First Things First

Pastor Rick Ezell wrote the following regarding the people of Haggai’s day as seen in Haggai 1:2-9:

“E.M. Gray spent his life searching for the one trait all successful people share. His essay entitled "The Common Denominator of Success" revealed successful people's common characteristic was not hard work, good luck, or astute human relations, although these traits were important. The one factor that seemed to transcend all the rest was the habit of putting first things first. He observed, "The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don't like to do. They don't like doing them either, necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose." 

The Book of Haggai, the second shortest in the Old Testament, communicates this same message: Put first things first. It was written to people like us, who would say that God must be first. But they had drifted away from this truth. They lived with misplaced priorities. Haggai was sent to help God's people get their priorities in line with what they knew they should be.

Haggai spoke his message to Jews who had returned to Jerusalem after living in captivity in Babylon. As you recall, Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple some 70 years earlier. When the Jews returned from exile they faced the daunting task of rebuilding. The first returnees made preliminary attempts to clear the debris and lay the foundation for a second temple. Their Samaritan neighbors offered to join in the work, but the Jews refused them. The Samaritans, in turn, threatened the workers and sent men to Persia to lobby against the Jews, bringing the work to a halt.

As years passed, slowly but surely, Jerusalem came to life again. Homes were built, stores opened, commerce established, fields planted, crops harvested, and life began to resemble normalcy. Israel, however, got used to life without the Temple. The foundations were overgrown with weeds. They stood as a mute reminder of the Jews' failure to take care of God's house. Fourteen to 16 years passed, and then Haggai appeared on the scene with one prevailing message: It's time to finish rebuilding the Temple.

It was a message of priority: Put first things first. The Temple was the center for worshiping God. It represented the heart and soul of the Old Testament religion. Although God is everywhere, the Temple was the place on earth where God dwelled in a special sense. For the Temple to lie in ruins was to neglect the worship of God. It was a testimony of misplaced priorities. It was an embarrassment to God and a blemish on his reputation.

Haggai's message was blunt. He pulled no punches and wasted no words. Haggai spoke like a foreman on a construction project. With a hardhat and tool belt, walking around the construction site, he bellowed out orders. Found here are a few practical steps about putting first things first.” – RICK EZELL

Haggai 1:1-9 (ESV) 1  In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 2  “Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” 3  Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4  “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5  Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 6  You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. 7  “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 8  Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. 9  You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 

As I visited a man in the hospital last night, I proposed the question, “Since you understand the Gospel, what reason do you have for not receiving Jesus as Savior?”  To which he replied, “I do not have a good reason.”  After a brief explanation of the Gospel, he prayed to receive Jesus as Savior and surrender His life as a Christ follower.  I could not help but think when God gets bumped out of top priority how important it is that we realize, THERE IS NO GOOD REASON TO GIVE GOD ANYTHING BUT FIRST PLACE.  WHO OR WHAT IS NUMBER ONE IN YOUR LIFE?

Join us this Sunday at Calvary as we launch a new series entitled, “FIRST THINGS FIRST.” Please bring someone with you.


REMEMBER, GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO WE AT CALVARY!!!!!

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