Consider Your Ways (Haggai 1)

Haggai’s prophetic ministry took place after the Babylonian Captivity of the nation of Israel was coming to a close. People began to trickle back to Jerusalem, having secured enough provision for the journey home.

As Jerusalem slowly began to be repopulated, the people began rebuilding their homes, businesses and streets, all while the Temple remained in ruins. Seeing his house remain ruined while everyone else’s was being rebuilt prompted the Lord to say, “Consider your ways.”

In calling the people to consider their ways, God called them to consider their priorities, their worship, and their faith. The lesson is as relevant to us today as it was in Haggai’s day. We all need to consider our ways, to make sure our priorities are in line, that our worship honors God, and that our faith is in tact.

The above-posted episode of The Point will bless you with encouragement.

It’s time to worship

Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord. -Haggai 1:8

God is good. All the time, God is good; God is good all the time.

In Haggai 1, the prophet spoke to the people who had been brought out of the Babylonian captivity back into Jerusalem. God had followed through on His promise to return them home, to rebuild the Kingdom, to establish a new covenant, and to prepare the place for the coming of Messiah.

Yet, even with the fulfillment of God’s promises in progress, the people forgot to return their praise to the Lord. Because they had quit building the Temple, and thus quit worshiping, God allowed financial challenges to arise in order to get their attention (Haggai 1:9).

His exhortation in verse 8 was to rebuild the Temple so that worship could resume. God’s promise in verse 8 was that if they built the Temple, God would take pleasure in it, and be glorified.

God has been good to us. He has made eternal salvation freely available through our repentance and faith, He has given us a place in His Kingdom, and He has promised deliverance from the struggles of this life.

That is the hope that drives us forward as Christians.

God has provided for us, protected us, and blessed us. What can we give God in return?

Scripture is pretty clear. What pleases God is when His people trust Him, and show others His glory.

As He said in Haggai 1:8, if they built the Temple, He would take pleasure in it.

You can give back to God. You can make Him happy. Isn’t it time you did that?

Worship the Lord. Praise God for how good He is. Show others how good He is. God will be honored and blessed by your worship.

When enough just isn’t enough


Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

-Haggai 1:6

Commissions are designed to motivate top-level performance from sales people, investment advisers and business executives. Those who excel in these careers are often those who are motivated by money… not just a need or the desire to acquire wealth, but those who see life as the ultimate sport, and the money is the scoreboard.

I once read an article written by the CEO of an investment firm. He said, “We always ask prospective hires, ‘How much money would you like to make?’ If they give us a figure, we don’t hire them.”

The reason?

“The figure they share is their comfort level. Once they reach that figure, they have all they want, and they quit performing. The correct answer is ‘The sky is the limit.'”

While the CEO sees his duty as making sure the business is as healthy as possible to protect and grow the investment of its shareholders, and to preserve the gainful employment of its staff, this mindset can become dangerous if it becomes our life’s ambition. The endless pursuit of wealth just for the sake of winning, the ongoing quest for pleasure, and the desire to conquer can wreck us Spiritually if we forget that (a) God determines who wins and loses, (b) that we were put on this earth to serve God, and (c) we fail to glorify God with that which He has blessed us.

In the book of Haggai, the people of Israel had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. They had spent 70 years in Babylonian captivity as a consequence of ongoing idolatry. After the 70 years had passed, God followed through on His promise to return the Israelites to the promised land, and ordered the reconstruction of the Temple and the return of the Israelites to their homeland.

Two excited groups of Israeli exiles returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the Temple. However, over time, that excitement waned, doused by the cold waters of persecution and government intervention. The zeal for the Lord faded, but the quest for survival soon became a quest to thrive. In their efforts to prosper, they forgot about the Temple, thus forgetting God, and forgetting the reason they returned to Jerusalem in the first place.

Yet, their pursuit of worldly progress turned up empty as well. As stated in Haggai 1:6:

Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

When we turn away from God for worldly pursuits, we will notice two things. (1) No matter how successful we are, it will never satisfy us, and (2) God has a way of hindering our efforts as a disciplinary process of turning us back to Him.

