May 31, 2023
Thank you for praying today for our prodigals and for revival. Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling” (1 Timothy 2:8).
The principle applies to either gender. God wants us to pray from a transformed place: a place where the outside behavior has been changed by inward renewal.
Lifting hands means hands in the air, a position symbolizing surrender. This acknowledgment of His Lordship indicates a spirit of worship. Holy hands means conduct that is righteous. Without anger means inward tranquility. Without quarreling means good relationships with others.
God wants us praying from a place of wholeness. It’s not perfection, it’s transformation!
Back in the days of the prophet Haggai, the LORD gave the prophet a 3-word message to His people, “Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5,7). It is repeated twice in Chapter 1. He was telling His people, "Examine yourselves."
Haggai was a man who lived and prophesied to Jews after the 70-year captivity in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had captured Jerusalem and completely destroyed the temple. Most of the 50,000 Jews who had returned to their homeland were priests, Levites, and those devoted to the LORD.
They had started the rebuilding process under Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12), but the work had stopped for some 15 years, and the people had become complacent.
The people had become more interested in their own comfort and success than the advancement of God’s things. Therefore, the first message that Haggai brings is a word of reproof.
God asked a revealing question, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” (Haggai 1:4).
The meaning of a paneled house is simply a covered house. It wasn’t that there was great extravagance, while there may have been. The condemnation is that they were living comfortably and at the same time neglecting God.
God goes on with His rebuke and states, “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” (Haggai 1:6).
Their priorities were wrong. They failed to give God the place He deserved, which is first place (Matthew 6:33). As a result, their lives were all out of kilter. Nothing was working out right.
God speaks and says, “Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5,7). David Guzik explains, “The Hebrew figure of speech for this phrase is literally ‘put your heart on your roads.’ Haggai asks God’s people to consider what direction their life is headed, and if they really want it to continue that way.”
Self-examination is always a good and necessary part of Christian experience. It is easy to slip. It is easy to lose our direction and focus.
The psalmist agreed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24).
The second message of Haggai was one of support and motivation. He says, “be strong” 3 times (Haggai 2:4). He speaks to the governor, Zerubbabel. He speaks to the high priest, Joshua. He speaks to all the people, and the message is the same for all of them, “Be strong!”
Along with this exhortation, God comforts them with the promise of His presence, “My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not” (Haggai 2:5). Then He goes on to say that His glory would fill the house and that it would be greater than what it was before (Haggai 2:7-9).
The last message of Haggai was a reminder that purification was needed and that blessing would come. The wonder of the message is that God would be the one who provided the cleansing and He also would bring the fullness into their lives (Haggai 2:10-19).
As we examine ourselves in God’s presence may we do so with a willing, submissive attitude. As you refocus, as you work for Him, allow Him to work in you bringing the renewal and transformation that leads to a life of wholesome, authentic fullness.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel