#startingagain

Believing in the Yield

By Karen Polich

The longer we live, the more opportunities we have to start again. Life is like that. Some beginnings are more difficult than others. When we find ourselves in the messy seasons of life, it can signal a time when we need to start again. We can apologize, rebuild, change our path, forgive or refocus. How we choose to embrace those moments can determine what the yield will be.

The turn from a real mess that leads towards spiritual blessing can be a highly discouraging space. Still engulfed in the pain of the mess, despite best efforts, there just isn’t any relief in sight. It’s not simply out of view, it feels like any type of blessing doesn’t exist.

Pastor Michael M. Cooks sermon series, Starting Again, continued, studying Haggai 2:15-23. (Listen here.) As God’s people struggled to rebuild the temple, Haggai reminded them to first look back. Why did this matter? It helped them see how far they had come. Starting again, they had an enormous task and the progress was small. The key was that they were moving forward in obedience to God.

Haggai 2:19a “From this day on, I will bless you.” Understand, the temple was not close to being finished, yet God chose to bless His people as they moved toward Him by starting again.

“We are not to live in the past, but it is important to visit the past.” – Michael M. Cook

Remembering what it was like when ______ (fill in the blank) keeps us moving in the right direction. Our past does not define us but helps inform us of how far we’ve come in starting again. It reminds us of where we don’t want to go again.

Today can be the beginning of the rest of our lives. How God blesses us is up to Him, but our willingness to believe in the yield as we move forward is the beginning of making the turn out of the mess until we have moved far beyond its reach.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

God works in a unique way for each of us. Each a one of a kind creation, His blessings reflect our originality. The yield will be our own. When He pours out blessings, it may not be because of what we have finished, but because he sees a new work in progress.

Are we moving forward?

“We never harvest in the same season in which we planted.” – Michael M. Cook

 

Our Finest and Best

By Karen Polich

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV) “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Have you ever felt that you were bringing your absolute best and it was not good enough? When our finest and best falls short, what do we do?

Disappointment is unavoidable in life. The result of unmet expectations, it comes and goes. Waves of sadness roll through our stories, but even in the midst of disappointment, we are able to move on and keep going. Discouragement goes beyond those moments and settles in. Stuck in discouragement, we lose hope, courage and confidence. It becomes difficult if not impossible to keep trying. Even when Disappointed or discouraged, God wants us to start again.

Pastor Michael M. Cook shared three concepts from Haggai 2 for us to remember when we are starting again. Listen to his sermon series, Starting Again, here.

  1. God’s presence in the present. We are not alone. But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. Haggai 2:4
  2. God’s provision in the past. The Bible gives us story after story of God’s provision for His people. It is significant to remember all God has done in our lives. God is with us every step of the way.
  3. God’s plan for the future. Disappointment can block our view of God’s plan. He is constantly at work even when we stop seeing it.

When we find ourselves needing to start again, what choice will we make? Will we put it off? Make today the day. Set your heart on starting again. It may be a relationship, finances, rebuilding life or simply reconnecting with God right where we are. Begin with writing a short list of how God has provided in the past.

Even when things aren’t going well, God has a plan and purpose. Standing too close to the struggle, we not only lose sight of His bigger picture, but forget to even look for it. God will always use our faithfulness. It might be today, or it could be for another generation, but He is always at work. God’s plan is wide and long, we must be willing to trust Him even in moments of discouragement.

Keep bringing your best. God is faithful.

 

Initial Movement

By Karen Polich

“Has it occurred to you that the heart of God desires to come alongside of and behind those that desire new movement in their lives?” – Michael M. Cook

Life is full of “starting over” moments. We need to take the first step. Willingness to begin again after a failure, a broken relationship, setbacks and hurdles is crucial. It can be an enormous challenge we’d rather not tackle.

Haggai 1 tells the story of God’s people in the process of rebuilding after returning from years in exile. There were fields to cultivate and houses to repair, but what about God’s temple? The temple represented God’s presence on earth.

God sent a message through Haggai to rebuild His temple. The answer? “The time has not come”. (Haggai 1:2) Leadership didn’t say “NO”, they said “LATER”. There were so many important things to do. Not focused on God as the center of everything, the people experienced a drought.

God will do what is necessary to get our attention. We often forget God is not obligated to bless our lives regardless of our behavior. He is to be the center from which everything else we do stems.

How often do we say we’ll do something “later”? When we respond with ‘later’, we think we have said yes, but that’s the danger. Later is NOT a ‘yes’ response, but a ‘no’ in disguise.

Later I’ll…rebuild my life, start giving, develop that relationship, make things right. The list goes on and on. When will we take the critical step of ‘now’?

Just as God helped His people when they finally answered His call to repair the temple, He will be there to help and encourage us as we start again.

Are you ready to challenge yourself with a deeper look into the hard areas of life? Are there places you are avoiding with a ‘later’ response as God is whispering to you, “Start again”?

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Starting Again, here.