Digging in Deeper: Malachi 1:12-13

“‘But you are profaning it when you say: “The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.” You also say: “Look, what a nuisance!” And you scorn it,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?’ asks the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There is a genre of comedy I would call “office comedy.” Some of the more popular entries are the movie Office Space from several years ago and the more recent television show, The Office. Entries in this genre all carry the same basic understanding of work: It’s something you have to do because there are bills to be paid and we all like to eat. In this vein, work is a convenience to be sure. But other than the convenience of enabling us to, you know, live, it’s an enormous, soul-sucking inconvenience in our lives that gets in the way of all the things we’d rather be doing. In Malachi’s day–and in ours as well–people were taking the same approach in their thinking about their relationship with God. He wasn’t happy about it.

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Morning Musing: Zechariah 14:20-21

“On that day, the words HOLY TO THE LORD will be on the bells of the horses. The pots in the house of the Lord will be like the sprinkling basins before the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of Armies. All who sacrifice will come to use the pots to cook in. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of Armies.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever bought a dinner plate for kids before? What is one thing they all tend to have in common besides being brightly colored? They’re divided. The standard plates we’ve been using for our boys for years have four distinct sections–one for whatever the main dish is and three side dish spots. The nice thing about these kinds of plates is that nothing has to touch. One food is separated entirely from another even though they share the same plate. Grown-up plates aren’t like this. We understand (right?!?) that food can mix and touch and that’s okay. A meal may have different parts, but it’s all one meal and sometimes the best flavors come when things you wouldn’t naturally put together intermingle in beautiful ways. Now here’s the trick: Life works the same way. Let me explain why.

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Digging in Deeper: Zechariah 13:3

“If a man still prophesies, his father and his mother who bore him will say to him, ‘You cannot remain alive because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord.’ When he prophesies, his father and his mother who bore him will pierce him through.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

How tolerant are you when your children do something wrong? I guess it depends on what kind and how severe of a wrong it is. It also depends on how much of a perfectionist you are and how tired you are and how willing you are to bear with the process of addressing the wrong at the moment. It probably also depends on how old they are and how much intention was involved in their doing it. In other words, it just depends. Okay, let me change the question just a bit and ask it again: How tolerant are you when your children sin? That question may sound similar, but it’s different and its answer matters a whole lot more.

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Digging in Deeper: Zechariah 9:8

“I will encamp at my house as a guard, against those who march back and forth, and no oppressor will march against them again, for now I have seen with my own eyes.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

It’s hard to imagine the mindset of someone who has been persecuted unless you too have known persecution. Facing severe or sustained (or both!) persecution does something to the human mind such that a person in such a situation thinks and sees the world differently than those who do not share a set of similar experiences. Its a kind of club that no one wants to be a part of, but once you are you share a bond that transcends much of what might otherwise divide you. Israel was a people who had known persecution. Lots of it. If you want to understand why passages like this one are in the Scriptures, you’ve got to understand that.

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Morning Musing: Zechariah 8:18-19

“Then the word of the Lord of Armies to me: The Lord of Armies says this: ‘The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth will become times of joy, gladness, and cheerful festivals for the house of Judah. Therefore, love truth and peace.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Last week we spent some time talking about how much God hates religious exercises. Empty religion is an offense to Him. Just like you don’t want someone doing something for you if their heart is not in it, God feels the same. Ladies, if your guy bought you flowers because he felt like he had to, would you be happy? Guys, if your girl got you the latest cool gadget out of a sense of obligation, would you be drawn to her for it? Of course not. Neither does God want religious exercises done out of the same motives. But, just because He hates empty religious exercises doesn’t mean He hates religion. That’s a distinction we don’t often make, but which we must if we want to be right with Him.

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