6 The LORD Almighty says to the priests, “A son honours his father, and a servant honours his master. I am your father—why don’t you honour me? I am your master—why don’t you respect me? You despise me, and yet you ask, ‘How have we despised you?’ 7This is how—by offering worthless food on my altar. Then you ask, ‘How have we failed to respect you?’ I will tell you—by showing contempt for my altar. 8When you bring a blind or sick or lame animal to sacrifice to me, do you think there’s nothing wrong with that? Try giving an animal like that to the governor! Would he be pleased with you or grant you any favours?” Malachi 1:6-8 GNT
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”
Everyone who hears this must also say, “Come!”
Come, whoever is thirsty; accept the water of life as a gift, whoever wants it. Rev. 22:17 GNT
Meditation is a continual prating or talking and is here used in a bad sense. For as a lover is always spontaneously saying many things about the object loved, so the hater is assiduously prating the worst of things about the object hated. There is the same modesty also in the words “rage” and “take counsel together;” the act itself was far more atrocious than the purport of these words would seem to indicate. We are thereby taught not to exaggerate the evil conduct of men, but as much as possible lessen it, and thus show that we do not feel so much indignation on our own account as pity on theirs.
823 Love for God invites us to shoulder the Cross squarely: to feel on our back the weight of the whole human race, and to fulfil, in the circumstances of our own situation in life and the job we have, the clear and at the same time loving designs of the Will of the Father.
I write this with more than a little anxiety, as I want people to depend on God to do the the miraculous through them, not add more guilt or shame, or use that to motivate them.
But I read the the first passage, these words that come at the end of the Old Testament, and hear them, and take them in consideration with the words from Revelation, and the words of Luther and Escriva, and see what an incredibly, wild, miraculous God works in and through us, His people.
As I look at the church today, it does seem to have settled with less effort less results in what they offer God. Other things take the best part of our time and our talent, take the best parts of us, rather than allowing God to transform us in His image rather than being conformed to the world. (Romans 12:1-3, 2 Cor. 3 16ff)
We are more than willing to protect what we have in the church, trying to preserve it (whether traditional or contemporary) rather than muddy ourselves by reaching out to those who desperately need to know God loves them. We are more than willing to whine and complain and obsess about those who we see threatening our lives, but are we willing to intercede for them, get to know them, learn to love them? That’s the kind of Cross we need to shoulder, to see that God desires more than anything to transform us and them into His one people.
To say with the Spirit and Jesus, “come!” for that is we need to do to invite them, on God’s behalf! To help them who are thirsty for justice, and for making things right, to realize that is seen best in Christ’s work on the cross. THey may not understand this – but love and prayer, patiently delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit, will cause the antagonists and yourself to be the kind of offerings that makes God dance with joy!
Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 383.
Escrivá, Josemaría. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
† In Jesus Name †
Come and See! The Lord you are seeking
As you prepare to celebrate Christmas, may you welcome the Lord’s assistance in “cleaning house”, even as you realize the love and mercy and faithfulness He will do it with!
Are you ready?
Years ago, when I ran bookstores, most managers feared something. Some of the best of my peers, the people I looked up to an counted as mentors, would tremble when three little words were mentioned.
“zero defect audit”
When the news hit the grapevine that our regional manager had begun them, the panic set in, the managers would leave whatever they were doing, dive into the files and the paperwork on their desks… the staff’s would immediately go into hyper-drive cleaning and everyone’s stress levels would skyrocket.
Some managers even developed techniques, allowing a few, very visible mistakes, that would be caught, allowing the regional manager to find the errors, and they thought she would be content “getting them”, and leave the rest of their operation alone.
Somehow we missed the point – if the audit’s were done well, they would help us correct paperwork errors, help us see our weaknesses and adjust to them.. and should we learn from our errors and accept the assistance in cleaning up our acts… then our bonuses would skyrocket! It was not easy, indeed looking at our errors was sometimes…painful. Yet, the payoff was incredible.
But we were too afraid of the coming, about the required look at the “life” of our stores.
Sometimes, I think we are afraid of God, and we would rather not deal with His presence in our lives now, for very similar reasons… we need to be straightened up, cleaned up, we need to get our acts together… before the final audit..
This cleansing is part of advent… and indeed our daily lives. For we live, not just with a coming Lord, but with the One who is coming, yet is already here, incarnate, present, working in our lives.
What do we need to be cleansed of?
