What I Don’t Get About Christians & Halloween

I don’t get it.

There are so many things Christians can and should celebrate but we spend so much time and energy over why we can or cannot celebrate Halloween.
Why this obsession with wanting to celebrate a festival that is questionable and controversial?

I don’t get it.

It is not as if 31 October is an open slot in the Christian calendar, where there was nothing eventful in church history, so we might as well occupy ourselves with the next best thing – Halloween! In case we have forgotten, 31 October is significant to Christians because this was when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg. This sparked off an entire movement which we have come to acknowledge as the Reformation. Since 1517, we have had great reason to celebrate on 31 October because of the recovery of the true gospel: justification by faith alone. And yet, between Reformation Day and Halloween, so much more attention is given to Halloween?!

I don’t get it.

Every year, without fail, there will be so many articles for and against Halloween. It doesn’t matter if ex-satanists or ex-witches state openly and clearly that Christians should have nothing to do with Halloween. There will always be a counter-argument that there is nothing wrong, that Christians have the victory, that there is nothing to fear. (It’s the same with yoga.)

Then, this year, there are suggestions by well-meaning ministers that we can join in the Halloween festivities by dressing up as noble characters like Paul the Apostle, Martin Luther, Mother Teresa or other key Christian figures. After all, even superheroes like Iron Man and Wonder Women have appeared in the Halloween line up. And of course, Elsa, of Frozen fame! Surely, we can let it go and Christians can join in the fun by dressing up as their favourite biblical hero too. (See how we are trying so hard to fit in again?)

In the first place, why do we even need to celebrate Halloween? To celebrate means to participate, to partner, to share, to fellowship, to koinonia. Secondly, to dress as these biblical characters is to put them on the same level as demonic characters. Thirdly. if you really need to dress up, go organise your own fancy dress party. Why wait one year, on 31 October, to argue about whether dressing up is ok or not for the Christian? Can’t we see that the issue is not what you dress as but that we are choosing to hang out and celebrate with questionable characters – the very ones that Jesus died to save us from?

I don’t get it.

I hear you say: “But we are saved! Jesus has overcome powers and principalities! We need not fear demons and zombies at all!” Amen. I wholeheartedly agree with these declarations.

However, the issue is not about victory in Christ (which we have), or the fear of being possessed by the spirit of Spiderman, or dirtying my favourite white shirt with cosmetic blood, or getting rashes from cheap makeup. The issue is holiness.

Personally, I don’t celebrate Halloween not because I am afraid of ghosts or gore, or that I will be jumped on by evil spirits. That would be totally missing the point. I don’t want to have anything to do with Halloween because I am called to be holy, to be set apart to the Lord and from the world. To this end, there are just some things I don’t do and some events I will not participate in. Period.

It baffles me that Christians accept that they are to be different and yet crave so much to be the same as everyone else! Once again, why this great need to do whatever the world is doing? Why so desperate? (On the point of fear, I suspect it is more FOMO – the fear of missing out – that Christians, adults and children, struggle with.)

In constituting a people for Himself, God told the children of Israel not to wear clothes of mixed material (Lev 19:19; Deut 22:11). Today, we tend to spiritualise this instruction; but fundamentally, it was about being set apart (to be holy) from the rest of the nations. Simply, don’t be like them. Don’t dress like them. Sadly, these days, we see Christians justifying why it is totally fine to dress and look like everyone else; even demons.

Before you throw me the we-are-not-under-old-testament-law card, allow me to appeal to the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:11-18 (that’s in the New Testament #justsaying). Addressing the Corinthians who were at the same time spiritual and carnal, Paul had to warn them that the two just don’t go together.

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them,
I will be their God,

And they shall be My people.”
Therefore
“Come out from among them,
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,

And I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:16-18

Paul’s source? The Old Testament scriptures: Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 32:38, Ezekiel 37:27, Isaiah 52:11, Ezekiel 20:34, 41, 2 Samuel 7:14. And don’t miss the punchline in the next verse:

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness …

2 Corinthians 7:1 (emphasis mine)

I hope you got what Paul was saying: Because we have a glorious promise of being God’s people, His sons and daughters, our response is to be holiness.

