Malachi 1:13 (ESV)
13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord.
In this scripture, the priests were taking the easy way out. They were fulfilling the requirements of performing the sacrifice, but the sacrifices themselves were inadequate.
Why is that?
The priests couldn’t sacrifice that which cost them nothing. True sacrifice requires something from us, or it is just a cheap show.
That which requires nothing of us means nothing to us. When we offer sacrifices to God, we are giving up something lesser and we receive something greater.
We sacrifice our time, we’re filled with the presence of God.
We sacrifice our money, God pours out blessing on us.
We sacrifice our ambition, he puts us on his path.
The sacrifices the priests were offering were either lame and sick, which cost them nothing, or they were stolen (taken by violence).
The sacrifices cost them nothing and God wouldn’t honor those sacrifices.
What is wrongfully acquired cannot be rightfully sacrificed.
Today, examine yourself. Are you trying to give God things that you haven’t rightfully earned?
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Can you imagine being in a part of your town that you’ve never been before. You have no idea where to go or what to do. So you do what a lot of people do when they don’t know where they’re going. They pull out their phone or ask someone else to check out what Google maps has to say about where to go.
But what if you never got help from Google maps? What if you didn’t trust it’s directions? What if you decided you know more than the map and decide to go your own way. Well, unless you’re really lucky, you’d probably get lost without help and direction.
That’s a lot like what this Bible verse is saying. It’s telling us to not think that we’re wise. We shouldn’t think that we can make decisions independently of God. Yet many times that’s what we do. We don’t get God’s help on our decision making. We don’t include God in our lives. We don’t run after Him and turn away from the things that keep us from Him.
So challenge yourself today to turn away from things that keep you from God. Turn away from things that are bad and decide instead to run after God. Get His input and direction for your life. Choose to make Him your priority in life.
James 1:23-24 (ESV)
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
The Bible has much to say about how we should live. It is divinely inspired text that contains absolute truth and wisdom that’s as relevant for us today as it was when God breathed it into existence.
So it’s understandable that with so much packed into one book, it might take some effort not just to read it but effectively apply its teachings to our lives. One often overlooked tactic of unlocking the power of scripture is the simple act of reflection. When we read the Holy Scriptures, we need to make time in our busy lives to seriously think about not only what it says, but its implication for our lives.
Remember, the Bible is God’s Word. He speaks to us through scripture. If someone you looked up to and admired told you something that would help you emulate their success, not only would you pay attention but you’d likely take notes and refer back to them often. We should think of the Bible in a similar way. Don’t just half-heartedly read your Bible and then check it off your to-do list. Dive deep into His Word and thoughtfully reflect upon its meaning. And don’t just do this once. Revisit passages that have jumped out at you in the past and reevaluate them with fresh eyes.
When we allow the message of God’s Word to sink into our hearts and mind, it will meet us wherever we are in life.
It shows us who God is and who we are as children of God. It transforms our hearts. It makes sense of our fallen world, helping us discern what is of God and what is of man. And it can cut to the heart of any matter we’re facing in life. So we shouldn’t just read the Bible, we should let it speak to our innermost being.
Have you noticed a change in your behavior and attitudes? If not, consider this message and ways you could more intentionally reflect on what God might be trying to say to you.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV)
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Too often we a re guided by what we feel and what we see. We look at how much money we have, how we feel when we wake up, or what we see going on around us. We allow these things to determine how we live our life, our decisions, and ultimately our happiness. However, this verse challenges us to live differently. It challenges us to not live our lives based only on what we see going on around us, but rather to let our lives be guided by our faith in Jesus. When we let what Jesus says in the Bible guide our life we can experience true peace because our lives are guided by something that is stable and unchanging. So today, regardless of what you see around you, choose to believe that God is working on your situation. You can know that regardless of what you see, God is good and you’re going to be all right.
Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Today’s Bible verse gives us a challenge. It challenges us to not stop meeting together and going to church. In life, it can be really easy to want to just sleep in instead of going to church. Maybe you had to work late the night before, or are just wanting to enjoy your weekend. Perhaps your friends are doing something fun that you’d rather be doing than going to church. Whatever the case is, its easy to stop going to church. But this verse challenges us to not do that.
Going to church is a great way to keep yourself encouraged in your faith. You can hear preaching that will inspire and challenge you. You can meet and talk to other people who will encourage you in your walk with God.
