It is good for every believer to examine their lives regularly and allow Holy Spirit to reveal to us any spiritual adjustments that should be made. That act of regular examination can be difficult because it takes time and honesty and the result may be something we do not want to see in ourselves. If we do not examine ourselves regularly, then spiritual growth and maturity will be hindered. Those that may not examine themselves regularly may still take a moment or two at the end of the year to look within and evaluate themselves and where they are in their walk with the Lord. This Devotional is an encouragement to all of us to do just that. You may groan a little as you read this, but I can assure you I groaned as well as the Spirit led me to and through these Scriptures and thoughts. I suppose a little groaning is good for the soul.
We begin with the writings of one of the minor prophets by the name of Haggai. It is not a name we hear often or a book we read often, but nevertheless, we can glean spiritual truths from his letter.Before we read from this book, let me give you the context. Almost fifty years after the Babylonians violently destroyed Solomon’s Temple, King Cyrus allowed a remnant of Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple. What a joy it was for thousands of Jews to enter once again into their land and be a part of establishing their spiritual house. They began to clean up the land and prepare the site. They brought in materials and started the process of building the House of Worship to their God. But as the process was taking place to build, a change of heart slowly crept in and they got tired and weary. Opposition discouraged them to build God’s House and selfishness encouraged them to build their own homes. Haggai 1:2-4, “The people were saying, ‘The time has not come yet to rebuild the House of the Lord.’ ”
Then the Lord asked them through the prophet Haggai. “Why are you living in luxurious houses while My House lies in ruins?” Then God speaks to them these words. “Consider your ways.” It is those three words that sank into my spirit as I enter into this new year. The Lord is asking us to consider our ways.
God had miraculously made a way for the Jewish people to enter back into their land and build a spiritual house. The initial response was joy and excitement and expectation to build the spiritual house, but slowly and discreetly the motivation turned from the spiritual house to the house of flesh. At this point you may be thinking that the term “spiritual house” refers to the church building or supporting the ministry of the church. I believe that could be applied to this situation and frankly, most messages I have heard on this story, the pastor has used that application. But in this devotional I would like you to consider the “spiritual house” being your spiritual life. The Holy Ghost inspired Paul to say that every believer is a temple of God or a spiritual house. We are stewards of our own spiritual house and the condition it is in.
It does not matter how long we have lived in the faith. Every one of us are susceptible to allowing our spiritual house to be ignored and our fleshly house to be focused upon. It is a battle every believer will experience until we breathe our last breath on earth. But it is also a battle that we will be victorious in if we regularly consider our ways. Paul specifically shared his battle between his flesh and the Spirit in Romans, Chapter Seven. At the end of his argument he asked, “Who shall deliver me from this body of death (the flesh)?” And the answer was and is “I thank God I am victorious through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Haggai tells the results of ignoring our spiritual house and profiting our flesh in Haggai 1:6. “You have planted much, but you harvest little. You eat, but you are never satisfied. You drink, but you are still thirsty. You put on clothes, but you cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes.” The more the Jews ignored the building of the spiritual house and concentrated on serving their fleshly houses, the less they had. Oh how many of us have experienced this in our lives. If we do not establish and maintain our spiritual house, our spiritual well-being, then we are never satisfied. It is the Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde effect. If we ignore our spiritual selves, we become angry, unsatisfied, on edge, and experience all that is negative. But when we keep our spiritual house maintained, our entire life and perspective on life is so much better. Why? Because we were created to fellowship with God.
Before we look at the remedy to this conundrum, I want you to see something else that was taking place during this rebuilding of the Temple. Solomon’s Temple that had been destroyed decades earlier was a magnificent structure. The materials were costly. The sight of it was breathtaking. There was never a spiritual house like it before, yet the enemy came and destroyed it because the people worshipped other gods and ignored the spiritual house and their God. Now, during Haggai’s time, another generation rises up to rebuild the House of God. But there were a few people that had seen Solomon’s Temple that were watching the rebuilding of this new temple. Rather than encourage the younger generation to rebuild the spiritual house, they said this to them. “This new temple will never look as good as the old temple. You will never experience the presence of God like we did. This new temple will never compare to the one we worshipped in.” How do you think the young people felt about all these negative words?
While considering this, the Holy Spirit clearly asked me to consider my ways and their effect on the younger generation before me. What do they see in me when it comes to spiritual things? What are they hearing from me? Am I encouraging them to build today’s spiritual house or am I telling them they will never experience God and His presence like I have in the past? Am I watching them or leading them? God’s answer to the negativity of the older generation is found in Haggai 2:9. “The future glory of this temple will be greater than its past glory.”
To those who are of the opinion that the glory of the Lord has reached its peak, I would like to inform you that we ain’t seen nothing yet. There is a last day outpouring that has been promised, and I, along with many others, fully expect that I, and the younger generation before me, will experience that Greater Glory. Speak the Greater Glory upon your children and your children’s children and all children around you. Build and maintain your spiritual house so they will have an example before them. If I were among that generation that was rebuilding the temple , my question to the previous generation would be ,” If your temple was so wonderful then why was it destroyed? How did the enemy come in and turn it to rubble?” The reason was because they slowly crept away from worshiping Jehovah God and began to allow pagan religion to take hold of their hearts. The previous generation should have been excited and encouraging the new remnant to build a house of worship to God.
