In the second year of King Darius, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: ‘ Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former flory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong all you people of the land,’ declare the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty. - Haggai 2:1-9

In this passage, the underlying theme of what Haggai is expressing, is to persevere, and how important perseverance is as a follower of Jesus. It can be so easy to settle and get discouraged as a believer, so God sends Haggai to speak to the people of Judah to encourage them when they are wanting to give up on an obstacle in front of them.

In the verses, the people of the city were supposed to be rebuilding the Lord's temple. In chapter 1 of Haggai the people were not obeying and we focusing on treasures for themselves by obtaining nice homes for themselves and buying expensive material things. Haggai rebukes (sounds harsh, but is ultimately doing so for their own good--kinda like when our parents get on to us) them to remind them their original mission and call--to rebuild the Lord's temple. The people regroup and continue to rebuild the temple. The people of Judah stay encouraged and on track for about a month.

In chapter 2, we see that the people of the city lose a lot of hope because they begin to remember how their city and temple used to be and how much God's presence used to surround them. Nothing seems to be the same and they are just in a constant state of low spirit. The see so many mountains (obstacles) and can't seem to get past the hard times. They were supposed to be rebuilding the Lord's temple but were so discouraged because the new temple seemed to be lacking all the wonderful things that characterized the old temple.

God saw how how discouraged the elders (leaders of the city) were by the new temple and send Haggai to encourage His people and to PERSEVERE. In Haggai's message he encourages by reminding them of these 3 things:

1. Be Strong
As Christians, we must be strong, because it is not a matter of if we encounter hard times, it's a matter of when. We need strength to persevere the Christian life and we receive the supernatural strength it takes from God.

2. Do Not Fear
When we are fearful it means we are only looking at our problems and not looking to God. In this passage, the Lord is saying 'do not fear, I will strengthen you.

3. Build
The people that Haggai is addressing here have been commanded by the Lord to build His temple. The Lord was already giving these people the strength they needed to complete the task, but since they were using that strength to build their own houses and focus on themselves, they were disobeying the Lord and not following His commandment.

By telling the people to keep building, the Lord is telling us to not give into discouragement and to persevere in our spiritual tasks and to keep building His house (aka furthering His Kingdom). While we may get distracted by worldly things, He calls us back into what have been instructed to do.

The way I view these instructions is simply put like this: keep serving God where He has assigned you. Whether that is in your dorm room, in class, with the people in your sorority/fraternity, or at wesley/freshley etc, persevere through the discouraging times and ask the Lord for His strength to help you. Sometimes we feel that where we have been called to serve (sometimes you might even feel like you haven't been called at all, but you have!) seems so insignificant, which is also how the people Haggai felt because they didn't think the second temple would be as good as the first, but everything we do for the Kingdom of God is significant. Every single time we listen to Him and follow what He says-it is a big deal! So let's do our work knowing His covenant is with us!

Father, thank you that I can rely on your strength and promise when life gets hard and that I don't have to go through life alone. Thank you for calling me to do you work and equipping me to do so. Would you teach me how to rely on You fully and to never forget that You are with me. Teach me how rely on Your strength alone and not my own, teach me how to trust You fully so that I never fear, and teach me how to keep building where You have strategically put me. You are so good to me, Lord. It is in Your Sons name I pray, Amen!

- Alex Raines