“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.” (Haggai 1:5)
As we begin a new year, I offer you today’s focal verse as both an encouragement and a challenge. As with any Bible passage, we should start by studying its original application to its original audience. About 90 years before Haggai spoke these words, God allowed the king of Babylon to overthrow Jerusalem and take the Jews into captivity in punishment for their disobedience. After 70 years of exile in Babylon, as He had promised, God allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem where they were encouraged to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed in the Babylonian attack. Within the first two years the people diligently pursued this effort, completing the foundation for the new temple.
But it was a very difficult task. The damage to the temple was very extensive. In addition, they faced opposition. So, they basically gave up and stopped working on the temple, pursuing only their own interests. Now, 18 years later God calls them to “give careful thought to their ways.” God wanted His priorities to be their priorities, despite difficulty and opposition.
I’m happy to report that the people listened and obeyed, and God responded favorably: “Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord” (Haggai 1:13). That’s God’s promise of blessing and success.
Now that we understand its original context, we can apply today’s verse to our own lives. Give careful thought to your ways. What has God called you to do? Are you pursuing His priorities or are you focused only on your own interests? Don’t let today’s challenging times discourage you or hold you back. Rather, remember God’s promise as we put Him first in all we do: “I am with you,” declares the Lord.
Question: Give careful thought to your ways. Are you putting God first?
Challenge: Read Haggai (it’s just a short two-chapter book near the end of the Old Testament).
Prayer: Lord, help us to examine our ways and dedicate ourselves to putting you first in the new year.
Dan Kinnaman, Chapel Leader -- Norwich Sea Unicorns