May 24, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Devotion Sharing Submitted by Sieun Choi, Gracepoint Berkeley

Malachi 1:6-8

What is the cry of God’s heart as demonstrated in these verses? The cry of His heart is that He wants them to relate to him properly, which they are not doing. He points to different relationships they have and how they relate to them – a son honoring his father, a servant respecting his master. He says he is like the father, like the master to them, but they do not honor Him, they do not respect Him. Instead, as they come to the altar and therefore come before God, they show contempt by defiling the animals they bring as a sacrifice to God. He is grieved and angered that they while they know how to relate to their earthly fathers and earthly masters, they show contempt and such disregard for their heavenly father and master.

In what ways did the people show contempt for God’s name? What does this reveal about their view of God? God says that they show contempt by placing defiled food on the altar. They show contempt for God’s table by bringing blind animals, crippled and diseased animals. In case they still do not get it, he points out that they would not bring such animals as a gift to the governor, that they know the governor would not be pleased with such offering, would not accept them. How much more is this showing contempt for God? And they bring it, wanting to ask God for His grace upon their lives. This is detestable to God.

Their view of God is that He’s some unfeeling, mechanical being to whom they just need to bring something, but it’s ok to bring things that are blemished, defiled, not worthy as an offering, and God will not be offended or angered by this. There is no fear in the way they view God – they treat human relations with greater fear. They don’t view God as a personal being who cares about what they bring.

What is revealed in people’s response of “How have we shown contempt for your name?”  What may explain their response? Their response reveals how off they are, how they are disconnected from the offensive deeds they are doing, how they really do not know themselves. They must think what they are doing is perfectly acceptable, there is nothing wrong with it. They are so clueless as they respond “how have we defiled you, how have we shown contempt for your name?” They are disconnected from their deeds and from themselves, they even implore God to be gracious with them as they bring such blemished offerings. They are people who not only have lost fear and reverence for God, but also are out of touch with their own behavior and sins.

Are there ways in which I am offering up “blind animals for sacrifice” and “crippled or diseased animals” to God? I can see how my own offering to God can be ugly and offensive to God, maybe not necessarily in the physical sense, but in other unseen ways. When things get busy or there are other things in my mind that I need to take care of, I can go through the motions yet what I bring before God, my heart, my attention is crippled and diseased like these animals that were brought to God. I come to pray but my attention is somewhere else and not completely before God. I come before God’s word and spend times of devotion yet my mind is so distracted. These are so offensive to God, thinking He will be pleased that at least I’m doing the actions, but He cares about what I am bringing, how I’m relating to Him. I can spend time with people and do acts of loving people, yet there can be muck in my offering when I am caring more about how I am recognized or how I can receive back love and attention. I cannot be blind to how what I bring to God is not about the externals but the ways I can blemish it with my wrong desires and attitude, and hence offend God.

Malachi 1:10-14

In what ways have I been viewing sacrifice to God as a burden, engaging in complaints and cheating Him of what He rightfully deserves? In loving people, God asks me to give all of myself to loving people. Not just parts of my time, my emotions, my possessions up to what I want or can handle, but He says surrender all. But when things get difficult, when I want time and some room left for myself, His commands to love people become a burden. When some tough situation comes up, my heart sinks and I want to hide or not respond. I wonder why I’m the one put in this position of needing to get messy and get burdened. When embracing that person means I need to burden my own emotions and time even more, I find that grumbling attitude in my heart. But reality is that as my Lord and Savior, what God asks of me is never too much and is rightfully deserved. Also, seeing how God has used obedient and sacrificial people to touch my life and bring to where I am today, I know that this is the only right response of someone who have encountered and understand who God is.

How am I going to respond to God who says, “For I am a great king…and my name is to be feared among the nations?”  What vows have I made to God that I need to not back out on? This is the true reality – that God is the great king who is to be feared among the nations. At the end of the day, it is God whom I need to have complete consideration for, make sure I related completely with and without blemish. It’s not other people, it’s not how I make it in this world, it’s not my fleeting desires and need for security, comfort and control. Truth is that I can be deluded and disconnected from myself, my fickle heart and desire for comfort and control can make me lose touch with who God is even though He has revealed Himself to me many times. So I need to hold onto the vows I made at my clear moments, my vows of wanting to follow God wherever He leads me, going to whichever people and situations He brings me. I need to hold onto my commitments to remember how God is the mighty and gracious one who saved me from a life spiraling into destruction, and that God can never ask for too much of me, even if it will mean my career, family, the relationships I find comfort in.

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