day may God say to each one of us, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord." Amen.
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Copyright © 2000, P. G. Mathew
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