Tuesday, December 21, 2004

How's Your Life Going?

This morning I read the book of Haggai. It's a short book (3 chapters) near the end of the Old Testament. A little background first: The Israelites had been conquered by the Babylonians and taken into exile in Babylon. Babylon was subsequently conquered by Persia, and the king of Persia, Cyrus, had allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. Although they completed the foundation of the temple, neighboring nations grew fearful that Israel would return to power and they opposed the building of the temple, eventually bringing reconstruction to a halt for several years.

Haggai was a prophet who delivered God's call for His people to rebuild the temple. I'll pick up Haggai's message in 1:3-11: "Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 'Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?'

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.'

This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,' says the Lord. 'You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?' declares the Lord Almighty. 'Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands."

The Israelites had abandoned the call to rebuild the temple, out of fear and maybe other reasons. But they were suffering the consequences of poor crops and drought because they were in violation of God's command.

Now...give careful thoughts to your own ways. How are YOU doing? How's your life going? Do things seem to be falling apart, one thing after another? If so, have you considered that it may be because there is something that God has called you to do that you are ignoring?

Now, sometimes bad things happen to good people, bad things that are not brought on by disobedience or sin, and good things seem to happen to bad people. God causes the sun to rise on the good and the evil, and the rain to fall on the righteous as well as the unrighteous (Matt. 5:45). But the bottom line here is that when we are disobedient, ignoring or abandoning God's call to us, we suffer the consequences.

It's easy to let fear stop us from pursuing God's plan for us, and we use that as what seems to be a good excuse. But God didn't let Israel get away with that. Even though their neighbors threatened and frightened them to the point where they abandoned the plan to rebuild the temple, God did not allow them to hide behind that excuse of fear.

The good news is, God reminded Israel that He was with them, that He was always with them, and thus they had no reason to fear opposition from other nations. Furthermore, He promised that if they obeyed His call to finish rebuilding the temple, He would bring about great blessings.

"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the Lord Almighty. 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the Lord Almighty. 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the Lord Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the Lord Almighty." (Haggai 3: 6-9)

Notice that God promised Israel that, if they obeyed Him, He would make the temple even more glorious than it had been when it was originally built. He also promised to bring peace to them. The Israelites did get back to work on the temple, completing its construction in 516 B.C.

Isn't it awesome that even after we flagrantly disobey God, when we return to Him and are obedient, He will cause His glory to shine even brighter in us? There is also great peace that comes to us through our obedience to Him.

If you’ve been running from something that God is calling you to do, don’t wait for everything to fall apart around you before you act. Don't use fear as an excuse. Trust that whatever God is calling you to do, He will enable you to do for His glory to be shone.

No comments: