Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in a pockets filled with holes!
Haggai 1:6 (NLT)
Have you ever felt like that? You work so hard and yet there is simply too much monthly left at the end of the month. Sometimes this happens because you have been hit by a crisis but more often than not, there are other reasons. It may be the result of failing to do a budget and stick to it. However, sometimes there might be another problem.
This problem is not a new one. More than 2,000 years ago, the Jews who returned from captivity in Babylon faced this same problem. Listen to the message God sent to them through the prophet Haggai.
Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven's Armies says: Look at what's happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!
Haggai 1:4-6 (NLT)
Do you see the problem? There is nothing wrong with have a house, planting crops, making or purchasing clothes, etc. These are essential things. The problem was a matter of priorities. They tended to themselves while they allowed the House of God to lie in ruins. The end result was that the product of all of their work was insufficient. Why? Because God simply could not bless them.
God never directs our attention to a problem without telling us how to fix it. That is true for us today as much as it was true for the Jews when Haggai delivered God's message to them.
Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord.You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses.It's because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops.I have called for a drought on your fields and hills - a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.
Haggai 1:8-11 (NLT)
We are supposed to be building up the Kingdom of God but far too often local churches, pastors, missionaries and so forth struggle. Why? Because instead of building God's house, we concentrate on building our own. To make matters worse, we are not content with merely trying to justifying our own actions by saying we "give our time" by which we usually mean we attend church and volunteer. Excuse me but isn't that what we are supposed to be doing anyway? How can something we are already supposed to be doing be done in lieu of something else we are supposed to be doing?
We then take it one step further and criticize others who believe they should not only give their time but tithes and offerings as well. I have never understood why someone would ever criticize someone for providing funds in order to support the local church, various ministries, missionaries, etc for the sake of the Gospel yet it happens all the time.
If we, like the Jews in Haggai's day, seem to have a pocket full of holes, perhaps it would be wise to step back and consider whether or not you are building up your own "house" while the House of God is "in ruins". If so, we need to heed what God has said and respond like Zerubbabel, Jeshua the High Priest and the people did.
Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of God's people began to obey the message from the Lord their God. When they heard the words of the prophet Haggai, whom the Lord their God had sent, the people feared the Lord.Then Haggai, the Lord's messenger, gave the people this message from the Lord: I am with you, says the Lord!
So the Lord sparked the enthusiasm of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the enthusiasm of Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the enthusiasm of the whole remnant of God's people. They began to work on the house of their God, the Lord of Heaven's Armies,on September 21 of the second year of King Darius's reign.
Haggai 1:12-15 (NLT)
On the 18th of December, the day the foundation of the Lord's Temple was laid, Haggai received this message from God:
I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.
Haggai 2:19 (NLT)
Amazing things begin to happen when we put God first and heed His Word.
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Amen! Especially to this point: "To make matters worse, we are not content with merely trying to justifying our own actions by saying we "give our time" by which we usually mean we attend church and volunteer (...)"
Because, even when time is given ... there is the small matter that it is not always productive. A big whack of that time can be spent on greeting people and exchanging some friendly words. Then having a cup of something. Sure and certain, it's important for us to spend time in fellowship with one another, but volunteering it is not.
I also like this little line, true in every context: "God never directs our attention to a problem without telling us how to fix it." -- oh, what a blessing this is.
Wishing you grace and peace,
I have to say, Kathy, that in some ways I am disturbed by this blog. Perhaps it is because things are different over here, I don't know. I wonder how you define the "House of God". I am assuming (I think I'm right here) that you are referring to the people, not the building. My thoughts are therefore related to what I have seen here where the pastor earns a comfortable living ie at least 2 1/2 times the low income earners, has his rent paid, his electricity paid, his phone paid while some of his congregation are queuing up at the food bank because there just isn't enough for basic necessities. Then they go to Church on Sunday and are asked for a contribution to the Church's coffers. I don't understand the distribution of wealth. I think I told you that our friend called us "the richest poor people he knows". I guess that the joy we have in living is based on being at the centre of God's will, where ever and what ever that means to each one of us. May be Christianity is about living with our sleeves rolled up, ready to go and do [i]what ever[/i] God asks of us.
I apologise if I have missed the point, Kathy. You know my brain. I wouldn't want to detract from what you have said.