Sermons

How Does It Look to You Now?

Sun, Feb 16, 2020
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:21 mins 42 secs

Message text

How Does It Look to You Now?

Haggai 2:3-7 , Philippians 2:13

Our scripture text this evening is from Haggai, the third book from the end of the OT. And in chapter 2, vs's 3-7 the prophet Haggai is delivering a message from God to the people of Israel. He says:

"`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? But 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 Almighty.

‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.' This is what the Lord Almighty says:

‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens & the earth, the sea & the dry land. I will shake all nations, & the desired of all nations will come, & I will fill this house with glory,' says the Lord Almighty."

Now the subject God is talking about here is an important one, & we'll get to it a little bit later in this sermon.

But right now I particularly want us to notice the question in the middle of the third verse, "How does it look to you now?" That is a good question to ask periodically in our lives: "How does it look to you now?"

Look back over 2019, how does it look to you now? Now we can look back & see all the hopes & dreams, disappointments & sorrows of 2019.

We can also ask this question about 2020. As we look forward, some prophets of doom tell us that this year is going to be a bad year. But others say that 2020 will be a great year!

So what do you see?

ILL. Behavioral scientists have discovered that we usually see things that we prepare ourselves to see, & that this is all centered in a network of nerve cells called the "Reticular Activating System." And everybody here today has a "Reticular Activating System." Did you know that?

The Reticular Activating System works like this. Once something has been brought to our attention & we have been prepared to see it, we'll see it virtually everywhere we go.

For example, if you decide to buy a new car & you make up your mind that you are going to buy a certain brand, a certain body style, & a certain color, all of a sudden you'll see those cars everywhere.

You'll see them on the roads, in TV advertisements, in newspapers & magazines. They're everywhere.

Now what has happened? They were always there, but the moment you focused your attention to see them, your Reticular Activating System kicked in, & suddenly you saw them everywhere.

It happens in other areas of life, too. We see what we are prepared to see. If we're prepared to see doom & gloom, that's what we'll see. If, on the other hand, we have prepared ourselves to see sunshine & opportunities, then that is what we are going to see.

So let's ask the question, "How does it look to you now?" & consider it in 3 different areas.

I.  HOW DO YOU LOOK TO YOURSELF?

First of all, how do you look to yourself? When you look in the mirror, what kind of person looks back - someone who is weak, who isn't worth very much?

Or do you see an eager, optimistic person who can hardly wait for each day to begin because there are so many things to do? What do you see when you look at yourself?

I hear people say things like, "Why, I can't do that." Or, "That's just too hard." Others say, "I know I'm hard to get along with, but that's just the way I am. Lord knows, I've tried, but I can't seem to change."

But the Bible says that when God's Holy Spirit comes to live in our lives He can bring about dramatic & drastic changes, if we will let Him.

When He came into the life of Saul of Tarsus, who was persecuting the church, He changed Saul into the gentle & yet strong Apostle Paul. And He can make the same kind of changes in our lives, too.

But a lot depends upon what we see. How do you look to yourself? Let me challenge you from Scripture to see yourself the way God sees you.

In Philippians 2:13 God says something that ought to influence how we see ourselves. " 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Paul is saying that we are a part of God's investment - bundles of unlimited opportunity & potential. God wants to change us, & then through us He wants to influence & change the world.

So don't go around saying, "Well, that's just the way I am. God can change you, if you'll let Him have His way in your life.

ILL. Someone said, "Life can be hard if lived by the yard. But it is a cinch by the inch." So place your life in God's hand & live it one inch at a time.

ILL. Some years ago two young brothers decided to pour kerosene in the pot bellied stove in their school room because it was cold & they wanted to warm things up.

They poured what they thought was kerosene on the fire, but it was gasoline, & the stove exploded. It killed one boy & left the other with badly burned legs. Doctors told his parents that they must amputate his legs right away or his whole body could become infected.

The parents said, "Let's wait a day." The next day the doctors said, "His legs must be amputated." The parents said, "No, let's wait another day."

This went on for several weeks, until finally the doctors discovered that the legs were healing, but that the left leg would be 2 1/2 inches shorter than the right leg. The doctors said, "He will keep his legs, but he'll never be able to walk."

Within a few weeks the boy was standing up & hobbling around on crutches. The doctors changed their prediction. "Well, he may be able to walk, but he'll never be able to walk without crutches."

But within a few more weeks he was walking without crutches. So they said, "Well, he may be able to walk without crutches, but he'll never be able to run." But then he broke into a wobbly jog & soon he was running.

