Thursday, September 27, 2012

Are You a Murmurer?

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:20
For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;

Insights: If there was ever a dysfunctional church, it was the church of Corinth.  At this point in the churches history, Paul is telling them he is on his way for a visit and when he arrives they may not like the way he addresses them.  Their focus had become so earth bound that they were a church full of strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, and disturbances.  Basically, in a modern day context, they were burning up the phone lines, facebook accounts and holding secret meetings in order to get their way.  Ironically, those performing such tasks often feel they are the defenders of the faith, but the problem results in the church focusing on all of this carnality and then the church is not able to function in a healthy manner.  How would you like to wake up on a Sunday morning and worry about what strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, and disturbances were going to happen at church that day?  Is it truly possible to even worship God in an environment like this one Paul is describing?  The answer is no and it is for that reason he tells them they are not going to like the way he arrives, because a rebuke is coming.  This entire week has been daily devotionals expressing different areas in which conflict occur in a local church.  Today’s verses really get to the heart of the issue because these attributes are really the fruit of a murmuring people.  I would encourage you to read Numbers 16:1-33 and see how seriously God takes murmurings and divisions.  What ought we to do about such conflict within a church.  The answer is three-fold.  First, our focus has got to change.  We need to seek God first.  He is our audience of One and must be the One we are attempting to please.  Second, we must stop the murmurings within a church that cause divisions.  Fussing and fuming does not honor God and it distracts the body from the worship of Him, the true Emperor of all creation.  Third, we must start praying for revival to fall on the church.  Only God can bring true healing and health to a body of believers.  Beloved, are you willing to do these three things?

  1. Do your conversations divide the church?
  2. Do you see yourself as the righteous defender of the faith?
Prayer: Father, forgive me when I feel the superior weight of Your righteous vindicator.  You along are God and I am not.  Help my heart to rest in You and trust You for Your will and grace.  May my life help bring unity and not division.  Amen. 

Are You Steadfast?

Scripture: Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Insights: Robert Robinson wrote a hymn titled Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing in which the third verse says, “…Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter, bind my wand’ring heart to Thee: prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love….”  We live in a world that pulls on our heart strings in every direction.  Politicians are constantly watching public opinion polls and attempting to please everyone.  This consumer mentality has crept into the church as well and we tell people they need to be flexible and tolerant of other people and their opinion.  The church is in trouble when it attempts to please everyone.  Yet, like the song says, there is a pull and an inclination to wander and leave God.  Barry Cram in his lesson on the heart of the barbarian warrior for God wrote, “For the true barbarian, public opinion rarely matters.  The barbarian has an audience of One.  The barbarian who is seeking to please God will, at times, likely be at odds with those seeking to please men.”  In today’s verses Paul is declaring to the church of Philippi his resolve to remain steadfast and immovable as he pursues God.  We are human, however, and it is possible for us to mistake a word from the Lord.  At this point it would do us well to read the words of Ignatius of Loyola regarding conflicts and convictions.  If someone differed with him, all he desired of himself and them was to “petition again and again that that Holy Spirit my thus confirm his (or the other persons) resolution.”  If they were willing to do this, Ignatius was fine with disagreements.  He went on to write, “The same Spirit could inspire me to take up one point of view for some reasons and inspire others to the contrary for other reasons, and what takes place would be the appointment requested by the Emperor.”  All Ignatius wanted was a humble heart before God, not man.  To the one pursuing God, he would have told them, like Paul, to stay true to the course set before them.

  1. Are you one who wavers in your faith?
  2. Do you chase every fancy in order to make people happy?
Prayer: Father, help me to understand there is only an audience of One and You are that audience.  Let my heart be drawn to You and You alone and by Your grace let me finish the race well.  Amen. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are You Robbing God?

