12/31/13: Look Back to Move Forward
When we come to the end of almost anything, we instinctively look back and reflect upon it. When we have enjoyed a good meal, we sit back, sigh, loosen our belts, and say, “Now that was good!” After a great concert or play, while driving home, we rehearse in the hearing of the other riders the parts of the performance we liked best. We fill up the empty spaces in our yearbooks at graduation time with thoughts from our friends that inevitably look back at all the fun times we had while in school together. When we retire, we look back over the years of successful service. And, of course, homegoing services, especially those of the children of God, are times when we look back in fond reflection over a life well lived.
Birthdays and other holidays, especially New Years Eve, are also perfect times to look back over the previous year to see what worked, what didn’t work, and what changes need to be made. God did just that in the book of Malachi, the final book of the Old Testament. It seems as though He directed those who organized the canon of Scripture to place it last because in it He is inventorying the former actions of His people. He’s detailing for them what they did wrong and suggesting to them how they can get it right and move forward.
God says that His people have despised His name, caused Him to disregard their offering of tears, wearied Him with their words, and robbed Him. The people, in turn, ask God how they have done all these things. He tells them they have slipped by not offering back to Him the best of what He had given them. Could we be slipping in these four areas as well?
- 1. Time
God says, “You profane [my name] in that you say ‘The table of the Lord is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’ You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ and you sneer at it… And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” Malachi 1:12-13 (NKJ). Has serving God, working in the church, reading the Bible, and having quiet time become routine? Is there no fervor, zeal, and zest in the expression of our faith like there used to be? Do we come into God’s presence tired, bringing leftover energy into the Lord’s service? Are we giving God the best of our time?
- 2. Talent
God says, “But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow
but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished” Malachi 1:14. Are we using our best talents in our careers and hobbies, and our second-best for God?
- 3. Talk
God says, “You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so
He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands…
Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with who
you have dealt treacherously… For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce”
Malachi 2:13-16. And God says, “You have wearied the Lord with your words… in that
you say, ‘Everyone who does evil Is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in
them,’ or, ‘Where is the God of justice?’ Malachi 2:17.
Have we been talking incorrectly this year? Have we been good spouses, dealing
honestly, righteously, and lovingly with our husband or wife; treating him as a brother in
Christ, or treating her as a sister in Christ? We must also stop calling wrong, right. Have
we been excusing evil? Are we saying that God delights in things He clearly does not
delight in? Are we giving God the best of our words, convincingly saying what He says?
- 4. Treasure
God says, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me… in tithes and offerings” Malachi 3:8. Where has all the money gone that God blessed us with this year? Have we given Him back our best, the first tenth?
On this New Years Eve, let’s look back to correct the areas where we’ve slipped up, so we can move forward. God, in His infinite grace, has sent us help to do just that. He says, “Behold, I send My messenger… He will purify the sons of Levi [we are called “a royal priesthood, see I Peter 2:9] and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness” Malachi 3:1 and 3.
Look to Jesus to purge out the old and give a brand new start in our worship for 2014. Happy New Year!
©2013 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.
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