Archive for the ‘Haggai’ Category

Word for Today – Haggai 2:20-23

God Chose YOU!

The Times

Haggai delivered a message earlier in the day, but wasn’t finished. That same day, God sent a second message to the prophet; this one was specifically for Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah.

The Atmosphere

The message delivered earlier in the day proclaimed prosperity to the obedient people. The second word given to Zerubbabel was more somber. It warned the governor of tumultuous times ahead for his community. However, the message also offered encouragement as God said, “I will take you” in the midst of the turmoil.

Current Application

It seems that something dark and desperate is always looming on the horizon for us here on earth . . . global warming, terrorism, and scary economic times. You name it, and it has probably tried to scare us at some point over the last decade. But, fear is not of the Lord. Although it is prudent to prepare as best we can, it is far more important to remember that God chose us . . . even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

Inspiration

When my boys were elementary age, Pokemon was the the fad. For those who may not have had children during this era of popular culture, I’ll do my best to describe the whimsical world of Pokemon. As far as I could tell from my adult perch observing this kiddie craze, Pokemon originated from Japan as a cartoon that followed “good” trainers and “evil” trainers who had little creatures (Pokemon) that battled on their behalf.

When a trainer needed a certain Pokemon with a specific trait, he’d call the creature’s name and yell, “I choose YOU!” The faithful little Pokemon would fly into action despite the chaos swirling around them.

Even though we are a far cry from pop-culture cartoon characters, we share some similarities. Much like the Pokemon trainers obtained their army of little helpers, God obtained us through Jesus’ shed blood, and our acceptance of his gift of salvation.

How wonderful that God CHOSE us. Not only that, but he provides special gifts and talents to every one of us and is blessed when respond obediently. Just like a Pokemon called by his trainer, we need to respond to God. When we hear his call . . . “Shona, I choose YOU!”, we bless him when we act on his behalf.

Key Verse

“I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the thrones of kingdoms; I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders…On that day, says, the Lord of Hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, son of Shealtiel, says the Lord, and make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the Lord of Hosts” (Haggai 2:23 NRSV).

Think About It

What a wonderful thing that the Master of the Universe chose you and me. In the midst of your Christian walk or life’s difficulties, consider how you can use all the lessons we’ve done in Haggai. Lastly, always cling to the comfort God offers because HE chose US.

  • Be enthusiastic: it is contagious and keeps us from becoming complacent.
  • Establish the right priorities: this helps us focus on God’s desires.
  • Persist: this leads us to abundant living.
  • Join together: an enthusiastic and persistent community with the right priorities will further God’s kingdom in miraculous ways.
  • Step out in faith; the more we step out in faith, the more our faith grows.

Word for Today: Never, ever forget that God chose YOU!

Posted by on November 1st, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Haggai 2:10-19

Tentative Steps are Faithful Steps

The Times

God’s people are finally working on the temple, but more importantly, they are actively obeying God. Their obedience is not only laying a physical foundation for the temple, but they are also building a spiritual one. As a result, their faith will blossom and blessings will abound.

The Atmosphere

While the Jewish community was in the midst of revival a third message from God poured from Haggai’s mouth. The prophet passed on two points for the people to ponder. Loosely paraphrased, Haggai asked the priests that if unclean food touches holy food, does the unclean food become holy? They answered, no. Haggai then posed the question of an unclean person touching holy food, will the holy food become unclean? To which they answered, yes.

The purpose of the question was to illustrate the fact that holiness does not rob off on others.

Current Application

The Jews of Haggai’s day did not start out looking much like people of God. They were disobedient and barely existing. Thankfully, they eventually turned toward God, but just because they were God’s chosen people did not mean his holiness automatically defined them. They had to make a conscious decision to to be holy before God.

Think about “Sunday Only” Christians. Many so-called believers go to church every Sunday, but forget about God the rest of the week. Genuine Christians, although not perfect, try to honor God throughout the week with their obedience, their attitudes, and their actions. That is what sets serious believers apart from non-believers. Holiness does not rub off on us when we sit in the pews, it lives within our hearts when he have an active faith.

Inspiration

When my two sons were two- and five-years old, I was a teacher at the pre-school they attended. I loved my job, but at the end of the day I was drained. The twenty-minute drive home with two wild boys was typically the hardest part of my day.

One day when I was a relatively new Christian, their impish antics started overtaking the backseat of my Suburban. My flesh was feeling anything but holy, but I remembered hearing that God loved to help us through difficult times. I decided to pray that he would help me survive the drive home without exploding all over the boys. I took the tentative steps of faith and prayed.

Not only did I get through the ride home, but God blessed me with an abundance of patience for three days! Those tentative steps I took laid a foundation that has kept my faith active for many years. Just like the Jews build a spiritual foundation and experienced holiness when they worked on the temple, I also began building a foundation for my faith. It wasn’t a holiness that rubbed off on me by sitting in the pews at my church, it was a living, breathing faith I experienced because I lived it.

Key Verse

“Consider from this day…Since the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid, consider: Is there any seed left in the barn? Do the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree still yield nothing? From this day on I will bless you” (Haggai 10: 18-19 NRSV).

