Haggai 2:3–4: “‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

September 9th, 2018 by Pastor Ed in devotional

Ezra 3 records the historical background that explains why the Lord asked: “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory.” When the people first returned to Jerusalem, after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, and set the temple foundation, the young were excited with joy but the old men, who had seen Solomon’s original temple, were weeping. The old men were very disappointed with the new temple, basically saying, “this is a dump compared to the original.” There is great danger in looking back over the past and comparing the old with the new. Jesus warned of this very thing:

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, “The old is better.” (Luke 5:37–39)

People get easily locked into old traditions and reject what God is doing today.

The people in Jerusalem saw their contribution as insignificant and they let it lead them into discouragement. We are all in danger of self-imposed discouragement if we allow ourselves to feel like our involvement isn’t accomplishing anything of value. But no matter how seemingly small what we are doing may feel to us, we must be faithful to it. God’s response to this attitude was: “Yet now be strong . . . and work; for I am with you.” He was saying something like: “Never mind the criticism about this temple you are building because I am here and I am with you.”

The solution to discouragement is to stay focused on laboring in the kingdom of God and remembering God’s promises, just one of which is that “He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6). Don’t fall into the trap of desiring a successful ministry more than desiring the God of the ministry. Serve God with all your heart each day and at the end of the day simply say, “God that was not my best, but by Your grace, tomorrow I will try again to serve You with all my heart.”

“LORD, help us to be focused on Your kingdom this day. We want to keep our eyes on You.”