Sun, 23 August 2020
“Come To Jesus Meeting”
Sermon Series: Ezra
Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor
10:45 AM Sermon August 23, 2020
How many of you are really excited to see me right now? So, yeah, I really wouldn't expect in that response, but anyway, so, Hey, listen, here's the deal I did. I wore this shirt today as a service to Mike and the team. Cause I figured this would help you out pray a lot faster to get rid of me. So anyway, but I, I should know better. My wife encouraged me to wear this shirt today (Alabama shirt) and I told her, I said, look, I said, I'm not going to get a great response. And she said, well, you're just temporary. What are they going to do? Fire you? And I said, well, I really don't want to be fired today. You know, it was kind of embarrassing for the interim to get fired. So anyway, but I should have known better because I may have told some of you this story before, but my very first day in Baton Rouge, I mean the very first day that I rolled into town, I was driving at you haul truck. And I was pulling my daughter Taylor's car behind. And I was, I'm not very good mechanically. And I wanted to get that car off of the, of the tow and get it unloaded. And so, I was rushing to get here. The, the big U-Haul place on Florida closed at 10 o'clock and I was trying to make it there by then so they could help me unload it. And so, I mean, I'm just, I'm not stopping. So, you know, you need to stop from time to time when you're traveling. So, I wasn't stopping. And so I get there and I just, I just needed to go to the little boy’s room, that's what I needed to do. And so I pulled up and I said, Hey, do you have a restroom? And the guys pointed me inside. So it was December right before Christmas. And I had on a Bama jacket. Right? And so I walked in there my first day in Baton Rouge. Right. And I should have known better. And I walk in there kind of running in there and I said, Hey, do you have a restroom? And the guy old guy just looks at me. He says, yup, sure do. And he just stood there and I said, well, can I use it? And he says, yep, you sure can. And he used some other descriptive words that I won't share in church today. But basically, what he said is, is if you go take that jacket off, he described my jacket. But if you go take that jacket off and you can come back in and use my restroom. Well, I laugh because I thought he was joking, and he just stood there. And the dude made me go to my car and put my jacket up before I could use the restroom. So that was my introduction to Baton Rouge. And yet I'm still stupid enough. I'm still wearing the shirt, but anyway, we'll do the best we can. So took our daughter to college this past week. She's going to Ouachita University, which is in Arkansas. And so we're walking around the bookstore and we're thinking, you know what? We need to support our daughter. This is where she goes to school and we need to, to wear the things that she wears.
And so you know, so that we can, all our money's going here. We might as well wear a shirt or something like that. And I'm looking around. It's like you, people are basically haunting me no matter where I go, because Ouachita, their mascot is the tiger. And guess what their colors are is purple and gold. And so all they had was go tiger shirts. Of course, they spelled go right over there. But anyway, that all they had was go tiger shirts everywhere. And I just couldn't buy one. So, I just, I just couldn't make myself do it, even though my all my money is there. So anyway, so what we need to do right now is before we jump into the message is, we need to stop and pray so that you can repent of all the things that you're thinking and saying to the people around you about me.
But no, seriously, I do want us to, to pray before we jump into this today and on a completely serious note is that today is very simple. What I want to share with you, but it has the opportunity. I believe to be very penetrating to our hearts if we'll allow it to. But the way that we allow that to happen is by the Holy Spirit speaking to us. But before I pray for you, what, what I want to make sure that you understand is that I want to be very direct and very honest.
I believe that the words we're going to read this morning are very direct and very honest, but what I want to make sure that you don't do is that you don't hear anything I say is that will, Jeff is telling me that I have to do this today. Or Jeff is telling me that this is wrong because if we're not careful, oftentimes if we just listened to what people say to us, it can come across as very religious and very legalistic. But today is not about that. I want to be honest with you. I want to share with you what God's word clearly, I believe says to all of us. And then I want all of us to ask the Holy Spirit just to speak to us because the reason God gave us the Holy Spirit was to lead us and to guide us, direct us, to convict us when we need it, but to encourage us to be the people that he desires for us to be. And I believe that God wants to do that this morning. And so, I'm going to ask you if you would just to bow your heads and close your eyes before we jump in. And before I pray for us, would you just take a moment and just the best, you know, how, if this was your first time that you've ever been here or whether you're here every week, would you just give God the chance to speak to you today?
