We are all here today by choice.  We have each decided to come here rather than do anything else or be anywhere else.  Our choices represent our use of God’s gift to us of freewill.  God created us in His image and part of that image is the ability to make choices. Giving us freewill was essential to God’s overall plan for humanity, for without freewill we cannot experience God’s love and cannot love one another.  God is love but we cannot love God or anyone else unless we can choose to do so. You cannot force someone to love you or receive your love; it must be a choice.  God’s gift of love comes with the choice to receive it or reject it. You might be sitting there asking yourself, “What is this guy talking about?  Maybe some of you are now saying to yourself, “If I had it to do over again, perhaps I would use that freewill choice and choose to be anywhere but here!” Stay with me a few more moments and let me see if I can connect a couple of the dots together.

          You could have been anywhere else doing anything else today but you are here.  You are not here by accident or chance.  You are here by choice because the Holy Spirit has moved within you nudging some, encouraging a few, and perhaps even pushing one or two to be here because God wants you to know of His love for you and His desire to redeem and revive you.

      How then does God empower, encourage, and equip us for redemption and revival of our love for Him?  God does it by getting us to focus on His priorities, His plans, and His promises.  Let’s take a quick look at just one of countless examples of redemption and revival in the Scriptures.  Let’s look at the Book of Haggai, [Hag-e-i] Chapter 1, verse 1. 

      Haggai was a prophet living in the times of the Jews return from exile to Babylon.  Haggai was one of the twelve Minor Prophets.  Haggai began with these words, “In the second year of King Darius, on first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel [Zer-rub-a-bull], son of Shealtiel [Shawl-teal], governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jozadak [Ja-hose-a-dak], the high priest.  This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house’”  (Haggai 1:1-2).  Haggai reports here that God is aware of what is in the hearts of the people. Through their words and their lack of action, God observed the people who have returned from exile to Jerusalem had no heart to rebuild the temple of God.  The people claimed the time has not yet come to do that work.  We all have choices to make about our time and we all have a heart for something.  A study from some years ago, showed how the average America would use their time over a 70-year life span. Of those 70 years, we would spend:


Sleep................23 years

Work.................16 years

TV....................8 years

Eating................6 years

Travel................6 years

Leisure.............4.5 years

Illness...............4 years

Dressing..............2 years

Religion............0.5 years

Total................70 years


We all have a heart for something.  Haggai revealed that the heart of the people was not in rebuilding the temple because they have concluded it is not yet time.  Something else on their list is ahead of working on the temple.

      Scripture continues, “Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?’”  (Haggai 1:3-4).  The question asked by God reveals a contrast between His heart and the hearts of the people.  The people show energy and excitement in making their personal homes looking splendid, while at the same time saying, “It is not yet time to work on the Temple.” The question from God, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house [My Temple] lies in ruins?”  is not a question seeking information.  But, in this cases, God was seeking a confession. “Is it [really] time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house [My Temple] lies in ruins?”  The question was intended to cause the hearers to stop in their tracks and it creates that moment of very uncomfortable silence.  We have all experienced that moment when someone, a person of authority, said to us, “Hey, what are you doing?”  We freeze and become acutely aware of silence created by that question.  The Lord God has created that silence here.

      After a moment in that silence that can seem like an eternity, Haggai speaks again, verse 5, Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 1:5).  “Give careful thought” comes from the Hebrew word, suwm, which means to turn your heart and mind toward something.  God wanted His people to consider what they have been doing and what had been happening as they sat in their paneled homes adjacent to the ruins of the Temple.  To us it might be as if we have been asked to look at the distribution of life in years spent sleeping, working, eating, watching television, traveling, recreating, dressing, and in practicing our faith.  “Give careful thought!”

      Haggai said in verse 6, “ You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it” (Haggai 1:6)  God was pointing out the people’s priorities, their choices, the things they value in life, were both self-centered and unsatisfying.  Just in case the message Zerubbabel [Zer-rub-a-bull], the governor, and Joshua, the high priest, and the remnant of people did not receive the message, Haggai said in verse 7, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 1:7). 

