What Is Your Next Step?

Learning How To Step Out In Faith and Obedience To God.

Dan Franklin
Feb 6, 2022    36m
Do you find it hard to follow where God is leading you? This message teaches us that a critical part of learning how to step out in obedience and faith to God is remembering God is always with you when you take that step. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Life Bible - What Is Your Next Step
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Dan Franklin: [00:00:18] So sometimes the first step that you take is the hardest step. Amen? Sometimes when you're starting something new, the first step is the hardest step to take. I was thinking of this, sometimes this is true, literally. A few years ago, me and my family got to go zip-lining, which is an amazing thing to get to do, some of you have done it, some of you have probably done it at Forest Home even, where you get to get on, you're carabinered in and you slide down and you get to see a lot of amazing things as you're just flying through the air. When you start the zip lining, you're standing on the edge of a platform, now just follow me on this, in zip lining, the first step is the hardest up, right? Because it's really the only step, once you've taken that step, there's no going back. When you're taking that first step with zip lining, it's not like you're taking the first step on a hike that then you can get three steps in and say, never mind, I'm going back. You take that first step, you don't get halfway down the line and say, I'm going to go back to the beginning. Once you take that first step, the momentum carries you on, you are committed.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:25] And that's why I think so many times the first step is the hardest step to take, because once we've done it, we're out there, once we've done it, we're committed, and once we've done it, there's no going back. This can happen with something as simple as when you're asking a girl out on a date, and you're like, now it's out there. If you're joining a gym, if you're applying for a job, if you're calling the counselor to start marriage counseling, so, like, that first step puts it out there, and there's no going back. Which is one of the reasons why the first step is the hardest to take, and also a reason why for many of us, we stand on that platform for a long time trying to decide if we're going to take that first step.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:09] Now, last week, we started this five-week series through the Old Testament Book of Haggai, you just heard the passage read that we're going to go through. And we chose this book because it seemed appropriate for this time in the life of our country, and of our church, and all of us, because the Book of Haggai, as we're going to see, is about rebuilding. It's about the Israelites being at a pivotal time in their history when rebuilding was necessary. And so we're living in a time in our world, and in our country, and our county, and our church, where we're constantly talking about rebuilding post-pandemic. I still don't know if it's post-pandemic, but we're rebuilding, and rebuilding in our community, and rebuilding in our church with the hit that we've taken, and rebuilding our businesses, and our lives. And so we get to see Israel at the point of rebuilding, and what we get to see today, is them standing on that edge, being called to a specific act of obedience before God, but they know once they take that first step, there's no going back, and so it's scary to think about taking that first step.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:14] And one of the things we'll be talking about throughout Haggai, in these five weeks, we're going to sort of see phases that the Israelites went through in rebuilding, which is cool because it gives us a little bit of a parallel as we think about this in our own lives. Last week, we talked about phase one of rebuilding, and phase one told them to take stock, give careful thought to your ways. Look around and try to figure out what is it that brought you to the moment that you're at right now and figure out what you need to do.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:45] And that was last week, and then phase two that we're going to talk about this week, is the phase that says step out. Sometimes you do need to pause and take stock, God willing, some of you did that this last week, where you thought, what is going on in my life? What is God calling me to rebuild? And today we're going to talk about the fact that once you've taken stock, you need to take that step out. And for the Israelites, it's going to require radical faith for them to step out.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:14] But I've got a secret, it's not just the Israelites that needed radical faith to step out and obey God, every time we step out, it requires this kind of radical faith. Responding to God's commands is always an act of faith, and faith always feels risky. And so before we get ready to go through this great passage in the Bible, I just want to pose a question that we're going to return to throughout this time, and that I want you to begin thinking about now. What step of obedience is God calling you to take? I don't care how old you are, I don't care if you're one of the kids in here, where we're excited that you're here, I don't care if you're even older than Don. I don't care where you are on the scale. Sorry, you're sitting right there. But wherever you are, there is a next step of obedience that God is calling you to take, and some of you are real clear on it. Some of you are like, there's no mystery over the next thing God is calling me to do, it might have to do with money, it might have to do with serving, it might have to do with a conversation that you've been putting off, it might have to do with some sin area that you need to take seriously. What is the next step of obedience that God is calling you to take? And today, you're going to be challenged and encouraged to step out in faith and obey.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:40] Now, here's how this passage breaks down, we've heard it read, it's Haggai chapter 1 verses 7 through 15. By the way, if you want to turn there now to follow along, you can. If you're not sure where it is in the Bible, you're not alone. Haggai is seldom read, and even more seldom preached on, so we're kind of doing a deep dive here. But if you're looking through the Old Testament trying to find it, it's right between the Z books. So if you find a book of the Bible that starts with Z, you're close, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, that'll be sort of our key for this whole time.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:09] What we're going to see here is a passage that breaks really easily into two parts, verses 7through 11 are going to tell us what God commands the people to, and verses 12 through 15, we get to see how they respond to what they're commanded to do.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:24] So let's start with the command, starting in verse 7, we read, "This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways." Some of you, if you listen to the message from last week, this will be familiar. This was said back in verse 5, it was sort of the key command about taking stock. Look at your life, figure out how you got here, figure out why things aren't going exactly how you expected them to go, take stock of your life, give careful thought to your ways. I'm not going to ask for a show of hands, but anybody in here looking at your life right now and saying, how did this happen? Like, how did I get here? This wasn't what I planned; I didn't plan to be this kind of person. I didn't plan for my marriage to get to this point. I didn't plan for my finances to get to this point. I didn't plan for the scenario to get out of control the way that it has. For some of you, it's very appropriate to say, give careful thought to your ways, just try to look at your life and say, how did I get to where I am?

