With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I tend to think about all the things that need to be done: the cooking, the house cleaning, the guest list. Combined with work, family obligations, and Titus the Wonder Dog that doesn’t seem to get that “screen door” does not translate into “canine destruction zone” it can all feel a bit overwhelming. And let’s not forget Christmas is, gulp, six weeks away. (“Dear Santa, I want a new screen door. Thanks, Cindy.”)
Truth be told: I have to put first things first. Who knew that the Book of Haggai would illustrate this perfectly?
Haggai and Priorities
After letting a temple lay in ruins for 16 years, God sent Haggai to tell the Jews to get their act together. He reminded them that had time for their families, their crops and their own fancy homes, but they had not found time to rebuild God’s house. In fact, the very temple foundation was covered in weeds. Sure, they loved God, but they didn’t put first things first by honoring him with their actions.
How to Be Haggai and Not Haggard
The idea of setting time aside for God during this stressful time might seem more overwhelming than rebuilding a temple without electricity and running water (those Israelites… they were a dedicated bunch, huh?) but take solace in the fact that you don’t have to do everything perfectly. Remember, we have a perfect God. Oh, wait… are you so haggard from life’s relentless demands that you’re skeptical of my promise? Don’t take my word for it. Take His.
Right out of the gate in Haggai 1, God uses Haggai to nudge his complacent people into action – to put Him first before everything else on their to-do list. Yup, I resemble that remark this holiday season. Maybe you do, too?
Then, God uses Haggai to remind his people to “Consider your ways!” In the Hebrew this literally means put your heart on your roads. In other words, think about what’s most important to you and put your heart on that path.
This season I plan on putting my heart on God’s road. Sure, I want to enjoy that turkey with all its fixings but more important than the food is the prayer to the one who blessed me it.
As we read on in the story, we’re told that not only do the people hear Haggai’s message but that they respond. Charles Swindoll said, “After thousands of years, the book of Haggai remains largely unique in the Old Testament for one key reason: the people of Judah listened!”
This is so encouraging. If you are feeling a bit guilty rather than inspired, remember that the Israelites were not always so quick to respond. They had been stuck in their ways a while. It wasn’t an overnight process. The main thing is that they did respond, and you can, too.
Are You Preparing a Place for Jesus this Thanksgiving?
No matter how far you’ve drifted, it’s never too late to rebuild your personal temple.
…to consider your ways.
…to put your heart your heart on your road.
…to put first things first.
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