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Weekly Bible Devotion By Books
Sep 7-12, 2020
Enter the Presence of the Lord
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2, NIV)
Lord, our busy demands simply took away our time with you. Now we return to you- our center. Let your word refresh our mind. Let your Holy Spirit replenish the essence of life in us. Let your son Jesus Christ impart in the peace and love we desire. The world drained us. But in you we see the light and truth. We are revived. Thank you. Amen.
Scripture Reading: Haggai
1:5-8 5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” 7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.
2:4-5, 9, 23 4 But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear. 9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” 23 “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
Thoughts to share What does it require to serve the Lord?
The first returned exiles came back to Jerusalem with great excitement, enthusiasm, and effort. They rebuilt the altar and foundation of the ruined Old Temple. They dedicated the altar and foundation and celebrated a new beginning. Then, they did not complete the rebuilding of the entire Temple, as the Persian King instructed initially. The Book of Ezra mentioned the strong oppositions and dirty tricks from neighboring peoples. That was surely very discouraging. And here, Haggai mentioned other internal reason: the returned exiles were obsessed with rebuilding their own houses and yards. So, Haggai was called to urge the residents there to pick up their unfinished work and to complete the rebuilding of the entire Temple. God cared about his very own Temple. Though it was a physical building, the Temple symbolized the presence of the Lord with the returned exiles. It reminded them of the Covenant between the Lord and them. Temple was also the place where God dwelled, expressing his own glory and giving the blessings to his people. Rebuilding the Temple meant to giving those returned exiles a visual center for their community and their faith life.
All Christian ministries are about serving the Lord. All Christian living are about serving the Lord. Haggai reveals us some interesting and precious lessons in serving the Lord that we often overlook.
On our human side, knowing this: we have our part to play.
1) Reflect our hearts and our actions. We can take time performing a checkup on our priority and our focus in our lives. Where is God’s place? Just like those returned exiles, we can be so absorbed in our houses and daily immediate needs or extras. Oftentimes, life burdens and dreams, ambitions take away the time, resources, energy that are supposed for God. We lost the priority and focus. Reflection helps us to reset our priority and focus. Reflection helps us to hear the word of God for us. The word of God points the ways we should go. In the end, reflection renews our minds and reshapes our existence.
2) Be strong! Most works will encounter difficulties. The difficulties can have many forms: different perspectives, willful oppositions, unfriendly criticism, lengthy procedures, multi-layered managing personnel, winding communications, strives from personalities and working styles… etc. Difficulties frustrate, discourage, slow down, and hinder the progress we desire. We often lost the vision and excitement in the difficulties. We forget who is the Lord above all those difficulties. God’s advice on facing difficulties through Haggai is: Be strong! Stand up! Be enduring! Be courageous! Do not afraid!
3) Work! Work means taking actions and doing something. Work! Keep working! Work is the only way to get difficulties out of the way. Work carries out our visions and reaches our goals. We need to work hard, work diligently, and work intelligently. Work through the difficulties to find solutions. Work on ourselves to meet the demands of the goals. Work to reach out the goals. Work to complete the entire project. Work to give glory to God!
Haggai also opens our eyes to see a good news: we are not serving alone! God is with us! He works too! He supports us along the way. See,
1) He supervises us and our work. He gives vision of our work. He reminds us of our improvement areas. He gives directions. He expects to rejoice with us.
2) He is with us. His spirit is our midst. He strengthens us. He enables us.
3) He supplies. Money is his. Treasures are his. Resources are his. He can bring what we need to us.
4) He gives glory, peace, blessings.
5) He gives the leader. A leader is important to any good work.
6) He promises that when we work, he takes pleasure in it and he is glorified!
For Haggai, rebuilding the Temple was the project that the returned Jews were called to do. For us today, we are called to many different tasks too. Reading through book of Haggai, we find the word of God enlightening our mentality of serving the Lord- both in the church and in the world.
O, God, thanks for opening our eyes to see what requires in serving you. We so easily give up or complain. Now we know better what we need to hold on. Now we know better that you are there to support us to the end. You intend to cheer with us! May we serve you with a new mentality. May our serving you bring joy and glory to you. Help us. Thanks. Amen.
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