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Consider Your Ways

(Haggai 1:2-9; 2:1-5)

Lesson 3 -- fourth quarter 1997
September 21, 1997

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1997, Christian Light Publications

Satisfaction. Productivity. Quality. Accomplishment. Fulfillment. How we crave these things, and how we pursue them. And that is healthy and proper. The Scriptures aim us and propel us toward excellence. However, one of the ongoing challenges I struggle with is that of priorities. What should come first? "Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways."

I had a lot of writing to do, so my Bible reading and devotions slowly surrendered to the demands for more time. I had a lot of questions to answer for others, so I began spending less and less time consulting the Answer Key for my own dilemmas. I had a classroom to deal with, so the Master Teacher got less of my time and attention. The more projects and problems preyed on my time, the less I prayed on my knees.

Time. We have only so much of it. Energy. That's a limited commodity also. That is why we must prioritize our lives. The tragedy is that we so often cut and trim in the wrong areas. For so many of us, the first thing to go is that which should be the first thing. Period.

Why can't the message of the second paragraph be this instead? "Having a lot of writing to do, and a lot of questions to answer, and a classroom to deal with, and projects and problems preying on my time, I dedicated the first waking moments of the day to the Lord and His Word. Figuring I couldn't get everything done in the day, I decided to do first things first--so I turned my heart to prayer and the Bible."

Are you wondering by now what this has to do with satisfaction, productivity, quality, accomplishment, and fulfillment? Well, now that I have set the context for you, do some lesson text rereading: "Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it." To succeed, we must put God first--that is the concluding message of verse nine.

Look, it is not required that we know how this is going to work. What we need is sufficient faith and commitment to practice this. I will admit that some mornings I require copious amounts of commitment and self-discipline to have my devotions first. And I don't always do as I ought and as I need. Then sooner or later through the wrongly- prioritized day this truth dawns: "I think this day would be going better and I would be getting more done properly and I would be responding to situations and people better...if I would have started correctly. I wonder how much time, energy and opportunity I have wasted because I decided I was too busy to pray and read the Bible."

So, my friend, consider your ways. Strive all you want. Burn all the candles you wish at all the ends you can find. Pursue what you think you must pursue. But know this: if you keep God out of first place, you will spin your wheels, waste your fuel, blow your heads, and strip your gears. Consider your ways. Infinitely worse is it to live your life without God and His Word than it is to cook without any knowledge of proportion and to sew without any sense of pattern.

Where is God in your life? What is the first impression God gets from you on any given day? What is your first impression of God for the day? And what impression of God do others get from you life?

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