Today’s Reading: Haggai 1:1–2:23, Acts 20:1–38, Job 28:1–11
Today’s Theme: Work in God’s House
Today’s theme is about us working in and on God’s house. We explore the problem of selfishness and the relative poverty it brings.
We will spend time in both Haggai and Acts, looking at the ways we should work and the methods we should use to serve in the church and build up fellow believers, as the body of Christ.
We will see that we need to work in the Spirit, by the Word, and really make an effort. There is hard work to do, so we should use our money, time and resources to bring God pleasure and glory through the church.
Serve in the church
“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your panelled houses, while this house lies in ruins? (Haggai 1:4, ESV)
Offering and service in the church are really important, we should ensure that our lives are not just about us and our own household, but God’s wider purpose in and through the church.
The futility of selfishness
You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. (Haggai 1:6, ESV)
This barrenness is in context to not giving to God’s purpose. Lord, keep us from this type of futility, help us to be prosperous in You.
Bring God pleasure and glory
Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. (Haggai 1:8, ESV)
The purpose of the church is that God would be pleased and glorified through it.
Don’t be self centred
You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. (Haggai 1:9, ESV)
The source to financial difficulty can be selfishness and a failure to comply with the mandate to build and maintain the church, through both finance and service.
Be moved by the Spirit to work
And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, (Haggai 1:14, ESV)
Lord, stir up Your people by Your Holy Spirit, to work on and in Your house.
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, (Haggai 2:4, ESV)
We have work to do and it is not about the glory of the thing we are working on, it is the fact that God is with us and gives us the mandate to work. The value is in the work rather than the product of it.
The money all belongs to God
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:8, ESV)
A true perspective on money; 10% doesn’t belong to God, 100% belongs to God. Lord, help us to be good stewards of Your money.
Work by the Spirit
Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean. (Haggai 2:14, ESV)
We must not just work in the flesh, but in the Spirit, as we serve in the house of the Lord.
Work because you have been elected
On that day, declares the LORD of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the LORD, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:23, ESV)
God’s own specific sovereign election of Israel should fill us with confidence in God’s election of us, as His people. We know He has chosen us so we can boldly and generously serve in His house.
Encourage the saints
After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. (Acts 20:1, ESV)
Paul had a real heart for the disciples and waited before leaving, to encourage them. We should always be sensitive to encouraging those around us.
Building through encouragement
When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. (Acts 20:2, ESV)
Again, Paul is revisiting disciples and encouraging them in the faith.
Word Study: Encouragement
The sense of the Greek word is to urge the saints on in their walk.
Other senses of the word from BDAG (This is the short title for the world’s leading Greek New Testament Bible Dictionary also known as the Bauer-Danker Lexicon):
- To ask to come and be present where the speaker is, call to one’s side
- To urge strongly, appeal to, urge, exhort, encourage
- To make a strong request for something, request, implore, entreat
- To instil someone with courage or cheer, comfort, encourage, cheer up
Building through fellowship
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7, ESV)
A reference to the church meeting for worship on Sunday rather than Saturday which is the actual Sabbath day.
Building through teaching
And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. (Acts 20:11, ESV)
This was a prolonged time of teaching, the church needs good teaching to grow.
Serve in humility and through trials
serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; (Acts 20:19, ESV)
This was Paul’s main base in Asia and he served there through all his trials.
Teach the Gospel
how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:20-21, ESV)
Paul’s main purpose in ministry was to teach. The subject of his teaching was the Gospel.
The importance of the Gospel
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24, ESV)
Testifying to the truth of the Gospel was more important to Paul than his life, we should have the same perspective and priority.
God’s whole word
for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:27, ESV)
We need to have boldness to declare and teach the whole council of God, not just our favourite parts.
The definite atonement
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28, ESV)
We were brought with the blood of Jesus, this is a definite atonement, the price has been paid in full.
Beware of wolves
I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; (Acts 20:29, ESV)
Jesus and Paul warn against wolves, these are false teachers and the church must be on our guard against them today.
And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32, ESV)
The teaching or word of God’s grace, will build up the saints and give us an inheritance as we realise our spiritual riches.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35, ESV)
Ministry is hard work.
The earth’s core
As for the earth, out of it comes bread, but underneath it is turned up as by fire. (Job 28:5, ESV)
This is a correct scientific understanding of the earth, as the core and mantle are fiery.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on Acts 20