The unexpected challenges I’ve been blessed with in the past few weeks have reminded me again that God is never at a loss to weave lessons into life’s best and worst days. One of those familiar lessons is that tough days help to clear out the superficial clutter and highlight the basics. When our comfortable routines are deleted from the menu of options, and the primary objective is to figure out how to maneuver the next few hours, trying to focus on esoteric, philosophical subjects seems as pointless as contemplating whether time travel is possible – and that reminds me of an experience I had during our time in Alaska years ago.
A Productive Principle ~
While we were there, I had an opportunity to visit an active gold mine in the Yukon territory and got to try my hand at panning for gold. It’s actually a pretty simple process. You scoop up some dirt from the bottom of the creek and slowly swish it around in a shallow pan. As the water swirls around, the density and weight of the gold causes it to become extricated from the worthless dirt. Then, when the excess is poured off, the gold lies exposed and available in the bottom of the pan. Sometimes God allows life to do that for us. We get tossed into circumstances that swirl us around in ways we can’t control. It all seems painful and pointless at the time, but there’s a process going on that can transform our thinking and reveal valuable and sometimes vital issues. Those circumstances can be both personal and national, and sometimes, both at the same time.
In the midst of wading through one of the difficult moments in my own process earlier this week, I happened to be listening to a report regarding the dire economic and financial situation confronting us as a nation, and God directed my mind to a message He sent His people through the prophet Haggai.
A Familiar Scenario ~
After they returned from their forced exile in Babylon, an economic situation developed similar to one we might recognize. An out of control inflation problem, coupled with deficiencies in vital supplies, began to grip the country. No doubt many of them, like many of us, concluded that the situation was caused by a failure of political leadership. On the surface, their conclusion may have seemed reasonable, but their reasoning had omitted a vital element, and God ultimately sent Haggai with a message that left no doubt as to the problem – and the only lasting solution.
Once back in the land, God’s people had become obsessed with upgrading their lifestyle and promoting their own material prosperity. They were focused on developing their own real estate holdings and building their own houses. In and of itself, that was not a bad thing, but they had inverted their priorities. They had forgotten who they were sent to serve and why they had been given this land. They focused all their energies on themselves and ignored the fact that God’s Temple had been reduced to a dysfunctional heap of ruins.
Transformational Impact ~
The Jews did have an inflation problem, and as a matter of fact, I don’t know of a better verbal picture of the practical impact of inflation than the one painted by Haggai. But God informed His people that inflation and diminishing vital supplies were only the symptoms, not the problem. The real problem underlying it all was their disregard of God and their relationship with Him. The message Haggai delivered was clear and simple, and it had a transformational impact on the nation. That same message could have a similar impact on us — if we take it as a personal admonition from God.
Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!
“You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” (Haggai 1:3–6 NKJV)
Inflation and diminished supplies are undeniable problems throughout our nation, but there’s more at work, and more at stake, in our situation than simple economics. It’s far past time for the followers of Jesus to get our heads out of the realm of politics, supply chains, and international diplomacy and consider who we are and why God sent us here. God has a vested interest in this country and in every one of us, and it isn’t just about our budgets and balance sheets.
A Plan and a Purpose ~
God had a plan in mind when He moved our founding fathers to establish this nation. His purpose in defending and promoting America for over 200 years was not to make us a manufacturing mecca or to establish financial standards for the world. Our commission was to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ. We were to proclaim life and redemption in Christ and to be a beacon of truth and justice. We weren’t perfect, but our founding documents provided a basis for hope for those enslaved by sin and depravity, and our national character reflected the love and compassion Jesus embodied.
But instead of a clarion call for righteousness and genuine justice, we’ve become a siren’s song for every form of human depravity imaginable. Sexual debauchery and senseless violence haunt our streets, and the majority of our children are being taught by those who mock every principle God ever established. We still have In God We Trust on our currency, but trust has been intentionally and systematically transferred to government agencies, corporate entities, and financial institutions. In Haggai’s day, the Temple represented God’s presence among His people and that representation had been reduced to a pile of rubble. In our day, that representation lives in the hearts of those redeemed sinners who comprise the Church of Jesus Christ. The question is whether we’ve taken stock of our status lately and what that looks like to God.
