Are You Just Going Through the Motions? Aug. 28—Sept. 1
Malachi wrote this book to Jews who thought they were following God. And yet God was displeased with them. The priests were corrupt—they were not teaching God’s Word and were presenting polluted offerings to God. The people had ceased giving their tithes to God and their marriages were in shambles. And yet, they all would have claimed to be faithfully following God. Because of their circumstances, they doubted God’s love, and therefore did not keep His covenant with them. They worshiped God, but their hearts were far from Him. Their religion had form but lacked any real substance. It is possible to go through the motions, obeying without love. It is possible to cling to the truth and serve God, yet do so in a loveless, lifeless fashion. Are you just going through the motions?
Day 1 Malachi 1:1-5
Reflect: What is the significance of Malachi starting with God’s words, “I have loved you”? How does the question in verse 2 reveal their hearts? What is God’s evidence of His love?
Apply: How do you most like to receive love? To display love? Have you ever asked God to prove His love for you? In what ways have you doubted His love for you?
Pray: Father, forgive me for the way that I have disobeyed You and followed after my own foolish ways and desires. Cleanse me and open my eyes to see You as good and holy.
Day 2 Ephesians 3:14-19
Reflect: What changes when people fully understand the extent of God’s love? How does knowing God’s love for you in Christ draw your affection toward Him?
Apply: Ask God for the Spirit’s help to understand and revel in His great love for you. Who do you know, that needs to hear how much God loves them? How can you share this with them?
Pray: Father, strengthen me with Your love and power in my inner being. Through the Holy Spirit, use me to help others be aware of Your presence in their lives.
Day 3 Malachi 1:6-14
Reflect: How did the priests challenge God’s accusation? What does this indicate about their understanding of honor that is worthy of God? How might doubting God’s love lead to this?
Apply: How does Malachi’s accusation challenge your approach to worship? Are there any ways that you are offering God “blemished sacrifices”? What needs to change to honor God more?
Pray: God, may my worship be pleasing to You, coming from a heart where You are honored and praised above all else and humbly expressing Your value and greatness.
Day 4 Matthew 23:27-28
Reflect: How are Jesus’ words similar to what Malachi said to the priests? How and why were the teachers and Pharisees just going through the motions?
Apply: Why is going through the motions so offensive to God? When have you acted in this way (or are you still)? What would you say was behind your thoughts and actions?
Pray: Father, forgive me for the times that I have faked my devotion without repenting of my sin. I want to live each day in sincerity and truth, lifting up Your name for Your praise and glory.
Day 5 John 14:23-24
Reflect: Why would Jesus say that obedience is proof that one loves Him? Is it possible to obey and not love God? Why do we often disassociate obedience and love?
Apply: What is most often your motivation for obeying God—Fear? Guilt? Obligation? Attention? Reward? If it is often one of these, what needs to occur for it to become love?
Pray: God, may my love for You not only be shown by obedience to Your words, but by a longing to live according to Your will.
Put It Into Practice!
Week 1: Are You Just Going Through the Motions?
Evaluate the current state of your relationship with the Lord. Is it where you want it to be? If not, ask yourself, “What caused me to lose my love and passion for the Lord?” Ask Him to reveal what prevents you from fully experiencing His love for you. Ask the Lord for ways you can respond to His love that are pleasing Him.