GIVE CAREFUL THOUGHT TO YOUR WAYS...The Hebrew figure of speech for this phrase is literally “put your heart on your roads.” God has designated the sixth month of Elul, beginning September 1 on our 2019 Gregorian calendar, as the month for "soul searching" and turning back to Him. Indeed, the Hebrew word for this month, "Elul" means to search out deeply, as in the heart.
Yes, in God’s perfect timing, this is the month with special emphasis on getting our hearts and lives in order before Jesus comes again. It is no coincidence that God’s specially anointed Day of Trumpets is appointed to occur in the first day of the following 7th month, just weeks away. We Christians should recognize immediately that trumpets herald the possible second return of Jesus, the Son of God!
The Almighty is reaching out to us right this very moment, hrough the power of His Holy Spirit, He is encouraging us to search out those things that are stumbling blocks in our relationship with Him, giving us the opportunity to put our heart on the road toward Him.
There have literally been thousands of Eluls on God’s calendar. And that adds up to thousands of chances for humanity to get it right. Let’s go to God’s Word as He appointed it for the first day of His 6th month through Haggai. Just as this prophet was sent about 2600 years ago to help God's people get their priorities and roads straight, he speaks volumes directly to us today about the very same thing. It was written especially to religious folks just like us, who were really good at saying that God should be first, but poor in actually making Him a true priority and reality in their lives.
Haggai 1: 1-11: “In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,(shih AL tih el) governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, (JAHZ uh dak) the high priest: This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”
We should already have a handle on the very first problem we religious folks have run into for thousands of years. Notice that God's chosen people of Judah didn’t say they weren’t going to rebuild the temple. They just seem to be saying “Not yet.” We desire to serve God, but in ways that suit our own lifestyle and our own timing. We usually pull the infamous procrastination excuse “I’m praying about it” to justify our inability to commit ourselves totally to the calendar and timing of the Almighty.
As we continue on in this chapter, we read, “Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
We should carefully consider that scripture, "Is it time?" Life is always in God's timing, like it or not. He appoints it impeccably, and knows exactly what needs to happen and when. He has His priorities straight. We should be humiliated by the fact that we tend to focus on ministries and worship that ministers to the needs of people first, and the glory of God second. True, it's not that both of these are not important. But we tend to focus on ourselves and others first, and the Good Lord second.
Jesus tells us plainly in Matthew 22:37-39 how to set our priorities, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."
Let's look at the passage in Haggai again. "Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
We can do a whole lot of work as Christians, but never accomplish one single eternal thing. And we can consume a lot of knowledge along our roads of seminars, conferences, and teachings, but the truth is the image of Christian works and ministries can become a bottomless pit of excuses to serve ourselves. Enough is never enough. We not only drive ourselves crazy, but in the end, those around us suffer as well. The bottom-line is we were never called to be LIKE other Christians. We are called to be LIKE CHRIST.
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
"Give careful thought to your ways." That scripture resonates. Taking time to examine why we are doing what we are doing is absolutely vital. We ALL need to focus on our true blessing found IN the joy of the Almighty, not in trying to manipulate His blessing to "fall" into our lives. We need to quit trying to build our own glorified version of church, justifying it by calling it His house.
Head up His mountain road. Do it His way. Otherwise, we shouldn't be surprised if things don’t turn out the way we expect. In fact, the Lord may curse the very “labor of your hands” as He did In Haggai, even as you call it “Godly”.
That brings us to the mindset of the road we literally stand upon this weekend. The "labor of our hands" is only fruitful when we seek to glorify the Lord, and never our grand ministries and Christian agenda. Indeed, this is what Jesus said about labor in Luke 10:2. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Notice, just like His mountain road, the harvest is His, not ours. Indeed, here is what the Bible says about laboring toward the harvest of the Almighty: Our labor for the Lord is: a labor which will be rewarded (I Corinthians 3:8); a labor which is to be done together (I Corinthians 3:9); a labor not in vain (I Corinthians 15:58); a labor for eternal things (Colossians 1:28-29); a labor God does not forget (Hebrews 6:10); a labor of love (I Thessalonians 1:3); a labor recognized by Christ, Himself.. (Revelation 2:2).
May our goal for this Labor Day week, and indeed every single week, be to “give careful thought to our ways”, or "put our hearts on our roads", as God is directing us today in His word. May our focus be to always glorify the Almighty on the road to His Kingdom as those laborers in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3.
”…Grace and peace to you. We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
GIVE CAREFUL THOUGHT TO YOUR WAYS...