Recognizing Discipline and its Worth

Haggai 1:7-10 

7Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot: “Set your heart on your ways! 8Go up to the hills, bring wood and build the House. Then I will delight in it and I will be glorified,” says Adonai. 9“You have looked for much, but indeed, there is little. What you have brought home, I have blown away. Why is this?”—it is a declaration of Adonai-Tzva’ot—“because My House lies in ruins, while you are running, each to his own house. 10Therefore, because of you, the sky has withheld dew and the earth has withheld its yield. 11For I have called for drought on the land, the hills and the grain, on the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on mankind and beast, as well as all labor of hands.”

Review of the Previous Post

Never let it be said that our God minces words or dances around the subject with hints – He determines the who, what, where, when, why and how of His message! In the previous post, we read in verse five of God telling the people to “set your heart on your ways.” God wants them to take an honest look at the path they have been walking. He goes on by outlining what has been happening in their lives in verse six, explaining the troubles they have been having.

“Think About Where You’re Going … “

In verse seven, He again tells the people to “set your heart on your ways.” But this time, He is telling them to take action (v.8) to make things right between He and His children. “It is time I had a house to live in. It’s time I had a fine paneled house (v.4) like you have, it’s time I was glorified.”

As I read verse nine, I get the sense that God is puzzled, although, I think it is,  to a degree, sarcastic. He seems surprised that His people – His kids – just don’t catch-on to what’s happening.

He asks the question: Why do you expect much but find little and what do bring home is diminished (blown away, like just a piece of lint pulled from the bottom of a pocket). It is because “My House, My Temple lies in ruins while each of you runs to his own paneled house.”

Times are Tough Because …

This passage is an example of discipline – not a very welcome word in today’s world because it implies punishment. God is creating and allowing hardship in order to make his people consider the reason for that hardship, which, in turn, will cause them to open their eyes and understand that He is their provision and should be treated accordingly. As it turned out, He had to tell them out-right.

God caused a drought so that not even the morning dew would water the ground. The crops would therefore not be fruitful. In fact, God’s call for a drought affected all lands, all people, all livestock and all crops, and as we see in the next section, God’s message as delivered by Haggai did not go unheeded.

Exacting Discipline

This part of the scripture in Haggai is about the discipline that God brought on those who returned from exile in Babylon when they turned away from rebuilding the temple.

It cannot be denied that God told the Israelites as far back as the Exodus from Egypt that if they followed his commands they would be His people and He would be their God. Yet, throughout their history, they would devoutly trust Him and then slowly they would turn to what was “right in their own eyes” and turn away from Him. Consequently, God would exact a discipline on them, the severity of which seemingly depended on the depths to which they had fallen.

Those who were watching knew that if a prophet came into town that they had better pay attention.  Check out 1 Samuel 16:4:

And Samuel did that which the LORD spoke, and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said: ‘Comest thou peaceably?’

They were were very frightened that the spokesman for God had shown up in their village!

The Godly Art of Discipline

Some who criticize Christianity and look for excuses for rejecting God like to use the “always angry god” argument. I can see why they do – because the anger is easy to find in a cursory reading of the Old Testament. Read almost any book of the Old Testament and you can find examples of God punishing, scolding, disciplining, taking the lives of people – not only enemies of the Israelites, but also His own people who messed up. I can understand that and I, too, had that same “angry god” thought until I began to read more carefully and think.

The truth is that God created the human race because He wanted a family that he could love and they would choose to love Him back. But we turned our backs on Him at the very beginning and because of that, as long as we are living in this world, we will always have the tendency to turn our back on Him. Therefore, like any good father, God disciplines out of love so that we will return to Him and once again we can be a loving family. Unfortunately, many of us have had earthly fathers who have been down-right cruel and so it is nearly impossible to equate our Heavenly Father with good and good intentions.

 

Summary

With the conclusion of this section, we have come away with two lessons to be learned:

  • God wants His temple to be kept in good repair – in fact, it should be our priority;
  • God’s Temple is not just an edifice on a hill or street, it is our own body, and so we need to keep it in good shape;
  • God works in our lives to spur us into opening our eyes and ears to see and hear what He is trying to tell us and to see the path that He wants us to take; and
  • God created us out of love so that He could have a family to love that would love Him back.

Thank you for reading and God bless.

 


 

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Leave the Past in the Past

There are many actions we have taken in our past that come back to haunt us – both sins and foolishness – and in Luke, Jesus tells us about the consequences of allowing our past to resurface.

Luke 9:62  But Yeshua said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.”  (Hebrew Names Version)

We are forgiven through the washing of the blood. All sins are forgiven and cast as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12); we are not to revisit them in our heart and mind. To do so is to turn away from the plow, that is, to stop moving forward in our faith and we are thus cautioned by Jesus of the consequences of this kind of action. But this is not only about revisiting sins – I believe this refers to more than sin.

A Page from My Own Life

I am talking about those things in your past that cause you to become paralyzed into inaction and grief and shame.

My past is full of all the sins that plague each of us.  When this happens, depression sets in, followed by a plummeting of my self worth and a period of paralysis when anything I try to do is never good enough – for me.

But I have also done many silly and stupid things in my life and every now and then I consider these foolish things and I am embarrassed, and in some cases, ashamed. It’s the inappropriate things, the embarrassments and the idiotic words and actions that make me cringe today.

What Does Paul Say about the Past?

Paul cautions us on this in Romans 6:3-7 :

3   Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?
4   Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5   For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection;
6   knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
7   For he who died has been justified from sin. (Modern King James Version)

At times, it is hard to forget what happened in the past. We dredge them up and squirm in our chairs and souls because of them. Sometimes, I think we actually like to remember them, but I can’t, for the life of me, come up with a good reason why.  Maybe we take some sort of perverse comfort in them because of the other things happening then – a happier time. Or … Maybe we just want to feel sorry for ourselves and pin present faults, failures and feelings on the past as an excuse. Maybe … it’s the enemy who wants to paralyze you into inaction and keep you under his thumb so you can’t accomplish anything for the kingdom.

When we take our hand from the plow and revisit the baggage of the old man, as Paul puts it, we are negating what Jesus did for us on the cross and that is a sin. At least, that’s what I’m calling it and it appears that Jesus is saying that, too.

There Is Hope

But you know what?  Not all is lost. Unlike humans, Jesus will forgive and forget if you repent. He wants nothing more than to have you lead rich, full, and happy lives without the baggage of past sins, past indiscretions, or past foolishness that cause embarrassment.  He wants you to be able to work for him and his kingdom. Jesus wants us to take command of the past and leave it right where it is – in the past.

If you have these feelings or if the past is constantly being pulled into your thoughts, repent of any action you may have done to dredge up the past. Pray that God will help you understand why it is important for you not to dredge up the memories. Ask for forgiveness and for help to fight any desires to resurrect that old man that was buried when you asked Jesus into you heart and life.

The Apostles’ Creed

It might also be one of those times when reaffirming your faith is necessary for your own good.  To actually hear yourself declare …

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

And I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father, who will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Amen. “

will work wonders to your feeling of being on the right path.

Thank you for reading. God bless … .

 


 

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Set Your Heart on Your Ways! – Haggai 1:5

Haggai 1:5,6

5“… But now,” thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot: “Set your heart on your ways! 6You sowed much but bring in little. You eat but are never satisfied. You drink but not enough to get filled. You put on clothes but no one is warm. And whoever earns wages works for a bag full of holes.”


“Set Your Heart on Your Ways”

The Lord speaks again, saying the people need to re-consider their priorities. It isn’t encouragement to remain on the path they are walking. He is telling them to analyze what they are doing and the path they are on.

He gives them some examples from their life: they invest much in their work, but there is little gain; they eat but are never satisfied; they drink, but their thirst is not quenched; in spite of having enough clothing, they are never warm enough; and the money they earn just doesn’t make ends meet and seems to go out as fast as it comes in. He is saying: Think! There must be a reason for this lack – what is it?

They Did Not Tend to Priorities

We’re going to see that it is because the Lord has removed His blessing from them because they were not watching their ways.

How about you? Do things in your life seem to be amiss right now? Do you have bills that you can’t pay? Is life just not going the way you thought it should? …  or would? Are you wondering why you can’t keep up with the bills, even with with a good paycheck?

I’ve been there and when I began placing trust in God, it got better. It wasn’t perfect; there were still troubles and shortages, but I felt safe. I was able to sleep better. I didn’t have that frantic feeling that my world was falling apart, and yes, I began to be able to paying the bills – sometimes miraculously.

Set Your Heart on Your Ways!

Think about your life: Are you giving God the prominence in your life that you should? He is your creator. He provides your every breath. He gives you inspiration to create; ideas that help you out of a bad situation; new ways of seeing the world around you; confidence to venture out in the work world the first day on the job and every day after that; he stirs the love in you that creates and maintains relationships with those at work, school, family, and church.

Are you maintaining your life and body that would be fit for the Lord of Heaven’s Armies to inhabit? Or are you abusing it with excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs? Are you over-eating and putting on weight because times are tough and food is comfort for you? Are you filling your heart with violence and hate? Are you imprinting your mind with pornography or other lusts?

Step back and review your life. Analyze and evaluate what you think, see, hear, taste and touch. The Lord asking you to “Set your heart on your ways.”

Then ask the Lord for help. Go to him just as you are – full of all sorts of baggage and dirty laundry, and ask him to cleanse you and help you. When you do this, do it with your whole and honest heart.

God bless you.

Thank you for reading.

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