Scripture: Malachi 3:9-10
"You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!  "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

Insights: We live in a world where the weapons of this world creep into the church.  Here is what I mean: recently the homosexual community called for a boycott of Chick-fil-a restaurants.  Their reason was because the president of the corporation spoke about his beliefs regarding biblical marriage between a man and a woman.  So, with worldly weapons you fight back in the area you think it will hurt the most, the pocket book.  As a result the homosexual community encouraged every understanding American to boycott from eating at Chick-fil-a.  Here is the point with this illustration: for a Christian to withhold their tithes, for any reason, is just using the weapons of this world to hinder the work of God.  Now is the work of God truly going to be hindered? The answer is NO!  God is a sovereign God and He is going to do what He is going to do.  Here is how this gets played out in a church setting:  We get frustrated, or upset, and say (whether we actually realize we are saying it or not), “I’ll show them, I will stop giving my money to the church.”  As soon as we do that where has our focus shifted?  Who is the “them” in that sentence?  It could be the pastor or the leadership of the church or any other earthly entity.  The point is hopefully clear; the focus has shifted away from God and on to humanity.  God Himself calls such refusal to give to Him robbery.  Let me go one step further, most churches have some form of covenant between the membership and the church.  In most covenants it has a section that reads, “…to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.”  Based on this covenant, to be in good standing with the local church one must give.  As soon as one refuses to give their tithes, they have violated their covenant and subject to the consequences of said choice.  Beloved, we need to stop fighting as the world fights and learn to love and forgive!

  1. Are you withholding your tithe because of worldly arguments?
  2. Are you willing to repent of this robbery towards God?
Prayer: Father, I desire for You to be the recipient of all my life, including my financial life.  Forgive me when I have acted selfishly like the world and withheld my tithes from You.  Change my heart to honor You and give You glory.  Amen. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How Do You Judge Success?

Scripture: Matthew 7:13-14
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Insights: We live in a world fascinated with numbers and reports.  I remember working at a television station and we moved to a new accounting software because it could generate better reports.  And these reports are the world’s way of judging success or failure.  I was recently in Florida and heard one of the presidential candidates promise 750,000 jobs to Florida if he were elected.  Why would he promise such a thing he cannot keep, because unemployment numbers determine success in the world system.  Again, this methodology of determining success has crept into the church as well.  A church’s numbers are down, then the pastor must be a failure.  If he is a failure, then we need to respond like the world does and get a new pastor.  God’s predominant measuring stick is not numbers, but rather the heart.  As a way of illustration I reference today’s Scripture passage.  If the standard of measurement is just numbers, then God Himself is a failure, because more will spend eternity in hell than will in heaven.  So, from a purely numbers stand point, God’s method of redeeming a world to Himself is not a very good one.  But what is it that allows one to enter through the narrow gate?  The answer is a heart transplant.  God wants to make us new and give us a new heart if we will but receive Jesus Christ, His Son, as our Savior and Lord.  God’s primary method of judging success is transformation.  J. Oswald Sanders wrote, “You are as close to God as you want to be.”  In other words, God’s plan for transformation is dependent upon you surrendering your will and ways to Him.  As long as the world system is our only or even predominant standard, then we truly do not understand redemption.  If numbers of those attending are the only standards, then Noah, Elijah, Jeremiah, Paul and even Jesus would be considered failures in the modern world.  But oh how wrong we would be for their hearts belonged to the King!

  1. By what standard do you judge success?
  2. Have you come to realize you are as close to Jesus as you want to be?
Prayer: Father, forgive me for placing so much emphasis on the things of this world.  Help my heart to seek hard after You and grow in Your matchless grace.  Amen. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Is Happiness Everything?

Scripture: Matthew 5:3-5
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Insights: We live in a world that is fixated on happiness.  If you are not happy at work, find another job.  If you are not happy with a product, go buy another.  If you are still not happy, go purchase a third and so on.  If you are not happy in your marriage, trade him or her in for a newer model.  We are no different in the church.  If we are not happy, then let’s either get rid of the pastor or let’s move on to greener pastures ourselves.  I cannot tell you the numbers of times I hear people say about their church, “I am just not happy at my church.”  They then go into a litany of why their “needs” are not being met.  Today’s verses are part of what is known as the B-attitudes.  And blessed could be translated as happy.  Notice with me the biblical understanding of happiness flies in the face of our modern societal norms.  It is the poor in spirit who are happy because they recognize their absolute utter dependence on God.  We have done this church thing so long, we actually think we know how to do it better than Him and in that state we are not humble before this great King.  The next area in which Jesus described happiness was in mourning.  Mourning is found in pain and hurt.  We again live in a society that does not want to experience pain or sorrow; at least I don’t want to experience pain and sorrow.  So, we do everything we can to alleviate the mourning process of individuals.  We medicate them to dullness, we psychoanalyze them till it is their parents fault, we entertain them to distract and the entire time what the person ultimately needs is to grieve and be mournful in order for God to step in and do true healing of the heart and restore joy.  A third area in which we seek happiness is in our consumer mentality.  We want it our way and we want it now.  Yet Jesus said the meek were happy.  Meekness is controlled strength.  In other words, the meek person actually has the power to get it their way and get it right now, but instead say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”  The meek person’s happiness is not found is self-gratification, but in surrender to the Lordship of God.  Beloved, seek true happiness in Jesus.

