Day Twenty-Five: Malachi

Today I used my ability to switch books again and ended up in the book of Malachi. In this brief message God brings 4accusations against his people:

1. They are offering defiled sacrifices.

After spending so much time in the Old Testament lately, this is pretty horrifying to be honest. There was a time where kings and prophets offered hundreds of animals to the Lord, and did so joyfully! David and Solomon are some great examples. To see that the people clearly no longer offer their sacrifices with joy but merely out of duty is devastating.

2. The priests have left God’s path.

God specifically accuses the Levites of no longer serving Him with reverence- and thus passing that lack of reverence to the people. He says that the Levites “…have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.” (Malachi 1:9b). Their actions are leading the people into sin, and God demands that they stop.

3.They are unfaithful.

This accusation addresses the husbands and wives of Judah. God accuses them of marrying women who serve idols, and divorcing their wives. As a result the Lord declares that he is not going to accept their offerings.

4. They are robbing God of the tithes and offerings due Him.

Again, after reading so much in the Old Testament lately this is really disappointing. According to the Law every feast has a different purpose and required offerings. God uses these offering for many things- to give the people a way to demonstrate their faith and love for him, as an atonement for sin and as a way to provide for his priests. God promises to bring them into abundance if they just start obeying his commands again!

It all sounds pretty grim- except for promise God included in chapters 3 and 4. He says:

“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heavens Armies.- Malachi 3:1

They don’t know it, but Jesus is coming! And as I look at this list of accusations I am fully aware that God could lay these same things and more at the churches feet- but the promise of Malachi still applies to us!

Jesus is coming.

Tomorrow, I’ll be headed back to Deuteronomy. See you then!

In Christ,

Karen

Day Sixteen: 1st Thessalonians

I can not believe that we are 16 books into this challenge! It has gone by faster than I expected.

Today I am in 1 Thessalonians. I’m not super familiar with this book and right off the bat I learned something new! It states that this letter is from Paul, Silas and Timothy, and as you read the letter clearly reflects that. The word “we” is used liberally as these three praise and encourage the church in Thessalonica.

First they reflect on the first visit with the church- how they came to Christ and how proud they are of the way the new believers imitated Christ.

Then Paul, Silas and Timothy were called to another area and the scriptures say they were separated for a while. So long in fact that Paul admits that he got nervous and sent Timothy to “find out whether your faith was still strong.” (1 Thessalonians 3:5).

And the next paragraph is so beautiful! I can practically see the excitement of these 3 pastors and this section is penned. 1 Thessalonians 3: 6-7 says:

“But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports you remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you! So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith.”

As a pastor I can honestly say I completely understand their joy. I love seeing students I’ve poured into standing strong in their faith and doing what God has called them to do! It’s so easy to get caught up in the work that still needs to be done or the struggles we are currently dealing with.

I highly encourage you to look back at pastors or spiritual mentors in your life and call them, text them or send them a card saying how much their ministry is still influencing your life.

For example my youth pastor, Kyle mentored me my last 2 years of high school. He and his wife were like second parents to me in high school and it was while I was in his ministry that I was called into ministry.

Jeff Grof is the one who sat me down and helped me fill out a student leader application and constantly urged me to push myself.

My high school debate coach Colleen Averill taught me how to communicate well and was always there to encourage me or give me a hug.

Mac & Jen Dalton, a couple who constantly encourages our family and walked us through a season of change and waiting.

I could go on and on and on.

I know for a fact that these people are still there for me and rejoice with our family when they see what God has done- and many others. So take a moment and touch base with someone who has poured into you- and rejoice together.

Tomorrow join me in 2 Thessalonians!

In Christ,

Karen

Day Fourteen: Exodus

Today is the first day that I wanted to give up. It really had nothing to do with the content, and everything to do with me. I am tired and the last thing I wanted to do today was read- a pretty rare occurrence for me. I think reading Genesis and Exodus back to back was a bit much- both are longer books- but I really wanted to see the flow from one book to the next.

