2 “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” ’ ” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 6 “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.” 7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:2–7)
The punishment of exile had past. God had returned a remnant of Israel from Babylon to Jerusalem. Now it was time to rebuild the temple, the house of God. But, the people delayed. They were more concerned with building their own houses. Their comfort came before God’s honor! God was not pleased and Israel did not receive a full measure of blessings. The lesson for us is clear. We must consider our ways and align our lives with the purposes of God. God’s people will not flourish as they could and should unless and until He has first place in their hearts and lives. As this year fades and another is on the horizon, consider your ways and bring them into agreement with God’s way, revealed in His Son, Jesus (Heb. 1:1-2; Jno. 14:6).
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
Oh, how those who predict the physical city of Jerusalem to be the Mount from which Christ will reign one day have missed the mark! Their entire view of Old Testament prophetic language is skewed and misused as they fail to grasp that the church fulfills God’s promise of a great Messianic kingdom (Eph. 3:10-11). Our passage is very clear. “You have come to Mount Zion” is perfect tense (completed action in the past, with present results) – it is not future tense. Jehovah God has already set His king on His holy hill of Zion in that He raised Jesus from the dead and crowned Him at His right hand of power (Psa. 2:6-7; Acts 13:32-39; 2:32-36; Eph. 1:20-23). There is no greater privilege for sinners who have been saved by Christ’s blood than to be “registered in heaven” (counted among God’s faithful). God wants you to be counted among the saved. Trust the word of Christ and do what He says: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16).
Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
Like a roof that protects the house from harsh weather, love shields others in their time of trouble, patiently enduring the trial that comes. Love is not gullible or naive, but neither is it suspicious. Love believes the best of others and grants the benefit of the doubt in the absence of evidence to the contrary. It refuses to trade in evil suspicions (1 Tim. 6:4). Love’s expectant desire is that goodness will prevail; it does not despair. Love perseveres through life’s present obstacles and endures to the end. Love never falters and flees. Love stays the course and fulfills its objective. Undefeated by sin and Satan, love prevails. God has so loved us. Let us so love Him and one another.
Love…does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth… (1 Corinthians 13:6)
Love does not celebrate sin. Oh, how many misunderstand love! The sin of adultery is called a “love affair”, when lust is its true nature (Heb. 13:4). The sin of loving money is prolific and exalted in our materialistic world (1 Tim. 6:6-10). Loving self and loving (sinful) pleasure has defined the masses since ancient times, and it continues to be so to this hour (Gen. 6:5; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). To truly love those in your life, do not take pleasure in their sin. Do not endorse it, encourage it or participate in it. Love makes a clear distinction between sin (iniquity, lawlessness) and the truth. Jesus said God’s word is truth (Jno. 17:17). Therefore, love takes pleasure in the word of God; in learning it, believing it and living it. Love for God compels a yearning for the truth. This is a simple yet profound way to determine whether we truly love God and others. Does truth or iniquity guide our decisions and actions? What are you celebrating; sin or truth?
Love…does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…(1 Corinthians 13:5)
Love’s qualities are observed in Jesus. How often he “turned the other cheek” when mistreated! Such is love in action; it does not treat others rudely – even when it is treated shamefully. To do otherwise would be to “seek its own” glory, and this love will not do. Love is utterly unselfish with its time, its energies and its prestige before others. Love refuses to be irritated or stirred to exasperation when patience runs thin. Furthermore, love will not keep a running score of wrongs against it – it “thinks no evil”. Love will not grow resentful, for to do so would nullify its goodwill and undying interest in the one it loves. God’s love is truly great, and we witness its glory in Jesus and His great love for us. Use today to follow His example of love toward those in your life, and be a blessing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up… (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Love acts in the best interests of others instead of itself. William Barclay described agape (the Greek word translated by our English word, “love”) as “unconquerable benevolence; undefeatable goodwill”. Love refuses to be overwhelmed by the ill will and mistreatment it receives at the hands of others. Love will continue to be patient and kind. Love does not hastily retaliate when sinned against. Nor does love set itself up for display; it is humble, not boastful or arrogant. These traits of love are among the very nature of God, for “God is love” (1 Jno. 4:8, 16). Here is love’s challenge: How can we say we love God whom we have not seen when we do not love our brother whom we have seen (1 Jno. 4:20)? We cannot, and to do so shows us to be liars. Are you being patient and kind to your brother or sister, your father or mother, your spouse or child? Love does not give tit for tat. Love does not do to others what they do to you. Love does to others what you want them to do to you (Matt. 7:12). “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 Jno. 4:21).
Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. (Ecclesiastes 5:18)
God is the Giver of life. He has appointed our lives on earth with seasons of pleasure and pain, laughter and sorrow, work and play. By giving us the ability to work, He also gives us the ability to enjoy the fruit of our labor (Eccl. 2:24). God approves of us taking pleasure in our family, our friends and our earthly endeavors. The wise person is thankful to God for life, its opportunities and its challenges. Wisdom teaches us our life on earth is not the sum of our existence. God has also put eternity in our hearts. We long for something more than terra firma (Eccl. 3:11). The Bible explains where you came from , why you are here and where you are going. Enjoy your life, but do so by fearing God and keeping His commandments. Then the days of your life will be complete (Eccl. 12:13).
24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24–26)
One ought not engage in raucous quarrels when attempting to teach the truth. Angry agitation is sinful and consequently, it does not produce a righteous outcome (Col. 3:8; Jas. 1:19-20). But, gentleness does not mean weakness. Nor does it mean one cannot “reprove” and “rebuke” as well as “exhort” when trying to persuade the lost (2 Tim. 4:2). The truth of the gospel corrects error, but only if we will use it to point out sin and its remedy. Repentance is needed where there is error, for error opposes the truth of God. Teaching the truth to those who are lost is not an “either, or” proposition; either be gentle and do not confront their error, or expose their error and thereby fail to be gentle. Without quarreling, the Lord’s servant must teach the truth plainly so that lost souls can “know the truth…come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil”.
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)
In yesterday’s passage, the apostle Peter exhorted Christians not to be ashamed of Christ in spite of suffering (1 Pet. 4:16). In today’s verse, Jesus explains what form being ashamed of him takes. He also tells what will happen to those who are ashamed of him. Christ cannot be separated from his word (after all, he is “the Word”, Jno. 1:1, 14). So, if one is ashamed of Christ’s words, then he is ashamed of Christ. One shows no allegiance to Christ while denying the words of his New Testament. When Jesus Christ returns he will be ashamed of (deny) those who showed their shame of him by refusing his words. Always remember that Jesus “has the words of eternal life” (Jno. 6:68). Never be ashamed of Jesus and his words. Be wise; Hear the words of Christ and do them (Matt. 7:24-25).
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (1 Peter 4:16, ESV)
The Son of God suffered and died at the hands of lawless, immoral men. Christians ought not expect better treatment when they are faithful to the Lord. Commit yourself to live your faith courageously. There will be those who will try to silence you with intimidation, humiliation or worse. Do not be ashamed of Christ! He despised the shame of the cross for our redemption and his present glory at the right hand of God (Heb. 12:2). Give honor to God by being faithful to Christ – no matter what others say or do to you because you are a Christian.