  1. Are you pursuing earthly happiness?
  2. Are you finding true pleasure in the Lord?
Prayer: Father, forgive me when I chase after the flashing lights of this world to fill the void in me that only You can satisfy.  Let my happiness be transformed into eternal joy that overflows into all areas of my life.  Amen. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Judgment Given by God

Scripture: Malachi 2:9
"So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in the instruction.

Insights: Notice the first word in verse nine.  The word is “so” and it means “because of”.  God is saying, “because of your choice to remain in your rebellion [what we looked at yesterday] I have made you despised and abased.”  Judgment is the natural result of our sinful rebellion.  There will always be consequences of some nature because of our sin.  I do wish to clarify a little bit regarding rebellion and this form of judgment the Lord is dispensing on these priests.  This kind of sinning is not just those occasional sins we in the mortal world commit.  This is an ongoing rebellious heart that has heard God’s warnings, reminders and instructions and still says, “I heard you, but I just don’t care.  I am going to do things my way no matter what.”  It is to this kind of person that the judgment found in verse nine is being described.  Now, at the same time, does that mean for those of us who are striving to remain in a love relationship with the Lord, and who by our old sinful nature entertain sin, that consequences are not going to result because we come quickly and repent?  The answer is NO.  Sin always carries with it consequences, but because of true repentance, forgiveness is granted.  Let me illustrate it with my habitual sin with which the Lord is constantly working on my heart.  Let’s say I ate the entire half gallon of ice cream and then I feel the convicting power of the Holy Spirit regarding this gluttonous act.  I genuinely from the heart repent.  The Lord in His patient love forgives.  At this point, does that mean the calories of fat and sugar that I have just eaten will disappear because the Lord has forgiven me.  Again, the answer is NO.  The extra weight I now carry is the consequences of my sin.  But let us return now to the heart that feels the conviction of the Lord and still desires to remain in rebellious sin.  It is to this person the Lord places the judgment of verse nine.  It is interesting the word used here for despised is the same word used in chapter one, verse six.  In chapter one, it is the people who have despised the Name of the Lord; and now, they are receiving the judgment with the very thing they had done to the Lord.  The same thing is true regarding the word abased.  God is returning to them what they did to Him.

  1. Are you in jeopardy of the Lord’s judgment?
  2. If you are, are you willing to repent and turn your heart back to the Father?
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your patient love.  Forgive me of my rebellion and spare me from Your judgment.  Amen. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rebellion Chosen by the People

Scripture: Malachi 2:8
"But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi," says the LORD of hosts.

Insights: Instead of teaching them the law and leading them to walk with the Lord in peace and uprightness, they turned away from their responsibilities.  Instead of teaching them the way of righteousness and turning many from their sins, they caused many to stumble.  Instead of teaching obedience and repentance, they violated the covenant with Levi and God.  In spite of the Lord’s patient love in which He gave warnings, reminders and instructions, these Israelites still chose rebellion.  It is amazing to me that in such a short time from their release from exile these people have chosen the self-centered path of disobedience.  Our issue is not a knowledge issue.  Our issue is an obedience issue.  The Lord never contradicts Scripture and so often we say, “The Bible says _____________________, but _____________________”  As soon as we say the word “but” we have moved into contradiction with the Word of God and moved into the realm of rebellion.  Earlier in the week I quoted Ron Brown who stated, “God doesn’t desire to curse and show contempt.  If the people repented, if they listened to Him and took His Word to heart, then God would lift His judgment.  Repentance is God’s desire for any who sin against Him.”  God does not desire to bring judgment on His children.  He desires His children to repent and turn their hearts back to Him.  It is for this reason He is so patient in His love.  We must not respond like these Israelites and remain in our rebellion against the Lord.  We must repent and turn our hearts back to the Father of life.

