Malachi 1-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He came to heal our hearts and open the door to eternal life with Him

“Mommy, I feel so clean inside.”  As a three-year-old, I really didn’t understand all that had taken place in my life the day I asked Jesus to cleanse me from my sin.  I’m not sure how dark and deep my sins could have been at such a young age, but I remember the cleansing, the warmth, and wholeness that came deep within me that morning.  I still feel it today, and there’s just nothing else like it!  Our prophet today, Malachi, ended the Old Testament with encouragement about One who was coming to bring cleansing, warmth, and wholeness to the lost. 

@ Malachi 4
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.  And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (2)  In the first three chapters, Malachi had chastised the Israelites for their sins in marrying pagans, robbing God of the tithe and unfaithfulness to the family, but now he came with a message of hope for the future.

Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, was coming to bring healing to their sick hearts, and the freedom they would experience would send their hearts leaping for joy.  The sun can be a destructive fire or a warm glow to our lives, but those who would turn to God would feel the cleansing, the warmth from the Son of righteousness and complete wholeness.  There would be nothing else like it!

“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.  His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.” (5)  God was giving the Jews a heads up on how they could recognize the Sun of Righteousness.  There would be a prophet, a forerunner, who would announce the arrival of the Messiah as foretold by Isaiah, “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’ This messenger was John the Baptist.” (Mark 1:2-4) With such a clear marker, I’ve never understood how they missed Him.

“Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”  But then Malachi ended his message and the Old Testament with a curse.  On judgment day, those who have not asked Jesus to cleanse them from their sins will be judged accordingly, and the Sun of Righteousness will be a consuming fire.

Those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, the One who came to destroy the curse, will experience His grace, cleansing and the warmth from the Sun of Righteousness. The redeemed will no longer be cursed but will experience the blessing from the final words of the New Testament in Revelation 22:21, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.”  Thank you, Jesus, for coming and removing the curse, making us clean inside. Thank you for opening the door to eternal life with you.  I feel the warmth.

Moving Forward:  I’m blessed beyond measure today because of the Son of righteousness, Jesus, and the promise of eternal life He has brought to me.  I move through this Christmas Season with a grateful heart for what it truly means to celebrate His birth. 

Tomorrow @ Acts 19-20

Matthew 20-22 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He is mercy and grace

My first real job out of high school was working in the stenographer’s pool at a large bank while I attended college.  Different departments throughout the bank called the steno pool when they needed someone to take dictation, do filing, answer phones, etc.  The goal of everyone in the pool was to eventually find a permanent position somewhere in the bank.

One employee who had worked there for a long time was a source of irritation for most of us as we waited for our escape because of her poor work ethic.  On occasion, I thought how great it would be to file my nails, make personal phone calls or in my case do homework while on company time.  It seemed unfair that she was paid for 40 hours each week like the rest of us, but for some reason a measure of grace and mercy was given to her. This was bothersome to us because, in the natural, we don’t want grace for others as much as we want justice!  Thankfully, we’re not God. 

@Matthew 20
In Matthew 20, Jesus shared a parable about grace and mercy, “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard.  He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.” (1-2)  Normal pay for a normal day sounds reasonable.  Throughout the day the landowner added workers, even up to the final hour of the workday, and a conflict arose when their pay was divvied out.

“When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’” (10-12)  I feel their pain. I’ve heard these simple definitions of mercy and grace:  Mercy is not receiving what we do deserve; grace is receiving what we don’t deserve.  Matthew 20:1-16 is all over this.

In the same way, it may seem unfair that someone with a death-bed conversion to Christ who lived a pleasure-filled godless life will spend eternity in Heaven with God and with all those who lived submitted and obedient lives to Him. But it is really unfair?  Would any of us be so bold as to say we deserve eternity in Heaven because of our righteousness?  That any of us will spend eternity with the Lord is only because a righteous God spared us from what we deserved and gave us what we didn’t deserve through our acceptance of Jesus Christ – plain and simple.

As far as my co-worker from so long ago, one day I realized that she had missed the point.  She was still in the steno pool long after the rest of us had moved on to a better position in the bank.  Mercy kept her employed and grace kept her paycheck coming, but she missed out on all that she could have achieved and enjoyed along the way.

Those who come late in life to the Lord miss out on the abundant life He offers here on earth, and even more so, they miss out on the pleasure that comes from a lifetime of pursuing His purpose for them.  God is merciful, but waiting to come to Him does not secure the abundant life on earth He has offered us.

I am ever mindful that God has given each of us assignments to accomplish while we tread this sod, but our purpose, both on earth and in Heaven, is something much different.  He has given us life, our very next breath, for the purpose of fellowship and intimacy with Him. Obedience and self-denial may be our path to Him, but anything we surrender is insignificant compared to the pure pleasure of His company! 

Moving Forward:  I approach this day with a greater understanding and thankfulness for His mercy and grace on my life.  Before I accomplish the myriad of things I must do today, I first will pursue the pleasure of His company.