Ironically, “hallow” means “saint: one who is holy or set apart” (noun) or “to honour as holy” (verb). Halloween is simply All Hallows’ Eve, the day before All Hallows’ (Saints’) Day on 1 November. Today, there is nothing hallowed about Halloween. And God’s people, His sons and daughters, His holy ones (saints) keep trying to justify why it is ok to be participate in something that is anything but holy. Even worse, we are desperately trying to make it holy by Christianising it. And to prove that they have no need to fear spiritual darkness, the scarier, the spookier, the more ghastly, the more frightful the costume or character the better.

I don’t get it.

I mentioned above that the issue for me is not one of fear. Well, it isn’t; and yet it is. It is not because of the fear of the dark forces that I choose not to participate in Halloween. As we all believe and agree, we are victorious in Jesus Christ. However, it is because of fear – the fear of God – that I determine to be holy. After all, Paul exhorts believers to “perfect holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1, emphasis mine). Unfortunately, like holiness, the fear of the Lord is not exactly trendy or popular these days amongst Christians.

If you ask me, the Word of God is very clear: It’s about holiness and the fear of the Lord. I get it! But why aren’t others getting it? Perhaps we have been so well tricked with a deceptive treat of Christian freedom that we just can’t see it or simply refuse to get it?

I don’t get it.

I am fully aware that a little post like this may have little or no impact. This is just me thinking aloud, as with my previous two articles “Christians & Halloween” (2012) and “Halloween. How?” (2017). What is it with Christians and the obsession with Halloween? Why the desperate need to fit in? Why so many FOMO Christians?

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. 😦

Make AWESOME AWESOME Again

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I’ve said it before, and most likely, you’ve said it too.

  • After a great time of singing: “Wow, worship was AWESOME!”
  • Someone delivers a near faultless performance: “She was AWESOME!”
  • A message that stirred your heart: “Oh, that message was SO AWESOME!”
  • After a retreat or camp: “We had such an AWESOME time!”
  • A child does well for his exam: “You are AWESOME!”
  • Sampling the latest culinary fare: “That was AWESOME!”
  • Seeing a breathtaking view: “Whoa, AWESOME!!!”

It seems that these days, anything good, beautiful, pleasant, satisfying, exciting, emotional qualifies to be AWESOME. As long as things are going well for you, and life appears to be good, we can boldly sing along with Emmet Brickowski of the LEGO Movie fame, “Everything is AWESOME!”

Yes, AWESOME is the new buzzword and the Church has had no problems Christianising it and claiming it as their own. After all, it does sound spiritual, so I suppose that makes it par for the course.

But is today’s AWESOME what AWESOME really is? Do we even understand what AWESOME means?

Of the 37 Old Testament verses* that AWESOME appears in, only 8 verses use words that may also mean ‘wonderful’, ‘powerful’ and ‘glorious’. But for the majority, in the other 29 verses, the original word used is ‘yare’, derived from ‘yirah’, meaning ‘fear’. In the New Testament, AWESOME appears only once, in Acts 2:20, where Peter quotes Joel 2:31 (addressed below). From these, we also note that AWESOME is always used to describe God, His word and His works; never man or the works of man.

In Psalm 33:8, “Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”, fear and awe are mentioned together. In Psalm 119:161, “Princes persecute me without a cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your word.” can be literally translated as “my heart trembles in fear at Your word.” Persecution may have been unbearable but the psalmist would not compromise God’s word not only because it was beautiful and glorious (although it most certainly is), but for fear of the consequences of dishonouring God through disobedience.