There are a lot of good things happening in the world today. The stock market is rallying and the economy is reviving. The temptation is to step out into this exciting new world to see what we can gain. And while there is nothing wrong with taking the opportunities provided for you, and enjoying the fruit of your labor, do not think for one second that any of those things will bring you fulfillment apart from God.

Without God, that wealth, prosperity and success hollows out and becomes empty, which is why the book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

So, the warning we get from Haggai is “Enjoy life, but don’t forget your purpose.”

Leland Acker has served as the pastor of Life Point Baptist Church since its inception in 2008. Life Point meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., Sunday Worship at 11 a.m., and meetings are held at the Early Chamber of Commerce/Small Business Incubator Facility at 104 E. Industrial Dr. in Early, TX, pending the construction of a new worship facility.

Consider your ways


Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.

-Haggai 1:5

In Haggai 1, the Lord points out how the people of Jerusalem who had returned to the city to rebuild the Temple became reluctant to do so, possibly fearing political retribution. Yet, despite that fear, the people continued to build their own houses. That prompted the Lord to respond with, “Consider your ways.”

When the Lord told the people of Jerusalem to “consider their ways,” He was telling them to check their Spiritual status, their motivations, and their choices. On that note, it’s a good idea that we all “consider our ways.”

First, let’s consider our Spiritual status. Growing up in the American South, Christianity was the assumed religion among our friends and neighbors. Nearly everyone went to church somewhere on Sunday morning. People lived a basic moral lifestyle, identified as Christian, and gasped at anything that appeared “unChristian.”

One of the most dangerous things a person can do is assume the status of being a Christian without actually having the faith that makes you a Christian. Some call this, “professing the faith without possessing the faith.”

What makes this dangerous is that a person can delude himself into thinking that he is a Christian and is going to Heaven, only to be told on Judgment Day, “Depart, for I never knew you.” Thus, the Lord warned in Matthew 7:21-23:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

In that passage, you had people who thought they were going to enter into the Lord’s Kingdom, only to be reckoned with the fact that they lacked the one key thing required for salvation, Faith.

They pleaded with the Lord, noting the many wonderful things they did. Notice how the Lord did not argue against that. They had the works, but they lacked that personal relationship with Christ that comes by faith. So, the Lord rejected them.

Therefore, it is imperative that we all take stock of our Spiritual lives to see whether or not we are truly Christians, whether we truly know the Lord as our Savior. After all, it would be tragic to spend a lifetime in church every Sunday, hosting youth camp-out events, donating to missions, and participating in the annual prayer breakfast, and wind up facing the judgment of God.

Therefore, 2 Peter 1:10 says, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? Was there a moment when you made the conscious decision to turn from your sin and trust the Lord as your Savior? If that moment never happened, then your salvation is in question. Make that decision today. Reject the sin in your life, and trust Christ to save you based on His work on the cross.

Secondly, we are called to consider our motivations. Why do we do the things that we do? What drives us? What do we hope to gain?

There are many people who are motivated to make their world a better place, whether that is to be accomplished by volunteering in the community, mentoring youth, or donating to charity.

There are many people who are motivated to accumulate wealth. They seek success in their careers or businesses.

Others seek accomplishment. The money, and the impact on society is irrelevant. They just want to become a household name.

And others are motivated by the pursuit of pleasure. Such is the case of a man I saw on TV living in Appalachia, who could care less about his bank account or the state of the country, as long as there were beers in the fridge and the satellite TV service was working.

What is your motivation? While we all tend to gravitate toward one of these, scripture teaches us that we are to be motivated to glorify God.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

As noted by Bro. Jim Finch, who taught Sunday School at Life Point this past week, we glorify God by reflecting His glory, which is accomplished when we do the things God would do, when we do what He tells us to do, and when we love people the way He would love them.

