Well, welcome home.
My name is Ron, and I’m one of the pastors here at the bridge church. And we’re so glad that you’re watching with us. Today we’re kicking off a new series that we’re calling A New Normal.
Whether we like it or not, what we’ve experienced so far in 2020, has changed the world as we know it, work, family, church, relationships, entertainment, traveling, the list goes on. Nearly every aspect of our lives has been hit this year, with unexpected and often unwanted change.
So the question I’ve been asking myself, and what we’re going to explore together over the next few weeks is, where do we go from here? How do we adjust to this new normal? Now it would be reckless of me to speculate on what things are going to look like on the other side of this pandemic, or even to predict what the nation will look like after this coming election. But what I do know is that uncertainty, the uncertainty that we’re feeling right now is nothing new. And while we may be scratching our heads, wondering what the future holds, we serve a God in heaven, who holds the future in his hands.
And now is the time more than ever, that we need to press in and ask Him to guide us and keep us as we enter into our new normal.
So today, I want to open up our Bibles and go to the Old Testament book of Hagia, and I want to look at an event that took place about 500 years before Jesus was born. At this time, the Jews had been tasked with rebuilding the temple after it had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, you didn’t know you’re going to get a little history lesson today. Unfortunately, instead of obeying God, the Israelites had decided to focus on themselves on building their own luxurious homes. And so Hagia I was a prophet, he was sent by God to deliver God’s message. And he reminded the Jewish people of their high calling to prioritize the worship life of their community.
And so God’s people had actually been there, had actually fooled themselves into thinking that everything was okay. That God wouldn’t really notice what was going on. It kind of reminds me of a story when Collin our 19-year-old son was four or five years old.
At that time, I was just started pastoring a church and it was a church that was struggling at the time. And we were really trying to breathe fresh life into the church. And so I decided I thought it would be really cool. One way to attract new people to come in and even get people who maybe just didn’t come every week would be to serve fresh Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Any Krispy Kreme donut fans out there? Let me know right now in the comment section. Yeah, I love some Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. You know, when they’re still warm and soft. It’s like they melt in your Oh, my goodness, I could go for one of those right now.
All right, well, anyway, you probably don’t have one of those available. But if you do, share, why not go for it? Well, I had decided to get these Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. And I set up a deal with the local Krispy Kreme place and, and they bake them for me that morning. And so they were ready to go. I went up first thing in the morning, got them all loaded up in my car, took them into the lobby of the church. And in I set it up and I wanted to make it look really attractive. I mean, I wanted people to be excited about having one of these doughnuts inside got everything looking just right, set the table. And then I went back into my office and I had some things I needed to do. And so a few minutes I came back out, I went over to the Krispy Kreme table. And guess what I found? Each of those Krispy Kreme Doughnuts had just a small nibble out of it. And I’m thinking who would do this? Why would this happen? I mean, all of these they’re all gonna go to waste. What a horrible travesty. Come to find out it was my own offspring. It was Collin, who decided he was gonna sample each of the doughnuts. And I know what he was thinking at least I think I know what he was thinking. He was thinking about just take a little bite. Nobody will even notice it will just fly underneath the radar. I don’t know you could ask him exactly what he was thinking.
But I mean, let’s be honest, we kind of do that with God sometimes don’t we? Like we like to do our own thing. We think we can get away with it and we’ll just kind of do it and fly under the radar. But the truth is, we don’t fool God and really, if we’re honest, we know we know the truth ourselves.
Well, this is what was going on with Israel, particularly related to their priorities at the time. You know, we can wear the T-shirt, we can have the bracelets, we can have the bumper stickers on our car post verses and quotes on our Instagram, Facebook, we can look the part but the question is, Is God really first in our lives, in our priorities, God’s priorities?
