Thursday, July 15, 2010

A detour into Malachi

In the past I have done the "read the Bible through in one year" thing, several times. Last year I got bogged down in Judges and Kings -- I was in a depressed place in life and all the nastiness going on in those books just finally got to me. So I decided that, for awhile, I would stick to the New Testament, with occasional forays into Psalms, Proverbs and Isaiah (I love the book of Isaiah, especially at the end). So I've been reading in Luke, but when I went to pick up my Bible today, it fell open to Malachi, chapters 3 and 4, and there was a LOT of underlining there, so I decided to see what I had underlined.

Good stuff!

The couple of things that really stood out to me today were:
Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
"In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me.

Well, then! God has a way of being straight to the point, and He sure is in this verse! We try to keep up with tithing every month, not because it's a "law" but because we want to honor God and thank Him for being so very generous with us. But there are months when we're kinda late putting the tithe money into its special account. And months when we don't spend it all (we give a portion to our church, then use the rest for specific ministries we give to monthly, and then whatever is left over we use for special needs that come up -- giving to Haitian earthquake relief, giving extra, etc., as long as it's a Christian organization). I know God isn't going to zap us for being late or whatever, but I take the "giving back to God" thing very seriously, so I don't like messing with it. God is very clear in this passage that He will richly bless those who give back to Him, but those who neglect this important aspect of worship will be cursed. Not eternally -- those of us who belong to Him are safe from that -- but we sure won't receive the blessings that He wants to abundantly pour out on us. (This is not a "prosperity gospel" line of thought, BTW. God's blessings may not be material, they may be spiritual instead, or whatever way He chooses.)

The other verses that stood out to me were 3:16-17:
Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him."

My favorite part of that is "the LORD listened and heard." I mean, stop and think about it -- God LISTENS to those who fear Him! ("Fear" here means a very powerful respect, like we hopefully have toward our own fathers, if they are worthy -- and God is definitely worthy! It doesn't mean "be afraid of," in the sense that we would fear Freddy Kruger.) God cares about every aspect of our lives. He listens when we talk to Him, but He also listens when we talk ABOUT Him. He likes to hear what we have to say about His faithfulness, His love, His compassion, His mercy, His salvation, etc., etc., etc. It's important to Him that we talk to each other about Him. Not only is that an act of worship, but it's an act of encouragement, of uplifting. It's an act of faith, too, when we're stuck in a place we don't like but we still talk about Him to each other, reminding each other of all He has done in our lives, of the amazing ways He works, of the beauty of His creation, all of that and more.

This is an easy one for me, because 1) I love to talk, and 2) I really love to talk about Jesus. I'm glad I have family and friends I can talk to about Him, those who understand and who "click" with what I'm saying, those who talk back to me about Him and what He's doing in their lives, what He means to them.

And I LOVE it when God reminds us in His word that we are HIS! That is the most beautiful affirmation ever.

So, as you go about your life today, remember to talk with other believers about the Lord, about how much you love Him, about all the many ways He has blessed you and protected you and helped you through life's junk. He is worthy of our praise all day long, whether it's through "official worship" (praise songs, praise Scriptures, etc.), or "just" by reminding each other of His total awesomeness.

His richest blessings be upon you today!

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