Take it to Heart
It has become popular to just give the bare minimum. Word choices like “whatever”, and “it’ll do” keep mankind subscribing to a second-best mentality. Our efforts are “enough”. But this is not the standard that God holds us to. And ultimately, it is faithlessness rather than the faithfulness God desires. God invites us today to “take it to heart” what He has asked of us—in every area of our lives.
Bible Reading: Malachi, Psalms 132-134, Eccl 9-10
Today we are covering the reading for today and this weekend. We are reading from Malachi, Psalms 132-134, and Eccl 9-10. Friday’s are going to be chock-full with Freebie Friday and the reading for the weekend so you all can read as your leisure over the weekend.
It is hard for generations to be faithful. One generation seeks to establish another, but both generations will have to deal with their own sins in order to be faithful to God. The generation Malachi addressed was 100 years after God’s people had returned from exile. Perhaps the lessons learned by the generations before had been lost again. Restoration needs to be maintained by faithfulness.
Each generation has to decide to take it to heart what God has said. To live it out or not.
Take it to Heart—Carry the Message
A little bit about Malachi from my study Bible. The book of Malachi was likely written between 500-400 B.C., around the time Nehemiah’s ministry ended and when the last part of the Old Testament was written.
The prophet Malachi’s name means “my messenger”. Some have wondered whether or not that was a title or his real name. For example, “my messenger” in Malachi 3:1 has the same Hebrew form as the name Malachi. The book of Malachi is clearly more on the message than the messenger.
We are called to carry the message, but how can we carry the message if we do not live it out?
Israel’s struggle with complacency and apathy (we talked about apathy a couple of days ago in our reading), prevents Israel from God’s blessings and precludes Israel from carrying God’s message forward.
Take it to Heart—Be Faithful
God tells His people to “take it to heart” in several areas. We are called to be faithful in what God has told us to do. Period.
“Therefore, this decree is for you priests: 2 If you don’t listen, and if you don’t take it to heart to honor my name,” says the Lord of Armies, “I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings. In fact, I have already begun to curse them because you are not taking it to heart.”
The covenant God made with His people should illicit a response of devotion. But God’s people bring God down to their own size and forget to take to heart His holiness and His expectations.
5 “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Armies.
8 “You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of Armies. 9 “So I in turn have made you despised and humiliated before all the people because you are not keeping my ways but are showing partiality in your instruction.”
Take it to Heart—God’s Accountability
God calls out areas where His people are not taking to heart His commands and way of life; let alone their relationship with a Holy God.
- God called out their insincere worship and half-hearted devotion (Malachi 1:10-13). They were bring an offering to God of lame or sick or blind animals; bare minimum to God!
- God called out their spiritual adultery (Malachi 2:10-11)
- God called out their faithlessness in marriage.
- God called out their faithlessness in parenting.
“14 And you ask, “Why?” Because even though the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, you have acted treacherously against her. She was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant. 15 Didn’t God make them one and give them a portion of spirit? What is the one seeking? Godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, so that no one acts treacherously against the wife of his youth.”
- God called out their faithlessness in their words and in their deeds.
“17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied him?” When you say, “Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and he is delighted with them, or else where is the God of justice?”
Don’t we see this today? People in the church and in our surrounding culture will say things are permissible that God doesn’t. This is faithlessness. This is not taking to heart God’s word.
This phrase “Take it to heart” is defined by Merriam Webster as “to be deeply affected or hurt by something”.
- God called out their disobedience to His commands and in tithing
“7 “Since the days of your ancestors, you have turned from my statutes; you have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Armies. Yet you ask, “How can we return?” 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me!” “How do we rob you?” you ask. “By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions. 9 You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing me. 10 Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the Lord of Armies. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.”
Listen, we all fall short and a rebuke is never fun, but we today need to take it to heart what those who have gone before us have done and what we are doing right now.
We can be blinded by our sin, but God’s word opens our eyes.
This world is such a distraction from us seriously walking with God. We are not deeply affected (which is what take it to heart means) by His word. We are creatures of comfort, often succumbing to bare minimum. This is the same behavior God called out in this generation of God’s people in Malachi. They were lukewarm and not recognizing how Holy God is. He requires our best, not our second best.
