Give Careful Thought to Your Ways

Haggai 1 – 2

The book of Haggai records events that took place in 520 B.C.  The foundation of the temple had been laid in 536 B.C. (Ezra 3:8-13), but building stopped because of opposition.  In Haggai 1:2, we see that people were making excuses, “The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.”  The people themselves were living in fine houses, but just hadn’t gotten around to building God’s temple.  Their priorities were wrong.

God pointed out that He had been undermining the people’s prosperity because they hadn’t made God a priority.  Haggai 1:6 tells us, “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.”

Once confronted with this, the people obeyed God and began to work on the temple.  The word of the Lord came to Haggai again in chapter 2, where God told Haggai in 2:9, “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house, says the Lord Almighty…”

Interesting.  When Solomon’s temple was dedicated, fire fell from heaven to consume the offering, and God’s shekinah glory appeared so the priests couldn’t enter the temple.  The ark of the covenant, the representation of God on earth had been there.  But in this new temple, there was no ark of the covenant, no urim or thumim, no fire from heaven, no shekinah glory.  So how would this new temple have greater glory than Solomon’s magnificent temple, you may ask.  Here’s how:  Over 500 years later, Jesus taught in this new Temple.

Further, God promised that starting on that very day, God was going to bless them because of putting one stone on another.  In Haggai 2:19, we read, “From this day on I will bless you.”  Because they were finally putting God first in their lives.

How are things going for you?  Does it seem that you’re working harder and harder, but getting farther and farther behind?  Does it seem like your wages go into purses with holes in them?  Could it be that you have prioritized enjoying the good life for yourself, but haven’t made serving God the priority you should?  Only you can answer these questions.

If this is true for you, I challenge you to rededicate your life to serving God wholeheartedly.  He will certainly bless your commitment to Him.  Maybe even materially.  But ultimately, you will gain a far greater reward – eternal life.

I’m reminded of Joshua 24:15, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

May we each say that – and live it.

-Steve Mattison

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway.com here – Haggai 1-2 and Revelation 14

Work Smarter and Harder!

Proverbs 20

Proverbs 20 4 NIV

 

There is a mantra out there these days that says “Work smarter, not harder.” And although the meaning of it is to find more effective ways to do your work (“smarter”), you still have to get the work done. Working more efficiently doesn’t ever mean that you will have to work less hard. It gives the connotation as if working hard is bad. In all reality, there is great value in diligence. It teaches perseverance, persistence, and determination. It teaches us that hard work pays off. It teaches us to push through when times are tough.

 

When we think about hard work, it paints several different pictures.  Some may see someone with sweat on their brow and callused hands, others may see long hours of studying or learning, and others may see someone trying to save their marriage or building relationships…hard work can be physical, intellectual or emotional. Regardless of how you view hard work, it takes time and effort.

 

The wisdom we glean from Proverbs 20:4 says, “If you’re too lazy to plant seed, it’s too bad when you have no harvest on which to feed (The Passion Translation).” The NIV version uses the word sluggards for lazy. A little name calling there but the point is hammered home. You don’t put in the hard work, there will be no harvest. It is the basic principle of sowing and reaping. What you work for is what you get.

 

We see this illustrated again in Proverbs 20:13 (The Passion Translation), “If you spend all your time sleeping, you’ll grow poor. So wake up, sleepyhead! Don’t sleep on the job. And then there will be plenty of food on your table.”

 

Don’t get me wrong, l love a good nap! But too much sleep means that you are missing out. If you put the work in, you’ll get a lot of it. And this is not just applicable in work life; it is also in relationships and intellect/wisdom. For example, if you want to learn how to play the piano, you actually have to spend time learning. You spend time and energy on lessons, and practice and more practice in hopes that someday you will have mastered the song you were working on. Rarely will you find someone who can just sit down to a piano and play Beethoven without putting in the work!

 

Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” If you think about “your work” through the lens of this verse, then our hard work will eternally pay off! I think it might be wiser to say “work smarter and harder!”

 

Erin Bormes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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