You see if we’re gonna thrive in a new normal, then it’s got to start with us getting our priorities straight. And this is what Hagia was calling God’s people to do in his day. And I believe there’s so much that we can learn from this in our present day. So how do we realign our priorities to line up with God? And so let’s go to our texts for today. It’s the book of Hagia, it’s just this little tiny book at the end of the New Testament. And we’re going to start in chapter one with verse two. And let’s see what we can learn together as we read this, Thus says the Lord of hosts, these people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.
So can you understand the context they’re supposed to be rebuilding this temple, this place that’s been dedicated, that’s set apart as a place of worship for God, but instead, they’re all focused on their own stuff. And really what they were doing is they were giving the excuse that the timings just not right. Have you ever felt that way? Maybe it was, when you were gonna go back to school or when you were gonna have kids or when you were going to work on your master’s degree or, or when you were going to get married, or when you were going to get a new house or whatever. And, and you kept pushing off and pushing off what you really felt you needed to do because you felt like the timing just wasn’t right. Well, that’s what was going on with the Israelites, except God had made it very clear to them that he wanted them to set out to rebuild the temple.
So here’s a problem. their priorities were not the same as God’s priorities. If we’re going to get our priorities in the right order, then we can’t make excuses. You see the timings just not right. That’s one of many excuses, maybe for you, your excuse has been, well, I’m just too busy. I really can’t help at church because I’m too busy. I really can’t invest more in this thing that I know God wants me to do. But I’m too busy, or I’m too broken, or I’m too broke, or I’m too tired. You see, there are times there are moments when we need to rest when we need to recharge, there are seasons of rest. But when a season goes on, again, and again, and again, it’s no longer a season, it’s your life. You see, seasons are meant to change. Winter comes and winter goes, spring comes and spring goes. Times of rest are important, but we can’t live our whole lives with that mentality. Sometimes we got to get off the sidelines and get into the game.
And so the Israelites were saying, hey, this isn’t our season. This isn’t our time. But this went on and on and on. And ultimately, their priorities weren’t right. They were disobeying God.
So for us to have the right priorities, we can’t make excuses. I would challenge you right now, if God’s calling you to do something, to check your priorities. You might find that the reason that you’re feeling too busy or too broken or too broke or too tired is because you’re chasing after the wrong things. And let me tell you from personal experience, trust me, I have been there running after the wrong thing is exhausting. Can I get an amen? It’s exhausting.
But running after the right things, being obedient to God, even when it’s hard, even when we’re running uphill, even when it actually is is difficult. It leads us to a place of rest. So you could start reprioritizing your life right now, by stopping with your making of excuses. Do the right thing and do it right now. And trust that God is going to get you through it. Don’t make excuses.
Let’s look at the second thing. Let’s pick back up in our text Haghia chapter one in two verse three and see what else we can learn. Then the word of Lord came by the hand of Hagia The Prophet, is it a time for yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses? Again, this is a description of what would have been him describing elaborate houses, while the house this house, meaning the temple lies in ruins. Is this right? Is this the way that it’s supposed to be? In other words through Hagia God is asking his people a probing question. Is it okay that your houses are pristine, while the house of God is left in shambles?
Once again, this is an issue of prioritizing. Now hear me, God is not against us having nice things. In fact, oftentimes, he allows us to enjoy nice things. And many of us live in beautiful homes, and we drive nice cars, and we enjoy nice things. And that’s okay. But we need to make sure that it’s always the giver of the gift that has our ultimate focus, and not the gift itself. You see, the natural drift is for us to become more focused on the gift rather than the gift giver. So having the right priority means that we avoid being self-absorbed.
We’ve got to fight this natural tendency towards thinking about ourselves towards selfish thinking, we’ve got to fight that off in every area of our lives. Now, I know it’s kind of a cheesy thing for me to say. But this really is true. That getting our priorities right is what leads to joy. Joy happens when we put our priorities where they’re supposed to be. Joy is Jesus, others, you. That spells joy, Jesus others, you.
