Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of Host: Consider your ways. Haggai 1:5 ESV
The book of Haggai could parallel, to some degree, the way life is lived today by those who call themselves Christians when it comes to priorities of life and the church. We are so busy with our lives that many times the church and our relationship with Jesus suffers or takes a back burner. Think with me about this for a minute. I am speaking in generalities; but why does the church appear not to have the influence that it once had? I remember as a much younger man, the conversations of older Christians concerning a time when the church took priority in a community. Activities and events were planned in order not to conflict with the church. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that this is not even close to life today. I again am speaking in generalities, but it appears to me in church life today that it is less about being a priority and more about being a convenience. I am not speaking of the church as being a duty but a relationship with God. God always has taken the first move in our lives to restore and develop relationship. (Read John 1:1 and then John1:14) I believe He still moves in this fashion today but fewer are following… really following him. Think with me for a moment, if the pattern of your life style as a Christian in the church were followed in your daily life, how would you fair? Would you still have a job, still be married, have passing grades? The choices we make in life always have consequences and what we make our priority will influence every choice. So how do we change or return to where we need to be in terms of the church and our lives? How do we make what should be our priority, our priority?
Here are three areas in which to start, but by no means do I mean to imply this is a formula. These three are foundational and much can be built upon them. 1. Forget the past 2. Commit to the Day 3. Plan to finish well.
Forget The Past:
When I say “forget the past,” I mean don’t live there. Never forget what you have learned from the past especially if it caused failure. If a person doesn’t learn from past mistakes, they will be doomed to repeat it. The reason Israel, God’s chosen people in the Old Testament, were taken captive and placed in exile many times was because they failed over and over to remember God alone was to be worshipped. Israel didn’t need to forget past mistakes, but for sure they didn’t want to live in captivity, so they had to look toward the future, which wasn’t always easy. In order to forget the past you MUST look to the future. Here is how Paul describes this in Philippians 3:12-14 ESV, Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Commit to the day:
Just as you don’t live in the past, don’t live in the future. I am not suggesting a person be irresponsible concerning planning, but remember your days belong to the Lord. It is appointed unto man to one day die. If you plan or dwell too much on the future, you will miss the day. I don’t know anyone who said when dying I wish I’d spent more time at the office or work and less time with God. Absolutely every day is a God day and is a gift from God. How you unwrap that day will depend on your thoughts of God. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalms 118:24 ESV ….. Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverbs 27:1 ESV ….. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Plan to Finish Well:
While we are not to dwell in the past, nor fret about the future, we know as Christians where our final destination will be. I‘ve heard it said that you begin a project with the end in mind. The project may not be completed in a day, but everyday it is closer to what it will be. Another way of thinking about this is a child growing towards adulthood. He/she is not what they are yet to be, but every day changes them into what would hopefully be one day a responsible adult. As a person grows they put away childish ways of thinking. One such thought is “It’s all about me.” Concerning love in 1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV it states, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I became a man I gave up childish ways. Jesus gave us the greatest example of this when he finished well. He considered what God His Father sent Him to do…. Die for the consequence of our sins. Jesus even said, “My father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 ESV Jesus finished well and when upon the cross he said, “It is finished.” John 19:30 ESV
Let me challenge you today to forget the past, commit yourself daily to living for Jesus, and plan on finishing well. Commit to worship God before you commit to anything else.
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David