Giving God The Leftovers…

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Malachi 1:6-14 (KJV)

6   The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name!
“But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’
7   “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar.
“Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?1:7 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads defiled you?’
“You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect.
8   When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
9   “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
10“How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings. 11But my name is honored1:11a Or will be honored. by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer1:11b Or will offer. sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
12“But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table. 13You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord.
14“Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!

The prophet Malachi wrote approximately a century after Israel had returned from Babylonian captivity and rebuilt both Jerusalem and the temple.

Although there’d been a revival under Nehemiah, by this point the nation had lost its zeal and drifted into mechanical worship.

Instead of offering unblemished animals on the altar as prescribed in the Law, they were bringing God the leftovers of their flocks—the sick, blind, and lame.

The people and the priests had become so lax in their worship that they didn’t recognize anything was wrong with these unacceptable practices.

Because they had neglected and dishonored the Lord for so long, they no longer knew who He was.

As a result, they were not giving Him the reverence He deserved.

Although our form of worship no longer consists of animal sacrifices, we may be guilty of the same sin: giving God the leftovers.

Like the priests in Malachi 1:13 who considered worship tiresome, we might think,

There are so many other things we could do if we didn’t have to go to church every Sunday morning.

But worship isn’t limited to one day out of seven.

It should be expressed all week in our devotion to Christ. If we make other activities the priorities in our life, we won’t give God our best.

Filling our calendars to overflowing leaves little time or energy for praying, reading the Word, or serving the Lord in some way.

Yet these are the activities that enrich our relationship with God—they inspire us to worship and honor the Lord by giving Him our best.

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His Sustaining Power…

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Acts 15:7-11 (KJV)

7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

As believers, we readily attribute our salvation to God’s grace, but what does “this grace in which we stand” mean to us now (Rom. 5:2)?

How does it work out in everyday life, especially when we’re going through periods of trial or suffering?

  1. The Lord’s grace releases His supernatural power within us so we can endure life’s hardships with a godly attitude. In fact, we’ll even be able to rejoice over what He is doing in us through the adversity.
  2. Grace builds our confidence in the sovereign Lord. Nothing looks hopeless when we focus on Him instead of on our problems.
  3. We discover the assurance of God’s sustaining presence as He walks with us every step of the way.
  4. Because we’ve experienced His care for us, we are able to show empathy and love to others facing hard times.
  5. During fiery trials, grace works to transform our character so that others can see Jesus reflected in us.

Difficulties in life are unavoidable.

So we need a daily dose of God’s grace in order to walk through trials with confidence that there is great reward on the other side.

If we rely on our own strength, however, obstacles will appear insurmountable, leaving us discouraged and ready to give up.

Too often believers rely on Christ for their salvation but then try to go solo.

If God’s grace was needed to save us, then logic says we also need it for the rest of our days.

Only through a continuous infusion of His sustaining power can we live a victorious Christian life.

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Secure In The Knowledge…

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2 Corinthians 1:18-22 (KJV)

18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timothy, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.
20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

The Christian life rests on a foundation of God’s promises for today and for the future.

We can trust everything that our heavenly Father has said because His Word shows Him to be…

Truthful.

The Lord knows what is true and speaks honestly in all matters.

We can be assured of this because He is holy; there is no sin in Him.

He is also omniscient and understands everything (Heb. 4:12-13).

His promises are based on His infinite knowledge and truthfulness.

Faithful.

Scripture compares the Lord to a shepherd who “gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (Isa. 40:11 niv).

What He has planned for us, He will bring to fruition (Rom. 8:28).

Our heavenly Father does not waver in His intentions or will.

Loving.

God’s love for us was demonstrated at the cross.

He sent His Son Jesus to die by crucifixion and thereby take the punishment for our sins.

The Savior experienced God’s wrath against iniquity so we might know only His love.

This is the ultimate proof of His devotion to us.

All-powerful.

Divine power created the world and raised the Savior back to life, so we know God has the ability to carry out all His plans.

Our omnipotent Father can keep every one of His promises.

A promise is valuable only if the one making it has trustworthy character and the ability to carry through.

Our heavenly Father is truthful, faithful, loving, and all-powerful.

We can base our entire life on His promises, secure in the knowledge that He will do just as He has said.

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Meeting Our Need…

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2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

I thought the Christian life was going to be easier than this. Have these words ever entered your mind?

Sometimes we come before our heavenly Father, thinking that He will fix all of our problems and devote Himself to our happiness and comfort.

However, that is not the reality portrayed in Scripture.

The apostle Paul was a man whom the Lord used greatly, and yet his life was anything but easy.

In fact, at one point Paul thought his pain was too much to bear, and he begged God to remove it.

There’s nothing wrong with asking the Lord to relieve our suffering, but what should our response be if He doesn’t?

The apostle probably had no idea that His experience would find its way into the Bible, to comfort and guide believers throughout the ages.

The promise God gave him applies to us as well: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God’s grace could be defined as His provision for us at the point of our need.

The problem is, there may be times when it doesn’t seem the Lord is truly meeting our need.

But He frequently sees deficiencies, outcomes, and complications that we don’t.

His goals for us involve spiritual growth, the development of Christlike character, and strong faith.

And trials play a vital role in achieving such things.

The important issue is how we respond. If all you want is relief, you could descend into anger and doubt.

