Monthly Archives: April 2014
Building the LORD’s House of Obedience
Read Haggai 1: 2 – 11.
In this passage, the people of Israel had returned from captivity, but the LORD’s house lay in ruins because they had refused to rebuild it. This displeased the LORD. Because of their disobedience He thwarted their plans and rained hardship down on them: Though they expected much, it turned out to be little; what they brought home, the LORD blew away; they had planted much, but harvested little. He even called down a drought and ruined their crops. This was to get their attention. Why? Because they were busy building their own houses, while His lay in ruins.
Don’t we often do the same thing in our own lives? We diligently build our own houses: our jobs, our activities, our desires – our will and our ways. This might include being very busy doing churchy things, tithing, even reading the Word and praying, and generally going through the motions of righteousness. Now doing these things is fine, if we are doing them for the right reason, which is to please our LORD. But what if this isn’t the case. What if we’re not doing what God wants us to do? What if we forget to build into our lives God’s house: His desires, His will for us, His ways?
If we seek God’s blessing, but are not willing to do what it takes to please Him, is it any wonder why things don’t go well? Why our ministries are languishing. Why our spiritual life is arid and why our personal walk with the LORD isn’t bearing fruit.
God commanded the people to carefully consider their ways. We ought to do the same.
“Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD.
This is our mountain: seeking God’s will with the intention of doing it.
This is our timber: considering our ways; changing our attitudes; bearing the pain of delving into the depths of our souls, letting God’s light shine there, so that we can see us as He sees us; and being willing to consider what He’s shown us so that we might change our ways.
And this is His house: obeying the LORD and walking in His ways.
This building process is hard.
But here’s the really good news (gospel): we don’t have to do this on our own. In fact we cannot. We must depend solely on God for our strength.
Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders that build it labor in vain. (Psalm 127:1, my paraphrase)
The Lord Himself wants to build His house, a “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2: 5), in us. It is the LORD who works in us to will and to act according to His good pleasure. (Phil 2:13). And we must trust Him to provide the strength and wisdom we need to allow it.
For those who hope in the LORD will never be put to shame (Psalm 25:3)
Seeking God’s strength and depending on Him is a major theme in the Scriptures. But another theme is that those who try to do the hard things in their own strength will fail miserably. Here, for example, is a warning and a promise given through Jeremiah:
This is what the LORD says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”(Jeremiah: 17: 5 – 8.)
If we truly want to change our ways, we can take it to the LORD, and He will provide the determination, wisdom, knowledge, and strength we need to obey.
… for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
Paul also says, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13). We can do all things too, if we are devoted to building God’s house in our lives.