Wednesday, August 17, 2016

First Things & Paneling

(by Pastor Joe)

The Word for Today: Haggai 1
mark this: Haggai 1:4
What does your basement look like?
The basement of my childhood could be described in one word: paneling.
My family had a ton of that cheap, quarter-inch thick stuff. It was not the most durable material, and did not do well under the stresses of wrestling and knee hockey. In fact, I remember a hole in the wall created by a chair my father kicked in 1984 due to the frustration of watching the Buffalo Bills of that era. So as I read today's scripture I became mildly amused as it referenced paneled houses.
The Israelites of that day had severe paneling problems. While our "modern day" paneling from the 80's was the opposite of fine craftsmanship, the paneling we read about in Haggai's time was very much a status symbol. But, while their homes may have looked good, God was not at all impressed.
The reason was priorities. As we examine the powerful message in this little book- the issue we find is not that there is a scarcity of wood. The problem is that the wood is in the people’s homes, rather than in the Temple. Because of opposition, the work on the Temple of the Lord had been at a standstill for more than a decade (1). In the meantime, the people began to beautify their own homes, which by itself, is a noble thing to do. But what makes such renovation wrong was the fact that they no longer cared about the Temple and even made up false mantras to justify their misplaced priorities. I can just imagine them saying to each other "the time has not yet come...." over and over.
Guess what, from an earthly point of view, the timing is never right to do anything that focuses on the 'spiritual' or 'eternal' as opposed to the here and now. Church, prayer, Bible reading, small groups, service projects, missions trips, evangelism, study, meditation, fasting, tithing, loving God and loving others are NEVER convenient in modern life. We can always come up with 100 reasons to do something else if we want to.
Today, as in Haggai's time GOD is telling us to get over weak "timing" related excuses, and instead, get to work. So what do you say? How 'bout you and I, how 'bout we "go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house...."  (2).
(1) Ezra 4:24
(2) Haggai 1:8

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