From Your Pastor, March 28

From Your Pastor, March 28

“if we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself”

2 Timothy 2:13
 
This morning I found encouragement in the book of Haggai. Yesterday I read chapter 1; this morning I read chapter 2.  For those of you who may be a little foggy on the historical setting, Haggai’s ministry occurred around the time of Ezra. He was a prophet in Jerusalem who ministered to the returned exiles who were trying to rebuild the ruined city and temple.
 
These people were beaten down. They had tensions among themselves and foreign enemies on every side; the oldest among them remembered a former glory that was long gone. Life was different than they remembered and life was hard. On top of everything, there was an overriding fear –– their fathers had sinned in horrible and persistent ways and broken covenant with God (see Isa 24:5; Jer 31:3) and so had they (see Hag 1:9–10).
 
All that to say, these people faced the same questions we face when trouble comes our way:
 
     –Is God angry with me?
     –Have I pushed him away?
     –Am I too guilty?
     –Are God’s promises not for me because I’ve not been faithful?
 
Many of us know the “head” answer, but still deal with the “heart” doubt.
 
The people in Haggai’s day had not been faithful. They’d served themselves and neglected the Lord (see Hag 1:9–10). There was a fear that God’s promises no longer applied to them. Then God speaks. He speaks directly into the fears that his people felt. He says,
 
4 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.  (Hag 2:4–5)
 
God promises that he’s with them two separate times. And in the middle of those promises, he reminds them why…. the covenant. The covenant their fathers broke. The covenant they’d not honored! God tells them that HE will keep his promise. Imagine the comfort they would have felt! God is still with us! It only felt like he was distant. Just because he corrects us doesn’t mean he’s left us.
 
As for us, we don’t have to imagine the comfort they would have felt. We have that same commitment from him. He offers us that same comfort because we have that same promise.

When we feel God’s displeasure for big reasons or small ones or when he allows hardship to come upon us (which he surely does for our good! [Rom 8:28; Heb 12:6]), we can return to what God has spoken. And we can remember; and we can believe that he is with us; his Spirit remains in our midst. Why? Because, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13).
 
 
–Pastor Barry