"Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built." Haggai 1:2
In the previous blog, I shared that during King Cyrus' reign, he gave permission for the Jews to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the house of God. Some went back, but many chose to remain in Babylon. Here was the perfect opportunity to return to their home land. It had been 70 years of captivity.
They faced opposition when trying to rebuild. The work ceased for 15-16 years or so, before it resumes. Not all of that time was because of opposition. The remnant of Jews had become complacent and apathetic. Under King Ahasuerus, the work had to cease because he made it law, but when he died, why didn't they resume building? God accused them of being more concerned with fixing their own houses than His house. They continued to offer sacrifices on the altar which supposedly spoke to their 'Holy' position before God, but their heart was unaffected concerning the building of God's house. As a result, God held back His hand of blessing upon them. God tells them, through the Prophet Haggai, to consider their ways!
Opposition will always come to the people of God, but we must be vigilant, always looking for the first minute and opportunity to continue what God has for us to do! The problem comes in when we become apathetic and indifferent.
You and I can call ourselves going to church week after week, and praising God by offering up the sacrifice of praise from our lips, yet not honor Him in what He has called us to do. This is unacceptable to God. There is no blessing in this.
We too, are like Israel. We go through the motions, but our hearts are still not right before God. We serve in all capacities in the church, out of the church, yet we hate our brother, we lack love, and we refuse to be unified in our hearts towards the other. We lie and deceive, and feel no conviction, duty, or responsibility for the words we hurl at each other. We fail to be accountable when approached to correct a fault. We often justify our position when it comes to our flesh and the things we 'Want' to engage in. So, yes, we are like Israel.
Let us take it to heart, seriously, God is watching us constantly to see if we truly want to please Him. We're flawed creatures, and He knows that, yet, He expects better from His people. He has given us guidelines to follow and many stories and situations in His word for our example.
Stay up on that wall just like Nehemiah, and finish the work God has given you to do! Honor Him in word and in deed!
"Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia." Ezra 4:24
There were those who came along to hinder the work of the rebuilding of the house of God in Jerusalem. King Cyrus gave a call for those who wanted to go back to rebuild. Not everyone chose to go back, but those who did, were now being hindered by their adversaries. First, these adversaries tried to be a part of what they were doing, but they said no! Then, their opposers decided to contact the king and tell lies on them stating that they had evil intentions and would refuse to pay taxes and keep the king from having any control.
The king went along with these adversaries and stopped the work. This lasted for 15 years! It would seem as if they wouldn't accomplish what they came back to Jerusalem to accomplish.
Nothing hinders God! Not all hindrances are bad! God allowed the 15 year wait for His own purposes! As we know, the house of God was rebuilt and its glory was to be greater than the glory of the one Solomon built.
How do you and I view hinderances? Often, we feel discouraged and become frustrated when we are hindered from serving God. I can tell you from personal experience that hinderances are allowed by God!
Sometimes, we are hindered from freely serving the Lord. The enemy, our adversary, uses people to stand in our way to stop us from being used of God. This is sad, but God allows it for His purposes. We may never know why He does, but He does. It can be situations that stand against us, allowing doors that were once opened to us to be now shut. Again, allowed by God.
If you and I are not walking in obedience to God, we hinder ourselves from being used. We are solely responsible for that outcome, but God is never hindered!
After 15 long years, the work resumed! If God has us waiting, we must wait in patience knowing that He knows what is best. While waiting, there are things that He is perfecting in us. This isn't 'Dead Time'. God is always working within us. I'm sure that the people were working on other things during the wait. They were cultivating other important stuff that needed their attention.
There are benefits to hindrances. The Apostle Paul was hindered from making a trip to the saints at Thessolonica. As a result, he wrote letters to them. He states that Satan hindered him. Had Paul made that trip as planned, we wouldn’t have the Epistles to the Thessalonians. Not only did those letters help those saints back then, it continues to empower and help us now. Hindrances are not necessarily bad. It’s all in how you look at it.
If God has you waiting or on hold, trust His timing for in the fullness of His time, it will come to past!
In Times Past...
Church offered a place to belong to. A place where true fellowship existed and when it was over, you walked away encouraged and glad to have been there because you got a glimpse of Christ and you felt His loving touch of care and concern. The tint and shade of many gatherings have changed.
In Times Past...
A brother or sister going through a rough time could count on getting support. There were fellow Christians who cared enough to call and check on you, especially if you were absent. They kept what you shared to themselves and only took it to the Lord.
