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Apathy - Part 1

Fellowship in the Word / Bil Gebhardt
The Truth Network Radio
March 18, 2022 8:00 am

Apathy - Part 1

Fellowship in the Word / Bil Gebhardt

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March 18, 2022 8:00 am

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Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. You'll notice that you always make time for what's important to you.

Always. If something's important to you, you make time for it. And what God is saying is, I don't think I get this. Because you have trouble making time for me, but you never have trouble making time for you.

You have trouble in your relationship with me, but you never have trouble giving time to your relationship with others. Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible Church located in Metairie, Louisiana.

Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's Word meets our world. Helen Keller said, Science may have found a cure for most evils, but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings. Apathy.

Ah, it's a Greek word, apathos. No pathos. No emotions. No passion. Indifference.

Apathy. It sucks the life out of everything that it touches. It sucks the life out of individuals. It sucks the life out of relationships. It sucks the life out of companies and countries. Edmund Burke said that all that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in this world is for good people to do nothing.

He's right. Becoming apathetic. Apathy in marriage results in a fractured relationship and can even result in divorce. Apathy in your company can end up in bankruptcy or failure. Apathy even affects civilizations. The Greeks, the Romans became apathetic. And they collapsed under the weight of apathy. But what I want to talk about this morning is how apathy can be so devastating to Christianity at large and devastating to our church. But more importantly, apathy can be devastating to you. And you are all prime candidates to be apathetic toward the spiritual things of God.

The Bible was so concerned about this that it warns us over and over again about apathy. But no place in the Bible is the warning any clearer than you find in the book of Haggai. But you open your Bibles to the book of Haggai at the end of the Old Testament. An extremely small book, two chapters.

So if your pages are sticking together, pull them apart. Haggai is a prophet of Israel, actually a prophet of Judah. He is known to students of the Bible as post-exilic.

He is a post-exile prophet. That is after Judah had gone into the 70-year captivity in Babylon. And they were brought back into the land under the leadership of Zerubbabel and men like Nehemiah and Ezra. God had to sort of shake his people up and he sent two prophets.

One's name was Haggai and the other was Zechariah. And Zechariah was one of those prophets that sort of has his heads in the clouds. When you read that book, you'll be mystified by it. It's an incredibly prophetic book. When you read Haggai, you won't be mystified at all. He is a nuts-and-bolts, no-nonsense kind of guy. I would imagine right now that Haggai's probably hanging around with James in heaven.

Because they are very much alike, very straightforward, very pointed, and they don't mince words. You see, the problem was that they had got back into the land and under Nehemiah's leadership, they had rebuilt the walls and the gates of the city and protected themselves. And the next thing on their agenda was to rebuild the temple of God. But they never really got around to it. They never really were able to get it going. In fact, 15 to 18 years had passed by the time Haggai shows up here. And they still didn't get around to it.

They had become spiritually apathetic. And so he wants to confront that in the best way that he can. His name means my feast. And it's an extremely unusual name in Hebrew, the name Haggai.

And you'll notice there's not a lot of kids around named Haggai either. And he delivers four messages. And his time of prophecy was extremely short. I mean, some guys like Isaiah prophesied over decades.

Haggai prophesied from September to December. That was it for him. He had four little messages over a very short period of time. But he did exactly what God wanted him to do. This first chapter that we're going to look at this morning is simply saying this. There are tremendous consequences we face when we become apathetic to God. Notice verse 1. In the second year of Darius the king, that is of Persia, he said the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts, this people says, the time has not come, even the time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt.

Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet saying, Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate? The first thing I want to say this morning is this, our apathy to us always seems reasonable. It always seems reasonable to an apathetic believer to be apathetic.

We always have a good rationale for our apathy. Notice in their case, when they are apathetic here in verse 2, they never really get around to obeying God's will. This people says, the time has not come, even the time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt. Oh, we're going to rebuild the temple when we get time.

Eighteen years later. Well, when we get time, it's not the timings off. We're ready to do something really spiritual here, but it's not quite the right timing yet.

The timing will be in the future. You see, when we're apathetic to God, we never really get quite around to doing as well. We act like that, don't we? You see, this was indicative of them of something more. They didn't want to build the temple. They have lost a passion for God. They really didn't want to worship him.