  1. Are you in rebellion against the Lord?
  2. If you are, are you willing to repent and turn your heart back to the Father?
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your patient love.  Work on my heart and mold me into the person You desire me to be.  Amen. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Instruction Given by God

Scripture: Malachi 2:6-7
"True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. "For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

Insights: Monday God gave a warning to the priests of Israel.  Yesterday, He reminded them of the original covenant He established with the Aaronic priests.  Today, He tells them the areas in which they are specifically called to instruct other.  In other words, God is telling them specifically what they are supposed to be doing.  The four areas He mentioned for the priests are again areas in which we as Christ-followers are supposed to be engaged.  The first area was they were to be instructors of the Law.  In modern day terminology, we are to be instructors of the Bible.  Malachi wrote in verse 6a and in 7 true instruction was in his mouth and his lips should preserve knowledge.  True instruction and knowledge come only from the Scriptures.  The second area the priests were supposed to display instruction was in righteous living.  Malachi wrote in 6b that the priest did not allow unrighteous speech to come from their months.  They were to model the proper moral behavior  that others were to emulate.  We as Christ-followers are supposed to do this very same thing.  The third are the priests were to instruct Israel was in the ways of obedience.  The third part of verse six tells us they walked with God in peace and uprightness.  In Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby, we are taught God is always at work in the world and He desires for us to join Him in that work.  Walking with God provides that kind of implication.  If we are walking with Him, we are obediently serving Him.  The final area in which the priests were supposed to instruct Israel was in the ways of repentance.  When the sinned they were to quickly come to repentance with the Lord.  Others were to see this close relationship with the Lord and desire such a life of intimacy.  This intimacy is only found in a repentant heart.  This idea of repentance is found in the fourth part of verse six.  In this section of the verse Malachi states the priests turned many back from iniquity, sin.  Beloved, we are followers of Jesus and we are to be instructing others in these same four areas.

  1. Are you performing your role as an instructor of God’s ways?
  2. In what areas of your life do you need to demonstrate the instruction of repentance?
Prayer: Father, I am so grateful You are patient with me.  You give me warnings and reminders and then You even tell me what I am supposed to be doing.  You are truly the perfect Father and I am grateful You are mine.  Amen. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reminder Given by God

Scripture: Malachi 2:5
"My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name.

Insights: Yesterday God gave a warning to the priests of Israel.  Today, He reminds them of the original covenant He established with the Aaronic priests.  There were two parts God gave and two parts the priests gave back to God.  Even though we are living on this side of the cross does not mean these aspects of the covenant are not found in the New Testament.  Let me explain: The first part of the covenant was that of life.  In John 10:10 we are told Jesus came to give us life to the full or abundance.  Now this is not a full or abundant life which is propagated on TBN.  This is a life of fullness found in Christ and an adventure worth living.  There will be challenges and obstacles, but Jesus is right there with us guiding us on the journey and it is a full trip.  The second portion of the covenant was that of peace.  This peace is not like peace between warring nations.  This is the type of peace Paul wrote about when he said it surpassed understanding (Philippians 4:7).  Jesus tells us in John 14:27 that He leaves us His peace and that He does not give as the world does.  When He gives a gift, He does not take it back and the gift does not break.  When we are on this adventure with God and difficult and trying days fall upon us, we can hold fast to God’s second aspect of His covenant and that is His peace will be with us in these painful times as well.  God then shares with these priests of Malachi’s day their responsibility for life and peace.  First, they were to live in reverence to God.  This reverence led to proper acts of obedience.  Because they honored God as Father, they would desire to serve Him.  Second, they were to live in awe of God.  This awe as we have discussed over the past several weeks is an actual fear.  E. Ray Clendenen helps us here.  He wrote, “As those who know the Lord, we must realize we live every moment of every day in the immediate presence of God whose limitless grace is all that protects us from being destroyed by the boundless conflagration of His righteous wrath.  Only a fool could respond with anything but fear and love, which together should motivate diligent faithfulness and obedience.”  Beloved, hold fast to the covenant with God.