Just say, God, I opened up my heart. God, I give you the freedom to speak to me today. Lord, we love you, God, I thank you for this church and God, just for the ministry that you do in this place and through this place. And God, I pray today that for us as a body, but also for us as individual followers of you, that God, that you will just make a very simple message, very, very clear, and very, very applicable to a hearts and lives. Speak to us today. We give you our hearts. We give you this time and it's in Jesus name that I pray. Amen. Amen. Amen.
We're walking through the book of Ezra and just been an encouraging time for me to just study this book. And I hope that if you haven't been here through all the weeks, that you'll go back and just watch those or listen to those. And as you do that, understand that all throughout this book. And it's just seems to be the theme of this entire season for us as a church. And that is, is that God's always moving, and that God is always working. And despite the opposition, despite our own fears, despite all the stuff in life that we can always count on the reality that God is always behind the scenes doing what only he can do. And if you and I will do the hard work that he calls us to do, if you and I will do the simple things that he calls us to do, that we can trust him no matter what. And I was thankful last week I was out at the Ascension campus. And so, I went back Sunday afternoon and listened to Micah, spoke here and did the same message that I did there. And I was very thankful that more people got to hear his message than mine, because his was by far a million times better. If you didn't hear his message last week, I encourage you to go back and listen to that. Just a great explanation of what God does in chapter four, but at the end of that, and just a side note and not just because he's in the room, but I'm thankful that as a part of our lead team and as a student pastor, that God has given us a man such as him, most student pastors, I don't know if he knows this or not, but most student pastors are really good at making up games and finding ways for the church to get sued. So that's the way most student pastors are. And so, I'm thankful that we have one that not only doesn't get us sued, but also, it's just an incredible student and teacher of the word. And so, Micah, you thank you for what you do and for the way that you lead. So, and you, you don't have to pay me for both services to do that. Just want to be fine. Okay. But no, seriously, I'm thankful for that. And it really was just a great handling of that chapter. And so I hope that if you didn't listen to that or watch that or hear that you could go back and do that this week, but at the end of that passage of chapter four, it says that the building of the temple that stopped and for 16 years, nothing happened.
And so this morning is we pick up and chapter five. And, but if you have your Bibles, I don't want you to turn to Ezra chapter five. I actually want you to turn to the book of Haggai chapter one. And you're thinking, why are we doing that? It'll make sense in just a moment because we're actually going to spend most of our time this morning in the book of Haggai talking about the book of Ezra. If you're confused, just hang on. I promise it will make sense in just a moment. So for 16 years though, the temple stopped, and it was because of opposition. It was because of the decree of the King. It was because of people. They didn't want that to happen. And in the process of that, here's what took place. The people that had come back for one purpose, they had come back to build the team, the Temple of God for the Glory of God, that now all of a sudden, they're not doing that. And their lives have become to a place to where things are just different than what they were intended to be when they came back. And as I looked at this passage that we're going to read in just a moment.
And as I look at the book of Haggai, which we're going to look at that in just a moment as well, there were two questions that just, just kept rolling in my mind this week. And really these two questions are the only points that if you're taking notes that, that you, that I'll give you to write down, that there may be some other things that God gives you to write down. But I just want you, as we walk through the next a few moments, I want you to think about these two questions. And these two questions are really what we find from the prophet, Hagia and Zachariah as they come to the people of Israel during this time. And it's really very direct is really very straightforward when we titled the message to that. It's just a come to Jesus meeting and you know what that is, right? I mean that that's never a pleasant thing, but that's exactly what we find here. And throughout this come to Jesus meeting, there's two questions that basically that I believe are at the forefront need to be in the forefront of our minds today. And that is number one. What are you building? And number two, what are you ignoring?
