Please bring gently used men and women’s clothing/shoes to be donated to Camilla’s House. We are currently collecting donations in the Welcome Center.
Ladies it’s time once again for our Women’s Retreat, Steppin’ into FAITH Living the Life GOD Designed!
October 6-7, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Additional information can be found by clicking on the two links below. Join us!
Calling all kids and youth for a special Bible Study just for you. Come and learn about the word of God and how to apply His word to your life. Join us every Wednesday night at 7:30 in the Youth Hall. Bring a friend!
WINTER BIBLE STUDY on the Book of MALACHI
Wednesdays at 7:30 PM
JANUARY 25th – FEBRUARY 15th (4 Week Series)
Download your FREE copy to the study below:
Malachi means Messenger. Malachi’s message is filled with indictments and warnings. He rebukes both priest and people for their faithlessness towards the Lord their God. The nation had forgotten God and served Him with little passion.
He reminded them that only through repentance and reformation would the people again experience God’s blessings. The Jews had returned from captivity a hopeful people. They quickly became disillusioned; things simply were not as good as they had hoped. Drought caused crops to fail, opposition from various enemies had made life difficult at best. Skepticism, doubt, and general neglect of spiritual matters had crept in.
They were offering imperfect sacrifices and failing to give their tithes. The priests were lax and did little to encourage them. Mixed marriages with heathen nations and divorce had become common.
The heart of Malachi’s message was to point out to the people that they could never expect prosperity if they continued in the sins described. The work of Malachi closes the period of prophetic activity. After this time, the scribes and priests came to the forefront of religious leadership in the activity of expounding that which had already been written.
Much of what Malachi warns describe our present situations. The nation has fallen away from God. We have inhabited foreign beliefs and neglected our spiritual duties. We have placed our trust and hope in Political figures and have bought into the ideology of social change. We neglect to bring the whole tithe to God’s House. We deny Grace and have become a thankless, entitled people.
God is not pleased, we will only experience His expressed blessings as we allow the scales to fall from our eyes, live out His word and draw near to Him. It is my hope that you will read Malachi, chapter by chapter, and give considerable thought to doing the activities and participate in the study. When our lives are anchored in Jesus Christ, our homes thrive, our church thrive and our communities will show evidence of His presence.
The State of Affairs
THE STATE OF AFFAIRS
At the timing of Malachi, the temple had been rebuilt, but times of prosperity had not come. The people were suffering from drought, famine and blighted crops, and they met these conditions with indifference and spiritual lethargy. They had forgotten God and treated Him with dishonor. They had also married foreign women. Against such a background Malachi, meaning “My messenger”, was written.
We too are living in times of uncertainty. The moral fabric of society is decaying, we are losing our young people to violence, The Church and the things of the Lord are not as important to us. The political scene is at best complex. It may seem that no matter what we do, it will not make a difference. Not too much difference than what the children of Israel experienced in the days of Malachi. Have you allowed these circumstances to cause you to become indifferent about Christ, have you found yourself spiritually asleep? Or, have these events opened your spiritual eyes for the return of Christ?
Sins of the People: Vs. 1:1-5
The state of affairs caused the people to question God’s love for them, Vs. 2- I have loved you says the Lord. But you say, how have you loved us. They had allowed their present conditions to determine God’s love for them. Looking only at what they had lost since captivity and how desperate their nation was, they cast doubt about God’s love and arrogantly challenged it. Too often if “things” are not going right for us we associate that with the love of God. After all, how could a loving God allow these things to happen to me, don’t He see me. To explain just how much God loved the people, Malachi contrast the relationship that God had between Jacob and Esau, God loved Jacob and the people of Jacob. He hated the Edomites who were the descendants of Esau. Two brothers, twins, God could have chosen Esau, but He chose Jacob. Vs. 2 – Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? declares the Lord, Yet I have loved Jacob. Is that not enough, you mean that does not scream LOVE, what more did the people of Israel want.
The Edomites were related to the Hebrews, but there was a long-standing enmity between them. The Edomites lived in the rocky range south of the Dead Sea and built almost impregnable fortresses in the canyons and gorges of these mountains. Vs. 3 – God says, but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness. According to the Layman’s Bible “after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the Edomites disappeared from history. God loved the people of Jacob so much, he destroyed their enemies.
How often do we question God’s love for us? Rarely do we consider that our own behavior is the cause of what we are experiencing. This is not to say that bad things don’t happen to Godly people, but as a society we have failed to honor God. Those of us who are called by the name of God fail to lift up His name or stand up for the principles of the Bible. As a result, there has been a shift in the moral fabric of our society, a blight on all things spiritual. Prime time TV can air all sorts of degradation but we dare not mention the name of Jesus. Guns are in schools, but prayer is not.