That boy was Glenn Cunningham, who, in the 1930's, won gold medals & set world records in track, & in his day was called, "The fastest human being on two feet."

You see, with God everybody has potential. God can even take crippled bodies & shattered lives,

& with them change the world. So how does it look to you when you look in the mirror? What do you see?

II.  HOW DOES THE WORLD LOOK TO YOU?

The second question is, "How does the world look to you?" The Bible teaches us that God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him, might have everlasting life.

God loves the world, & sees each of us as channels through whom His message of love might travel. So what do you feel when you look at the world? Are you concerned at all?

ILL. Tim Hansen in his book "Holy Sweat" tells about trying to teach a group of boys in High School who were totally uninterested in what he was teaching. So he decided that he was going to get their attention one way or another.

He tried every way he could think of to get them to listen. But day after day they just defied him to get them interested in anything. Finally, he went to the chalkboard & in desperation wrote the word, "APATHY" in great big 3-foot letters across the blackboard. Then he turned around & looked at his class.

He said that there was one big senior boy, sitting at his desk, squinting at those letters - reading them out aloud, "A P A T H Y." The boy scratched his head for a moment, & then read it out loud again, & tried to pronounce it - "A-pa-thy."

Pretty soon the boy turned to his buddy & said, "A-pa-thy. What's that mean?" His buddy shrugged his shoulders & answered, "Who cares?"

I wonder if we exhibit that attitude sometimes when we look at our world today? Do you see it as an opportunity to share the love of God, or do you care? What do you see when you look at the world around you today?

III. HOW DOES THE CHURCH LOOK TO YOU?

Finally, how does the church look to you today? Let's look again at the passage in the Book of Haggai that I read to begin this sermon. In it God instructs Haggai to speak to Gov. Zerubbabel, to the high priest, & to all the people.

The occasion is this. After years of exile in Babylonia, their new Persian rulers had set the Jews free - free to return to their homeland, to rebuild Jerusalem & Solomon's temple that the Babylonians had destroyed.

So after they return, God says to the prophet Haggai, "Speak to them & ask them, 'How many of you remember what the Temple was like before it was destroyed?'"

There were some who could remember when the temple stood in all of its glory, when people came & worshiped, sacrifices were offered, when prayers rose up to God. Those had been exciting times of worship & fellowship as people came together in God's house.

Then God asks, "How does it look to you now?" And what they saw was just a pile of rubble, because the temple lay in ruins.

But then three times God says, "Be strong." "Be strong," to Zerubbabel. "Be strong," to the High Priest. "Be strong," to all the people.

He said, "Here is the reason you can be strong, I'm with you. I’ve made a covenant with you. My spirit remains among you. Do not fear, for I'm going to shake the heavens & the earth. I'm going to shake the sea & the dry land. I'm going to shake all the nations."

Then He said, I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. (Haggai 2:7)

Now, what about the church? As you look around, what do you see? Do you see just a beautiful building, or do you see a room full of people with the potential to make a difference in the lives of men & women, boys & girls, for the glory of God?

2020 is unfolding before us. The way we see it, with God's help, is the way it can be. God is alive & on His throne. Nothing is impossible with Him. He waits for a willing church to answer His call, to respond to His challenge, to reach out to a world that desperately needs to hear His message.

ILL. A nurse who used to work with young children in the pediatric ward of a hospital said, "When I worked in the pediatric ward, before I listened to the little ones' chests, I would plug the stethoscope into their ears & let them listen to their own hearts. Their eyes would always light up with awe.

"But I never got a response to equal 4year old David's. I gently tucked the stethoscope in his ears & placed the disk over his heart. 'Listen,' I said. 'What do you suppose that is?'

"He drew his eyebrows together in a puzzled line & looked up as if lost in the mystery of the strange tap tap tapping deep in his chest. Then his face broke out in a wondrous grin. 'Is that Jesus knocking?' he asked."

Somewhere, maybe in Sunday School, David had heard that scripture where Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts, knocking & asking for admission.

INVITATION: If you are here this evening and haven’t opened your heart and life to Jesus and his pattern of life

Repenting of your sins

Confessing he is the Son of the Living God

Being baptized for the remission of your sins

And then walking a new life

It is my privilege to extend His invitation, with the assurance that He can take whatever you are right now & change you in ways that you never thought possible. We extend His invitation & pray you will respond…

as we stand and sing the song of invitation

Contributing Sermon Given

By Melvin Newland

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