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July 23, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Kerry McGonigal continues a series entitled “Breath of Life,” with a message titled “How Does the Spirit Empower Us?,” from Zachariah 4.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Senior's intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything, so he established daily chapel services today. That tradition continues with fervent little preaching from the University chapel platform today on The Daily Platform were continuing a study series entitled breath of life, which is a study of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Today's message will be preached by Dr. Carrie McGonagle, a professor in the school of religion. Let me start out with a question this morning as we continue our series on the spirit of God and that is can you answer yes to this question on the him text tell it to Jesus. Are you weary, are you heavy hearted lady feel like I did the summer when my wife and our restructuring reconfiguring the fences around her horse farm and so we were moving the settee post these metal posts use of the fences and take like up 30 to 40 pound steel pipe and lifted up and have to keep beating on the T post until it goes into the ground.
While this was like the middle of July is on the hottest days of the summer. It was so humid and frankly like me. I didn't think I was gonna make it odd that I was in a collapse and die.
At one point I wish that I had so so hot so humid and you know I would pound down. I look and there's just this little bit of progress and I just went down a little bit further and instinctively I Looking forward to all the T post.
I still had to put in the ground. I just got a collapse in my spirit I actually had to sit down at a certain point, as I was like I've never glad I never faded before my life but I think I might at this point made you feel like that physically. At this point in the semester you feel like that.
Emotionally or spiritually, just like you're not sure if you can take the next step you not sure if you can make it.
I'm so weak that's why think this particular study this morning is so encouraging because were asking the question, how does the spirit of God strengthen and empower us to live the Christian life because that's what we need. We need strength in our weakness. Now don't think there's any question about the fact of the spirits empowerment right there. Lots of passages that connect the spirit of God to this matter of power or strength like acts chapter 1 verse eight you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you agree. Passages like God anointed his son Jesus, with the Holy Spirit and power. Paul prays for the believers in the church of Rome.
In chapter 15 that they would abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit and a little bit later in that same chapter he says that what he accomplished in seeing Gentiles come to the faith was something that was done and accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So I think we have a question about that power of the spirit. But the question that was given to me and the question that were seeking to try to answer this morning is exactly how does he do that right. The spirit is is powerful and the Spirit empowers, but how exactly does the spirit strengthen us in our Christian life. That's the question and I like the answer that from a passage in the Old Testament if you turn there with me to Zechariah chapter 4.
So if you can find Matthew's gospel in the New Testament then just turn back to books you be in Zechariah chapter 4 summit approach this inductively, which means I'm not working from an idea but to work toward an idea sorry talk a little bit about the problem that these believers these people were facing in this day and the promise that God gave them, and the power that was part of that promise. And then once we get to that point will be able to answer the how question will get to the point of the passage so problem promise power and point a man like that. That's good that a breach so here we are and were in the postexilic. So the people of God.
As you know, it turned their back on God. They had given themselves over to idolatry and God was disciplining them the discipline them ultimately by sending them into captivity by carrying them away from their homeland. They became displaced people's refugees if you will, in places like Babylon, but as you know Persia ended up overtaking Babylon and Cyrus king of Persia issued a decree allowing these Jews to return back to their homeland and to rebuild Jerusalem, so when they come back to Jerusalem were looking at about 50 to 60 years of this city lying in ruins. So imagine your mind what that city must've looked like by this point. In fact, the passage that were looking at chapter 4 verse seven describes it in terms of a great mountain and I think initially we think the problem they were facing.
There was a problem in front of them just by sheer you just by the fact that they were looking at this pile of rocks.
