Consider Your Ways!
In 606 B.C., the Babylonian captivity of some Israelites began. Jerusalem was completely destroyed twenty years later and many more were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar's forces. After 70 years of captivity, God--through His amazing providence--graciously allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. The work on the temple began with great joy. The people "sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: 'For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.' Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid" (Ezra 3:11). The temple reconstruction project was off to a good start! However, shortly thereafter the Israelites allowed adversaries to stop the work (cf. Ezra 4:23,24), and the temple of God remained barren, desolate, and unfinished for over a decade.

God then sent a message to arouse the people through His prophet Haggai - "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:5). The people had been making excuses - "The time has not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built" (Haggai 1:2). But, as the prophet notes, they were building their houses. And they weren't building shabby shelters either. They were constructing paneled houses for themselves--elaborate and decorated. They were willing to put in the effort for themselves, but not for God, and thus, they needed to consider their ways.

Dear friends, are we like the Israelites? Where are our priorities? Are we spending more time on our houses, lawns, cars, hobbies, and recreation than we spend on God's work? Do we spend more time on newspapers, magazines, TV programs, and the internet than we do in God's word and prayer? Jesus made it known upfront that we cannot be His disciples unless we make Him first in our lives (cf. Luke 14:25-33). Sometimes one is baptized with great rejoicing and is "on fire" for the Lord. Often, however, the cares and worries of life--coupled with the desire for our comfort--cause that passionate flame to dwindle to nothingness. It is important that followers of Christ not be just good starters, but good finishers too. Have you considered your ways lately? Matthew 6:33 - "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." II Corinthians 13:5 - "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified."