Making It Right With God (Sermon)
Updated: May 8
Let me give you some background on today’s scripture text. In 586 BC, the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem ram sacking and destroying the Temple built by Solomon. Most of the Jews were captured and exiled to Babylon. In 538 BC, King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to begin returning to their homeland. In 537 BC, 50,000 Jews returned. They began to rebuild the temple, but strong opposition and rebellion broke out which stalled the rebuilding project. 520 BC, is the year in which this saga continues as recorded in Haggai. Verse 1 helps us to pinpoint the year in which these events took place.
Here’s the situation: The temple is in rubble, the temple is a disgrace to the race and to God, the temple is like walking by ruins year after year, simply depressing and demoralizing. In today’s text the people of God have had 16 -17 years to build the temple (from 538 to 520) and they have let God’s house, God’s property, remain as an eyesore.
It’s as if God says, “Now wait a minute folks, you are supposed to be my peeps!” I am sure that most of our families told us when we were growing up, “You be careful when you leave this house, because you are caring the family name!” That’s the nice version!
It’s as if God is telling them, “folks this building thing is bigger than you and it’s more than a building!” Sometimes we just see things on the natural plane. We just see the natural, but God wants us to see the super-natural. A building is a building is a building, except when it comes to God’s property. It is sacred property it’s one of God’s sacred things.
Sacred meaning set apart to God! Even the Government recognizes the sacred things, and at least for a little while longer, sacred things aren’t taxed. You pay personal property on your home or car, but things devoted unto God are not assessed property taxes because of the use—it’s a sacred thing of God! The temple was to represent the dwelling place of God and a sacred gathering place for the people of God. In other words, the building that the people build is an iconic expression to God and to the world of a people’s love for their God!
But look what happens in 520BC God sends his prophet Haggai to speak to the Governor and to the High Priest. They have been back in their homeland almost 20 years and have not moved one stone of God’s house.
The new Tyler Perry movie “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” was out this week, and I think some people have been out to prove the movie right. Most people don’t need help in being bad, because most people can do bad all by themselves! At the MTV awards Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s MTV award speech. Now, to make things right, Kanye West apologized on the Jay Leno show. At the U.S. Open Serena Williams exploded on the tennis court at a line judge in the heat of competition. Now, to make things right, she apologized and paid a $10,000 fine. At his home in Virginia, Michael Vick was running an illegal dog fighting enterprise and got busted because of his involvement in a dog fighting ring. Now, to make things right, he apologized and served two years in jail.
From time to time we all might do something that requires us to make it right. Then to set things right we need to make things right:
If a husband offends his wife, to make things right, hubby should start with an apology to his wife;
If a child offends his or her parents, to make things right the child starts with an “I’m sorry”;
If we offend one another, we should strive to make things right;
If we offend a friend, we would strive to make things right!
I hope we don’t but if you curse someone, you need to make things right!
It’s about making it right!
What about the times we offend God, how do we make it right with God? When we break God’s heart how do we make it right with God? When we break God’s heart, how do we make it right with God? Turn with me to Haggai chapter 1 verses 12 through 15, and the title of today’s message is “Making It Right with God!”
Grieving The Heart of God!
You might wonder can we really offend God? The answer is yes? We see the principle that we can grieve God, we can offend God:
Ephesians 4:30 (NIV)-And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Genesis 6:6 (NIV)-The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
We can grieve the heart of God. Wow! As His people, we can grieve the heart of God. God loves us so much that we can grieve His heart. People you love so much can really break your heart.
Proverbs 10:1 (NIV) The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.
Sons can really break their mother’s heart why? Because mother loves them so much! The reality is that both sons and daughters can break their parents’ heart. It’s the people that you love the most, they are the ones that can break your heart the most! Similarly, we are the ones whom God loves, so much so, that the Son of God died for us, that’s love, and we can break God’s heart!
In today’s story the people of God did not honor God in their priority of life (they had perverted priorities). They did not worship God as God, instead they had become self-centered. You and I have to be concerned about becoming self-centered. Self-centeredness is another form of idolatry, which is really self-worship. They exalted self above God and it showed up in their lifestyles (spending of money and their time-schedules). There was no outward expression or evidence of their worship of their love for God! Their love for God had grown cold!
Look at verse 9: “…Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.” Their coldness toward God was manifested in their devotion, love and passion for their own homes! In other words, their houses had become the “center of their joy!”
And don’t we sing the song, “Jesus you are the center of my joy!” Well, it’s like God stands up from the corridors of heaven and shouts through his prophet, “You Lie!” It’s one thing when a man calls you a liar, but when God calls you a liar that’s on a whole other level. When that happens God is under no obligation to bless you. Again, think about 1 Peter 3:7 where God tells the husbands that if you are not treating your wives properly, then it just might hinder your prayers. And let me add, if you are not treating your wife properly, and it seems that your prayers are still getting answered. I just want to say, “God is giving you time to make things right with Him and his daughter!” I don’t know who, but, someone needs to hear that this morning, I’m trying to help someone!