This pile of stones left over from the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and then in addition to that they just had this overwhelming task is huge and daunting task in front of them, of reconstructing that temple. So can like my looking down the line and think about all the depots that had to go in there still imagine thinking about moving this pile of rubble and then constructing this edifice in its place and then there was the problem around them. There was this persistent enemy that we read about. For example, in Ezra chapter 4 verses wanted to their spoken of in terms of being the adversaries of the enemies of Judah and Benjamin. These are the people that probably were placed there. After the collapse of the northern kingdom by Syrian 722 BC these the people that were put their became intermingled with the people of God and became likely the that the Samaritans that we know of in the New Testament. Okay, there are clear there and they're offering their help. As the people of God, the Jews come back and seek to rebuild the temple, rebuild the city but there misleading in their statements. There probably trying to help because they want to infiltrate the work and frustrate the work they claim to worship the same God that that wasn't the case. They were syncretistic in their religion they claimed to be displaced people by the king of Assyria, Esau Hadden, who was the son of's inaccurate, and in verse three we read was routable. He was the governor at that time, and Joshua who was the high priest and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel said to them, you have nothing to do with us to build the house of God so now you're not to do this because this is the house of the Lord our God. We don't worship the same God. And because Cyrus king of Persia has commissioned us to do this in verses 45 we read that. Then the local residents weekend weekend, the hands or discourage the people of Judah and troubled them dishearten them in the building and they bribed officials against them to frustrate their purpose. All the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius, king of Persia, so according to my estimation, probably about 20 years. Here you got this constant harassment from the outside it is kindness. Intimidation is bullying that that makes of you experienced as kids that were in my public school there was a guy in my seventh grade class that was about 24 years old it like a full beard. Not as cool as Kenny's beard, but he he had a beard and he was just gonna get in my face and I was this little guy in seventh grade had my nice clean.
The press white T-shirt and my nice shorts that my mom and ironed and he was just kinda getting get my face stick his chest in my face and push me around and smelled really bad and I just remember you really sometimes not wanting to go to PE class and some cases, you know, not wanting to get up and go to school in the morning when you're walking down the hall and they knock your books out your hand and that kind of thing so just as a constant. You imagine the discouragement that came to these people as they dealt with this pile of rubble as they dealt this daunting task in front of them as they dealt with his harassment without ends and the text speaks of that in Haggai, chapter 2, verse three Haggai was one of the prophets who minister during this time and he says to Zerubbabel, who was the governor at the Joshua the high priest who is left among you that saw this house. This temple in her former glory. And how do you see it now, is it not in your eyes and comparison of it as nothing right so by comparison to the old days the glory days were looking at now as it begins is nothing so these are kind of the Debbie downer's right people that so easily discourage us in the work Zechariah chapter 4 verse 10 as well who have despised the day of small things describing these people who are looking at the commencement of this work and just really treating it with contempt, treating it as nothing like Esau, who treated his birthright with contempt and you know this. You know this is unfortunate because sometimes older people like us will sometimes live our lives in the past, living, reliving the glory days of the past and that can be a real discouragement that could be a real's a real drag on the work of God. Today social to say that all of us are older that really be careful about that kind of mentality that puts puts the brakes on a really dampens the effect of what God is doing in the present in the now. Among his people.
I meet some of these individuals were so affected by their comparison of what was and what is that they were weeping, loud enough intensely enough that you can hear it from quite a distance. It's very possible that the community itself because of some of these issues was a divided community so all of these problems she think you know is there any hope that these people are actually to be successful in a tent in the task. Is it actually possible and that's where this this promise enters into the situation in a vision from God is given through an angel through the prophet Zechariah to Joshua the high priest and his routable the governor what's the promise while the promise is essentially your efforts are going to succeed. Your efforts are going to succeed. Imagine you imagine how encouraging that would've been at that time magically said you you are going to get A's in all your classes know you're gonna get A's in all your classes. You are to succeed in a pants match up strengthening.
That would be how encouraging that would be that's exactly what the vision is communicated. Verse seven who are thou a great mount before his routable as if for addressing the mountain.
Thou shall become a level playing or to be a level nearly flattened, and he shall bring forth the headstone or the capstone thereof was shouting, strength, grace, grace unto account picturing forward of when this is completed and all the people blessing God because of the completion of the work. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying the hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation, his hands shall also finisher completed.
Here's this vision that includes this promise of ultimate success.
And you know how it is when you read passages like Philippians chapter 1 verse six and it says he who began a good work in you will do what he who began a good work and you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. And that is so encouraging, especially when you're not feeling it right now. That promise was designed to strengthen the people of God. So what Encouraging Word to a discouraged people so housing to be possible to move from rubble to temple how to move from number nothing to something how they come from opposition and harassment to the completion of the task are looking to move from discouragement to joy and this is the answer given in verse six the scan of the heart of the vision, the key text. Then he answered and spake in the me saying this is the word of the Lord and his routable saying it's not going to be by this means. So let's start with the negative not by might nor by power. So how is all this going to be accomplished. It's not could be the result of human ingenuity is not to be the result of human strengthen in human creativity and an end in human muscle back to the economic strength exactly all the resources of Persia that were behind right so he's he's eliminating this ideas, like it in in digging some of those holes and we have sometimes have to take these big wooden posts in and put them in as kind of like along the way to kinda keep the fence stable and when we first moved to the farm.
