Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Consider your ways

I have been teaching through the book of Haggai during our midweek service.  I don't know if I have ever heard the book taught and I know if I have it was probably in connection with some type of building project that a church was doing.  

I have been so blessed in preparing and studying this little book.  While Haggai is only two chapters the message is profound.  An issue that is sticking to me is the fact that even though the returning exiles where doing the Lord's work of building the temple, which was a noble work and a commanded work, their hearts were not in it.  Yes there were many circumstances and issues that they were dealing with, but nevertheless, they were apathetic in the work once they returned to the building process.

What an incredible wake up call for us Christians.  Even though we may be pastors, missionaries, sunday school teachers, greeters or whatever other "service" we do in the church, if our hearts are not in, as the Lord tells the people in Haggai's day, our service is unclean and defiled.  This is a wake up call for me.  Even though I live in Peru and am planting a church and serving the people, it is so easy to just go through the motions.  To think that I am doing the work of the Lord so it is all good.  Yet, if my heart is apathetic, the Lord would tell me that my service is unclean and defiled.  It is inherent in everyone to want to earn our salvation.  To earn the blessings that we may receive.  Grace can be hard to accept when we are full of pride.  So while we do all this, we need to check what our motives are.  Am I doing this because I think that I am earning a little slice of heaven?  That some how what I am doing is granting me entrance to the kingdom?  The Lord through Haggai told the people to consider your ways.  That is a great exhortation for each on of us to do daily.  Consider your ways, check your heart, check your motives.  This goes beyond those of us who may be in "full-time  ministry".  If you are saved you are in the ministry.  So whether at your job or the grocery store we need to consider our ways and serve the Lord because He is worthy and we need to do it with a pure and clean heart.  The Lord gives us great opportunity to be about His kingdom and His work.  It should be a joy and not a burden.  As God has told the people in Haggai's day and so many before and since, "I am with you declares the Lord."  What an incredible promise.  We all, I believe, go through those desert lands.  In those times is when we need to cling to the Lord's promises.  

John Newton the famous hymn writer and pastor from an earlier generation wrote an older lady who was struggling with spiritual flatness. Newton asked this lady...."are we weary on our pilgrimage through this long thorny barren wilderness"

And I think we need to ask ourselves this question.....

I know I do....Is that what our Christian walk looks like?……Yes, we do our labors for Christ.....but it is almost a burden......

There is no joy in our work for Jesus....there is no joy in our work for the church........we are just half hearted.

And the lady who John Newton wrote was dealing with that very issue.

And I would argue that many of us one time or another deal with that very issue as well......Newton responds to this weary Christianity with the following........

"God forbid! No! I would rather wish for a thousand hands and eyes, and feet, and tongues — for ten thousand lives — that I might devote them all to His blessed service!..To the service of Jesus"

In service we will encounter hard and dry times.  We will have seasons of lows, but the Lord promised, "I am with you."