God is challenging us in this Bible verse to not stop meeting together as believers. God knows that when we meet together we get inspired and challenged to live lives for Him. So don’t give in to the things that would pull you away from going to church. Decide to make meeting with other believers a priority in your life!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
The book of Psalms is known for its songs and prayers of praise.
These Psalms of praise are often quoted and used in the praise songs we sing at church.
They are found in inspirational greeting cards given for births, weddings, birthdays, and even graduations. We probably all know a verse or two from the Psalms by heart.
Interestingly, the last verse of the last Psalm expresses the desire of everything that has breath to praise the Lord.
These are all great attributes of God that we should rejoice in and praise him for. But, there are many more verses in the Psalms that are of praise to a God when all around them seems to be crumbling.
This is of great comfort to us.
We must remember that these men who wrote these Psalms were men like us.
They were often troubled, going through hard times, and even feeling as though God had abandoned them.
We don’t always have to be on a spiritual high or feeling good to give the praise to God that he deserves as we learn from the writers of the Psalms.
Have you been holding your praise from God during your times of hardship?
1 Chronicles 16:34 (ESV)
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Aren’t you glad that you can give thanks to the Lord? God is good to you. You didn’t deserve His love but He gave it to you anyway. God since the beginning of time has been chasing after you and desiring a relationship with you.
Today you can give thanks to God. Your life might not be perfect. Things might not always turn out as you’d hoped, but regardless of what you see around you, what God has done for you is a reason to give thanks.
God is good and his love endures forever. God isn’t going to get tired of you one day. His love is for you and it’s forever. That’s good news.
Today, choose to spend some time giving God thanks. Thank Him for His great plan to rescue you from sin. Thank Him for His love that never gave up on you. Tell God how great it is to know Him and to be His child.
1 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV)
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.
Today’s Bible verse gives us a picture of how we as Christians should be loving others. When we love others with the God kind of love, it should show by how we treat others.
It means that when our mom tells us to do something that we don’t agree with, we shouldn’t fly into a rage or talk back to her. It also means that we shouldn’t be holding grudges because of something our friend did.
When you love others with the God kind of love it takes effort. You have to say no to what feels good in the moment and let God’s love lead you. It takes a lot of effort to hold back those hurtful words that would feel good to say.
However, when you make the decision to love others like this verse says, it brings peace into your life. You can let God move through you and be a light to others around you. So challenge yourself today to really let God’s love flow through you to others and see what God will do through you!
Daniel 6:10 (ESV)
10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
Have you ever had someone give you a hard time because you were a Christian? Perhaps a teacher at school told you to not share Jesus, or a friend called you closed minded for believing in Christ. What do you do when someone gives you a hard time and challenges your beliefs?
Today’s Bible verse shows us a lot about what to do when your beliefs are challenged. Daniel faced a tough situation. He had a job but the people he worked with wanted to get him in trouble because he was successful. They made it illegal for him to worship God. In that moment, Daniel faced a choice. Would he stand up for what he believed, or just stay quiet and give in to pressure? If he stayed quiet, and stopped worshiping God nothing would happen to him. However, Daniel made the choice to obey God.
He stood up for what he believed in. That’s what we see in today’s verse. He went home, and prayed with his windows open, for everyone to see. They could tell that he wasn’t going to stay quiet about what he believed.
Challenge yourself today to be like Daniel and not let anything come in the way of you worshiping God or standing up for what you believe. Determine to do what Daniel did in today’s Bible verse and stand up for your faith.
Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
When I played baseball, I always remember my coach telling me to keep my eye on the ball. My coach knew that for me to be successful at playing baseball , I had to watch the ball. I couldn’t catch or hit a ball unless I was watching it.
That’s a lot like what we are encouraged to do in today’s Bible verse. We’re encouraged to keep our eyes on Jesus. To be successful in baseball , it requires keeping your eye on the ball, and to be successful in life, its all about keeping your eyes on Jesus.
Jesus should always be a part of your focus. In each decision you make, you should be keeping your eye on Jesus and wanting to make a decision with Him in mind. So today in the craziness of life, be sure to take some time to keep your eyes on Jesus. Spend some time thinking about Him and all He’s done for you.
24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
nor go with a wrathful man,
25 lest you learn his ways
and entangle yourself in a snare.
Most of us are well aware that “bad company corrupts good morals” (I Corinthians 15:33) and we become who we are consistently with.