I only had basically shovel some taken the shovel and I'm trying to dig into this this compacted earth in of this hard red South Carolina Clay with a shovel and it was it was exhausting and was like you know what certain point you reach limestone or whatever and you actually cannot get through. Like I cannot do this of myself. Well, that's a good place to be right spiritually. When we come to the point when we recognize and realize like I'm out of resources. There's nothing I can do. The only thing I can do is look. We recognize that as the grace and kindness and love of God to bring us to the end of ourselves, because the reality is, is not to be by human strength, human ingenuity, human might ask of the point of the lampstand. I wish we had time to look at the passage more detail, but you can read it after chapel.
The lesson of the lampstand is that you get this lampstand in the vision and there is this supplied is constant, unending supply of fresh un-manufactured oils straight from to all of trees get to all of trees and their feeding this lampstand and there is no human that there there's no human work involved in this there are no priests bringing the oil to the Lamb it's just coming straight from those olive trees and that brings us to this.
What is what is the explanation behind the success of this work will is not to be by might nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts right by my spirit, that's how this is going to happen.
So after a while after try to dig those holes for quite a time. I ended up getting a John Deere tractor, which I love dearly.
I love my wife and I love my kids and that I love my John Deere tractor and I would augur that you can put on the back of the tractors basically think like a big thing like a big screw really big screw that you screw into the earth basically digs the hole for you. So now I can put the auger in the back of a tractor. I can backup took place. Put it down in the matter of like 10 seconds, 20 seconds by this hole drilled me is that not awesome or what. That is so cool. See yet yet the power from the tractor engine that's it is being transferred to that auger is turning in a just ripping up the earth and its and it's doing what I cannot do, humanly speaking, getting through all that hard stuff while we have an option we have a choice to live our lives in the power of her own strength, using our own resources or we can live in the power of the spirit, and may be part of the part of the explanation for some of our frustration where we are right now are discouragement is the fact that were living in our own strength and were not relying upon the spirit of God to enable us to live the Christian life.
Because the reality is is pulses the end of Romans chapter 11 of him through him to him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. So God is the source of all things is the means of all things is the end of all things, the amount leveling promise. Vision of success that gives hope, encourage, as God's people face a mountain size problem or task in the amount leveling promise will be realized by Mountain leveling power.
The spirit of God so first part of the idea that a like to convey that today is the spirit of God alone provides the necessary strength to do the work of God. But how see that's the question how does he do that. How does he empower us and I think the answer that this text gives us that's confirmed in the New Testament is that he does that through appointed means sheathing, but that that that lampstand. It's burning their right so that unclear as to exactly what that's a reference to maybe it's the temple itself.
The completion of the temple. Maybe it's the people of God as they shine as a light to the nations, but those that that lampstand is being supplied with fresh oil from to all the branches which are are identified in verse 14. As the two anointed ones and commentators typically identify these as either Joshua and his routable the high priest and the governor or the two prophets Haggai and Zechariah, but either way God is utilizing the ministry of these appointed leaders to accomplish the work and you see this in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 12 right. Christ is engaged in this construction process. He's building something to and for the church that he's building. He gave certain gifts, apostles, evangelist, prophets, pastors and teachers right. He appointed certain individuals to be a source of strength for the people of God, so that the people of God are equipped so the people God matures to the people of God grow up and there are appointed leaders. To that end. But even behind those rulers, like even if you identify the two anointed ones. The two olive trees or branches as Joshua the high priest in his routable governor behind those individuals was the preaching of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah look at Haggai, chapter 1 verses one into the second year of Darius the king in the six months the first day of the month came the word of the Lord by Haggai to one of these individuals routable Santhosh LTL, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Joseph deck, the high priest, saying, thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, so there ministering the word of God. Haggai, chapter 1 verse three for the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet and you see here he's coming in the scene.
He's bringing the word of God to bear upon their lives and in this case he's actually bringing a divine rebuke and he's addressing their misplaced priorities and that's how God is strengthening his people for the work, even sometimes through correction, even through rebuke right reproving that's part of the way God strengthens us by his Spirit. It's through the word as it's ministered in this case by appointed leaders have the same emphasis throughout the narrative, but notice in verses 12 and 14 that it was this ministry of the word that stirred up the spirit. But how does the spirit strengthen us well.
