Mike Gerhardt, 5-28-17, Haggai 2:15-19, Outline 4, Cause and Effect Thinking. After reading this passage you may think that if I do something bad God is going to punish me. This pessimistic attitude is more like Karma than Biblical truth. Buddhism and Hinduism have this pagan idea of Karma which is the destiny of fate following effect from cause. Haggai wants us to think. So…It’s never too late to cogitate. Consider the times in your life right now; how are you acting obediently to the Lord’s calling on your life? The message of Haggai to you is today: purify yourself, obey the Lord and He will bless you. Some of you may think that’s impossible, it can’t be done in my life now: I’m too busy, I have the kids to take care of, my job comes first, I can barely attend church. When someone is convinced that things can’t be done, he will cling to that conviction in face of the most obvious contradiction. We live near Fulton NY. When Robert Fulton gave the first public demonstration of his steamboat, one man in the crowd yelled over and over he can’t start that stupid boat. Suddenly there was a belch of steam and the boat began to move. Startled but not swayed that same naysayer yelled he can’t stop that stupid boat! We can be just as negative. We count bad things in threes.
How many times have you thought when something bad has happened, God is punishing me? Or when we get talked into volunteering for a ministry at the church and something goes wrong, we are convinced God is telling us not to get involved and that he doesn’t want us helping. Now for some of us, that really sounds like our earthly fathers-getting angry or frustrated with us as children and paying for our sins against our dad. No wonder as a nation we have become very pessimistic. I have a little book, next to Norman Vincent Peale: The power of positive thinking, by Howard Kandel entitled: The power of positive pessimism. Here are some thoughts from the book: Never put off ‘til tomorrow what you can avoid altogether. He who puts his nose to the grindstone is a bloody fool. Always be sincere even when you don’t mean it. A friend in need is a pest indeed. All’s FEAR in love and war. A penny saved is ridiculous. Do unto others before they do it to you.
In light of God’s retribution for sin, are we right in thinking pessimistically about all the bad things that happen are just God getting us back? We need to change our thinking about God’s discipline. This is where a good dose of Positive thinking can help. Haggai again stresses that we Give careful thought…four times in this passage alone. Remind yourself that the Jews have been back in Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity; under Nehemiah, they built the city wall and Ezra had the people laid the foundation for the Temple of God, but now it was16 years later. So, through Haggai God spells out the condition for His discipline
The first condition is when children of God disobey. It’s when I know what God wants me to do and I do not do it or I do not change. The second condition is when the children of God have wrong motives and do not confess sin. The third are children who are not pursuing their role in His Kingdom. These conditions give a reason for God to discipline His children. Some may ask: why would God punish his children? There are times when we wrongly use the word punish. I want to suggest a difference. Discipline is for the benefit of the person receiving it. I discipline my son because I want him to be an upright child who is a blessing to others. Discipline is done out of and in the context of sacrificial love. If I did not love my child, I would not bother to discipline him. Punishment or exacting a kind of retribution is not beneficial to the one receiving it. There should be no benefit but pay for their sins or their crimes. Our penal system is based on punishment and not discipline. I sometimes interchange these words but I believe God does not punish or condemn his children: Romans 8:1 Therefore there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. There is discipline: check out Hebrews 12:1-13. Discipline can be the lack of physical blessing. Haggai 2:15-16.
Researchers from Canada and the United Kingdom estimate that cereal harvests — including rice, wheat, and maize — decreased by an average of 9 to10 percent during droughts and heat waves between 1964 and 2007. But there was a devastating crop failure in 1987 grain production was down 30%. Haggai reported that grain decreased by 50% and grapes decreased by 60%. Did God get their attention? Was this a kind of punishment or retribution (a payment for sins) from God, or a discipline, a test, a wake-up call, to bring them back to obeying?
No question that sin has its consequences. We reap what we sow. But testing has its purpose. Most airlines train their pilots in a simulator. No doubt you wouldn’t want your pilot to have only on the job training like those at a McDonald's counter. In the simulator, they start with simple problems and work up to catastrophic situations. The pilots are not tested beyond their ability and training so they can learn and succeed. 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 is often misquoted in this regard. Our ability to withstand temptation is only in Christ, he will give us a way out so we will not sin. This passage is about sinful temptation. Many will say that God’s doesn’t give us more suffering than we can handle and point to this verse. Suffering is common to us all, especially Christians under persecution. Think of the Coptic Christians in Egypt or those in Syria or Niger. Throughout the centuries, when believers were tortured to deny Christ, the very way out of the temptation to deny Jesus given by God was death. God often allows more suffering than we can handle so we kneel before him as our only hope and deliverer to heaven.
Diesel trucks that travel the highways of the nation are subject to a load limit. The weighing stations you see are to check the weight a truck carries. If it exceeds the limit, the roadway will fall apart. Jesus knows your load limit. He is always there to come alongside and carry your weight with you, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Matthew 11:30. Testing and discipline are for your benefit.
Discipline can also be the lack of spiritual blessing as when joy, peace and the presence of the Lord seem so far away. God wants you to enjoy Him forever but you need to see Him as the gracious heavenly Father He is. Sometimes He uses difficult circumstance to get your attention.
Let’s look at the condition for blessing. Children of God who obey; who listen to the Word and change; who purify their motives daily by confessing sin and who are actively pursuing their role in His Kingdom will be blessed!!! Blessing can be physical like health, wealth, family, and friends. Yet remember God only promised you food and shelter. Or the blessing can be spiritual like the spiritual fruit of the Holy Spirit love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control which means power over sin. Consider your ways give careful thought to your actions and see God’s blessing come. Don’t read into circumstances. God is always leading, teaching, and yes disciplining His children because of His great love for them. Practice asking God: what pleases you, dear Father?