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Studies show that if a male child cannot read by the third grade, he may very well end up in prison. Another study finds that rising prison costs negatively affects a child’s education. That study urged those in authority to reprioritize spending in order to correct the problem. Ancient Israel also had their priorities misplaced. In Haggai’s day, they were back from exile but having a hard time financially and spiritually. God sent them this message by the prophet. Chapter 1 of Haggai: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops.” Misplaced priorities can lead to wasted effort. But when we focus on God’s kingdom and interests, we enjoy fulfillment and progress.

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