How much does God love you?
This was the question I asked on Sunday morning as I preached in each of our worship services.
When a pastor asks a question like this it is normally followed by a message about the cross, the sacrifice of Jesus, and all God has done to bless His children and care for us. However, this was not the theme of the sermon I was preaching. We were looking at a text in the book of Haggai. In particular, these words from chapter 1:
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”
I invited the congregation to read these three words with me, “I blew away.”
This is the voice of God. These are the words of the loving and holy LORD of the universe.
“I blew them away!”
God assured His people that his love is so great that there are times He disciplines his children. When we are building our own little universe and we ignore the things of God (As the people of Israel had been doing for sixteen years) sometimes God gives us a wake up call. He does it in love. He does it firmly. And, He does it!
We closed the sermon with a prayer. This cry to God is not for the faint of heart.
“Dear God, if my life is wandering from you and you are not my first love and passion, please discipline me. Do whatever it takes to bring my heart and life back to you. If it is hard, if it hurts, and even if you need to strip something away from me, please do it. Discipline me in love, so that I might love you above all else.”
Would you dare to lift up this prayer and invite God’s loving discipline?