These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!
A day before we started reading Malachi, a friend said it’s been heavy on her heart for the church to heed and wondered my thoughts on it. We didn’t have time to chat but I thought it was beautiful timing since tomorrow we are reading it!! Read expecting the Lord to speak!
Giving to God
“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor!”
Giving our tithes and offerings is the way that we are able to trust God with what is very personal and close to us. God does not need our wealth, but he does deeply desire our devotion and our heart. He wants us to be all in so we can experience the way that is best, HIS way.
So I also was impacted by Mal. 1:7-8, but I’d like to challenge us to think about this principle on some other levels…
Namely: what sort of time, money, energy, resources are we offering to the Lord and building up his kingdom? (kind of like the call in Haggai to stop making your own house so beautiful while God’s house lies in ruins)
Maybe we can think of this another way: There have been seasons (maybe you all can relate) where Shana and I find ourselves spread thin doing all these things that seem “so important” that by the time her-and-I connect, we sort of give each others the leftovers. We’re both exhausted, it’s late at night, and our times where we had the most energy were spent elsewhere. That should not be, and we repent for that when it does happen.
Now consider what it’s like with the Lord. Is He only getting brief prayers before meals that are more mechanical than from the heart? Does He only get us quickly reading the Bible here and there without praying, considering, studying, and devoting ourselves to the principles laid out? Or maybe is His body (the church) hurting in ways we clearly can serve, and our time, energy, money is mostly spent elsewhere except for throwing a few scraps to honor God’s church here and there? I think all of these things are examples of not heeding the charge in Mal. 1:7-8.
Lastly, and interestingly, I find that when I do prioritize giving the Lord my best, it helps me prioritize my time and puts me in a position to give my wife my best, and everything else falls into place from there. Sort of like what’s said later in Malachi – “watch what will happen when you give me your first/best…and how I will bless you with surplus!” (my paraphrase). Also similar to, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you”
We actually went through Malachi 3 with our family this past weekend when they were in town as I thought that chapter was really rich.
The more I’m reading this book though Malachi 2:13-15 is really hitting me:
“You cover the Lords altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.”
Wow! God is seeking Godly offspring. He brought my wife & I together with a portion of His spirit. Yet, I have so often trampled on that with lust in my thoughts…I’m engaged in ongoing accountability and more to keep pure but these verses really spurred me on. And to think any of this unrepentant sin is going to lead to potentially unanswered prayer… powerful.
I’m glad you teased out this passage. It puts together some things my wife and I have been going through recently:
- dear friends who are husband and wife had a blowup in front of us – we realized that their marriage is still really on the rocks, and have tried to walk through this with them ever since
- other dear friends who are husband and wife had some struggle related to their marriage they were sharing with me. It felt similar to the first encounter, but definitely not nearly as severe. Had a chance to pray and minister truth to them, which I heard an update that they are really working through things together and it sounds like they are on a good trajectory – praise the Lord. But Shana and I want to minister to them more.
- an engaged couple we have been counseling broke off their engagement. This actually was a praise for us because 1 was a believer and 1 a non-believer, and we told them that the non-believer really needs to be in the Lord before the Lord could endorse their choice to marry. They agreed with us on that, but were hopeful he’d come around to surrendering his life to Christ before wedding date. Anyway, I’m glad they don’t have a wedding date anymore, so now he can truly pursue Christ on His merits alone (not with the backdrop of trying to do it to please his wife)
- then, last night, I confessed to my wife that I was getting “too curious” about looking into the Will Smith – Jada Pinkett Smith “open marriage” specifics. It was a sort of thought porn, honestly…It led to a beautiful time of intimacy between us, honestly–praise the Lord! Then my wife had a dark dream last night that seemed a direct attack on our marriage union and intimacy together. We prayed about it and rebuked it.
- All to say, definitely sense this as a theme for us lately. Something Satan is trying to sow division in, but we God is challenging us to uphold the unity of the marriage covenant.
Devotion to Christ
I totally agree with what is said above–that when we prioritize God and his mission our priorities tend to orient themselves in proper order.
I sometimes struggle with the practical application of how to put my devotion into action, as sometimes my natural tendency is to feel like I need to make huge life changes or large gestures that seem overwhelming. However, I am slowly learning that our devotion to the LORD is made up of many, many small decisions made everyday.
The bulk of our daily lives is what would be classified as “mundane,” and I think seeking God in the mundane is so important. I am often reminded of marriage in this context as well. A wedding day is a great event (kind of like a large gesture of devotion), but choosing to serve our wives everyday of our marriage (the mundane) is where devotion is really tested.
The end of Malachi sums this up somewhat subtly:
- 4:2 “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.”
- 4:4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.”
The law was given to his people to give them a framework of devotion in the mundane, daily routine of life.
Sonship & Service
I noticed the beginning and end of Malachi ties sonship with service to the Lord. Mal 4 – “son who serves”
This is different than slaves who serve for payment. Sons serve because it is right, it pleases their fathers, it brings honor to the family, there is fatherly discipline where they don’t, it is tied up with how they will steward the inheritance.
All to say, people who teach that being sons of God somehow absolves us from serving God don’t know the Scriptures.
We still serve him, but our inheritance and salvation isn’t dependent on how good we served. We can’t stop being sons—that is a work of God. John 1:12