  1. Are you experiencing all of the pleasures of being in covenant with the Father?
  2. Are you complying with your end of the covenant?
Prayer: Father, Your patient love is so amazing.  May I walk in Your grace and truly experience life and peace.  May my life bring reverence and awe to You.  Amen. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Warning Given by God

Scripture: Malachi 2:1-4
"And now this commandment is for you, O priests.  "If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name," says the LORD of hosts, "then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart.  "Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it.  "Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi," says the LORD of hosts.

Insights: Malachi is giving the priests a warning from the Lord regarding their relationship with Him.  In 1 Peter 2:9 we are reminded we, those who are born again and have received Jesus’ pardon, are a part of a royal priesthood.  So, these warnings to Israel’s historical priests can be applicable to us as Christians.  The ear is not the seat of emotion in Hebrew culture, however, to help us understand what God is calling the priests to, it will help with this concept of connectedness with God.  When we hear things, it often times results in an emotional response, whither that response is happiness, anger, sadness or expectation.  In this warning God is telling the priests they do not listen, they do not emotionally connect with God.  In Hebrew culture the heart is the seat of intellect.  God is calling the priests to connect with Him intellectually as well.  Yet in this verse God tells us the priests that they do not take to heart what they have heard from God.  In Psalm 1:2 we are told a wise man meditates, thinks on, God’s word day and night.  These priests are giving no thought to God.  Finally they are to willfully connect with God as He tells them to honor Him.  Again, however, these priests are not taking heed to these warnings.  God is calling us to be in an intimate relationship with Him that encompasses our entire being, all of our emotions, intellect, and volitional will.  In God’s warning to us, He states if we will not take heed to His warning, then curses will fall on us and our children.  Ron Brown helps us here.  He wrote, “God doesn’t desire to curse and show contempt.  If the people repented, if they listened to Him and took His Word to heart, then God would lift His judgment.  Repentance is God’s desire for any who sin against Him.”  Beloved, repent and reconnect with God!

  1. Are you heeding the warnings of the Lord?
  2. Are you in jeopardy of the Lord’s cursing upon you?
Prayer: Father, I hear Your warning and desire to be in union with You in all areas of my life.  Mold me by Your grace into the child You desire me to be.  Amen. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Proper Posture before a Great King

Scripture: Malachi 1:14c-d
For I am a great king," says the LORD Almighty, "and my name is to be feared among the nations.

Insights: The inclusio passage ends where it began with God’s declaration that He is a great King and is to be feared.  And remember from last week the word we translate as respect, literally means fear.  So, God is pointing back to what Israel does not have for God and saying to them the Gentile nations will have the proper respect/fear of me.  In many respects the United States is a lot like Israel.  Israel was to be a kingdom of priests who told the Gentile world about God, but they refused.  Therefore, God sent His only Son to be the Light of the world and to save the world from their sin.  He then commissioned the Gentiles to be ambassadors for Him.  And when the United States finally was established we were the greatest mission sending nation in the world for the proclamation of the gospel.  And after the Southern Baptist were formed, we led the charge.  But we are now going on forty years with just 10,000 missionaries being sent out (5,000 North American and 5,000 International).  The world has gone from 3.7 billion people to now over 7 billion.  In other words, the world has doubled its population, but we Southern Baptist have not increased the number of missionaries we have serving in the world.  Because of our failure to send out missionaries, countries like Korea are now the largest mission sending nation in the world.  What is even sadder is they are sending missionaries here to the United States because we are becoming one of the most pagan nations on the planet.  God concluded this inclusio passage talking about His greatness among the nations.  This statement forces us to evaluate our declaration of such reality.  How many people have you personally shared the gospel with this past year?  My fear is we, like Israel, have stopped loving, honoring and fearing the Lord.  Because we do not do these three things we also do not give authentic worship to God.  Because we refuse to worship with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, we are not compelled to proclaim Jesus.  This progressive downward spiral is the reason ninety percent of our churches are plateaued or declining.  We need a radical heart renewal of worship in order for our love affair with the Lord to be vibrant and life changing.  Beloved, go and proclaim the Lord!

