Emily Belle Freeman
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THIS IS MY JOY

AND MY GREAT REJOICING

Zephaniah & Haggai

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ZEPHANIAH Hid of the Lord

...In the Time that I Gather You...

Every time I see a bird's nest my thoughts become captivated with the principle of gathering.

It is a painstaking process, watching the mother bird gather each piece of straw.  She gathers it one piece at a time and then fits it carefully into the refuge she is building.

Before the eggs can be settled within, before the babies burst out of their shells, before the constant peeping that signals new life and new hope, she gathers.

Seeking the perfect branch. Seeking each piece of straw. Seeking and creating a place of refuge. The place that she will visit throughout the day, and often sit in the midst of.

And the babies will come, and she will rejoice over them, and the morning will be filled with their songs of joy.

But first, every year, it is the same.

The process always begins with the gathering.

"Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together. Before the day pass as the chaff, Before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you,

Seek ye the Lord... seek reighteousness... seek meekness.

For the Lord ... shall visit... even the Lord, is in the midst of thee... The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;

he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

I will gather them... At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you..."

Zephaniah

Within the building of the nest and the words of Zephaniah I learn a lesson.  It is based on the doctrine of gathering.  For the gathering for the nest is much like the gathering of the Lord as He guides us, one by one, to find the place of refuge.  A place where He will visit and be found in the midst thereof.  A place where we can rejoice with joy and rest in his love.

"It is not surprising then that God urges us to gather so that He can bless us. He wants us to gather into families. He has established classes, wards, and branches and commanded us to meet together often. In those gatherings, which God has designed for us, lies our great opportunity...we will move together in power to go wherever God would have us go and to become what He wants us to be."  (Henry B. Eyring, Our Hearts Knit as One, Oct. 2008)

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HAGGAI My Feast

...Consider Your Ways...

I have to admit to you that I have a favorite out of all of the Book of Twelve.

It is Haggai.

I love the lesson that he teaches.

The people of Haggai’s day had become sidetracked on their journey to discipleship.  They were meant to be building the temple, but lost focus somewhere along the way.

The Lord said to the people, “Consider your ways.  Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.  Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” (Haggai 1:5-7 emphasis added)

This description sounds a lot like our day.

Our world is filled with people who work hard, but bring in little, who are unsatisfied and lack a feeling of fulfillment.  Unfortunately, the illustration of money slipping away is an ideology that many of us can relate to.

Perhaps we too should consider our ways.

The Lord explains the problem, “Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little…the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.” (vs. 9 &10)

Somehow these people had lost focus.  What accounted in their eyes as much, was in reality little.  They had laid aside the most important thing.  Building the temple would have allowed the Lord to remain forefront in their life.

Why was that so important?

Without Him the dew from heaven and the fruit of the earth were stayed.

Dew is often used figuratively to represent inspiration from heaven.  When the Lord and His House became of lesser importance to the people of Haggai, inspiration from Heaven also decreased.  Without inspiration from the Lord the people were left to their own means, their own strength.  Their lives lacked the blessing that comes through inspiration from the Lord.

The Bible Dictionary explains that the worldly behavior of the people had brought about a curse on their labor and their increase. (BD Haggai)  As unfortunate as that is, it makes sense, and we are led to wonder if the same is true in our day.

But the Lord did not forget His people.

He stirred up their spirits in remembrance, and He was forgiving.

As soon as they laid the foundation for the temple the Lord became their focus, and their lives began to change for the better.  “Consider now from this day and upward…even from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid, consider it.  Is the seed yet in the barn?  Yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree…from this day will I bless you.” (Haggai 1:19)

Their willingness to turn to the Lord, to make Him a first priority, allowed Him to send great blessings they otherwise might not have obtained.  Because their thoughts were focused on Him, they were able to receive inspiration for their lives, direction from Him that would have otherwise gone unheeded.

Is it possible that this counsel would work in our life?  What if we were to ask ourselves that same question?

Consider your ways.

Do your ways lead you to seek inspiration on a daily basis? Is the Lord a first priority? Are you asking Him for input concerning your home, your profession, and your way of life? Do you take the time to consider the blessings in your life and recognize that they come from the Lord?

This week become willing to be the type of person who can answer yes to each of those questions.  Then consider now from this day and upward.  Consider it.

From this day He will bless you.

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Freeman