What are your priorities?
by Cindie York
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Text: Haggai 1:1-15 (NLT)
The people of Judah return from exile in Babylon. Judah was in ruins and the people have spent their time rebuilding their homes. Sounds innocent enough, huh? The problem lies in the fact that the Temple of God remains in ruins. The pertinent question, where are the people’s priorities?
The prophet Haggai is about to stir the minds and hearts of the people. He is a messenger of God, sent by God, to encourage the people to rebuild the Temple. He is the instrument that will be used to shake some scales from the eyes of the people of Judah, and to help them to see the error of their ways.
Currently these people were so wrapped up, consumed, if you will, in their own agendas that they have completely lost site of the Lord. They have had their eyes focused on prosperity. They have been spending time satisfying the desires of the flesh, seeking after the materialistic and not the spiritual. Doesn’t this sound like the modern day church? The modern day church is the “lukewarm”, Laodicean church spoken about in Revelation, with characteristics such as selfishness and greed. It is a shame that we spend so much time laying up earthly treasures where moth and rust corrupts instead of laying up treasures in Heaven.
Read Haggai 1:1-2, the recognition of sin.
It is just so hard to swallow pride and admit we fail, that we commit sin. Haggai gives a message from the Lord to Zerubbabel(governor of Judah) and Jeshua (the high priest) saying, “The people are saying, the time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house-the Temple.” The time has not yet come, hmmm. How often do we try to make ourselves believe that the time to do God’s work is never quite the right time? We tend to turn a deaf ear when it is not convenient or doesn’t suit our fancy just right. We like things our way and on our terms. But more times than not, God’s work waits until we are finished with all other plans. Sad to say, but it is the truth.
Read Haggai 1:3-4.
The Lord is sending a message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?” Wow, that is directly to the point. These very people that God has blessed, with the opportunity to return home from exile, are the very same people who have now placed God in the backseat. They have placed personal possessions above God Almighty. Can anyone say idolatry? Anything we place before God becomes our God. They have placed their energy, resources, and time satisfying the carnal man. Must we be reminded that the great commandment is, Have no other Gods before me. Idolatry is sin, no matter how you look at it.
Notice that the message speaks about luxurious houses. It wasn’t enough to have shelter but the fact that they are luxurious homes show the greed and selfishness of the people. Their priorities were completely off kilter. They have the “it’s all about me” complex. Could that be any further than the will of God? These people are showing God through their actions that they don’t have time for God. They would rather invest in self, leaving God out of the picture. How soon the people forgot their deliverer. Sound familiar? We tend to leave God sitting dormant when things are going well: a new job, a new home, marriage, new baby. In the “good times” God is not even asked to come be part. Boy, when hell is unleashing it’s fury upon us, when times are rough, in periods of depression, who is the first one we call upon? Truly Sickening!
Read Haggai 1:5-7, the consequences of sin: judgment, chastisement.
At this point, the people of Judah are reminded of their condition. They have been unsatisfied up to this point, not enough to eat, not enough drink to quench their thirsts, and their money doesn’t seem to go very far, like pockets with holes in them.
You will never be prosperous, satisfied, or at peace, when you are out of the will of God. All your efforts will be in vain. Oh yeah, things may look good for a season, but surely there will come a season for reprimand, for correction. Ecclesiastes 3:1, There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.
I am reminded of the wise King Solomon, who wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:15-17; People who live only for wealth come to the end of their lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day they were born. And this too, is a very serious problem. As people come into this world, so shall they depart. All their hard work is for nothing. They have been working for the wind, and everything will be swept away. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud-frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Simply meaningless-like chasing the wind!
Read Haggai 1:8, this is a pivotal point. God has the people’s attention.
The people are commanded to rebuild the Temple. It is a crying shame that it has come to the point where God has to command the Temple to be built. The people should have wanted to build it to start with. God’s people are often tried to see the condition and intent of the heart. God gives His people the opportunity to do right, to walk in the correct paths that are pleasing unto Him. Unfortunately, when God gives us the opportunity to do what is good, more times than we care to admit, we tend to stray from the “straight and narrow” path. We are easily enticed and side-tracked. We are so easily seduced by the things of this immoral, corrupt, evil world. We give in to the lusts of the flesh.
In Haggai 1:8, God is telling the people to be obedient and rebuild. He is telling them if they do this, He will take pleasure in it and be honored.
God, being so merciful and full of love for His children, will try to steer us back on track, if and when we are willing to listen and obey. Sometimes, this is an easy task. Sometimes, it is the hardest thing in the world to do. Some people are just naturally more stubborn than others and it may take longer to reach that pivotal breaking point. The place where you take focus off of yourself, long enough to seek God’s face and to listen to what He is trying to tell you. God tells us in His word to humble ourselves and pray, to seek His face, and that He would hear our prayers and heal our lands, this is the promise of God.
