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Meeting on February 20, the Commission on the General Conference made a decision to further postpone the 2020 General Conference until August 29 – September 6, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minn
When God’s people were exiled and in bondage the prophet Haggai encouraged them to return to their homes in Jerusalem, to remain faithful to the Lord, obedient to his words, and hopeful for God’s promise of a new beginning.
Today many within the UMC denomination are exiled from their local church. Though members, they are not heard. Bound by rules, powers, and principles they await liberation and restoration. Perhaps the prophet Haggai is calling us to return home, reclaim, rebuild, and become consecrated to our Lord again.
In the second year of King Darius, on August 29 (the first day of the sixth month), the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai. (Haggai 1:1)
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’” (Haggai 1:2)
Because of their sin, God’s people are not called “my people” but “these people.” Are we still “his people?” Or has our sin and rebellion costs us the intimacy and fellowship with God we once enjoyed (Isaiah 59:2)?
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” (Haggai 1:5)
If your UMC church is experiencing a decline in attendance, new members, giving, consider this encouragement from the Lord.
“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why? Because my house remains a ruin. Go so that I may be honored. ” (Haggai 1:8-9)
In Haggai’s day the Lord’s house laid in ruin due to the self-centered attitudes of “these people.” Consider whether your local congregation is more concerned with their feelings, their prominence, and their honor than God’s.
Do we love God first?
Jesus says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” (John 14:21).
Jesus says, “Those who love God keep his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)
Jesus says, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
Do we love our neighbor as ourself? Are we offering God’s love, truth, healing, and abundant life to those in our family, neighborhood, community, city, country, world?
Jesus says, “I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)
Let us consider the example of a repentant and redeemed people.
Then the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. (Haggai 1:12)
Do we fear the Lord? Or do we consider our own thoughts, ways, beliefs, and attitudes more important than our Lord’s words?
So the Lord stirred up the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, on September 21 (the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month). (Haggai 1:14-15)
Today the Spirit of the Lord dwells within our body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Will we begin work today to restore the Lord’s temple? Could it be that when the remnant who trust in the Lord and fear him come together on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, the restoration of our local churches will begin?
On October 17 (the twenty-first day of the seventh month), the word of the Lord came. (Haggai 2:1) Ask these people, “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?” (Haggai 2:3)
Are there members who recall how your congregation once worshipped the Lord in truth, reverence, and fear? Do they remember the days when sermons were based on God’s words, not the speaker’s opinion and life experience? Do they recall study groups, classes, lessons, missions, and ministry founded upon God’s words, character, and the example of Christ? If so, hear what God says to us.
“But now be strong for I am with you. My Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.” (Haggai 2:4-5)
We may wonder if our local church can be saved. If so, consider that God has promised to act in a mighty way to bring a remnant back to himself.
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. 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. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine. The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house. And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” (Haggai 2:6-9)
When will this promise of restoration be fulfilled? On what day should we look to see God once more glorified in worship by the full assembly of “his people?”
On December 18 (the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month) this is what the Lord Almighty says. “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?”
“Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.”
“‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the Lord. ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.” (Haggai 2:10-14)
“From this day on, December 18, give careful thought to the day when the foundation was laid.” (Haggai 2:18)
On Sonday, December 18, 2022, let us assemble in the Lord’s house to consecrate ourselves. Let us confess our sins. Let us repent of the ways we have turned away from our Lord. Let us declare ourselves sacred and holy through the blood of Jesus. Let us reject our wicked ways, beliefs, and thoughts. Let us give ourselves wholly to the truth and love of God’s words, character, and example found in Christ.
December 18, 2022 is the 1st day of Hanukkah. Let us make December 18, 2022 a Festival of Lights commemorating the recovery of God’s people and rededication of his temple (our bodies made holy in Christ) to his glory.
“Is there any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit. From this day, December 18, on I will bless you.” (Haggai 2:19)
The Lord declares to us, “On that day, December 18, I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you.” (Haggai 2:23)
A signet ring carries the seal of the king engraved upon it. As the Lord’s signet ring, we are sealed, bound to him in spiritual marriage, and stamped with his letters to prove we carry his word and authority.
If this prophetic message from Haggai resonates with your spirit, ask the Lord to show you how you can begin to gather resources now to begin rebuilding his local church.
Oh Lord, may we commit today to purify your temple, our body, with the cleansing blood of Jesus. Through your Spirit change our hearts to seek you only, to read, reflect, meditate, and believe all of your words. Through your Spirit change our hearts to see, hear, help, heal, and hope with your power and authority, the authority and power of Jesus. May it be so, Lord. May it be so.