Today's OT reading contains the entirety of the book of Haggai. The purposes of the book was to call the people to complete the rebuilding of the temple. The temple had been destroyed in 586BC by the Babylonians and the people were exiled. In 538BC King Cyrus decreed that the Jews could return to their city and rebuild the temple.
When they first returned, they set about rebuilding the temple right away. But after experiencing some opposition the work stopped. They continued to be sidetracked by the need to plant their own crops and build their own homes. But the more they worked for themselves, the less they had, because they ignored their spiritual lives.
How often does this happen to us? We follow the Lord, and serve with the right attitude at the beginning. But then we allow other worries to sidetrack us and we end up becoming self-serving and self-absorbed, completely off-track spiritually. We need to remember to continue to fight the good fight so that we can continue to serve faithfully, and end as strong as we began.
Another point to note is that our actions reflect what we truly believe. I've heard the comment that you can tell what someone really prioritizes by looking at how they spend their time and their money. A valid point. Where is God on our list of priorities? What do we really believe?
In our NT passage Jesus uses an example of guests selecting places of honour to demonstrate two things. From my Life Application Bible.....
First, he spoke to the guests, telling them not to seek places of honor. Service is more important in God's kingdom than status. Second, he told the host not to be exclusive about whom he invites. God opens his kingdom to everyone.
How can we humble ourselves?... Truly humble people compare themselves only with Christ, realize their sinfulness, and understand their limitations. On the other hand, they also recognize their gifts and strengths and are willing to use them as Christ directs. Humility is not self-degradation; it is realistic assessment and commitment to serve.
Regarding the parable of the Great Feast.....
The custom was to send two invitations to a party - the first to announce the event and the second to tell the guests that everything was ready. The guests in Jesus' story insulted the host by making excuses when he issued the second invitation. In Israel's history, God's first invitation came from Moses and the prophets; the second came from his Son. The religious leaders accepted the first invitation. They believed that God had called them to be his people, but they insulted God by refusing to accedpt his Son. Thus, as the master in the story sent his servant into the streets to invite the needy to his banquet, so God sent his Son to the whole world of needy people to tell them that God's kingdom had arrived and was ready for them.
Are we willing to acknowledge our neediness and respond in humility and continued faithfulness?
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Joshua 1-3; Luke 14:25-35