When we come across verses such as these in Scripture, people’s faces flash through our mind’s eye. A name pops into our head, or we recall and replay a situation where we were wronged.
However, the person’s face that rarely comes to mind is our own! Are you that man or woman “given to anger”? When you’ve had a bad day at the office, is it your spouse or kids who share in the day’s suffering because you lash out at them?
Don’t be fooled, being “given to anger” is undoubtedly a snare, but so too is constantly seeing others as the ones who need the fixing or the change.
Don’t be a hypocrite, judge yourself by the same standard with which you judge others. It is easy to put the blame on others, when you might be the one with the short fuse.
Don’t be known as another angry Christian to the world around you.
Be sure to examine your life as much as you do others.
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Do you struggle with speaking life-giving words? Do you find yourself always speaking poorly of yourself? Maybe you feel like you’ll never understand algebra and so you say, I’m never going to get this…I’m so dumb. It’s so easy to fall into negative speech patterns. We let words fly out of our mouths without giving them any attention. However, when we do that, it can bring some negative effects. Instead, we should be speaking life-giving words over ourselves and others. When we speak words of encouragement and life it’s when we really see good things happen. Decide today to put a priority on speaking words that build yourself and others up. You’ll be encouraged at the good things that follow.
1 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV)
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
How would you feel if you played sports but no one kept score? And at the end of the game, you weren’t really sure who the winner was. That would be a pretty strange feeling, thinking maybe you won but not being entirely sure. In sports, we like to keep score and know who won.
However, in relationships keeping score isn’t always a good thing. You might keep track of how many times your friend borrows money and doesn’t pay you back. You might keep track of how many times you go out of your way to help your friend and your friend doesn’t return the favor. Or perhaps, you might keep track of all the times you friend said something unkind to you.
Keeping score in sports has a point, but keeping score in relationships will ruin your relationship. If you’re always recalling when someone did something wrong to you, you’ll never enjoy a relationship. You’ll be going from one relationship to another, always disappointed.
So if you have a habit of nursing wounds and keeping score in relationships you might consider the godly wisdom offered in today’s Bible verse. Choose to not pay attention to the things people have done to you and instead choose to love those around you with God’s love.
Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)
13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
If you’ve known about God already for sometime, you might read this Bible verse and think, why would I need to find God? Even if you’ve had a great relationship with God, there is always much more that we can experience and learn about Him. He wants us to experience Him in a more deeper way and know about His ways so that we can experience more of His love and goodness in our lives.
In order to really find God, this verse is saying that we must seek Him with all of our heart. We can’t casually try to seek God a little here and there and expect to really find Him. We must dive in and seek Him with everything we have in order to really find Him and get to know Him.
This type of seeking doesn’t happen on a Sunday at church. This doesn’t even happen if you only open a Bible once a week. This happens when you lay aside other things and place all your focus on finding Him that you truly get a break through.
It’s not that God is holding out on us and is only willing to reveal Himself to us if He sees we are seeking enough. This Bible verse is simply saying that our hearts were never designed to be able to focus on several things at once. We must choose to place our focus on one thing and that one thing alone to really get results.
Today, decide that your going to daily take time to seek the Lord. This verse assures us that when we do, we will find Him. You’ll never regret taking your time and focusing on the Lord.
Hebrews 13:15 (ESV)
15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
The crazy thing about thanking someone is that you’ve got to express your thankfulness. If you just think it, the person you’re wanting to thank will never know it. You’ve got to tell them, text them, write them, message them, or use any other medium you know. The point is, you’ve got to express your thankfulness in some way. If you don’t, the person will never know that you appreciate them and what they did.
Today’s Bible verse talks about thanking God. It tells us to thank Him continually. Many times we think that if we thank God once a week at church, we’re all set. However, this verse tells us to thank Him continually. So when you’re eating breakfast, thank Him for your food. When you go to school, thank Him for the opportunity to learn. In all things throughout the day, take moments to give God thanks.
When we take time out to thank God, we’re helping Him, but we’re also helping ourselves. When you take time to think about all the things you have to thank God for, you can’t be sad. You can’t feel down and depressed when you’re spending time thanking God for all He has done for you. So if you need good news today or some encouragement, instead of waiting for it to come to you, choose to be thankful. Make a list of everything God has done for you, and you’ll find that it’s a lot harder to be sad!
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.