If you feel as if the presence of the Lord has peaked, then I kindly say your spiritual house is being neglected. Fill your spiritual house with Holy Spirit and you will find a greater glory will enter in your house every day, day after day. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. We all with
open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord and we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”
(2 Corinthians 3:17,18).
When the people in Haggai’s day neglected to build the House of God, they became spiritually stagnant, but thank God for the prophets Haggai and Zechariah that spoke the truth and thank God for spiritual leaders like Zerubbabel and Joshua that heard the truth and led the people back to building the spiritual house.
The solution was very simple and found in Haggai 1:8. It was a three-step process.
#1) Go up to the mountain. The mountain is a meeting place with God. The answer to ignoring God is meeting Him. Moses went to the mountain and met with God. Jesus went to the mountain and met with the Father. There is no substitute for going up to the mountain and meeting with God.
If your spiritual house has been ignored, begin the restoration process by meeting with the God of the House. Another prophet said it well. Micah 4:1,2 ” In the last days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the House of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains and it shall be exalted above the hills and the people shall flow into it. Many nations shall come and say ‘ Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and in the house of the God of Jacob and He will teach us His ways and we will walk His paths.’ ”
#2) Bring Wood. This is the part that eliminates the spiritually lazy. Bringing wood is work. I have cut firewood for over 25 years and I can tell you it is work. Cutting trees, sawing logs, carrying and loading wood is work. In the case of those who would get lumber for the house, especially in their day, it was work. In Haggai 2:4, God spoke to them to “be strong and work.” Re-establishing and building a spiritual house is spiritual work and discipline. Jesus Himself said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23. When Jesus spoke these kinds of statements, invariably it would result in many walking away from Him. Why? Because it was work. But let me say here and now, the rewards of spiritual work in building the spiritual house are priceless and eternal. The work pales in comparison to experiencing the presence of God. There is a piece of wood that we must carry and Jesus called it a cross. Some may ask why we must carry one when Jesus already carried it for all of mankind. It is true that Jesus nailed our sins to the cross of Calvary, but there is still a cross we carry to nail our flesh to it every day. Paul said “I die daily” referring to the continuous necessity of crucifying the flesh.
#3) And Build the House. This third step may seem silly, but there are many who have gone to the mountain and gotten wood, but still not built the house. Many have experienced the presence of God on the mountain. Many have gathered the right materials, books, sermons and songs, but have never taken the final step to build their spiritual house. We can hear all the sermons we care to hear and read all of the books we desire to read, but until we build our spiritual house by complete surrender to the Builder of the house, we are spiritually vacant. “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Psalms 127:1
1st Corinthians 3:9-17 is a passage of Scripture that speaks of our spiritual house. “For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
We are God’s building, a temple of God. The wood, hay and stubble are the works of the flesh that will burn in the fire of God’s holiness. The gold, silver and precious stones are the spiritual materials approved of God. The former are the works of the flesh. The latter are the works of the Spirit. The works of our flesh are of no benefit to the spiritual house. The foundation of our spiritual house must be Jesus Christ Himself.
Now look at the words at the end of Verse 10. “Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” Every individual is accountable for your spiritual house. Oh how often I have heard people blame others for the neglect of their own spiritual house. This does not have any substance with God. We are stewards of our own house. “Let every man take heed.” “Consider your ways.”
As I meditated upon these thoughts, I heard clearly “shore up the foundation.” To “shore up” means “to hold up and support by placing against something solid.” There is nothing more solid than the cross of Jesus Christ. As you enter into this new year, “Consider your ways.” Shore up the foundation of your life by recommitting your life to Christ, the cross, and the resurrection. Then build on that foundation by submitting yourself daily to the Holy Spirit and surrendering to His power to build your spiritual house.
As always, God was encouraging those building the spiritual house. Here are a couple words from the Lord to them.
Haggai 2:5: “The Holy Spirit remains with you and you need not fear.”
Haggai 2:6,7 speaks of God shaking the heavens, the earth, the sea and dry land. But in the midst of the shaking, He will still fill our house with glory.
Let me close with a prayer sent to me by Steve Francis summarizing his heart for this new year.
“I present myself as a living sacrifice unto the Lord in 2017 that I might be available to obey His Commands and serve His Beloved Bride. By the Power of the Holy Ghost I am done with conforming to this present age and worldly dictates that keep people, even the People of God in heavy chains. I choose to live in the Light, live in the Power, live in the Joy, to live in His Will…that’s where my heart and life are refreshed and most like Him. “Father God, hide me in the cleft of the Rock and open my eyes and ears that I might know You as a servant, friend, brother, son and spotless bride. May Your WORD be exciting to me as You lead and guide me throughout the day and cause me to be excellent in recalling Your WORD in meditations and in time of need. May I be extra sensitive to Your Timing that I stay in step with You and avoid leaning to my own understanding. Re-birth in me a delight to be among Your People and give me insight into how You want me to serve in the Flock. Use me, Dear Lord, in Spiritual Gifts and may the Fruit of the Spirit be easy for others to see in me. Cause me to be Fruitful and may I always lay all my efforts at Your Feet. Cause me to Stand firmly in the Victory which Christ Jesus alone gives. And may I be an example of Godliness to my family that they might very well surpass me in their walk with You. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, amen.”
Striving to live in Christ , Pastor Wes