Give God Your Best, Not the Rest – Malachi 1:6-14

“When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:8-9, ESV).

What’s the problem with offering lame or sick animals as a sacrifice? After all, they’re killed and eaten anyway. Deuteronomy 15:21 declared that blemished animals can’t be used for sacrifice to God: “But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.”

Malachi’s ministry was to the repatriated Jews whose families had returned to Judea from Babylonian captivity. In Malachi’s time the people seemed to be indifferent to God. So much so, that they weren’t totally obedient to the law of God.

They offered sacrifices, sure. But they offered inappropriate and improper sacrifices. They offered sacrifices to God that wouldn’t even find favor from the governing authorities! So, why would they offer something to God that wouldn’t even be acceptable to men?

God’s people are not so much different today. We do the same thing. We hold out the best for ourselves and give God our leftovers.

We pay tithes or offerings based on what we have left after paying the bills and buying what we want rather than giving to God first!

We attend church when it doesn’t conflict with our work, entertainment or leisure time.

We are so preoccupied with other activities that we don’t have quality time to spend in Bible study and prayer.

I know God’s people can become impassive and indifferent because it happens to me.

So, we must constantly be on our guard and heed Malachi’s warning: God wants our best, not the rest!

There’s two reasons we give God our best and not our leftovers.

First, God is worthy of your best…. and even better than your best! When you give God your best, you acknowledge His worthiness.

And second, by giving God anything less than your best, you sacrifice God’s favor that He intends for you! When you give God your best, open yourself up for all that God has to offer you!

It’s a fundamental spiritual proposition of God’s Kingdom: The more you empty yourself of yourself, the more God can fill you with Himself.

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38, ESV)

Witnessing 101 – John 4:1-42

“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water’” (John 4:13-15, ESV).

In the familiar story of Jesus and the woman of Samaria in John 4:1-42, Jesus provided a perfect demonstration of personal witnessing:

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The Greatest of All Time – 1 John 4

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4, ESV).

In a world with ever-changing vocabularies being generated on social media with every meme, rap song, or YouTube video, it’s difficult to keep up with the latest slang.

But, there’s a recent idiom that has relevance for 1 John 4, especially as it relates to describing God Almighty, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

G.O.A.T. is an acronym for the Greatest Of All Time. The acronym is usually used to describe an outstanding player in a particular sport.

So, G.O.A.T. is not a title that is easily bestowed. G.O.A.T. is not used to refer to those who are “kind of great” or “approaching greatness.” G.O.A.T. is a term reserved only for the truly GREATEST OF ALL TIME!

1 John 4:4 is one of the most well-known and often-quoted Bible verses among Christians .  We quote it to remind and encourage Christians that they can overcome any difficulty or hardship in their lives.

In fact, I use it on myself in exactly the same way–to remind myself that the God I serve is greater than the devil that creates many of the problems I face in this world.

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Careless Christianity – Romans 16:17-20

“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive” (Romans 16:17-18, ESV).

In the Book of Romans the Apostle Paul offered several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Pusillanimous Christianity), we learned that Christians don’t need to be afraid of the future. If your hope is in God and God is in control of your life, then you have nothing to fear because God is in charge of your future.

In Romans 16 Paul continues the lesson about becoming a mature, grown-up Christian. He said that when a Christian is immature and naive, he or she is susceptible to being deceived.

That’s because there are persons that claim to be Christians, who even teach other Christians, but think more about themselves and stroking their own egos than they do about serving Jesus and helping Christians grow spiritually.

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Pusillanimous Christianity – Romans 15:1-13

“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” (Romans 15:4, ESV).

The Book of Romans provides several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Punctilious Christianity), we learned that Christians shouldn’t let their personal convictions cause someone else to question the legitimacy of their faith.

In Romans 15 Paul continues this lesson on not allowing your personal convictions to cause a Christian brother or sister to stumble.

Paul makes a distinction between the weak and strong Christian and then declares that the primary characteristic of a strong Christian is not to please yourself but to conduct yourself in a way that strengthens your brother or sister.

After all, that’s what Jesus did: For Christ did not please himself” (vs. 3).

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Punctilious Christianity – Romans 14

The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. (Romans 14:3-4, ESV).

The Book of Romans provides several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Corporeal Christianity), we learned that Christians should accept responsibility for their own spiritual growth and development through bible study, prayer, meditation and godliness.

Moms are generally scrupulous about the behavior of their children. They want their children to be well-behaved. As Christians we want to be well-behaved for God, but in Romans 14 the Apostle Paul establishes that Christians are not “Mom” over the behavior of other Christians.

Punctilious means to show great attention to detail or correct behavior, which is probably a good thing when you apply it to yourself. But, the Punctilious Christian of Romans 14 exhibits an unwarranted amount of attention and compunction for the correct behavior of other Christians!

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Corporeal Christianity – Romans 13:8-14

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14, ESV).

The Book of Romans provides several theological discussions about Christian living. In the previous post in this series from Romans (see Convictionless Christianity), we learned that God’s Law is, in fact, relevant and binding on our lives as Christians. So, we serve God through adherence to His commands!

In Romans 12 Paul admonished Christians not to live in conformance with this world but live according to God’s Law and God’s will. Then, in Chapter 13 this admonition about godly living became a stern warning about corporeal Christianity.  Because of the immediacy of our salvation (Christ may come or we may die), we must not live out our lives in this world trying to fulfill our human desires.

Paul said salvation has brought light to our darkened souls so we must cast off the works of darkness–drunkeness, sexual immorality, quarreling and jealousy–and put on the armor of light.

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