Haggai didn’t tell the Jews to get rid of their own houses, but to get their priorities straight and revive God’s house. They responded to God’s words with repentant and obedient hearts and Haggai went on to add this wonderful piece of encouragement:
Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, spoke the Lord’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the Lord.” (Haggai 1:13 NKJV)
God’s opening instruction to His people was not to consider the economic and political landscape. Instead He began with this, “Consider your ways!” It worked pretty well for them; maybe we could try it for ourselves the next time we hear a report about our out-of-control inflation problem.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “It’s far past time for the followers of Jesus to get our heads out of the realm of politics, supply chains, and international diplomacy and consider who we are and why God sent us here.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “God’s purpose in defending & promoting America for over 200 years wasn’t to make us a manufacturing mecca or establish financial standards for the world. We were to proclaim life & redemption in Christ & be a beacon of truth & justice.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Instead of a clarion call for righteousness and justice, we’ve become a siren’s song for every form of human depravity imaginable, while the majority of our children are taught by those who mock every principle God ever established.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Haggai didn’t tell the Jews to get rid of their own houses, but to get their priorities straight and revive God’s house. They responded to God’s words with repentant and obedient hearts, and the Lord said, ‘I am with you.’ ” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “God’s opening instruction to the Jews was not to consider the economic and political landscape. Instead He began with this, “Consider your ways!” Maybe try that the next time we hear a report about our out-of-control inflation problem.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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© 2022 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
Great job Ron. Nothing slows you down!
That nothing slows me down might be a bit of stretch, Jason–especially right now. I do deeply appreciate the encouragement, though. Seeing your comments always makes the day look brighter and my outlook more optimistic. God bless you and your wonderful family for your courage and faithfulness, and may His Spirit continue to apply and empower the gifts He poured into you.
“Consider your ways . . .”
Yes, Ron, we do need to take stock of our priorities, that’s for sure. Are we putting God first in our lives? Is He our focus? Are we doing His will?
As bleak as the political world looks right now, we must remember that the Lord is in charge, and He will put things to rights when our eyes are set on Him.
Blessings, and glad you are feeling better!
Trust is an easy word to say, but it’s only defined by how we live it out. You won’t be surprised to know that my heartfelt Amens! are being lifted up as I read your encouraging affirmations. May God’s blessings continue to be evident in your life and may the seeds you sow bear a harvest that strengthens this land for generations to come.
Mmm… I could picture God standing over us now, gently stirring. “I know there’s precious gold in him, I put it there when I created him”, He whispers. Gently, steadily, He sifts through the worthlessness we have surrounded our lives and hearts with. He patiently labors over each person, seeking to remove the dross. Another post that stirs my soul this morning sir. I couldn’t help but feel your heart pouring out through your words today. As is so often the case, I find myself to be most like-minded and in agreement with a great many of your thoughts; wishing I could express them as well as you do. What a gift God has given you my friend. While there are many words that explain where we are as a nation and world, the one word that is jumping out for me is “SELF”. It seems, many have fallen for Satan’s original trap in that we mistakenly want to take God’s place and we’ve been deceived to believe we can determine our own destiny and we can chart our own course. It has never, and will never be, the case. God created us to worship, communicate, and follow Him. He doesn’t need us, He desires us. But God is a jealous God, as He should be, and He doesn’t want a small portion of us (two hours on Sunday morning, one hour on Sunday night, and one hour on Wednesday night (if we’re even willing to commit to that). He wants and deserves all of us. I think of a quote from F.F. Bosworth that is so apropos here. “Most Christians feed their bodies three hot meals a day and their spirits one cold snack a week. And we wonder why they’re so weak in their faith.” Thank you for again speaking truth into our lives in a truly Haggai moment my friend. We must not be afraid to stand up for Christ and proclaim the truth of God’s word.
I love that picture of God standing over us and separating out the worthwhile stuff from the dross that’s constantly swirling around us. It’s a classic J.D. word picture. And you’re so right about that emphasis on SELF. It permeates the culture around us and sadly, invades the Church in more ways than we can count. The devil has been working overtime lately promoting the same lie that he used to deceive Eve–“You don’t need God to tell you what’s good or evil. You can determine that for yourself.” Thus, good has been replaced by the most heinous kinds of evil imaginable. God is demeaned and mocked every day and multitudes of people in this country cheer and call for more. In this “Gay Pride” month, Instead of openly honoring the red white and blue, many of our nation’s fighting forces are made to promote a flag celebrating a bunch of freaks and perverts. I thank God for the courage and commitment you demonstrate in your life and work, and I pray that God will multiply the fruit of you labors in every way. Your gracious encouragement, especially as I wrestle with the aftermath of my latest surgical adventure. You always remind me that we’re not alone and that God will work out His purpose in us regardless of the devil’s shenanigans. So, hang in there, my friend. Righteousness will ultimately prevail and nothing we do in His name will be in vain.
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