Finally, we are told to consider our choices. Hopefully, after the previous considerations, you have found that you have faith. If not, hopefully you found faith. Then, hopefully you’ve evaluated your motivations and realigned yourself accordingly. Now, we are to look at our choices.

Do our choices reflect the faith we profess? And do they fall in line with our motivation? If not, we need to re-evaluate our choices and make better ones.

It’s always a good time to “consider your ways.” Hopefully in doing so, we can learn, and grow as we continue to live this Christian life.

Is it time?

Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord‘s house should be built. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.

-Haggai 1:2-5

In a debate between the Wiley College and Oklahoma City debate teams, as depicted in the 2007 film The Great Debaters, Samantha Booke argued against racial segregation in schools, noting how the state of Oklahoma spent five times as much on education per white student when compared to that spent on African American students.

Booke, a fictitious character based on Henrietta Bell Wells, then asked when the time for racial reconciliation, integration and justice would come. “Will it come tomorrow? Next week? In 100 years? No the time for justice, the time for freedom, the time for equality, is always, always right now!”

In the Jim Crow South in the 1930s, the argument against integration often centered around the feasibility of true racial reconciliation. The argument was that, with there being so much animosity between the races, it would be impractical, and downright destructive to try to effect change.

Thus, the one arguing against integration would wring his hands, and say, “You don’t deal with things the way they should be, you deal with things the way they are. It’s just not the right time for progress on this issue.”

Widespread societal opposition to doing the right thing has led to complacency in the wrong things often throughout human history, from the slavery in the antebellum South, to the exploitation of child-labor of the industrial north. As this complacency settled in, society languished in sin until being led into the light by a strong leader, oftentimes moved by their faith in God, to spark national repentance.

In Haggai 1, the prophet Haggai was moved by the Lord to prophesy a message calling on the nation to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. However, the Temple reconstruction faced opposition.

The tribes who had taken up residence in the Holy Land in Israel’s absence did not want to give their territory back to Israel. Therefore, Israel was accused of mounting an insurrection against the Medo-Persian Empire.

The accusation was serious. If the King were to feel threatened by the accusation, he could not only order the halting of the work, but use military force to pummel Israel into submission. For the King, the accusation meant that, by supporting the reconstruction of the Temple, he was funding the enemies of the empire.

The Israelites were pushed to complacency to assuage fears of rebellion. The king was pressured against supporting reconstruction to show loyalty to the empire.

Thus, as Haggai was being called to become a prophet, many people (including Jews and Gentiles) were saying that the time to rebuild the Temple had not yet come.

“It’s not time to rebuild.”

“The Persians will never accept it.”

“Rebuilding will provoke violence from our neighbors.”

“Maybe some day in the future, but not today.”

While all this was being said, the reconstruction effort for the city of Jerusalem continued, with homes and businesses being built. The people risked the political fallout of pursuing their own interest, but not God’s. Therefore, in Haggai 1:5, God says, “Consider your ways.”

There are three things to keep in mind from this passage.

(1) The time to repent and do the right thing is always right now. In Haggai 1, God was using the reconstruction of the Temple to further His agenda of ending sin and redeeming His people. By delaying the reconstruction of the Temple, Israel was actually working against God’s plan.

When we delay repenting of the sin in our lives, or our culture, we only further the destruction and ruin brought on by our sin.

(2) We need to value the things of God more than the things of man. Israel had no trouble building their own homes, but they weren’t willing to take the same risks in building the house of God. God did not say they couldn’t build their own homes, but God wanted them to build up His house as well.

God never called us to take a vow of poverty. He did call us to give tithes and offerings as He prospers us. He wants us to value His cause as much, if not more, than we do our own.

(3) We should consider our ways. This means to take stock of where we stand with God, and whether we are living our lives in accordance with scripture and His will.

We want to see God move in our society in a great and wonderful way. For that to happen, we must give God something to bless. In order to do that, we need to place importance and value on the things of God, and repent of the sin and wrong thinking that is in our own heart. May God bless you as you take these steps in your own life.