St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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“Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.” – Haggai 1:2-11

Here we see how the people of Israel, out of fear and opposition, stopped the rebuilding of the temple. Their lives got busy with other things, they feared the surrounding nations, and there wasn’t unity regarding its rebuilding. They had rebuilt the temple mount and the neighboring Assyrians were scared, but the Israelites stopped building and got busy with their own houses and lives. The Lord, through the prophet Haggi, calls the people to repent and to continue to rebuild the temple, and warns them not to be complacent or fearful because the blessings of faithfulness are far better than living in fear and by the flesh.

The devil continues, day in and day out, to speak from the dark places of our soul and from the fallen world. He is never quiet but constantly gives us reason to question God, to doubt God’s promises, and to fill our days with everything BUT God. We live our lives building for ourselves houses and barns and sheds and filling them with our labors, drenched in the sweat of our trying to keep them from falling down, burning, or going derelict. We wake early in the morning to sow a field, only to harvest a third of what we planted because of drought or pestilence. We earn an extra dollar for our labors, only to have two dollars taken from us in taxes. And all the while the Lord stands before us with doors open, with the Word of God preached and His body and blood offered, yet we do not partake of His gifts.

We’re too busy, too distracted, too caught up in our own lives and plans to stop and pray or enter into His presence. The devil has given us so many reasons to avoid God, to pass by His holy house and join His people in prayer and worship. We may even think our reasons are just and righteous…but only in our own sight, not in the Lord’s. We fear God’s disappointment because we have been sinful; we fear God’s punishment because our sins are so many, and so we, like Adam and Eve, try to hide ourselves from Him.

Yet all the while, God’s holy temple, the place where the Lord dwells — in your heart, has become derelict. It has fallen to disrepair. In its place you have allowed the cares of the world, the false teachings of men, the love of money, and the enticements of the devil to dwell. His Word is buried under the rubble of unfaithfulness. You’ve made your vows in your confirmation, or when you stood before God and men and said, “I will with the help of God,” but you’ve not kept your vows but allowed your own needs and pleasures to enslave you, your own priorities to subdue you. You have built a foundation of sand and set aside the Foundation of the Rock.

Return to the Lord, you derelict hearts. Return to His house so that your heart may be restored and the Spirit of Truth dwell in your halls once more. Feast at the table of mercy and forgiveness. Do not fear His wrath, for the Lord comes to forgive, not condemn. Repent of your sins, confess them and acknowledge your waywardness, for the Lord will not abandon you to the grave. For the kingdom of God is here, and it is an everlasting kingdom established in the blood of the Lamb.

Prayer: Lord, I have been negligent in worship, in attending church, in prayer, and in communing with Your people at Your holy meal. I have not kept up with my vows but have made my life and my concerns more important than Your promises. I have built my house upon the sands of Satan’s lies and this world’s many pleasures. I am sinking! Give me Your Spirit that I might repent of my sins and hold fast to Your mercies, and give me a spirit of conviction, that I might arise and join Your people in Your holy house often, so that I might receive Your gifts and sing your praises. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Worship, Prayer, and Study Opportunities at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church