      God was telling His people that they were not experiencing the type of fellowship He wanted with them because their priorities were misplaced.  God wanted to revive that fellowship.  God wanted to restore relationship with the people.  God wanted the people to renew their trust in Him.  If we want revival, whether it is personal, congregational, of our mission, and our ministries, we must make our fellowship with God our priority. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (Jn 6:38)  30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (Jn. 5:30) Jesus set the model for us in setting our priorities.  Trust in God.  Give careful thought to our ways.  God wants His people to come back to Him.

      What did God require of them?  Haggai continued in verse 8, “Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord” (Haggai 1:8).  God had set work out for the people to do and it was God focused.  God gave the people a plan to accompany His priority.  God is an organized God.  God is creative and deliberate.  God has laid out the work that must be done.  The Scriptures are replete with clear direction for the faithful.  Jesus said, “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”  There is evidence of the plan accompanying the priority.  Yet, God still gives us the choice to love Him and follow His words, or to do otherwise.

      Verse 12, “12 Then Zerubbabel [Zer-rub-a-bull] the son of Shealtiel [Shawl-teal], Joshua son of Jozadak [Ja-hose-a-dak], high priest, with the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord” (Haggai 1:12)  The people chose to set their priority and plans on God; the one true God in whom they revered and in whom they were in awe.  If we want to experience a revival of fellowship with God, we must have Him as our priority and follow through with His plan.  The Pharisees challenged Jesus about the work of God.  “ Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”  Redemption and revival can only happen if we place our priority on God and our plans in the belief in Jesus Christ.

      Now some people might say, “Pastor, I have done those things.  My priority is God and my plans are based on the belief in Jesus, but I do not feel revived, in fact, at times I feel quite dead tired.”  If you feel like that I would suggest you consider two possible reasons.  First, are you tired because God is your priority, but you are working your plans not His? How many times do we pray, “God please bless us as we proceed with our plans to …” You can fill in the blank, we all have done so.  We are asking God to bless our plans and not to bless us as we pursue His plans.  God knows that if we in our own strength attempt to do what we want to do we might bloom for a while and then fade.  We do so because we carry the banner of God’s priority but raise it over the work we want to do.  Give careful thought and make sure you are carrying God’s banner over the plans He wants done.

      Secondly, and this will be my final point, we may feel tired because we are not connected to the power of God.  When the people chose God as their priority and they followed His plan, check out the power they received.  Look at verse 13, “ Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message to the people: ‘I am with you, declares the Lord” (Haggai 1:13).   14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel [Zer-rub-a-bull] son of Shealtiel [Shawl-teal], governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak [Ja-hose-a-dak], the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God” (Haggai 1:13-14).  When we take on God as our priority, follow His plan, then we have the promise that God is with us.  Knowing God is with us, then our spirits soar and we are refreshed and rejuvenated.

       Think about it this way.  Some years ago, there was a certain small rural town.  It was as they say a simpler time.  The electric company was installing power lines through the town – for the first time.  There was a woman in the town that lived alone and known to be quite frugal.  She surprised many when she decided to have electricity connected to her home.  A few months later, a representative from the power company went to the woman’s home to make sure that everything was working properly.  Before he went into the house, he checked the electric meter.  It showed that she had used an exceptional small amount of electricity.  He knocked on the door, the woman answered it, and the representative told her that he was there to make sure the newly installed electricity was working for her. She said it worked beautifully. He said he was glad to hear that but expressed concern that her meter showed she had barely used any electricity. She said she did not see how that was possible since she used it every day.  The representative expressed some surprise to her given the limited use recorded on the meter.  She assured him again, telling him that every day as the sun went down and it got dark, she would turn the lights on in the house and keep them on until she could get around and light the candles.  You see she was connected to power but she was not making use of the promise of light coming from it.

      Give careful thought! For our redemption and revival, we must have God as our priority, we must follow His plan, and we must be overjoyed by the power that comes with the promise from God, “I am with you!”  In Jeremiah, God said, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”  To Joshua, God said, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous.”  Jesus said to the apostles to make disciples, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  To Paul, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you.”  Let us not forsake the power in the promise of God being with us.

      Who then shall we set our priorities upon?  God’s. Whose plans shall we then follow? God’s.  Whose promises shall empower us?  God’s.  When we choose God, then we are redeemed, restarted, refreshed, renewed, revitalized, recovered, recouped, regained, resuscitated, and ultimate to revived our fellowship with Him.  Amen and Amen.