Michael Youssef - Know Where You Stand - Part 3
In the last message I told you that you should never underestimate Satan's power of discouragement. It is his most effective tool against the believer. By the same token, don't underestimate the power of encouragement. While Satan is the one who discourages us, God is the one who encourages us. Encouragement strengthens the weak. Encouragement uplifts the fainthearted. Encouragement gives hope to the hopeless. Encouragement builds up the falling, and that is why, in the Scripture, hundreds of times, the Lord is the one who encourages us. And you hear his words repeated again and again, "Be of good courage, be encouraged".
Whenever you see the Word of the Lord to somebody saying, "Be of good courage, be encouraged, have courage," whenever you see that in the Scripture, you can be absolutely sure that most times, if not all times, it is because that person is being discouraged, and that person is desperately in need of encouragement. And as we come to this concluding message from that magnificent Book of Haggai, we see how the Lord himself encourages his faithful people. He encourages the remnant. Even though they were discouraged, even though they were tempted to give up the work, even though they were going through a tough time, but the Lord did not rebuke them. He encouraged them.
And this is a Word from the Lord for us today. It's a Word of encouragement for everyone here who's discouraged. And so, turn with me please to chapter 2 of the Book of Haggai and verse 4 particularly. Here's a word of encouragement. He said, "'Be strong, O Zerubbabel,'" who is the king, or the governor, "declares the Lord Almighty. 'Be strong, O Joshua, the high priest', declares the Lord Almighty. 'Be strong, all you people of the land', declares the Lord".
How can they be strong when they're already discouraged and gave up the work? How can you and I be encouraged in the midst of what we see today all around us, this wholesale departure from the faith. How can we be strong and encouraged in the midst of compromise and defection from the truth? How can you and I be strong when our circumstances sometimes ready to crush us? And the answer comes to us screaming from the words of the Scripture and it's found in verse 4, "For I am with you, declared the Lord". That is the secret of courage. That is the source of encouragement. The one thing that Satan does is that he would whisper in your ear, "You are all alone. You are all alone. You're the only one. Nobody believes like you do. Nobody's holding on to biblical truth like you do".
God has moved on since the days of the Bible. The Bible does not meant to be taken literally. God does not answer prayer like he answered in the Bible. Just go along and do some good and hope for the best. But God's promise, beloved, is God's promise, amen. It never changes. He said, "I am with you, and therefore you should be encouraged. I have promised never to leave you, nor forsake you, and I'm as good as my promise. Keep on trusting me. I promise to honor those who honor me. Hold on, your honor is on its way. Your honor is coming your way. Hold on. I promise you, I'm your strong tower in the days of battle and the battle is not over yet. Keep on being strong. Keep on holding on to me. Keep on being anchored in me. I promise that in the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, be of courage, for I have overcome the world".
Amen belongs here. While the promise of God for them to be courageous because he's with them is enough, God goes on to say other things. Whenever we're going through discouragement, we kind of wistfully think back of the good old days. Have you been there? Rightly or wrongly, we become nostalgic in the midst of our discouragement. And in the time of Haggai, God's people looked at where they are and the very discouraging condition of the temple, and they began to weep. They're weeping. They said to themselves, "We can't bring those glorious days back, it's impossible. We will never be able to bring back the good old days when this temple was all in its glorious majesty".
And I wonder if you're are like me when you look around and you see how immorality is glorified and praised, even by our leaders. We look back in days that we read about when God's power was moving in his church, days even when secular people respected Christian symbols, days when past president declared a day of fasting, and prayer, and humiliation, instead of rejecting the National Day of Prayer, days when school students began their day with prayer. It is easy to fall back in the past. It's easy to fall back into nostalgia, I know that because I've been there. When you begin to do that and look back nostalgically to the past, you're gonna be paralyzed in the presence, and that's where they were. That's where they were, and God knew that, God saw that. They were paralyzed in the present.
