Sermon January 9, 2005 : Haggai 1:2-7

Posted in Sermons
  • Presenter: Omar Soto | Translator: Samuel Acevedo
  • Length: 43:34
  • Date: January 9, 2005
  • Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA

The book of Haggai, chapter 1. It’s time, brothers, right? We hear that phrase often: it is time. It’s about time. And I wanted to share with you some reflections about that concept of time and how this word time we could divide it among 3 different dimensions with respect to our lives.

I repeat that phrase, give careful thought to your ways. Brethren I recognize that many things in our lives are measured by time. Time with respect to our individual lives, we’re in a season, we are in a process. Time as if we are going to a certain period of time in the society in which we live. And time with respect to fact that we must take certain steps, certain action steps in the life in which we live.

Part of this message I shared in the men’s retreat and in the youth ministry I also shared a section of this message, but now I want to share this message with the entire church. If you noticed in the passage that we’ve read, the prophet Haggai is making a revelation to this people with respect to certain aspects that have importance with respect to our own lives. The time in which he’s addressing is the time after the people of Israel have returned to Israel after 70 years of exile. Imagine you just came back to a place that has been destroyed by your enemies, what would be the first thing that you’d want to do? You see, your house that once had been beautiful has been reduced to ashes, isn’t it your tendency to build that back up? You need a place to live, obviously out of a survival mechanism you’re going to want to build your house.

But at this time the people of Israel had been dedicating themselves to their own issues and had set aside the rebuilding of the temple. For the people of Israel the temple represented the nucleus of their society, this was before the time of going to exile. Around Jerusalem’s temple was all the society surrounding the temple of Jerusalem. Depending on how the society had been organized during the exile, there apparently was some shift in the society, a change. Instead of giving a priority to the house of God in the priorities of God, they were focusing their priorities on themselves and their own lives. And you know, brethren I don’t think it’s wrong to focus on your life and on the needs of your family and your household. But there is a principle that is communicated here through the word of God and it’s the principle of priorities. How do we have the priorities of our lives organized? What has first, second and third place? And how do the times of our lives influence those priorities?

Let’s talk about that first dimension about the time of the Lord in our life. In Philippians 1:6 in fact we just sang it, the Lord will complete, He has faith to complete the work that He began in us. Every one of us is a work of art in the hands of God.

Tell your neighbor: you’re a work of art. I don’t know if you are a work of art of painting, or sculpture, or metal work, whatever it is you are, you’re a work of art. But I can tell you that the artist that’s working on us is an expert on all materials of creation. So relax.

You know there are artists who are dedicated just to painting and if you give them a block of wood they’ll shudder before. But God as the great artist is an expert in working with all sorts of materials. And you are every one of those materials. God is doing such a marvelous work on every one of you and when it comes to the point of perfection I’d like to be there.

But this implies that everything that we endure in our lives, the good, the bad and not so good, not so bad, all of this has to do with what God is working in our lives. And sometimes when we experience negative experiences we define that our entire life is a disaster. That because of this negative stimuli our life has no meaning, no value, no sense, we want to through it all away. If someone tells me I’m utterly useless, I’m going to live my life as if I’m utterly useless. If somebody told me that I’m a cero of the right hand of the equation I’m going to give a lot of value to that equation…. But if you move the comma you’re something positive…. There you go! The accountants understand that.

Now, brothers, I think we have to develop a positive appreciation for everything that God is doing. I know I’m saying something kind of radical. You know it’s difficult to tell someone who’s lost her son, say in a tragic car accident, that you need to develop an appreciation for what happened to him. He’d probably want to slap me. Obviously receiving these things depends on the time and the place, and the moment in our lives. I think that someone who is going through a process like that, the best thing to give them is a quiet, discerning contemplation with them. Sharing with them a prayer of strength. It’s not going over a ready new of things just to tell someone, something in that time. But when the appointed time goes by and things have happened and the original pain, the blow of the pain passes, then you share with this person and try to figure out what does this mean in relation to the rest of his life. But this implies that all of our life is an entire process of formation.

You could have a long list of your degrees, and your education and background in your life but despite all that you’re still in the process of formation. All of this marks a period of time in your life and throughout that period of time there’s something that you need to focus on, and this is how are we living our daily life before the Lord.

One reading of the Bible, one reading of scripture says that we must redeem our time. To redeem our time means to discern the times in which we are living and seek the way that the Lord is reading each of the stages of our lives. And that is a process that must remain constant in the midst of everything in your life.

Now that process is going to bring you to the second dimension that I’m talking about with respect to the time in your life. The way that you discern how your life is developing is going to be influenced greatly by the kind of life that we’re living in society. So the first aspect of time is with respect to your personal life, the second aspect of time is the time in which we are living now.

