Saturday, July 7, 2012

God Gets It All

"You defile [the sacrifices] by saying the altar of the LORD deserves no respect. 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.
"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.
"You 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.
"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!" (Malachi 1:7b-9,13a,14)
Ouch! How often do I do this? How often do I give God the leftovers in my life, if anything at all sometimes, rather than the choice fruits, the first and the best?

When I struggle with feelings of anxiety and depression, sometimes I get lost in the cycle and can't distinguish anymore whether my failing relationship with God is a product of the physical and mental pain that I feel, or whether those aches and pains are the result of pulling away from God. Which came first-- the chicken or the egg? I'm sure there are enough opinions out there to support either side of that coin, but the truth is, it's probably a little bit of both.

We all have hurts and struggles in our lives that tend to either push us towards God or away from Him, and wherever you are right now, you and I both must understand two truths about God and his heart for us:
1. God's love and mercy are not dependent in any way, shape or form on what you or I do or don't do in our lives.
2. The extent to which we live the FULL Christian life, as God intended for each of us, does depend on how much we are willing to put in.
First, we must understand that nothing we could ever do or fail to do could ever lessen or increase the amount of pure, unconditional love our God has for us. His mercy is never-ending, his faithfulness is unfaltering. If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ, He has paid for your sins and rescued you from death. The price has been paid, and nothing will ever change that. You belong to Him forever. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:37-39)

HOWEVER, and that's a BIG however...

God's mercy is not limitless. That is, his mercy and grace and blessing do not extend to every facet of your earthly life without boundary or cost. The only guarantee you have is your eternal salvation. Everything else within this earthly life is dependent upon how much you are willing to invest. This does not mean that if you are "good" and faithful in your walk with the Lord, that material blessings will automatically fall from the sky; God is not a vending machine that we insert our prayers and sacrifices into and reap an immediate and tangible reward from. However, the Christian life does grow and thrive as a result of our obedience to God, and that life requires immense sacrifice in order to be lived to its fullest intended extent (John 16:33; Matthew 8:19-20; Matthew 19:21; Romans 12:1). Just as the Israelites were required to offer animal sacrifices of the utmost quality, so we are required to offer God the first and best of our daily lives.

God gets it all! Not the leftovers, not the last and the least, but the first fruits, the best and the greatest. If we offer him anything less, how can we hope to have the kind of peace and contentment that only come from the richness of his blessing and favor?
"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.

1 comment:

  1. Yea! Love this. Thanks for making me think and challenging me.