Tomorrow @ I Corinthians 1-2

Malachi 1-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He came to heal our hearts and open the door to eternal life with Him

“Mommy, I feel so clean inside.”  As a three-year old I really didn’t understand all that had taken place in my life the day I asked Jesus to cleanse me from my sin.  I’m not sure how dark and deep my sins could have been at such a young age, but I remember the cleansing, the warmth and wholeness that came deep within me that morning.  I still feel it today, and there’s just nothing else like it!  Our prophet today, Malachi, ended the Old Testament with encouragement about One who was coming to bring cleansing, warmth and wholeness to the lost. 

@ Malachi 4
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.  And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (2)  In the first three chapters, Malachi had chastised the Israelites for their sins in marrying pagans, robbing God of the tithe and unfaithfulness to the family, but now he came with a message of hope for the future.

Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, was coming to bring healing to their sick hearts, and the freedom they would experience would send their hearts leaping for joy.  The sun can be a destructive fire or a warm glow to our lives, but those who would turn to God would feel the cleansing, the warmth from the Son of righteousness and complete wholeness.  There would be nothing else like it!

“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.  His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.” (5)  God was giving the Jews a heads up on how they could recognize the Sun of Righteousness.  There would be a prophet, a forerunner, who would announce the arrival of the Messiah as foretold by Isaiah, “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way.  He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’ This messenger was John the Baptist.” (Mark 1:2-4) With such a clear marker, I’ve never understood how they missed Him.

“Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”  But then Malachi ended his message and the Old Testament with a curse.  On judgment day, those who have not asked Jesus to cleanse them from their sins will be judged accordingly, and the Sun of Righteousness will be a consuming fire.

Those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, the One who came to destroy the curse, will experience His grace, cleansing and the warmth from the Sun of Righteousness. The redeemed will no longer be cursed but will experience the blessing from the final words of the New Testament in Revelation 22:21, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.”  Thank you, Jesus, for coming and removing the curse, making us clean inside. Thank you for opening the door to eternal life with you.  I feel the warmth.

Moving Forward:  I’m blessed beyond measure today because of the Son of righteousness, Jesus, and the promise of eternal life He has brought to me.  I move through this Christmas Season with a grateful heart for what it truly means to celebrate His birth. 

Tomorrow @ Acts 19-20

Matthew 20-22 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He is mercy and grace

My first real job out of high school was working in the stenographer’s pool at a large bank while I attended college.  Different departments throughout the bank called the steno pool when they needed someone to take dictation, do filing, answer phones, etc.  The goal of everyone in the pool was to eventually find a permanent position somewhere in the bank.

One employee who had worked there for a long time was a source of irritation for most of us as we waited for our escape because of her poor work ethic.  On occasion I thought how great it would be to file my nails, make personal phone calls or in my case do homework while on company time.  It seemed unfair that she was paid for 40 hours each week like the rest of us, but for some reason a measure of grace and mercy was given to her. This was bothersome to us because in the natural, we don’t want grace for others as much as we want justice!  Thankfully, we’re not God. 

@Matthew 20
In Matthew 20, Jesus shared a parable about grace and mercy, “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard.  He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.” (1-2)  Normal pay for a normal day sounds reasonable.  Throughout the day the landowner added workers, even up to the final hour of the workday, and a conflict arose when their pay was divvied out.

“When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’” (10-12)  I feel their pain. I’ve heard these simple definitions of mercy and grace:  Mercy is not receiving what we do deserve; grace is receiving what we don’t deserve.  Matthew 20:1-16 is all over this.

In the same way, it may seem unfair that someone with a death-bed conversion to Christ who lived a pleasure-filled godless life will spend eternity in Heaven with God and with all those who lived submitted and obedient lives to Him. But it is really unfair?  Would any of us be so bold as to say we deserve eternity in Heaven because of our righteousness?  That any of us will spend eternity with the Lord is only because a righteous God spared us from what we deserved and gave us what we didn’t deserve through our acceptance of Jesus Christ – plain and simple.

As far as my co-worker from so long ago, one day I realized that she had missed the point.  She was still in the steno pool long after the rest of us had moved on to a better position in the bank.  Mercy kept her employed and grace kept her paycheck coming, but she missed out on all that she could have achieved and enjoyed along the way.

Those who come late in life to the Lord miss out on the abundant life He offers here on earth, and even more so, they miss out on the pleasure that comes from a lifetime of pursuing His purpose for them.  God is merciful, but waiting to come to Him does not secure the abundant life on earth He has offered us.

I am ever mindful that God has given each of us assignments to accomplish while we tread this sod, but our purpose, both on earth and in Heaven, is something much different.  He has given us life, our very next breath, for the purpose of fellowship and intimacy with Him. Obedience and self-denial may be our path to Him, but anything we surrender is insignificant compared to the pure pleasure of His company! 

Moving Forward:  I approach this day with a greater understanding and thankfulness for His mercy and grace on my life.  Before I accomplish the myriad of things I must do today, I first will pursue the pleasure of His company.

Tomorrow @ I Corinthians 1-2