Dan Franklin: [00:07:25] And then in verse 8, we get the command that really is the main command the Israelites are given, and it's very specific, "Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord." So here is the choice that the Israelites are facing right now, the very specific command from God through the Prophet Haggai is, to rebuild the temple.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:58] Now, here's why they're in this situation, the Israelites somewhat recently have gotten back from exile. They were in the Land of Israel, they were disobedient to God, and so God sent them off into foreign countries. Had Babylon come in and conquer them, they were in Babylon, and then there was a regime change, and Persia ended up being in charge. And Cyrus, who was king of Persia at a certain time, said, you know what, I'm going to allow all the Israelites to go home, I'm going to send them all home. And say, alright, go back to your land, go back to Jerusalem, and rebuild your temple. And so a bunch of Israelites, there later on in this passage called the remnants, sort of the surviving Israelites, they come back into the land, and they start building the temple right away. It's like, first things first, we're going to rebuild the temple because that is the symbol of God's presence with us. But they run into obstacles, there are some surrounding people who don't want them to be successful, so they start to bother them, and harass them, and they're bribing officials so that permits don't go through. And eventually, they write a letter to the King of Persia, whose art of Xerxes at this time, and they say, hey, don't let the Israelites rebuild their temple. They're going to trouble us, they're going to rebel, don't let them be successful, tell them to stop. And Artaxerxes says, you know what, you're right. And sends a letter and says, stop building the temple. And they stop, and it's lying and ruins for 16 years. And then God sends Haggai to give them this prophecy, rebuild the temple.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:26] Now, part of this, again, it's hard for us in 2022 in the United States, in a church that's not highly liturgical, we could look at the temple and be like, what's the big deal? Just they can worship God, they don't need a temple. Well, it's true, God is not contained by a temple. And at the same time, we're foolish, even in our very casual culture, we're foolish if we don't realize that symbols matter. They matter even to us, wedding rings matter, flags matter, gravestones matter. These symbols, we could say that they don't really matter, they don't have anything behind them. symbols matter. And the temple was the symbol of God's presence, so them not rebuilding, it was basically them saying, we're fine whether or not God is here. They need to rebuild the temple, and rebuilding the temple is going to take a step of faith.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:22] Now we'll come back to verse eight in a moment, but first, let's look at verses 9 through 11. because this is where God says, here's how it's been going while the temple is in ruins. He says, “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 your own house. 10Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” Do you guys get what God is saying here? God is saying I made it all, not work. you showed a bunch of seeds, you harvested it, and it wasn't as much as you thought it was going to be. And even the stuff that you did harvest, what did God do? It says, I blew it away, I made it even less successful.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:24] And notice also here that God isn't here saying, hey, I set the universe into motion with a series of causes and effects. So when you did this stuff, it wasn't me, it was just the natural cause and effect of the universe. He says I blew it away; he says I caused a drought. God is actively saying, I have thwarted you in all of your efforts to be self-sufficient, I have made you unsuccessful. Which, by the way, does this seem kind of mean to anyone? It's OK to admit it, if you're like, I'm not sure about this. I mean, isn't rule one of the Bible be nice? And by the way, it's not. But we're like, isn't rule number one be nice? And it seems like God isn't really being nice? If God loves us? Why in the world would he frustrate our efforts?