See, as we experience our new normal, regardless of what that looks like, we can experience joy, when we stop focusing on ourselves, and we start focusing on Jesus. And as we focus on Jesus, then we start thinking a lot more about others, and a lot less about ourselves. Now love the opening words in the best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren, he opens the book with these words, it’s not about you.
Ouch. hurts a little bit. But man, it’s true. How often am I just absorbed in myself in what’s going on in me in my own problems? In rather than seeing all that’s around me all that I have from God, all that God’s called me to all the people around me that need help? I’m just focused on me. And so think about this for a moment. How self-absorbed are you? I mean, do an honest inventory. I know this hurts. But just go there right now. Where are you? Think about the words you use? And what’s down in your heart. When you’re having conversations with your friends, when when you’re speaking, how often is your conversation just revolving around you you you? It’s words like I and its words like me, and we’re not asking many questions. We’re not so interested in what’s happening and other people because we are just absorbed in ourselves.
We can even do this in our relationship with God, where we’re our conversation with him, it’s just always about us and we lose who he is and what it is that he’s called us to do. You see, it’s time to break out of that. Just like Hagie I was calling God’s people to do it, we’ve got to do the same thing. We have to take the focus off of ourselves and fix our eyes on Jesus. We’ve got to make being obedient to Him our number one priority.
So then Hagia goes down goes on to lay down this challenge for God’s people. Look at what he says in verse five. It says, now, therefore, Thus says the Lord of host consider your ways. You have sown much, but harvested little you eat but you never have enough you drink but you never have your fill you closed yourself but no one is warm, and he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
Well, let me finish the verse does, says the Lord of hosts, Consider your ways this is so relatable. I mean, come on. Like we can’t get enough. No matter how much we pursue things that are outside of what God wants. All it does is it leads us to wanting more. We just find ourselves hungry, we find ourselves thirsty, we find ourselves cold, we find ourselves broke. Any broke people out there? You see, what happens is, we’re chasing after the things of this world. And when we do that, it’s like chasing after fool’s gold. We take on these beautiful things in our possession, but they have no lasting value or worth. And it leaves us hungry, thirsty, cold and broke.
And let’s be honest, that’s not what any of us want. So how do we avoid this pitfall? How do we get more from life than then this? We take time to evaluate. That’s what Hagie I suggesting to his people at this time, pause, reflect, evaluate. Twice Hghia uses the words he says consider your ways. And we would be wise to do the same that with ourselves right now, to take a moment and do a little self-inventory. Where are you right now? Be honest with yourself, be honest with your God, are your priorities, what they need to be.
And let me give you some indicators that might help you as you do that self-reflection, that evaluation. You see, when we have the right priorities, we’re going to get active in the right things. So ask yourself, what are you involved in right now? What am I involved in right now? What is it that consumes my time and energy? What am I giving my best to?
You see, when we have our priorities in order, we give the most to what matters the most. Say that, again, we give our most, to what matters the most. So what matters the most to you and doesn’t line up with what you’re giving the most to? Maybe that means you need to work a lot more in your marriage, maybe means you read some books, or listen to some podcasts or get some counseling. If it matters the most then you gotta give it the most time and energy and effort.
Maybe it’s investing more in your kid’s life. Maybe you’re so caught up in work and other things. And it’s so caught up in your hobbies that they’re kind of put to the side. And so part of your reprioritizing, getting this life, really in order as you create this new normal, would be to make sure that you’re prioritizing your relationship with your kids that you’re investing in them.
Maybe you need to be more diligent in your studies, that instead of being on your Instagram, or you know chatting with your friends all the time, maybe you need to say you know what, I’m going to limit myself, I’m going to put up some fences, some boundaries. So that way I make sure I get done what matters the most.
Maybe it means digging into God’s word, prioritizing your time each day with God, you can tune into the bridge church, daily devotion that my dad puts out each and every day. That’s a great way to prioritize your spiritual growth. You see, what matters the most is where you ought to invest the most. Maybe it’s being the hands and feet of Jesus.