And when people are looking around and saying, "Well, what can one person do? What can one family do? What can one church do"? The answer come to us because God has a Word for us for this generation, for you, for you, for you, for you, and for me today. God has a Word because the answer comes straight to us from the Word of God, the God who encourages us, makes it very clear. I know where you are. God knows how you feel. God knows what you need, God knows. And he doesn't gloss over them. He doesn't gloss over where you are. He doesn't try to cover it up. He did not even try to rebuke them in their discouragement, no.
In fact, he said to them, "Don't get down on yourself". That's what that means. "Don't get down on yourself. Don't put yourself down so much. Don't look back too much. Don't let the nostalgia of the past paralyzes you today. But instead," he said, "Be strong. Today be courageous because I am," what? Don't be afraid. Don't give up the fight. Don't give it up. Don't surrender. How many of you needed a Word of encouragement from the Lord? He's giving it to you today, not from Michael Youssef, it's from the Lord.
In fact, you see that happens again and again and again. In Deuteronomy chapter 31, verse 6, he gives that word of encouragement to Moses. In the Book of Joshua chapter 1, three times, 6, 7, and 9, he gives that word of encouragement to Joshua because he needed it. In fact, in Chronicles, 1 Chronicles 28:20, David gives that word of encouragement to his son Solomon because he knew that he needed it as he begins to build the temple. The Apostle Paul, when he was discouraged in the prison, the Lord himself showed up and said to him, "Be of good courage, Paul". And then Paul began to encourage others, as he does in Ephesians chapter 6, verse 10. He said, "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power".
And God was doing the same thing here in the Book of Haggai as he's doing it today to you. He's doing the same thing here for these folks, these remnant, these faithful people, and so, he speaks to them. "Be strong, O Zerubbabel. Be strong, O Joshua. Be strong, all you people of the land". How? By remembering the presence of the Lord. How easy it is for us to forget the presence of the Lord. You know, when you're in the muddle, when you're in that prison cell of your own making, when you are in the dark place, it's easy to forget the presence of the Lord. In the New Testament where believers are indwelt of the Holy Spirit, this word is even more poignant to us than it was in the Old Testament. But the Word of God does something else that is so powerful.
I don't want you to miss it. He's not only telling them not to look back with nostalgia, but he tells them to look forward to the future. Looking forward to the future always will encourage you. Looking back will paralyze you, looking forward will encourage you. And so, God is saying to them, the reason you are down in the dumps is because you are looking back. Look at verses 6 all the way to 9. He's saying to them look forward to the future. "This is what the LORD God Almighty says, 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens in the earth, and the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations.'"
What is these nations desiring? The desired one. The desired one is the Messiah Jesus. How can the nation desire him? The nations revile him. The nations hate him. Ah, what he's saying here is that the believers from every nation is the ones who desire him. The remnant of God from every nation and every corner of the globe, they're the ones who desire Jesus. The believers from every nation desire Jesus. The faithful Christians from every nation today are desiring the return of Jesus. It had an immediate interpretation, which happened literally and physically. There is a future interpretation that is yet to come. This is a prophecy of the returning of our glorious King Jesus. For in that great day of judgment, God is gonna shake the nations of the earth. The proud and the arrogant kings, and rulers, and heads of states, are gonna bow to him.
Even now, the little announcements he keeps sending about his coming, earthquakes, and floods, and tsunamis, and rumblings are taking place. These are mere announcements that God is sending, "I'm coming and when I come, it's not gonna to be little, little announcements like this. It's gonna be a complete shaking. These are gentle reminders that I'm coming. These are gentle reminders that the world is coming to an end. These are gentle reminders that I'm in charge". These are gentle reminders that he's around the corner, and he may be even closer than we think. For on that day, the mountains are gonna fall into the sea.
