Return to Me…Respect God

A son honors a father,
        and a servant honors his master.
But if I’m a father, where is my honor?
    Or if I’m a master, where is my respect?
says the Lord of heavenly forces
        to you priests who despise my name.
So you say, “How have we despised your name?”
        By approaching my altar with polluted food.
But you say, “How have we polluted it[b]?”
        When you say, “The table of the Lord can be despised.”
If you bring a blind animal to sacrifice, isn’t that evil?
If you bring a lame or sick one, isn’t that evil?
Would you bring it to your governor?
Would he be pleased with it or accept you?
says the Lord of heavenly forces (Malachi 1:6-9, Common Engish Bible).

Yesterday afternoon I opened a bottle of Snapple and read the “fun fact” under the lid. I can’t remember it all but it said that a certain word, of which I had never heard, was the longest word in the English language that every letter repeated itself at least one time. I know, it is a ridiculously useless fact.

Respect is nowhere near as long of a word as the word under the Snapple cap. It isn’t a big word but it is an important word. The late Rodney Dangerfield made a career out of his belief that he got no respect. We hear people, at least to my knowledge, mostly me, who complain they are disrespected or like Dangerfield, they get no respect.

In truth, much like the priests in Malachi’s writing, many among us give God no respect. People fail in prayer, they fail in worship attendance, they fail in confessing who God is, they fail in their sin, they use the name of God in inappropriate ways. People fail in all the ways and more. We all do. If we say people fail because of their sin, then it should go without saying, we all fail. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Those aren’t my words, see Romans 3:23. Additionally, this passage from 1 John has a thing or two to say about that.

This is the message that we have heard from him and announce to you: “God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.” If we claim, “We have fellowship with him,” and live in the darkness, we are lying and do not act truthfully. But if we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we claim, “We don’t have any sin,” we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong. 10 If we claim, “We have never sinned,” we make him a liar and his word is not in us (1 John 1:5-10, Common English Bible, Italics mine).

John goes on to say (see 1 John 5:10) that when we don’t believe God (and Jesus’ testimony to be God’s Son) makes God out to be a liar. That is just about the ultimate in disrespect in my book.

If empirically based opinion polls are to be believed,  a very large percentage of people in American society profess a belief in God, even in Jesus and yet they live their lives as pagans. You cannot say you love God, that you respect God when you have no love for the Children of God. Again, 1 John reminds us, “If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen” (1 John 4:20, Common English Bible).

In today’s lesson, Malachi is speaking of the priests who would sacrifice animals that were lame and animals that were sick. Remember, the law given in the Torah required sacrifices of firstborn animals who were without blemish be brought as a sacrificial offering. Here, the priests were failing miserably. So were the people who brought such animals. Any change Malachi might have brought forward didn’t have any real long-term effects. This was one of the primary reasons Jesus cleansed the temple.

Perhaps our offerings are yet another way we disrespect God. Do we give what we are supposed to give? Do we give with a cheerful heart? Do we give grudgingly? All of those bring disrespect to God.

Malachi calls for us to respect God. We respect God when we do worship, pray, study, give, and love our neighbor and more. All of us need to do some soul searching to see where we stand.

John does have some good news for us too. Check out verses seven and eight from that 1 John 1 passage about. My favorite part says, “cleanses us from every sin” and “cleanses us from everything we have done wrong.

What more could we ask? Doesn’t that deserve some respect?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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