Friday, May 16, 2014

What Are Our Sacrifices Today

Malachi 1 teaches us that our sacrifices need to be acceptable to the Lord. Scripture teaches us that one of our sacrifices is our bodies.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ro 12:1–2.

God has asked us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. A holy sacrifice, one that is acceptable to God.  Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. A believer's sacrifice is his total life to God. It should be a desirable response of the believer. We are to no longer conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

The Greek word translated transformed is seen in the English word metamorphosis which is a total change from the inside out. The key to this change is the “mind” (noos), the control center of one’s attitudes, thoughts, feelings, and actions (cf. Eph. 4:22–23). As one’s mind keeps on being made new by the spiritual input of God’s Word, prayer, and Christian fellowship, his lifestyle keeps on being transformed.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stop Making Excuses and Start Seeking Him

I am still studying in chapter 1 of Malachi. In verse 11 we see that the Gentiles will be offering better sacrifices (Malachi 1:11). I know the context of Scripture does not say the following but I want to ask you a question. Do you see today that people worshiping false gods and idols are surpassing the amount of worship and sacrifice you give the one true and living God? 

But we have an excuse don't we? We are full of reasons why we don't seek after they ways of the Lord through Bible Study and devotion.

In verse 13 we see that man has an attitude. Oh what weariness, I am bored, this doesn't interest me.  

Here are some things people often say to excuse themselves from worshiping and serving God:

  • ‘I’m tired.’

  • ‘I had to do this so much as a child, I got burned out on it.’

  • ‘I felt unappreciated.’

  • ‘No one spoke to me.’

Notice how everything is focused on the individual rather than God. Would we dare use such excuses with our employers? If not, we should not dare use them with God!
  • Are we giving our best to God in worship? 
  • Do we arrive on time with hearts that are prepared and eager to worship? 
  • Do we concentrate on what we are doing in public worship? Or do we allow our thoughts to wander? 
  • Do we give the preaching of God’s Word a grateful and careful hearing? Or have we allowed our familiarity with the things of God to dull our appreciation for them? 
Have we lost the wonder of it all? Have we brought ourselves under the following indictment of the Lord Jesus when He said:

Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
 ‘These people draw near to
 Me with their mouth,
 And honour me with their lips,
 But their heart is far from me …’
(Matt. 15:7–8).

We like to avoid thinking about such things, but the more we avoid them, the more our faith weakens. And the more it weakens, the more we rob ourselves of peace, joy and comfort in the Lord. The way back from a sputtering faith is to stop making excuses for ourselves and recognize again the privilege of having God as our Father and our Master.

Lets realize where we are and make the determination to be and stay where we ought to be.


Monday, May 12, 2014

It is Time to Stand Up

Continuing to study in Malachi I want to focus on verse 10 of chapter 1.

“Who is there even among you who would shut the doors,
 So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain?
 I have no pleasure in you,” 
Says the Lord of hosts,
 “Nor will I accept an offering from your hands.

 [The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mal 1:10.]

Do you have a tough time understanding the language of that verse? Eugene Peterson paraphrased it quite well in The Message.

“Why doesn’t one of you just shut the Temple doors and lock them? Then none of you can get in and play at religion with this silly, empty-headed worship. I am not pleased.
Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Mal 1:10.


There was no "Spiritual person" to stand (Malachi 1:10).  Nobody was around who was spiritual enough to stand up and say this is wrong and I will not allow this to continue! I believe we can see this in our western culture Christianity today. It is watered-down and lukewarm. Many give their Sunday mornings to Jesus and nothing more. Our Bibles sit amidst the garbage in the back seat of our cars only to be picked up once a week. When something occurs that is against God and His ways we keep our mouths closed fearing a lash-back of society. We do not want to hurt anybody's feelings. We do not want to make anyone mad. Many are afraid to be known as a Christian and too often we find ourselves in the same position as Peter in the garden after Jesus' arrest.

We see this everyday. The ACLJ reported of a recent attack by the Freedom from Religion Foundation toward Clemson University. A brief summary of the report is as following

The New York Daily News reported that the group made famous for their war against nativity scenes and our National Motto (“In God We Trust”), has now picked a fight with Clemson University. The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has taken the field with a new mission to silence and intimidate a college football coach for sharing his faith with his players. The FFRF is offended that the head football coach for the Clemson Tigers is a Christian that publicly shares his faith with the players of his team. The group argues that Coach Swinney gave a volunteer chaplain access to his players for Bible studies, also gave the chaplain an office at the athletic center, displayed Bible quotes through the football facilities, schedules team devotions, and also leads “sessions on ‘being baptized’” on school grounds. In sum, FFRF argues that “Christian Worship seems interwoven into Clemson’s football program.

