How does it look to you now?

The following is the transcript from the September 20, 2015 service at Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa.

Our scripture text Haggae 2:3-7 is  tucked away in the History of the Old Testament. It holds a wonderful History Lesson as to the lives of God’s people and a testament to God’s love toward them as well. Let’s look at our text and discover what God is saying to us. I want to focus our attention and note the 
middle of the third verse - “AND HOW DO YOU SEE IT NOW.” The NIV says it like this - “How Does IT Look To You Now?” That is the big idea for this morning.

3 ‘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? 4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’
6 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 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.

BEHAVIORAL SCIENTISTS - have discovered that we usually see things that we are prepared to see and 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." 

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

This Kia Soul was sitting in the parking lot as Pastor Lonnie
looked out the window to his left of the pulpit! 
• For example when our daughter began looking for a new car (An Alien Green, Kia Soul)
• All of a sudden you’ll see those cars everywhere
• You’ll see them on the roads, in TV advertisements, in newspapers and magazines
• They’re everywhere
• Now what has happened? 
• They were always there, but the moment you were prepared to see them, your Reticular Activating System kicked in and suddenly you saw them everywhere

It happens in other areas of life as well. We See What We Are Prepared To See. If we are prepared to see FAULTS and DESPAIR than that is what we’ll see. If, on the other hand, we have prepared ourselves to see PROGRESSION and OPPORTUNITIES - then that is what we are going to see. People often say to me – Pastor, do you always see the Good in every situation? That is what I am prepared to see. No matter what it looks like, when we understand that God is ultimately in control then we should be able to see his hand of Mercy moving in all situations.

• I grow so tired of hearing Preachers talk about “God is Getting Ready to Do Something”
• God is Getting Ready to Move on Your Behalf
• God is Getting Ready to Bless You
• With this mentality we can fall into seeing Negativity and what’s not right around us
• That’s why all we see is God not doing anything, but Getting Ready To
• When we understand that God is not getting ready to do something – that He already is
• God is not Late – God is not Tardy – God is not Lost
• God is moving even now, in spite of what the eye may see
• My Reticular Activating System is Programmed to see the Hand of God active and moving
• We in the church call it FAITH.

Some of you today are much too young to remember FLIP WILSON’s TV SHOW that aired in the early 1970’s -- Matter of fact TIME MAGAZINE featured him on their cover in 1972 and called him “TV’S FIRST BLACK SUPERSTAR.” During his comedy show he dressed up as GERALDINE and one of the characters punch lines was – “HONEY, WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET.” Well, that may not have been exactly true as far as Geraldine went. 
• But psychologists tell us that if we see ourselves as successful, if we see ourselves as strong and healthy, chances are good that that’s what we’ll be
• If we see ourselves able to persevere in spite of our condition, we do much better
• On the other hand, if we see ourselves as failures and defeats
• If we see ourselves as weak and sickly, chances are pretty good that that’s what we’ll be
• So let’s ask the question once again –“How Does IT Look To You Now?” 

First, I want to ask you Church – HOW DO YOU LOOK AS A BELIEVER?
When you look in the mirror and see yourselves – What Kind of Believer Looks Back? What is it that you see about yourselves? Do you see a Christian that is simply spinning their wheels, just going through the motions? Or do you see an EAGER, OPTIMISTIC believer who can hardly wait for what God is going to do for you next? There is so much work to do for the advancement of God’s kingdom. 

• I hear people say things like, "Why, we can’t do that." Or, "That’s just too hard" 
• Why does Pastor expect us to do that
• He knows we are a small congregation? 

The Bible declares that once the Holy Spirit enters into our lives, He can and will bring about DRAMATIC CHANGES, if we allow Him to. Remember what happened when He entered into the life of SAUL OF TARSUS who was breathing out threats and slaughter on the church? The Holy Spirit changed Saul into the Gentle and Yet Strong APOSTLE PAUL. He can do the same for our lives as believers. Most of it depends on how we see ourselves. How Do We Look as a member of this Congregation?
• Paul is saying that we are a part of God’s investment in the future
• We are bundles of unlimited opportunity and potential
• God wants to change us that we can change our community
• God wants us to turn our community upside down for the sake of the Gospel

I know what you are thinking. We understand that Pastor, but we are not like they were back in the Bible times. ABRAHAM IS GONE – MOSES IS GONE – DAVID IS GONE – SOLOMON IS GONE – PETER IS GONE – JOHN IS GONE – PAULS IS GONE – But the HOLY SPIRIT is still here.
We need to keep our focus and understand the Holy Spirit will give us the strength we need to make positive changes even when it appears to be Impossible. Don’t be Intimidated by Daunting Circumstances. How Do We Look As Believers. Do we Look like a People of Faith or do we look like people that have been defeated?

Second Question - I would like to ask you - HOW DOES THE WORLD LOOK TO YOU? Depending upon how we view the World will directly relate to how strong our ministry will be. The Bible teaches us that “GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON…” 
• God sees the world as Redeemable
• He 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? 
• Sometimes I wonder if Christendom Feels anything at all
• One of the crippling influences in the church today is the apathy, the indifference that is so prevalent
• As long as my world is secure, as long as I am comfortable, then I don’t really give the world a second thought
• As long as our church is doing alright, that’s all that counts
• As long as the community issues don’t affect our church, then we are okay

God challenges us to see a world that needs REDEMPTION and to see ourselves as channels through whom the message of salvation may reach the world.
I am reminded of the author Tim Hanson in his book "HOLY SWEAT" tells about teaching a group of boys in High School who were totally uninterested in what he had to say. Any educators or retired educators in the house? These High School boys were TOTALLY UNINTERESTED so he decided that he was going to get their attention one way or another. He tried every innovative way he could think of to get them to listen. But day after day passed and they just defied him to get them interested in anything.