God stops the flow of His blessings that would have otherwise come to them, because they were not right with God. Didn’t we use to sing a song that said, “Get right children, come on and get on board!” You might fool the preacher and the deacon and the Sunday school teacher, but you can’t fool God! I’ve got to ask the question, what do you love more than God? And for some it’s not what you love more than God? It’s who do you love more than God?
For some it might be the car, the truck, the motorcycle, the wardrobe, the computer, the big screen entertainment center with surround sound, the career, the country club, these are some of the trappings of things that people worship! Not saying anything wrong with them, as long as they don’t have you!
For some it might be the husband who loves his wife more than God, that even when she is wrong, he goes along with the plan. Just think of Adam and Eve. I remember when I was interim Pastor here. I was working with a couple who wanted me to do their pre-marital counseling. But in the course of the first meeting the couple shared that they were living in the same home and sleeping in the same bed. I asked them could they make other living arrangements, they said they could not. So, I said you don’t need to wait for the wedding, you need to get married now! Because you are living in sin and you are making a mockery of Christ in your neighborhood.
Well, the woman, her eye’s got big as 50 cent pieces, her face got real tight, and she looked at me and angrily said, “What do you mean?” I said to my self, “Lord I guess I won’t be pastoring at Antioch, because when she tells her friends, who does he think he is…” And then she started to raise up out of her chair as if she were going to come across that desk at me, (then my eyes got big as 50 cent pieces) I’m saying to myself, “Oh, Lord!!” (it’s going to get ugly up in here, she was about to jump in my stuff!).
But just then, as she was rising up out of that chair, her fiancé, grabbed her hand, and said, “Honey, the pastor said we are living in sin!” “We are sinning against God, and Baby we got to make this thing right!” And a couple of days later they had me to marry them in a private ceremony. Praise the Lord, they were making it right!
In order for us to be right with God we need to be “wrapped up” with God. What do I mean wrapped up with God? I remember my mother would make “pig-in-a-blanket.” She would take a hotdog cut it in half and take some of those Biscuits or rolls that come in a can and wrap the hot dog from end to end until the hot dog was completely covered! That hot dog disappeared in the dough that was wrapped around it. It was no longer just a hot-dog, it got a new name, because it lost its identity in the dough. In making it right with God you and I need to get ourselves wrapped up with God! Not wrapped up with the world but wrapped up with God!
Making It Right with God: Wrapped Up In His Word!
Once you become aware of your ways not being acceptable to God, then you have a choice to make. You can either continue doing what you’ve been doing (Go on with your bad self); or you can make a change that would make yourself right with God. Not talking about earning our salvation, but living as a believer ought, according to the Word of God.
In verse 12, we see that Zerubbabel, Joshua and the whole remnant of the people obeyed God. They obeyed the word of God, and which was spoken by the prophet of God. And it goes without saying that the prophet of God was exhorting the people in sermons and messages in between the times God gave direct revelation to the prophet. There are some 23 days that elapses here, it’s reasonable to assume that the prophet was preaching in agreement with what God revealed to him! The point is the people followed the word! They get wrapped up in His Word!
Don’t miss this subtle but very important point. The beginning of the creating an environment were the people are wrapped up in the word of God, begins with leaders. The word comes to Zerrubbabel governor of Judah and to Joshua the high priest (we see that in verse 1) they obey the Word. When the leaders get wrapped up with the Word of God, the people will get wrapped up with the Word of God. When the leaders in a Church get wrapped up with the Word of God, then the people will get wrapped up with the Word of God.
Leaders that get wrapped up with the Word of God will also get wrapped up in obedience, they go hand in hand.
Psalm 119:11 (NIV) I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Let me say it like this, being wrapped up in the Word is contagious it is infectious in any organization or organism, including the church. They get themselves wrapped up in the word of God and the people follow by getting wrapped up in the word of God.
You want to get right with God, get wrapped up in His Word! If any church wants to be right with God, get wrapped up in His Word! God holds leadership responsible for setting the tone of obedience to the Word of God and to the one He gives the Word to communicate.
“Behavior from important people overwhelms every other form of communication!” (Wes Geiger, Simple Church).
Let me say it another way, “Behavior from leaders overwhelms every other form of communication!” Let me give some hypotheticals, not that it would happen here: That if I say Bible Study is important, and the leaders don’t show up, then the message to the congregation is that Bible Study is not important! That if I say that Prayer Meeting is important, and the leaders don’t show up, then the message to the congregation is that prayer meeting is not important! That if I say that All Saints Meeting is important, and the leaders don’t show up, then the message to the congregation is that prayer meeting is not so important!