Think About It

When I took that tentative step toward God, he answered my prayer. That small step was pivotal in my Christian walk, and God has blessed me ever since. But, don’t think small steps like that are only for new believers. Seasoned Christians need to step out in faith. Each step stretches us a little further beyond our existing faith; that is how faith continues to grow no matter how mature we are.

No matter what stage you are in in your Christian walk, are you still stepping out in faith?

Word for Today: Whether you are a new Christian or a seasoned believer, tentative steps are faithful steps.

Posted by on October 28th, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Haggai 2:1-9

We Are in this Together

The Times

The people responded obediently to Haggai’s message and finally rebuilt God’s temple.

The Atmosphere

The people quit resisting God and displayed a new attitude of enthusiasm. The Spirit filled their hearts, and they started living again. By establishing the right priorities, they no long just existed, and their persistence rebuild the temple.

Current Application

Not everyone in today’s society relies on God. This group is filled with believers and non-believers, and may include friends, neighbors, your own family members, and maybe even you. Most Christians recognize their need for God’s provision, Jesus’ grace, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Much in the way we need the three-persons of God to influence our steps, our godly steps need to influence those around us.

Whether the people we encounter on a daily basis are believers or not, it is our call to leave a Christ-like impression with them. Are we compassionate? Do we show kindness? Are needs being met? Are we reflecting Christ to everyone we meet? Are we building or tearing down? Everyone needs Christ in their life or, at the very least, they should experience his influence through professing Christians. The world may not realize it, but we are all in this together.

Inspiration

A few years ago I worked at a dry cleaner/laundromat. While I was still a newbie, I became responsible for training the lady who was hired a few weeks after me. There was still plenty my co-worker, Joyce, and I had to learn, but we were efficient enough that the boss let us work together in their absence.

One day, Joyce and I cruised through our duties thinking we were pretty awesome for such new employees; things flowed like a gentle river all morning. Then, disaster struck when the afternoon ushered in a situation that could only be described as “trial by fire!” A customer came in, and her order was missing a tie. Adding fuel to the fire, she was in a hurry.

In our inexperience, we weren’t aware of the process of hunting down missing items. As we stumbled and bumbled our way through the horrid situation, I overcharged the woman’s credit card. I did not now how to undo my mistake, and we found ourselves engulfed by a our customer service inferno. The woman, who had remained extremely patient, left frustrated.

The boss came in shortly thereafter finding two traumatized employees. Joyce and I had let our attitudes get a little cocky, but our fiasco reminded us that we still needed the bosses’ guidance. Drawing on his experience and wisdom, he quickly located the tie and fixed my credit card mistake. Even though he had no direct part in the crisis, he was the ultimate authority and knew we were in this together. As a result, the customer was ultimately soothed while Joyce and I used the experience to become better employees.

Key Verse

“The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, say the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:9 NRSV).

Think About It

The Jewish leaders and their citizens (along with God) accomplished things after they listened to Haggai; they were in it together and succeeded in rebuilding the temple. Christians and non-Christians are much like the Jewish leaders and citizens in that there is much to accomplish in this world. Whether people understand it or not, we are all in this together, and God needs to be a part of it.

Joyce and I thought we were pretty hot stuff until we needed the boss. Christians and non-Christians alike often think they are hot stuff and don’t need God. Just like our boss got us on the right track and made us better employees, we need God who will guide our steps and make us better than before.

Word for Today: Christians, non-Christians, and God . . . we are in this together.

Posted by on October 26th, 2010 1 Comment

Word for Today – Haggai 1:7-15

Resist, Exist, or Persist?

The Times

Haggai addressed the Jewish leaders and citizens of Jerusalem. Because they failed to prioritize completing God’s temple, the prophet shines the spotlight on their disobedience.

The Atmosphere

Haggai forces them to take a long hard look at their meager existence . . . they are sowing much selfishness in their lives, but harvest little of significance.

Current Application

Being a Christian means answering a call that carries important responsibilities outside of ourselves. As professing Christians, we must keep the faith and display a genuine Christ-like attitude even when it goes against everything we want or feel. The world is watching us.

Just like the Jewish remnant, all of us resist God at some point. However, if that resistance becomes habit, we fail to make the most of our lives, and we risk being disobedient to God. We merely exist as described in Haggai 1:5 and 6. We need to remember the following equation:

RESIST + EXIST = DEFEAT

Stay true to God and persist. Resist the temptation to just exist; strive for more!

Inspiration

I once read an article in World Magazine that highlighted the miraculous turn around of a school in a gang-infested area of San Diego. A small group of people wanted to change the public institution into a charter school, but some school officials resisted. In this case, they were more concerned with teachers keeping their jobs than educating the children.

The school had languished for so many years that they were merely existing and was among the lowest performing schools in California. However, because of the persistence of a few enthusiastic people with the right priorities and overwhelming support from the community, the school achieved charter status.

Test scores started to rise, and things improved for the students. Persistence is not easy, but thank goodness there were those who refused to just exist.