It really felt like I was reading the next book in a series- Exodus picked up right where Genesis left off without missing a beat.

If you read yesterday’s blog you know that I had a specific goal in mind- I wanted to see why the people of Israel became so faithless after generations of men with rock solid faith that God would fulfill his promises. What happened to shake that foundation?

As I read, I think I see a large part of the problem. In Genesis Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are all men without a place. They wander with their flocks and they literally have to trust God with their daily provision. If they can’t find water or the wells have dried up they must wait for God to provide- and they know he will. It isn’t even a question.

When they move to Egypt at the end of Genesis I think that changed them. The generations that grew up in Egypt grew up in comfort. They had homes provided, food at their fingertips and until slavery happened, a livelihood.

When God rescues them from that slavery they are grateful- until things get uncomfortable. The second they start to get out of their comfort zone, they begin to complain that life was better in Egypt! Israel was ok with living in Egypt and passing on the land that God had set aside for them for generations.

We look at them and scoff thinking, “I can’t believe they did that after seeing everything God did! I would never do that.”

Except we do.

How often do we settle for good things that are easy, instead of God’s best? Corporately as a church and individually? I know I have been guilty of it.

Look around at the church in America- I firmly believe that most are settling for what they can get in today’s culture. But what if we really asked God what he wanted us to do- no holds barred? Anything He commanded we would do. Because that is the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Tomorrow I will be moving back into the New Testament and checking out Titus. See you then!

In Christ,

Karen

Day Thirteen: Genesis

Genesis was a little easier even though it is still 50 chapters, mainly because it is in a narrative format. Everything I have read so far has either been prophetic or a letter to the church on Christian living so this was a nice change!

As I read this stories again (this is one book I’ve read several times) this was the big thing I picked up:

Expectation. Noah built the ark, expecting God to bring rain. Abraham and Sarah, expecting God to bring them to the land He promised them and the children he promised. Isaac and Jacob expecting that God would fulfill the promise he made to Abraham. Even Joseph in his final words in Genesis confirm his expectation of God’s promise. He says:

“Soon I will die,” Joseph told his brothers, “but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt. He will bring you back to the land he solemnly promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” -Genesis 50:24

It amazes me that each generation unfailing expects this promise to be fulfilled. Especially since Israel struggles with this kind of faith after they are released from slavery in Egypt. Before their time in Egypt the entire family had an unshakable expectation that God would do what He promised.

As I read Exodus tomorrow it will be interesting to see what changes!

In Christ,

Karen

Day Twelve: 2nd Peter

Yesterday in Peter’s first letter he wrote to encourage the believers as they were persecuted for the Kingdom. Today as I turned the page to 2nd Peter I feel like his purpose was to warn the church.

First, Peter warned the to keep growing. He tells the church to grow in goodness, knowledge, self-control, godliness, brotherly affection and love for everyone. After he lists the in 2 Peter 1:5-6 he says:

“The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.”

-2 Peter 1:9

Without this growth, we regress and forget the saving grace Jesus has done for us.

Secondly, Peter warns the church to be aware that false teachers will come. It’s not a maybe someday- he tells them that the false doctrines are already among them! He makes it clear that those who teach anything contrary to, of teaches something that twists the Scriptures will live in sin and draw others into it as well.

Thirdly, Peter warms the church that Jesus is coming. He tells them that Jesus isn’t being slothful or slow- he is being patient. Patient so more people can be added to the Kingdom! Because of this we need to be diligent in living holy lives- showing those around us exactly who Jesus is!

I really feel that this warning applies to every generation of the church.

Don’t stop growing in your faith.

Know your Scripture and stand firm on the truth.

Jesus is coming back- be holy so others may come to know him.

Tomorrow and Thursday I will be reading Genesis and Exodus- see you tomorrow!

In Christ,

Karen