As we hear Malachi’s message to the people of God, as we hear him tell us of God’s covenant bringing apostle/messenger, there is a pause, something that grabs our attention, and causes us to hesitate.. Hear the words, that like “zero defect audit”, throw a shock into your system….
2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver,
How many of you… are ready to stand there, and watch God cleanse your life? To apply the heat – or the lye or bleach that is necessary to remove all that has marred your life? How many are willing to stand there and see the dirt of your life removed? To stand under the pressure of what it takes to cleanse them?
I remember the “debriefing” from some of those zero defect audits, as my senior staff and I were told where we fell short, the feeling as if a football was caught in my throat, the absolute powerlessness, the inability to say, but wait – you need to understand this.. the inability to excuse… And the results of that briefing were marked on a three by two foot poster, that hung prominently in my office… the results of 6 audits there for all to see…
Are we ready for that, not as our files are reviewed, but as our lives are? Are you ready to have those things which we try to hide, or worse, the things we do so often that we forget that they are offensive to God, revealed before Him, as He cleans our lives?
Sometimes I think – wouldn’t it be great if God came, and cleaned up this world in which we live? If God would come and deal with all the problems, all the pains, all of the sin an immorality? If that list, the sorcerers, the adulterers, against all those who break their word, all those who don’t treat their employees well – against all those who don’t even have the most basic sense of hospitality towards those in great need, if God would just deal with them and every other person who breaks His commandments? Wouldn’t it be great?
Then I realize, if God has to clean up – wouldn’t He start with us? With those that know best His will, who know His commands, who understand that they all boil down to two relationships – our relationship with Him, and our relationship with every person He has created.
And all of a sudden, I am not so ready for a spiritual audit, I want to hide or take a week or two off. How about you? AN audit, a cleansing, not performed by some mere pastor or prophet… but by the Lord God Almighty…
But the good..
A few months after the audits, there was always “EoY” paperwork, and the closing of a year – even as we just closed another church year, and are about to say goodbye to 2012, and eventually will see and end of the age…when Christ returns.
After the EoY review, there was the day when the regional manager showed up again – this time with envelopes in her hands. Checks were in those envelopes – and sometimes they were significant.
That is what we wait for now! The day when Jesus comes again, when the work pays off! I am not talking about our work, but the work He accomplishes in us. We are His worksmanship – His masterpiece, He is the one who takes our lives and molds them into something that is incredible. When we realize just how much filth He has cleansed us of, when we see what He does, when we realize how much love He has for us.
We rejoice, we have hope… for Joy has come to our world.
When we realize how phenomenally He deals with the injustive of the world, when we realize how He uses it for our good, when we get to the point where we pause… and look and see…
We realize the guarantee to prodigals, We realize the blessing that He never changes! A blessing that our prophet this morning tells us that we will never be be devoured, we will never be consumed. But that we can return – we can joyfully seek the Lord who comes bringing the promises of the covenant, fulfilling the work of God.
You see, God created you and I for a purpose – an eternal purpose. Not to be transformed into someone else, but His cleansing, His promise work in your lives, is to reveal in you that which has been marred, that which has been hidden by sin, by unrighteousness.
To reveal in you the child of God, to remove the labels like prodigal, or sinner, or even the name of the sin or unrighteousness that holds you in bondange.
That is the nature of advent, a time to ditch the facades, the sins, from gossip to lust to using God’s name, the name we’ve been given to use, in our vanity. To remove us and free us and given us life.
The people of the Old Testament saw this, yet didn’t. They longed for the return of the messenger, the apostle who would prepare the way for the Lord. They longed to see the Lord who would come suddenly, the one who would bring a covenant that resulted in the forgiveness of sins.
At the end of the passage, the verse asks, “how shall we return”… the answer is provided in the very promise of God – I will return to you…
They struggled with what this means, the removal of idols and sins, the cleansing of things we are firmly attached to, the sins that have their claws stuck in our hearts and minds. Hearts and minds, that like ours, were meant to live, not in bondage to sin and anxiety and unrighteousness, but hearts and minds that were meant to feast with our Father, in complete fellowship, in a relationship that nothing could mar…
and that is why He has come, why He accomplished this very cleansing, this very purification, as He hung on that cross – as every sing was stipped from us, and laid on Him.
For we were meant – heart and minds, to live in His glorious peace… and until that is revealed in all His glory, know this – you are already there – protected, guarded, kept in that peace, by the Lord who has come, in whose presence we live.
Come and see your Lord, your newborn King – and feast in His peace filled presence!