Read Haggai 1:9-11, again showing the consequence of sin.
What a horrible path to tread down; chastisement, drought, and starvation. Think about this in a spiritual aspect. If we are disobedient, nothing seems to work out for us. We bring a curse upon ourselves for the sins we commit. To me there is nothing worse than a spiritual drought. Those times when you can’t feel the spirit moving, not feeling that sweet anointing active in your life. Or the spiritual starvation periods when we can’t seem to get enough of the word, you can’t feel the presence of God strong enough, just simply dissatisfied on every hand. These periods seem so much longer than what they actually are because of just the pure misery felt. Sin definitely will separate you from God. He just will not tolerate sin in any form. We must stay repentant and humble. We must constantly strive to be better Christians, servants.
God’s house should have been the top priority for His people. Yet they invested first to self, and then gave God the leftovers. The modern day church is the same way. We don’t care to invest in the things that are beneficial to our current physical sense. Often we lose sight of the important matters-service to God, living our lives according to His will and purpose, placing Him first in our lives, leading lost souls to salvation, spending time in fellowship with Him, praising Him, and denouncing sin.
Read Haggai 1:12, the call to obedience. The act of restoration.
The whole remnant of God’s people obeyed the message from the Lord, delivered by Haggai.
Haggai was sent by God to speak this much needed message to stir the people of Judah. This message was meant to awaken the sleeping people. God will place people in our paths to encourage, enlighten, stir our hearts, and give us food for thought. Many times we need a swift kick in the backside to set us in the right direction. In this particular situation, God used the prophet Haggai as the instrument to voice God’s will. It is easier to see fault in others than to find fault in ourselves. Sometimes, we need help to see our own faults, weaknesses, and sins. All we have to do is ask God to show us, to open our eyes to light of truth, and He will. Believe me, He will show you in one way or another, He will get His point across. We just have to be willing to have the bitter truth uncovered, to bring to light the sins that so easily beset us.
God uses more than prophets to be the vessel used to spark revival, restoration, or renewal. God can use any believer to be the start of an awesome move of the Holy Ghost. As long as God is the one sending, anything is possible. His presence, the precious anointing, the fire must be the motivation for the movement. God uses people every day to be His oracles (mouth-pieces). From the pulpit to the pew, the young to the old, no matter the education level, no matter the financial status, no matter the gender, God has no respect of persons and He can use any one He wants. There is one stipulation-the person must be willing!
It is amazing to know that our incredible God is part of His people and we are part of Him and that through fellowship, cleansing, forgiveness, dedication, and communication, we are permitted to have a relationship with our God. I feel that no matter how holy I try to live that it is never going to be enough to be secure in my walk. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. I am beyond thankful to my glorious Savior, to my gracious God, that though I could never do enough to deserve their love and mercy that they still give them unconditionally, despite all of my faults. Wow! That is all I can say is, Wow!
Verse 12 finishes with the people worshipping the Lord in earnest. Earnest means eagerness, intense anticipation. Eager to worship-not made to, but actually wanting to. Sounds like the people have seen the error of their ways through the spoken word of God. They have turned from their wicked ways and now have changed attitudes. They are becoming obedient. They are now eagerly worshipping God. These people who were in a backslidden state are now in the process of …revival? Spiritual renewal?
Read Haggai 1:13, the time for encouragement. Encouragement boosts the spirit. Positive reinforcement will always fuel the fire. We want to know that God is with us.
The people of Judah are told that the Lord is with them. The people are encouraged. They know that they are on the right track and are now in the process of restoration. They are being obedient and the Lord is pleased with their obedience and willingness to worship. The rebuilding process starts one step at a time and takes lots of encouragement and prayer. We must stay in fellowship with God. Always remember God is with us, and that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. God will give us strength to endure. We just have to dig in a little deeper, get rooted and grounded, stay focused on our walk with our Savior and tie a knot in our ropes and hold on with all of our might. I constantly remind myself that I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. God’s word is true and we must stand on His promises.
Read Haggai 1:14-15 Start of Revival.
So the Lord sparked enthusiasm of the people. Haggai may have been the instrument, the voice used by God, but it takes God to change people. It takes the move of God to spark revival.
Revival must start within the hearts and minds of each individual. It is a personal experience between you and God. No one can make revival start in you, you must be willing to receive and act as the Spirit is leading. You must be obedient to the call of God. You must repent. You must return to your first love. You must allow God to take you from exile to Judah, for a new beginning. Listen and obey. Worship God Earnestly! Allow God to spark that enthusiasm in you. Dig zealously in to rebuilding the Temple of God. Get your priorities in order. Keep God first in your life. Shake off the sinful desires-die daily to the flesh, so that the Lord will have a place to dwell inside the inner most part of your soul, heart, and mind.
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