Legacy (Part 2)

In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet: “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” (Haggai 2:1-8 ESV). As we continue, let’s look more closely at the second message of Haggai. It seems as though the work has slowed or come to a complete stop, because Haggai’s message is that they take courage and get on with the work (v. 4). What makes this message so practical and relevant is that we can see ourselves so easily in the workers. And God’s encouraging words become very easily words of strength for us, too. The discouragement is palpable, as it often is in our lives. The workers are discouraged because the memory is still alive of how glorious the temple used to be. Less than 70 years ago it stood in this very spot, the apple of God’s eye, the magnificent achievement of Solomon, for centuries the center of holy worship. But instead of inspiring the people, this memory made the people look at the pitiful edifice they were building and feel hopeless. What’s the use, they say. We can’t match the glory of Solomon’s temple. We’re wasting our time. Nothing beautiful or worthwhile will ever come of it. We got along without it in Babylon; we can do without it here. Better to have the beauty of a great memory than a paltry imitation. So their hands are slack in the work.  I think anybody who has ever lived through faith in Christ has felt that kind of discouragement. It is that sense that you work and work and the product seems so paltry. You pour yourself into your children or others week after week and month after month and the result seems to be so minimal. Worse, you look back in history or across town and see the grand achievement of others and your work seems so trivial. We get discouraged and are tempted to quit and put away your aspirations and drop your dreams and put your feet up in front of the television and coast. But God promises to take your work, fill it with his glory, and make your labors with a million times more than you ever imagined. Take...

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Legacy (Part 1)

Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them. (Ezra 5:1-2 ESV). One of the definitions of the word “legacy” is “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” Finishing the little series dealing with the event in David’s life when God told him he could not build the Temple, I was naturally turned to this topic. Legacy has been used in other ways; however, here God’s message to David is that he has a different legacy to leave. It was not a mere building, as grand as that would become. David’s son, Solomon, would build the Temple; but, David’s legacy was not to be found in that structure. To start this series dealing with our legacy, let’s look at some background first. In 586 BC the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, destroyed Solomon’s temple, and took most of the Jews into exile. About 50 years later Cyrus, the Persian, took Babylon, and brought the Babylonian Empire to an end. The next year (538 BC) he allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. All of this was owing to the sovereign hand of God fulfilling the prophecies of Jeremiah (cf. Ezra 1:1). Among the returning exiles were the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Our reading today sums up for us what these two contemporaries accomplished. So Haggai and Zechariah were sent by God to assist in the rebuilding of the temple. This work began on the 24th day of the sixth month of the second year of the reign of Darius, which in our dating is September 21, 520 BC (cf. Haggai 1:15). So you can see that about 18 years went by between the return of the exiles and the rebuilding of the temple. This delay is what brings forth the message of Haggai. The way Haggai motivates the Jews to build the temple of God has a powerful application to our own to accomplish the legacy God intends for us to leave. Today I’ll leave you with just one story to illustrate. Jonathan Edwards felt God’s call to become a minister. He and his wife, Sarah, began a pastorate in a small congregation. During the years that followed, he wrote many sermons, prayers, and books, and was influential in beginning the Great Awakening. Together they produced eleven children who grew into adulthood. Sarah was a partner in her husband’s ministry, they spent time talking about these things together, and, when their children were old enough, the parents included them in the discussions. The effects of the Edwards’s lives have been far-reaching, but the most measurable results of their faithfulness to God’s call is found through their descendants. In their direct descendants there are: 100 lawyers and a dean of a law school; 80 holders of public office; 66 physicians and a dean of a medical school; 65 professors of colleges and universities; 30 judges; 13 college presidents; 3 mayors of large cities; 3 governors of states; 3 United States senators; 1 controller of the United States Treasury; and, a Vice President of the United States. The question for us then becomes what kind of legacy will we...

