Things don’t normally improve on their own. Some call it the second law of thermodynamics, the Bible explains there’s been a breakdown due to sin ! So houses need cleaning, cars fixing, bodies exercise, and our spiritual lives require cleansing and nourishment from the Lord or we won’t grow. There’s the pull on us from the world, the devil, and ugggh – our flesh, so there is the need to,as Solmon wrote, “keep our hearts with all diligence” (Prov.4:23).
The Jews of Haggai’s day learned this the hard way through that prophet’s preaching. Despite all their doings he told them to “consider their ways” (1:5 & 7). Their priorities were a bit off kilter. What are ours though, so that we don’t just pick on these Old Testament folks and miss the great applications and help to us? I mean, it’s easy to think that because I got saved, go to church, do something in that church, tithe, etc that things are all lined up to put the eight ball in the sidepocket (if you’ve played pool you know what I mean, if you don’t I think you do too !).
The opening part of Haggai’s first sermon gives us some wonderful spiritual guages to test how things are really going. If our priorities are really where they ought to be. First, listen to your language. The Jews SAID “The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” (1:2). God said different !! It was, and in fact it had been for some time. This was nothing more than an excuse to get out of doing what they should. Excuses are often worse than an out and out lie for they are thinly veiled deceptions designed to cloak deceit in what the excuser thinks is acceptable language. They reveal a wrong priority in us: namely that it’s ok to lie and to shirk our duties for God. It’s fashionable in God’s people to say, “I didn’t have time to do that”, “Somebody needs to do this”, “That’s just too hard”, “My kids are tired” (t0 excuse their sin and ours), etc. The Jews’ work for the Lord was to be on their time frame not God’s. Why not instead SAY, I am willing for GOD use me in anyway He sees fit !!
Another indication of poor priorities is in your luxuries. In vs.4 Haggai asks, “Is it time for you. O ye, that dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?” He was referring to how God’s house was still unfinished while in some cases the very luxurious lumber meant for the new temple was actually used for their homes ! How low, we may think, that they had stooped to rob God so. But what about when we fail to give to God in some way and take that instead for us?? God gives us time, energy, talents, money and if we don’t give what He’s asking isn’t it then the same thing? Isn’t it more about us than Him? Take a good look around your church – is there something lacking YOU could really help meet? Do you pray for your church’s budget? You should. Many churches financial needs go unmet month after month while the folks in the pew are more concerned with where we’re going to dinner after church or the latest gadget to buy and show no concern to the those who go without and minister to them faithfully. Even moreso, when a pew is empty and its been a while since a soul has been saved do we pray and invite or are we too preoccupied with a hobby ? Maybe it’s time to put down that remote and put on some spiritual elbow grease?! What could you contribute to God’s WORK today ?!!
Yes Haggai had some hard lessons but it was meant to soften up the people to once again be used of the Lord in great ways ! The last guage is our lusts. In vs.6 he said, “Ye have sown much and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough. . .” The Jews were spinning their wheels, they were busy but they were unsatisfied. Are you also? When we refuse God to lead us there’s a void that we seek to fill in other ways and when something or someone else becomes our passion our priorities are out of line and we are out of gas. Paul admitted he even had to LEARN to be content (Phil.4:11). I’d say if he did we all need to. Desires aren’t always wrong, they just need to be governed right. Sex is good in its place (marriage, Heb.13:4), food is good in moderation, etc. Make sure you truly have God first. If any of these “gauges” raises a red flag in you, confess it and commit to changing it by His grace right now and if you do you will have a driving passion for Him above all !