In the book of Colossians there’s a very interesting passage. Colossians Chapter 4, verse 3, Paul says “….and pray for us too that God may open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should”. Paul is asking Colossians to pray for him so that he may discern the time and the season so that he could share the word of God in the way most adequate to the purpose of God. So he tells the church in verse 5: “… be wise in the way you act toward outsiders”. And in another version it says: “… yes, pay attention to the way you’re behaving toward those who are outside, those who do not know Jesus”.

Now listen to this: “…making the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace so that everyone may know how to answer every one”. Brethren in the way that we measure our life, in the way that we live, and be able to discern the time in which we live, that’s going to influence how we measure the days in which we’re living now. I shared with the church this morning that our society is known by many things but one of the aspects by which our society is really known for is consumerism. I know that politics is one way in which many people discern how they live their lives. Intellectualism or the studies are the way in which many people discern how they live their lives. And there are others who live according to this philosophy of whatever, whatever comes by, whatever comes up. Those who are flown by the air of any philosophy in the world.

But you know there’s a great number of people who live their lives according to the aspect of consumerism. And I can give you a very simple example: one person, and I refer to pastor Greg, pastor Greg had one of those very early, first laptops that came out. I think he bought in 1996 or something. Obviously it’s a black and white screen. It’s probably a 13 inches screen. But the problem is that his laptop is now completely obsolete, there are sometimes that it doesn’t even come on, it doesn’t even power up. Look how the consumer industry works: in one month they’ll give you a product and that is the best they’re offering, you’ve got to buy it then. Three months later they offer add up to it and it’s 300 dollars more. Maybe it’s got a little bit more memory, maybe now it’s got a color screen.

And they tell you this is the latest thing so that the thing that you had now is useless and you have to buy this other thing. Before a laptop maybe weighed 20 pounds, now they weigh about 5 pounds and they tell you: you’ve got to get this 5 pound laptop. Now they’re selling you something that costs 1000 dollars more because it weighs less. But this whole idea of consumerism is creating needs in us that don’t really exist. And this you could see in all of the aspects of our life, even on tooth paste. Colgate had one flavor and one function and that was to clean our teeth. And now Colgate has about 6 different versions, we want you to have whiter teeth, we want you to have healthy gums, etc, etc. So a person goes into the drugstore with a dilemma: he just wants his teeth to be clean, now, you have to chose: do I want clean teeth, do I want clean gums, whatever.

Look at this last one: I don’t know how many of you have entered into a Wallgreen or a CBS or some pharmacy, and when you go to the register, I don’t know if you noticed but right in front of you is the section of the all the cigarettes they’ve ever invented, and right next to them are all of the ways that you can avoid or kick the habit of smoking. And you know someone who’s trying to kick the habit of smoking goes to the register, right in front of them they’ll face a dilemma. The consumerism is giving you two alternatives right in front of you: you could either chew your nickored, put it on your patch or inject it so that you can stop smoking; or you have Winston, Marboro and all these other brands with cinnamon and mint and whatever else they’ve been added. Where are you going to go? In other words it is American industry that decides. That’s what I’m telling you. If you know that the cigarette is harmful to someone’s health, why put somebody in a dilemma like that? If they’re going to sell a product to help someone kick the habit, then just sell that product. Or if you’re going to send a product so that someone would hurry up and die, so just sell him that, but don’t put them side by side.

And that’s the days in which we’re living. Every one of us has an option before us. They put everything before you so that you decide what it is you’re going to do with your life. They give you every color and every flavor so that you could try them and then you make a decision.

There’s an announcement on TV about this pill that helps people with their asthma, and this pharmaceutical company that has this pill announcing this anti asthma product has this cute song: do what you want, go where you want…. As if you have options all before you of where you’re going to go. And often those ads, those commercials slip right by us and we don’t even notice what they’re saying. And often those advertisements suddenly threaten, in fact they threaten the receiving of the voice of the Lord as to what does God wants us to do with our time. Something very subtle happens, little by little it mesmerizes us so that we lose the voice of God and lose the ability to discern what God wants us to do with our time.

And because this is the time in which we’re living, I turn to Haggai and I meditate on this phrase that the Lord tells us: consider the times in which you’re living, consider your ways. The Lord is telling us: consider your priorities and where am I among those priorities. It could sound like something that we learn from kinder garden, but it is a message that’s just as true from the minute we learned it till now and it will continue to be true.

