Haggai – Giving Careful Thought

Haggai 1:5-9Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have 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.”

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the 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 his own house. (NIV 1984)

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My Musings – While the context suggests that the remnant that had returned from captivity were preoccupied with rebuilding their lives to the neglect of rebuilding God’s Temple, there is much we can learn from the prophet’s rebuke.  There is much we need to give careful thought to.

We spend much of our lives trying to make a living (planted much), but end up disappointed because in the process we failed to make a life (harvested little).  For making a living and making a life are two different things.  The things we ran after, the things that we thought would bring us satisfaction (eating, drinking, nice clothes, good wages), in the end bring disappointment (never enough, never filling, do not bring comfort/warmth, and do not last). We bring them “home” but they are blown away. We need to refocus on the things that do last (His “house”).

My Advice –  Do not be so busy attending to our “house” that we neglect His “house,” His Kingdom, and His righteousness.  Sometimes we find it hard to let go of the old “house.”  But we need to learn to hold loosely the things of this world in order to get a grip on the things of the Kingdom.

What are some things that you are holding onto that might be keeping God’s “house” in your life from being built into the glory that He intends?  What are some things you can do to “let them go?” You might expect little, but you will receive much.

 

 

 

 

 

Jonah: Not Just Another Fish Story

Jonah 4:2You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – We are clear about the fish story, but less clear about the theme. We spend a lot of time debating about the fish (was it a whale, or just a big fish?  What would it be like to spend three days and nights in that environment? How could anyone possibly survive it?). We spend much less time focusing on the message of God’s grace.

A Grace That Pursues – If you knew, with certainty, what God wanted you to do, what would you do? Jonah not only ran away, he ran the other way. Was he uncertain? Did he fear for his life? Did he fear rejection? Was he afraid he would be wasting his time? Why didn’t he want to go? What about us? Would we run from God? Do we run from God?

Jonah ran (Jonah 1:3), but God pursued. God could have turned to someone else. After all God’s program does not depend upon us. But God sent the storm (Jonah 1:3), God sent the fish (Jonah 1:17), God delivered Jonah (Jonah 2:10), God gave Jonah another chance (Jonah 3:1). Why would (should) God go to such trouble? Not because we deserve it, but because God is a God of grace.

A Grace That Shares – Jonah wanted the Ninevites to be judged, not to receive grace (Jonah 4:1). He was more concerned about a vine that no longer provided comfort to him than the people who  “cannot tell their right hand from their left.” But God sent the vine to teach Jonah. How about us? Would we rather see “evil” people condemned than receive grace?  What are the vines in our lives that we are so concerned about that we neglect those in need of God’s grace?

A Grace That Saves – Despite all their past wickedness, God relented on “sending calamity.”  Why were the Ninevites “worthy” of salvation (Jonah 3:10)?  Why were we “worthy” of salvation? Were the Ninevites any less “worthy” than us? Are those around us less “worthy” than us? The reality is, none of us are worthy.  That’s why it is called grace.

My Advice – Don’t run from God’s call.  If He calls us to it, in His grace He will see us through it.  Don’t be so hasty to judge and condemn others.  We were once were (and really still are) in need of God’s grace.  Finally, realize how unworthy we were to receive God’s grace and focus on how “abounding” His love is. Maybe then we will be less likely to run from His call and less likely to judge others.

Joel: The Whir of Locust Wings

Joel 1:2[L]isten, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers? (NIV 1984)

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My Musings – While written to ancient Judah as a call to national repentance, another “day” draws near that will be like nothing that has ever happened in our days or the days of our forefathers.  As you read today’s headlines, you can almost hear the whir of locusts’ wings approaching.  But even as the day of judgment advances upon us, God is eager to show mercy and grace to “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord . . . For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

My Advice –  Have you made your decision?  Like in the days of Noah, the day is coming when it will be time to shut the door.