URC Daily Devotion Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 
Haggai 1:12-15

Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of the prophet Haggai, as the Lord their God had sent him; and the people feared the Lord.  Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, saying, I am with you, says the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month.


This is extraordinary – everyone obeyed!  The Bible generally records that God’s prophets went unheeded when they proclaimed their messages  Only with hindsight was the challenge (ignored by them and their ancestors) to act or speak in a new way recognized as being the wisdom of God.  Somehow Haggai’s words struck a chord for everyone who heard him and they all responded positively.

He was the catalyst; but the text acknowledges that it was God who stirred up the spirits of the civic and religious leaders and the people to start building.  They all refocused and pulled together to raise up the ruined temple as the focal point of their struggling community.

Discerning between the messenger and the true source of any message is never easy; but Haggai took care that he wasn’t credited as the initiator of the idea.  A sure sign that a project, or new suggestion, is not from God, is when the person putting it forward draws attention to themselves as its originator.  Likewise if someone presents an idea that is totally dependent for its success on their personal input, oversight or connections, then it is likely that we are witnessing human self-aggrandisement and not the humble service of God.

God is still raising prophets to challenge us, as a church, to act and speak in new ways. Are we listening expectantly to hear God’s word; and open to being stirred by the Spirit?  Are we willing to work together to discern the true voice of God and to respond obediently?

Nonetheless, God still depends on us, as disciples of Christ, to proclaim the central gospel message to our world.  To be people who make known God’s ways of restoring broken communities and ruined structures.  Let us faithfully point others to God, who makes all things new.


Living God, help us recognize your voice when it comes to us through a cacophony of human voices; 
and stir up our spirits to respond positively to your call.
Forgive us when we bestow honour on your messengers, rather than on you.  
Forgive us whenever we seek praise for ourselves, rather than giving the glory to you.
Enliven us by your Spirit to proclaim your message of love with humility in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Janet Tollington is a retired minister living in Cambridgeshire; she is a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge.


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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