peaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways (Haggai 1:2-5).
In the book of Ezra, it is recorded that God worked in the heart of King Cyrus to allow the Jews to rebuild His temple. Unfortunately, the Jews became so preoccupied with building their own homes that they neglected the rebuilding of God’s house. The misplaced priorities of the Jews caused the work on the temple to stop completely (Ezra 4:24). When God’s work is not number one in your life, it will eventually cease. These verses from Haggai were a message from God’s prophet to “Consider your ways”. That is to carefully examine what you are doing.
[quote]When God’s work is not number one in your life, it will eventually cease.[/quote]
This is an applicable message to each of us. We should carefully examine if we are doing exactly what God desires us to do. Not just at a ministry level, but even at a task level. Many times between life and ministry, the task list can become overwhelming. If we are not careful, we begin to do what is most important to us and lose sight of what is most important to God. That is exactly what happened to the Jews as recorded in the book of Ezra as they focused more on building their own house than God’s house.[quote]
“Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God.” [/quote]
– Dr. Paul Kingsbury
One might think that building your own house so your family has a place to live in safety should be a priority. It is, after all, meeting a basic necessity of life. The problem is this priority had resulted in losing focus on what is most important to God. What is most important to us is not always the most important thing to God. That’s why God has given us verses like: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Working on their own priorities resulted in fruitless efforts. “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:6-7).
God said you are trying really hard, but you aren’t getting ahead; you are unable to meet your own basic needs. How does this thought of priorities and needs tie in with our theme of prayer? I recall Pastor Kingsbury stating in a blog last year that “Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God”. That is a great truth that we should meditate on daily. We could conclude that when we fail to pray, we are telling God that we are self-sufficient.
Spending time with God in prayer will direct our heart to His priorities. When we focus on God’s priorities, we receive God’s blessings, power, and strength. The book of Ezra shows the people stumbling through 16 years of building before they finally quit. With a renewed focus that employed God’s blessings, they finished the rebuilding in less than four years. In Nehemiah, as the people built the walls, they remained focused on the work of God and God restored their unmet needs. They had right priorities.
Haggai 1:6-7 remind us that our self-efforts to get ahead will never be fruitful. Working harder is not always the answer. Working righteously is always the answer. When we are willing to spend time with God in prayer discussing our tasks and seeking his priorities our progress will be powered by God’s infinite abilities. We will get more done than we could ever imagine.
Go ahead and make up your to-do list, but be sure to ask God to number the priorities. If you are like me, a full schedule of work tasks and ministry responsibilities leaves things on the to-do list at the end of each day that humanly could not be accomplished. Being a very task-oriented person, that would bring guilt and a sense that I did not accomplish what I needed to accomplish. When I pray for my priorities, I accomplish what God wants me to accomplish. Even though that is not necessarily what I want to accomplish, I always get more accomplished than I expected. I leave the items on my to-do list without guilt or regret.
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalms 37:23). If you want your steps (advancement) to be ordered (erected and established) by God and you want your way (course of life) to delight (please) God, then pray for your priorities. Ask God, “What would you have me to work on next?” After completion, thank God for His help and guidance in completing that task and then ask Him, “What’s next?”
Praying for priorities reveals a dependence upon God in everything we do…and that is exactly the way God designed it!