Monday, October 6, 2014

Lessons from Malachi - Part Two

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Part two of the epic and widely circulated Lessons from Malachi...more lessons from Malachi!
I should mention that for years my time in the bible has been a bit stale. I felt like I was just reading because I had to, and should, but the life that comes out of scripture was rarely present. So I started something new: I bottle feed my daughter twice a day and I read out loud to her while she's eating. I also bless God for Ellie's food, and ask the Holy Spirit to teach us things through His word.
I've always prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit before reading scripture, but maybe that is a stronger statement than I realized, and was something I did not have faith to fully experience (and maybe was even afraid of?). Anyway, simply asking for the Holy Spirit to teach us something is much more tangible and has led to fruitful bible study. I also think reading out loud has helped, and hopefully Ellie is picking up some of the good word too!
For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction -- because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 2:7
Malachi means "my messenger," and some say that the title of the book comes from this phrase, rather than a person's name. When I read the verse above, my first thought was that it was an excellent and simple outline for what a priest ought to be in this world: preserve knowledge in a way that people come to him for instruction.
Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel. "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty.
So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
Malachi 2:13-16
There's a lot there, but my biggest takeaway is that the battle for marriage is two-fold: spiritual and physical. "Guard yourself in your spirit...do not break faith." You could also include mental strength in the physical part.
I've experienced a lot of spiritual attack concerning my marriage, much of which I did not realize was even spiritual! Doubt, shame and negativity are amongst the forefront of what I've felt. How do I know it's spiritual? I've sat in these three areas for a long time, not knowing they have been weighing me down for years. On a few occasions, I rejected them in Jesus' name or refused to let these thoughts subdue me -- the result was a lightness and energy I have never known, as well as a renewed and strengthened love for my wife! There were even times when I physically felt a weight leave my body, immediately after refusing the attack.
This spiritual talk may sound a little "out there," but I am convinced that to keep a strong marriage involves both physical and spiritual strength, and this verse supports it. I try to be careful, though, in what I blame on spiritual attack, because sometimes it could be the other side -- physical. Us. Our flesh.
A couple verses on that:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Romans 7:14-15
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:21-25
I wrote about these verses in an earlier post, but essentially what I've been learning is that the solution to our fight with the flesh is a Spirit-led life of unselfishness. After the passage above, Paul writes:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4
We may feel condemned or shameful, but right there it says there is "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." We are not bound by our physical bodies and its desires anymore, and this only comes through a Spirit-led life.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you...And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Romans 8:9 & 11
Our nature produces death, but because of Jesus, we can have life through the Holy Spirit. So I suppose even this physical battle is spiritual in nature, or at least the solution is a spiritual one.
Well, that's all from Malachi (and Romans, although there will be more to come I'm sure). Again, these are things that came about through reading God's word and asking to be taught by His Spirit. I encourage you to do the same and share any thoughts you have on this (agree or disagree). Thanks for reading!

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