Consider Your Ways
2021 is here. 2020 is past. At this point, the new year, isn’t quite as “new” as it was three weeks ago…
How is your year going for you so far? One thing I try to do, as we begin a new year, is to pause to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work in the past year, draw some lessons from it, and also take time to refocus, cleanse, declutter and begin the new year with a fresh vision. An important part of this process for me, is putting God first. As a pastor, I have asked our church to come along with me to dedicate the month of January, this first month of the new year, to fasting and prayer. To put God first in our thoughts, conversation, reading, time, affections, money, reading, talents and worship.
I am reminded of a passage written by an Old Testament Prophet, by the name of Haggai. He was a prophet during the time of the Restoration. After the Jews had served 70 years in captivity in a foreign country to pay for their sins, God allowed them to return and rebuild. Their first priority was to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, which had been completely destroyed by enemy armies. However, sometime during that rebuilding process, they became distracted by their own priorities, turned away and began building for themselves. This is where we pick up the story: 2 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.’”
3 Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? 5 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 6 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!
7 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 8 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. 9 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. 10 It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. 11 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 1:1-11 NLT)
Are you struggling to make ends meet? Are you living from paycheck to paycheck? Do you run out of money before you run out of month? Does it seem like things are often breaking down in your home or your car? Maybe it’s time, in the words of Haggai 1:5 and 1:7 (KJV) to “Consider your ways.” Have you put God first, or are your priorities aligned with your own personal agenda?
When God came to Joshua to prepare him to lead His people, among His instructions was this: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8).
Wanna be successful? Spend time in God’s Word. Think deeply about what He is saying to you. Delight in His word… “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:2-3)
Let me end with a challenge from the Paul, the Apostle to his “son in the faith,” Timothy: “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1 Timothy 4:15-16).
Yes, it’s time…Consider your ways.