The Shaking

Monday, May 06, 2013, 1:11 a.m. – Either the downpour of rain woke me or the Lord woke me, but when I awoke, the song “Nothing Can Separate Us” was playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Haggai 2 (NIV):

How Does it Look?

It has been raining here for several days, and right now the rain is coming down very hard. We also have rain predicted for the next few days, as well. It doesn’t look like this is going to clear up until maybe Thursday. We are under a flood warning. We get a great deal of water in our backyard whenever we get a hard or an extended period of rain like this.

Speaking of our yard, our front and side yards had turned into nearly all weed with not much grass left. There were about four different kinds of weed growing in the yard, which had taken it over. So, over a month ago we hired a lawn service to kill the weeds and to plant new grass. They sprayed the yard four weeks ago and then the next week, as well. They were supposed to till the yard last Monday and plant new grass, but it rained, so they were supposed to come out today, but again it is raining. The yard looks really sad right now. It is all brown and no grass is left where they sprayed, but one form of weed remained. It is a tough weed. The yard is also filled with water/moisture from all this rain.

In Haggai the question is asked of the Lord to the leaders and to the people, “Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?” That sounds like our yard. It once looked pretty good, then over time the weeds took it over, so we had to kill the weeds, and now it appears all burned up, partially flooded, with no vegetation. It looks like nothing right now – completely dead.

The house spoken of was the temple in Jerusalem which had been destroyed nearly 70 years earlier by the Babylonian invasion. The people were given the task of rebuilding the temple, but they had become slack, partly due to opposition, but partly due to preoccupation with their own houses. They were so busy with their own lives, trying to gain wealth, enjoy life, and pursuing temporal happiness, that they neglected God’s house. So, the Lord did not bless them, and he disciplined them because his people were busy with satisfying their own needs, which were never fully satisfied, while his house was in ruins.

I believe this is a picture of how the church here in America looks today. I can’t speak for other countries. And, I am not speaking of physical buildings or church programs, either. I am speaking of the temple of the Lord – individual believers in Jesus Christ who form the church, the body of Christ, together. So many of the people of God today, in particular here in America, are so busy with their own lives that they neglect the Lord, his word and obedience to his commands and thus fail to follow him in obedience. So many have become self-consumed and thus neglect to honor God as the holy God he is. They are so preoccupied with their own agendas, plans, entertainment, pleasures and self-gratification that they fail to be the lights for the gospel of Jesus Christ and/or to demonstrate the love of Christ to those around them. Some of this neglect may be due to true opposition, but much of it is rooted in pure apathy and self-centeredness. So, the Lord must send his divine discipline and correction in order to get his people to return to him.

Once More

God said that “in a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth… I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory.” This, it appears, is speaking of the last days when God will come to judge the earth and his rebellious and lukewarm ‘house,’ and once again his ‘house’ will be filled with his glory. In other words, I believe scripture teaches, especially in the prophets of old, that when God comes to judge the earth in these final days before Christ’s return that it will produce a harvest of righteousness in the lives of his neglectful ‘house,’ and that many people will flock to the ‘house’ of the Lord, i.e. to Christ, to his church and to the gospel of Jesus Christ and eternal salvation, i.e. to the kingdom of heaven.

Before Christ returns and sets up his kingdom reign on the earth, though, an antichrist will appear and will deceive many. I believe he is “the desired of the nations” who will come along with this shaking of the nations (see Rev. 13), and via the shaking, many people will turn to, or back to Jesus Christ, and God’s ‘house’ will be filled with his glory because his church will be revived and no longer dead, and it will bear fruit (vegetation) once again.

Yet, right now the church in America, in particular, looks pretty sad, i.e. so much of it is dead and not bearing fruit for the kingdom of heaven. It is all washed-up. The life of the Spirit is not in most of it. The “weeds” of rebellion, sin, apathy, self-gratification, pleasure-seeking, idolatry and spiritual adultery have choked the life of the Spirit out of much of the church. And, this final weed of rebellion and idolatry is holding on tough and is not easy to kill. So, God is bringing the rains of judgment against us, and he will till up the hard ground (hearts) and will make the soil of our hearts ready for his word and truth to be planted in us so we can bear fruit (vegetation) for God’s eternal kingdom.

Be Strong

The encouragement here is to get busy rebuilding God’s house, i.e. busying ourselves with sitting at our Lord’s feet, listening to what he says, then in obeying what he teaches us. We need to shake off those things that hinder our walk with the Lord (see Heb. 12:1), i.e. we must rid our lives of these weeds of idolatry and spiritual adultery, and it is necessary that we run with perseverance the race God has marked out for us to run. It is essential that we till up our hardened hearts so we can be receptive to God’s words, and we must pull out the tough weeds that still remain and seem resistant to God’s discipline and corrective measures. Scripture (God) demands that we turn from our sins and that we to turn to walk in faithful obedience to our Lord (see Luke 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6; Gal. 2:20, et al).

Nonetheless, we will not bring about this change in our own hearts and lives of our own self-efforts. We must yield our hearts and lives over to the Lord and cooperate with his work of revival in our hearts in tilling up our hardened hearts, and in uprooting and killing the weeds of sin in our lives, so he can plant new seeds of love, kindness, faithfulness, joy, peace, obedience, self-discipline and purity in our hearts and lives, so that we can bear new fruit for his kingdom. God says to be strong and work, for he is with us, and his Spirit remains with us, so we need not fear divine correction and/or the opposition of men. In other words, in all of his divine correction and discipline, and in all the opposition we will face from sinful humans, we must know and realize that he will never leave us or forsake us and that nothing we go through in this life can separate us from his love if we are truly in Him and he is Lord of our lives. He will bless us once again, and he will multiply his seed in our hearts and in the lives of all those lives we touch with his love and with his gospel.

Nothing Can Separate Us / An Original Work / March 28, 2013

Based off Romans 8:28-39

Nothing can separate us
From Christ’s love now within us:
Not trouble, hardship, nor famine,
Nor danger, nor sword.
No, in all of these things
We are more than conquerors!

For your sake we face hardship.
We are sheep to be slaughtered.
I am convinced that death,
Nor life, nor anything else
Will separate us from
The love of God now in Christ.

What, then, shall we say to this?
God for us: who against us?
He who did not spare His Son
But gave Him for us all –
How will He not, with Him,
Graciously give us all things?

Who brings a charge against us?
God justifies His chosen.
Who is He that condemns?
Christ Jesus; died, rose again.
He’s at the right hand of God,
Interceding for us.