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As busy as each of our lives become, we have to prioritize our spiritual lives with the same intensity as we do the rest of our existence.  Throughout time, men have always been content to give God the leftovers. In the book of Malachi, God evaluates the quality of relationship between Israel and him.  The first topic discussed is what priority does God fit in giving. In those days, men would bring sacrifices to God’s alter to express their repentance for sin, or to celebrate their life events like harvest, marriages or births.  In each of those events, the expectation was that out of love and gratefulness, God would receive the best of the harvest or the prime livestock. But, in this time, it seemed that people thought it more practical to simply go through the motions and sacrifice the diseased livestock or withered crops, after all, it was just God…

That ticked God off. He called them on it.  He said simply, Is this what I mean to you? You are using my alter as a landfill. You are bringing me the worst of the lot–while you keep the best for yourselves. It was greedy and discourteous. It sent the message that the people neither trusted God to provide, nor did they value him to sacrifice the offerings due him.

It is the same struggle today. We know intellectually that God is the most important thing in our lives.  He provides life and redemption.  He gives us eternal life and cleanses is of all our sin.  He literally walked away from his God status to be among us, teach us and become the final sacrifice for our redemption.

Our response should be to give our best and 1st fruit to him. Our time and talent should reflect his glory in our lives. Our giving should be joyful—not obligatory. Our language, our attitudes and our walks should reflect his impact and his involvement in all that we do. Instead, like Israel, we often make token gestures to reflect that God is a part of our lives. We attend services, we sometimes pray at events or meals. We give a token to church or charities…but, he is never our first thought or priority.

Malachi’s message of God’s displeasure still applies—God wants our best, not our refuse.  Like any dad, he wants to bless us, but not if we ignore the relationship and deceptively marginalize him. Let’s choose today to make him priority one and treat him with the love and respect he offers us.

God Bless You

A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.

“It is you priests who show contempt for my name.

“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’

“By offering defiled food on my altar.

“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’

“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.

“Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.

10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.

12 “But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’ 13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty.

“When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.