This week, we are finishing off Zechariah, moving onto Malachi and carrying on with Acts. I hope you have found reading Haggai and Zechariah helpful to go alongside our morning sermon series on Nehemiah.
The book of Malachi takes us to about 100 years after the time of the Israelite’s return from exile and the rebuilding of the Temple and Jerusalem. Sadly, the Israelites had returned to their corrupt and disobedient ways. In verses 6 – 14 of chapter 1, we hear of God’s despair at the Israelite’s apathetic sacrifices; they were bringing diseased and lame animals to the altar table as an offering to the Lord. The Israelites are not bringing their all to the Lord, rather they’re bringing half-hearted sacrifices which speak of their lukewarm attitude to God. God doesn’t want a portion of our lives, and he doesn’t want half-hearted offerings either. True worship does not cut corners.
In our chapters of Acts this week, we read the account of Paul and Silas being thrown into prison for casting out a demon from a slave girl. Instead of indulging in self-pity, Paul and Silas lift their eyes above their immediate circumstances, and fix them on God. They pray and sing songs to God, and God breaks their chains and opens the prison gates. Paul and Silas were able to focus on God’s goodness even when their situation was dire. How easy is it to only worship God when we’re ‘feeling like it’? But, as Paul and Silas experienced, the discipline of choosing to worship God no matter what’s going on is one which will help us to lift ourselves out of our immediate circumstance and have God’s perspective. Worshipping in all circumstances is powerful and brings God’s light, joy and peace into every situation.
Here are some questions to help you in your reading this week:
- Is there something you’re holding back from God?
- How easy do you find it to worship God when you’re not ‘feeling like it’?
- Do you have the same urgency to spread the Gospel as the apostles do in the book of Acts?