Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 25 December 21:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Malachi: https://youtu.be/HPGShWZ4Jvk
Psalm 149:1 — Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands….
Merry Christmas! Today is a wonderful day for us to praise the LORD and Sing to the LORD a new song –
- Revelation 5:9, 10 — And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Today is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, or LORD and Savior. Today, we celebrate the day God demonstrated His unimaginable love for us by sending His One and Only Son into our broken world in the humblest conditions, despite our utter sinfulness and depravity, to live the righteous life we could not live to give His very life to pay for the sins of those who would accept His gracious gift of salvation through faith in Him.
- John 3:16-18 — “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
- Romans 5:8-11 — …but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Today, Psalms reminds us to Praise the Lord! But Malachi also warns us to not grow complacent in our love and zeal for Him, a timely reminder on this holy day which is culturally trivialized:
Malachi 1:9 — With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts.
Malachi 2:4-9 — So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”
Today’s readings from Malachi are a rebuke from God to the priests of the day who had become complacent and negligent in their worship and service to God, greatly dishonoring God, leading others astray, and bringing curses upon God’s intended blessings for them and their families. How does this apply to us today? As we have read this year, all Christians play a priestly role where God has placed us, so we must learn from the mistakes of the past which are still common today –
- 1 Peter 2:5 — …you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
- 1 Peter 2:9 — But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
- Revelation 1:5, 6 — To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- Revelation 20:6 — Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
- Romans 15:4 — For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
- 1 Corinthians 10:11 — Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
God begins His rebuke to the priests by first putting their sin in context with His love and unmerited grace bestowed upon them — “I have loved you,” says the Lord. (Malachi 1:2) The Sovereign God Almighty, Creator of the Heavens and Earth, chose them over anyone else to love them and reveal Himself to them, yet the priests responded to God halfheartedly, showing more respect for their earthly fathers, masters and rulers than to the Lord.
The condition of their hearts was visible in the lame sacrifices they brought to God during worship. What sort of heart do you offer the Lord in worship? “Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor?” (Malachi 1:8) When you attend church tomorrow, will you show God more honor and respect than you would a great leader or celebrity if you were invited to their house? Even more, when you walk with God each day, will you worship Him continually and show Him the honor and respect He deserves? “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) Don’t offer God lame sacrifices today or any day.
Today through Malachi, God describes for us what priestly behavior we as Christians should exhibit –
1) Fear the Lord – “He feared me. He stood in awe of my name.” (Malachi 2:5)
2) Proclaim God’s truth to others with integrity – “True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips.” (Malachi 2:6) “For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 2:7)
3) Walk with the Lord with uprightness and purity. “He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.” (Malachi 2:6)
Endeavor today to be a faithful priest and ambassador for Christ because God loves you and has poured His grace upon you and also because you love others – don’t cause others to stumble by failing to glorify God as you should. (see Malachi 2:8)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 December 21: Praise the Lord today and every day! Be truly amazed by His grace! Stand in awe of God and let your words and deeds reveal Him to others.