Looking at the Hebrew for the phrase “take it to heart”, the word “suwm” is the word for “take”, which is translated as “to set, to make, to transform into”. The word, “heart” or “leb (lave)” is translated as heart or soul of man, the seat of our emotions.
The Theological Workbook of the OT describes this word heart in this way: “The heart is the seat of the will. A decision may be described as “setting” the heart. The heart is the seat of moral responsibility. Righteousness is “integrity of heart” (Gen 20:5). Moral reformation is to “set one’s heart aright”. (Andrew Bowling, “1071 לָבַב,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 467).
Our culture says to follow our heart. God’s word says we are to direct it. Our hearts are deceitful. We must take to heart what God has commanded and not allow our flesh or heart or mind to pull us away from full devotion to God.
Malachi contrasted the faithfulness of the LORD with the faithlessness of Israel. Through God’s messenger, Malachi, God asked Israel to examine themselves
According to the Bible Project,
“Malachi accuses Israel of selfishness after the exile and announces that the Day of the Lord will purify Israel and prepare them for God’s Kingdom. One hundred years after the exile, the Israelites who had returned to Jerusalem were as evil and corrupt as their ancestors. The book of Malachi addresses their corruption while also stating that God will remain committed to his people and fulfill his promises . . . Malachi is designed as a series of disputes between God and the new generation of Israelites.”
Malachi tells the truth about our human condition—our sin and waywardness, but it also tells of a future hope for those who resist evil and follow God.
Take it to Heart—A Man After God’s Own Heart
Contrast this message in Malachi with David in Psalm 132. What a heart for God – he was a man after God’s own heart!
“1 Lord, remember David and all the hardships he endured, 2 and how he swore an oath to the Lord, making a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: 3 “I will not enter my house or get into my bed, 4 I will not allow my eyes to sleep or my eyelids to slumber 5 until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
When we take God’s word to heart, we live it out. We don’t make excuses, we own up to our mistakes because we recognize that we are accountable to God. He is alive. His word is true.
David invites us to enjoy the benefits of those who do take to heart God’s commands. There is harmony in Psalm 133, and a lifestyle of worship. When our lives are centered around Christ, we are centered.
“Now bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who stand in the Lord’s house at night! 2 Lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the Lord! 3 May the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.”
Take it to Heart—Everything is in God’s Hands
I love when God just lines up His word with a resounding message. When He placed on my heart to focus on the phrase, “take it to heart” in Malachi, I also felt led to do this weekend edition including the readings for the Psalms and Ecclesiastes, not knowing how they would line up. All I can say is “wow, God!” he wants us to take it to heart for sure, the messages we are reading today. Going from David’s son, a man after God’s own heart, to his son, Solomon, check out Ecclesiastes 9:1
“Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands. People don’t know whether to expect love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. 2 Everything is the same for everyone: There is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so also it is for the sinner; as it is for the one who takes an oath, so also for the one who fears an oath.”
Solomon has been ranting over the futility of life for weeks now, and here he takes it to heart in another rant. Only I come to a different understanding. Life is futile and mundane without God. Just living for this life is not what we were made for. Everything is not the same for everyone. Those who take to heart what God has said and live their lives in obedience to Him are blessed beyond measure. But the answers to this life cannot be found in the creation. They are found in the Creator.
Solomon reminds us that no one knows his time. Even pursuing wisdom is not it. Pursuing folly isn’t either. But pursuing God is.
Friends, our hearts can grow lukewarm. Honestly, we need to be vigilant and watchful – by being in God’s word and being accountable to others who might recognize when our devotion begins to become lackluster. The words of Jesus through the disciple John in the book of Revelation, written to the church at Laodicea are a poignant reminder to us.
14 “Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea: Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I advise you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be zealous and repent. 20 See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
God loves us when He corrects us and it is not for our condemnation. May we hear His voice and take it to heart what He has spoken, constantly seeking Him so we might live in a way that pleases Him.
Scripture of the Day:
“Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands.”
- Take it to heart what God has revealed and live it out.
𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.
Day #325: Malachi, Psalms 132-134, Eccl 9-10
𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Ecclesiastes 9:1a
“Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands.”
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