I want you to Think about those as we walked through this passage today, when it comes to your life, when it comes to what you are investing in, what you are doing, what in your life, what are you building and what are you ignoring? So you say, what do you mean when you say that? Well, first of all, when we talk about what we are building, here's what I want you to think about what you are building represents, the things that that does that make you feel comfortable. They're the things that, that bring you comfort in life. Now I'll explain that a little bit in just a few minutes, but they're, they're the things that we, we tend to gravitate to for lots of different reasons, based on our personality, based on our convictions, based on our passions, but the things that we build, the things that bring us comfort. And so what is it that you're building in your life? What are you pursuing? What are you working for? What is it that makes you feel comfortable? What is it that feels good for you? You know, we, we oftentimes, as, as Baptists we don't want to talk about our feelings, right? Because we just want to focus on the word, but the reality is, is God gave us feelings. God gave us emotions. And a lot of times what we are building is the things that just make us feel good in life. But then also what things in your life that you should be paying attention to, are you ignoring the things that we ignore most of the times are the things that scare us, the things that make us fearful. So we just set them aside. We just kind of go the other way. It's things that we just don't want to deal with. So with those questions in mind, look at what it says in Ezra chapter five, we're going to put this on the screen, and then we're going to jump to Haggai out as chapter five in verse one. So now remembers for 16 years, there's nothing that's been built. It just stopped. So now the profits Hagia, Zachariah, the son of who prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who is over them, then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel. Jozadak and Joshua with the son of Jehoiada arose and begin to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them supporting them. So Haggai and Zachariah come and speak to the people. And what we find in the book of Haggai is we find basically four messages that he gives to Zerubbabel that’s the entire book. And we're going to look at part of that in just a moment during this season. So the book of Haggai happens right here in Ezra chapter five. And so, as we look at this, what you're going to find is that the message that he gave to them is spurred them on to begin to rebuild the temple.
So here's what happens in the rest of chapter five and chapter six, they begin. And we're going to come back to this message because this message is where we want to focus. But the rest of chapter five and chapter six, here's what happens. They begin to rebuild. And didn't the governor that was over this region over Jerusalem. He finds out that they're re they're rebuilding. And so, he's not necessarily a follower of God. He's an acknowledged or of God, but he's not someone who is a follower or a servant of God. He finds out about this. And for most people in the political world, and even in the religious world, they were very nervous about the people of Israel coming back and rebuilding the temple because everything to them was about power. And so the governor gets nervous about them rebuilding. He doesn't want anything to threaten his power. And so he goes to the King and it’s not the same King who sends Zerubbabel back. This is a different King, but he goes to him and says, Hey, what the people told me is that God basically told them to come back and that they were sent by the King Cyrus to come back and to rebuild the temple. And I want to know whether or not this is true. So since it's a new King, he doesn't know about that decree, but he has his people go and research whether or not the people of Israel were telling the truth, the ones that were rebuilding the temple.
And so what he finds is that the statements that they made about rebuilding the temple, that they were a hundred percent accurate. That that is what King Cyrus had told them to do. And so this King goes back to the governor who, the reason the governor brought it up is because he wanted this movement to stop. He wanted the rebuilding to stop. He did not want them to do anything to threaten his power, but the King, when he read the decree that was given by the previous King, he says, yes, they can continue to rebuild. And I love how God works. He says, not only can they rebuild, but what we're going to do is all the taxes that you're collecting, that you've been keeping for yourself. We're now going to use that so that they can be helped and rebuilding the temple. So what this man sought to do to destroy God used it, not only to not destroy it, but to aid them in their process. And the reason I tell you all of that is because when you look at the hard words that Haggai says, and just a moment, what we need to be reminded of is the simple reality that if you and I will build the things that God calls us to build, that he will do things behind the scenes he will provide for us. And if we will get past all of our fears about following him and being obedient to him, God will do things that are far greater than you can possibly imagine, because he is always working, even when we can't see him. So even though these words are tough, that we're going to read today, they strike at the heart of where I believe many of us have the tendency oftentimes to be what we're going to find is that if you and I will answer these questions, what are you building? And what are you ignoring? And if you and I will address them head on that, God will begin to do something in your heart and life. And even though it may scare you to death, God cannot be stopped. God's plan cannot be overtaken, but the choice you have to make is whether or not he is going to use you as a part of his plan, or whether he's going to use someone else who's willing to trust him. So what are you building? And what are you ignoring? So with all of that said, Haggai out chapter one. Remember this message happens in between chapter four in the beginning of chapter five, that Haggai comes. He's one of the prophets that comes and the prophets in this day and time, that they were, they came to the people of God as the voice of God for us, God speaks to us through his word and through the power of the Holy spirit. He uses other people, but this was the primary means by the way, that God would speak to his people, this through prophets.
