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Honoring God

February 19, 2013 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Malachi 1:6 – 2:2 - “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ ”You place defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty. “Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”– says the LORD Almighty. “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you profane it by saying of the Lord’s table, ‘It is defiled,’ and of its food, ‘It is contemptible.’ And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the LORD Almighty. “When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the LORD. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations. “And now this admonition is for you, O priests. If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me.

Thirteen years ago, when I was the youth pastor of NewLife, I went along with the senior pastor and elders of our church to visit the Brooklyn Tabernacle in order to sit in on a staff meeting, meet some of the pastors, and participate in their Tuesday evening prayer meeting. This visit was soon after their pastor, Jim Cymbala, had released his first book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, and our church leadership, like many others, was challenged by the devotion to prayer displayed by the people of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, and so we wanted to go down and observe it firsthand. The whole experience was truly impressive, but the most memorable aspect was how the people of the church treated the prayer meeting. Although the meeting did not begin until 7 PM, thousands of people arrived early – even up to two hours early – to sit in silence and prepare their hearts to seek and worship the Lord. I was amazed by the honor that this church showed towards their God, and their desire to not only set aside Tuesday evening but arrive early in order to spend time worshiping Him and seeking His face.

In the passage above from Malachi, God, through the prophet Malachi, takes the priests of Israel to task for the dishonor they show to Him. Instead of bringing their best animals as sacrifices to the temple, they were bringing blemished animals, blind, crippled, and diseased. Pointedly, God says to them, “Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” They would not dare offer diseased animals to dignitaries in their land, but apparently they had no problem offering their leftovers to their God. And so God declares that He will not accept their offerings, that they would be better off shutting the temple doors rather than persist in bringing useless sacrifices to Him. Because of the lack of honor they showed to Him, God declares that they would be under His curse.

We may not live in a time when we need to bring animal sacrifices before our God, but our holy God is still worthy of all of our worship, worthy of our firstfruits, not our leftovers. He deserves and desires all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind. He still desires that we would honor Him with our financial giving, with our time, with our energy. And the truth is that we are just like the priests in Malachi’s day. We also are often guilty of giving God our leftovers, diseased and crippled offerings, treating Him in ways that we would not dare treat a dignitary who came into our home.

Thankfully, we know that in His mercy, God did not leave us in our sinful, rebellious state, but that HE gave US His best as a sacrifice, sending His Son Jesus to die in our place, to take the curse we deserved, so that all who would repent of their sin and turn to faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins will be seen as perfect in the sight of God, adopted as His children, given eternal life. As Paul writes in Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” And so we are blessed, and not cursed, not by the quality of the sacrifices that we have offered, but because of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice who died for us.

Nevertheless, the truth still remains: God is holy, God is great, and God deserves (more than ever, thanks to Jesus) to be honored, especially in the house of God. With that in mind, let me suggest a few ways that we can show Him honor when we gather to worship on a Sunday:

1) Come early, and prepare your heart to worship Him, expecting to hear from Him

2) Bring a Bible, a pen, and something to write on, showing that you expect to hear from God through His Word

3) Honor God by being hospitable to those around you, especially those who are new – warmly welcome them and invite them to sit with you

4) During the worship time, pay attention to the words you are singing and try to sing from your heart, not just mindlessly speaking the words but truly meaning them. And if you find that you can not sing them honestly, then listen and prayerfully consider the message of the song

5) During the sermon, pay attention and take notes. If you find yourself getting sleepy (which will happen to most of us at times), stand up and listen in the back (it’s harder to get sleepy when you’re standing up)

6) Take the time to thank those who have served our church family by leading worship, teaching in the Sunday School, caring for the little ones in the nursery, preparing and providing food and coffee, keeping the church building clean, greeting those who come, and overseeing our church

7) Most importantly, worship Jesus, recognizing that it is only by His life, death, and resurrection that we can enter the presence of a Holy God. Honor the Father by honoring His Son and responding to His Spirit in our midst

This list is not a law that by obeying it will cause you to be righteous before God. The only righteousness we have is in Christ and because of His death. But I believe this list includes tangible ways that we can give our great God the honor that is due His name. Amen – let it be so.

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