Religion

Tuesday Devotional: Malachi 2

bible Read Malachi 2

Malachi 2:16 (NKJV, emphasis added)

 16 “For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously.”

 Malachi 2:16 (NIV)

 16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.

So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

 Malachi 2:9

“…you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.”

 Teachers, Pastors, Priests, Christians: you are to follow the commands and words of our Lord without partiality.  The words of God are being changed, being softened and manipulated to speak to us in a way we feel we ought to be spoken to.  Both versions of Malachi 2:16 proclaim that divorce is wrong.  If we are to place our hopes in the words of our Lord and Savior promising everlasting life and peace from our strife in this world we are to hear the words of our Lord and God as He has said them without partialityThe nature of sin is to question God’s words, contemplate His motives and intentions and conclude that God could never be that strict and that uptight about how we ought to live.  We are merely human, right?  But He means what He says.  His words are strict to our sinful ears because His ways are higher than our ways. He is Holy and we are not.  His words are as uptight as they sound because the way of Jesus is a narrow gate that few enter because of the costly sacrifice and complete denial of self that following Jesus into eternal fellowship with the Father requires.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

 Be shrewd as a serpent and gentle as a dove, Christian.  Our Heavenly Father demands that we be Holy as He is Holy.  The sin within us will always seek partiality concerning God’s Holy words.  It will always endeavor to weaken the sting of His rebuke in order to massage our weary soul from its burdensome struggle for Holy perfection and encourage us to seek the desires of our heart.  God is love, right?  And the gospel of Jesus is forgiveness and grace, right?  Yes on both counts.  But Jesus is still the narrow gate that came preaching repentance of sin and complete transformation in his image.  Holiness.  Righteousness.  Obedience to the Father.  Let the words of God sting you.  Let them stab you.  Let them cut you to the heart as a double-edged sword.  Protect and cultivate a relationship with our Lord that welcomes the sting of Holiness and the demands of it on our life.  The sting of God’s Holy words and the self-sacrifice of our sinfulness for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus is nothing compared to the sting of eternal separation from God that Jesus came to save us from.

 

 

Tuesday Devotional: 1 Samuel 21

bibleRead 1 Samuel 21:1-9

 4But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here…”

Religion requires works that overlook a need for the sake of a score.  The Gospel requires personal sacrifice that creates a heart for the stranger for the sake of Jesus Christ.  In many ways, religion is easier.  We can understand scores.  We can understand a checklist.  What’s difficult for us to comprehend is an open-ended demand for love.  We respond with quantifying questions: “Love who?  How much love?  When should I love?”  This is because our sinful natures are not able to love naturally, increasingly, daily.  Trying to love that way is like holding our breath underwater until we can break the surface and breathe the oxygen we were made for.  But the love of God demands the love of God.  Period.  The first victory is the realization that we are totally incapable of that demand and therefore need God every step of the way.  As much as God wants us to turn to Jesus and rely on him for everything, sin also has a passion for redirecting our attention away from Jesus and back onto ourselves, leaving us more likely to seek our own righteousness through a list  we can follow as opposed to a task that we know we would fail at.

The Gospel always sees a specific need over a specific rule.  Is someone naked?  Give them clothes.  Is someone hungry?  Give them food.  Is someone homeless?  Give them a home.  Is someone sad?  Give them a hug.  These are the standards of Jesus and His Gospel and therefore must be the instinct of a person claiming identity in Christ and calling themselves a Christian.  A Christian does not ask for papers first and then serves second.  A Christian professes faith in the Suffering Servant and is remade in His image.  Not as a leader.  Not as a King.  Not as anything but a servant.  When we realize that our sensitivity to the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters is being overshadowed by our status, our system or our score we must pray that the Holy Spirit convict us of our religiosity and reclaim us in the name of Jesus for the sake of Jesus as a disciple of Jesus.  Actions always speak louder than words, and when our actions glorify ourselves we are no longer servants, no longer disciples and no longer Christians.