“You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes. Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!’”. Haggai 1:6-7
As a teenager, I was known to have a hole in my pocket. Every day after high school, I would go out and do yard work. Every Friday, I would get paid. And every Monday morning, I had nothing left. Leave that up to the planning of a high school student! However, as an adult, I often can feel the same way. I work hard, I plan, I save, yet I still feel like I am falling short. And, I am not even talking about money. We can have this same feeling in our jobs, in our relationships, and even in our ministry. Why? Because our priorities get out of place. Even solid Christians, with the best intentions that are in the right place at the right time, can lose focus. That is what happened in the Book of Haggai. This was not a group of individuals that were choosing between the ways of the world and the ways of the Lord. These were sold out, law loving, faith-driven people – who got off-course.
In the year, 538 B.C., King Cyrus gave a decree after their 70 years in captivity that the Jewish people could go home and rebuild their temple. The people were excited! After two years, they finally reached their destination, collected over 1,100 pounds of gold in a freewill offering (equivalent of about $5 million dollars), and laid the foundation of the temple. Read Ezra Chapter 3, verses 3 – 13 to feel their excitement! However, as time set in, so did their resources, the weight of a long process, and external threats. They started to turn to their own needs and their own houses, instead of the House of the Lord.
Sound familiar? We start off with the best intentions, excited about what God is going to do, moved by a recent message or within our own devotions, only to find that the weight of life is pushing down upon us. Yet, when we turn our attention to these areas, we find that what our hands touch it falls apart and running short of resources such as time, money, and energy. Why? Because our priorities are out of place. In fact, Haggai expressed to the people that part of the reason that they were left wanting was because God was trying to get their attention. So what is the solution?
1. Consider your ways
Twice in that small passage in Haggai Chapter 1, the Lord asks of the people, “Consider your ways!” We need to take a step back and ask ourselves what is the fruit of our labors. Have we achieved the plans that we have set out to do? Are our ways, better than what God has for us? Do we trust that God will fulfill his promises and that the greatest things that we could think of for ourselves is just a glimmer of who God wants us to be and what He has for us to accomplish.
Sometimes in the craziness of life and scheduling, I often say “I don’t have time!” And too often, the area that I cut short is the area I need the most – my time with God! Yet, I have found that when I do not set aside that time for God, in an effort to save time, I find myself looking more frantically for…time!
Instead, I need to realize that the building of spiritual maturity, the building of the house of the Lord, takes time, energy, and reliance on God’s work.
2. Obey out of Reverence
How did the people respond to the word of the Lord? Did they ask God to first give them a desire to build the temple? To make them feel like doing it? No, instead, the people obeyed the voice of the Lord out of reverence. They understood their current state and understood that God desire was good for them. Often, we want God to give us the emotion before obedience; however, God often asks that we respond first by trusting Him.
John 7:17 states, “”If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.”
3. God Will Stir Your Spirit
After the people responded in obedience, two actions took place. First, God reassured His people by stating, “I am with you”. Second, God stirred the heart of His remnant and they were empowered to continue the work on the temple. Obedience bears fruit. God desires to work actively in the life of His People. He does not desire us to walk around with the works of our hands being in vain, but that our hands are doing the ultimate work – the work of the Kingdom of God.
John Chapter 15 reminds us of the precious relationship that we have in Christ and the fruit that comes from remaining in Him. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (Verses 8 – 11)