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Presentation 01. Introduction We should be constantly assessing our priorities. This requires not only the ability to distinguish between the important.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 01. Introduction We should be constantly assessing our priorities. This requires not only the ability to distinguish between the important."— Presentation transcript:

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3 Introduction We should be constantly assessing our priorities. This requires not only the ability to distinguish between the important and unimportant but between those things of first importance and those which are of secondary importance. It is the theme of priorities that the book of Haggai helpfully unpacks. In order to understand the book we need some historical background. Haggai belongs to the post exilic period of Israel’s history. Presentation 01

4 Introduction God allowed Israel to be taken into exile as a result of her idolatry. And in 722B.C., Jerusalem stood in ruins, the temple destroyed. The people of Israel found themselves enslaved in a strange land. 70 years later, King Cyrus decreed that Israel could return to her homeland. However, when Israel began her reconstruction programme there was tremendous opposition and as a result the people were discouraged, the rebuilding came to a standstill [Ezra4.24] Presentation 01

5 The Not Yet’s Of God’s People The cessation of the work of rebuilding the temple was due to the opposition of the enemy rather than to the carelessness of God’s people. But the discouragement they faced, “queered their pitch” and led in turn to a spirit of complacency, which had a deadening effect upon their spiritual lives. Here is the real danger of discouragement in spiritual work, it may cause God’s people to say, “Ah what’s the use?. This thinking opens the door to complacency.. Presentation 01

6 The Not Yet’s Of God’s People God’s complaint against this people was that they had lost sight of the purpose for which they had returned from the exile. They no longer saw themselves as a part of God’s glorious plan of salvation. They had lost sight of the great spiritual objectives and priorities from their lives and instead concentrated their attention on establishing themselves in the suburbia of Jerusalem. They became absorbed with luxurious living and developed a mania for D.I.Y and “Home Improvement”. “Is it a time for you to be living in your panelled houses, while this house remains in ruins?” v2 Presentation 01

7 The Not Yet’s Of God’s People In itself there is nothing wrong with settling down and building ones’ own house but when that becomes a substitute for doing what God asks of us, that is where the trouble starts. Circumstances had combined to cause Israel to become preoccupied with the cultivation of their comfort and to disregard the work of God. Haggai’s challenge to Israel, continues to challenge our spiritual priorities today. We too can be driven to cultivate our home comforts to the neglect of God’s real purpose for our lives. Presentation 01

8 The Not Yet’s Of God’s People God’s work often demands and requires the sacrifice of our home comforts and if priorities are not sorted out, home and family interests and enjoyments can displace and jeopardise the work of God. When God asks us to account for our contribution to his kingdom will ours be a story of neglect? “But Lord we had the best kept garden in the street and the internal decoration of our home was reviewed in ‘Home and Garden’ magazine.” Presentation 01

9 The Not Yet’s Of God’s People We might wonder how Israel, who had been so remarkably blessed by God could live with their own complacency. Surely they could see that they were not fulfilling their God given objective? The answer is found in v2 they were saying, “The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built”. When spiritual priorities lose their rightful place in our lives then we resort to live in a world of “Not yets”. Oh we intend to be involved in God’s building programme but “Not yet”. What a balm that becomes to our conscience. We have not rejected vital spiritual priorities, we do not consider them unimportant, we have simply placed our involvement in God’s work at some time in the future. Presentation 01

10 The Not Yet’s Of God’s People In Lk. 9v59 Jesus addressed a potential disciple with the words, “Follow me”. But the man replied, “Lord first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus responded, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” This man wanted to put off his involvement in spiritual work and until some future date. Being involved in the work of the kingdom had been relegated to that of secondary. How often do we say to God, “The time for our involvement is ‘not yet’” or, “Let me first go and do this or that”? To do so is to demonstrate that we have lost sight of our spiritual priorities. Presentation 01

11 The Eloquent Providence Of God When we say, “Not yet”, to God he often replies by touching the very thing in our lives that we consider more important than his work. And so in v8 Haggai asks the people to what was happening in their lives and then to put two and two together. Their harvests had failed, inflation was rampant- a bag with holes is a very graphic metaphor. Economic crisis can have a spiritual and moral root cause. Sadly, we have an almost non-existent awareness that our material and economic problems may have underlying them a moral and spiritual cause. This is why it is so important to have a biblical view of life. Presentation 01

12 The Eloquent Providence Of God When our priorities are wrong we so often discover that the material comforts which we have begun to place so much store upon, fail! They can fail in a number of ways. They can fail to be available to us in the abundant measure we have set our hearts upon, “You earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes in it”. They can fail to give us a suitable return for all the energy we have invested in them, “You have planted much but have harvested little”. They fail to bring us the kind of satisfaction we are looking for in life, “You drink, but never have your fill”. They fail to live up to all our expectations for them, “You put on clothes but are not warm.” Presentation 01

13 The Eloquent Providence Of God God ensured that their hoped for prosperity was blighted. Why? That his people might give “careful thought to their ways”. He wanted to gain their attention to tell them their priorities were all wrong. What better way of doing that than to touch those things that had displaced the priority of the kingdom in their lives. Having done so he sent Haggai to say, “You must not put this down to ‘bad luck’, or consider yourself the victim of fate. God has brought these disasters upon you”. We can read this in scripture and yet our spiritual obtuseness deafens us to God’s voice. Presentation 01

14 The Stirring Up Of God’s People Israel got the message! v 14 indicates that in a matter of 3 weeks a complete transformation took place. Leaders and people alike listened to and obeyed God’s word. And the rebuilding was begun. We see here a measure of the power of God’s word. It underlines the desperate need in our own time to heed and obey God’s authoritative word. When people are prepared to obey God’s word then the door for transformation opens. There is also a new sense of awe towards God cf v12b “the people feared the Lord”. This occurs when we become aware that God has drawn near to deal with us, when we see that he has touched our lives, when he begins to press home his claims upon our hearts. Presentation 01

15 The Stirring Up Of God’s People To this people who heeded and obeyed his word, God gave a new will to work, “God stirred up the spirits of both the leaders and the people.” v14 They had formerly been discouraged which in turn had fuelled complacency. God stirred up their spirits! We must not confuse this with bubbly enthusiasm or a superficial emotion that does not last, or persevere under difficulty. In having their spirits stirred by God, this people discovered a new commitment to the work of God, a deep seated resolve to press on in God’s work despite all the difficulties ahead. Presentation 01

16 The Stirring Up Of God’s People To this people who were given a new vision of what God intended to do and a new spirit to approach that work God also gave a new assurance, “I am with you declares the Lord” v13. God had not only forgiven their former neglect. He was there to protect them from their enemies and to prosper them as they engaged in the God given work. How encouraging these words must have sounded to those who have neglected the work to which they have been called. God says, “I am with you,” in the last analysis, this is the only thing that matters. It is surely worth paying ANY price for that. Presentation 01

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