When Jacob encountered God at Bethel, he declared, “How awesome (yare) is this place!” For sure, it wasn’t merely goosebumps Jacob experienced because of the angelic worship team and the latest LED widescreen; it was fear, for Genesis 28:17 clearly records that Jacob “was afraid (yare)”.**

This should not surprise us one bit for our God is an AWESOME God. Indeed, He is glorious, magnificent, wonderful and powerful, and most have no issue with that at all. However, may I suggest that we have not even begun to understand how very, very, very glorious, magnificent, wonderful and powerful He is, to a point of terror and fear!? We have all had our personal experiences of entering the presence of one of higher authority and greater power – principal, commanding officer, prime minister, president. To a certain degree, we experienced fear. How much more the God of heaven and earth?

In Psalm 111:9, the psalmist declares, “Holy and awesome (yare) is His Name!” The KJV translation reads, “Holy and reverend (yare) is His Name!” Keeping in context, the next verse proclaims, “The fear (yirah) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” God’s holiness and AWESOMENESS is not to be trifled with, but to be feared and revered. No wonder Isaiah fell flat on his face (Isaiah 6:5)! No wonder the Apostle John fell as dead when Jesus revealed Himself to him (Rev 1:17)!***

Real AWESOMENESS is when you haul in a miraculous catch of fish and are immediately convicted of your own sin! In Luke 5:8, Peter didn’t go, “Wow, cool! That was really AWESOME, Jesus! You, the Man!” Not at all! Instead, Peter fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” – yes, Peter responded in fear! Which explains why Jesus had to comfort him with the words, “Do not be afraid.” (Luke 5:10)

In Joel 2:31, the prophet Joel described the Day of the Lord as “great and awesome (yare)”. Just in case you think it will resemble something of the closing ceremony of the Olympics to take your breath away, note Joel’s earlier mention in Joel 2:11, “For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible (yare); Who can endure it?” In other words, AWESOME means ‘very terrible’ or ‘fearsome’.

How far we have departed from the true meaning of AWE and AWESOME. According to the Online Slang Dictionary, AWESOME means “very good, excellent, fun, or otherwise appealing”. Sadly, in Christian circles, that is also the definition we have accepted. Without realising it, we have conveniently taken this descriptor, meant only for God, and applied it to everyone and everything. What is even worse is that we have adopted this slang and applied it to God. With this narrow, shallow, cutesy understanding of AWESOME, we have turned a truly AWESOME God into a pop idol that is only fun, entertaining and appealing.

I don’t think this little article can do much to change the way we use our language. When I have a positive experience, the word AWESOME may still roll off my tongue automatically. Likewise, I won’t hold it against you for proclaiming AWESOMENESS on your favourite ice cream flavour.

But let’s make AWESOME AWESOME again in the way we view God and relate to Him. Let’s put the AWE back into AWESOME for He is a holy God to be revered, honoured and yes, feared! Because I know that God is good and that He loves me, I have absolutely no problems with the words ‘fear’ and ‘terror’. Redeemed by the blood of Jesus and clothed in His righteousness, the fear I have for the Lord does not involve torment at all (1 John 4:18), but love, obedience and submission to His will and ways. At the same time, I heed seriously the warning of Hebrews 10:31 where the writer exhorted believers to examine their lives and conduct, for “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

The next time we sing, “Our God is an AWESOME God!”, let us truly, rightly and fully ascribe the AWESOMENESS that is due to Him and Him alone!

* New King James Version.
** This was way before the law was given.
*** John was a New Testament believer under grace.

Related Post: Who Says Faith And Fear Cannot Co-Exist?

Who Says Faith And Fear Cannot Co-Exist?

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Yesterday, I saw this post on Facebook: “FEAR AND FAITH CANNOT CO-EXIST.”

