Scripture Reading: HAGGAI 1
For seven decades, the land of God’s people stood desolate. The few physical reminders from their previous existence lay in ruins. Where once sons and daughters of God roamed, now foreigners dwelled, Ezra 3.3. When God’s people returned to Israel from Babylon in 536 BC, they must have experienced every emotion. Jubilation, exhilaration, and praise coupled with sorrow, regret, and fear. Eventually, their faith gave way to fear and they stopped rebuilding God’s temple, Ezra 4.4. Opposition by their adversaries led to sixteen years of inaction, 4.24. God patiently waited and when He could hold out no more, He sent two prophets to call his people to action.
Haggai is one of those prophets. He comes onto the scene with an abrupt and challenging message. Consider your ways, he says in Haggai 1.5. After more than a decade-and-a-half of apathy, it was time for self examination. While God’s people dwelt in comfort, God’s house sat in ruins, 1.4. There had been no demonstration of faith. There were no bold initiatives. Their vision went only as far as they could see. And, what they could see was only opposition and uncertainty. For these jews, the status quo centered around fear, not faith.
What about us? Today we face growing opposition toward Christianity. It feels as if people are becoming more resistant to our message. Most Americans seem to be satisfied with where they are religiously. We’re told people are no longer interested in doctrine. We’re told our ways are too narrow and too old for the newer generations. And so, we turn inward. We tend toward defensiveness, negativity, and cynicism. Once these attitudes have taken over, its easy to throw up our hands and say, what’s the use? So, we often allow precious time to go by, while we maintain what we have and get away from the mission God called us to, Matthew 28.19-20.
Maybe it’s time for us to consider our ways! Times of difficulty call for bold initiatives driven by faith. What will you do to get out of your comfort zone and share the gospel with someone? What will local churches do collectively to reach out into their communities with the message of grace? Will they be open to newer methods? Will they be willing to shift their paradigm in order to be effective? Times like these are not for pessimism and shrinking away from the mission. Just like God told the people in Haggai 2.4-5, we can be strong, …and…. work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts.
Will we trust God enough to move forward by faith?
You can learn more about Haggai and practical applications from it’s 38 verses today at Kettering Church of Christ. Bible study is at 1 pm & 7.30 pm. Join us! You’ll be glad you did.
Confronting the Reality of Addiction
a preview of our Sunday sermon (February 7, 2016)
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6.10-13
Our society is paralyzed in the grip of addiction. Alcohol, sex, pornography, food, video games, cell phones, sports, illegal and prescription drugs, you name it. Many try, but just can’t seem to kick the habit. While there certainly are physical and emotional solutions to these problems, just how important is the spiritual component? Is simple will power enough? Paul gives us the answer in Romans 7.15. Despite the reality of the human condition, victory is possible.
On Sunday, we’ll discuss three essentials for victory:
- Personal surrender and a dependence on God.
- Admission of our weaknesses to others.
- Follow the Scripture’s path to real change.
Before we gather this week, please take a few moments and read these passages: Proverbs 5.22; Romans 7.15; 2 Corinthians 1.9; Ephesians 5.16-18, 24-25; Ecclesiastes 4.9-12; Galatians 6.1-2; and James 1.5, 22; 2.17; 3.13; 4.6-8, 12; 5.16.
For Your Thought and Reflection
Why do you think will power isn’t enough to overcome an addiction? How does reliance on it contribute to a cycle of failure and regret?
After reading Galatians 5.24-25, what are some practical ways you can crucify the flesh, especially when it comes to battling an addiction?
Why do you think it is so hard to admit our weaknesses and failings to others?
If you have an addiction, how are some ways you can apply the passages in James? (See the Scriptures listed above).
If you know someone battling addiction, what are some ways you can encourage them?