They didn't really want to get involved in prayer and praise and adoration and communion with God. They said the temple can wait. We're busy.

We have a lot of stuff on our plate. We have a lot of things we need to be about, and a temple can wait. It's not quite the right time. Do you ever say that?

See, I think we do that. It's not quite the right time to make worship a priority in my life. It's not quite the right time to get involved with other believers. It's not quite the right time to get involved in a small group that can be intimately involved with other believers. It's not quite the right time to serve in some capacity.

Ask me later. Maybe my timing would be better. It's not quite the right time to get involved in some community service. It's not quite the right time yet. It's not quite the right time to ask for forgiveness. It's not quite the right time to grant forgiveness. It's not the right time yet to really get into the Word of God on my own. Maybe later.

Maybe when I get out of school. Maybe I have more time for that. It's not quite the right time to really make prayer an important part of my life. It's not quite right. Not yet.

Give me some time on that. Those are the thoughts and the words of apathetic Christians. When we're apathetic, we always talk about that it's never the right time. But every one of these things that I mentioned are things that God expects us to do now. He expects us to make worship a priority. He expects us to be involved in the lives of other Christians. He expects us to serve the body of Christ.

He expects us to serve the community at large. He expects us to offer forgiveness. He expects us to ask for forgiveness. He expects us to be into His Word. He expects us to have a prayer life. He expects those things from us. It's not a matter of timing. It's His will that we do it now just as it was His will that they get involved in the temple. But when we're apathetic toward God, we never really quite get around to His will.

It always seems reasonable to us. It's not quite the right time to do that so often. How many of you have gone through those cycles? Walked away from the Lord. Walked away from the church. This church or another church? Spend a long time away and think, well, it's not quite the right time yet.

Maybe in the future I will, when timing's better. There's no time for apathy. Secondly, in verses 3 and 4, when we're apathetic to God, we almost always are preoccupied with ourselves. Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet saying, Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?

You see, there's more here than meets the eye. You say, well, it looks to me like all they did is they built their own houses. They needed to have a place to live. Then they were going to get around and build a temple.

It's not quite that simple. When he talks about paneling their own houses, he's talking about or inferring about, he's saying that the wood that you were supposed to use in the temple, you actually robbed and put in your own house. You see, the one thing about living in Jerusalem at this time was there's no wood. You just didn't build anything with wood from Jerusalem. You had to import the wood. In fact, you had to import the wood from Lebanon. And normally, you always import it from the great cedars of Lebanon. And so the wood had to be carried, usually by cart, from the coast all the way to Jerusalem. They brought the wood in, and then they said, you know, the temple, I mean, it's a good thing and all that, but gee, we have to have a place to live.

I don't know about you, but I'd kind of like that cedar to look good in my den. And that's what they did. They paneled their own dens. They made it nice for themselves. They became preoccupied with themselves. And that's what always happens when we're spiritually apathetic. See, they had passion.

It was just misdirected. They had pathos, but it was all about them. That doesn't sound like any of us, does it? We do the same kinds of things. You'll notice that you always make time for what's important to you. Always. If something's important to you, you make time for it.

And what God is saying is, I don't think I get this. Because you have trouble making time for me, but you never have trouble making time for you. You have trouble in your relationship with me, but you never have trouble giving time to your relationship with others.

You always seem to be concerned about whether you can really support me, but you don't have any trouble supporting all of your own interests and hobbies. People always make time for what's important to them. That's what we do.

The problem is, as believers, when we do that, we're becoming apathetic toward God. I found this story about a week ago that kind of really illustrates this point. There was a couple from Atlanta, Georgia. This is many years ago. And they were real fans of Broadway.

And the hottest show on Broadway was My Fair Lady. And boy, they really wanted to see it. And so what they did is they sent off for tickets. But they found out when they sent off for tickets that it would be almost a year before they could get tickets to the performance. They said, wow, that's okay, though. I mean, this is My Fair Lady. And so they sent off for their tickets.

Well, many months passed by. Their tickets came due for the time for them to go to New York. They get on a plane.

They fly to New York, get into a really first-class hotel. And they go to Broadway and they see My Fair Lady. When they're watching My Fair Lady, of course, you know, they're just sitting in this wonderful thing. They're in the center section, 7th row in the middle. Right near the orchestra.

