Thursday, September 30, 2010

Instruction from Malachi

"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Rom. 15:4Background:The book of Malachi, last book of the Old Testament, stands as the bridge across the 400 years of God's silence to the New Testament. Jerusalem had been rebuilt, Nehemiah had returned to Persia and the Jews had fallen back into sin. The prophet Malachi was the last to speak to Israel in her own land at a time when her relationship with God had grown cold and godly morality had collapsed. The book unfolds an intriguing monologue of God posing questions, then answering those questions Himself to rebuke and encourage His people as their Father, Master, Creator, Lord, Refiner, God and Sun of Righteousness!

"The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi…O priests who despise My name. But you say, "How have we despised Your name?" "You are presenting defiled food upon the altar…I am not pleased with you," says the Lord of hosts, "nor will I accept an offering from you. For from the rising of the sun even to the setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered in My name…that is pure." Mal. 1:1,6-8,11.

When describing yourself, do you include the noun "priest" in that description? In 1 Peter 2:9, God informs believers "you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood…a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light!"
God rebuked the priests of Malachi's day for their worthless offerings to Him. My pastor teaches that it is the order of the gift, not the size, that deems it pure and honorable to God. Paul wrote in Col. 1:18 that Jesus is to have first place in everything! In Gen. 4, God had regard for Abel's offering because he brought "the firstlings". Cain brought his offering, on the other hand, "in the course of time". God had no regard for that which was not first.
Has your life gotten "out of order"? Return God to first place! God points to the priests in former days called from the tribe of Levi that revered Him, stood in awe of His name, walked with God in peace and uprightness and turned many back from iniquity. (Mal. 2:5-7) By placing God as the captain of my soul, I honor Him and am motivated to proclaim the excellencies of Him who calls others out of darkness into His marvelous light!

"Behold the day is coming… for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall…

(Mal. 4:2)

What are God's promises to those who fear Him? He will one day return with healing and great joy for His own! God never forgets His promises of undying love and everlasting mercy. Let us remember our Promise Keeper morning, noon and night as we wait on His return.
"Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming…of the Lord!" (Mal. 4:6) God, through Peter, declares that the holy conduct and godliness of believers actually hastens the coming of the day of God! (2 Peter 3:11-12)

Today, have you hastened or delayed Christ's return?

Hope:"…according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless…grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."

(2 Peter 3:12-14,18)

Today, it is impossible for me to live a perfectly pure, righteous life before God…but one glorious day, it will be impossible for me to live any other way!!!
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, and ten thousand beside!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Lord, unto me!

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