Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Guard Your Heart (06/08/12)
TITLE: Mediocrity versus a Devoted Heart
By Steve Fortosis
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"I have loved you," said the Lord. "How have you loved us?" the Israelites muttered brashly. "You have shown contempt for me," said the Lord. "How in the world have we shown contempt?" they blustered.
On through the book of Malachi, the Jewish returnees from exile reflected smug impudence as God poured out his heartache through Malachi. They had not guarded their hearts from complacency. On the surface, the people were offering sacrifices, going regularly to the temple, refraining from overt crimes. But beneath the surface they were apathetic and self-centered. They offered blind, defective animals for sacrifice, they married pagan women, they divorced recklessly, they held back tithes from God--then they wept and wailed before God because he wasn't blessing them. They moaned, "What did we gain by carrying out God's requirements? It is futile to serve God; it's the evildoers who are prospering."
We can weep and wail to God until the cows come home, but he will not respond if we're selfishly manipulating him for His gifts instead of loving Him for Himself. We can pretend we are sacrificing for God, but it is quite obvious to Him if we’re just handing Him our leftovers. God says, "Go after me and my righteousness first...delight yourself in knowing me...seek after those things that are above..." Only then will God give tangible blessings; and, at that point, if we guard our hearts, the gifts will actually seem incidental.
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