You can read more of the article and the ACLJ's plans to help by clicking here.

I want to say at this point "

Praise God there are people like Coach Swinney who are willing to stand amidst persecution". Are you willing to stand-up when necessary? We cannot be a lukewarm undercover Christian. We have to put God on the throne of our lives. When Mussolini was strutting in force across much of the Mediterranean world, he was asked to explain his swift rise to power. He answered, “I found Europe full of empty throne rooms, and simply walked in and took one of them.” As the old saying goes, if you will not stand for something, you will fall for anything.

Church, it is time to take a stand for Christ.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sacrificing Your Best

We recently looked at Malachi chapter 1 and referenced the terms used to describe the relationship between God and His people (Father and Master). Today, I want to spend a little time thinking through verses 7 and 8 of Malachi 1. The Scripture reads as following:

By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. [The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mal 1:7–8.]

We enter into these verses from the questions God asked His priests "Where is my honor" and "Where is my reverence". God was not pleased with the sacrifices they were offering up to Him. In verses 7 and 8 above we see the details of their failures.

The offering had to be perfect, without spot or blemish. Bringing anything to the Lord's table that was less than the best was unacceptable. Do we do that today? Do we bring to God's table things that are unacceptable to Him? I am afraid that we do. 

A.W. Tozer said "The total life, the whole man and the whole woman, has got to worship God. Faith and love and obedience and loyalty and conduct and life—all of these are to worship God. If there is anything in you that doesn’t worship God, then there isn’t anything in you that does worship God very well. If you departmentalize your life and let certain parts of you worship God but other parts of you do not worship God, you are not worshipping God as you should."

I believe we have departmentalized our lives, just as Tozer said. Sunday mornings we have made it a plan that we are going to come to church to worship because it is the "right thing to do". I hope that it is not why people come to church. I hope that you enter the doors because you want to be there.

Let's talk about worship for a second. 

What is worship? Is it what we do when the band plays on Sunday morning? How about the idea that we cannot worship without the band and lights? Are you serious? Does it take someone banging on the drums to get you into a mode of worship? Does it take lights to get you into the mood to worship?

Worship is not an activity…it is a condition of the heart. We can sing, raise our hands, and fall prostrate on the ground and it not be worship. After all, the Old Testament provides example after example of an entire nation which participated in these activities. But they were condemned as false worship because they did not reflect authentic, worshipful hearts!

[So back to our text] God turns to the priests, who should have been the spiritual leaders of the land. The priests were not giving honor to God’s name; they were taking the best for themselves. They brought the poorest of the animals. 

God then says to them "Give that to your Governor and see what happens".  We would not dare give our place of employment the poorest of our work. We would not dare give our teachers the poorest of our work. Why? Because they would fire or fail us. It would effect our desires and goals. We would not have the money to buy that new 50" 4K LED TV.  We would not graduate and make that boat load of money.

You see how all of this is turning out? When we feel it effects our quality of living, we pay more attention to the quality of giving. 
We will never truly sacrifice to the Lord until we truly understand the big picture of where we are in God's Kingdom.

Where is your heart? Is it on the things of this world or on the things of God? Are you sacrificing your best to Him?


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Is He Master or Father to You?

Recently I have been doing some study in the book Malachi while at the same time God has been showing me things about commitment and giving your very best. It is surprising how much we think about quantity of service when God really cares about quality.

God opens up Malachi chapter 1 describing His love for Israel. Then immediately He turns the attention to the relationship between Himself and His people. Two terms in chapter 1 describe that relationship. The first is "Father" and the second is "Master". Not only in the book of Malachi do we see these two terms but they are used to describe that relationship throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

Scripture says he is our Heavenly Father.  One of the New Testament revelations is that God is the Father of individuals. 245 times in the New Testament the term Father is used to describe the relationship between God and His people. As a Father He gives His children grace and peace.  James 1:17 tells us that He gives His children good gifts. But often overlooked, our Heavenly Father gives us guidance and direction.  So our Heavenly Father is a Grace Giver, A wonderful Gift Giver, and the Guider of life. 

Have you experienced His wonderful grace, the gifts of His love and direction? 

Scripture also refers to God as Master. The word Master gives the idea of ownership. In 2 Peter 2:1 the term for Lord is can be translated as Master. It is a term that designates ownership. God is addressed as Master in Luke 2:29. Peter and those with him call him Master in Acts 4:24, and the martyrs in heaven use the same term in Revelation 6:10. Let me ask you is He master over your life? 

If He is Father and Master, do we act accordingly? Verse 6 of Malachi 1 says:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ [The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mal 1:6.]

The priests referred to in this passage were not very honorable or fearful of the Lord. We will talk more about that in the days to come. But for now, if you call Him Lord and Savior, do your actions reflect your words?