“Behavior from leaders overwhelms every other form of communication!” It’s just like in a home, and especially in a blended family, if the husband says, that curfew is 10 pm on the week night, and the child comes in at 11:30 pm on a week night, and the husband (step-dad) says we need to talk, and the wife who is momma tells the husband in front of her child, “don’t you talk to my son like that, I don’t care what time he comes in and you will not put him on restriction!”
Momma has just ripped the keys to the house from her husband and tossed them to her son. The son has just been raised up over the husband! Why? Because one of the leaders’ behavior overwhelmed the previous communication…Momma, you need to make that thing right!
When leaders get in step and echo the communication it reinforces, it energizes the communication. My friends, I will always be grateful, for my wife in our parenting roles. She reinforces the messages that I put in place. Not that she always agreed with them, but she always reinforces the messages in my absence. So if our son (when younger) or daughter wanted to do something, she and I would talk about it, and then we would decide on a course of action; and if she ever thought that I was wrong, she never expressed her disagreement to me in front of our children (and vice-versa). She would pull me aside away from the children, and we would go off to the bedroom shut the door and she would explain to me the big picture. That way the message that we sent out to our children was seen in the behavior of the leaders (mom and dad) was consistent, the children did not get a conflicting message. I could always come back and change the direction.
As leaders we can either add fuel to a situation or water to it. We as leaders have to guard our conduct and our conversations, because you are people of influence!
Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)-Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Be right with God by practicing obedience. Obedience is better than sacrifice.
1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV)-But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
The secret to obeying God’s Word or getting wrapped up in God’s Word is like something called “Silly Putty.” Silly Putty was a product that came in an egg-shaped container and it was kind of like clay, that didn’t dry out. When you put it in your hands you could mold it and shape it any way you wanted to. Similarly, the secret to obeying God’s word is putting yourself in God’s hand and allowing Him to mold and shape your will! The secret to obeying the word of God is you bending your will toward God’s will through the study of His Word!
Surrendering to God’s will is like saying, “I feel this is right, or I don’t see a problem with what I am doing, but I yield my will to God’s will, because the Word of God says what I am doing is wrong.” That’s getting wrapped up in the Word of God! Don’t we sing that song, “order my steps in your Word, Oh Lord!” Lead me, guide me, along the way!
I yield my will to His way! It’s a matter of you bending your heart to God. Think about this, the key point that God raises up about David, is that David was a man after God’s own heart. Can God say that you, are a man or woman after His heart? It begins with you yielding to God in obedience to His ways and to His will! And ultimately God’s ways are always best!
In making it right with God, it begins with obedience! Make a commitment to be obedient to God by following His Word! Get wrapped up in His Word! (Say yes to Your will and to Your way!)
Psalm 119:105 (NIV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
My friends follow the Word! In addition to being wrapped up in His Word, we also need to be wrapped up in His Worship.
Making It Right with God: Wrapped Up In His Worship!
They make a change in their approach and attitude toward God. They get wrapped up in His Word, and they get wrapped up in His Worship! The text says they “reverence” God. To reverence God is to give God the esteem due Him for who He is and they worship Him! I was listening to a professional basketball player give an interview and he was talking about his basketball superstardom. He said that he was thankful to the “man upstairs.” Well, God is more than a man upstairs!
God is not a man, God is a living being. God is Holy. God is Great. God is good! God is Awesome! But God is not a man like you and me! Sometimes we fail to reverence God because we fail to acknowledge God. And when we call Him the man upstairs, it’s as if we are trying to bring God down to our level putting God in a box. It robs God of the Worship due Him! And then we can ignore God and dis-God because we think He is just a man! They move from worshipping God to worshipping self! God is Spirit.
John 4:24 (NIV) “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
In order to worship God, the worshipper has to be born of the Spirit. When you invite Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior you were born again, that is born of the Spirit. That is why in 2 Cor 5:17 calls you a new creation, because you have been born of the Spirit. And in worship it’s the Spirit of God that engages, that your Spirit is in touch with God’s Spirit, and thus you have an encounter with God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)-The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The only reason that you and I can understand the things of God is that the things of God are spiritually revealed to us. We use our head knowledge, but it’s with the Spirit within us is the way we truly worship God. That’s why it’s important to hang out with spiritual people. We encourage one another to do right. When we hang out with evil and sinful people we will be more tempted to sin. Sin grieves the heart of God and when we sin we grieve the Spirit and begin to quench the Spirit’s fire (1 Thes 5:19 “Do not quench the Spirit;).
When we grieve the Spirit, we put out the fire within us. That’s why some folk who use to be on fire for God have grown cold toward God. Their sin has quenched the passion for God. The fire has gone out in them! We must stoke the fire within us to keep the fire burning for the Lord. We stoke the fire through prayer, through Bible study and reading; through worship; and through truly seeking the face of God through our spiritual disciplines. Making it right with God also requires us to be wrapped up in the Lord’s work.