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When God Says “NO” (Part 4)

And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. (2 Samuel 7:11-16 ESV). When God says no to our dreams, He often bridles our disappointments with wonderful blessings, greater than any we could have anticipated or expected. Look at our reading again. God says to Nathan, And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house (v. 11). God instructs the prophet to tell David that he can’t build God a house. Instead, God was going to build David a house. God’s purpose was larger than David could have imagined. David simply wanted to build a house for the ark of the Lord, but God had a bigger purpose. God’s purpose involved something larger. David’s plan involved building a temple. The temple was a temporary structure. When Solomon did wind up building the temple, it would eventually be destroyed. It became a ruin. God’s plan involved something much more lasting than a stone structure. It involved the plan of salvation for the world. God speaks through Nathan with this great prophesy: “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish His kingdom” (v. 12). After his great confession of faith, Jesus said to Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-20 ESV). This is that bigger purpose; this is the eternal kingdom God was raising up through David. This is the establishment of David’s eternal throne through his lineage. That house can never be shaken; it can never be overcome by any enemy. Whatever “no” you have been given, please hear the everlasting “yes” that God spoke through the work of Jesus. Whatever you may feel you have been denied in this world will be nothing compared to the eternal home that is guaranteed and waiting for your occupation. When God says “no,” respond with, ”thank you.” His yes has already been given; and, it is much...

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When God Says “NO” (Part 3)

Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.” (2 Samuel 7:8-11 ESV). God did not intend for David to build an earthly temple and communicated that fact through Nathan. The Hebrew word that is translated “house” is used in this passage two different ways. When it is used in verse 5, “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in,” it means “structure, home,” or in this case, temple. Here we see the other meaning for house which is descendants or a dynasty that carries on your name. From his lineage would come the Messiah for all men! Sometimes God says “No” to our dreams and to our plans.  When He does, it is not to defeat us or to discourage us.  He does it because He has something far better than we could have ever imagined planned for us. David thought he would build a temple and that would be the end of it.  He found out that it was not God’s will for him to build a temple.  He also found out that God had some things planned for his future that he never could have dreamed up on his own. Some of you have witnessed the death of your dreams.  You have watched as life has altered the plans and dreams of your youth.  In fact, we look back and often believe our lives have been wasted; perhaps we view life as a failure. We cannot miss two essentials: First, God’s message in every circumstance and event is “I’ve got this!” God has not abandoned us to our own efforts or devices. We are his children and he always works our journey for our good (cf. Romans 8:28). Second, our ultimate end in life is not anything we can accomplish. God has not put us here to build anything for anyone. He has put us here to glorify him by completing this path and entering into our eternal home that he has prepared and secured through the work of Christ. That is the real good news for us! God really has “got...

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When God Says “NO” (Part 2)

Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to David my father, “Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, it is not you who shall build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.” (2 Chronicles 6:7-9 ESV). Let me refresh your memory a bit. Yesterday we began this little series concerning those times when God tells us “no.” The thoughts are born out of my preparation for a message that I will preach in February at Gospel City Church in Arlington. At this writing, the pastor, Mark Mangrem, is preaching a series dealing with the life of David. In his absence one Sunday, I am continuing that series with this experience of David when God told him he could not build the Temple. This might have been the loneliest moment of David’s life. Make no mistake; it was a good dream. As David sat in his palace, he felt guilty that he lived in the lap of such luxury when the presence of God lived inside of a tent.  David believed that a God of such glory should have a house befitting His majesty. Our reading today is from the dedication of the Temple after Solomon, David’s son, finished the work; and, in it we are shown with certainty that David’s dream was a good desire. David is not asking for anything at this point, his desire is not to receive, but to give.  He wants to give something back to the God who has given him everything.  That ought to be the desire of all of us.  We could never possibly repay the Lord for all that He has done for us.  And thankfully he hasn’t asked us to even attempt that! But, there should be a desire within us to see Him honored and glorified, regardless of the cost.  David had no ulterior motives in wanting to build the Lord a house.  His desire was to see the Lord glorified and honored.  He wanted God to be exalted and he wanted the Lord to receive the glory and honor that He deserved.  David possessed a godly desire. It is ALWAYS good to have a dream!  We do need to be certain that our dreams are from the Lord.  While David had a good dream, his dream was not God’s dream.  He is even encouraged to follow the dream by the prophet Nathan (cf. 2 Samuel 7:3). He didn’t even pray about it.  It sounded good to him, and he thought the dream was of the Lord too. Apparently, David’s dream had all the earmarks of a desire impressed upon him by the Lord.  But, his dream turned out to be his own creation and not the will of the Lord. The incredible grace of God is so apparent here. God does not tell David he cannot build the Temple because of some sin or failure in his life. He has plenty of those, but God had long since forgiven him. God told him “no” because he had a much greater “yes.” God’s plan for our lives is always better than we can think ourselves. His call is for trust. That’s difficult sometimes; however, it is always...

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