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"CONSIDER YOUR WAYS"
“Consider Your Ways”
Elder Tawaunna Jones
Haggai 1:3-7 (NKJV)
We know nothing of the parentage of Haggai. He was probably born in Babylon during captivity, and appears to have been the first prophet sent to the Jews after their return to their own land. The historical (see Ezra 5:1) setting is in 536 B.C., a remnant of about 50,000 Jews returned from Babylon to Judah under the decree of Cyrus, King of Persia. The Book of Haggai is the second shortest in the Old Testament it has a powerful message. It tells us to Consider your Ways! The book consists of four precisely dated messages from the Lord.
God keeps an almanac, and the date on which he speaks is always important. There is a set time for each of his messages to come to men, and God would have them give heed to every message as soon as it is delivered to them. If they do not, he keeps count of the days of their delay; and therefore he is particular in causing his servants to record the exact date His message was delivered: “In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest. God knows to whom His message is specially addressed today and he will not let it miss its mark.
Haggai was dignified with the title “prophet”, therefore we must take him seriously. His single task, carried out in a three-and-a-half-month mission, was to get god’s people to work at rebuilding God’s temple. Compared with the great prophets who preached repentance and salvation, Haggai’s message doesn’t sound very spiritual. In god’s economy. It is unwise to rank our assigned work as either more or less spiritual. Haggai keeps us in touch with the fact that repairing the building where we worship is an act of obedience and worship. It is every bit as important as praying.
Consider your ways, ponder earnestly whether you have gained by seeking self at the sacrifice of God. Consider your ways is a call to look inward, a call to holiness. It is written for people like us, you and me, who must be reminded that God must be first! They believe that; but they had drifted into a way of life where their intellectual belief in the supremacy of God was not reflected in the way they lived. They gave lip service to the priority of God. God sent this prophet to help His people get their priorities in the line with God.
Shortly after their return from captivity they tried to rebuild the Temple, but the opposition had stopped the project. They pretended the interruption caused by their enemies proved that it was not the proper time. The real motive was a selfish dislike of the trouble and expense of building the Temple. They did not say that they would not build a temple, but, they said, “Not yet.” We do not say they will never repent, and reform but, Not yet. We are prone to think wrong of the discouragements we encounter in performing our duty. We tend to think of it as a sign to stop doing it. Discouragements and oppositions are only to test of our courage and faith.
The people got caught up in the routine of life and they got use to life without a temple. Gradually, they had lost their vision and had drifted into a lifestyle where God’s house was no longer the priority. They probably viewed it as nice, but not necessary; extra, but not essential. God raised up Haggai to proclaim His message to this returned remnant.
If you know Christ, do you remember the time when you made a personal commitment to Him? You decided to follow Jesus. At first, you were zealous for spiritual things. You read your Bible every day. You got involved in church programs and you served in a ministry. Perhaps your efforts were met with some difficulties. You had a personality clash with another Christian. You may have encountered personal trials and tribulations that God did not remove, even after a lot of prayer. Meanwhile, life moved on. You started a career and a family. You had bills to pay and other demands on your time. Church and the Lord’s work drifted into the background. You still attend church as often as you can, but it has become a slice of your life, not the center. You tell yourself that you just don’t have time. Someone else must get involved. Without deliberately rebelling against God, you have drifted into putting your house above God’s house, your plans above God's purpose. Consider your ways!
Consider today’s church, as we respond to the sin and social culture, in our society today, the church is playing catch up: seeking to clarify its message with a biblical solution. One big problem is that the solution that the church offers is seldom uniform. The morality of our day is quite overwhelming. The questions that we face invite many responses and not all our responses are uniformed. A popular saying that the church is not uniformed with a redemptive response is, “God Loves You Just As You Are.” Many Christians have not changed their old ways and keep habits and lifestyle of the world. They say, I feel certain that God loves me just the way I am.” This is an example of the common mantra that we hear used whenever the church face sin, This is false Gospel. This message says that God is soft-spirited and easily placated or appeased. He makes no stringent moral demands of human beings. He wants us to like ourselves just as we are and like Him. So it’s fine with Him if we do pretty much as we please. It suggest God is an “I’m O.K. you are O.K.” divinity. Yes, God does love you just as you are. But God also loves you so much that he cannot allow you to continue your path of destruction and heartache. God calls you to turn to Him-to allow Him to bring inner transformation and inner healing through the work of His son Jesus Christ. God calls you to be delivered from sin.