Making It Right with God: Wrapped Up In His Work!
If you want to get right with God, it begins with being wrapped up in His Word, being wrapped up in His Worship, and getting wrapped up in His Work! The third thing is to Work. Look at verse 14, “…they came and began to work…”
They finally got around to doing what God had for them to do! Eph 2:10 God has prepared work in advance for us to do! They made God’s work a priority. They took on the project that God had for them to do. They sacrificed their time and money to get after God’s program. They took up God’s work as their work!
They didn’t do it on their own. They didn’t just get excited all of a sudden like at a pep rally. They put their minds and hearts together in unity to complete the work God had for them to do.
What work is God calling you to? Where has God called you to serve? We want to encourage you to serve God! Whatever you gifting is, that area you are passionate about, go and work for God!
If you are not working don’t be inspecting another people’s work! If you are working you won’t have time to worry about another of God’s servants. Maybe God is calling you to come along side of someone to aid them in their work in ministry. There are some folk who are caring double load because someone is setting on their gifts! Eph2:10 tells us that God has called us to work, the work He has prepared in advance for us to do. The key thing to remember is that you are working for the Lord! The creator of Heaven and earth and all that is within! God has a work for you! Are you ready to work?
Blessings of Making It Right With God: (What God will do)
1. Promise of His Presence:
Haggai 1:13, “I am with you declares the Lord.”
I will be with you; the confidence that God is with you. When I played pick-up basketball as a kid, there was always one person you wanted on your team. Everyone wanted my brother Art on their team. Art wasn’t the best basketball player, but he played with such intensity and such a competitor he would intimidate the other team so much that we would win the game.
When we have God’s assurance, that we are on His team. It’s like He tells Joshua 1) do not be afraid, be strong for I am with you, just as I was with Moses, I will be with you. Isn’t it good to know that on your life team, God is on your team; and when God is for you who can be against you. When God is for you, no weapon formed against you shall prosper (don’t worry, be strong and courageous!)
And when God is for you, He is working everything out for good, for those who love Him and called according to his purpose! God promises His presence! Thank God for the assurance of His presence! Even when you are going through a storm, you know that you know that you know that God is with you!
2. Promise of Stirred Up Spirit:
Haggai 1:14 “And the Lord stirred up the spirit…and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked…”
The text tells us that when we are obeying God, revering God, and working for God, God is with us, and also God will stir up your Spirit. Please note, God says that He will stir up your Spirit!
That ought to tell you that it’s not the Preacher, Deacon, Trustee, or the Sunday School Teacher. We are not responsible to stir you up! If we stir you up, then it’s only for the moment like at a Beyonce or a Jay-Lo concert. But when God stirs you up, (does anyone know what I’m talking about) when God stirs you up….you are stirred up in deed.
If you are down and need to be stirred up, look to the one who is responsible for the stir up, look to God! You are responsible for your own stir-up! You’ve got to give God something to work with. As you, get wrapped up in the Word, Worship and Work, God will stir you up. You have skin in the game When you put time in His word, His worship, and in His work! That’s about your sacrifice of time and money, effort and energy, that’s what you put in, that’s your skin in the game!
It’s between you and God. In order for you to be stirred-up “You’ve got to put something in order to get something out!” It’s like when you go to the bank to withdraw some money. You can’t take any money out unless you put some money in; similarly, with God if you want your spirit stirred up, you need to put something in your relationship with God. It’s like my father’s vegetable garden, before he could get overflowing baskets of corn, and bunches of carrots, and rows and rows of green beans he put in the ground a few seeds, before he could get a bumper crop. You’ve got to put something in order to get something out!
And if you want God to stir up your spirit, you’ve got to put something in, you’ve got to put in obedience, reverence, and work. Those are the seeds to God stirring you up!
There’s an old story about a traveler who hiked for many miles across the Desert Mountains. His water supply was gone, and he knew that if he didn’t find water soon, he would surely die. In the distance, he noticed an abandoned cabin and hoped to find some water there. Once he made it to the cabin, he discovered an old well. Then he noticed a tin can tied to the pump, with a note inside.
The note said: "Dear stranger: This water pump is in working condition, but the pump needs to be primed in order for the water to come out. Under the rock, you will find a jar of water that I buried. Don’t drink the water, but use it to prime the pump, you will have more than enough water to flow out of the pump."
I want to encourage you to prime your spiritual pump. We prime our spiritual pumps by priming the pump by getting wrapped up in His Word, His Worship, and His Work. As you make up your mind to prime the spiritual pump, in His time God’s blessings with flow out to you and through you! Then tell someone else, so they too can prime their spiritual pump.