August 20, 2019

Beautifully Paneled Houses

Haggai 1

“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

—  Haggai 1:3-4

After the Jews returned from exile in Babylon, they began to prosper. They started rebuilding the temple which had been ruined by the Babylonians. But the people of other religions who lived in the land sent letters to Babylon and complained that the Jews were preparing to revolt. For that and other reasons, the rebuilding of the temple stopped.

It seems that the Jews began with a will to rebuild the temple, but when opposition arose, they faltered and lost focus. They transferred their energy to building and beautifying their own houses. It took the searing words of Haggai to call them back to the priority of rebuilding God’s temple.

In the world today, we must not be discouraged by the struggle it takes to build Christ’s church. The forces of the devil will try to overcome it, but Jesus will prevail (Matthew 16:18). Remember what Jesus said: “Seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

It’s not that God necessarily wants you to live in a bleak apartment without beautiful paneling. But if that’s what it takes to build God’s kingdom, we must be willing to sacrifice. Our treasures are in heaven.

Lord, sometimes we grow weary of the spiritual warfare we are engaged in. Help us not to settle for secondary priorities when they tempt us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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