God Wants His Dwelling Built

August 14, 2012

Friends,
My brother, though he and his family and team arrived back from their two month mission work in Japan just a few days earlier, gave the sermon this past Sunday at their church. Of course my husband and I went, and of course Steve’s sermon was excellent. The main pastor had asked him to speak on giving, and as always, my brother’s insights were unique. His title was, “Giving: What Does Jesus Want From You?” Here is my paraphrase and my thoughts based on the notes I took:

Most people know that God expects something from them. However, they don’t bother to seek that out, but instead go by what others are giving God, as well as what is easiest. This likely includes 10% (or much less) of their income, or a few minutes a day (or less) in prayer. To give any more money, time, or energy is next to impossible for the simple fact that most of that is being sucked up by their slavery to debt, or maybe by their insatiable pursuit of pleasure or more money.

But, God is not pleased with such small offerings. Instead, He demands all. (Luke 14:25-27,33 & 18:22) For actually, all that we have already belongs to Him, though He shares it with us. God is generous and we can’t out-give Him, yet He has told us that if we belong to Him, then He owns us and reserves the right to tell us –not we tell Him– what we are to give Him. And what He requires is that we give back to Him, for His use, all the resources and talents He’s given us so that we may further His temple throughout the earth.

God’s temple is God’s dwelling; and this is not only each born anew person, but in an even more magnificent way, it is the Body of Christ, His church. (1 Cor. 6:19 // Eph. 2:19-22) Not the church building, but His true servants / children corporately.

And what has God commanded us to do? We’ve been commanded to build God’s temple –to repair the ruins and raise it up to be a holy dwelling which God is pleased with, and one to which all nations are drawn so that they too may worship Him. (Mark 11:17)

So how are we doing with this job? Some are doing fair, others –good. But many are not doing well. They are too concerned with the building of their own dwellings –their homes, their careers, their lives. They may have faced opposition, so they say as those did in Haggai’s day, “The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.” (Hag. 1:2) They think it’s not time to muster up strength and faith and fortitude to build God’s temple and spread His Kingdom.

Yet the Almighty asks, “Is it a time for you yourselves to be dwelling in your paneled houses while this [My] house lies in ruins?” (v. 4) Most “Christians” are doing this same thing –building their own temples while God’s temple, as a whole, remains weak, famished, and sickly. (See v. 9b) And God is displeased. This, He says, is why people are earning wages only to put them in purses with holes. (v. 6) This, He says, is why He has blown away the little people brought home (v. 9a) and why drought oppresses the land. (v. 10,11) It’s because most of us have forgotten our mission: That we are here on earth to represent Christ to everyone everywhere. –Not to build temples for our own glory or comfort.

Instead of seeking out how they are to help God and His interests, many people are seeking out how to get God to help them further their interests. Yet this is not the road to blessing, but barrenness. They will end up in failure because they prioritized themselves, not God. However, if we seek to build God’s temple… if we give up all we are and have for His use… God will take care of us and give us all we need and more. (Matt. 6:25-33 // Luke 6:38)

Therefore, we must stop thinking about how to make our lives work, how to get the money rolling in for us, how to build up our comfort and security. Rather, we must think, “How can I, every day of my life, build up God’s temple so that His Kingdom will work in my life and in others’ lives?” And, “What part can I do so as to ‘build up God’s house, so that He may take pleasure in it and be honored’?” (See Hag. 1:8) For truly, what greater delight and privilege is there than to bring the Most High God, the Creator of all the universe, pleasure and honor, and to dwell with Him in His joy?

In Haggai’s day the people responded. They responded in obedience and got to work. (v. 12-15) So the Lord brought into His temple glory, peace, blessing, and victory (2:7,9,19,22), as well as His Spirit and the strength to do the work. (v. 4,5)

God is ready to do the same for us, His Body, His temple, if we would all give ourselves wholly to Him for His use, forsake everything He tells us to forsake, and get to work in faith and total obedience. But it begins by giving careful thought to what God really wants –which is that His dwelling be built.

That is some of what I learned from my brother’s sermon this last Sunday. And when the church gets the sermon up on their website, I’ll paste the link in here for anyone who wants to listen to it. For now, here is a link for their page on Steve, his background, and what he does, as well as a nice photo of him and his wife.

http://www.gracearlington.com/who-we-are/pastoral-staff/steve-headland/

Okay, here is the link now to hear my brother preach:

Steve’s Sermon

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: