Passage: Haggai 1:7
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.”
Do you ever get overwhelmed by a challenge in life that feels too big to overcome? The Israelites were returning from exile in Babylon. They started rebuilding the temple for God because it had been destroyed by the Babylonians. They began their work but then hit the pause button for 16 years. Instead of serving God, they focused on themselves building their own homes while neglecting God’s house. They were stuck in a spiritual dead-end and needed help to get beyond some of their hurdles. Can you relate to their struggle?
Johann Sebastian Bach was a composer who relied on God. His music was an expression of his faith, and He knew that God gave creativity and inspiration. Artists, like everyone else, can face major obstacles in their labor. Many accounts describe how he would literally wrote INJ (In Nomine Jesu-In the name of Jesus) and SDG (Soli Deo Gloria- For the glory of God) on his compositions.3 In the majority of his works, he sought God; may we have the same motives in our endeavors. Bach met with God in prayer and wrote beautiful music with a purpose to glorify God. In the same way, we can bring our work, our talents, and our ideas before God and receive His guidance. Hope comes when we remember that God is greater than any challenge we face; and His grace gives us a supply of hope far beyond our own resources.
We all have obstacles that prevent us from growing spiritually. With only our own strength, we are limited. We can get discouraged and also continue to deny our potential, but God has better plans for us. He desires healing, longing to show compassion; and His restoration makes all things new. God wants to give us a vision of what life can look like beyond our hurdles. He lovingly and firmly guided the Israelites past their obstacles and restored the people. It’s when we give God full access to our lives that we begin to see that His power removes barriers. Here are three major hurdles that God can lead you through with His strength:
1) Your Past: If we focus on our past failures, we can beat ourselves up unnecessarily in ways that God never wants. The results can be miserable. God wants us to receive His forgiveness through Jesus and move forward with His grace. We can have a healthy contrition without being bound by guilt. On the other hand, if our past was outstanding, we need to be careful not to envy it. We can miss our current opportunities and blessings because we are fixated on past successes.
2) Your Procrastination: Have you ever noticed how easy it is to procrastinate? I remember as a student not getting my assignments completed on time or frequently waiting until literally the last minute instead of doing it during an earlier, calmer time. It’s been said that “hard work” is simply “easy work” not done at the right time. The Israelites knew what they were supposed to do in building the temple, but they kept putting it off until 16 years had passed. Procrastination became a pattern in my life, and it wasn’t easy to break it. The Holy Spirit can teach us new ways.
Your Priorities: Our priorities won’t stay hidden. They will emerge in our prayers, how we handle our money, how we spend our time and energy, and in our relationships. In this passage, the Israelites fell into a ‘me-first’ attitude. They wanted to take care of their own houses first, and eventually they might later think about God or other people in the community. They were apathetic spiritually because deep down they were acting selfishly. God was helping them to overcome this obstacle, and they made a great adjustment with their internal motivations and priorities.
1) Why is procrastinating so easy to do? What helps you conquer it?
2) Are there any priorities in your life that need to be changed?
3) When has God given you a positive vision of your potential?
4) How does Jesus help you to be less selfish?
Read the book of Haggai- it’s one of the shortest books in the Bible. You are not less spiritual if you need the table of contents to find it! Write down examples of the three hurdles mentioned above. Also, write down how they were able to overcome these common obstacles with God’s help.
Haggai 1:2-8. Listen for God’s timing and avoid selfish motives.
Haggai 1:13-14. When God stirs you to take action, don’t delay.
Haggai 2:3-4. Don’t let the success of other people intimidate you.
Haggai 2:7-9. God has all of the resources and peace that you need.
Prayer:Gracious God, thank You for helping me to see the obstacles that are blocking me spiritually. I want to overcome them with Your help. I believe in Your wisdom and Your power. May Your Holy Spirit fill me now, stir me up, and make me whole. I pray this in Your name Jesus. Amen.