The consequences of neglect … the promised blessing for diligent obedience…

Neglected House

I drove by an elegant old house the other day that must have been grand and beautiful in its day, but sadly suffered the consequences of neglect! Lawn overgrown, shrubs in a sorry state, windows broken, shutters hanging crooked, porch sagging, paint peeling, and who knows what the inside was like! … The pathetic consequences of neglect.

Reminded me of the story told by the prophet Haggai that I read during my time of “coffee with the Lord” yesterday and today…

The once grand and beautiful temple a pile of ugly rubble because of systemic and sustained sin! Seventy years of exile had come upon God’s people as the consequences of their sin. But God in His mercy and faithfulness had brought His people back home. The command was to rebuild… But the sad reality was self-occupation and neglect…

God challenged His people through His prophet, Haggai… “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? … Look at what is happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes… Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house! Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored!”

And here was God’s promise…

“Get to work, for I am with you! My Spirit remains among you…so do not be afraid! … In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. And in this place, I will bring peace. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”

And they obeyed! They moved from self-centered neglect to obedient diligence and this was God’s promise: “Think about this 18th day of December, the day when the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid! Think carefully! I am giving you a promise now… from this day onward I will bless you!” (From Haggai 1-2)

I jotted it in the margin of my Bible today… “This is what happens when God’s people move from self-centered neglect of the things of God to diligent obedience in serving Him!” … Blessing! Abundant blessing!!!

How Big is God?

How Big is GodGood question eh? And the answers to that question vary depending on the presuppositions of the people answering the question… All the way from outright denial of God’s existence to unlimited power and greatness (universal power and control over all that exists – He created and sustains ALL things – microscopic to macroscopic).

Well this morning in my time of Bible reading during “coffee with the Lord” I read these words from an otherwise unknown writer in Proverbs, Agur: “Who but God goes up to heaven and comes back down? Who holds the wind in His fists? Who wraps up the oceans in His cloak? Who has created the whole wide world?! What is His name – and His Son’s name? Tell me if you know!” (Proverbs 30:4 NLT)

As I pondered those words, the lyrics of a wonderful old Gospel song, written by Stuart Hamblen came to mind… found myself humming the tune and relishing the words most of the morning. Here they are…

“Though man may strive to go beyond the reach of space
To crawl beyond the distant shimmering stars
This world’s a room so small within my Master’s house
The open sky’s but a portion of His yard

“How big is God? How big and wide His vast domain
To try and tell, these lips can only start
He’s big enough to rule His mighty universe
Yet small enough to live within my heart

“As winter’s chill may cause the tiny seed to fall
To lie asleep till waked by summer’s rain
The heart grown cold will warm and throb with life anew
The Master’s touch will bring the glow again”
–Stuart Hamblen

And to that I say a hearty “AMEN!” That’s what I believe about how big (and small) the God I love and serve is!

How God Breaks Down Barriers…

Breaking down barriers

He was a Gentile, not a born Jew or a Christian… He was an influential officer in the Roman military. But God took note of Him – God loved him – God revealed Himself to Him and advocated on his behalf. His name? Cornelius. And he became the “door of entry” – the “breakthrough person” – for Gentiles to have equal standing with God’s chosen people in history (and eternity)!

Here’s what God’s chosen messenger told Cornelius personally: “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering!” (Hey it pays to pray and demonstrate compassion and generosity to those need!)

Here’s what God told Peter – a prejudiced Jew: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean!” … “Three men have come looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitation. Don’t worry, I have sent them!”

Here’s what Peter had to say in Gentile Cornelius’ home: “You know it is against our [Jewish] law for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer thing of anyone as impure or unclean.”

And the rest of the story… While Peter was explaining the gospel – the wonderful story of Jesus – to them, “The Holy Spirit fell on all who were listening to the message… and they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God…

Then Peter asked, ‘Can anyone object their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?’ So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (From Acts 10)

Hey, God is “no respecter of persons!” – He plays no favorites! He has people out there who are not yet Christians – good people (and some who are not so good), kind people (and some who are not so kind), but sincere people , searching people – He wants to reveal Himself to them and fill them with His Spirit! He wants to use them to break down barriers of prejudice and open doorways to new frontiers of the Gospel. Perhaps God wants to use you (and me) to reach out past our prejudices and share the Gospel with them. What do you think? You just might be surprised at what God will do!

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