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Building the temple of the Lord.

Haggai 1:6-11. This is the terrible result of a nation that prioritizes its own desires above the things of God. We exist to bring Him glory. See v. 8. With the Spirit of God dwelling in us, we are the temple of the living God. (See Eph. 2:22–22; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16.) As we share the gospel and tell people how to be born again, we can help to build the temple of the Lord—a duty we dare not neglect.

Haggai 1:6

“You have sown much, and bring in little;

You eat, but do not have enough;

You drink, but you are not filled with drink;

You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;

And he who earns wages,

Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”

7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8 Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. 9 “ Youlooked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. 11 For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”

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“I do not believe in dentists.”

“On a recent trip to the dentist, while the dentist was working on my teeth he said to me, ‘I do not believe in God.’ Now this dentist knows what I do for a living and how important my faith is to me, yet for numerous reasons (one main one being his hands were in my mouth) I uncharacteristically remained silent, allowing him to explain: ‘How can God exist and still allow all the suffering and pain in the world?’ I remained quiet until he was finished (and of course put his drill away) and told him that ‘I do not believe in dentists.’ This confused him greatly so I clarified for him that if there are dentists in the world, how can so many people have broken, infected, and missing teeth? He answered me, ‘I cannot help anyone who does not come to me to have their teeth fixed.’ That reply is the same for faith. God cannot help people until they come to Him in repentance and faith,…and ask Him for help.” Tony Perkins 

Lamentations 3:16

He has also broken my teeth with gravel,

And covered me with ashes.

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The saddest road to hell.

God forbid that any preacher should become merely a pleasant voice, entertaining and tickling the ears of his hearers. Yet many of America’s popular preachers have stripped the gospel of that which is designed to awaken its hearers, and replaced it with a message of life-enhancement. And I suspect that they have no idea what they have done. They are like a doctor who was well-liked because he never used a needle to inoculate his ever-increasing number of patients against a deadly disease. He did not like the feeling he got when the needle brought them pain, so he discarded it in the name of love. When his patients began to die of an agonizing disease, his professed love was seen for what it was—a terrible betrayal. Millions of unconverted churchgoers sit in pews with a Bible on their lap, asleep in their sins within earshot of the pulpit.

Listen to these sobering words of warning from J. C. Ryle: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, but never so fearful as when men fall from under the gospel. The saddest road to hell is that which runs under the pulpit, past the Bible, and through the midst of warnings and invitations.” How much sadder is it when no warning is given. Many a church service has become nothing but entertainment for those who profess to know God, while in works they deny Him (see Titus 1:16; Matt. 15:8). Jesus said, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

Ezekiel 33:31 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. 32 Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.

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Refused to compromise.

The three faithful men refused to compromise—even at the risk of their lives. As we can see from their words, “But if not….” their conviction did not come from a promise that God would deliver them. They were full of faith. They lived by faith, and they were prepared to die in faith. We, too, are called to be faithful in the face of death. Neither do we have a promise of deliverance from the hands of ungodly men. God allowed Stephen to be martyred, as well as eleven of the original apostles and millions of other martyrs down through the ages.

Daniel 3:17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.

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White lies.

Committing even one sin, one time, is enough to send someone to hell (see James 2:10). But we know that every person has a multitude of sins. For starters, the person has failed to love God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He has dishonored his parents’ good name by being a liar. Besides that, you can’t trust anything he says because he is a self-admitted liar. However, I usually say, “There’s bad news. All liars will have their part in the lake of fire” (Rev. 21:8). While telling “white lies” may not seem serious to us, it shows a heart that is willing to deceive, and proves that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). I explain that lying is very serious to God. The Bible says that “lying lips are an abomination to the LORD.”

Proverbs 12:22

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,

But those who deal truthfully are His delight.

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“I don’t know why God would do this to me.”

A young lady from Corona, California, was devastated by the tragic death of her boyfriend. The couple had just celebrated the birth of their first child. He had been to a nightclub, and was returning with friends at 2:00 a.m., when police believe he was speeding and lost control. He wrapped his car around a tree, killing himself and his three passengers.

His mother said that her son “loved to drink.” His distraught girlfriend lamented, “I don’t know why God would do this to me.”

My heart went out to her for her loss, but why was she blaming God for the death of her boyfriend? He was the one who was speeding, probably drunk, at 2:00 a.m. He killed himself. The incident had nothing to do with God, other than that He allowed it, in His sovereign will.

It seems obvious that many nowadays think God is nothing but a divine butler. He is there for our convenience—to come running when we snap our sinful fingers.

God gave us life. He lavished His goodness upon us, and to think that we can treat Him as some sort of lowly servant reveals a great ignorance of who He is. Such error can only end in disillusionment of life and bitterness of soul.

God owes us nothing but justice. He has no obligation at all to bless us with health, wealth, or long life. A civil judge is under no obligation to show mercy to a guilty criminal. If there was an obligation, then it wouldn’t be true mercy. Mercy is unmerited. He is, however, obligated to make sure that justice is done.

So it is with God. He is obligated by His very nature to manifest His divine and just wrath against all sin, and that will happen on what the Bible calls “the great and terrible day of the Lord” (the Day of Judgment). But He is also “rich in mercy,” and has offered us mercy in the cross…and we must receive it while we are on this side of eternity.

Proverbs 3:29 Who has woe?

Who has sorrow?

Who has contentions?

Who has complaints?

Who has wounds without cause?

Who has redness of eyes?

30 Those who linger long at the wine,

Those who go in search of mixed wine.

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