I've been reading Malachi 1 this morning. It begins by talking about God's great love for Israel as he reminds them that he chose them and will never break his promises to them! Even though the rest of the book seems like a condemnation of Israel's evil deeds and broken promises, God reaffirms, in the very beginning, his enduring love for them. No matter what happens, if Israel returns to God, he will return to them (see Malachi 3:7).
God had been punishing Israel and had turned his face from them, for their deeds were wicked. They blamed Him and said "you must not love us anymore!" Of course, that was not the case! The Father longed to lavish his love on them, but one thing was in the way: Their hearts. Have you ever felt that God's face was turned from you? Be assured, he still loves you! He longs to give you the desires of your heart, but you must look to him; you must return to him. "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart!" (Psalm 37:4) In the New Testament, James says "Come near to God, and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded." (James 4:8) Yes, come near to God, but first confess and renounce what is keeping you from him!
After assuring them of his love, God began to show Israel where they had strayed from Him. He showed them exactly what it was that was keeping them from him. We can trust that if we desire to come back to God, he will show us what is wrong in our lives. Let's use this first rebuke to Israel as an example. God was quite specific with them. They were not offering him their best. More that that, they were breaking promises. They promised God to give him the best of the flock, but then became greedy and half-heartedly offered him blemished sacrifices. I know this is a tough subject to deal with. Let me ask a question though (and I say this to myself, as well as to anyone reading this): Are there areas in your life in which you have promised God your best, but have settled for giving him less? My answer is definitely "yes." But my purpose (and God's purpose) in saying this is not to condemn or make anyone feel guilty. Everyone has at one time broken a promise! Only God's promises are sure! Right now, however, we need to ask God to reveal to us the specific areas in which we have been unfaithful, or offering "less than our best." I guarantee he wants to show you, because he wants nothing more than for you to return. Return to Him, so He can return to you and once more lavish his unconditional love and blessings upon you!