Day 16 » Thoughts on Malachi

Today's blog was written by Natalie Hill. Natalie hails graduated from American University and leads missions and worship at AU Chi Alpha.

Today's blog was written by Natalie Hill. Natalie hails graduated from American University and leads missions and worship at AU Chi Alpha.

When I was in college, a couple friends and I wrote a couple songs, recorded them onto an album, and called ourselves The Modern Nomads.  Most of us didn’t have a future in music, and the future of the band was uncertain anyway because we were all about to graduate and disperse all over the world.  But it was fun and we loved it while it lasted.

One of my favorite moments was when we played our first concert ever as a band (unless you count the NCC Easter Eggstravaganza).  It was at AU during Welcome Week, and a crowd of eager freshmen waited to hear what the indie college music scene had to offer.  Before the show started, we were so stoked to share our music and play for a crowd of people we didn’t know.  I remember the butterflies in my stomach, and I couldn’t keep myself from smiling.  We were doing something so cool! 

That show was the most pumped up I think I had ever been.  I played better than I ever had before.  Sweat was running down our faces from playing so hard.  We were so happy.  It was like an adrenaline rush.

* * *

As a worship leader, I’m realizing I rarely offer that same energy to the Lord.  How often do I start sweating because I’m just playing so hard during worship?  How often do I get butterflies before I get to lead others in praising Jesus through music?  How often do I offer God all my energy in worship to Him?  At that concert, I was performing with what the Bible refers to as my first fruits, but I find that I often worship God with my leftovers.

* * *

The prophet Malachi spoke a word from the Lord to the Israelites about worship and what they had been giving to God.  In chapter one, Malachi warns them that they are breaking their covenant with the Lord by offering Him blemished sacrifices.  In the Old Testament, the Israelites were to sacrifice a perfect lamb, their best in the flock, to atone for their sins.  They’d been doing this for generations, but they had started bringing blemished sacrifices.  They no longer thought it was necessary to give God their best, so they just gave Him the ones they didn’t really care to have anyway.  Malachi basically asks if they’d give these sacrifices to their governor, and he answers by saying, of course not!  But then why were they offering it to the Lord?

For me, if all of AU were watching me perform some of my songs that I wrote, would I not practice and come extra tired and just give 50 percent of myself?  Of course I wouldn’t.  I’d give it everything I’ve got and bring out my best stuff.  But then why won’t I do that for my Savior and King?

I think it’s easy for us to make ourselves believe that God is far away, that He’s just this entity-thing hanging out somewhere kind of watching over us but not really caring.  We might never actually say that out loud, but if we think about it, I think that’s sometimes where our hearts are at.  We often lose sight of how personal He is.  We lose track of the love He has for us or the grace He’s shown us.  We forget how much He’s saved us from and how much He provides for us.  When we do that, we worship with just our leftovers.  We find in us no desire to give Him our first fruits.  Our prayers are empty, we tithe our money after we’ve paid all our bills, we only spend the extra minutes in our day in His Word, and our worship is merely Christian karaoke.

Malachi reminds the Israelites, and us, that God wants all of us.  He wants and, more importantly, deserves our first fruits, not our leftovers.  He deserves my absolute highest praise, not just the extras that I find lying around after I’ve already given everything else away.  

Day 15 » Haggai 1-2

Today’s Reading » Haggai 1-2

Alright, three takeaways for me from Haggai.

Today's post is written by James Kim. James is an Intern at Georgetown Chi Alpha.

Today's post is written by James Kim. James is an Intern at Georgetown Chi Alpha.

Prioritizing the Temple. God is very direct in pointing out in Haggai how His people took care of their own houses while neglecting the house of God. I think we often take for granted how our churches and its leaders are taken care of. We expect them to be there every week and be prepared to welcome and pray for us. The attitude here comes from mistakenly believing the church exists for us. Yes, the community is there to support our spiritual journey and that is important to keep in mind. But, the church is a house of worship, not a meditation room. We go to church to honor and praise our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. Wherever the church is, and wherever the church goes (since church is not a physical building, but a community of God’s people), should be treated with respect. So, when we’ve installed new fixtures and repainted our homes, should we do more to make our homes feel more comfortable or should we seek to make our church more welcoming and hospitable?

God remembers the former splendor. By that I mean that God is eternal. He has seen His people and the church both walk in faithful obedience and fail miserably. He knows our faults and potential. And He sees beyond what we remember and what we can imagine. Like Jon said in his Open Table sermon on 2/18/15, while we think in decades, God thinks in generations. It is this infinite God that we trust and follow. We can rely on Him who is well-aware of our pride, laziness, and selfish desires to accomplish through us the work of the Great Commission.

Holiness through God. The passage talks about how consecrated things cannot make other things consecrated but defiled things can spread. Attending a worship service, a bible study group, or a prayer meeting does not make us right with God. In fact, when we hold onto our pride, jealousy, greed, and anger before entering God’s presence, we are defiling what is meant to be holy. But, we are made holy when we seek out God’s holiness and ask God to make us righteous. God seeks a changed heart.

“So give us clean hands, and give us pure hearts. Let us not lift our souls to another. Oh God, let us be a generation that seeks, who seeks Your face, oh God of Jacob.” Give Us Clean Hands by Chris Tomlin