We are prone to put our prosperity above God’s house. We find excuses not to serve or help people. People must look for the Government or Social Programs to help instead of the church! Our heart and mind is locked up as well as our doors, shutting God and people out. We have Pastors that are CEO’s because they view the church as a business and the members as the bottom line. Consider your ways! Consider your ways! We have members but no ministry, programs but no purpose, big houses but no Holy Spirit, expensive cars but no Christ! Consider your ways! If we do not consider how we are living, we will naturally live for our own agendas.
We are like the people Haggai was sent to, we have excuses for our selfish lifestyles. We say, “The time has not come, to pay off the church mortgage or build new ministries”. Don’t get me wrong, I am for rebuilding ministries and paying off the mortgage, it’s a great cause, but the timing just is not right. We are in an economic downturn right now. Everyone is pinched for money. The political climate is changing. Did you see who was elected to be President? These are uncertain times. Someday I’ll have the kids through college and the bills paid, and then we will give more to the Lord’s work. This is a hectic time for our family life. The kids demand so much attention. Every day is taken up with meeting their needs. But someday we will be through this phase, and then we’ll get involved with the church.” All I can do to provide for my family, times will get better, and then we will build the Church.
How many of us plead that we cannot afford to give to the church, charity or help others but we often lavish ten times as much in needless expenses on ourselves and our houses;
We make excuses for why we are not obedient to put God first with the money, and time He gives us. Sometimes we even use the Bible to support our excuses. We say, “The Bible says that if a man does not provide for his own family, he’s worse than an unbeliever and has denied the faith! I am just trying to obey the verse by providing for my family.
It was in 536 B.C., the Word of the Lord came to Haggai, and the God of Host spoke out again: Haggai 1:6 “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earn wages, Earn wages to put into a bag with holes.”
It was in 2016 A.D., the Word of the Lord came to His people, “Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over. You make more money than you ever had, but you haven’t much to show for it. You keep filling your plates, but you never get filled up. You keep drinking and drinking and but you’re always thirsty. You put on layer of layer of clothes but you can’t get warm. And the people who work, what are they getting out of it? You work and work, you work overtime and a part-time job but you still do not have enough money. No matter how hard you try, you just seemed to be spinning your wheels. Inflation seemed to gobble up the little bit you earned. It was like putting money into a bag with holes. Your month is longer than your money! The people in Haggai’s day were having the same problems. They sowed seed, but there was a drought and the crops didn’t yield as much as they had hoped. That meant that they had less to sow the following year. By the end of the month, there was nothing left. Some of these people had a measure of material success. They lived in fine, paneled houses but what they were working for, never satisfied them.
When you want something bad, you believe that you will be complete when you get it. You believe that it would transform your life. It would have the power to improve your relationships, boost your self-esteem, enable you to experience more pleasure. But all that's just a lie. It's not true. When you finally get it, you don’t feel complete, apart from some initial excitement that soon wears off. Those who put their prosperity above God’s house are never happy with what they go after.Solomon, who had money, fame, knowledge, sensual pleasure, and everything a man could dream of, ended up cynically saying, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” (Eccl. 1:2) In the words of the Rolling Stones, “I can’t get no satisfaction”!
All the preparation and attention to personal needs backfired on them, they were as unsatisfied as ever. Their bags had holes they could not patch. The more they selfishly pursued things for their own gratification the greater sense of emptiness within. God was using the awareness of their neglect to point them in the direction of favor and blessing. God say’s to them- “Hey! Look inward at the neglect! Turn to me, obey me, do what I have told you to do and watch me take care of you!
Of course, the hard times meant that they didn’t have any extra to give toward the Temple. But surely God understood their difficult circumstances! Those who put their prosperity above God’s house are blind to God’s chastening hand. What they did not see was that God not only understood their circumstances, He had caused them! God had caused all their problems! Could it be God who have caused the problems and delay in your life? This punishment was the answer to their sin. The poverty they thought to prevent by not building the temple, God brought upon them.
