Bible Reading: Haggai 1-2
Haggai is a short, wonderful book in the Bible. Israel is just a small remnant of what it formerly was, and that only because God spared them from total destruction. God has raised up leaders for this remnant, particularly Joshua, the High Priest, and Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah. With these two men and others, God calls for the remnant of Israel to begin rebuilding His temple. In all of the turmoil, warfare, lackluster harvest and discouraging circumstances, Israel had never returned to the Lord. God now calls them back and gives them the task of rebuilding.
The new temple project is begun, but it is nothing compared to the glory and prestige of the temple Solomon built. No matter how much time, effort and resources they pour into the work, this temple pales in comparison. But what God says to this people is amazing. He does not berate them for a pitiful excuse for a temple, but God promises to bless them and be with them. In 2:4-5, God tells them to be strong and to, “Work, for I am with you…My Spirit remains in your midst.” God also calls for Zerubbabel and Joshua specifically to be strong in their leadership roles.
You may be wondering, “Why does this matter today? What does Haggai say to God’s people in 2018?” to answer that, I want to point us to another verse, but from the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah 4:6 has God telling Zerubbabel, “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.’” Zerubbabel and all of Israel had to stay strong in faith when they looked at the work ahead of them. On their own it would be too much for them, but the work does not depend upon them. God will do the work, so stay strong in your faith in Him.
Application: We are prone to trust in our own abilities. We focus so much on our own strengths, creativity, cleverness and planning, and we too often neglect to look to God’s Spirit to accomplish His work. As the children of God, we must have more faith in God’s Spirit than in ourselves. Our neighbors will not come to know and experience the love and salvation of God because of anything we say or do, but by God’s Spirit at work. So pray constantly and surrender yourself to God. Ask God to male you into a vessel for His Spirit to work through. Only then will New Hope be able to serve as God’s Church in our community in Birmingham.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please fill us with your Spirit. Forgive us for relying too much on ourselves and not depending fully upon you. Teach us and help us to have strong faith and to work in faith. We will build your kingdom here only by your Spirit. Help us. We love you, Lord. Amen.