HAGGAI 1:7-11 "This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honoured," says the Lord. "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the Lord Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and the labour of your hands."

These verses refer to an incident in time that took place after God's people returned to Jerusalem after having been in captivity in Persia for 70 years. This incident took place in 521 BC, but I hear the voice of the Lord shouting out this message to us today.

"Why are you so busy with your external lives and do not pay attention to the building of the temple going on within you".

We get so caught up with our external lives that we pay no heed to the workmanship of the Master Builder, as He works within. We have been primed to look on the outside for the return of the Lord; so that we do not notice His preparing going on within.

What is our purpose here on earth? Is it to do great and mighty works for God? We many times act that way. If He were to strip away our entire outside veneer and get down to our basic being, what would our true motivations be for the things we busy ourselves with? Is it to amass physical wealth, or to garner public approval for our deeds, or is it to truly go wherever He leads? Normally, His leading is not to the way that brings us cries of adulation from our fellow man; indeed there are often cries of “stone him, discredit him, yes, even crucify him”. His way is not often to the way of material riches. Yes, I know He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; but the grip of tight finances often reaps a treasure far greater than earthly wealth.

Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that every negative thing that happens to you is because the Lord is trying to tell you something or to get you to change your ways. Many times He tells us the way to walk and then He purposely allows it to get hard and even very difficult. The Bible is full of many examples (David being anointed to be king and then having to live in caves, Joseph after His dreams from the Lord being sold into slavery and even ending up in prison, etc). But there are times where He says seek me first and I'll add these other things unto you. Many times we seek to add the other things unto ourselves, but miss the boat because we are not allowing the Lord's work to work within us. How many times we pray against the devil even though it is actually the Lord setting the roadblocks in our way?

His desire is to prepare a dwelling place for Himself. He is still building Himself a temple where He can reside. He wants to abide with us and even within us. Even as in the days of old, He called out to the people to stop fending for themselves and to start building His temple; He is saying to us today, "Leave off your earthly works and seek that which I would do within you".

This message is very much for me. I know He wants me to spend more time with Him and that I am to be about my Father's business. Many are the pressures and needs that attempt to “unfocus me” from His purposes. I keep waiting for an easier time when the financial, the time and emotional pressures will lessen so that I can seek the Lord's will in the quality and quantity that He is requesting. I keep waiting, but those times never seem to come. These verses tell us that these times will not come because our priorities are wrong; because we are seeking to take care of self instead of being about His business, He fights against us, often causing a blight upon our labours. We labour hard, but the results we look for are not there. We make deals with the Lord and say that as soon as things turn around and go well, then I'll work on your projects (whatever they might be). He says - "Turn to Me and come into My rest and it will be well with your soul". We tend to think we have plenty of time. The story of the rich man in Luke 12:16-21, who spends his time taking care of earthly things instead of his heavenly ones and has his life cut short speaks to us about ourselves. It is so EASY to get caught up with earthly cares. Our Lord knows our earthly needs. He knows what we need before we ask of Him, but so many times we come to Him and then go off to take care of these issues ourselves. In these situations, our wonderful Lord fights against us. Everything of flesh must perish. It must be put to death. Our Lord cannot bless the work of our hands when the inspiration for the work has come from self. You do not train a dog by rewarding him when he sits when you ask him to heel. You only reward obedience to the master. The same with our wonderful Lord. He will not reward, bless us when we do good things that have not been inspired by His Spirit. Because it is a good idea and will benefit many people, does not mean the idea came from the Lord. There were multitudes at the Pool of Bethesda, but our Lord only healed one. Why is it we feel obligated to meet every need when our Lord did not? He was very much about His Father's business and very much in the Spirit and yet He did not meet every need. Why do we feel we must meet every need? Is it the ugly demon of religiosity that drives us to be and do all for everyone?

Is there not another who is trying to build a temple for himself? Do we not many times actually labour on our own temple where we desire to raise up the idol of self? Does this not fall into the plans of the Antichrist? Do we not wish to be thought of well by others and have the respect of our peers, friends and relatives? Do we not labour hard and long to look good? If we truly laboured to please Him, what would our lives look like? Would they not be simpler, easier and a lot more relaxing? Did He not say His yoke was easy and His burden was light? And yet we always take on the heavy burden so that it appears to ourselves and others that what we are doing isfor the Lord? We need our Lord to come to our temples to overthrow the moneychangers and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. His desire is for a bride without spot or wrinkle. His way will lead us to the cleansing streams where we can dip our spotted robes in His precious blood and we be cleaned of all unrighteousness.

Today, our Ever-Present Lord is saying to us, "Lay aside your own works and put on My robes of righteousness". Our works are as filthy rags and He desires to cleanse us so that we are like a new born lamb. He is doing the work. He is building His temple. There are many today that say to look to Israel for the rebuilding of the temple, but I say to you - "Look within, surely the mansion builder is working overtime to finish you in time for His unveiling. He is coming quickly. Even so, come Lord Jesus!"