This FEAR-FAITH declaration is not a new one and I’ve heard it many times before. You probably have been taught the same thing … that FAITH and FEAR are diametrically opposite, never to be seen or mentioned together. Well, this is not altogether inaccurate but I’d like to share a different perspective to the relationship with faith and fear. Relationship?! Yes, I have found that these two words do and can co-exist. I discovered this when I re-read one of my favourite verses one day, Hebrews 11:7 …

“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Heb 11:7 NKJV

It never occurred to me before but that day, I read the verse again and realised that both faith and fear were mentioned together in the same verse! Because I had been taught that the two words don’t go together, I completely missed the significance of this verse. In my mind, each time faith is mentioned, fear cannot be present; and vice versa. As a result, I had conditioned myself to dislike the word ‘fear’ and developed an automatic blotting out of that word whenever it appeared; and especially when faith is mentioned. I didn’t realise that by adopting that posture, I also conveniently erased every understanding of fear, including that of godly fear or the fear of the Lord!

Noah was a man of faith. And it was his faith in the Lord – what he believed in and of God – that produced a holy, reverent or godly fear which in turn moved him to obey every instruction and warning that came from God. When God said that He would judge mankind, He meant it! When God said that He would bring a flood, He meant it! When God told Noah to build an ark, Noah readily obeyed because his faith brought about a holy fear that God meant what God said! And if Noah didn’t proceed to work on the vessel for the next 120 years, he too would have been swept away by the waters, whether or not he repeated his salvation prayer or not!

We see the same example in our Lord Jesus Christ “who, in the days of his flesh, when He offered prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Heb 5:7-8 NKJV) If anyone had 100% faith, Jesus did. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He had complete faith in the Father whether the cup was removed or not. And yet, filled and led by the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2), Jesus submitted to the Father’s will for “His delight [was] in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:3). Like Noah, by faith, Jesus, moved with godly fear, obeyed and went all the way to the cross. Once again, the corresponding result of faith was fear, godly fear; and out of that, obedience.

My point? Simply this: Without realising it, our minds have been shaped by one-liners like “Fear and faith cannot co-exist.” or “Fear looks. Faith leaps.” As such, subconsciously, we have learnt to detest the word ‘fear’, even if it is godly or holy. Even when teaching about the fear of the Lord, we tend to qualify that as ‘reverence’ or ‘awe’, all too quickly and apologetically even. Clearly, we fear the word ‘fear’ and as far as possible, we’d rather not have it. Consequently, Christians today have little understanding of what it truly means to fear the Lord. We may say that we reverence Him or worship Him or hold Him in awe, but somehow, it just isn’t the same! We may lift our hands in darkened auditoriums and shed tears when we feel the tingles but as long as we don’t respond in obedience, we just do not fear the Lord! And that’s the problem with faith as we  know it today. We have been told that faith and fear simply do not go together. And so, our faith in our God is just that. We talk so much about faith but few are ever moved, as Noah and Jesus were, by godly fear that results in sacrificial obedience.

So yesterday, when I saw this post on Facebook: “FEAR AND FAITH CANNOT CO-EXIST.”, I couldn’t help but respond with the comment: “Not unless it is godly fear.”

Rising Costs. Rising Faith?

I remember the day in 2003 all too clearly. Prior to leaving my job and company for fulltime ministry, I did what most would consider a responsible thing to do – I reviewed our family’s finances. Taking our savings and dividing it by monthly expenses, the wave of emotion that overwhelmed me caught me totally by surprise. Fear flooded my heart, my knees went weak and all I could manage was a prayer that whimpered, “Oh God…” Quite immediately, I heard the Lord ask, “Have I not shown you I am faithful?” Although I struggled, I decided that day, that moment, to trust God completely with finances.

Fast forward a few years to 2007, to when Serene was pregnant with Deborah Hope, our 6th child. One afternoon, when I was just thinking about how we would manage with a growing family and one more on the way, fear gripped my heart … again. What followed was a series of questions in my mind, pondering and considering the financial needs of our larger-than-normal family way into the future! Amidst the voices in my head, the Spirit spoke, gently but so assuringly, “One day at a time. One day at a time.” I can’t explain the peace that ensued but it sure brought me back to the right perspective, putting my trust in the Lord again.