On that day, the elements, Peter said, will melt, the earth will shake like a leaf. The heavens will thunder with power. The mighty will be terrified. The arrogant hearts will melt like butter. The powerful will bow down in fear. Those who persecuted Christian believers now, today, will tremble. Those who hate God's people and God's Messiah, they're gonna weep blood. Those who curse God's anointed will try to run, but they won't be able to hide. Those who mocked him, those who reviled him, those who hated him, those who sold their birthright, those who have rejected his truth, those who took pride in denying Jesus, those who have sought to modify his words, those who watered down his words, those who compromise his words, they will be shaking like leaf. That's the Word of God. That's the promise of God.
"I'm gonna shake everything that's be shaken". The earth will shake, the heavens will shake. Look at verse 9. You have to ask, what does that mean in the light of the New Testament? Listen very carefully. We don't have temples, and God does not dwell in places and buildings. He dwells in the believers. You are the temple of God. He dwells in you. God will never be satisfied again with animal blood. When the purest blood of all, his Son Jesus Christ, was shed on Calvary, that end all animal sacrifices. God's temple are the people of God, that we are the true temple of Jesus Christ, and that is a prophecy about these days. It's not gonna be a mere physical glory, it's gonna be a spiritual one.
Don't miss this, please don't miss this. This is important. This is a Word from the Lord to every one of us because this glorious picture have been shown to us by John the Revelator when he was privileged to look and to peer through history, and see that last day, see that end time. And John the Revelator looks in there and he sees all these people, millions of them, worshiping the Lamb from every tribe, from every nation, from every tongue gathered together praising the Lord. That's where the glory of his temple, the believers, is gonna take place, far greater than the greatest days of Solomon and his temple.
But then in the second half of the chapter, after God reminds us of the future and how that future should encourage us to keep on going, to keep on trusting, to keep on serving, to keep us standing up, even if we stand up alone. He gets back to the present. He's back to the question, "What can I do now? What can I do today"? It's well and good to be encouraged about the day that is coming in which will reign and rule with him. It's wonderful. It's great to look forward to those glorious days. But what do I do now? What do I do in the meanwhile? We're still living in one of the most discouraging times. We're still living in the grind of today. We're still facing ferocious enemy today.
Again, God does not gloss over that. He speaks to us here and now this moment, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances. Beginning at verse 10 to the rest of the section here, that paragraph. It's a dramatic way of God saying to the faithful ones, the remnant, the right people in the right place, doing the right thing at the right time. He's saying to them, "Because you did get discouraged and because you have your priorities got inverted, because you become lukewarm toward me, and my work, and my kingdom, because of that, you have become contaminated by the world". Oh, but, but... listen, listen, this is the greatest, greatest news. But from this day forward, what day is that? The day of which they repented, the day in which they reconsecrated themselves for the service of God.
From this day on, the 24th day of the ninth months he said, "I'm gonna bless you. I'm gonna bless you". Do you receive it? "From this day forward, I'm gonna bless you". Verses 15 to 19 it says something important. He said, "Consider". Here's that word again I've been talking about in the last two messages. Consider or give very careful examination to where you are now. Do a big audit of your life now, of your time, of your talent, of your treasure. How do you use it? Give careful thought now, which they did. Praise God. These folks did. And the last words of the Prophet Haggai are directed to the Governor Zerubbabel. God understand the importance of leadership. God knows that, that is why he says those words to him, "Tell Zerubbabel the governor, I will take you and I will make you like a signet ring".
What is that? What does it mean? A signet ring, it was a very precious object for a king or a ruler, so much so that he either places it on his finger, or he puts it on a cord around his neck. That's how important that signet ring was. And so, God is saying to this godly leader, may be discouraged, but he's saying to him that God is gonna guard him so that the remnant will remain strong. Isn't that amazing? Isn't that amazing? So, what is God saying? "Even in the midst of your discouragement, even in the midst of your disappointment, even in the midst of disheartening circumstances, I am sovereign. I'm in control. I stand behind all of my promises. No matter how bleak it may look, no matter how dark it may appear, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how foreboding the circumstances, I am the Lord".