Once we become indifferent about the Lord we invite deplorable situations. The first thing Malachi dealt with was the people, Israel. Before we can question God’s love for us we must assess our own hearts. In order to receive the blessings that Malachi would later challenge the people of Israel with, they first had to understand that they were dishonoring God with their indifference and spiritual lethargy. Revelation 3:15 God told the church of Laodicea He would rather they be cold or hot, indifference, luke-warm He would spit them out of His mouth. The real estate of affairs was God affirming His love for a people who did not properly respond.
Question: Do you feel like God does not love you or has forgotten about you?
Question: How passionate are you about your relationship with Christ? Are you growing in Biblical concepts and applying those concepts to your daily living?
The great privilege of Israel was that they were God’s covenant people, his beloved. We too share in that Love by adoption. Ephesians 1:4-5 ensures us, that he chose us before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Scriptures that reassure of us God’s Love for us, commit them to your heart. Search the bible for more, be ready to share what you discovered about the Love of God.
1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Sins of the Priest: Vs. 6 – 14
Priest/Pastors are considered “God voice among us”. They according to Timothy 3:2 must be above reproach. As in the days of the Israelites, so today, the Priest/Pastor are to carry the Word of God to the people of God and uphold Godly Standards amongst the people. Pastors are expected to lead by example and challenge church members to follow biblical principles.
We all have earthly relationships that require respect and honor. This is a very familiar concept. Out of respect for those relationships there are certain things we will not do and then there are those things we are required to do because we love, honor and respect the relationships of our fathers, employers, and even our government officials. If then we know how to honor these earthly individuals, what about our heavenly father, the one who made all things possible? God ask two rhetorical questions: Vs. 6 – A son honors his father and a servant his master. Then if I am father, where is My honor? And If I am master, where is My respect? The same question can be asked today, where is Honor for our Master and Heavenly Father, God? The Priest is the person who carries the responsibility of teaching, upholding and insisting that above all things God is honored in the House of the Lord. In the days of Malachi, this was not the case, the Priest were allowing Vs. 7: defiled food upon My altar. We must come to an understanding of the Holiness of God. We do not have the privilege of doing whatever we want and offering it up to God to be blessed. What were the people offering: Vs. 8 the blind for sacrifice, the lame and sick, the very animals they would not offer to their governor or place on their own tables. Leviticus 1- 7 entails The Law of Burnt Offerings, in most cases they were to bring a Male without defect. Even when it could be a Male or Female animal, it still had to be without defect. We do not bring animals for sacrifice but we bring a sacrifice of praise, worship, tithes and offerings.
Stop right here. Take a moment and be honest before God, what is the sacrifice that you bring before the Lord and is it worthy? Is it your best? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
God is not pleased when our offering is unworthy according to what He has asked us to bring. Vs. 10 He tells the Priest I am not pleased with you, says the Lord of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from you. The sacrifices being made on the altar were for forgiveness and blessings, but how were they to entreat God’s favor to be gracious to the people with a defiled offering. God didnot excuse the Priest for allowing the people to disrespect the offering. The sacred handling of the sacrifice was the responsibility of the Priest. We come daily before a Holy God and we ask for favor and blessings on our lives, those we love and our surroundings. What do we bring in the way of our sacrifice, where is our praise and commitments, are we defiling the altar? King David said in 2 Samuel 24:24, … I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing. A sacrifice is the act of losing or surrendering something as a penalty or a cost.
The Lord Is Great: Vs. 11 – 13
Why should we not bring what is unworthy to the House of the Lord. Malachi tells us in Vs. 11 – For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. Who do we actually think we are serving. Do we really understand the Sovereignty of God? The offering was not for the Priest; the offering was a sacrifice to be made out of their relationship unto a Holy God. Regardless of what we do, God is the same yesterday, today and He will be forever more. He is Sovereign Psalms 103:19 reminds us that the Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. When we approach the throne of God we must do so with awe and fear. To do otherwise is to Vs. 12 – profane the table of the Lord, insulting a Holy God.
