I pray that you are enjoying a wonderful day rejoicing in the birth of our Savior!
I look forward to another year of growing in the grace and knowledge of our great God along with each of you in 2018!
This is the time of year for evaluating priorities and setting goals for the coming year. Don’t forget to consider God’s priorities as you do. God had something to say to the people in Haggai’s day on that very subject.
The people in Haggai’s time had a problem. They were working hard, but getting nowhere. Chapter 1:
6 “ You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
The blessings of God were missing from their lives and God sent Haggai to help them understand why. Continue reading →
The people who had come back enthusiastic and ready to rebuild the temple, had met some resistance and gradually quit doing God’s work and, instead, got busy with their own lives.
God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to stir and rebuke the people about their priorities. In Haggai 1, God said:
“‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’ Thus says the Lord God of Hosts, ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountain, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord” (Hag. 1.5-8).
What about you? Do you need to consider your ways? Are your priorities God’s priorities? Have you gotten “too busy” to be concerned about the things of God? Do you feel like you work hard, but everything goes into a purse that is full of holes? Could God be using circumstances to get your attention?
Verse 7b says, “All my springs are in you.” In Acts 17.28 Paul said, “… in Him we live and move and have our being.” And James 1.17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above … ” (NASB).
God is the source of every talent, every ability, every blessing. Scripture tells us that He even blesses the unrighteous in many ways. The Puritans called it “common grace.” And yet, we are so easily puffed up and become proud of our achievements, our possessions, even, our children. We need to be careful to give God the glory that He and He alone is due!
Contentious and Angry
In verse 19, God again sees fit to warn us, ladies, that we can easily go from being a blessing to being a curse to our husbands and/or children.
“Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”
Of course, we women are not the only ones who struggle with anger and it’s just as destructive when it’s you men.
The Israelites had just had a great victory at Jericho. Next on the battle plan was Ai, a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died because of one man’s sin. Could you or I be experiencing defeat because of sinful attitudes or actions? What did one pastor mean when he warned about where we park our carriages?
In chapter 7 the Nation of Israel had just had a great victory at Jericho. But something happened between there and the town of Ai. Ai was a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died, all because of one man’s greed.
¹ But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.
4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. 5 And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.
6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?
10 So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? 11 Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.
So often, we think our sins are no big deal. We minimize, justify, or explain them away. Perhaps Achan was no different. I wonder how he justified taking what God had forbidden. Because it was going to be destroyed anyway? Because he thought he deserved it? Because no one would know?
And, like Achan, we think our sins only affect us. But, just as then, they affect others, often those closest to us. His whole family died and the society as a whole suffered. Remember 36 men died in the battle.
Is there something you need to see, not just as a minor problem, but as sin in your own life? If so, take it to God, confess it as sin, humbly ask for His help and make a plan to change your thinking and behavior in the future. Make yourself accountable to someone.
Plan to Obey God
Start with a plan to change your thinking by renewing your mind. Make time to study and meditate on what God’s Word has to say about that area of your life. Take Him at His Word, believe He’s right and you’re wrong if your thinking is not in line with His Word (Is. 55.8-9; Rom. 12.1-2; Eph. 4.23).
Then make an action plan. How are you going to respond to that temptation in the future? When the thoughts come, what verse of Scripture will be your “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6.17)? What do you need to do to “make no provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13.14)? “Burn your bridges” where sin is concerned. Don’t hang on to things you shouldn’t. Don’t keep mementos and reminders.
If you are tempted by an inappropriate relationship, don’t deceive yourself by thinking you can “just be friends.” Stop having any contact with that person! Don’t keep that phone number—just in case! Again, make yourself accountable to someone. Continue reading →
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival for 2016. We just finished going through The Jesus Code by O.S. Hawkins chapter by chapter. I’m going to do something a little different this year. I plan to feature a different book each week.
I read Glynnis’ book a couple of months ago after reading Michele’s review on “Living our Days” and was extremely blessed by her biblical perspective on priorities, procrastination and organizing our time. I have already incorporated many of her suggestions into my own life and plan to go back through it and fine tune as we start off on a new year.
The first few chapters of the book deal with procrastination, but it’s not a “stop it” approach. Glynnis helps us understand the “whys” of procrastination. Some of them are personal to each one of us (for example: Is it fear or overload rather than laziness?) and others may be the result of living in our fast-paced media driven world with its instant messaging and demands for our quick response.
Glynnis, also, takes on the challenges we face when determining our priorities and how our changing culture, perfectionism, and people pleasing, among other things, play a role in our struggles. She helps us sort out God’s view of our priorities with a series of questions. She says:
I’m always having to rein myself in and reevaluate my priorities. In fact, I do this weekly, and I’ll explain that more in a later chapter. But for now, perhaps a series of questions I ask myself will help you if you struggle with knowing your priorities. These would be good questions to write in a journal or notebook and answer during the next week. To answer them effectively, take time to pray before you start. Open your heart to hear the Lord and His voice. Quiet your heart and just listen. Then ask yourself:
1) What Can Only I Do? There are some jobs in my life no one else can do. For example, no one else can nurture my personal faith in God. I am the only wife my husband has. God has given me five children to mother. Plus, no one else can eat the right foods or exercise for me. Those four areas of life (plus a few others) are no-brainers and will always be at the top of my priority list.
2) What Has God Entrusted to Me? We’ve all been entrusted with something— a certain amount of money, a home, talents, and intelligence. Some of us have paid jobs and volunteer responsibilities.
3) Am I a Good Steward of What I Already Have? This is where I do a painful assessment of reality. How am I doing with what God has already given me? Are my finances a wreck? Have I neglected my husband? Have I honored my parents? God is always watching to see how I’m doing with what He’s already given me. When He sees I manage things well, He entrusts me with more. When I’m neglectful, the opposite happens.
4) What Passion (or Dream) Has God Put in My Heart? Perhaps this dream is buried in your heart— but it’s there. When we submit to God’s plans for our lives, and those dreams don’t contradict His Word or character, we can be confident God placed those dreams in our heart for a reason.
5) What Has God Asked Me to Do That I Haven’t Done Yet? This is where things get touchy for a procrastinator. It’s likely there are items we’ve put off that God has called us to do. This moves our procrastination into the realm of disobedience. I once heard this statement: “Old orders are standing orders.” Meaning if God asked you to do something years ago, and didn’t revise the directions, He still expects you to do it. It’s never too late to be obedient.
Other chapters deal with taming our perfectionist tendencies, changing bad habits, and organizing our work, along with a host of other helpful subjects.
One of my favorites was the chapter entitled “Small Changes Matter.” In it she says about a difficult period in her own life: Continue reading →