Monday, October 17, 2011

Priority Check

Haggai 1:1-10

Haggai 1:4 "Is it time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"

Do this activity before continuing in your reading:

  1. Write down what an average day for you looks like from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. 
  2. Now look at that list and determine the top three things on there you never forget to do. 
  3. Now take a moment and review the list and think about this, is there a slot for God in your schedule? If so, is it one of the things you never forget to do?
This past Sunday, I asked my students to do the same activity. Many of their schedules did not include God, and not ONE of them said that spending time with God was something that they never forget to do.  How many of us are the same way? God gave me this message to suggest that it is time for us to check our priorities and these are the three things I believe Haggai reveals about this topic.

1. God's Property is first Priority. In this chapter of Haggai, God has told Haggai to give a message to the Israelites.  He tells them that they need to check their priorities. See, the Israelites were living large at home with all the latest amenities and the finest things but the House of God was in shambles. And not because of a recent disaster, but because the Israelites felt it was necessary to improve their homes before God's. God, however, tells the Israelites through Haggai that this is a mistake.  

God's Kingdom should always be our number one priority and honestly, it makes sense.  Think about it. Would you go over your neighbors house and remodel it before remodeling your own? Or would you go make up someone else's bed when yours is still a mess? Probably not. And our lives should reflect the same. We're told in Hebrews 13:14 that this earth is not our home so why do we treat it as such? If our home is really with Christ in God's Kingdom then shouldn't we take care of home first? This holds true in all aspects of our life. Should our personal endeavors take priority over God's will and purpose for our lives? If we choose not to put God and His Kingdom first in our lives, there can be consequences because Haggai also teaches us that...

2. God Provides for those who Properly Prioritize. Haggai goes on to tell the Israelites that the reason they seem to be surviving but not prospering is because they have their priorities in the wrong place.  Because they didn't put God first, He withheld blessings from them brought on droughts and famine (read verses 6-11). This is reflected in our own lives today. Often times, when you're waiting on a blessing from God, the reason you aren't receiving it is because your focus is in the wrong place.  Matthew 6:33 tells us, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well," (NIV). 

The great thing about this point is it reaches beyond just the spiritual but is reflected in the natural as well. Think about a time in your life where you improperly prioritized and it resulted in you missing out on a blessing. I bet you can think of a few.  One of my students shared that his friends decided to go to the McDonald's Career Fair and instead of going, he felt it was better that he relaxed and missed out on a job, which most of his friends now have.  If he had made finding a job a priority, he would more than likely be employed and better off for it.  Be sure to put your priorities in the right place in order to receive all of the blessings that God has lined up for you.

3. God's People should have a Place for Him in their Plans. One of my favorite professors from college shared this with me about priorities.  He said, "You know what your priorities are by how you spend your time, and how you spend your money." That stuck with me and really made me dissect my spending to determine where my priorities were. I came to the conclusion that at the time, spending time with God was not a priority in my life. Often times, I would plan on it, but I would keep pushing it back. Tell me if this sounds familiar: 

"I need to spend time with God today, but it's early I have all day to fit Him in. I'll do it when I return from work/school...Well I have homework, I really need to get that done first...Well now I'm hungry and I can't read the Bible on an empty stomach, all I'll do is think about I'm full but my favorite show is on and it's only gonna last 30 minutes so I'll have time's late, I might as well go to sleep because I'll probably fall asleep while reading anyway...I'll get up early tomorrow and do it."

That may not be your exact sequence but I believe many of us do this all the time where we put other things before God and end up leaving Him out of our agenda. The same goes with our tithes. Our tithe is supposed to be our first fruit so we shouldn't be giving God our leftovers.  We shouldn't be showing up on Sunday morning thinking, "Do I have 10% left to give God?" If that's the case, we're saying that paying bills, going out and getting nice things are more important than God's money. Should that be the case?

I challenge anyone who reads this to write down a revised schedule from the one you wrote earlier and include at minimum fifteen minutes with God. If you can give Him more, than do so but start somewhere.  Take that schedule and post it somewhere or carry it with you but try to live by it for the next 21 days until it becomes a routine. If you admit that God should be a priority in your life, make sure that your actions reflect your admission.

Be blessed.