Congratulations, you made it to 2015! The beginning of a new year is a fantastic time to reflect on the past year and plan for the upcoming year. To put it navigational terms let’s ask ourselves: “what’s our destination? What are our coordinates?”
You see it’s all too easy for our lives to get off track. Business consultant Tim Enoch gives what I think is a compelling illustration: “I have a friend named Larry who is a retired Air Force Pilot. One day he shared with me an interesting fact about flying. He said that, for every single degree you fly off course, you will miss your target landing spot by 92 feet for every mile you fly…If you decided to start at the equator and fly around the earth, one degree off would land you almost 500 miles off target.”
Wow! One degree is the difference between aiming for New York City and landing in Bangor, Maine.
Thankfully there’s an Old Testament prophet who can guide us in considering our coordinates. Haggai served at a crucial juncture in Israel’s history. Around 538BC, Cyrus the King of Persia issued a royal mandate releasing the Jews from exile in Babylon. Consequently, 50,000 Jews returned to Jerusalem. They started to rebuild the Temple, but quit due to persistent opposition from their enemies. After eighteen years of inaction, God wanted his people to finish the important project of rebuilding his temple.
To summarize, through Haggai, God told the Jews “Your lives are a mess because your priorities are off course. You are focusing on yourselves first rather than me. So realign your priorities: start by finishing rebuilding my house, the temple. That’s your destination.”
Why was the temple so important to God? Old Testament scholar Douglas Stuart explains: “Since the central issue of Haggai is the rebuilding of the temple, you will do well to recall the significant role the temple played in the life of Israel which served as both the place of God’s special presence (marking off Israel from all other peoples) and the place of proper worship.”
So God wanted his people to prioritize his temple because the temple prioritized his presence and worship. Haggai 1:8 gives the reason: “that I may take pleasure in it and be honored.” Here’s a diagram to explain: The templeà God’s presence + worship = pleasing and honoring God.
The Apostle Paul tells us that through faith in Jesus Christ, Christians have become God’s living and holy temple. 1 Cor. 3:16 says “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 2 Cor. 6:16 says “we are the temple of the living God.”
As individuals and as a community we are God’s temple. Our bodies host God’s presence through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and our bodies are to be used to serve and worship God. When we dedicate our lives and our bodies to his presence and his worship, then God is pleased and honored. Thus Haggai teaches Christians to prioritize pleasing and honoring God.
At the start of 2015, is your destination to please and honor God? Are you on course or off course? If you have dedicated your life to Jesus Christ, the good news is that you have the power to change course. The Holy Spirit living within you and me will empower us and guide us. Yet to draw on that power you and I must first humbly confess we’re off course and ask God to change our coordinates.
Think about it: 2015 has the potential to be the year we refocus our lives on pleasing and honoring our awesome God. 2015 could be the year we are more attuned to his presence and more committed to honoring him and worshipping him with all of our lives. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the right destination to me!