Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Right priorities

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Haggai 1:1-15

TO CHEW ON: "'You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?' says the Lord of hosts. 'Because of My house that is in ruins, while everyone of you runs to his own house.'" Haggai 1:9

Haggai had returned home to Jerusalem with the other exiles from Babylon in 536 B.C. Now, sixteen years later, the temple still lay in ruins. And the people weren't doing so well either. They were working hard but in spite of that, their crops were failing, they were often hungry, and it was if they had put their wages in holey bags.

It was in this situation that God spoke to Haggai, and Haggai gave God's message to Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua.

God explained why this was happening: "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house." In other words, the exiles had given their own interests top priority while neglecting God's interests. The dismal situation in the country was not just bad luck, but had come on them as a result of their violating a fundamental Kingdom of God principle.

A footnote in my Bible explains:

"The people were apparently using their poverty, food shortages and inflation as excuses not to finish the temple. In actuality, they are judgments for failing to build (vs. 9-11). Somewhat similarly, when God's people fail to tithe and honour the Sabbath in an effort to have enough money and enough time for themselves, their efforts are in vain because they deny themselves God's blessing on their efforts. God was not denying houses for the people; He was asking that they prioritize the building of His house and thereby trust Him for the building of theirs." - New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1243.

We find this principle—of attending to God's interests first before our own, with the promise that in the meantime our needs will be met—woven throughout the Bible. Jesus articulates it clearly in Matthew 6:25-33. It is part of the mysterious economy of the Kingdom of Heaven that when we try to satisfy our own needs and desires first, we'll be in want. But when we give God our first and best, we'll have abundance.

How can we respond?
- Understand God's principle of giving.
- Make God's priorities our priorities.
- Give Him the first of our time, talent and treasure.
- Do not live by the world system, which tells us to look out for ourselves first.
- Honor God and He will honor us.
— "Truth in Action through Haggai," New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1246.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this reminder of how Your kingdom works. Help me to work it by putting You and Your interests first in my life today. Amen.

MORE: Haggai in art


(Re-posted from November 3, 2010.)

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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