Dan Franklin: [00:12:18] Now, if you're thinking that, I want you to do just a quick thought experiment with me, I want you to imagine something. We all have our phones. And we have these great apps for our phones. Let's imagine that there was an app that thwarted you every time you were about to say or post something that you would later regret. That just every time you got it open, and you're about to send a text, you're like, what a jerk, I'm going to tell him what I really think about him. Or you're going to post some picture that later on you're like, I shouldn't have done that. You're about to send an email, you're about to make a call and tell somebody what you really think about them. And every time you're about to hit post, or send, or call, your phone just shuts off. It just shuts off and you're like, ah, a stupid phone, and turn it back on and get going again, and you're like, boom, boom, boom, all right, send, push, call, and once again, it just shuts off. It would be so frustrating, but let me tell you, some of you would pay good money for that app. Some of you right now are like, is that a real thing? Like how much? We would, it would be so frustrating to be thwarted, but we would pay for that. Because we'd recognize, all right, it'll be frustrating and infuriating in the short term because I won't be able to do what I want to do, but in the long term, I'll be so glad that it frustrated me from doing something I would later regret.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:38] How good is God? God is so good that he frustrates our efforts when they're leading us to destruction. He says, Israelites, you're looking to live a self-sufficient life, and I'm going to make it impossible for you because I love you that much, and I want you that much. God isn't capricious for acting this way, God is good for acting in this way.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:06] Now, let's get back to verse 8, because once again, before we move on to the response, this is the center of what they're commanded to do, to go and to get wood and start building the house. And look at what he says at the end of this, he says, "So that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” It's not just about the temple, it's not just about the structure, it's about the idea that through the building of the temple, and through this risky step of obedience, God will find pleasure in it and he will be honored.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:42] Listen carefully. Let's take this reality in. Behind every act of obedience, behind every step of obedience that we're called to make, is a heart that makes God supreme. It's true of the Israelites, it's true of us. Behind every step of obedience is a heart that makes God supreme. I want to spend a minute on this, because the word supreme, or the word supremacy, it has negative associations with us right now. So let me give some clear guidance. Here at Life Bible Fellowship Church, we don't believe in white supremacy, we don't believe in black supremacy, male supremacy, female supremacy, blue-collar, white-collar, old, young, we don't believe in any of that, what we believe in is Christ supremacy. We believe that God is supreme above all things, that he has said his one and only Son, and we believe that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, is supreme. That's true, whether we act like he's supreme or not, Jesus is supreme because he was sent and came and died a sacrificial death, taking the penalty for all of our sins so that we could be forever cleansed so that we could be forgiven and brought into God's family. We believe that Christ is supreme because he raised from the dead, and he now swung open wide the gates of eternal life for anybody who places their faith in Jesus, there's no name under heaven by which people can be saved other than Jesus, he is supreme. And he's not just supreme in the past, he's supreme right now, because right now, Jesus Christ, all over the world, is changing lives and transforming people, and wetting people free.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:30] Has anybody here experienced that? Experienced Jesus, bringing you hope, and life, and vitality, and leading you to victory in your life, and leading you to hope. Jesus is supreme right now, and Jesus one day is coming back, and he will be the final judge and King. We believe in Christ supremacy, and behind every act of obedience that we're called to, the intent of it is that our heart would make Christ supreme. And we do sometimes have this temptation like, gosh, look at the ego on Jesus, that he always has to be made supreme, that God is saying build the temple so that I take pleasure in it and so that I am honored. When we do that, when we're like what's with the idea that God wants all eyes on him, that would be a little bit like if we said, you know, what is the deal with everybody always talking about oxygen? I mean what is with the ego on oxygen, that we just always got to be breathing, that it's super important. Yeah, oxygen is pretty important, without it, we die. The reason we talk about God being at the center of everything is because, without him, we die. You are not your own source of hope, you're not your own source of wisdom, you're not your own source of strength, you're not your own source of eternal life. We make Christ supreme because he is our source. We don't lose out when we make him supreme in our lives, we receive the life that he came to bring us. And he says, build my house so that I am made supreme in the land, and for all to see.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:11] That's the command, and now we're going to move on to the response in verses 12 through 15. Now before walking through this, let me just give you a little bit of a preview. In the response, we get to see three things happen, and we'll walk through each of them on that. I'll tell you them right now, they're not going to be a surprise. Number one, we see the people obey. Number two, we see God reassure. And number three, we see God in power. And now just listen to carefully on this, the people obey, God reassures, God empowers. The people do how many things? They do one. God does how many things? God does two. Even in the response, we see God more active than the people.