Are we also guilty of Vs. 13 You also say, My, how tiresome it is! Isn’t is strange how we can do everything else and never complain about time. When it comes to the church we get very selective of when we will go and what we will participate in. How tiresome we get with the things of God. In 1992 I rededicated my Life to the Lord after back sliding and realizing how far I wondered away from God. I soon realized that I had a thirst which seemed unquenchable to study and know God’s word. It’s because of the time spent with Him that I have experienced growth and discovered an anchor I never want to wonder from again. To grow in the Lord, you must spend time in His word. Our lifestyle must be entrenched in the Lord, the things of the Lord, the people of the Lord. The leaders of our Churches must not grow weary of Godly practices and holding fast to what Honors God. If so we come in vain, our prayers will not be heard or honored.
God will not accept Vs. 13 what is taken by robbery and what is lame or sick. In fact, Vs. 14 cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. In our hearts, we promise the Lord that we are going to be dedicated and bring our best praise, our best offering, our best attitude and our best participation, but soon we grow tired of the commitment and we offer what’s blemished, what’s damaged, what’s left over. We give better to our employers and neglect the very God who gave us the employment. God not only despised the attitude of the people who felt this was an acceptable practice, he also did not kindly receive the Priest for allowing it to become a common practice. Should He accept this from your hands, says the Lord? How did God know they had a male in their flock? He knows because He gave it. God only ask us to give out of what He has provided. He knew they had what was required for the sacrifice because He is the great provider, He supplied them with male flock that was acceptable. God knows exactly what He has blessed us with. He knows what He has poured into your life, your gifts, your talents, your thoughts, your income and your wealth. Just as important, you know exactly what you vowed while asking Him to bless you and he provided. Now it’s time to bring the sacrifice and but you say “it’s too much”, “It don’t take all that”. So, you bring the measly contribution. Should He accept that? Who do you think you serve?
God’s final words in Chapter1 Vs.14 – For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and My name is feared among the nations.
Below: share your thoughts on this one verse and what kind of relationship should you forge with this great King? What should your service to Him look like? List what needs improvement and how will you make the necessary changes? (This is not an activity you will share so be very honest with yourself).
God continues with relationships in chapter 2. The relationship of the Priest, relationship of family both God’s family of believers and our personal relations within our own families and with others. How do we approach God and ask for blessings for ourselves when we have mistreated each other? How we interact with each other not only bears witness to our character, but to the character of God that we say we serve. There is an obvious connection to the provisions of God and the motives within our hearts. God was not pleased with what he saw in the days of Malachi, he casted judgement from the top down, starting with the Priest who were to be the spiritual leaders, to the People who were to follow the commandments of the Lord.
I suspect that we too have some belt tightening to do in this area. The world that we live in promotes being self-absorbed. The media that inundate our lives tells us that we should have it all, no matter the cost. Hate for one another is alive and well, the family unit as God presents it is under attack every day, and marriage only has a fifty percent chance of survival. Many of our spiritual leaders have compromised the call following personal gain. Yet, we cry out to the Lord to heal our communities. We ask, where are you Lord, have you not loved us.
Call for Priests, Pastors, Ministers – Vs. 1 – 9
The Lord has set order for the church. Christ is the head of the church, Priests, Pastors and those called by God to lead in the capacity of overseers of God’s people are messengers of the Lord. This leadership responsibility should never be taken lightly; it comes with great responsibility.
Before you proceed read 1 Timothy 4: 6-16. What is the exhortation to Overseers and what is at stake?
Vs. 1 – 3 At the displeasure of the Lord because the Priest do not listen, and did not take to heart to give honor to the name of Lord, He will send the curse that will curse the blessings, rebuke the offspring and spread refuse on their faces. So, let’s examine what the Priest/Pastor should be doing in order to understand why God was so displeased with their behavior.
Duet. 18:5 affirms that “For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes, to stand to serve in the name of the Lord, him and his sons forever”
The Lord God chose Aaron and his sons to be the spiritual leaders of the Hebrew community, it was an eternal covenant, the Levi tribe would be responsible for the sacred services. From amongst all the tribes the Levi tribe was chosen by God. He chose them to stand, to serve in His name.
Ex. 28:1 “And you, separate your brother Aaron and his sons from among the Israelites, and bring them close to you… so they can serve me”
The Priest were to oversee the sacrifices and other parts of the services, but more importantly they served as a conduit to bring down God’s radiant blessings and influence into this world. It was on this account that they were to deliver God’s blessings of peace and love to the people. (Numbers 6:22-26) They were to invoke the name of the Lord on the sons of Israel causing God to bless them.
