by Brittney Chan
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
You know you’re a Toddlers Sunday School teacher when songs like “Building up the Temple” or “I’m in the Lord’s Army” randomly run across your mind throughout the week. I’m pretty sure teaching those 2-5 year-olds has become one of my favorite things about Sundays. I love seeing them get so excited to tell me their prayer requests or help lead songs. They have a blast acting out the words and following my direction to “SING IT SUPER LOUD” or “Shhhhh, sing it quietly!!”
In the middle of all the chaos and confusion, I’ve often prayed that God would lead them to eventually understanding the significance of repetitive lines like, “Building up the Temple, building up the Temple, building up the Temple for the Lord. Brothers, won’t you help us? Sisters, won’t you help us? Building up the Temple for the Lord!” It’s important for them to see the value of being a part of God’s family and living a life that regularly worships Him.
Today’s children are Tomorrow’s church!
God isn’t pleased when we carry out our lives independently and prioritize anything or anyone above Him. This can easily be seen throughout the pages of Haggai, which was written to preserve His particular exhortations to the Jews after their release from Babylonian captivity. Here’s the scene: Around the time of Daniel in the Lion’s den (536 BC), Cyrus allowed the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem with the intent of rebuilding the Temple. They set out to accomplish the task at hand...and things were going great until...opposition came. Have you ever started doing something for God and then opposition came?? The Samaritans and Persian authorities didn’t like any of it and so they tried to set up legal roadblocks that would halt construction efforts.
God’s people became discouraged fairly quickly. They had worked on the building for 10 years straight, but as soon as they started getting flack, many of them jumped ship to abort the mission. And they justified their actions by saying, “Oh, all these hardships must mean that it’s not time to build God’s House.”
And this is where Haggai picks up. God sent His messenger to call them out on their negligence. He said, “You say, ‘The time hasn’t come that the church should be built.’” (Haggai 1:2) But then God turns around and questions the importance of what they had shifted their focus to. “But is it time to rest in your elaborately built homes while My House is in ruins?” He continues to point out the error of their ways: “You’ve sown much and reaped little. You eat, but you’re never full. You drink, but your thirst is never quenched. You worry about your clothes and attire, but you’re never satisfied. You work day in and out, but there’s nothing to show for it. Consider your ways.” (1:4-6)
If there’s ever a time to investigate the preferences of your heart, it’s now.
Whatever choices you make on a daily basis are a direct unveiling of your priorities.
As responsibilities and obligations pile up on top of one another, don’t forget Who you profess to live for. It is always time to build up the Temple!
As I started my career as a physical therapy assistant earlier this year, I remember being so excited about finally getting to do (and get paid for) what I’d wanted for so long. A few weeks went by and I accompanied a Heritage Bible College group to Panama for a missions trip. In one particular service, towards the close of the week, I remember God speaking this into my spirit as I watched people pray: “This is why you work. It’s not so you can live a self-centered life, but it’s so you can help spread My Gospel.” It was a humbling moment and a choice to submit myself to His plans had to be made. God wants to be in control over every aspect of our lives; finances included!
The chapters in Haggai continue with God promising His favor and blessing, but His House had to be taken care of first! Another 6 years had lapsed before anyone picked up a hammer or laid down another stone.
How much time will you let pass before you decide to devote your life and energy back to God?
God vowed to return the Jews’ renewed commitment by 1) blessing a remorseful heart (2:18-19), 2) being with them (1:13) and 3) being sovereign over the building of a glorious Temple (2:6-9). I think we all could say that our priorities can get out of control sometimes. But aren’t you thankful for the way God will call us back to Him? He loves our repentant spirit and promises to be with us and honor our efforts to expand His kingdom.
Refocus on Who really matters.
Thank You for abundantly blessing us. In everything we do, let us purpose to recognize Your sovereignty and honor Your plans. Let our lives be examples that testify of Your Goodness and show Your Glory. Let us spend our time building up a work that is so much greater than we are.
In Jesus’ name,