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:59] Now let's look at the response starting in verse 12. Verse 12 says, "Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord." As I already mentioned, what we see right away is that the people obeyed, they respond. It starts with Zerubbabel, the governor, who's over the civic life of Israel, and with Joshua, the high priest, who's over the religious life of Israel, and it says of the whole remnant, which I'm pretty sure refers to all of the Israelites who are back in the land who have survived the exile, all of them respond and obey.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:48] By the way, this was not a gimme, when Haggai started prophesying. We were reading this passage last night at the dinner table, and my wife, Kareena just pointed out, there are a lot of prophets that told the people what God said to tell them, and the people rejected them. Here we get obedience, the people obey and respond to the message. Now don't miss this, this was a risky step of obedience. They had been ordered by the King of Persia, 16 years earlier, to stop building the temple. So this act of obedience to God really amounted to an act of civil disobedience to Persia. They could have been thinking, what's going to happen, is he going to send an army? Are we going to go to jail? Are we going to be attacked? What's going to happen, there was a lot of uncertainty, this was a risky step of obedience that they were taking.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:44] And in that same vein, I want you to notice the last thing that the passage says, it says, and the people feared the Lord. Now, the fear of the Lord is talked about all through the Bible, Old Testament, New Testament. It's the theme of the Book of Proverbs, which if you're doing the Bible reading plan, we're about to start that, I think, on Wednesday. It is a major theme in the Bible, and here's, in churches like ours, here's what we do, every time the fear of the Lord comes up, the first thing we always say is now the fear of the Lord doesn't mean actually being afraid. I don't know what convention we all went to when we agreed that that's what we were going to say the first time, but like every pastor in North America got together and we just said, we all agree, right? Every time the fear of the Lord comes up, the very first thing we're going to say is it doesn't mean actually being afraid. Here's what I want to make clear, the fear of the Lord means much more than just being afraid, but it doesn't mean less than being afraid. There is an absolutely appropriate sense of what we think of when we think of the word fear and that being applied to God.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:51] Think about the Israelites for a minute, they had just experienced God saying, I'm going to thwart your harvest, I'm going to bring a drought, I'm going to bring sickness, I'm going to bring all of these difficult things. Do you think it's appropriate for the Israelites to say, yeah, we don't want to be on the wrong side of him? Yeah, that's scary, thinking of being on the wrong side of God is terrifying. The fear of the Lord is much more than just being afraid, but it's appropriate that part of it is just saying, I don't want to be on the wrong side of God, that's terrifying. The idea of being on the wrong side of the Judge of the Universe, it includes being afraid, but it's much more than being afraid.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:30] And at its core, what it seems to mean is this, we acknowledge God as the most important reality in existence. We start with him, that's why in Proverbs, it says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the beginning of knowledge, because if you don't start with an acknowledgment of who God is and that he's central to all that we do, you'll never get to wisdom because you're on the wrong road.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:55] They feared the Lord, and here's why I think this is so significant. When they took the step of obedience, was there a reason for the Israelites to be afraid? There was. What's the king of Persia going to do? What are the surrounding nations going to do? What's this going to mean? What if we don't succeed? There was a reason for them to be afraid, but they took God more seriously than all of their other enemies, they feared the Lord more than they feared anyone else. And any time we're taking a step of obedience, we can go through this process. We can say, if I really obey God in that, I'm going to be a lot less popular. If really obey God in that, I may lose some friends, I might not get that promotion, this person might end up mad at me, I might have less recreational money to use. We're scared, we say there might be some things that go wrong, and I might get on the wrong side of certain people if I really obey God, and that's one hundred percent true. Would you rather be on the wrong side of that person or on the wrong side of God? The fear of the Lord tells us we take God more seriously than we take anyone else, the people obeyed, and they feared the Lord.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:05] So, the people obey. Now, let's look at what God does. In verse 13 it says, "Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord." The people obey the Lord, God, reassured. And by the way, I love the image of this, the Lord says I'm with you, and that's the whole message, that is a pretty short sermon right there. I'm just imagining all the parents gathering all the family, Haggai has something to say to us. Everybody quiet down, gather in, sit down, you get out of the way, Everette, stop grinding that, everybody listen up. And he says one sentence, "I am with you, declares the Lord." And one sentence was all they needed; God was with them. They know by doing it, they are civilly disobeying the governing authorities of Persia, but God is with them.