Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Works and Promise

Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts,…6For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:4, 6-7)

When circumstances are dark and it seems hope is lost it is hard to work. God’s people were in the darkness of exile under the rule of a foreign king and the hope of the glory of Israel seemed lost. However, God called on his people to be strong and work hard and founded that calling in promise. He promised he was with them and that he would glorify again the place of his presence among them in the Temple. Their strength was zapped by sadness and brokenness over having experienced judgment at the hands of their enemies. They were defeated and like an athlete with his head in his hands sitting on the bench knowing they were on the low end of the scoreboard they had no strength. Their hope lay in the presence of God among them. But they had denied his presence in their false worship and God had brought destruction on the place, the Temple, where he had promised to dwell among them in power, wisdom and goodness for his glory and their good. Their hope and strength were swallowed up by their own sin, judgment and the power of another nation.

It is in this void of self sufficiency that God calls his people to work in the sight of his promise. The strength is the Lord’s and the promise that secures their hope is from him. It is in this time that God is glorified for his sufficient grace toward his people when she lives in his strength with her eyes upon his promise. As the church is the place of his dwelling, the place of his presence and glory, so he promises to build his household (Mt.16:18). His church is the dwelling place of his presence by the Spirit (Ezek.36:27) and so he promises to finish the work that he has begun in her (Phil.1:6). He will shake all the nations with the power of the gospel to save his children who are perishing (Jn.10: Jn.10:16; Rom.1:16) that his glory will fill all the earth (Hab.2:5, 14).

Therefore his church can be strong in the strength he provides (Eph.6:10) and go to work in his sufficient grace (2Cor.12:9) in the way he builds his church. She can go to work around his word bringing every thought and action captive to his will revealed in his Word (2Cor.10:5; Mt.28:20). She can go to work feeding and being nurtured on his wisdom, power and goodness revealed in his Word. She can feed on her on Head Christ Jesus and commune together around his sacraments (Acts 2:42). She can work together in love singing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs together in her heart (Col.3:16). She can fall upon her face in prayer depending upon God for all things. She can swing wide the doors of hospitality to one another to encourage, exhort and bear one another’s burdens (Gal.6:1-2). She can tell others of the reason for the hope that is within her spreading the good news of the gospel (1Pe.3:15). She can teach, preach and counsel to build up the body of Christ to maturity (Eph.4:11-13). She can love kindness and mercy and compassion toward the oppressed, the hungry, the poor, the sick, the sorrowing, and the afflicted (Micah 6:8). She can be strong and go to work for the glory of the Lord rests upon her and lives in her in the Spirit and her union with Christ, and the promise of more and more grace lies before her in all that God promises.

May the church get her head out of her hands and walk in the way of strength and promise that is in Christ Jesus doing the work he has called her to by the grace he provides for every work along the way. 20Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb.13:20-21)

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