Misplaced Priorities

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. I have called for a drought on your fields and hills—a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.”
Haggai 1:7-11 New Living Translation

Sometime after the laying of the foundation, the work on the temple came to a halt and the work went unfinished for sixty years. Perhaps opposition and other distractions had drained the enthusiasm of the first resettlement group and they turned their attention to other things. They became focused on their own houses and land and lost interest in the temple of Yahweh. God used Haggai to call the people back to the priority of restoring worship in their land. He told them that their lack of interest in completing the temple had caused God to pull back on His blessing and left them to fend for themselves in these difficult times. They hoped to find prosperity in their crops again but they were experiencing drought and lean harvests. God told them this was because He was allowing them to experience a drought to address their lack of priorities.

The lack of priority the people placed on the temple showed a lack of priority they showed in honoring the name of God. The people of Israel’s identity was found in their relationship with God. This is where their prosperity came from in the past and they were not experiencing God’s protection like they used to. By neglecting the temple they were neglecting what distinguished them from the nations around them.

Often in our lives, we face challenges that distract us from our relationship with God. Distractions and opposition can come from any number of sources. Sometimes it is direct hostility and peer pressure. Sometimes it can be our efforts to get ahead or simply just make ends meet. Like the people of Israel at the time of Haggai, we may think that if we put more effort into securing our own prosperity and security we will find our lives to be rich and fulfilling. We often experience the opposite, though. Instead of finding fulfillment we find ourselves still lacking and discontent. As followers of Jesus, we are called to live a life that is distinct from the world around us. When we neglect the things of God for more earthly pursuits, we lose the very thing that gives us identity and makes us distinct from the culture. When we prioritize the things of God, He promises to make sure we have the other things we need. Jesus promised during His Sermon on the Mount, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33)

God, forgive us for the times we have let other priorities distract us from the worship of You. Help us to always remember that our identity and fulfillment come from knowing You. 

Published by llongard

I grew up in northeast Wisconsin. After high school, I moved to Minneapolis, MN to attend North Central University and graduated 1992 with a degree in Biblical Studies and Humanities. I spent most of the next fifteen years in the Twin Cities area until my family and I moved to Indiana in 2007. For most of the first seventeen years after college, I was involved in university ministry either as a volunteer, bi-vocational, or full-time campus minister. Through those years, I also worked in the main street marketplace as a retail manager/trainer and as a service representative in the insurance industry. I've also worked in various education roles. Most recently, I have been working on various projects addressing homelessness in Indianapolis and as team lead for Diakonos Community, a Communitas International missional initiative. Through this ministry, we seek to build missional communities in Indianapolis that serve and bring the life of Christ to those on the margins of society. Our strategy is to collaborate with community agencies that serve those in need and share Christ through meaningful relationships. I am blessed with a wonderful wife, three amazing daughters, and two cats (can't forget the cats, LOL). As a family, we enjoy camping, hiking, gardening, and going to the YMCA together. I also enjoy fishing, riding bicycle, and being involved in whatever my daughters are doing. Though I have not lived in the Green Bay area for over 20 years, I am still a major Packer fan.

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