And so Haggai comes to the people of God and look at what he says, Haggai chapter one in verse one in the second year of Derrius the King in the six month, on the first day of the month. Now Darrius, the King is the one that came back. I shared with you just a moment ago. He's the one that came back and told the governor to let them rebuild. But also, at that, that they were going to use those taxes for that purpose. So he comes to the word, Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerrubble the son of Shealtiel governor of Judah. And to Joshua, the son of Jozadak, the high priest 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. And so the reason he's coming to them is because basically what the people that were sent back to rebuild the temple have said was now is not the time you ever heard those words now is not the time. Usually when people say those words now is not the time what they're doing is avoiding something that doesn't need to be avoided, right? They're usually in what there's happening there. Is there something that needs to be dealt with? There's an issue that needs to be addressed. There's something that should be being done, but right now is not the time. It's a statement of avoidance. And that's where the people of Israel work. So look at what it says and the next verse. Next section, there's a hint of sarcasm here. I really kinda liked this. 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 in harvested, little, you eat, but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourself, but no one is warm and he who earns wages does So to put them in bags with holes. So let's stop right there and see what he's saying here. The hint of sarcasm is, is that you're living in your paneled houses, which meant that You have these nice houses. You have spent all this time on investing in your own personal homes while the house of the Lord lies in ruins. In fact, when you look at all the history of what we believe was taking place here is that when the temple stopped being built, that people begin to settle. They begin to focus on their own lives, on their own agendas, on the things they wanted to do. And so they took the materials that were set aside for the temple, and they begin to use them to make their own homes. The things that God had given them for God's purpose, for God's agenda, they now had taken them and were using them for their own purposes and their own agenda. Sound familiar. You ever found yourself in that situation where maybe you've taken the things that God gave you for a Holy purpose, for a righteous plan or, or a mission And what you chosen to do is all the things that God has given you, that you began to use them for your own purposes, for what you desire. He says, put in doing that. What you found is it gets some of the, of the descriptors that he gives there and says that that when you consider your ways, you sewn much, but you harvest a little, in other words, you're working, you are, you're building for something. You're putting a lot of effort into it, but you're not really getting much back. You eat, but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill. In other words, no matter what you get, you're just not satisfied. You ever felt that way. And listen, if you are building things that are not of the purpose of God, if that is the focus of everything that you're doing, if what your life's centered around is on saying, Hey, I need to build my financial wealth so that I can be secure. That's what makes me feel good. Or I want to, to build up my, my children, because I want them to be the greatest athletes, or I want them to be the greatest scholars, or I want them to be very successful. That all of those things, those are the things that I find comfort in. There's nothing wrong with saving for retirement. There's nothing wrong with investing in your kids. There's nothing wrong with a lot of the things that we pursue. But the reality is if that is the goal of our life, if that is the mission of what we do, if that is what we are building, what Haggai is telling the people is that, Hey, don't you recognize that it's just never enough, that you are Never satisfied. You're pursuing what you want, but it's never, ever, enough. I love the end of that section. He says he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. So thus says the Lord of Hosts. Here's what he says to them. Now, remember, this is when the 16 years where they're not building anything. And so he says, here's the, this is what you're doing. What you are building is not of God. You, you are a building the wrong thing. So here's what the Lord of Hosts. He says, consider your ways, answer those questions in other words, what are you building? What are you ignoring? Consider your ways. Go up to the Hills, bring wood and build a house that I may take pleasure in it. And that I may be glorified, says the Lord. He says, you look for much and behold, it came to little.