Well, it’s 2012, and today, we have seven children. Yes, in total, nine of us in the Lim Tribe. In terms of finances and provision, one would think that there would no longer be any shred of doubt in my heart, having heard so clearly from God and experienced His grace and provision all these years in full time ministry. Well, yes and no. Yes, because we are still trusting in God, holding on to His Word and standing on His unfailing faithfulness. We are so thankful for what we have and how He has blessed us by His grace. Does it mean that I am no longer affected by what goes on around me? I wish that would be so, but truth is, I am still learning and growing in Him. And until I get there eventually, I still struggle and waver every now and then in my journey of faith.

At times, I like to be that proverbial ostrich with my head in the sand. It’s easier that way, I rationalise, if I don’t take too much notice of news reports of inflation and rising costs. After all, I don’t want fear to affect my faith. Sounds nice and spiritual, but this is merely denial and totally unrealistic. The fact is costs have risen across the board and our family needs and expenses have all increased.

The same trolley full of groceries costs more this year than one year ago. Our special diet and health needs require less processed foods and more fresh foods – organic at times. I am also discovering that a growing teenager eats more than growing toddlers, and more often too! Eating out is a luxury so I am thankful that we eat home quite a lot – thanks to Serene’s labour of love in our furnace of a kitchen. Then again, the rates for utilities, like water, electricity and gas, are also climbing.

The younger ones may be more easily occupied by recycled toys and books but new hobbies and activities for the older ones all cost money. How I long for the good old days where kids catch fish in the longkangs and spiders in the bushes. Today, you must pay for artificial longkang fishing. Plus, don’t forget the cost of petrol to drive there.

Grateful as I am to list ACS as my alma mater, my only regret is that I did not take Chinese more seriously, preferring instead to join the league of ACScians who proudly declare our deficiency in the 2nd Language. This simply means that I am unable to save on Chinese tuition fees since I do not have the capability of teaching my own kids – not that my schedule permits it in the first place. Thanks to Singapore’s education policy, we have another figure to consider. It has also just dawned on me that tuition fees for three children is different from that for six. Seven soon?

Still on education – homeschooling more precisely – the question, “Lord, we did hear you correctly to homeschool, did we not?”, pops up a lot more in today’s economic scenario. For one, we lose out on subsidised education and Edusave. Even public transportation is more expensive for our children because they are not issued Student Passes to enjoy student rates. For another, we have to purchase curricula and books on our own, often importing from USA.

Like I said earlier, it’s extremely tempting to just be in denial, to ignore the rising costs and the crazy economy. If I position it really well (ostrich butt sticking out and all), I might even be seen as extremely spiritual and full of faith! Well, I don’t think that’s the right response at all. As a steward of the finances God has blessed us with, we must do our part to be prudent, to spend wisely and to cut unnecessary expenditure. To do that, we should and must evaluate our family’s finances in the context of the economy and determine how to best manage with godly wisdom.

Invariably, the issues of contentment and covetousness will have to be addressed – not just once, but over and over again. When we can afford it, are our wants rationalized and justified as our needs? The line is just so fine and the heart so deceitful. Now that belts have to be tightened, would we remain satisfied or would we grumble and complain? Would we continue to give thanks for what we have and not gripe about what we don’t have or could have?

All said, one thing remains very clear to me. The Lord has called me into fulltime ministry, to serve Him and to serve others. As a servant of God, I am convinced that I have the best Master who loves me and truly knows how to look after me and my family. The Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out grain,” and, “The labourer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Tim 5:18)

In the words of Jesus, we are of more value than the sparrows and the flowers of the field. If God looks after them and provides for them, how much more will He take care of His children? For sure, there is no need to worry at all for my heavenly Father knows our every need. My part is to continue to faithfully serve Him, to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”; His part is to ensure that “all things are added to me” (Matt 6:33).