It came in this case, through the proclamation of the word of the Lord and it stirred up. First, the leaders and then all the remnant of the people.
You can see it's not by might nor by power but by my spirit, but how is actually taking place. When you pull back the curtain you see the preaching of the word stirring up the leaders to lead the people who were also stirred up by the word to do the work that God given them to do. And that's exactly what happened. They came and did the work in the house of the Lord their God.
And so in Zechariah for passage. That's the point of this vision. People are discouraged commencing this great work and God through his prophet brings a vision that says it will be completed you will be successful and that was designed to hearten them to stir them up to continue on. That's exactly what we need right.
That's exactly what I can right now. Think back to Bible conference right think back to some of those services. How many were strengthens by one of those messages okay to think back to how does the spirit strengthen us well you probably you may have come in one of those messages down disheartened weekend spiritually and what was the effect of the ministry of the word in your heart. It strengthen you. You were stirred up to take the next step to keep going.
That's how the spirit ministers strength primarily through the word, and so we go back to Ephesians chapter 4 for example, these gifts these appointed leaders that Christ is given to the church are word ministers primarily in some of them were given for the foundation laying of the church like the apostles, but they are primarily ministering the word so the church is strengthened to the point where members within the church are now doing something similar. They are speaking the truth in love right and because of that.
The rest of the body is growing up. The rest of the body is maturing the rest of the body to strengthen because of the ministry of individual Christians within the body and I would say. In addition, even behind it of the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah behind the ministry of Joshua and his routable is the ministry of the Messiah, which really if you look at the prophetic books is is the content of much of their preaching there projecting forward and showing how the blessing of God is gonna come to the people of God through the Messiah of God through the Christ of God, and so I wouldn't you know be super dogmatic about this, but I wonder if in this particular passage of Scripture. If there isn't some foreshadowing of the ministry of Jesus Christ, who is the high priest who is the ultimate Davidic ruler and who is the prophet who is the word of God. He is the ultimate means of spiritual blessing and spiritual strength ministered to us by his Spirit, and so that is confirmed in Ephesians chapter 4. If you continue reading. He's the head and it's from him that all the nourishment comps to the body. Jesus our Messiah. So the spirit of God alone provides the necessary strength to do the work of God and does so. Ultimately, by means of the word of God ministered the word of God in Scripture rated in the word of God incarnate Jesus Christ. But there is also this there is this right response that was necessary in order for that power to be enjoyed. So, for example, Haggai, chapter 1, you see the people obeying the voice of the Lord. You see, the people, fearing the Lord and that's what was necessary for their strengthening right they receive the word of God as the Thessalonian believers did not as the word of men, but as the word of God and it actually worked in them experience the power of the transforming power of that word as they welcomed and received and obeyed the word so scuttling on the tractor available button and I pull that PTO that power takeoff button and that's what releases the energy that's what begins.
All of the work.
So for us the spirit of God is there to enable to empower us and he does so through his word, but we have to receive it.
We have the welcome that we have to open up ourselves to it, and enjoy that ministry. So let me close with this. So what well I think this passage calls us to renounce self-reliance.
Just a renounce self dependence and be strengthened by the spirit as we are spoken to put yourself under the ministry of the word even when, and perhaps even, especially when you don't feel like it because that's one of the means appointed means by which God by his spirit strengthens us to continue on through God appointed leadership through Christ fitted members who are speaking the truth in love, and then be strengthened by the spirit as you are spoken to our skis as you speak to yourself.
So if you are not in a context like this that you can certainly speak to yourself.
The same words, the same life-giving words and the spirit will use those words strengthen you in the work and then lastly speak to others via conduit of blessing and strengthening to other people as you convey and speak the truth to them in love. That is the means. In other words, this is a just mystical. How does the spirit strengthen us well just collect sums that that we experience. No, it's actually connected very tightly to the word and our relationship to the word and are speaking of the word and our reception of Summit God, give us strength by his spirit to continue on. Father, we thank you that we are not dependent on ourselves to do what you called us to do.
A man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of your mouth.
Thank you spirit for strengthening us through that very word I meant you been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Karen McGonagle, a professor in the school of religion at Bob Jones University.
Thanks for listening and join us again next week as we continue the study of the Holy Spirit here on The Daily Platform