There’s nothing harder sometimes than having to wait for something. Maybe you have a friend that takes forever to do her homework. And it drives you crazy working with her because she takes forever to get it done. Or perhaps you’ve got stuck behind a bunch of people walking slowly in the halls of your school. You want more than anything to shove them out of your way so that you don’t show up late to class.
Have you ever been so frustrated with someone going slow that you said or did something that was unkind out of frustration? Being patient with others can be extremely challenging at times.
So what are some ways you can be patient with the people who drive you crazy? First of all, begin to speak life-giving words over yourself. If you struggle with being impatient, and you’d like to change that, begin speaking daily to yourself that you’re patient. Changing your talk can greatly help you on your path to becoming a person of patience.
Also, take an honest look at your life. Some of the moments I’m the most impatient are those that I’ve overscheduled myself or overcommitted. If you’ve overscheduled your day, and are stressed, you’re more likely to be impatient.
Choose today to practice patience in your dealings with others. Choose to show others the love of God by being a person who is patient with others.
Proverbs 17:17 (ESV)
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
Have you ever needed a friend when you were going through a difficult time? Maybe your grandparent passed away, or you’re dealing with low self-esteem, or maybe you’ve just got a bad case of the Mondays. Whatever the case may be, there are times when we just need a good friend. Good friends are sometimes hard to come by. Many people don’t really stick by you when things get tough. At the first sign of difficulty, friends often leave. However, when you find a true friend, you know you’ve found a special thing. Even if you feel like you don’t have a good friend, you can practice being a good friend to others. Go out of your way to do something nice for someone that might be having a bad day. Buy some candy for the student who failed his algebra test. Practice kindness and be a true friend to the people God has placed in your life.
Jonah 2:1-2 (ESV)
2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,
“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
Do you have a “friend” that you dread getting a phone call from?
We might even choose to send their call straight to voicemail more times than not.
Most of us don’t mind helping people. But, we mind helping people who constantly put themselves in the bad situations they are in and never get any wiser.
Jonah, like all of us, was calling to God in his distress.
This was distress that he had caused himself! If he had just done what God had told him to do (Jonah 1:1-3), he would not be stuck in the belly of a large fish. Instead of ignoring Jonah’s cries, God heard his voice and answered him. Aren’t you glad that we can say as Jonah does that God will answer our prayers no matter how bad we have messed up?
It is noteworthy too, that God doesn’t send us straight to prayermail. No matter how bad we have messed up, we do not need to worry about God being too angry to answer our prayer.
5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
We all have days where we feel like no one really cares about us. We might feel ignored or misunderstood and just wish that would really care about us. On days like that, you can get encouraged by reading today’s Bible verse. This verse shows us that God had a plan in mind for us. God was not okay with you being far away from Him, so He chose to adopt you into his family. You are now a child of God, and with that relationship with God, you get some awesome benefits.
One of the greatest benefits is the ability to know God. You can talk directly to God and let Him shower you with His great love for you. This verse shows us that God didn’t choose you because He had no other choice. He didn’t have to choose you, but He chose you anyway. Choosing you made God happy. He was excited to include you into His family.
God loves you and wants you to be a part of His family. So on those days when you feel excluded or like no on really cares, you can remember that God does. He choose you and He’s glad He did!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Have you ever hidden something? I remember a few weeks ago, I hid a birthday present. I didn’t want the person I was giving it to finding it. So I looked and looked until I found the perfect spot for it, a place I knew they wouldn’t see or think to look. Hiding something takes some thought and effort. The same is true of hiding God’s word in our heart. It takes some effort to hide the word in our hearts. It might mean that we have to say no to watching YouTube videos all night long or Snapchatting with friends to get into God’s word. Hiding God’s word in our hearts is worth the effort because it helps us in those difficult times when we don’t know what to do or where to turn. Many times God will speak to us through His word and give us direction and insight on what to do. Choose today to make hiding God’s word an important part of your daily routine.
Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
It can be really easy to fall into the trap of thinking about the wrong things. We all do it at times, and before long, if you leave your negative thoughts unchecked, they can lead you to become upset or discouraged.
In the Bible we are encouraged to think on good things. This shows us that there’s power in what you think about. Your thoughts can lead to a change in your actions and direction. The thoughts you think can determine where you go in life.
So choose to redirect your thoughts when you begin to get down on yourself. Replace those negative thoughts with things that are positive, things that God would say about you or the situation you’re facing. By choosing good thoughts, you’re setting yourself up for success in the future!