  1. What are you willing to do for the advancement of the gospel to the nations?
  2. No matter what you are willing to do, what is the Lord telling you to do?
Prayer: Father, let my response to You be, “YES, LORD!”  I want to bring glory to Your name and make in known in the nations.  Grant me the courage to walk in obedience with You.  Amen. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Punishment from God

Scripture: Malachi 1:14a-b
"But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord

Insights: Last week we looked at the self-centered gall of the people of Israel.  They were coming to God and offering defiled worship to Him, but then had the audacity to ask Him to bless them and show favor to them.  Today’s verse goes even further to portray the vile attitude of the people of Israel.  At this point in the passage the people are going to God and saying to Him, “God if You will answer my prayers and give me [fill in the blank], then I will give You this fine sacrifice.”  Then God graciously answers the request, but on the day the sacrifice is to be given, the individual brings a blemished animal for his sacrifice.  God takes this kind of treachery very seriously.  He states a person like this is cursed.  The reality of the matter is we ought not make such “bargains” with God.  God is not One with which to be trifled.  It is for this reason James tells us concerning vows to let our yes be yes and our no be no (James 5:12).  We need to be certain we are offering God our best and not some paltry, insignificant offering that brings God no glory and honor.  Last week we also looked at our need to fear or respect the Father.  This individual in today’s verse has no fear of God.  Beloved we need to have proper fear of the holy and righteous God.  Proper praise flows out of the full love, honor and fear of God.  Think about Isaiah for a moment.  Until he saw the Lord his worship had not been full.  It was out of his fear he recognized his sinfulness and from that repentant heart he was restored to the Lord.  In this restored state, and only from this restored state, was Isaiah able to respond to the Lord’s commission to go and preach for Him.  Isaiah could not properly worship until he had his “woe is me” moment.  Worship is a joyful experience, but it is also a fearful experience because we are entering into the presence of the glorious One.  Take your worship seriously.

  1. Do you renege on your offerings to the Lord?
  2. Do you not fear the consequence of broken worship with the Lord?
Prayer: Father, please, I beg, forgive me of the times I say I am going to do something for You and then fail to do it.  Give me the courage and boldness to follow through with the tasks I sense You have assigned me to accomplish.  Let me have proper fear of disrespecting You.  Amen. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Paltriness for God

Scripture: Malachi 1:13
"You also say, 'My, how tiresome it is!' And you disdainfully sniff at it," says the LORD of hosts, "and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand?" says the LORD.

Insights: These priests had become tired of their job.  The responsibility of sacrificing animals day in and day out had become a nuisance to them.  As a result they stuck their noses in the air toward God.  Let me do a side not teaching for a moment.  I preach out of the New American Standard Bible because it is the most literal word for word translation.  This truth does not always mean it is the best translation.  For example in this verse gazal is translated robbery.  The New International Version translates it more accurately as injured; and in the context of the entire verse an injured animal that has been torn apart from prey, but not killed, is the best meaning of the verse.  So, even though twenty-five of the thirty-one times gazal is used it is properly translated robbery, in this verse it is not as accurate.  Here is the side teaching point.  We need to read lots of different translations to get the full nuance of a passage.  We don’t need to be pharisaical and say only one version is the acceptable version.  We must grow in grace and multiple Scripture versions help us do just that.  Now back to the passage: worship had become routine and what was being offered was the bare minimum, even to the point of bringing animals that had been damaged by wild beasts.  At this point I think it would do us well to read some quotes from men who give us the proper perspective of worship.  John Piper wrote, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  G. K. Chesterton said, “the absence of praise reveals that our religion is more a theory than a love affair.”  G. H. Mallone said, “A man must respond to the One who has given him everything.  Not to do so is the highest form of ingratitude and self-sufficiency.”  We need to give God all of our gratitude because of the love affair we have with Him, which results in our finding satisfaction in Him alone.  If we are bringing the bare minimum to worship, then we are not finding satisfaction and love in Him and we will not be grateful worshippers.  Beloved, let’s bring God everything we have to offer Him!

