I have been reading the book of Haggai for a couple weeks preparing for another lecture on the Minor Prophets. I love that God is revealing a different side of His character after His judgement and their captivity. But as I was reading, I saw behaviors in the Israelites that I personally struggle with that are huge obstacles in my own obedience. Sadly, they become a cycle that is hard to break. The first step is recognizing the 7 obstacles of obedience.
God in His faithfulness is trying to get their attention and trying to get them to see the err of their ways. They have come out of captivity from Babylon, and were to be about God’s business in rebuilding the temple that was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. It has been sitting incomplete for around ten years and He asks them several times to “consider your ways”.
We will look at each obstacle, how it was manifested in the life of God’s chosen people, how it manifests itself in our lives, and how God encouraged them through it (in the next post 🙂 ).
EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES!
It seems there are so many things that get in the way, but the biggest hurdle…..ME! If it is something I truly do not want to do, I will find every excuse not to do it. I will even find something else deemed “more worthy” of my time to take it’s place. This I know about myself. Sometimes, as moms, we just have to do things we do not want to do. As a matter of fact, sometimes, as people, we just have to do things we do not want to do. Hhhmmm… My dilemma lies in the things I want to do and truly see change in my life, but still have excuses. Kinda like Paul, (my paraphrasing) the things I want to do, I don’t and the things I do not want to do, I do. And for everything, there is an excuse.
What exactly is an excuse? I decided to look it up in the dictionary. What I found was quite interesting.
excuse-n. 1. an act of excusing 2. grounds for being excused: JUSTIFICATION 3. APOLOGY (this was not so helpful in my mind, so I looked up the verb)
excuse-v. 1. to offer excuse for. 2. PARDON 3. To release from an obligation 4. JUSTIFY
To release from obligation or justify ….that’s it! Isn’t that what we do. We offer up an excuse to release ourselves from the obligation of doing something or we just use an excuse to justify our behavior or lack thereof. That is exactly what the Israelite’s were doing. In Haggai, the Israelite’s had an excuse. They were suppose to be building the Lord’s house, but instead they found a way out of being obedient.
Haggai 1:2 “This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”
Is this not exactly what we do? Our rendition sounds more like….”yeah, let me pray about that.”
Don’t get me wrong, I believe God’s timing is absolutely perfect, but many times we use this excuse, just like the Israelite’s, because we are being asked to do something we really do not want to do it or even the fear of the unknown before us.
I am the “A” number 1 procrastinator! Or at least was… the older I get I do realize the err of my ways and the complications, frustration, extra stress, and anxiety that procrastinating brings. Did I mention the Israelite’s put off rebuilding the Lord’s house for ten years? That is some serious procrastination. Please Lord, help us not to procrastinate that long! How much of God’s blessing do we miss because of procrastination? I believe there is blessings even in the process of doing things, however, those blessings are missed if we are too crazy rushing to get it done at the last minute.
“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?” Haggai 1:4
Sadly, God’s people had become more interested in their own houses than the Lord’s. This is where we live. We have become so consumed with our homes and have all but ignored God’s business. Now, wait before you get upset….I know that we are to be keeper’s of our homes…I get that, but we have become so consumed with “stuff” that our homes have become a distraction. We have to declutter, organize, and reorganize in order to keep up with it. Of course we do this all in the name of “keeping” our homes and being all spiritual. Or am I the only one?
Satan knows what he is doing and he really has not changed his tactics. He still operates under the same guise (1 John 2:16), the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. This translates into I want it, I need it, and I am going to get it. The striving for more stuff has become our idol and it is insatiable and all consuming and our homes are filled with it!
I believe that Satan has duped us into believing that busy is good. But the reality is we have taken our focus off of the Lord.
Listen to what Haggai says, “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.”
Busyness does not fill the void. Today, we busy ourselves with causes instead of our churches. We have taken our eye off of the heart of God and have focused it on all kinds of causes. I am not saying these causes are bad, but if we put our attention back on the the church, and put our time, money, and energy into building up the “church” as the Bride of Christ, the natural outflow of the church would be to take of the things that the Lord cares about. Instead, we have bypassed God and the church and try to take care of things ourselves. This has created a busyness among all of God’s people working separately, instead of corporately.
The surrounding nations did not want the temple rebuilt. We need to understand something. We will always have opposition in doing God’s business. In today’s culture, just the name of Christ bears opposition. You can be anyone or anything but Christian. Do not give up or give in to the opposition! Stand!
“Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” Haggai 2:3
The Israelite’s were paralyzed in their comparison to the old Lord’s house. All they could think is that it would not be as good as the last. We do the very same thing. We have to have the perfect plan, with all the details perfected, as well as the perfect timing or we will just not do it! We have to do bigger, better, faster, and stronger than everyone else.
It is all for God’s glory! It’s about Him! It’s about obedience!
At every end of this cyclic pattern comes discouragement. BUT God, rich in faithfulness, encourages us and pulls us out of the cycle and into obedience. “…and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts:”
Sometimes, it just takes a reminder of God’s presence, protection, and promises to fall into obedience.
What are your excuses for disobedience?
What are you focusing on that is a distraction to the things of God?
Are you stuck in a cycle of disobedience?
Join us next time for God’s Encouragement through the Cycle of Disobedience!