- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

The following are excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. James R. Love Sr. at Faith Tabernacle on Capitol Hill.
The Prophet Haggai said, "Thus sayeth the Lord of hosts, 'Consider your ways'" [Haggai 1:5].
Have you thought about the way you live your life? The world bombards us, and we can become numb to what God is saying about how we should live. If we are not careful, we can become immune to what God is doing in our lives.
It is God's purpose to establish a personal relationship with us, and He wants us to live a holy life. But if that exalts ourselves, we just get worn out. God is not calling us to live like we are religious but to have a relationship with Him. We often confuse religion with relationship.
To consider means to give pause. It means to reflect on a subject carefully. Nobody considers the old news in yesterday's newspaper. But you do consider every point and detail if you are taking out a loan. You must consider some things seriously. Now, God is saying to us, "Consider your ways."
When God says that, the sky is the limit. It's how you live, how you relate, how you conduct your business. God often called men and women to consider their ways. He called on Cain because of his anger and on Jacob because of his lying and cheating. He told King Ahab to consider his ways and warned King Belshazzar because "the handwriting was already on the wall."
God sees in us something of great potential, a destiny for each of us. And that is why He says, "Consider your ways." I pity the man who wakes up without a destiny or purpose, a mission in life. I hope that your mission is more than your job. God has another way for us, a way of purpose. But you know the problem: We are selfish and preoccupied with our own agenda.
This returns us to our text, the time of the Prophet Haggai, 500 years before Jesus Christ was born. The people of Israel had returned from exile in Babylon, and they were inspired to build what is called the Second Temple. But now Haggai is warning, "You have neglected the house of the Lord."
There is so much to do and so few laborers. They began to build, but then they neglected the temple for 16 years. It sat there like an eyesore. The people worked on their own agendas, their own fine houses and their wealth. A new generation is on the scene, and as they started building the new temple, it just didn't look like the old one. They began to make comparisons and, you know, church people started to have opinions. Some said, "I don't like the new pastor's tie." Others said, "We used to march this way."
They became discouraged. For 16 years, their homes, children and businesses were prospering, but the temple sat in ruin. Everyone had opinions, but nobody said, "Pastor, can I help lay that brick?" Building that temple is like building the house of the Lord today. The prophet Haggai had to deal with disinterest, discouragement and dissatisfaction.
The prophet addressed all of these, but first he says, "Consider your ways." When we consider how God has blessed us, we will give Him our time, talent and treasure, and value His truth. Haggai says, "You have sown much, and bring in little. You have eaten but are not satisfied." They began to feel empty. Their successes had declined. Unless you focus your attention on the house of God, you will never be satisfied.
So consider how you use your time. The Bible teaches us "to number our days" and to use them well. Do you spend time in prayer or just watching television? Use your talents and treasure for the house of the Lord. They are gifts from God. The hearts of so many believers are no longer in the house of God. Finally, consider the truth. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Do you know where life is taking you? Consider your ways, for Jesus is the way.
Next week: a sermon at a Maryland church
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