Useless Fires?

Dad's campfireUseless Fires?

Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! (Malachi 1:10, New International Version).

Scripture: Malachi 1:9–11
Song: “The Heart of Worship”

It only took a few seconds for the fire start, helped along by some charcoalBondfire lighter. Soon the flames leapt high into the air. Not wanting to be scorched, everyone took a few steps back and watched as hot embers drifted up, disappearing into the night air. It was quite a show—like fireworks.

My high school friends knew how to make a roaring fire. Somehow, though, it seemed like a waste of good firewood. Their fire wasn’t like the ones my father used to build. His campfires had purpose. They cooked meals, radiated warmth, provided security, and gave out a guiding light in the darkness.

Malachi gives us a similar analogy: he equates halfhearted worship to a useless fire on God’s altar. It was superficial, having no purpose or passion, so God rejected it. The creator of the universe doesn’t need more firework displays. He favors honest, meaningful praise that comes from a pure heart. It’s the kind of altar fire He desires most.

In the church today, the fires of worship burn in our hearts. They glow brightest when fueled with sincerity and compassion.

Lord, You see all things, including the fire that inflames my soul. May Your goodness shine through in all my words and deeds. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Useless Fires?” by Charles Earl Harrel. First published in Devotions® © 2009 Standard Publishing. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Purchase current printed issue of Devotions or 365 Devotions.

(My father, Raymond, pictured above tending his campfire)


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