God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Friday, September 20, 2013

September 20 - Haggai: Stingy Blessings for God's Stingy People

Today’s Reading: Haggai

The Message

English Standard Version

Haggai brings us to 33 books read and only 6 left to go! We are also 10 days away from finishing the Old Testament! Keep going!

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Now we read what prompted Israel to restart Temple construction.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

God's Message through Haggai:
"My Chosen People live in fully-repaired houses while My House is in ruins. Honor Me more than yourselves."
Zerubbabel and Joshua (Jeshua) listened and led the reconstruction efforts. "I am with you!" God replied.
The next month God reminded everyone to work because He was with them. God would punish the godless nations and bless His Chosen People. The Temple would be more glorious than before.
Two months later, God added, "You still drag your feet at building My Temple.
"I am about to turn the world upside-down. Then Zerubbabel will have My Authority to rule."

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Israel's discouragement outweighed their trust in God.

Yesterday we read how Israel endured 15 years of harassment from their enemies. Their enemies went so far as to write a letter to the king telling him Israel would rebel once the Temple was built. At that point they were barred from construction. Israel decided to go the easier route—give up on the Temple and focus on their personal lives. Unfortunately, discouragement is no excuse for not trusting God to set things right. God told them if they worked for Him, He would bless them. God would fill the Temple if they built it.
Yesterday I mentioned how Christians have a difficult time overcoming our enemies and discouragement. Some cannot stand the harassment and decide to stay home and focus on their own spiritual lives. Religion becomes a personal issue—just don't ask. Just like Israel could not stay home and live in their nice houses, we cannot stay home and tend to our spiritual houses. We must help to build God's Bride. (We'll read that metaphor in the New Testament.) Trust in God—He will set things right, even if our enemies resist.

God prevented Israel from flourishing because they were unwilling to obey Him.

God dried up the land and prevented Israel from bountiful crops because they would not rebuild His Temple—what they were commissioned to do by both He and King Cyrus. They worked and worked in their fields but received little. When they returned to Him and built the Temple, God blessed the land again. God is stingy with us when we are stingy with Him.
Many would think the only application of this principle Christians would mention is money. However, the Temple was rebuilt using Babylonian and Persian funds, not Israelite funds. God does not want them to give of their money. God wants them to give of their time. When we give God only scraps of our time, God only gives us scraps of blessings. Think about this: on Sunday, do you complain if worship goes longer than an hour? If someone wanted to talk about God on a Tuesday afternoon, would you feel put-out? Could this be a reason churches are not growing? When we give of ourselves to God, God fills His House.

Zerubbabel and Joshua were blessed for leading the construction.

Zerubbabel would become the next leader of Israel. Joshua (Jeshua is an alternate spelling of Joshua or Yeshua, meaning "God saves") would become High Priest. God blesses those who lead in setting things right.

Hearts that are halfway dedicated to God are not dedicated to God.

God gives two interesting analogies. First, something holy does not transfer holiness by touch. Second, something holy loses its holiness when it touches something unclean. From the first He wanted Israel to understand that being near something holy is not the same as being wholly for God. With the second, holiness is either complete or not there. There is no half-holy. Israel could not get by with being "near" the Temple and not set things right. They must be fully invested in God setting things right.
For us, being part of a church does not guarantee holiness. The purpose of a group of Chosen People getting together is to help each other be wholly for God. Showing up, not talking to anyone, and then leaving as soon as you can does not help you or anyone else develop holiness. Show up, participate, and help others while they help you.
We cannot accept half-holiness. Half-holiness means doing the right thing when it helps you but not when it inconveniences you. God is willing to show His full Holiness, we should be willing to be fully and wholly for God setting all things right on the earth. Be fully for God!

Are you using your discouragement to be stingy with setting all things right?

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