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Worship is Worthwhile

Malachi 1:6-2:10 
 

"'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, 'How have we despised Thy name?' [7] "You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled Thee?' In that you say, 'The table of the Lord is to be despised.' [8] "But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the Lord of hosts. [9] "But now will you not entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?" says the Lord of hosts. [10] "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you," says the Lord of hosts, "nor will I accept an offering from you. [11] "For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations," says the Lord of hosts. [12] "But you are profaning it, in that you say, 'The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.' [13] "You also say, 'My, how tiresome it is!' And you disdainfully sniff at it," says the Lord of hosts, "and you bring what was taken by robbery, and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand?" says the Lord. [14] "But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock, and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King," says the Lord of hosts, "and My name is feared among the nations." [2:1] "And now, this commandment is for you, O priests. [2] "If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name," says the Lord of hosts, "then I will send the curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart. [3] "Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it. [4] "Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi," says the Lord of hosts. [5] "My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me, and stood in awe of My name. [6] "True instruction was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. [7] "For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. [8] "But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi," says the Lord of hosts. [9] "So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways, but are showing partiality in the instruction. 

[10] "Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers? 

To say God is upset with his priests in this text is an understatement. He is livid with them. In the Old Testament times, the priests presented sacrifices for the sins of the people, they were examples of godly living, they gave instruction and led the people to worship God. 

These priests were a poor example. Instead of offering God their best, they sacrificed crippled animals. It wasn't that they stopped doing their job-they were at least going through the motions. It was that they were approaching their service in a half-hearted manner. Why would they do that? Why would they offer God an inferior sacrifice-something that costs them nothing? The only reason I can see is because, as far as they were concerned, God was worth nothing.

Notice that the priests showed up. Notice that they did their job, at least the technical aspects of their job-they offered a sacrifice, but also notice that showing up, putting in their time, and going through the motions wasn't enough. God interpreted their efforts as disdaining his name and he rejected their sacrifice.

Who are the modern-day priests that this passage applies to? Is God speaking to pastors and worship leaders? Certainly, but not exclusively. Rev. 1:6 says, "and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (NASB)

We all are priests. Because of Christ's completed work on the cross, we no longer need someone to be a mediator between us and God. Jesus, our great high priest, has completed his work and today sits at the right hand of the Father. Hebrews 8:1 says, " we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." (NASB) 

Since the perfect high priest offered the perfect sacrifice on the perfect altar, what is the modern day priest to offer? We are not here to offer a bull or a goat, we are here to offer ourselves. Paul wrote, "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. [2] And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2 NASB)

We offer ourselves. Our full selves, as a living and holy sacrifice. An acceptable sacrifice to God.

Is the sacrifice you are offering God today acceptable? I'm not talking about what you put in the offering plate-I'm talking about the life you're offering to God.

Wait a minute preacher, you say. I'm here-I'm putting in my time, isn't that enough? Actually . . . no. It isn't enough. Remember that the priests showed up too. They offered their sorry sacrifices to God, and he rejected them.

Let me ask you two important diagnostic questions. First, why are we here? Are we here to add new people to our group? Or are we here to provide "a service" for our members? Are we here to meet people's needs? In other words, who is our primary audience? The non-believer? The believer? 

My answer is, Neither. Our primary audience is a holy God who is worthy of our worship and is here to receive it. It is our conviction that if we keep the focus on God, believer and non believer alike will benefit from the service.

The second question is, Why are you here? Are you here out of habit, or to appease a family member, to do "church work" or out of a sense of obligation? Or are you here to encounter a holy God?

The risen Lord is here. Are you encountering Him today? The scripture says, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." (Matthew 18:20 NASB) The emphasis on this verse should not be on the "two or three" but on the phrase, "gathered together in My name." When we gather in His name, He is here.

So what kind of sacrifice are you offering? God rejected the priests' sacrifices because the animals they sacrificed were lame, blind and sick. What kind of shape is your sacrifice in? Paul said to "present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God." 

Are you holy? Or have you profaned your body and by doing so, profaned your sacrifice to God? In 1 Cor. 6:19, Paul wrote, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" (NASB) Your body is a temple, it is a place where God dwells. Are you keeping it holy?

Rewind through your past week. Did you live a holy life? Were you "set apart" for God? Was your speech holy? Were your activities holy? How did you conduct yourself while you were at school, or around your friends? How were you around your co-workers? How were you around your family? How were you when you were alone?

Is there something different about the way you live? Do people consider you a "regular guy" or do they see something different in you?

What has your commitment to Christ cost you? In 2 Samuel 24:24 , King David refused to offer a sacrifice that cost him nothing. "However, the king said to Araunah, 'No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.' So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver."

As you prepare your life as a living sacrifice for God, has it cost you something? Are you disciplined in your Christian walk? Are you living a holy life? If so, then your worship is acceptable to God. If not, He will reject it, as surely as he rejected the Priest's sacrifice in Malachi's day. 

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