The words of the Lord still resound in my heart: “Have I not shown you I am faithful?” and “One day at a time … one day at a time.” Yes, Lord, You have been more than faithful! Even when I have been faithless, You remain totally faithful for You are consistent and unchanging. I will take it one day at a time. As You have seen me through my yesterdays, You will walk with me today, and will also lead me into all my tomorrows.

Amidst rising costs, let faith arise! … “Hey, who left the fan on?”

I’m Surrounded!

Have you ever felt totally and utterly overwhelmed before? You try to keep your head above the water but your mind is just cramped full of details and questions. Try as you might to escape these thoughts, there just seems to be no way out. You are crying out for answers and all you experience is this oppressive sense of the entire room closing in on you! All too soon, you are surrounded and hemmed in by fear and anxiety.

That must have been how Gehazi, felt too when he went for a morning walk with Elisha, only to see the city entirely surrounded by the Syrian army! Immediately, he says to Elisha, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” It must have been a scary sight! They were totally surrounded by horses and chariots. And it would only be a matter of time before the army closed in on them. However, whilst Gehazi saw and reacted in the natural, Elisha saw something else in the spiritual, and coolly replied, Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16

Gehazi must have wondered, “Hello?! It’s just the two of us. Who else is with us? If we don’t start running, we are dead ducks!” At the request of Elisha, the Lord opened Gehazi’s spiritual eyes and the young man couldn’t believe what he saw … he was still surrounded, but this time, by a far greater number of the Lord’s army, horses and chariots blazing with fire! (2 Kings 6:17)

Whether you are an executive braving the corporate jungle, or a homemaker trying your best to keep your house and children in order, you know what I am talking about. There are just those days when you feel totally surrounded and overwhelmed by the ridiculous demands and pressures of life. You look at the “Syrian army” around you and are so tempted to say, “It’s no use! I’m totally surrounded. I might as well give up!” DON’T!

The enemy wants to keep you in the natural, but you need to understand that the battle is in the spiritual. If your eyes are continually fixed on the problem, it will appear larger and larger until it consumes you! Do you not see that this is the ploy of the enemy? He wants to surround you, to besiege you, to starve you, to weaken you and finally, to kill you.

“‘For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10

Instead, ask the Lord to open your eyes that you may see! Ask Him to reveal the truth of His presence and protection over and around you. In Psalm 125:1&2, the psalmist declares, “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.” (emphasis mine) In Zech 2:5, God Himself declares, “I will be a wall of fire all around [Jerusalem], and I will be the glory in her midst.” YES, people of God, YOU ARE SURROUNDED … not by the enemy … but by the power, by the presence, by the abundance, by the grace, by the love of God!

I know it’s not easy when you are in the midst of a trying time and everything seems to be closing in on you. In the narrowness of that moment, call on the LORD and ask Him to open your eyes that you may have the right perspective to be strong in Him. Learn from the psalmist who said, “I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6&7, italics mine.)

Indeed, if God is for you, who can be against you (Rom 8:31)? Do you not know that the battle is not yours to fight, but the Lord’s? Do you not know that the heavens have been opened over you, that every spiritual resource has now been made available to you in Christ? Do you not know that whatever the enemy throws at you, absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God? If not, then ask the Lord to open your eyes that you may see!

As God’s children, the safest and most secure place is in the Father’s arms, where we are constantly surrounded by His everlasting love.

My dear friend, no matter how tough a situation (or a person) may be, nothing is too difficult for the one who places his trust in God. Pray for the Lord to open your spiritual eyes to see Him for who He truly is and that you, being wrapped in Christ and His righteousness, are totally safe in His arms because He surrounds you completely. And then, walk in the freedom and victory He has already secured for you by the precious blood and through the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the cross!

Building. Shaking. Filling.

