NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
How are your 2017 New Year’s Resolutions working out? After 9½ months, are you trim, toned, and bi-lingual? Congratulations! You are exceptional.
Most Americans have a different story. We form resolutions each January 1st, but forget them by February 1st. One Virginia entrepreneur built a business on this American cultural phenomenon. Each February and March he ran multiple ads for used sports equipment. He purchased almost new [failed-resolution] equipment at deeply discounted prices, and sold it the following Christmas season. I suspect he bought and sold the same equipment multiple times.
We repeat a similar pattern with life priorities. After evaluating our lives, we write our priorities. We make necessary changes to begin living those priorities. After a few months, weeks, or days, it’s comfortable to drift back into old habits. Priorities go the way of new diets, exercise plans, and becoming fluent in French in six months. In light of our human weaknesses, it reassures me to know, “He knows our frame; He remembers we are dust” (Ps 103:14).
The Lord also knew the weaknesses of Jerusalem’s residents in 520 BC. Less than a month after they began rebuilding the temple, the Father sent Haggai with another message (Hag 2:1-9). Rather than a rebuke (compare 1:1-11), His 2nd message was reassuring.
Three principles encouraged the weary workers to remain faithful and finish their task. The principles also encourage us—in spite of being discouraged, distracted, or derailed—to continue living our God-given priorities.
Principle 1: REMEMBER THE PAST
The Lord asked three questions, “Who is left among you who saw the temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?” (v. 3) A few older ones remembered Solomon’s grand temple, prior to the exile. This one appeared sad in comparison, but God had bigger plans than they could see at the moment.
God’s past faithfulness should have inspired present confidence, even if contemporary conditions didn’t look promising. Remember: David had God’s promise, but no temple. He wanted to build, but God said, “No. Your son will.” David didn’t quit; he did what he could. He worked at gathering building supplies for Solomon to fulfill the promise. When David worshiped in a 560-year-old tent, the temple may have appeared impossible. Yet, God’s promise was fulfilled, far grander than David imagined.
Remember the past; have confidence in the present. In 520 BC, the evidence of God’s future faithfulness was before them.
So it is in 2017. God used you and others to overcome obstacles in the past. He’s able and willing to do it again. Remembering the past, stay with the task—even if present conditions look unpromising. Persevere in your God-given life priorities.
Principle 2: RELY ON HIS PRESENCE
The Lord called His people to “be strong … and work [on the temple]; for [here’s the reason] I am with you … My Spirit remains among you, do not fear” (vv. 4-5). We enjoy the same reality. Our Lord promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Relying on His presence, we can live His priorities.
Principle 3: REST IN HIS PROMISES
The Lord reminded His people of His awesome power (v. 6) and the glory He would bring to their apparently inferior temple (vv. 6-7). Further, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts” (v. 8). He owns it all and promises to provide for His children. Finally, He gave a picture of the future. “‘The glory of this latter temple [Hint: Jesus would be there] shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts” (v. 9). Resting in His promises emboldens us to live out His priorities for our lives.
Let me encourage you today. You can continue to live God’s priorities for your life: remembering the past, relying on His presence, and resting in His promises. Don’t be distracted, discouraged, or derailed. Focus your time, talents, and treasures on living your God-given priorities.
Please continue to join us in the priority of prayer. This week, lift the FORMING THE FRAMEWORK for the FUTURE requests before the Father.
|Praise the Lord for Who He is.||Ask the Father to lead 100 people to give $100 above their normal gifts.||Ask the Father to impress 10 people to give $1,000 above their normal gifts.||Ask the Father to call 4 people to give $10,000 above their normal gifts.||Ask the Father to direct 2 people to give $50,000 above their normal gifts.||Ask the Father to motivate 2 people to give $250,000 above their normal gifts.||Ask the Father to inspire 1 person to give $1,000,000 above his or her normal gifts.|
|Praise the Lord for All He has done, and All He is going to do.||Ask the Father to call 20 people to give $500 above their normal gifts.||Ask the Father to motivate 6 people to give $5,000 above their normal gifts.||Ask the Father to impress 4 people who will give $25,000 above their normal gifts.||Ask the Father to lead 2 people to give $100,000 above their normal gifts.||Ask the Father to enable 1 person to give $500,000 above his or her normal gifts.||Ask the Father to direct 1 obedient, able person to give $2,500,000 above his or her normal gifts.|
With Great Anticipation,
Mark H. Ballard
Note a comparable response 14 years earlier (Ezra 3:11-13).