Motivation to Obey

24 September 2017 PM – Ezr 5:1; Hag; Zec – EzNe17 – Scott Childs

Introduction: On the farm, we often had a difficult time getting the cows to do what we wanted them to do. Cows can be VERY stubborn. To motivate them to go when they did not want to, we had an electric prod. It was a battery operated tool about the size of a large torch that gave the cow a mild shock or sting. That made them move!

When the Jews stopped building the temple, God did not use an electric prod to motivate them to obey. Instead, He sent them two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah to preach a revival (Ezra 5:1).

Transition: This evening as we examine how God motivated His people to obey, I want to show you principles that apply to our lives as well.

1.        God Deserves Our Best (Hag 1:1-15)

a.         It is wrong to put self before God (Hag 1:1-4)
1)         God had Cyrus send these people back to Canaan to rebuild the temple. Instead, they got discouraged, quit, and began seeking their own welfare. They were living in cieled (covered, completed or weatherproofed) houses while the temple lay in waste.
2)         God’s will was not first place in their lives.
3)         It is time to put God first in your life!
4)         It is not right to serve yourself and neglect God.
b.         We must consider our ways (Hag 1:5-11)
1)         Nothing that the people did truly satisfied them. Work as hard as they may, they could never make ends meet. They were always in need. God was not blessing them.
2)         Take a good look at your life.
3)         Is God’s blessing lacking in your life? (Hag 1:6)
4)         Consider what you know God wants you to do (Hag 1:7-8).
5)         Is God working against you? (Hag 1:9-11)
c.          God is with us when we do right (Hag 1:12-15)
1)         The people wisely listened and obeyed the preaching of Haggai.
2)         Things will change when you obey God (Hag 1:12).
3)         God will be with you and help you (Hag 1:13).
4)         God will do a work in your heart and spirit (Hag 1:14).

2.        God Encourages Obedience (Hag 2:1-9)

a.         God wants to give you strength (Hag 2:1-5)
1)         God’s message for Judah was “Be strong for the LORD of hosts is with you.” The phrase “LORD of hosts” means that He is the sovereign of the armies of heaven.
2)         God offers strength to each of us (Hag 2:1-4).
3)         We are not to fear to yield to Him (Hag 2:5).
b.         God wants to pour out His blessing (Hag 2:6-9)
1)         God is able to do great things in us (Hag 2:6-7)
2)         God is able to use us greatly even after we have failed Him if we will return to Him (Hag 2:8-9).

3.        God Cannot Bless until We Obey (Hag 2:10-19)

a.         God’s blessing is not automatic (Hag 2:10-14).
1)         Living in Israel and worshipping God did not make God’s people acceptable because they were disobedient.
2)         A sick child cannot catch “health” from contacting a healthy child; but the healthy child can become sick. The principle of transmission really only works one way far more than both ways. Guzik
3)         Being a Christian and attending church will not secure God’s blessing for you if you are not obeying God.
b.         Watch God bless when you obey Him (Hag 2:15-19)
1)         Before Judah obeyed their supplies did not last and their crops were diseased (Hag 2:16-17).
2)         From the day of obedience, God promised to bless them (Hag 2:18-19).
3)         God will bless you if you will obey God in every area of your life. Partial obedience may bring partial blessing, but God’s full blessing is reserved ONLY for those who fully obey Him. That is what He wants for you.

4.        God Works for Those Who Obey (Hag 2:20-23)

a.         God is stronger than the superpowers
1)         Judah was nothing but a small group of helpless Jews set free from 70 years of slavery. They were powerless against all the great nations around them.
2)         God assured them that He was stronger than the strongest nation.
3)         When we obey God, we are on the victory side. (Rom 8:31) “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (1John 4:4) “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
b.         God assured Zerubbabel that he was chosen
1)         God had work for Zerubbabel to do. God chose him to be the leader of this great task of rebuilding the temple.
2)         Haggai assured him of God’s calling. Perhaps he was beginning to question his ability to lead in this huge task.
3)         When we begin to feel that we don’t have what it takes to do the job God has for us to do, we must look to God’s promises for encouragement.
a)         Remember what the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church. (Phil 4:11-13) “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do [or endure] all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
b)         The Psalmist said, (Ps 56:3) “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
c)         After listing the trials of the heroes of the faith, Paul wrote, (Heb 12:1-2) “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

5.        God wants us to Learn from History (Zec 1:1-6)

a.         Jewish forefathers had rebelled against God
1)         Centuries earlier, Israel rebelled against God and Moses and spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
2)         During the Judges numerous times they had repeated their cycle of Prosperity > Sin > Slavery > Repentance > Deliverance.
3)         They had rebelled against Isaiah’s preaching.
4)         They rejected Jeremiah’s preaching.
5)         As a result of their rejection of these and many other prophets, God was sore displeased with them and sent them into captivity (Zec 1:2).
6)         This ought to motivate God’s people to repent and obey God in rebuilding the temple.
7)         When the devil tempts you to think that a little disobedience and sin won’t hurt, remember Israel’s history.
b.         If we will turn to God, He will turn to us
1)         That was God’s policy way back then.
2)         The Psalmist wrote, (Ps 145:18) “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.”
3)         It is still God’s policy today. (Jas 4:8) “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

Conclusion: How did God motivate His people to build? He had Haggai and Zechariah remind them of five facts: 1) God deserves our best. 2) God encourages obedience. 3) God cannot bless until we obey. 4) God works for those who obey. 5) God wants us to learn from history.

Have you gotten slack about doing what you know God wants you to do? Perhaps you have become lazy about fleeing temptation, Bible reading, prayer, your marital role, child rearing, dressing modestly, tithing, witnessing, obeying and honouring your parents or some other issue. If so, these five facts apply to you. The principles we have looked at this evening are what you need to follow. James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

Song: I Surrender All – 394