In Times Past...
We enjoyed fellowshipping at our homes. Those were informal times where we not only caught up with each other, but we were able to see where we could meet the practical needs of one another. The food was good and the laughter too.
In Times Past...
The women were there for one another. They assisted, and supported you with your endeavors. They encouraged your talent and skill, and some even found ways where you could be useful in the body of Christ. They were there to give you a helping hand.
We Are In A Race Together!
What we fail to do for others impacts how each of us will finish! We can either help or hinder the progress each are trying to make.
We Push, Shove, And Assault With:
Our Words...Our Attitudes... Our Unwillingness To Be Held Accountable...We ostracize, We Show Hatred, We Speak Evil of One Another, and Sow Discord, and refuse to apologize!
In Times Past...
We had godly mediators who saw or heard of negative behavior and stepped in to help set things right. They helped to bring each up on their responsibility to God and to bring about healing. Those results benefitted the whole church!
Yes, Those Were The Good Ole' Days...In Times Past...
"Yes, each of us will give a personal account of ourselves to God." Romans 14:12
It has been said that the thing we spend the most time thinking about, will ultimately be the thing we end up doing. Often, the last thing we thought about before we fell asleep is the first thing we will wake up thinking about.
We all have the same amount of hours in every day; these days, the average work day is not all about 'work'. With the innovative cell phone technology, we can work from our desk, or office, and keep up with people half way across the world. We can communicate with people all day long. There use to be a point in time when there was down time that had empty quiet space for thinking. Not anymore! Whether we are in the bathroom, on the toilet, or lying in bed at night, our minds are bombarded with activity, much of which we invite in ourselves. I wonder if we can even get a good night sleep.
Since I only use technology for important purposes, I still find that I have a good amount of down time for thinking and reflecting. I have time to just listen quietly. I choose to shut out a lot of the world around me.
If you travel on the train, bus, or car to get to work, or to run errands, there's time to just be quiet and listen for the voice of God. He speaks, or tries to speak to us all day long. Do you crowd out His voice with other things?
You can use this time to pray for a few minutes. In the busyness of our day, we have the time to pray without ceasing (prayer throughout the day in intervals).
As I mentioned earlier, technology has afforded us the opportunity to use cell phones all day long. Many take mini breaks to keep up with the outside world via social media. The beauty about 'Prayer' is that we don't ever have to leave from where we are to speak with the Lord. He is everywhere all day long. We can find ourselves in His presence as often as we desire.
There will always be stuff to do that keeps us chronically busy. Believe it or not, you and I can control the amount of busyness we engage in. Life is a rat race that never seems to end. Don't let it control you! The days are moving faster, the weeks and months are speeding on and the years are flying by. Before we know it, we will be old and tired with lots of regrets as to how much time we spent on frivolous things. If you go to the nursing home and speak to the older folk there, they would give you good advice on how to spend your time. There are tons of regrets from people who have just about run out of time. Their youth is now gone and their middle-age too.
Last, but certainly not least, is this thing called 'Socializing'! Do we know when we've had enough? Are we constantly hearing the voices of people around us? Do we run from one busy thing to another without stopping long enough to be quiet? Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. We were created to be social beings. God did that on purpose! We need others, and we need to communicate verbally with other people. We wouldn't be healthy without that component in our lives. When we don't allow ourselves to be alone with ourselves, that's a problem. If we don't make the time or take the time each day to be alone with our thoughts, it might suggest that we are afraid to be alone. The thing with God is this, He wants to get us alone so that He can talk to us about what's important and needful. He enjoys our company and wants us to enjoy His. There are things that God wants to tell us, but He will not and cannot compete with anything or anyone else. We'll be the ones to lose out!
So....WHAT OCCUPIES YOUR BRAIN SPACE ALL DAY LONG?
"I will never leave you nor forsake you."
HAVE YOU FELT:
Without a Friend
No Family Support
"Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
"If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." Gen. 43:14
Life can really pack a punch sometimes! Often, the blow feels as if it will take us out. It's real! It's true, and difficult all at the same time.
In the story of Jacob and his sons, in particular, when they had to return home and bring their younger brother, Benjamin, their father cited his losses to that point. We have all suffered some kind of loss in this life. We can identify with Jacob's fears. They were real, they were tangible, and they spoke to his greatest nightmare.
It has been through detrimental losses of various kinds that I have come to see the wisdom of God. It wasn't easy and still isn't. Romans 8:28 promises us that, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." What Jacob could have never known then, when his son Joseph was said to have died, was how God was in the mix preparing a future with great blessing for his entire family. It was going to take some years before he, Jacob, would see the benefit of all his sorrow and grief.