You see, when we have our priorities straight, then ultimately, God is glorified. A great question to ask yourself right now is how is God being glorified in you? Is he being lifted up and displayed in your life right now? Maybe it’s through sharing your faith story with a neighbor or co-worker, a friend, or a family member. Maybe it’s serving on one of our serve teams. I’m so excited because we’ve been reassembling our serve teams and beginning to ramp up to our night of worship that’s coming on October 24. I can’t wait, that night of worship under the stars is going to rock it’s going to be amazing. And so some of our serve team members are coming out and being a part of that’s a great way to prioritize your serving of other people within your faith community.
Maybe it’s jumping in with us as we do Operation Christmas Child, man, I can’t wait for this one. We’re going to be collecting those shoeboxes again and sending those to kids in need around the world that have never experienced anything like that before and to show them the love of God in a tangible way and give them a gift. And we’re giving you the opportunity to do that. That’s a great way, this Christmas to make your relationship with God and loving others a priority.
Maybe it’s through getting involved with one of our Connect Groups. Yea it takes time to spend an hour with other people. It’s a little bit uncomfortable sometimes because we got to get to know new people. And it might not be your natural bent, but because God is your highest priority, and you know what he wants out of your life that he wants you to be living in community, not just in rows, but in circles together. Then you’ve made that a priority. You’re saying, I’m going to sign up today, right now, you can do that. Just go into the comment section description section, and you’ll see where you can get into one of our Connect Groups. Now’s a great time, we’re just launching a new season of those Connect groups. Make that a priority.
Maybe it’s through ministering with the homeless, we’re gonna have some opportunities over the next couple of months for you to go out and be part of our partnership with Restoring Hearts Ministry that’s helping the homeless people right here in the city of Trenton.
You see, when our priorities are right, then God is going to be glorified. When we serve others when we’re involved when we’re being the light in our community when we’re bringing hope to people who don’t have hope. When we do that, then God is being glorified. And when we glorify God, watch this, then we enjoy God’s blessings. You see God’s blessings follow obedience. Maybe the reason that you’ve had a season of drought, that you haven’t really enjoyed the blessings of God, the peace of God in your life, is because you haven’t been being obedient to Him. That’s exactly what we see in the story of Hagia. You see, there’s this unexplainable joy and peace and even lightness. You feeling heavy right now?
There’s this lightness that comes from knowing that you are right where God wants you to be of knowing that you’re following his lead and making his priorities, your priorities.
How can we adjust to our new normal and experience joy and peace? Then we put Jesus first and watch as we do that, the rest will fall into place, even if the world around us is falling apart?
Let me pray for you right now. God, I thank you so much that as we go into this new world that’s ever-changing around us, as we face a new normal, God that we don’t do it alone, that you are right here with us that we have your promise that you will never leave us or forsake us in that if we will start by getting our priorities in order. God, that’s such a foundation for us to build our new normal on. So, God, I pray that you would help us to implement these things that we talked about. Today, we wouldn’t make excuses that we wouldn’t be self-absorbed, but rather God we would be obedient to you that we would consider our ways and evaluate what’s most important to us, and what are we giving our most to. We want to honor you, God, we want to get involved in serving our community here locally. We want to be giving generously of ourselves and our finances to help people that are in need. This is all part of what you’ve called us to right now at this moment. So God helps us to see the blind spots in our lives to know how we can truly make our priorities, your priorities. We pray all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Well, thanks again for watching with us today. And we’d love to hear from you. If there’s a prayer request you’d like to share with us or you made some kind of faith decision, you can use our digital connect card that’s in the description section, just click on that link. And it’ll walk you through that. Also, if you’re a part of the bridge church, you call the bridge church, your home I just consider you make God a priority in your giving to be generous to give regularly. You can do that through text again, or through giving online or you can mail it in. All those all that information is in the description section.
Hey, thanks again for gathering together even if it’s online. I’m so grateful for you being with us. And I just encourage you. We have been the church here this morning. Let’s be the church out there.