They were working harder, but got behind faster! They had not stopped to consider that God was trying to tell them something. Haggai came along and said, “Hey, folks, church people, it’s God who control the rain and the harvest. It is God who controls the blessings! It is God! He is withholding His blessing because your priorities are not right!
God has done great things for this people; He brought them back from Babylon to Jerusalem, and their first concern should have been to rebuild the temple. Because every man was more concerned for his own house and not God’s house, therefore no good could come of what they did or what they had. “I did blow on it,” said the Lord. When God blows upon whatever a man has, or upon whatever a man does, He soon blows it away!
Then God said: Here’s what I want you to do: climb into the hills and cut some timber. Bring it down and rebuild the Temple. Do it just for me. Honor me. You have great ambitions for yourselves, but nothing has come of it. The little you have brought to my Temple I have blown all away. “And why”? “because while you have run around, caught up with taking care of your own houses, my Home is in ruins. That’s why. Because of your stinginess. And so, I have given you a dry summer and skimpy crop. I have matched your tight- fisted stinginess by decreeing a season of drought. Nothing, not man or woman, not animal or crop is going to thrive.
There is a time to talk and a time to act, a time to consider, a time to stop talking and start doing. This was their time to act. Because they had not honored God, every area of their life was suffering. The only remedy was to stop making excuses and start doing what God had told them to do. And they did act! Act they did! Haggai’s neighbors courageously, publicly and completely left their personal and private agendas to do what God assigned them to do. They put God’s house first!
Haggai outcome was a contrast to many of the prophets, like Jeremiah, who preached all his life to stubborn and disobedient people, Haggai preached and the people obeyed! It started with the leaders, Zerubbabel and Joshua (1:12) who obeyed, they obeyed. That took humility on their part. It would have been easy for them as the political and spiritual leaders to resist Haggai’s message to preserve their status. They could have said, “Who does this upstart prophet think that he is”? We’ve never heard of him before. He has no credentials. He just comes along and says, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts’ and we’re supposed to believe him?” They believed and obeyed what Haggai said and was blessed! They obeyed and was blessed! Yes, they were blessed!
On this day, God is saying the time is now! The time to talk, and the time to give lip service is over! Put the things of God first before it is to late! Make God your priority! Receive Jesus in your life and heart, make your body a fit dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. God will give you true blessing when you put His house first. Put God first! Haggai is saying, “Give God the supreme place in your life”. Or as Jesus put it, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33).
Twice the Lord tells the people, “Consider your ways”! That means stop long enough in your busy schedule to evaluate your life in the light of God’s Word and fearing Him. Consider your ways, repent, and put God first, God wants to bless you in 2017!
Our purpose is to bring the Gospel to the poor, vulnerable and excluded people in our society. Our mission is to carry out Jesus Great Commission, to spread the truth of Jesus, to educate Christian disciples and with them gather the harvest. Through the Arts, we celebrate the redemptive love of God, model the servant hood of Christ, and awaken the transforming passion of the Holy Spirit - the God in us.
Confess Jesus Christ as Your Savior
God loves us; in fact, He is in love with you, and
me too. He loves us so much that He gave to us the best that Heaven had to
offer: His son, Jesus!
John 3:16….For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God's love is not like human love. It's an AGAPE (an unconditional, universal good will) love. That means that He is a forgiving God and His love for you and I never changes. What a love!
God knows that we would never be able to measure up to His standard. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
But He cared so much that He decided to reach down to us. Would you like to reach back to God today? You can, by saying this prayer:
Heavenly Father, I come to you confessing that I am a sinner. I repent from my sins and ask you for your forgiveness. I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that You raised him from the dead. I confess that Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I believe that through His shed blood, I have eternal life. Please come into my heart and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Lead me and guide me so that my soul can reach heaven. Father, I pray this prayer in Jesus name, Amen!
If you prayed this prayer in earnest, you are SAVED! Your sins have been forgiven and you are now one in the body of Christ.