The threat of grief visited Jacob again when he had to let Benjamin go to Egypt with his brothers in order that Simeon could go free. What a test and trial that was. Jacob is now older and seemingly, more fearful. It doesn't matter how old we become, tests and trials can bear down on us and hold us in its grip. In Jacob's case, he suffered the loss of Joseph and there was no closure for him.
What Jacob didn't realize was that the blessing was right around the corner! Things were about to change for him, for the good. God was about to restore the years that the locusts had eaten. He could have never imagined that Joseph was still alive, let alone seeing him again, in his lifetime! What seemed to be another grief about to happen, was actually a blessing about to drop!
Sorrows, burdens, griefs, and losses are devastating and crippling. It's very hard to endure those situations. VERY HARD! There are times when we are left to wonder why everything is working against us. There are times when we can't catch a break! I have learned from personal experience that not only is God always in the mix, He is orchestrating specific events in our lives that will benefit us in the long or the short run. If you just look back in hindsight at some of the things that have happened to you over your life time, you could see how certain things turn out to be a benefit and a blessing to you.
We could never know what God is up to in our lives. We only know that we are to trust Him and follow His lead. It's always darkest before the dawn. The story of Jacob and his sons is living proof that despite weaknesses and failures and sometimes our own sin, God is still in the mix orchestrating with plans of His own! All things will work for our good, not 'Some Things', All Things!
Be encouraged! Hold on and trust God! Lean hard on His grace, that special ingredient that will give you the ability to hang in there and endure!
"And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?"
There are too many 'Cain's' in the church and there are too many folks looking the other way where sin is concerned! The audacity of Cain to respond to God in the way that he did! He refused to be made accountable for his brother. What he ultimately learned, was that all are accountable to God and that there are consequences to pay for failure in this regard.
Cain's jealousy, envy, and hatred for his brother led him to kill him. He was also angry at God for not accepting his sacrifice. But, he didn't bring what he knew he should have in order to please God. He also snapped back at God for bringing Abel, his brother, into the picture. This is how a guilty man responds when he has been caught red handed.
Cain asks God a question....hmmm...."Am I my brother's keeper?" Aren't we just like Cain, in a way? Haven't we said the same thing at one point in time or another? God has asked us the very same thing on different occasions concerning our brother. We may not have realized it, but we have responded in the same rude way that Cain did.
What does it mean to be your brother's keeper? How is it that God expects us to be held accountable for our brother? There are many scriptures that address our responsibility to one another like, not being a stumbling block to our brother, avoiding offenses, and showing love etc...but there is something else that is just as important.
When we see our brother committing sin, what do we do? When we hear our brother speaking evil against someone, how do we respond? When our brother comes to us with juicy gossip about another, how do we react?
It is the thought of some that if they aren't the ones doing the sin or the wrong, it's not for them to get involved. Although we are not directly responsible for the sins of others, we are responsible for what happens on our watch. If we are privy to a situation that dishonors God, we have a duty to do something about it, right there on the spot, or later, call the individual, if at that moment, it isn't wise to pull them aside. We cannot just walk away and do nothing. We have an obligation to our brother! We are our brother's keeper!
Will it take courage to approach our brother to point out his wrong? Absolutely! Will it result in a breach in our relationship? Perhaps, but that can't be the reason we look the other way.
Looking the other way where sin is involved doesn't help our brother. Why did God ask Cain what He did? God expected Cain to be concerned about his brother. There is no difference with us! God's expectations have not changed. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever.
There is something called 'The Sin of Omission'. That is when you fail to respond to an act that was wrong. It is a sin to look the other way when you were present, knowledgable, or privy to a matter. Just because you plead, 'Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil,' does not let you off the hook!
Whether you are young or older, God holds you responsible for your brother. We make one another accountable when we pull each other's coats on negative, or sinful acts. If it is something that God wouldn't be pleased with, we need to address it with our brother, in love, of course.
So the next time someone is gossiping in your presence, sowing discord among the saints (by trying to turn you against others), or treating someone badly or with disrespect in your face, you need to handle it. If they are sinning or told you that they did, you need to handle it. If you get the backlash, oh well, so be it. Who are you looking to please, God or man?
You need to understand, You Are Your Brother's Keeper! You also need to also understand that God will not look the other way with you! He will judge you for the sin of ommission!
"Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin."