Guide Prioritizing Your Priorities: Studies from the book of Haggai

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Haggai, fortunately, reveals how it happens. The former leads to the latter. When we neglect the things of God other things take the place that He alone should occupy. Things like our own comfort and our own lives. The term does not imply luxury or great expense, though paneling can be of that nature. What are your paneled houses? What are those areas of your life that you know you have neglected God to tend? They need not be negative things in and of themselves. They might just as easily be good things if tended to in the right season and in the context of a viable relationship with God.

Lesson 1: Putting First Things First (Haggai ) |

But good things can become condemnable things if they are achieved at the cost of the prioritizing of God and His ways. Do you have a picture of that in your mind? Now ask yourself, would God be there? The only question is, will we treasure our own paneled houses or will we treasure the Lord our God? Be honest with yourself: Is that showing up in your priorities?

Is there even room in your life as you have created it for tending to the things of God? I plead with you to make it so if there is not! Why does it matter so much? It matters so much because anything in life that you move to the center of your life where God alone should be is doomed to frustrate you and leave you empty.

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This is devastating because it is one of the best descriptions of modern American life I have ever read. We consume and consume and consume, but all for nothing. At the end of the day, after all of our laboring and trying and buying and consuming, we are left empty. Consider the ways of the modern, upwardly-mobile American.

He must have that car and those clothes and that spouse and those kind of children who do those kinds of things with those kinds of people to create that specific kind of image for us to put on Facebook! Consider the ways of the modern American enslaved to social media. He must take one thousand selfies so he can delete all but one in an effort to find just the right image to put on his social media platforms so hopefully just the right people will think just the right thing.

Consider the successful American businessman who spends all of his time, often to the neglect of his family, to climb the ladder so that he can finally tell himself and others that he has made it, that he has arrived! Consider the helicopter mom who must control her children and everybody else around them so as to create what she considers to be the optimal outcome.

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Consider the neurotic parents who demand that their children perform in such and such a way so that they can live vicariously through them. Consider all the ways we as modern American try desperately and spend ourselves in a frantic effort to achieve some goal, we often know not what, to impress some people, we often know not who, so that we can be thought well of! We consume things and time and each other in a frenzied and misguided circus of activity all in the hope that we might matter! And we so often do these things while the temple of God lies in ruins in our own hearts!

So too with us! We are reaping what we have sown! But here is the good news: You do not have to neglect the things of God! You could turn to God and to the life He has for you. It was only a foundation laid sixteen years ago. In the time of Moses God had instituted a Tabernacle as the place for Israel to worship. The Temple was the center of the sacrificial system.

This central worship place was to be where the Covenant between God and his people was administered. There they met with God and one another through the rituals of the Levitical system. It was there that the bond-in-blood of the Covenant of Grace was perpetuated in the sacrifices, and the majestic glory of God in the purity of Holiness was shown. Though they could sacrifice at the temporary altar, the unfinished building did not provide for all God demanded. Therefore its unfinished condition was a distortion. There may even have been some temporary, make-shift structures constructed.

But they were not the ones God had prescribed in his word. They had some sacrifices going on which they assumed were all that mattered. They were not committed to honoring their Creator and Redeemer in the special way God prescribed.

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Even the pagans at that time took more care in the worship of their false gods and idols. Perhaps the Jews would come to the Temple foundation now and then, but after their visit their personal lives were proven to be their real priority. They saw God as having little importance in their daily lives.

Compare them with what God instructed in his word. Things were not as they should be. God wanted His glory and sovereign Lordship to be seen in their lives. It is what we are created for, what Jesus died to restore, what the Temple sacrifices, ceremonies, and furnishings were supposed to mean to them.

The Priority of God in our Lives

They suffered covenant cursings because of their disobedience. A Double curse was upon them. They took in little, and had little pleasure in what they did have. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.

Therefore, heavens were withholding the dew. It was because of their self-centered behavior. They had forgotten the One who causes their crops to flourish. Their focus was on their own prosperity, so God kept those things from prospering. They had little for all their misdirected efforts, and they were not finding pleasure or satisfaction in the things they did have. Long ago Deuteronomy 28 had warned about the blessings and cursings of the Covenant God made with them.

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There is a moral principle that links our obedience and our blessings. While the obedience of some in Israel was a work of grace, the disobedience of the rest revealed latent sin that needed repentance and faith in the promised Savior. By putting God first, He would then be honored in their worship and they would be blessed in the secondary matters of life. Compare this pitiful project Ezr 3: Such an attitude of dependence and expression of covenant fealty would render what they did acceptable to God.

Check Out Your Priorities — Haggai 1: What types of excuses do we see people hiding behind? Call to Check Out Your Priorities: No Priority Given to the Work of the Lord: Declares the Lord of hosts, Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house. I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.

Why does Haggai take such care to specifically date stamp each of his prophetic messages? Where have we become complacent or allowed our priorities to reflect those of the world rather than those of the people of God? How has God used frustration in our lives to draw us back to dependence and commitment to Himself? Are we always correct to make a connection today between loyalty to God and physical prosperity?

Precise dating of his prophecies. Short ministry with a single focus: Jews were chastened by Exile in Babylon. No gross sins condemned by Haggai. But Jews were also worn out.

Most had become complacent in Babylon. Out of 24 orders of priests, only 4 sent members back to Jerusalem.