This devotional was originally published on June 1, 2017.

After being in captivity in Babylon for 70 years, the Jews were allowed to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. Zerubbabel led the Jews back, and they began to rebuild. After completing a foundation and an altar, they became discouraged. They faced some opposition from those around them, so they put their priority of building the Lord’s house on hold.

Though I immediately think of these Jews as ridiculous for not pressing through, even though their bondage of captivity was clearly broken for this sole purpose, my own faults also pop into my head. I so easily lose sight of what should take priority in my life and turn to the way of least resistance instead. For instance, there are times I clearly feel God press upon my heart to stop what I’m doing and get into the Word. Unfortunately, it’s often easy to come up with reasons to take care of something else, such as getting something done around the house or taking a nap. Why? Because getting into the Word takes discipline and, sometimes, more effort.

Another example would be helping with worship. For about 6 and a half years, I felt that God was asking me to step out and help lead with whatever abilities he had given me. Like the Jews in the book of Haggai, I compared my abilities to the abilities of others and felt that there wasn’t a need for me, or that if there were some need, I wouldn’t be able to fill it.

The truth is, we aren’t needed. God doesn’t need me to read my Bible, and I don’t have to help with worship, but God desires so much to bless us in the process. When I first seek the kingdom of God and stop caring about what I, or others, think, it seems like so much more is given to me. When I make time to read in the morning, God always seems to give me more time to do what I need to do. When I prioritize God, and the things he has called me to, the rest is blessed.

We get so focused on building our own lives and the things around us that we lose sight of why we’re here. The Jews lost sight of why they were even allowed to go to Jerusalem and, more importantly, they lost sight of the reason they were released from captivity! The whole reason we are where we are is because of the one we serve. So, who do you serve? Do you serve yourself, those around you, or God himself? God will use you for his glory and for others, but you must keep the priority as the priority.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
— Matthew 6:25

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
— Matthew 6:27

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
— Matthew 6:31-33