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A Church In Ruins

Not long after the Israelites returned home from their captivity in Babylon, God raised up a prophet by the name of Haggai to be His mouthpiece for a specific purpose.

That purpose was to point out to the people that although their homes were rebuilt, the house of the Lord laid in ruins (see Haggai 1:3-4).

Because of their self-seeking interests, all of their efforts yielded very little results.

Their food and drink were scarce.

They harvested little.

They didn’t have enough clothing to keep warm.

And whatever money they earned seem to blow away with the wind.

As a result, the Lord said to the people through the prophet, “Consider your ways!”

In other words, the Lord was wanting the people to see that the absence of blessing was the result of their choices.

They cared more about their own lives than they did about obedience to the Lord.

They showed more reverence for their wants than for what the Lord desired.

Their houses were more important than the house of the Lord.

And they were now reaping what they had sown.

In an effort to shake them out of their slumber and apathy, God spoke through Haggai the prophet to stir up the spirit of the people and to bring about a repentance that would result in the rebuilding of the temple.

While the people set out to restore the house of the Lord, the word of the Lord came through Haggai saying, “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?” (see Haggai 2:3).

Sadly, the same could be said today…

God no longer dwells in temples made with hands (see Acts 17:24).

Rather, He chooses to dwell in temples He’s made with His own hands — temples that were knit together in our mothers’ wombs.

Through the new covenant, we have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.

In the same way the glory of the Lord filled the temple of Solomon when it was dedicated to the Lord, the glory of the Lord through the baptism in the Holy Spirit filled the early church on the day of Pentecost.

Their waiting in that upper room was their dedication, their consecration to God.

They set themselves apart in their obedience to Jesus.

There were 120 of Jesus’ followers gathered when the promise of the Father was realized.

There were 120 priests gathered on the day the presence of God filled Solomon’s temple.

And in the same way the present glory of the temple looked nothing like the former glory in the days of Haggai, the glory of the church today looks nothing like the former glory of the early church.

And I believe that God is once again asking us to consider our ways.

When we are more concerned about our own lives than we are about the things of God, the church will be laid waste.

Selfish Christianity will leave the church in ruins.

If our faith deals more with what God can do for us than it does with intimately knowing Him and fully submitting our will to Him, we’ve missed it.

Like the Israelites that returned home from their captivity, our efforts will be in vain and whatever little results we yield, they will more than likely not remain.

The reason why the former glory of the temple of Solomon and the former glory of the church is greater than today and in the days of Haggai is because of one word: Consecration.

Consecration says, “I’m not here for me. I’m here for You. And I fully dedicate myself to the purpose for which I was created.”

When the church is no longer dedicated or consecrated — set apart to God — she’s fallen to pieces.

When we are more dedicated to ourselves than we are to Him, the church has become desolate.

More than that, she’ll be void of God’s Spirit.

The self life will never leave room for the Holy Spirit.

I believe that the absence of God’s presence and our ineffectiveness is the result of His judgment.

We are reaping what we’ve sown.

Much like He did in response to the choices made by the remnant that returned to Jerusalem, He’s allowed it to wake us up and to provoke us to hunger and thirst for a greater baptism in the Spirit.

The temple of the Lord is only rebuilt through humility and prayer.

The glory of the church will return when the people of God see their need for Him and cry out to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Not only that, the promise is that the latter glory of the house will be greater than the former glory (see Haggai 2:9).

But it will first come with a shaking…

And I believe God is getting ready to shake His church through His voice placed in His prophets’ mouths.

I believe God is going to send us prophets to confront a self-seeking gospel, to call for repentance, to arouse us out of apathy, to cause us to see our need for a greater baptism in the Holy Spirit, and to cry out not for our sakes, but for the sake of the world.

- Brian Connolly, Faith Like Birds


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