useless fire

Pastor’s sermon from yesterday about guarding our spiritual gates has continued to turn over in my mind today. It is perhaps for this reason that the following passage from Malachi 1 impacted me so much when I read it:

10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. ~Malachi 1:10

The context of this verse is that the people were offering less-than-perfect sacrifices on the altar–crippled, blind, and maimed animals that were not pleasing to God. They offered Him second-best (or perhaps it wasn’t even second-best) and feigned shock that He was not pleased with them.

What struck me, though, was the concept of lighting useless fires. The fire was supposed to purify and refine the people, releasing a fragrant aroma to the Lord. However, in Malachi the Lord expressed His desire to bar the people from His presence–the fire was there, but the sacrifice wasn’t right.

How often can this be said of our “pentecostal, charismatic, full-gospel” churches? How often do we have the “fire” of the manifestations, but don’t seek to get the sacrifice right? How often do we seek the glory and neglect communing with the Spirit?

Taking it on a more personal level–how often do I say all the right words, raise my hands at the right time, pray in the Spirit, sing at the top of my lungs….all with emotions raging in my heart that simmer beneath a church mask? Does my going-through-the-motions please Him; or does He care more about my motives and the perfection of my sacrifice?

God’s not fooled by my grandiose behavior. I don’t convince Him that I love my neighbor as myself just by saying all the right words. He’s weighing my heart, my motives, my intentions–every thought that flits through my mind. I don’t want the doors of His throne room barred to me–to weary Him by my blatant disregard for His desires.

If I am to burn, God, let my life be a pleasing sacrifice before You.

Roadside Fire

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7 Responses to useless fire

  1. Renee says:

    So very true and love your perspective. Interesting read and thanks for sharing. God, let my life be a pleasing sacrifice before you too 🙂

  2. persecuted4christ says:

    Great post. The concept of sacrifice escapes many people, myself included, because we have no visual representation like the Israelites did. Sometimes, and don’t take this the wrong way, I wish we still made animal sacrifices. Not because I hate animals or anything like that, but because I think if we went through the motions of raising something to be the best, and then giving it up, we would better understand what it means to sacrifice everything to God. I appreciate your post because it helped me understand sacrifice better…without the actual killing of animals.

    • Chrystal says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve often wished we could actually “see” what goes on in the spirit realm; sometimes I think that lobbing away with a sword might be easier and to be preferred over having to control my thoughts or hold my tongue when I want to lash out at someone. Comes to being a practical kind of person, I guess; but at the end of the day, we have to fight with what God’s given us, and in our day that means making emotional sacrifices over physical ones. God was always about voluntary lovesickness and the state of the heart, anyway.

  3. fireball3316 says:

    very good post chrystal! its not about actions but its about the heart and we can get practiced at looking like christians that we forget that real christians know their God and obey from a heart full of love, not just rules! blessings, claire

    • Chrystal says:

      Thank you for reading and taking time to comment! God has really been talking to me about His desire for voluntary love at an all-encompassing heart/soul/mind/strength level.

  4. Joe says:

    “He’s weighing my heart, my motives, my intentions–every thought that flits through my mind.”

    Great statement – that alone should be enough to humble us each day and remind us that God is not mocked. We need to “rend our hearts and not our garments” as Joel 2:13 reminds us.

    • Chrystal says:

      I wonder how that would impact us if we truly understood the nature of true humility. I was reading today in John about Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, and was struck by how the premise for Him kneeling to begin this act of service was that He knew His power came from God and He knew where He was going. So often when God gives us a taste of what’s coming or who we are, we immediately seek to be served. We have everything so backwards!

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