Trust God’s Promises
Sunday school lesson for the week of June 8, 2014
By Beth Barnwell
Lesson Scripture: Haggai 1:12-2:9
Key Verse: This house will be more glorious than its predecessor, says the Lord of heavenly forces. I will provide prosperity in this place, says the Lord of heavenly forces. (Haggai 2:9)
Purpose: To know that God promises to be present with those who strive to do God’s will.
Building or rebuilding takes work, whether it’s dealing with an individual relationship, an entire community, or a physical structure. It takes work! This week’s lesson is all about the blessings God will provide if we work together for His glory. And the best part is that, as we work together, God tells us that His spirit will be in our midst and that He is about to make “this house (the Temple) even more glorious than its predecessor.” It just can’t get any better than that! In Verse 2:1, we jump forward one month from our last lesson and find ourselves right in the middle of the construction of the Temple. And where is God? Right where He said He would be – smack dab in the middle working right along side the people in the community.
Verses 2-3: Prior to Haggai’s appearance, the community’s attitude was one of “me and mine,” not “ours.” They had nearly forgotten the values the Temple represented: worship of God and care for neighbors. They would never consider working together or thinking about what the future could look like. Many members of the community would not allow that. They were too comfortable remembering the “glory days” of the past.
There will always be people who lack the ability to move forward, who remain fixated on a memory of a glorious past. They can only remember “what was” rather than envision “what will be.” A passage from the Adult Bible Studies states: The Lord of history is not frozen in the past, Haggai insisted . . . God is fully capable of creating a future worth living that exceeds all our feeble expectations! I love that thought – “The Lord of history is not frozen in the past!”
How many times have you been frozen in time and unable to move forward? What, and/or who held you back? How were you able to move forward?
In 1996, I joined the staff of one of the churches in the North Georgia Conference. The administrative offices were in a house across the street from the sanctuary. They were small, cramped, old, and somewhat inconvenient since the worship part of our lives was across the street. Shortly after I started, the church began a building campaign and built a beautiful administrative wing across the street. As God promised the exiles from Babylon that the Temple would be more glorious than its predecessor, the “house” we moved into was infinitely more beautiful than the one from whence we came. But it didn’t happen over night, nor did it happen without some angst, frustration, convincing, and worry. Nor did it happen without the joint efforts of the congregation and the surrounding community pulling together and working together. And who was in the middle of all of it? You guessed it – God! Just as He promised. We had many fond memories of the little house, but did not let those memories keep us from moving forward. Years later an entire new building (not just a wing) was built with a new sanctuary, Sunday school classes, and indoor and outdoor recreation facilities. Even more ways to worship were now offered – both inside and outside! Whatever . . . wherever . . . however people felt most comfortable worshipping, it was provided. I would be misrepresenting the truth if I said there were not members among the community who did not want to see this happen. They liked things just the way they were. But because MORE people in the community desired to create new ways to bring new people to Christ, His will was done.
We so often tend to lean toward the negative, when God tends to lean to the positive. As you being to rebuild your life with Christ, and/or your community’s life with Christ, begin thinking about the positive results – the blessings – that await you. Don’t be frozen in place because of possible frustrations. Don’t worry about difficulties or obstacles that might occur. When we ask Christ to come into our lives, we get the peace, the purpose, and the power. Strive to do God’s will. Rebuild and experience blessings beyond your wildest dreams! That’s God’s promise.
Questions for thought:
What do we tend to focus on when we are in tough situations and things do not seem to be going well? When good things do happen, would they have happened if God were not involved? What gets in the way of our ability to perceive God’s creative work in our midst?
Beth Barnwell is a staff member of the North Georgia Conference, serving as administrative assistant to the director of Congregational Development. She is a long-time Sunday school teacher. Contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.