And when you brought it home, he says, I blew it away. In other words, God's not going to allow anything to stand. God's not going to allow you to ever be satisfied or to have enough. If you are pursuing the things that he doesn't desire for you to pursue, it's the blew it away. Why declares the Lord of hosts because of my house that lies in ruins. While each of you busy as himself with his own house, that's tough words. He says, my house lies in ruins in modern day for you I, it would be like us saying that the mission of God has stopped in our lives, the purpose for what he has created us to do. The things that he desires to be the priorities in our life, us living a life of obedience to him has stopped. While we busy ourselves with all the things that we want to do, what are you building? What is it that you are living for? You see, because for this group of people, there's lots of reasons why they were focused on their own homes. For many of them, they were scared to death about what it would look like if they took the risk of rebuilding, because obviously there's all this opposition. A lot of people didn't want them to rebuild. And some of them were just comfortable because it was nice to live in a nice house, right? It was nice not to have to go and work for something that wasn't going to in their minds personally benefit them. Because at the end of the day, the things that make us comfortable are the things that we desire, the things that we want, the things that allow us, that we think to have our own satisfaction. But what Haggai points out is that that's where you think you're not only your desire is, but that's where you think you want to be, but it's just never enough. So he says, consider your ways. You see, for some of the people that they were building their own homes instead of a building the house of the Lord, even though that was the, the sole reason they came back and the reason they were doing it is because they just wanted to focus on the things that make them feel good. But for others, it was more about the things that scared them. They were ignoring the house of God, because they were fearful about what that would look like. Would God provide, would I be ostracized? Would I look like a fool? I mean, just the list goes on and on and on. And the reality is, is for all of us in our lives, we find ourselves at times where we are building things that really aren't the focus of what God calls us to do. And it may be a mission, or it may be just an area of obedience in your life. But no matter what it is, if you are building the things that are not a part of what God's word says and what God calls you to do, and about being obedient to him. And if you're ignoring those things, because you don't really want to deal with them, then where are you going to find yourself in a place where you're just constantly working? You're just constantly seeking, but it's just never enough. When you look at that passage in Haggai chapter one in light of what I shared with you happens in the rest of Ezra chapter five and six. It just makes sense to say, if I'm constantly building for myself, I'm never going to be satisfied. It's never going to work out, is going to end in destruction. But when I follow the ways of the Lord, when I do the things that he asks me to do, God shows up and God provides in some absolutely amazing ways.
When we were in the process of moving from Arkansas to Baton Rouge. You know, one of the reasons that we moved here was to help a good friend of mine begin a nonprofit. And so when you're moving into that kind of realm, you're moving into a world of uncertainty in for lots of reasons that it was just a time for us to, to, to leave in terms of a pastor in the church that we were. And we were moving here just to kind of get a fresh start and start all over again. And our church just was such a gracious, incredible people. And so they, they wanted to, to help us in launches as we moved here. And they, they, they provided a salary for us for six months’ time, which was incredible. I mean, just w we couldn't imagine that just the generosity that they provided for us, it was also scary because you had that for six months, but then what about after that? And so I remember during that season that I went into, you know, as we often do as humans, and I think men, we probably do this even more. I went into fix it mode. Like I was going to find a way that I was going to fix everything. And I wanted, because what I was trying to build was the best amount of financial security I could for my family. And so, as a result of several different things, to be honest with you, that this, my heart was just not in a great place. And there was a lot of discouragement, a lot of frustration, just a lot of emotions that really weren't of God. And because of that, I began to turn inward and as opposed to looking for God, to God, for the answers, I began Jeff to begin to try to fix it. And so one of the ways that I decided that I was going to fix it was that I was going to make sure that we saved as much money as we possibly could over the course of that period of time. And so we, we had been giving, and I only shared this number for you for a specific reason. All right, I'm not trying to brag. I just want to share this with you because it's very relevant to the story in just a moment. But we had been giving at that point about a thousand dollars a month to our church. And so what I decided was is over that next six months as we were transitioning, we weren't going to have a church home. I just decided, Hey, we don't have a church home. So we don't have to give to any church during that period of time. And so we can save in that $6,000 that we can set aside that we can use to help us just be more financially secure. So I shared that brilliant plan with my wife, and she didn't say anything. So the next morning we woke up, I mean, I'm telling you, I just, my heart was in a place of just, just wasn't really a good place, but she looked at me and she says, you know, we can't do that. She said, you know, that we can't just ignore that. We have to give and what we don't have church. And so we're just going to give to the church that has been providing for us and taking care of us. So we're just going to give there, even though we're not even going to live in the same state. So for the next six months, we decided that we were going to give a thousand dollars a month. I was scared to death. I said, okay, now I didn't say, okay, immediately. It was like later that night that I said, okay, because I wrestled with it all day long, but really, and honestly, my heart still wasn't in a great place, but it was more out of a guilt. And I know I knew that she was right. So I gave in.
