Romans 15:4 ESV - For whatever was written in former days [Old Testament] was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Haggai 2:2-5, 9 ESV - “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, 3 ‘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? 4 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, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not… 9 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.’ ”
As Zerubbabel embarked upon rebuilding the Temple of God in Jerusalem, the difficulty and discouragement wore him down as enemies resisted from the outside and fears crippled the restoration team internally. God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage, challenge, and support Zerubbabel and his “Temple Team.” Though they offered direct support, the importance of prophetic encouragement was vital. God inspired Haggai to record three crucial admonitions that can easily apply to us today as we embark upon spiritual and relational restoration projects (or marital, or financial, or career…):
1. BE STRONG
We grow and achieve greatness by making and keeping strong commitments. The weaker the commitment to rebuilding what really matters, the more despondent we should expect to be. Instead ask God and ask yourself: “What are the two most important “kingdom commitments” I should restore in my life? Then be strong - write them down, share them with your small group or family, then devote the next 6 months to practicing whatever habit (or attitude) needs to be implemented to keep those commitments. Take one at a time if need be. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, so ask God for the grace needed to make and keep your most important kingdom commitments. Be strong… in the LORD.
Take a moment and reflect over which of the following areas you sense God leading you to make and keep a kingdom commitment:
- Personal prayer and Scripture contemplation times every day?
- Personal evangelism and bold faith practiced with intentional consistency?
- Enthusiasm and passion for God in worship and church involvement?
- Consistent generosity of giving my time and finances?
- Intentionally building life-giving relationships to live the “one another” commands 7 days a week?
- Family discipleship and harmony in the home?
- Developing a faithful, “iron-sharpening” small group?
- Devoting my gifts, skills, and talents to the cause of Christ through serving diligently in my local church?
- Cultivating a daily habit of offering forgiveness, encouragement, kindness, and joy toward others regardless of my personal feelings?
- Eliminating and preventing toxic relationships while investing in healthy ones?
- Getting out and staying out of financial debt?
- Beginning a new ministry or ministry involvement - locally or globally?
- What else comes to mind as you pray for guidance?
Ephesians 6:10-11 ESV - Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.