The Lord laid this message on my heart in Nov 2008, just after the sub-prime crisis that triggered a worldwide economic recession.  I had faithfully shared it at various congregations, urging the people of God to recognise the signs of the times, at the same time encouraging everyone that God in still in control.  Today, as I observe the happenings and events taking place around the world, I realise that this message is still so relevant; and the times even more urgent.  It is with this burden on my heart that I am making this message available on the web …

In the first chapter of Haggai, we understand that people of Judah were busy with their own personal agendas and well-being.  The foundation of temple laid in 537BC, but up until 520BC, there was very little progress in rebuilding the temple.  However, the busier they were, the busier they got.  The moment they acquired something, they lost it through “leaks”.  Sadly, not much has changed.  In today’s society, we are still as busy, if not busier.  Christians need to discern and understand the times and respond accordingly.  God is about to move in a mighty way!  But are we prepared for God’s move?  From Haggai 2:4-9, the Lord showed me three points, BUILDING-SHAKING-FILLING, that we must take heed of and pay attention to.

1. BUILDING

‘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. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ Haggai 2:4-5

The first thing that we must concern ourselves with is the building of the temple.  By this, I am not talking about church buildings and monuments.  Today, you and I are the temple of the Holy Spirit; we are the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16)!  When God calls for the building of the temple, He is referring to the maturing of sons and daughters of God.  He is calling for men and women of God to be raised up as pillars of His House in these final days (Heb 3:6).

Be strong, be strong, be strong!  For sure, the building process is not an easy one, hence the exhortation of us to be strong.  Our tendency is to be strong in ourselves, our talents and our abilities.  The moment we are called to be strong, we rush out to do things for God in the best way we know how!  But that is not right at all, for that is man’s way and the world’s way.  We are, instead, to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Eph 6:10) and in the grace that is found only in Jesus Christ (2 Tim 2:1).  It is in recognising our own weakness that we will rely on His strength and His grace! It is when we are weak that we are strong … let the weak say I am strong!  For He gives power to the weak (Isa 40:29) and His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9).  As in the book of Acts, our reliance on His great grace unleashes His great power (Acts 4:33)!

There is work to be done!  The foundation of the temple has already been laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:10).  Now, it’s time to build the temple of God!  Today, we individually and collectively are the temple of God; to be built up on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

But don’t mistake this as a call to ministry.  The work to be done is not the good works that bring many a sense of belonging and personal glory even.  Instead, it is a call for each to be built up in Christ, to mature and to grow up in Christ.  Contrary to the popular and consumer-oriented gospel that prevails in churches today, spiritual maturity requires work!  Don’t be lulled and fooled into believing that because of the grace of God, any other effort brings you into working for your salvation and righteousness.  Make no mistake, it takes hard work to pray, to fast, to read bible, to be silent, to have solitude, to deny self, to carry cross, to exercise towards godliness, to live simply, to forgive, to confess, to sacrifice, to praise, to worship, to be equipped, TO GROW!!!  Out of this, ministry and service is a natural progression!

Here’s the good news!  As we work, God works with us for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you!”  He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us, to comfort us, to enable us.  The building will not be by power nor by might, but by the Spirit of the Lord!  (Zech 4:6)

God is waiting to partner us in this effort.  For sure, we can’t do it on our own.  However, we are expected to put in effort, working out our salvation (Phil 2:12) by exercising our faith through obedience.  What we WORK OUT, GOD will WORK IN.  As we work it out, God works in us – this is known as the effective working of His power (Eph 1:19; 3:7; 4:15,16).  Oh, how many have rendered His power ineffective through sin, disobedience, unbelief, fleshly living, religiosity, tradition, pride, complacency, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc

Do not fear!  God knows the building and maturing process will not be easy and will take time.  He knows that fears will come in to challenge and replace the faith in our hearts.  God reminds us, “Do not fear!!!”

Do not be afraid of your own inadequacies, your past hurts and disappointments.  Stop telling yourself you cannot or you’re not good enough.  Do not be afraid of men, of their comments and remarks.  Disregard their taunts and teasing.  Ignore their words (however well-meaning they may appear to be).  Listen to and stand only on the Word of God.  Do not be afraid of the enemy and his distractions and attacks.  He is a defeated foe and has no power or authority over you.  You are a child of God and a servant of the Most High God!  Resist him and he will have to flee (James 4:7).