Key Verse

“And the Lord stirred the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadek, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God” (Haggai 1:14 NRSV).

Think About It

Consider your life. When it comes to God, are your resisting anything? Do you feel like you are truly living or merely existing? Are you persisting spiritually? God didn’t send Jesus so Christians could just exist. Jesus came so that we “may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Word for Today: Are you going to resist, exist, or persist?

Posted by on October 21st, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Haggai 1:1-6

Priorities

The Times

The Jewish remnant that returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple and reestablish life in Jerusalem was not accomplishing God’s objective.

The Atmosphere

The people turned their energies toward building their own homes, meeting their own needs, and establishing their new lives. God’s work was put on the back burner, and the stove was off!

Current Application

Christians carry a responsibility that non-believers never will: we are living examples of the one true God. A similar responsibility rested on the Jewish remnant, but they chose to represent themselves and prioritize their needs over God’s goal of rebuilding the temple.

In Haggai 1:1, the prophet addressed the Jewish leaders and shined the spiritual spot light on the complacent attitude resting on the community like a soft, comfortable blanket. Gone was the enthusiasm that accompanied the former captives from Babylon. Their focus shifted from God to themselves. Haggai points out that their meager existence was a direct result of their disobedience.

Even though many of us are not “official” community leaders, we are kingdom leaders. Are we effective Christian leaders or do we look like the world? Our homes, churches, schools, and neighborhoods are not beyond our realm of influence. Our priority is to present an effective kingdom witness in everything we do no matter how big or small.

Focusing on God is not easy. In order to keep enthusiasm abounding in our lives we must establish the right priorities, or we risk becoming as complacent as the Jewish remnant.

Inspiration

Olympic athletes know how to establish priorities, and they focus on the task set before them. Many of these athletes sacrifice normal lives to train for their events. I remember the 2008 Summer Olympics when Misty May-Traynor and Kerry Walsh prioritized their sport and became the only womens beach volleyball team to win back-to-back gold medals in consecutive summer games. These amazing women prioritized their goals and experienced great success.

Christians may not win gold medals, but we can earn the following crowns awarded in God’s kingdom:

  • Crown of Life (Revelation 2:10)
  • Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:1-4)
  • Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
  • Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)
  • Crown of Incorruptibly (1 Corinthians 9:25)

Hallelujah, we have kingdom reasons to go for the gold!

Key Verse

“Now therefore thus says the Lord of Hosts: Consider how you have fared. You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but on one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to pour them into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5.6 NRSV).

Think About It

Ponder the key verse and its implications in your life. What priorities have you established? Just like the Jewish remnant, it is not unusual for Christians today to prioritize material wealth and comfortable living. Although it is not bad to want improved lifestyles, we need to make sure we don’t throw God out in the process. Otherwise, like the complacent Jews, we will never have enough, never have our fill, never be warm, or never accumulate our treasures in bags without holes.

Is there a place in your life where an attitude, activity, or thing is becoming a dangerous priority? When things come between us and God we risk becoming complacent. Pray for inspiration so you can recapture the enthusiasm that keeps you focused on God.

Word for Today: Establish the right priorities!

Posted by on October 13th, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Enthusiasm (Haggai)

Introduction to Haggai

The Times

In 537 BC, the people of Israel had been living in exile for close to seventy years. In that same year many of them decided to leave Babylon. They answered God’s call to return to Jerusalem, rebuild the temple, and reestablish their homeland.

When they left Babylon their hearts were on fire and ready to fulfill God’s command. Ezra 1:5 captures the electric atmosphere:

“The heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites — everyone whose spirit God had stirred– got ready to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem” (NRSV).

However, somewhere along the line the returning Jews lost their enthusiasm to rebuild God’s temple. It was time to recapture the enthusiasm that once drove the people.

Current Application

As believers mature, our fires often fizzle. Like the latter stages of marriage, we often lose the excitement of the Christian life. We forget how Jesus once stirred our hearts. The revelations we experienced as the Holy Spirit introduced us to the Christian life are a distant memory. The divine honeymoon gives way to complacent Christianity.

We need revival. We need Change. We must shed the shackles of monotony. Haggai was able to reignite the fire of enthusiasm in the hearts, minds, and souls of his people, and he can do it for you.

According to the Book of Haggai, the spirit of enthusiasm returned to the people. Among the ashes of apathy Haggai rekindled their desire to rebuild the temple, and it was completed in 516 BC after languishing for twenty years.

Think About It

In Haggai we will discover the principles of enthusiasm that will fan the flames of excitement in our own hearts, minds, and souls. Let’s rebuild the temples in our own Christian lives.

Contemplate your vision for the next six months. Does your mental and spiritual attitude match the greatness of your goals? What temple(s) are you rebuilding? Are you starting from scratch?

Write down your vision. What temple God is calling you to rebuild? Pray for strength, good judgment, and listen to the voice of God. Be ready to bring enthusiasm back into your life.

Word for Today: Enthusiasm! Reignite your heart, mind, and soul.

Posted by on October 11th, 2010 No Comments