I was just trying to be a good pastor – that’s all.  So, I stopped by the home of one of our congregants.  I looked for the huge steel building in his back yard, which housed his vintage auto parts business. 

I stood at the gate, saw that the door of his business open.  The lights were on and the radio was playing. So, I lifted the latch and walked over to the building and began to look around. 

I saw no one.  So, I called out for him.  No response.  I then turned to leave, and I wet my pants – because two angry German Shepherds were racing toward me.  My life passed before my eyes and I was also wishing that I would have worn the shirt my wife told me to wear, because she would have to identify my body.

They stopped and salivated and barked to high heaven.  One lunged at me and locked onto my right arm.  I violently shook him off and then I barked at them as I backed out of the yard.

I reached the fence, passed through, and then slammed the gate shut.  It was only then that I spied the big sign on the outside of the fence, “Beware of Dog.”   

I learned a valuable lesson that day, “Always read the signs!”

A good lesson because God sometimes uses signs to get our attention. 

The people of God had been resettled in Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in Babylon.  God saw to it that they were liberated and then commissioned to return to their land to rebuild the temple. 

They started well – even laid the foundation, but they were stymied by antagonism and apathy.  So, they turned their energies into building dream homes for themselves instead. 

In the meantime, this is what was happening.   The prophet said, “You expected a large harvest, but instead there was little. And when you would bring it home, I would blow it right away.  – Haggai 1:9a. 

Haggai also said, “You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat but are never filled. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but are not warm. Those who earn wages end up with holes in their money bags.” – 1:6

This mess was a sign from God, much bigger than the one posted on that gate.  Why did this happen?  The Lord said, “Because my temple remains in ruins, thanks to each of you favoring his own house! – 1:9b

Twice in this prophecy He said to them, “Consider your ways.” – 1:5 & 7. In other words, “Read the signs that I have posted.”   

So why was God so intent on having the temple rebuilt?  The temple was the heart of the spiritual life for the Jewish people.  Without this central place of worship and sacrifice, the people would wander off into paganism and immorality.  They would self-destruct.  God posted His sign out of concern for their welfare.

Today, the best way of knowing what God wants of us is to read His Word.  But when we don’t read and heed His Word, He sometimes also sends signs.

The negative balance in your bank account may be saying, “Beware of neglecting to give back to God.”  Your teen daughter who holes herself up in her bedroom may be saying, “I need help!”

The neighbor who refuses to speak to you may be saying, “You have offended me.”   The sadness that fills your wife’s face may be saying, “You could do a better job of loving me.”  

Your kids who seem to be bored with the faith may be saying to you, “You should provide some spiritual leadership for your family.” 

My dog-loving friend posted his sign to protect his business.  God posts His to protect us and our interests.  So, I am thinking that we should consider our ways, and read the signs. 

A PRAYER: Father, thank you for being so amazingly persistent in your love for us. 

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. 

Scripture passages are from the NETBible.com