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:02] I don't have time to go through it all, but if you read Genesis through Revelation, you will find the theme consistently of God promising, I will be with you. Starting all the way in Genesis, with him promising to be with Jacob as he goes on his way. And in Exodus, with Moses, when Moses says, who am I to go before Pharaoh and tell him to let the people go? God's answer is, I will be with you. He says it to Joshua. He says it to the people of Israel. By the way, did you know Jesus' last words in the Gospel of Matthew, right after he says, go into all the nations and make disciples of them, "I am with you always even to the very end of the age."? Revelation 21, when we see the new Earth, the big revelation, the big revealing of what the new Earth is all about, is that God will be with his people. God says to them, I know this is scary, I will be with you. And if God is with you, you don't have to worry about anyone else. He doesn't promise it's going to be easy; he doesn't promise it's all going to go smoothly, and he doesn't promise that they won't face opposition, but he says, I will be with you. This is a reality, that all of us as believers in Jesus, get to live in daily. So as you're right there, you're on the platform, and you're like, I should take the step, but I'm not sure how it's going to go, God will be with you.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:25] I have this image in my head, it started several years ago when I was really trying to lean into things that were scary for me to do in obedience to God. A lot of it revolved around having conversations that I just wanted to avoid, and I was like, no, you've got to go talk to that person, you got to bring that up. And I was like, why me? I don't want to do this; I just want to keep the peace. And here is the image that came up, that still is with me. Instead of imagining sort of Jesus is way up there, far away, calling down, Dan, go do it. I imagined a battle scene, and I guess it was World War II. Because I'm in a trench. I'm like, you know, I'm in a trench, I'm looking at all of the chaos going on out there, you know, there's the guy with the flamethrower, there are all the guns, you hear the fire, you're looking at and you're like, it's scary out there. And instead of Jesus being way over there, I feel a hand on my shoulder, and Jesus says, let's do this because God is with us. God is with you, God is not far off calling out, you should obey. God is with you saying, let's do this. God says, I will be with you.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:41] And now let's look at the last thing that happens in verses 14 and 15, it says, "So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. The people obey, God reassures, and now God empowers. He stirs up the heart of Zerubbabel, he stirs up the heart of Joshua, and he stirs up everybody's hearts to act on this.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:18] Now we'll get back to that, just look at the very end of the passage, it talks about the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month. You may remember, verse 1 of Haggai says that his prophecy came on the first day of the sixth month, so this is twenty-three days later. In the twenty-first century, we can say, why did they wait twenty-three days? First of all, in the ancient Near East, things moved slower than they do in our high-speed internet culture, not to mention that it was harvest time when this prophecy is coming. Three weeks to laying bricks on the temple is really, really fast. It's not telling the date because it's like, well, why did they delay? It's telling us the date to say they acted on this right away.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:59] But what we get to say is, that before they acted on it, the Lord stirred up their hearts. In other words, he gave them the courage and the strength to do what they had committed to do. As believers in Jesus, we get to claim this, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. The third person of the Trinity, God himself, stirring up our hearts, emboldening us, empowering us, giving us wisdom, reminding us of Jesus' promises. He stirred up their hearts.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:28] Now, this is important, I really hope, and I really want you to follow me on this, the three things that happen that people obey, God reassures, God empowers. Those are the three steps, the people obey. God reassures. God empowers. When did the actual building of the temple start? It started after God empowered. It didn't start here, it started only after God empowered, Which, for me, brings up the question to say, well, what does it mean that the people obeyed? It says back in verse 12, the people obeyed, seemingly, that doesn't mean they obeyed by immediately building. Because they obeyed, after they obeyed, God reassured them, and then God stirred up their hearts so that they would do this. Apparently, here's what it means when it says they obeyed, it means they decided to obey. They didn't actually do the work until over here, now it was a quick process; I'm not saying it was dragged out, it was a quick process. But when it says they obeyed, what it's really saying is they decided to obey, they made the commitment to obey. And once they made the commitment to obey, do you know what God did? He said, I will be with you. And then he said, I'm going to stir up your hearts so that you can do everything that you've said you're going to do. Because sometimes when we're over here, and we're like, God, I'll do it, I'll go have that conversation, I'll go apply for that job, I'll go, I'll repent, I'll start whatever it is, I'll start giving more, God, I'll do it. How many of us say that, and in the back of our heads we are thinking, but will I? I've said that a lot of times before, am I actually going to do it? Am I actually going to be brave enough and strong enough to follow through? And God says, I'll be with you, and I will empower you.