A sermon developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett based on Haggai 1:1-8.
Verse 1 - In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai . . .
• Around 520 B.C. the Persian King Cyrus allowed 50,000 Jews to return to Jerusalem.
• About ten years passed and Darius became King and Haggai was called by God as a prophet.
• Haggai was the first prophet to the people who had returned from exile.
• Scholars debate whether Haggai was born in Judah prior to the exile or if he was born in Babylon and returned with the exiles.
• Either way, Haggai began his ministry as a senior adult and it only lasted 4 months.
• Haggai was a contemporary of the prophet Zechariah and also of Confucius in China.
Verse 2 - . . . "These people say, 'The time has not yet come for the LORD's house to be built.' "
• When the exiles returned to the land, the Lord had told them that one of their priorities would be to rebuild the Temple so they could worship Him again.
• They had now been in the land for ten years but they had not even started rebuilding the temple.
• Their excuse was that it was not yet the “right” time.
• But the reality was that they just did not want to make the time for God’s priorities.
• We tend to be good at making excuses for why we cannot obey the Lord right now.
• When will it be time for God’s priorities in our lives?
Verses 3-4 - Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"
• Many people misunderstand the role of prophets.
• We tend to focus on what they say about the future.
• But the PRIMARY role of prophets is to speak the WORD of the Lord BOLDLY.
• Prophets ask tough questions that seldom have easy answers.
• Prophets make us think through our thoughts in ways that are seldom comfortable.
• Prophets make us get out of our comfort zone and are usually not popular!
• The people had “paneled” houses.
• This refers to fancy wooden trim similar to wainscoting that we might have today, except that it would have been hand carved.
• Since there are few trees in Israel, such wooden panels would have been VERY expensive luxury items, most likely imported from foreign lands.
• They had time, money and energy for such luxuries BUT God’s house was still a ruin.
• We find the time, money and energy for the things that are really important to us.
• We may fool others and even fool ourselves about our priorities. But we do not fool God.
• Our calendars and our checkbooks reveal our real priorities!!!
Verse 5 - Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: Give careful thought to your ways.
• Who is speaking in this verse?
• God – so we should pay attention.
• What does God say?
• God says that we should THINK about what we are doing.
• We must THINK about what our life reveals as our true priorities.
• Our actions show what is really important to us.
• When was the last time we stopped and thought about what our REAL priorities are?
• We tend to rush from one activity to another without thinking about whether those activities are pushing toward the Lord or drawing us away from Him.
• We tend to spend our money on whatever we desire at the moment, without considering how our spending impacts our ability to honor God with our income.
• We tend to take care of our own desires and wants first and then offer God the leftovers.
• And when there is nothing leftover but crumbs, then we give God the crumbs.
Verse 6 - 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."
• No matter how hard the Jews worked, they never seemed to get ahead.
• The blessing of God was NOT on them.
• Do we ever feel this way?
• If so, we need to spend some time thinking about our priorities.
Verse 8 - Go up into the mountains...
• We cannot GO with God if we stay where we are.
• If we are “trapped” where we are, then we must MAKE PREPARATIONS to leave where we are and go with God.
• Everything worth doing in life is worth preparing for.
• What preparations do WE need to make so that God’s priorities are our priorities?
Verse 8 - . . . and bring down timber . . .
• Once they got up to the mountain and were prepared to do whatever God wanted, they had to choose which trees to take down.
• Not every tree was right for the job.
• When God is not our priority, and we have not made preparations for following God, then it becomes almost impossible for us to make the right choices in life.
Verse 8 - . . and build the house . .
• It is not enough to just make plans.
• It is not enough to just make decisions.
• We must TAKE ACTION.
• If God’s priorities are our priorities, then our actions that demonstrate it.
• James 2:26 - Faith without works is dead.
• We must act on our new priorities and plans and follow through on those choices.
• Otherwise we are just talking and talk is cheap.
Verse 8 - . . . so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD.
• Who is supposed to get the honor from our actions?
• The Lord
• When Christians start making right choices and prove our new priorities through real action, we are often tempted to take the honor for ourselves.
• But this will always lead to pride, which will always get us in trouble down the road.
• We should THINK DEEPLY about our real priorities in life.
• We should MAKE PREPARATIONS to follow God where ever He wants us to go.
• We must MAKE CHOICES based on God’s priorities and our preparedness.
• We must TAKE ACTION that proves our priorities, preparation and choices really are for the Lord.
• We should give the LORD the HONOR.