All these will discourage and hinder us, and even cause us to give up in our spiritual walk.  Keep working at building the temple, keep growing, keep pressing in, keep drawing close to God.  Stay focused and don’t be distracted by the trappings of the world!

But more than anything else, do not fear the shaking that is coming soon.  If you are secure in your relationship with God, you have nothing to fear!!!  If not, there is much to fear!

2. SHAKING

” For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations,…” Haggai 2:6-7a

YET ONCE MORE, God will shake.  All through history, we see God’s shaking.  Every move of God establishes His kingdom and purposes.  But man tries to manage and to protect that experience, thereby limiting God and turning that into human organization and effort.  Over time, it becomes religion and rituals, a form of godliness without power (2 Tim 3:5).  God will shake again.  In fact, the shaking has already begun and it will only get more intense.

More and more, we will see God shake the world’s kingdoms.  The world and its systems are under the influence of the enemy and God will expose these.  God will also shake our own kingdoms, our security systems and comfort zones.  Our theological positions, doctrines and beliefs will not be spared.  The Lord has also shown me that He will shake religiosity and idolatry out of the Church!

Look at all the signs and be wise to it.  Global warming is a hot topic.  Its impact on the climate and ecology is now affecting economies and that will impact financial systems!  This must happen, for the situation must become so desperate that a New World Order will be accepted.  And that will affect you and me.  No one will escape the shaking.

But thank God that we have no need to fear because we have received a Kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb 12:28).  The question to ask is if we have been living as true Kingdom subjects or have we just been content with church membership?  We have no need to fear because in and through the shaking, God will be our strength and shelter (Joel 3:16).  “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” Proverbs 18:10  All these point to relationship not religion!  We have no need to fear because God’s economy still stands.  In Haggai 2:8, God declares that the silver and the gold are still His!  Regardless what may happen to the economy, our trust is in the Lord.  Our provision comes from Him.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall never be in lack (Psalm 23:1).

Instead of focussing on the shaking and being distracted by the shaking, we must concentrate on the building of our spiritual lives and our relationship with God.  It is in the raising up that matured sons and daughters will be able to withstand and go through the shaking.

3. FILLING

” … and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. … ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.” Haggai 2:7b & 9

Not only do we not have to fear the shaking, we can look forward to a tremendous promise: Every temple that is built up and growing towards maturity will be filled with the fullness and the glory of God!!!

This prophecy belongs to us!!!  No other temple after Solomon’s Temple exceeded in glory … not Ezra’s Temple … not Herod’s Temple.  There is only one other temple and that’s us!  When Jesus told the Jews that He would raise up the temple after three days, He was speaking of the temple of His body (John 2:19-21).  We are the Temple who will be filled with God’s glory!

This glory will surpass even the glory that filled Solomon’s temple!  When that happened in 2 Chr 5:14 & 7:1,2, the priests could not stand and could not minister.  But I believe that when God’s glory fills us this time, we will move out in power to minister and to reveal His glory in its fullness!  It is no co-incidence that so many other ministers of God are preaching about the glory and about moving in the supernatural.  God is raising up an army that will carry His glory to the nations!  There will be signs and wonders!  There will be deliverance!  There will be breakthroughs!  There will be PEACE … shalom, restoration and rest!

This must happen for the world is getting darker and darker.  The words of Isaiah 60:2 remind us, “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.”  Against this dismal backdrop, the light must shine.  In fact, the light has already come!  The preceding verse in Isaiah declares, “Arise, shine; for your light has come!  And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.”

May the Church be in slumber no more.  There is work to be done in each of our lives and relationships with the Lord.  The temple of the Lord must be raised up that we can stand firm and not be shaken whatever the world throws at us.  Let us look to the promise of His glory, the inhabitation of His temple!  What a promise!

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Hab 2:14