And that takes us to the third aspect of time and that it is about time that we take some action. If some mom tells her daughter; hey I want you to wash the dishes, and three hours later she washes the dishes, what do you naturally say? It’s about time…. It’s all about time. We are in a time in which we need to take decisive actions, decisive steps about the things that God is requiring of us. And yes, there are actions that we need to take about our family life, about our individual lives, actions about how you’re going to integrate yourself in society, but also actions that … what is it that God requires of me. However difficult it is what is going to be the response, the answer I’m going to give God? I think I may have mentioned this earlier, doing the will of God isn’t easy. And many people will sense that one of the ways I know that this is the will of God is because I have peace in my heart. But you know peace isn’t always the element that’s going to let you know whether you’re doing the will of God or not.

Look at the example of Jesus in Getsemani. When he was on his knees weeping asking the Father, please pass this cup from before me. You believe he had peace in that moment? I’ believe that he had a terrible anguish in the heart that was reflected in these droplets of blood, sweating blood during this passage. And beloved, I believe we’re going into a time that we as individuals, as families, and as a church the Lord is going to begin to require things of us. God is going to be calling many of us to get to a level far beyond where we are right now. And beloved I would hope that when we get to that moment we may do what the Lord requires of us.

Perhaps this may seem like a very familiar message and you may say: Omar, I’ve heard this message over and over again, I’m bored to tears having heard it. I will rebuke that thought right now. Because we’re talking about principles of the gospel of God that does not change or lose its power. And these are principles that will mold your life in a way that you cannot do under your own power. Only when we submit to those principles can the power of God be generated in us and birth something in us and we remain astonished: Guau! How did this happen in our lives! We must do what this passage requires of us, we must take time to consider our ways. But that that time may not result in just a simple meditation or a considering but an ultimate taking of firm action.

Look how interesting. In chapter 2 of Haggai, verse 15. It says: “now give careful thought to this from this day on in your heart”. It’s now not asking just to meditate on your ways, now it’s telling you meditate in your heart. I had to stop and analyze something here. You know what a prophetic word is, don’t you. God is speaking a prophetic word through Haggai to the people of Israel. I don’t know about you but when someone gives you a prophetic word don’t you get excited? Your first reaction is guau! God spoke to me. And you feel this current and everything inside you moves in a different way. You can’t contain yourself and you say: guau! God spoke to me. But if I stay in that mere emotion I’m not doing anything with that prophetic word. Someone who remains in emotionalism is just that: emotion.

When I hear prophet Haggai say: meditate in your heart, you know what I’m hearing? Yes, it’s very emotional to receive it but take it one further step and see what it is that God is telling you what to do with that word. If we just stay in the mere emotional phase, brethren, the purpose of that prophetic word will remain half way. But when that word comes way within us we use our reasoning, we use our heart and our discernment, these are gifts that God has given us, you will become a prepared Christian, prepared to give the word in the time and the place that’s appropriate.

Beloved, our life is measured by time. Many of us have a great struggle with time. When this? When that? When will this other thing happen? When will so and so be different with me? Or when will I stop being the way I am? But brethren knowing that a new year has begun, I invite you to follow that advice of the prophet Haggai: consider your ways. Meditate in the times in which your lives have been placed. And that reflection upon your life and about your times will bring you to affirmative action about the things that God is requiring of you. Let’s not be ambivalent about the call of God upon us, but let us be people of firm conviction who will work affirmatively in the direction that God is calling us. And once you have come to that realization, once you’ve come upon that reflection, get to this third phase which is to take action. Let us take action with respect to our lives and the call that God has towards us. And then brethren our lives will be different. I believe that and I profess it this way. Only when we obey the Lord in an affirmative way is when our lives have the capacity of making an impact around us.

Let’s stand before the presence of the Lord. Thank you Jesus. Brethren you are in a time. God has you in a season, a time. And in that time there are purposes that will be fulfilled. Only in the way that we respond to that time is how we will see the greatness of God in our lives. Lord Jesus we lay your people before you. You know the heart and the condition of every one of us: the children, the youth, men, women. Father we just ask you that in this year 2005 that you may come to an encounter with everyone of them, it doesn’t matter how much time they may be in the gospel, it doesn’t matter if they just arrived in the gospel, but that they may have an encounter with you, Lord Jesus.

An encounter with you transforms everything,. An encounter with you turns our lives into something completely different. Lord I lay these people before you. Lord just as you did with Sorobabel and Joshua in the book of Haggai, awaken our spirit. Awaken our spirit. Lord that we may not be indifferent to your voice. But that we may respond in an affirmative fashion to you Lord. Lord we believe if great things happened in the year 2004 even greater things will take place in the year 2005. The glory to come will be much greater than the glory of the past. I don’t just declare this for the church, we decklare it for everyone of the individuals and families who are present here. That the glory of God may be greater than what has already been experimented here. Surprise all, Lord. Surprise us, Jesus. We thank you Master.

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