A common phrase being passed around in ministry circles (both among the clergy and laity) points to the hesitation and perhaps the putting on hold the building of God's house because of "the economy".
For this reason, Haggai is a good study for our day. Haggai wrote during days when the harvest was producing low yields (i.e. poor economy, low morale, etc.) and at a time when many additional excuses could be given for not proceeding with building the Lord's house (i.e., the order for them to stop building as result of the actions of the trans-Euphrates kings; recent return from exile and the need to provide for their families, their future, etc.) In addition, there had been a change in government and power such that King Darius was seeking to shore up his base of power including his relations with distant regions. Haggai, however, saw the current crisis as an opportunity for the people of God to begin the work again and even to petition King Darius (who in shoring up his base would be prone to show favors)to relook at Cyrus' order for them to return home and rebuild the temple. Haggai seized the opportunity (during the Festival of the New Moon when God's people would be gathered together) to awaken conscience and call the people back to obedience to God's command to build the Lord's house (... at a time when they were seeking to better themselves and provide for their families and future while growing comfortable even while failing to seek to carry out the Lord's will.)
I ask you: IS it TIME for the LORD's house to be built?
Sure, it's easy and even the trendy thing to speak of "the economy" without considering the opportunities the present time offers. In my community, the estimated median house value climbed from $88,500 to $142,000 from 2000 to 2007 and still we speak of difficult economic times.
Besides this, there's MORE to building the Lord's house than building buildings (though bricks and mortar also have their place). Are Christians building ourselves in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Are we being strengthened by the Word of God and through experience and application? Are we discipling people by reaching out to those who are without God and without hope in the world, and are we sharing the message of the gospel with them? Are we building them up in the knowledge leading to salvation? Are we participating ourselves and involving others in the worship, fellowship and discipline of the church? Are we helping people embrace a Christian worldview and display it through thought, communication and practice? Are we teaching people to pray? Encouraging people in their walk? Supporting one another? Planning for continued growth and service?
I don't deny discussions of the economy have their place, but has not the LORD ALMIGHTY (who possesses unlimited authority, power and resources) commanded his people to build his church, even in OUR day?
Is it TIME for the Lord's house to be built?
We need to reconsider the excuses we give for not participating, for post-poning, for putting off indefinitely, etc. Sometimes the problem is not so much "the economy" as it is indifference and inaction when it comes to the Lord's commands. Like Haggai, even in times when the economy is slow we need to look for opportunities that that present themselves. The heart that's not motivated doesn't need many excuses, it will find them and make them. On the other hand, the heart characterized by faith and obedience will look for ways for the Lord's command to be fulfilled.
I believe one of the great needs today is the same as that in Haggai's day. As one put it, "Practically, there was a need for the AWAKENING of a popular enthusiam for building the Lord's house."