The Priest possessed a special quality, they were known for being joyful, giving, and driven by their zealousness for the honor of God. Their daily blessings in the Temple served to open the gates of heavenly mercies through which people of Israel merit not only material well-being but spiritual blessings as well. The role of the priest was so significant in distinguishing the Hebrews from other cultures by honoring the one true God. Has that role changed for this present cultural, are we under a new command? No, emphatically No! We serve the same God who has not and will not change. The “call” of Pastors is equivalent to the “setting a side” of the Levies, they are separated for His service. They are to have the same influence before God and God’s people.
Ephesians 4:11-13 He gave some as Pastors, why, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; how long, until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Overseers have the same responsibility as God gave the Levi to be set aside as a conduit of heaven to bring down blessings that build us up to the fullness of Christ. No longer overseeing sacrifices of animals, but teaching us to honor the greatest sacrifice ever made, the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Knowing the enormous responsibility of the priest and the influence they have in the community, amongst the people, we understand why God was not pleased when they faltered in their responsibilities. The rebuke of the Priest was sure; God would rebuke the offspring and cause refuge on their face.
Read Leviticus 10:1-3 – What happened to Aaron two sons and Why?_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The office of Priest/Pastor/Minister is not to be taken lightly. God said he would rebuke their offspring and spread refuse on their face. Their decisions would not only affect them, but their children as well. We all know what refuse is. This is very graphic language that shows how God reviewed unfaithful priest, they were worthy of the most unthinkable disgrace. This statement was meant to shake them out of their compliancy. The children of Israel as well as us, are known to other nations by the God that we serve. When the priest fail to lead the people in proper worship of a Holy God it diminishes His image before an onlooking world. It affects the people of God, the community and the nation at large. The church is to be a light house in a dark world. A neon light pointing lost souls to Christ. The Christian’s life is to be reflective of a gracious God, a peculiar people set aside for His use. The Priest stands in space and time as a conduit between God and His people to bring down his blessings and to honor His name. The calling is not to be taken lightly!
Sin in the Family Vs. 10 – 17
Family, who is the Family, kind of like the same question posed to Jesus, who is my neighbor, who is my brother. How are we to treat each other, Jesus said we will know one another by our love for one another. V 10- Do we not all have one father? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother to profane the covenant of our fathers? If we are all of the same faith, that is faith in Jesus Christ our Lord, then we are all in the family of God. As in any family there are rules and standards, love prevailing. The one question that must always be asked, how did I come to be in the family in God? The word assures us that the father drew us by his love for us, even when we were yet sinners. Since that is the case, then we too must draw and respond with the same love that drew us. Not one of us has done anything that makes us deserving of the blessings of God. We cannot earn it, buy it or work hard enough for it. Ephesians 3: 15 reminds us that “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love”. If we remember that we too live under grace, I think we will treat each other better. When each of us works according to how God has joined us to the body, we benefit the entire family of Christ.
When we mistreat each other we Vs. 10-11 profane the covenant and the sanctuary of our fathers and the Lord God. What is that covenant? A covenant is a consummated agreement, a meeting of the minds. The New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 His word is placed in our hearts, He has written them there, He will be our God and we shall be His people. No longer teaching each other, but we will all know Him for ourselves, from the least to the greatest. According to 2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, He made us adequate as servants of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. At the crucifixion of Christ, the curtain was torn from top to bottom. We no longer need another to present our prayers to a Holy God. We each can know him for ourselves, we each have been invited to approach the throne of Grace, and we each will be held accountable for our relationship with Christ. That is the covenant that God makes with us, He is our God and we are His people, it’s consummated, it is final, Christ said it is Done.
How the covenant was profaned Vs. 12 they married the daughters of foreign gods. The abomination of this act was that by marring the daughters of foreign gods they would bring their belief systems with them amongst the Israelites. Once we introduce an ungodly activity into our midst, it is only a matter of time before it becomes an acceptable practice. Consider our own society; it does not take much to see how the same ungodly behavior has crept into the fabric of our society and now what was obscure has become the mainstream. Notice how once the behavior became mainstream it infiltrated your home and carried us all further away from the God that we serve. It causes you to question your own thoughts, actions and considerations.
What ungodly practice can you think of that has changed our society/practices? How have these practices changed us/society?
This was such a serious matter that Vs. 12 may the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob everyone who awakes and answers, or who presents an offering to the Lord of hosts. Genesis 21: 9 – 13 Sarah wanted the Egyptians, Hagar and Ishmael driven out because she saw him mocking. This request seems harsh; Ismael was also Abraham’s son. The matter distressed Abraham but God reassured Abraham to listen to Sarah and he would make Ismael a Nation also because he was the seed of Abraham. God was about to raise a nation, He could not allow the Egyptian influence. No doubt Hagar served Egyptian gods and brought into their presence the practices of those gods that had an underlining effect on how Ismael related to Sarah and Isaac.