Finally, he walked into the classroom and in desperation wrote the word, "APATHY" in great big 3 foot letters across the blackboard, "A P A T H Y." Then he turned around and looked at his class. He said that there was one big senior boy, just about to be unleashed on the world, sitting at his desk, squinting at those great big 3 foot letters and reading them aloud, "A P A T H Y."
• “A-pa-thy" 
• The boy scratched his head for a moment
• Then again spelled it and tried to pronounce it aloud.
• Pretty soon he turned to his buddy next to him and said, "A-pa-thy
• What’s that mean?" 
• His buddy shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Who cares?" Who cares?

I wonder if we don’t have the same attitude sometimes when we look at our world. Do we have the attitude of – WHO REALLY CARES? 
• Who really cares that there is suffering
• The lost are crying out for help 
• Who cares about the situation of our world? 
• What do you see when you look at the world? 
• How do you see it now? 
• Is it an opportunity and a challenge for the church? 
• Is it a world to be reached with the message of Jesus Christ, or do you care? 
• Does it make any difference at all?
• As long as my congregation is fine and doing well
• That’s all that counts
• We can only do but so much
• As long as my little corner of world is okay

Can I present One Final Thought? -- HOW DOES THE CHURCH LOOK TO YOU? How do we look as the Church of Jesus Christ? Our TEXT IS AN EXCITING PASSAGE IN THE Old Testament BOOK OF HAGGAI. God instructs the prophet to speak to Governor Zerubbabel, to the high priest and to all the people. It is a very interesting occasion. 
• They had been set free from their Babylonian captivity
• They had come back to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple of God
• So God says to the prophet Haggai, "Speak to them and ask them first this question
• `How many of you remember what the Temple was like before it was destroyed?’

Few of the elders, old enough to remember the temple built by Solomon before it was destroyed could remember the GOLD and SILVER and JEWELS and treasure that dominated the temple structure. It was ‘the old’ who could reminisce on the visual glory and majesty of the temple. There were very few elders that remembered the temple as it was before. The Israelites had been in captivity for 70 years, then another 14 years waiting for it to get to this point—so for those that would be old enough to remember the old temple, they had to at least be around 93 or so.

Several hands must have gone up, however. There were some who could remember when the temple stood in all of its glory, when people came and worshiped, when sacrifices were offered, when prayers rose up to God. Those had been exciting times of worship and 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 and the earth. I’m going to shake the sea and the dry land. I’m going to shake all the nations." Then He said, "The desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this new house with glory."
How do you see your church? 
• As you look around, what do you see? 
• Do you see just a building, or do you see a room full of people with the potential to make a difference in the lives of men and women, boys and girls, for the glory of God?

What do you see as you look at your FUTURE? What do you see when you look at your Leadership? Do you see God’s people who has connected with God to move this Church body to Higher Ground? Do you see and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit operating in this place and the lives of every believer? Do you hear the Words of Life flowing From the Pulpit each week?
• What does the world see when it looks at this Church?
• Do they see Despair and Hopelessness or do they see the Unlimited Potential in this place?
• Can they feel the Redeeming Power of God flowing from this place?
• These are important questions to people because we see the things we are prepared to see
• What you see is what you get

Let me tell you why these questions are important. The Seasoned Saints see the Church different than the Younger Saints. We need to ensure the Church is RELEVANT for both age groups. Seasoned Saints need to hold on to some of the important traditions at the same time the younger saints don’t embrace those same traditions and they see the church differently. We must ensure there is a blending so all can come in this place and worship together and have their needs meet during the worship experience.

The harsh reality that the Jewish people were confronted with was the elders could remember what the OLD TEMPLE was like they realized that they didn’t have the resources to rebuild the temple. They were currently in drought and had not the wealth of King Solomon. 
• They had stone but they had no gold
• They had men to labor but had no silver
• They had enthusiasm but no treasure and jewels
• They had memories and a pile of rubble

There was no way they could restore the temple to its former glory; it would be nothing in comparison to King Solomon’s temple. It is at this point that God began to teach them, it is not about how IMPRESSIVE the Sanctuary is. It’s not about how many millions you spend building the new Church. It is about what are you going to do in an effort to make a difference in this world?

God Shook Things Up in the lives us His people found in our text. GOD SHAKES THINGS UP TO PREPARE US FOR THE NEXT PHASE OF OUR LIVES. This phase brings about a new movement, a massive awakening of the need for Christ. We as believers will understand that when God turns things upside down, He does so with the intent of preparing His people for a Newness Of Life. The PAIN OF DISRUPTION that was experienced will eventually bring about magnificence in our lives.

• When God causes our world to tremble, His purpose is to reposition things so that they are in proper place for His glory
• He assures us that we can claim His Kingdom that can never be shaken

I'm going to ask you to get into Reticular Activation Mode - prepare to see and be amazed, as the Great and Wonderful Oz would say.

Be Strong Church.
Be Strong Leaders of the Church.
Be Strong All you People.