Welcome to the third week of our summer series When God Doesn’t Make Sense. This four-week series explores four stories from the Minor Prophets. This weekend, Senior Pastor Jeff Manion unpacks a story from the Book of Haggai. Haggai is a prophet who delivers important messages from God to the Israelites. In this week’s story, Haggai must deliver challenging words about rebuilding and priorities.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.
Prayer is a key component of caring for each other. Take some time to go around your group identifying prayer requests and spend a few moments praying for each other’s needs.
Share Part of Your Story.
Tell the group about your favorite summer vacation and what made it so great.
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Look back at Haggai 1-2. Have someone retell the story found in these two chapters. Identify the key characters, the setting and the circumstances facing Haggai and the Israelites.
Is your life open to disruption?
Often we don’t tell God “no”—we just say “later.” We see this in Haggai, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’” (Haggai 1:2). What were the people busy with? How were they saying “later” to God?
God knew their priorities were misplaced and he was not at the center of their lives. Take a moment and identify how good things can become the center of our life and push God out. How do you know when you have misplaced priorities?
Discuss this question, “Am I willing to have my life disrupted?” What are some subtle ways that we can say no to disruption? Discuss why “later” is such a dangerous thing to say to God. Take a moment and share an area of your life where you have told God “later.”
How do I respond to discipline?
God understands that we can be easily distracted. However, he loves us too much to let us remain distracted. Sometimes, he will use pain to motivate us to return to him. The Israelites became distracted and postponed the rebuilding of the Temple so they could build their own homes and fields. God saw this as disobedience, which led him to withhold his blessing. Have someone re-read Haggai 1:5-11. How did God withheld his blessing? How was pain a motivator for them to get back on track?
It is important to know what we mean when we speak of the blessing of God. Discuss these three types of blessing. How have you seen or experienced each type? Why are each important to our understanding of God?
- Blessing just because you are alive. Life, air, rain, food and water are all blessings from God.
- Blessing because you know Jesus. The blessing of true life, love and forgiveness.
- Blessing that is behavior driven. You behave your way into and can behave your way out.
Where do you see people in our culture expecting God to bless them regardless of their behavior?
Is your life marked by decision?
“Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord” (Haggai 1:12).
The people obeyed. This is massive. So often the words of the prophets were ignored. But here the Israelites have open, responsive hearts. The people respond to the rebuke and immediately take action to correct the situation. How do people often respond when confronted with procrastination or subtle disobedience? What are some specific ways we can have an open heart to God?
Are you willing to work through seasons of disappointment?
Haggai asks, “Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?” (Haggai 2.3) The new Temple stirred up intense emotions in the hearts of the people. It looks nothing like it once did. They felt inferior, hopeless, inadequate, depressed and even discouraged. Tell of a time when you’ve given your best and didn’t feel your best was good enough. Which of these emotions did you experience?
Haggai will not let the Israelites remain disappointed or discouraged. He encourages the leaders and workers to, “Be strong…and work…for I am with you” (Haggai 2:4). As you take courageous steps forward, your gracious God desires to be with you, guide you and provide for you. You are not alone. Share a story of when God strengthened you while taking a step of obedience.
INVEST IN OTHERS
Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.
Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.
Last week you were asked as a group to identify your summer schedule and how you will stay connected. It is important to remain connected through various gatherings, prayer and service. Identify and share one way you will meet this commitment over the next week.
Who are the people in your neighborhood or workplace who need a word of encouragement this week? What are some ways your small group could work together to send some notes/emails or visit with people you know who are disappointed or discouraged?
Download a printable PDF here.