Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 The LORD Almighty said to Haggai, “These people say that this is not the right time to rebuild the Temple.” 3 The LORD then gave this message to the people through the prophet Haggai: 4 “My people, why should you be living in well-built houses while my Temple lies in ruins? 5 Don’t you see what is happening to you? 6 You have planted much grain, but have harvested very little. You have food to eat, but not enough to make you full. You have wine to drink, but not enough to get drunk on! You have clothing, but not enough to keep you warm. And workers cannot earn enough to live on. 7 Can’t you see why this has happened? 8 Now go up into the hills, get lumber, and rebuild the Temple; then I will be pleased and will be worshiped as I should be. Haggai 1:2-8 GNT
412 May the fire of your love not be a will-o’-the-wisp, a vain fire, an illusion—an illusion of fire, which neither enkindles what it touches nor gives any heat.
As I look at the prophets words above, I wonder how many of us see the application in the life of the church today? Let me rephrase that, in our lives today.
The parallel is simple, and while they were talking about building a temple of stone and wood, the temple now is made of people, the living stones that
St. Peter talks about,
5 Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 (TEV)
In building this temple, made of us and those we know, we have to stop procrastinating. We can’t use our age, our lack of knowledge or skill, our over-burdened schedules, or anything else as an excuse any longer.
But this won’t be done unless we realize what men like Francis of Assisi and Ignatius Loyola, and Martin Luther realized, the wonder and splendour of what it means to walk with God, as He removes all the obstacles and the sin.
That is how God builds us up, smoothing out our edges, that which has been made rough by guilt and shame, by denial and bargaining. He is the one who places each “living stone”, He is the one who makes us all fit together.
My personal opinion is that even in back in Haggai’s day, the issue was helping people realize that this isn’t about duty, it isn’t about even fulfilling the mission of God. That is His responsibility, to get the work done. It is about seeing God’s desire, that all people come to Him, and about realizing the joy when one prodigal, or one sheep is brought home. It’s about seeing the sinner who realizes they are forgiven, and that they are welcome in church.
You see, this temple we witness God building in our midst, it is the greatest of temples – for it is the temple that will endure for eternity. Each person that comes to know Jesus, who comes to realize His love, who is united to Him in the water of Baptism, who receives His promise, this is the eternal temple, and we will dwell with Him forever.
We could talk about what they are saved from, but what they are delivered into, what is given them in this relationship with God, is incredible, and we get to be part of that temple, and part of its being built. Part of each victory of God over satan, sin and death.
We keep our eyes open, we pray, and we mention to people why we have hope in view of the broken, battered world. It doesn’t matter if they are in our age group, in our socio -economic bracket, whether we serve them, or they serve us, it doesn’t even matter if we can barely communicate because of language differences. It doesn’t even matter if they are of a different political party, or are fans of different sports teams!
We all need to know Jesus loves us…
It’s time to stop procrastination.. to share the one thing we treasure above all.. the love of God.
ANd then, we witness the wonder of the place God will dwell.. among us. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1029-1031). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Advent of Peace
Grace and peace to you, the much-promised gift of God our Father, delivered in Christ-incarnate!
Do not fear, do not be anxious!
But How.. and when?
As I hear Longfellow’s poem set to music, (the sermon hymn was “I heard the bells on Christmas Day” – it is an incredible story- !) and the change that comes over him, as if a light is simply turned on, I want to find a way to dismiss his suffering, to dismiss his grief, and thereby, to stay in my own grief, my own negativity, my own despair, my own anxiety. The problem is I know the background of Longfellow’s poem, and my trauma, even and the trauma of our world is not comparable to his trauma, and the trauma of his time.
There is something in this time of year as well, as I talk to businessmen, and principals, other pastors and those who I come in contact with, there is a sense of pessimism, in this time where we should be eagerly expecting some of the greatest joy of the year. People are struggling – many of us are struggling…
I hear in the song, the words of the angels who visit the outcasts in the field ,
Do not fear! There is peace on Earth, and God’s will, His desire for men is good…good!
And my theologian brain comes into play and I justify my dweeling in the early part of the song with theological statements like this promise of peace is now..and not yet. It is fulfilled and yet I can’t really see it.
And I, with supposed justification slink back into despair, and bow my head in defeat.
And then comes Advent… and we have to come face to face with the promise, and we have to realize – that yes, this promise is true, as is the God who delivered that promise to a stable in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.
But how do we make the change – from despair to joy, from thinking there is no peace, to glorying in it?
That is the challenge of Advent.
Look to His creation!
Look to the simple glory and know… the glory of Christ
And in the place where Christ is, glory and peace dwells
And that is in you.
In the words of the prophet Haggai, as his words, like the angels encourage us, I think I begin to see how to find the peace.
First the prophet reminds us of two of God’s promises by calling to mind His oath and covenant with us. That covenant was made when He delivered his people from bondage one, and assured them that He would always do so.. The second promise is there – next slide – when the Father promised, even back then, that the Holy Spirit would remain in the midst of His people – that God’s presence was there, even then, caring and comforting, forgiving and guiding, pouring out and establishing His peace..
There begins the source of our strength!
Less we doubt God being able to provide this care, this peace, the prophet is instructed to remind us of the incredible power of God – that He can, and indeed will shake the world, to separate and sift it, separating what is the treasure – what is the glory of those nations, that it may come pouring in.
God claims it is all His, that it all belongs to Him, that the glory of it will cause the glory of God’s abode to be greater than it ever was…
And then we realize, the gold and silver symbolize something, for while that may be where man’s treasure is, it is not where God’s is.
What is God’s treasures, that will out of the nations…
You and I are…
And when we realize that – the lights turn on… and we hear the glorious words, and we know that in this place, where we dwell with God, there is peace.
That’s the concept of advent – come and seen this newborn king – Come and adore Him,
Come and realize His promises are true – that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord.
Come, and leave the fears and anxieties behind – His spirit is present, His peace is present.
and as we look at our Lord, as we see the manger and the cross, and the empty tomb….
The light shatters the darkness, the love heals our brokenness, and we know, heart, soul mind and strength… that there is peace on earth, that there is God’s will coming complete in our lives…
Come and see – His peace is here… His Good will is here… and it is well…