Hearts Set on Worship

Malachi 1:10-14 (CSB) 10 “I wish one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would no longer kindle a useless fire on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Armies, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 “My name will be great among the nations, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Incense and pure offerings will be presented in my name in every place because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD of Armies. 12 “But you are profaning it when you say, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.’ 13 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. 14 “The deceiver is cursed who has an acceptable male in his flock and makes a vow but sacrifices a defective animal to the Lord. For I am a great King,” says the LORD of Armies, “and my name will be feared among the nations.

As we prepare to enter 2022 Malachi offers some powerful words from the Lord about worship that we would do well to hear. 

So many things have vied for what really belongs to God over the years, and for many of us who live in the soup of cultural Christianity, we assume worship in all its forms and availability. What I mean by assume is that my semi-regular attendance or tuning in online or even regular attendance with a begrudging heart has appeased God in some way and maybe he’ll make things work out in my favor. 

I know that everyone does not think, act, or feel this way. However, with declining attendance nationwide, less engagement in person, and shifting attendance to more consumable options, there is some revelation about the hearts of folks in our city, state, and nation. 

I can’t help but compare that with worship I’ve experienced around the world where the faith is truly everything for the fellowship and these brothers and sisters will gladly travel hours over hard circumstances and danger just to gather together and worship. Oh, it’s not a multi-sensory worship experience that tickles the senses. It is simple. It is not in tune. It is not comfortable. But what’s different is the palpable expectation that we will meet with Jesus and we will bring him our very best heart of worship in word and deed. 

I’m fortunate in that this is very much our experience in our fellowship. Folks by and large bring Jesus their very best heart of worship, and for that I’m grateful. 

What I do see in Malachi is a warning to not take worship for granted. God’s desire is that worship that is taken for granted just not be brought at all. 

The key is the heart of the worshiper that takes God for granted revealed in Malachi 1:12-13. This worshiper says that what they get from God in worship is just not worth the effort they put out, and thus worship is despised. It’s less than what they can get somewhere else and that it is a wearisome task to do worship and all that is necessary to bring something to God in worship, so they “scorn” it. The ESV says they “snort” at worship. God likens that to bringing sick animals for sacrifice. 

How does God close this chapter? He reminds us that he is a great king and that his name is to be feared among the nations. What does that mean?

It means that we should make it our aim to make sure our hearts are set on bringing the Lord Jesus the very best of our heart’s desires for his fame and honor and glory in us and in our world. We should strive to be present, even if it is hard and seemingly fruitless in the short term. We should strive to make sure our hearts are set on God’s ends and agenda for getting there. We should strive to make sure our motives are pure, and if not, worship anyway and ask God to transform us. 

As you kick off 2022, why not make sure you do it bringing God your very best in worship? Be present at your church. See how you can honor God in service and in song and in hearing his word. See if God might pour out on you more than you can ask or imagine as you give to him your very best. 

Let God’s word through Malachi produce good and lasting fruit as we kick-off 2022. 

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