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:16] And as we look to walk with the Holy Spirit today, this is such a picture of this, we don't control the Holy Spirit, we don't decide what the Holy Spirit is going to do, he's not manipulated by us. But when we walk in obedience, when we say, God, I will follow your commands for me, the Holy Spirit empowers us to do what we've committed to doing. And that means this, that means that God is not calling you today as you think through that next step of obedience, God is not even calling you as a first step to do the thing that you're supposed to do. He's calling you just to respond in obedience and say, I will do the thing that I'm called to do. And when that happens, God is going to reassure you, and God is going to empower you. You know, when you're on that zip line, that first step is scary. But also, when you're on the zip line, all you need is that first step and the momentum carries you the rest of the way. The people said, OK, God, we'll do it, and he took care of the rest and carried them to the end of this.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:26] And by the way, in case you're wondering where this story goes, I had talked last week, the Book of Ezra tells this story from a different perspective. Here's what happens after the Israelites start building. They start building, and the governors of the surrounding areas are like, what are you guys doing? You're not supposed to do this, they confront them, they even get out a piece of paper and they're like, I'm going to write down the names of everybody who's doing this. And they send word to Darius, and they say, hey, they're rebuilding again, Artaxerxes told them not to. They're claiming that back in the day, Cyrus said they were supposed to do this, can you look in the records to find out? So they tattle on them, and they're like, find out if what they're saying is true? Well, Darius springs into action, and he gets his researchers, they go, and they find the record of Cyrus saying that they're supposed to go back. So Darius writes back to these enemies of the Jewish people and says, oh yeah, they're supposed to be doing this, they're supposed to be rebuilding. In fact, don't get in their way, and bring them all the supplies that they need. If you step out in obedience, do you think God can take care of you? Man, God is over all, it's scary to take that first step of obedience, but God is there with all power, with all authority, loving you profoundly, and with you every step of the way. That first step is the hardest step, but God is with you when you take that step.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:49] And so let me just ask you, as we try to take this in, what is that step of obedience that God is calling you to? Maybe it's the step of giving, that right now, you're like, that's scary, are we going to be taken care of? Maybe it has to do with serving with LIFEkids, or with some other way of using your gift, and you're like, what if I fail, what if I look dumb? Maybe it has to do with a conversation with someone that you're, like, that's a nightmare, I don't want to have that conversation, I might lose that friendship, they might get mad at me, it might be awkward. What is that step of obedience that God is calling you to take? And your response is not to do all three of the things that happen in verses 12 to 15, it's just to do the first thing. Just to say to God, I will obey, and then trust that as you step forward in obedience, the Spirit is going to be empowering you in every step you take.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:39] I want to invite you to stand as I close us in prayer, and the reason I want to invite you to stand is, just like I said before, symbols matter, symbols are significant, I want us to stand in togetherness of saying we are ready to rebuild the way that God is leading us to rebuild. We are ready not only to take stock of our lives, but we are ready to step out in obedience, trusting that as scary as it may feel, God will be with us every step of the way. So let me pray for us.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:13] Father, thank you that we have the privilege of calling ourselves your sons and daughters through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Father, we confess, we're not proud of the fact that it's scary to obey you, but we confess that it is. We're weak, and we're fickle, and we're distracted, and we care a lot about what other people think about us. We bring all that to you, we don't deny it, we bring all that to you and we pray that you reassure, we pray that you empower. We pray that you lead this church family to shine such a bright light for Jesus in this surrounding area that you will be honored, and that you'll take pleasure in it, and that others will be drawn to Jesus. And I pray for each brother or sister in this room, Father, I pray that you lead us with the courage and empowering from your spirit to take the next step of faith and go careening down that slide, trusting that you will guide each next phase that we go through. I pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen

Dan Franklin: [00:36:26] And guys, just before we break, you can see there's already some folks on either side of the stage. You might want prayer for courage about that next step of faith, and if you do, we've got people who would love to pray with you. So thank you so much for being here, God bless you on the rest of this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848