But if your desire is to become the person God wants you to be, you’ll see each trial as an opportunity for Christ to display His character and strength in you.

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Our Own Comfort and Personal Ambition…

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Psalm 1:1-6 (KJV)

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.ungodly: or, wicked
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.wither: Heb. fade
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Scripture proclaims God’s great power and majesty while also revealing His deep mercy and love.

He is worthy of wholehearted, passionate submission but doesn’t often get it.

Are you among the few who offer themselves to Him without reservation?

Complete obedience is a choice to follow God regardless of the consequences.

This means that we obey the Lord even if our friends choose a different path or when suffering and embarrassment are guaranteed. Seeing His will done is more important than our own comfort or personal ambition.

We commit the consequences to God and cling to His promises: He will never leave us (Deut. 31:6), and He makes good out of every situation (Rom. 8:28).

Notice the word commitment in the title of today’s devotion.

I’m not writing about obedience that is born of the moment (as in, I choose to follow God in this instance) but about total submission as a way of life.

Setting restrictions on compliance is so tempting—we want to be able to change our mind when obeying upsets our lifestyle, the final result is unclear, or we’re just plain scared. But let me ask you this one sobering question:

If Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, what right do you have to limit how and when you’ll do His will?

Believers have no right to set their own limits; their one criterion for making decisions should be,

What does God want me to do? 

The answer at times may cause suffering, but obedience is always right.

And following God in all things is the surest path to favor and spiritual growth.

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No Condemnation…

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Romans 8:1-4 (KJV)

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Some believers are plagued by feelings of condemnation.

Either they think they’ll never live up to God’s expectations for them or they’re nearly drowning in guilt over past sins.

These men and women cannot seem to shake the sense that God is displeased with their puny efforts at being Christlike.

The book of Romans confronts this lie head-on: “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

When the Savior went to the cross on our behalf, He lifted the blame from our shoulders and made us righteous before God.

Those feelings of condemnation do not belong to us; they are from Satan.

He amplifies our guilt and feelings of inadequacy and then suggests that’s how the Lord feels about His “wayward child.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Our sins are wiped clean, and we are chosen and loved by God.

Condemnation is reserved for those who reject the Lord (John 3:36).

Sin is a death sentence (Rom. 6:23).

Anyone who chooses to cling to sin instead of seeking divine forgiveness must pay the penalty, which is an eternity separated from God.

Two synonyms of condemn are ‘denounce’ and ‘revile.’ Those words certainly describe Jesus’ statement to unbelievers in Matthew 25:41: “Depart from me, accursed ones.”

There is no condemnation for those who receive Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The believer’s penalty for sin is paid, and he can stand blameless before God.

Trust in the Lord’s love and let go of Satan’s lie. God’s beloved children are covered by His grace and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

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Through His Mercy…

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Lamentations 3:22-25 (KJV)

22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
24 The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
25 The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Imagine someone asking you if God has been good to you.

What ideas pop into your head?

Do you think about material possessions like a luxury car or a big house?

Those things are nice, but even if you do not have any external signs of His blessing, you can still say that God has been good.

God’s goodness is expressed through His mercy.

We usually talk about the Lord’s mercy in relation to His salvation plan, which provides for our rescue from slavery to sin. However, God is also concerned when we are suffering. The blind beggar Bartimaeus called out to Jesus for mercy, and the Lord responded by healing the man’s eyes (Mark 10:46-52).

Nothing in Bartimaeus deserved mercy, but it is God’s nature to respond to the needs of His beloved children.

God’s goodness is expressed through His grace.

None of us, no matter how well behaved we might be, deserve God’s favor. Yet because we are helpless to save ourselves, the Lord in His goodness took our guilt upon Himself and suffered the death penalty in our place. Upon salvation, we are invited to live by God’s grace and thereby constantly receive His support and help.

God’s goodness is expressed through His love.

The Pacific Ocean, as vast as it is, seems like barely a drop compared to the Lord’s boundless love. No sin we can commit could ever place us beyond the reach of His faithfulness.

Think of all that the Father has done for you!

He sent His son Jesus to die for your sins. Now He offers you mercy and grace to live by.

The heavenly Father is indeed good.

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Freedom From Limitation…

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John 4:19-24 (KJV)

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

While talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus explained an important attribute of God’s nature: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

The Father is not confined to a body in the way that human beings are.

The fact that God is spirit means He is not bound to time or space.

He is with every believer during every moment of life.

When we sense His presence in corporate worship at church or during personal prayer time at home, that is His Spirit interacting with our own.

God’s freedom from limitation means that we are never without Him.

The heavenly Father is too awesome to be confined by physical boundaries. When the Israelites begged for a golden calf to worship (Ex. 32:1), they showed that they did not understand His boundless nature.

Idolatry tries to confine an infinite Lord to a finite form so that He fits human perceptions and desires.

But if He could be restricted to some animal or person, then He simply would not be worthy of worship.

The Father is infinite in His being and also, therefore, in every one of His attributes.

His love has no restrictions, and His mercy is without end. We cannot sin enough or fall so far that we are beyond the reach of His loving grace.

Though we may sometimes wish we could hide our deeds or our face from the heavenly Father, we are always in His presence.

Take comfort in the knowledge that no matter where you go or what you do, your Father is with you.

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