Monday, February 13, 2012

What are You Offering to the Lord?

"'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a Father, where is my honor? And if I am a Master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise My name. But you say, "How have we despised Your name?" By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, "How have we polluted you?" By saying that the LORD's table may be despised.
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"
Malachi 1:6-8

Rebellious Israel thought it acceptable to offer up to God a half-hearted sacrifice. They believed the Lord would approve of their pathetic sin offerings of defiled food. God commanded them to bring the best of their flock to be sacrificed on the altar, but for some reason they assumed He would not mind them bringing to His table their lame and sick animals. At least they were doing something for the Lord, right? After all, the rest of the nations were full of pagan idolatry...wouldn't God be pleased if this nation at the very least acknowledged His existence, came before Him and offered Him something, as defiled as it may be?

To these heinous sins of hypocrisy and presumption God responds: "I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand" (Mal.1:10). "Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished" (Mal.1:14). Those who were merely going through the motions of an external religious ritual, without offering to the Lord the internal devotion of their whole hearts (as is demonstrated by their unwillingness to obey God's precisely prescribed methods of sacrifice), were despising the name of the Lord, not showing Him any fear, and were therefore cursed wretches in His sight. God didn't need their sacrifices; He allowed them to partake in the incomparable privilege of glorifying Him through this glorious act of worship...but by their lukewarmness, indifference and disobedience they made a mockery of His name.

What does your devotion to God look like? Are you giving the Lord the firstfruits--the best--of each day? Is the body that the Lord commands you to present to Him as a living sacrifice truly holy and pleasing unto Him? Is spending time with the Lord in prayer and worship your daily priority? Are the Scriptures your daily delight? Could you really say like Job, "I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food"?  Do you cry with the Psalmist, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight"? Are the words that come out of your mouth for the glory of God and the edification of the brethren, or are they for tearing down, gossiping and slandering? How about your thought-life: is Jesus Christ your daily meditation? Do you earnestly make an effort to fill your mind and heart with the Scriptures? Do you contemplate on those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and God-glorifying, or do you find yourself often meditating on the sinful things of the world? And your time--is it used for the Kingdom of God and the furtherance of the Gospel? Are you redeeming the time, or are you squandering your precious hours meaninglessly on trite games, entertainment and distractions?

What are you presenting before the altar of the Lord? If you gave your boss at work what your offer to God, would you be fired? If royalty or the president of your country were to show up at your house to visit, would they be shown more attention, respect, dignity, time and devotion than what you give to the Lord?

"For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts." (Mal. 1:11)

May our devotional life be a sweet-smelling incense, and may the sacrifice of our heart be a pure offering before Him. The Lord is worthy, and His glory is the only thing that matters.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Peruvian Martyr: Rómulo Sauñe

I just finished reading a book called The Path and the Peacemakers. It's about the Church's triumph over terrorism in Peru in the 80's and 90's, during the days of the Sendero Luminoso ("Shining Path"), a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist terrorist group that saught to "liberate" the country of imperialist oppression...killing more than 30,000 people in their "war for freedom". They succeeded in taking over many towns and villages in the Andean regions and in the jungles. Among their main enemies were the Christians, who stood against everything their murderous group represented. Thousands of believers fell victim to their brutal violence. Bible translator Rómulo Sauñe was one of them.