Next morning, comes a knock on my door. Three years ago, still just blows my mind. I answered the door and it was a lady that was living in our community. Her and her husband owned a restaurant. And she said they had recently joined the church. And I had helped them with just some different things in terms of just some counseling and stuff. And, and she said, Hey, she said, I didn't get a chance to see you the other day, but I wanted to stop by today because my husband and I, we love you. We love your family, and we want to help support you as you launch out. And so we just want to give this to you and just want you to know that we love you and that we care about you. I went back Inside. It was an envelope. I just figured they owned a restaurant. I figured like it was some gift cards to the restaurant or something like that, you know, whatever. And I sat down and opened it up and I don't know why she did it this way, except that God instructed her to do this way. But we had made the decision that starting in January for January, February, March, April, may, and June for six months, that the first of each month we were going to give a thousand dollars to the church. in that envelope were six, $1,000 checks dated January the first, February, the first March, the first April, the first may, and June the first. And I remember just sitting there and just weeping because in that simple moments, God used that woman to show us that when you trust him, he will provide, and he will. He has, he will. And when I doubt him again tomorrow, guess what? He will still be there. But my problem was in that moment before we made that decision by the Holy Spirit now also known as Wendy before I got that point, that what I was building was my own financial security. And I decided that I was going to do at Jeff's way. And what I was ignoring was the principle that God so clearly lays out in his word. And I didn't want to deal with it because that principal scared me to death, but what God taught me through that and what God has taught me time and time again, because I'm a very slow learner, is that when I build my life on what he calls me to do in this word, that the things that scare me, the things that I would rather ignore, the things that I don't want to deal with, those are the things that God wants to use to build our faith and to bring himself glory and to bring us to a place where his light can shine through us and that people's lives and the world in which we live will be changed. And, you know, what's amazing about that, that when you and I stop ignoring the things that scare us, and we begin to build the things in our lives that God wants us to build around, then what God does is that emptiness and that unsatisfaction that we felt when we were doing the other things, he replaces all of those things with a joy and a peace that is far beyond what you could ever buy or what you could ever understand, because that's the God that we serve.
So what are you building? And what are the things that you are ignoring that are preventing you from building the things that God wants you to build? Let's pray together today. Would you take a moment before we end today and just wrestle with those two questions? Talk to God. He knows your heart. What is the one thing in your life that needs to be different, that you've been ignoring? Would you just confess that to him right now? And as you confess that, would you make a declaration right now that you're going to take one step toward building that area of your life on the truth of God's Word and what he desires for you?
God, we love you. God, I thank you that you never stopped Teaching us, never stopped reminding us and you never give up on us. Lord, I thank you for the direct words from the Prophet Haggai that we see to the people of Israel, but God also to the people of Istrouma today, Lord, I pray that we will be people that are building our lives on you and your Word, God, help us this week to address the things that scare us, help us to be bold enough, but also at the same time, humble enough to confront the areas of our life that need your hand, that needs your correction, that needs your touch. And God, I pray that as we do that, that you will give us confidence that you will remind us that just as you were in the book of Ezra, you are today and the same God that provided for them and some supernatural ways desires to provide for us today. So, we ask you to do that. We thank you that we can trust you, and it's in Jesus name that I pray. Amen. Amen.
Well, thank you so much for being here today, and there's always that there's ways that we can help you or minister to you, We'd love the privilege to be able to do that after the services and a hope that more than anything that you will take, God's word to heart, that you will apply it to your life this week. Hope that you have a wonderful week and we'll see you back again next Sunday. Thank you.
Category:Ezra -- posted at: 12:00pm EST