Daily Devotional - Haggai 2/Psalms 22 By Pastor Jason Walsh “My Spirit remains among you. Do not fear” (Haggai 2:5). In 2010, Super Bowl 44 was about to begin between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts.  Tim Tebow, college football star of the University of Florida played a starring role…but not in the game, rather, in an advertisement that aired during the game. This pro-life advertisement was sponsored by Focus on the Family, and featured Tim and his mother, Pam. Pam discussed how she had almost aborted Tim, and millions of viewers watching all over the world were directed to a Web site for more information. The ad sparked controversy before it even aired, but Tim Tebow and everyone involved stood their ground!  Imagine the courage it would take to stand your ground, especially when millions of people are watching.   You see, it takes courage to obey God’s Word.  We see this in today’s reading. The date of this prophecy was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, a harvest festival and the same holy day during which King Solomon had dedicated the original temple (Haggai 2:1). Again, the prophecy was addressed specifically to the main political and religious leaders, Zerubbabel and Joshua, and then to the people in general (Haggai 2:2). No doubt the older generations who lived during the exile, possibly including Haggai himself, remembered the original glory of Solomon’s temple. Unquestionably, the new temple was nowhere near as splendid as the old one (Haggai 2:3). God knew it, the people knew it, and the leaders knew it. In fact, the book of Ezra records that when the new temple was finally rebuilt and dedicated, shouts of joy were mixed with sounds of weeping (Ezra 3:10-13). Feeling discouraged was a natural result of recalling the nation’s and temple’s former glory and why it had been lost was due to their sin and God’s judgment of conquest and exile. In the face of these very human emotions, we often do the same thing.  We find ourselves discouraged, helpless, thinking about the past times that were so great, and asking God questions filled with pain and doubt.  But, God Himself encouraged the people to “be strong” or “take courage” (Haggai 2:4). The size and beauty of the temple wasn’t the point. The point was that God was their God all along, and He was with them once again. The same God who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt and shepherded them throughout their history (Haggai 2:5). Their responsibility was faithfully to do the work of rebuilding, not to mope around questioning and doubting and comparing their lives to the supposed “good old days.” Do you wonder where the “good old days” went? Do you think something you’ve done wrong has ruined everything?  God is telling you and I today to be strong and take courage. He is saying “My Spirit remains among you. Do not fear” (Haggai 2:5). The truth is that no matter what circumstance you are in as you read this…God is still with you. Be faithful to the work to which He has called you. Do not compare what you’re doing now to the apparent “glory” of the past. Do not compare yourself to the next person, wondering, who is the “greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:1-4). Trust that God will never leave you or forsake you and that He “will keep you strong to the end” (1 Cor. 1:8-9).  Oh…and that pro-life commercial that aired before millions of people while Tim Tebow and his mother Pam stood their ground in obedience to God…well…it ended up saving the life of an unborn baby!  That’s right, Susan Wood was at her friend’s house watching the Superbowl that day after telling her boyfriend she was pregnant.  He didn’t react well and left, leaving Susan distraught in her friends living room as Tim Tebow’s ad came on. Susan later recalled how she and the entire room reacted when the Tebow commercial aired, noting that, though they expected it to be fervently anti-abortion, the tone was quite different; the clip simply featured Tebow’s mom, Pam, sharing how the former NFL star had survived against all the odds.  Susan simply couldn’t get the ad out of her head, so when she returned home, she went on the Internet and watched a longer video on the Focus on the Family website that featured Pam and Bob Tebow explaining how they had rejected a doctor’s advice to abort Tim due to medical complications. In the end, the commercial, and that longer video explanation resonated with her. In September 2010, Susan Wood gave birth to a baby girl named Avita Grace! “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame” (Psalms 22:1-5).

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