First Things First

Today you finished Haggai – let’s go to Joel next. It only has three chapters so you can finish the entire book in three days!


Haggai 1 & 2


Haggai 1:6, “You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!” (NLT)


Another minor prophet with a major message. I’m reminded that I’m so much like the nation of Israel. In some seasons I draw near to God. In others, I run away. The pattern is always the same. I become discouraged and distracted by life. My schedule gets in the way. My desire for success, for significance, for wealth, for comfort, for pleasure – all these things distract me from what matters most. My life gets out of balance. First things get set aside for convenient things. What I notice in chapter one is the deliberate way God doesn’t condem these things. Instead he says, “Get them in the right order.”

There’s a verse in the New Testament with a similar idea. Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Sometimes that seems easier said than done, but God knows. He’s given us some best practices to help us.

  • He says, “I want you to be generous. Put me first in your finances.” And gives us the discipline of tithing to help us practice giving.
  • He says, “Your success is a platform for ministry. It’s a way for you to use your talent and resources for the benefit of others.” He gives us the discipline of service to help us practice humility.
  • He says, “Your rest comes from me. Work hard, play hard, rest well.” And gives us the Sabbath Day to cause us to slow down enough to appreciate all his gifts and practice rest.

Did you notice what happened in chapter one? They received Haggai’s correction, responded to God’s Word and enjoyed God’s favor. Haggai 1:14 tells us, “…the Lord sparked His enthusiasm…” in the leaders of the nation. It highlights a truth. Genuine repentance always sparks something more. Along with repentance comes the motivation to act, the desire to change, the will to rearrange. It’s actually a decent way to evaluate whether or not you’re truly sorry or simply sorry you got caught. Real repentance leads to restoration of spirit, relationships…life.


Chapter 2 completes the pattern.

  • Wrong Committed (1:1 – 11)
  • Sin Confronted (1:1-11)
  • Repentance Received (1:12-13)
  • Relationship Restored (1:13-14)
  • Enthusiasm Sparked (1:13-14)
  • Strength Provided (2:1-4)
  • Confidence Built (2:5-9)
  • Warning Given (2:10-19)
  • Promise Kept (2:20-23)

There’s great value in following the practices God has given us. They teach us how to have success that lasts beyond the moment. They protect us from misguided steps. They empower us to accomplish more than we could on our own.

There’s another principle in this passage. We won’t focus on it here, but it’s something we shouldn’t miss. 90% of your income in the hands of God is greater than 100% of your income in your hands alone. 6 days of your week dedicated to God are more productive than 7 days devoted to you.

It’s not really about the numbers. It’s about obedience. It’s about the heart behind the numbers. It’s about following God first and trusting him for everything that pertains to life and godliness.


Heavenly Father,

Where is my life out of balance? What priorities do I have that are out of place, inappropriate or misguided? Show me where I’m weak, where I’ve failed and the way back. Thank you for your grace and mercy. Thank you for the enthusiasm you fill me with when I obey. Thank you for your favor in my life. Provide for my family exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or think. Protect us from sin, temptation and harm. Fill us with your Spirit and the fruit of your Spirit. Teach us to trust you more.

I love you, in Jesus name –