  1. Are you giving God your leftovers for worship?
  2. Are you finding satisfaction in the Lord?
Prayer: Father, I want my satisfaction to be in Your and You alone.  I want my heart to truly be in a love affair with You.  Stir my passions for You and the things that pertain to You.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Profaning before God

Scripture: Malachi 1:12
"But you are profaning it, in that you say, 'The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.'

Insights: The third commandment given by God was to not take His name in vain (Ex. 20:7).  The taken of His name in vain is not just verbal defilement.  If something is designated to be His and we treat it in an unholy manner, we are still taking the name of the Lord in vain.  Here is what profaning, taking something in vain, means: It means to desanctify it and make it unholy by treating it as “common, insignificant, or worthless.”  John Calvin helps us understand this concept in his commentary.  He wrote, “The holiness of the table ought to have been so regarded by the Jews, as not to approach the sanctuary without true repentance and faith; they ought to have known that they had to do with God, and that His majesty ought to have deeply touched them.  When therefore they came to the temple, and brought with them their uncleanness like swine, it was quite evident that they had no reverence for the temple, or the altar, or the table.  According to this sense then are the words of the Prophet to be understood,—not that the Jews openly mocked God, but that the holiness of the temple was with them of no account.”  Did you catch that last part, “… the holiness of the temple was with them of NO ACCOUNT!”  They made it common, insignificant and worthless.  This truth has major ramifications as to how we approach worship.  When we are driving to church on what are our thoughts?  During the service itself, do we say things to ourselves like, “I really don’t like that music” or “It’s too cold in here” or “why does the sound have to be that loud” or “I wish the preacher would just quit preaching so we can go eat some lunch”?  If we are having mental conversations like that during our “worship experience,” then we are profaning the Lord table.  We are making Him common, insignificant and of worthless value.  If we are attending for any ulterior motivation, then our worship is not on God and it is defiled.  Beloved, turn your heat to God and give Him pure worship!

  1. Is God just a common “thing” in your life?
  2. When you are worshipping are you truly thinking about God or is your mind constantly wondering and leaving the Lord?
Prayer: Father, forgive me when I do not seek You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.  I desire for my worship to be pure and holy and not just common.  May You be pleased with my worship today.  Amen

Monday, September 3, 2012

Praise of God

Scripture: Malachi 1:11
"For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations," says the LORD of hosts.

Insights: Today’s verse starts an inclusio passage.  I have often described an inclusio passage like a sandwich.  The bread is one subject, then you have some meat, and the other piece of bread is the same subject that the first piece of bread was.  This week’s passage is like this description.  Let’s jump into today’s verse.  The verse has its heart in the foundations of the nation of Israel.  In Genesis 12:2-3 God informed Abraham that he was going to be a blessing to the nations through his offspring.  At the actual forming of the nation during Moses’ leadership they were told they were to be a kingdom of priests to the nations (Ex. 19:6).  Here in this verse two times God repeated the phrase, “My name will be great among the nations.”  Israel was supposed to be a nation that told the world about the amazing God they served.  They were to be a beacon of light to a lost world, but they said, “NO!”  The particular generation with which this verse is written about had stopped loving, honoring and respecting God.  As a result, they gave Him defiled worship.  Beloved, I tell you, if we stop praising God, we will stop proclaiming Him to a lost world.  A second thought needs to be interjected here regarding praise.  Notice the first phrase of this verse: From the rising of the sun even to its setting.  There are two implications from that phrase.  The first is our personal worship is supposed to be all day long.  From the moment we open our eyes to the moment we close them at night, we ought to have a heart of praise to God.  The second implication fits with the theme of the verse, God’s greatness among the nations.  In other words, as the earth travels around the sun our earthly perspective is the sun rising and traversing our sky and setting at the end of the day.  As the earth moves through space, every nation is going to experience the sun at different times.  So, praise should be given to the Lord always from every nation throughout the day.  The only way for such praise to be given is for the world to know the gospel.  We must proclaim Jesus to the nations!

  1. Can your life be characterized as one which is defined by worship all day long?
  2. What are you doing to make God’s name known among the nations?
Prayer: Father, help my heart to think of You throughout the day today.  I want this day to be a day of praise.  Receive my life as a sacrifice to You today.  Amen