It's just great. And the man's looking around and every seat in the place is taken as it is for every performance. Except the seat right next to him. And it's empty. So he's sitting there and wondering about that.

As time goes on, the first act ends. Curtain comes down. And he's sitting there at this little time of a break or a pause.

And he's wondering. Can this seat, one of the best seats in the house, be empty? So he leans across the empty seat to the woman sitting on the other side of it and says, Ma'am, can you understand why this seat would be empty?

Why would anybody buy a ticket to this show as hard as it is to get and then not come? Or send somebody else in their place? And she says, Well, I know the story of this seat. This seat belongs to me. He said, It's yours. She said, Well, yes.

I mean, sort of. It used to be my husband's seat. He said, Oh. She said to him, He died. He said to her, He said, Oh, I am so sorry to hear about that. He thought about it for a moment, leaned back over the seat. He said, But I don't quite understand. He said, This is such a tremendously hard seat to get. Why wouldn't you just give this seat to one of your friends? He looked at them and said, Why would?

She said, But they're all at the funeral home. We always make time for what's important to us. Always.

That's what happens when we become apathetic. C.S. Lewis says, Put first things first and you get second things thrown in. Put second things first and you lose both first and second things.

He's right. Let me ask you this question. What are your priorities? Don't answer it yourself because you'll lie. Especially in church. God is my first priority.

Then my family. Ask somebody who knows you well. Ask your spouse. Ask a child.

Ask a friend. Say, Based on what you see in my life, what's the priority in my life? You might be amazed what you hear. What do you think about? Knowing you're in that twilight zone that some of you are in right now. You know, when you're just sitting in a car stand and you just sort of staring into infinity and you're thinking, I'm assuming there's thinking going on there. But when you're thinking, what do you think about? What goes on in your head?

What are the thoughts you have? What fills your thoughts up in the day? What do you talk about when you walk up to somebody or a friend or something? What's the thing you enjoy so much, you have so much passion talking about?

See, it tells you a lot where your heart is. I can remember when I was at Dallas Seminary, Don Sanuki, and he taught preaching classes. He used to get so upset with us because we almost had this cadaver thing going for us. You know, you pretty much get up in class and you see a guy and you'd say, you know, open your Bibles to Matthew 4.15 today. We'll be looking at Jesus as he has a prelude to the Sermon on the Mount.

This was written and it would just go on. And Don Sanuki, who was a great professor, he said, what is wrong with you guys? He said, I was just out in the hallway coming to this class and the same guys who were doing that from the pulpit were talking about the cowboys, the cowboy game the day before. And he said, and they got all this enthusiasm and passion, their arms are failing. He said, they've got all this energy and then they come in here in preaching class and just stand there and stare at us and preach. And he said, you know what the problem is, guys? You have more passion for the cowboys than you do for God. And he was right.

He was right. Because you're impassioned about, you want to talk about. What are your priorities? Are you apathetic to God?

Our apathy seems reasonable to us. I just can't get around to it right now. Maybe later. And I have to take it out for myself. I mean, I have my own responsibilities. I've got my own paneling to do here.

I've got to take care of my house here. It seems reasonable. Our apathy not only seems reasonable to us, but secondly, our apathy has consequences. See in verse six, he says to them, you have sown much, but harvest little. You eat, but there's not enough to be satisfied. You drink, but there's not enough to become drunk.

You put on clothing, but not enough to warm yourself. And he who earns, earns wages and puts it into a purse with holes. Verse nine, you look for much, but behold, it comes to little when you bring it home. I blow it away. Why declares the Lord of hosts? Because my house, which lies desolate while each of you runs to his own house. Therefore, he says, because of you, the sky has withheld its due and the earth has withheld its produce. And I call for a drought on the land and on the mountains and on the grain and on the new wine and on the oil and on the ground, on what the ground produces. On men and on cattle and all the labor of your hands. Apathy has consequences. God withheld his blessings from them. And he'll do it from you and for me.

He will withhold. He was trying to wake them up. He did it on a national level.

There was drought. And boy, that's huge for them. For us as a culture, we watch Wall Street. We watch the investments, the stock market.

We want to know if it's crashing or not. All kinds of things are important to us. Words like recession scare us.

