Sent: Monday, January 28, 2002

Subject: Who is in Your Grandstand?

Good Morning Ethan & Emily:

Our new pastor, Mike Romberger, is delivering a fantastic series of sermons on the Book of Haggai entitled “How to Receive God’s Blessing.”   Chapter 2 presents the blessings, but to get there and to learn how we can be recipients of God’s blessings, we have to first understand and take the steps as outlined in Chapter 1.

As the book opens, 50,000 Jews had returned from captivity in Babylon to resettle the land and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.  Although the people had started construction on the Temple, over the years they had neglected this as a priority and had selfishly turned to their own welfare and pursuits.  Haggai challenged them with a message from the Lord:  “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?”  He summarized his message:  “Consider your ways (Give careful thought to your ways.”  (Haggai 1:5, 7)…a challenge applicable to every one of us today in our busy and fast-paced world.

It was very evident that because of their waywardness, God was withholding blessings from them:  “You have planted much but harvested little.  You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up….Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! (Doesn’t that have a modern ring to it?)” (v. 5) 

In fact, God told them through Haggai that He had “blown” their blessings away:  “And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away.”  (v. 9)  Why?  Not because the activities they were engaged in were wrong in themselves, but because they had their priorities all out of line and were no longer putting God first in their lives.

And how did the people respond?  We are told they “obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai….And the people feared (gave reverence to) the Lord.” (v. 12)  They first confessed their sins…repented…and then obeyed.  As Mike reminded us:  “On the other side of true repentance is obedience”…a truism good for all of us to remember!

In discussing their obedience yesterday, Pastor Mike outlined 3 Biblical principles on obedience.  This morning I would like us to consider the first:  Obedience to God means being more concerned with God’s approval than man’s approval.  After reviewing the many examples in the Bible where persons had listened to other voices than God’s (i.e., Adam, Eve, Saul, Pilate, etc.), he shared with us a visual picture he had picked up from pastoral conference with Archibald Hart that he had attended as a young pastor.  In that conference, Dr. Hart had made the point that pastors are people pleasers, and many go into the ministry because they love people.   Nothing wrong with that at all, but the challenge comes when critical decisions have to be made.  Trying to please everyone, they can be “torn apart” or distracted because there can be so many voices they try to listen to.  He invited each pastor to think of a “grandstand” filled with many people who are watching and giving advice to them:  Many voices…many ideas…many suggestions on how things are to be done!

He challenged them to make this grandstand a “grandstand of one” in their lives…that only God Himself would be in their grandstand and it would be only to His voice that they would listen to.  Good advice for all us, too.

When a business partner asks you to do something illegal, do you listen to him or the single voice of God?  If a guy puts pressure on his girlfriend to engage in sex, does she listen to his voice or the God who loves her and wants the very best for her.

Who do you listen to when you come to making decisions?  Who is in your grandstand?  Think about it…and if you have to remove people from your “grandstand,” then do it…so that you hear clearly and distinctly the only voice that really matters…a voice from the One who is the source of all wisdom and understanding…Who holds the future in His hands…and Who is the giver of joy and peace and all that is best in life.

That’s that question for today…and all the days of your lives.

Have a wonderful day.

All my love,