If your Bible reading has sloughed a little these last weeks (er, months), Haggai is the perfect book to get you back into it. It is two chapters, a total of 38 verses, and is jam-packed with underlinable and take-to-heart phrases.
I listened to it four times before pulling out my Bible commentary to get some context. God might have had me in mind when he asked Haggai to pen this book. I’m certain he knew you needed it too, because it’s all too easy to get into the habit of living for “someday,” especially when it comes to spiritual things.
Someday we’ll go back to church. Someday I’ll read my Bible. Someday I’m going to join a Bible study.
Satan loves to keep us in someday mode. It’s not a flat-out rejection of God. It’s just not now. And not now easily becomes not ever. And then we miss out on all the blessings of walking with God.
That is one of the gems of the book of Haggai. God nudges the people to get to work rebuilding his house and then adds: “‘For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear’” (2:4,5).
God isn’t playing hide-and-seek. When you open the pages of Scripture or sneak back to church or take the plunge and join a Bible study, you don’t have to hope you win the getting-to-see-God lottery. God is in every page of Scripture. He meets you and me every time we open the Word. And God isn’t a fly-by-night movie star or this administration’s top diplomat. He is the Lord Almighty, Creator of the universe, the highest of high, the very top of the ladder. And he wants to meet with you. His message: “I’m with you. Do not fear.”
All too often I do a great impression of a duck. On the surface I look calm and collected, but beneath the surface my legs are flapping like windmills. I need God’s gentle reminder that he, the Lord Almighty, is with me. I can put my fears safely on his plate, knowing he has the wisdom and power and strategy to effectively deal with what I can’t.
If we’re not deliberate, May might usher in the summer slide. Our faith walk could drop to the bottom of the priority list as summer gatherings and responsibilities and opportunities rise to the top.
Don’t let that happen this year. Take your Bible out to the patio or deck and read the book of Haggai. Then consider one of these suggestions for staying in the Word the rest of the summer:
- Ask a friend to go through the psalms with you. Read one psalm a day and text each other your thoughts. By the end of August, you may decide to keep going!
- Grab a notebook and study the book of Proverbs. It has 31 chapters; at 1 chapter a day, you could read it three times this summer. The first time through write down every piece of advice to the wise or prudent person. The second time through write down anything mentioned about the foolish person. The third time through write down what is said about mockers, aka, those who detest God and his ways. By the end of the summer, you would acquire advice that should cost hundreds of dollars an hour to attain.
- Read the gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John combined contain 89 chapters. Reading one chapter a day will bring you through all four gospels by the end of summer, and it’ll give you a greater appreciation of the life, dedication, and love of Jesus.
- If you’re in for a bigger challenge, read chapters 13-20 of the book of Acts and Paul’s correlating letters to the congregations. After Acts chapter 16, read the book of Philippians. After Acts chapter 17, read 1 and 2 Thessalonians. After Acts chapter 18, read 1 and 2 Corinthians. After Acts chapter 20, read the book of Ephesians. You will not only get a historical snapshot but a look at the issues the congregations dealt with after Paul departed and a whole bunch of insight for Christian living.
Choose one of these four suggestions or come up with one of your own. But let God be part of your adventure this summer, and it will be a richer experience. God says in Isaiah 55:10,11: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Who but God knows what God intends to accomplish and achieve through the Word this summer? Who knows what he longs to teach you and what guidance he would readily give? Who but God knows how he might change your heart or your marriage or your relationship with your children, if only you give him the opportunity?
Ask your spouse or family members to join you, post these suggestions on your Facebook page, or email a friend or two. Then text each other daily or meet on the deck or at a coffee shop once a week to check in and compare notes. Relationships deepen when we’re in the Word together. And one of the great pleasures of reading the Bible with others is that they tend to see things we sometimes miss.