A word like depression terrifies us. But not them. They didn't look to Wall Street. They looked at the sky. They're an agricultural society. They live or die based on the rain. And when there's no rain, there's no prosperity. And God said, I turned the rain off. He said, I did that.

And that was on a national level. The innocent suffering with the guilty. But on a personal level, he says, notice what you have in your life. He says, you look for much, but behold, it comes to little when you bring it home. Sound like your paycheck? He says, yeah, you harvest, but there's little to eat. You clothe yourself, but you're never warm enough.

The more you work, the behinder you get. What about us? He treats us a little differently than that. But it's the same thing. You see, God promised Israel that if they went into the land and they were faithful to God, they would go into a land that flowed with milk and honey.

It would be a phenomenal national blessing for them. But they weren't faithful to God. They were apathetic to God.

And because they were apathetic to God, he withheld that kind of blessing. Jesus promised us to give us life. And he says, and I'll give it to you abundantly. A life that's marked with happiness and satisfaction and joy and peace and hope.

He says, I'm going to give you that life. But I'm telling you, if you're apathetic to God, you're not getting it right now. You're not satisfied. Your life feels like it's in a spiritual drought. Things aren't going as wonderfully as you had hoped.

You find yourself despairing. You see, we just seem to fall short of these kind of things. I don't think we often think that the reason for that is we're apathetic to God. I want you to notice that in this whole book, he doesn't tell them that they're terrible idol worshippers. Israel did that at times. He doesn't say they're in some kind of gross immorality.

Israel did that plenty of times. He's saying that their only problem is that they're spiritually apathetic to God. And a little bit preoccupied with themselves. But because of it, their life is not what they thought it should be. And neither will yours be that way. You're apathetic to God. He withholds the blessing.

It's not there. There's no peace, but just some fear. There's no hope, but despair. There's no joy, but it's kind of a sorrowy feeling.

But what Jesus offered us was so different than that. William Ward said, Real happiness is more of a habit than a goal, more of an attitude than an attainment. It is the companion of cheerfulness, not the creature of circumstances. Happiness is what overtakes us when we forget ourselves. When we learn to open our eyes in optimism and close the door in the face of defeat, we win happiness when we lose ourselves in service to others. As I say over and over again, happiness is giving yourself away because that's God's will for you, is to give yourself away. Q Down said, A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.

He's right. No matter what's going on, we are the people. Actually, this is amazing. We're actually to be able to attract unbelievers to us because we're so giddy happy. They should be drawn to us because they see this overflowing joy that we have. If we don't have it, I wonder if we're being apathetic to God or not. Walter Knight said, Joy is the flag that flies over the castle of our hearts announcing the king is in residence today. And great. That someone sees someone new today, they think, man, there must be.

The king is in residence today in their heart because the joy is overflowing. You see, apathy to us seems reasonable, but it has tremendous consequences in our life. We never get out of the life what we want or what God has for us. Now, I'm hoping right up to now I've really depressed you. But I wouldn't leave you that way.

And the word of God never leaves you that way. I mean, it is kind of depressing that our apathy seems reasonable to us. Almost all of us are apathetic and apathy has its consequences of which most of us are experiencing. But he says something else in this chapter that's wonderful. Our apathy is curable. Great.

Our apathy is curable. Verses seven and eight. Thus says the Lord in verse seven. Consider your ways. Look at verse five. Now, therefore, says the Lord of hosts, consider your ways.

Best translation in English I could come up with. Think about it. I think that's what he's saying. He says, look, think about it. Think about life. Think about you. Think about God. Think about it. Consider your ways.

That's how you start curing apathy. Consider your ways. You must repent in your thinking. You have to think differently. See, that's the trap of apathy. It's like sedates us.

And we just start sinking under it. He says stop and rethink this. You've been listening to Pastor Bill Gebhardt on the Radio Ministry of Fellowship in the Word. If you ever miss one of our broadcasts, or maybe you would just like to listen to the message one more time, remember that you can go to a great website called That's, and you can listen to Fellowship in the Word online.

At that website, you will find not only today's broadcast, but also many of our previous audio programs as well. At Fellowship in the Word, we are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help this radio ministry continue its broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly or with just a one-time gift. Support for our ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word, 4600 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, Louisiana, 7006. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website,

That's At our website, you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for, or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online, or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt, thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-21 04:43:03 / 2023-05-21 04:53:53 / 11

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