Sunday, November 17, 2013

Consider Your Ways

Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!   Haggai 1:5-7  NKJV
Although Haggai is considered to be one of the minor prophets, there is certainly nothing “minor” about his prophecy to the nation of Israel.  Haggai was the first prophet to appear after the end of the Babylonian captivity and when the Jewish people were again living in the land of Israel.  His prophecy towards the people was one of judgment from God because of their neglect to rebuild the Temple, something they had been given permission to do when they were released from their captivity.  This prophecy was given because fifteen years had passed and the people still had not finished the rebuilding, but rather had turned their attention to selfish personal ambitions.

Although the book of Haggai is just two chapters long, the word “consider” is used five different times by Haggai as God commands the people to examine their actions and the motivations behind them.  The word for consider in the Hebrew is suwm which is translated to put, make, set, lay, ordain, to bring to pass.  I found it interesting that nowhere does it say “think about it”, which would probably be our answer to the meaning of “consider”, but rather God is saying “do something” or “change” your ways because they are wrong.
Because they had chosen to ignore His instruction to rebuild the temple, God chose to remove His blessings from them in order to show His displeasure at their actions.  Haggai tells us that although the people were working very hard for personal gain, God decided to take it all away as a sign to them that no matter how hard they might work, if following God’s instructions were not their priority, nothing they did would bear fruit. 

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 every one of you runs to his own house.    Haggai 1:9  NKJV
For the past few weeks we have been looking at warnings of what to expect as the end draws near written by those who founded the Church as we know it. What we found is an explicit warning that the very foundation of the Church, the Gospel of Christ, will be in danger because false teachers and false believers will infiltrate and attempt to change the message of salvation in Jesus Christ.  As I thought about the message from Haggai, I immediately began to wonder if we too, at this time, find ourselves facing the same sort of situation as found in Haggai.

The people who God had charged with the responsibility to rebuild the Temple were instead focused on their own lives, looking for personal comfort and gain.  Rather than making obedience to God’s instructions their priority, they were instead putting all their efforts into trying to improve their own situation by working for themselves.  As a result, God tells them to consider their ways.  In the situation we find ourselves in today in regards to the Church, and understanding the lateness of the hour, should we too listen to the admonition from God to consider our ways?
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?                  Matthew 6:24-25  NKJV

Now I am sure most of us work very hard at our jobs, knowing that the work we do brings us the means to provide for ourselves and our families.  There is certainly nothing wrong with that, especially if you consider that it is God who arranged for us to obtain the work that we have.  Yet if you look closely at the message from Haggai, it is obvious that what God is displeased with is the fact that the people focused all their efforts towards personal gain while ignoring their service to God.  When Haggai tells the people the message from God is to “consider their ways”, he is telling them to make their service to God the priority in their lives.
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.                           Matthew 6:31-33  NKJV

The questions we must ask ourselves today is are we focused on serving God, or are we making the same mistake that the people did in Haggai?  Our trust should be in God to provide for our needs, and focus our efforts to protect the message of the Gospel.  A few weeks ago we looked at the message Paul gave Timothy and I believe if we are to consider our own ways, we should look at it again.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.                                         2 Timothy 4:1-2  NKJV

As believers, our charge is the same as given to Timothy.  Our focus, our time, our efforts, should all be to make it our priority to spend time in the Word and be prepared to defend the faith.  If not, don’t be surprised to find God bring all our efforts to nothing just as He did in Haggai.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.        2 Timothy 3:16-17  NKJV

This week may we all “consider” our ways.
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.   Hebrews 13:20-21  NKJV

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