Read 1 Kings 11:1-13 – How did King Solomon disobey God? What was the result of his disobedience? Who more than Solomon was affected?
As great and as much wisdom had been bestowed upon Solomon his weakness was the foreign women that he married. While in most cases this was a political move, it allowed other gods to infiltrate his life and the life of the nation. God will not be contended with; He alone was to be the God of Israel. He alone is to be our God, there is no room for other trains of thoughts or idol worship. We too must be careful who we marry, who we join as business partners and who we allow in our innermost circle.
After such disobedience with tears, Vs 13 – we cover the altar of the Lord with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. And yet Vs 14 – we ask why? If God did not spare Solomon, what makes us think that we can work the work of transgression and offer it up to the Lord to be blessed?
Even our family units are under attack. Vs 14 -15 God hates divorce, and He has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. There is so much to be said for keeping the family unit together. Children that come from a two-parent household with a strong father figure are more likely to develop into a productive citizen of society. The home is the foundation of all things, from the home comes the church, the community, the schools, and the greater society. Fathers are instructed to teach their children, teach them in the tent, teach them in the market place, teach them about finances, teach them when you come in, and teach them when you go out. Instruction is to flow from the home. Teach them what; they were to teach them the laws of God so that when they went forth from the home they would carry God with them being an influence in the community. Godly teaching would provide a hedge of protection and assurance that the covenant would continue.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Marriage is to be honored and respected. The divorce rate in American is 40 to 50 percent. It is not just honoring because God said so, the effects of divorce in America are evident.
Vs. 15 But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. If we have even a little bit of Spirit, we would not follow after the things in society. A mustard seed faith would challenge us to be obedient to a Holy God. Vs. 15 when we were seeking a Godly offspring we prayed to God and loved our wife’s/husbands, when we were asking for blessings we prayed to God, when we want healing we know how to call upon the Lord. Take heed to protect your spirit, we cannot commit wrong and expect God’s blessings. Wear the Spirit of God like a garment, cloth yourself in it, The Psalmist says delight yourself in the Lord. The visual image of that is to wallow or wrap yourself in the Lord.
Vs 17 – Let’s not weary the Lord with your words. In that you say, everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them, or where is the God of justice. Matthew 22: 37-40 The Lord God commands that we love the lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds. Second Love your neighbor as yourself. Let’s be the people of God, that we can affect those around us in a Godly manner. Relationships, out of our relationship with Christ come forth all other relationships, our families, our communities and even those that spitefully use us. Sometimes it may appear that the unjust is progressing, but in the words of Rev. Coats, I’d rather be a door keeper in the house of the Lord, then reign with Satan. Only one is Good, that is Jesus Christ, all of us come short of the glory of God. It takes rendering consistent service and time with the lord to keep your lives aligned with the Lord.
Daily we must assess our own lives in accordance with the Word of God. Reflect on your relationship with God and others around you. If you are a Pastor/Minister, reflect on your “Call”. Are there areas that need strengthening, Reflect on those in Prayer. (This is not an activity that you will share, be honest before the Lord)
How difficult is it to return to the Lord? To answer that, we should consider what lead us astray in the first place. Sin, plain and simple, Sin. Entrenched in sin our lives can be fragmented, full of unclean spirits and habits. 1 John 3:4 everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. This gives the visual picture of a person out of control, refusing to abide by any restraints. Poising not only themselves but affecting those around them like a cancer. Un checked, sin can devastate a nation, just as it had done to the children of Israel but most importantly it separates us from God. So how do we return, how can we be restored.
The Purifier Vs. 1 – 7
God is the great Purifier and Vs. 1- behold, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts. Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior who takes away the sins of the world was prophesied to take His place in a world that had grown dark and disobedient. The one who they had looked for was coming, Vs. 2 – as a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. His purpose would be to return a sinful world back to a Holy God. He would accomplish this by shinning the light on sin in the holiest of places. Like purifying silver, He would remove the imperfections and flaws like fuller’s soap he will clean the most distained sin in secret places.
Where will he start? Vs. 3 – He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. Judgement will start in the house of the Lord. He will get His house right first. As the church go’s, so go’s society. Throughout the old testament, as the people strayed away from God the more corrupt society became, so much so, God allowed them to be taken away into captivity. We who are called by His name, are the filters for society. As the stance we have taken for God and the things of God weaken, so has our communities. We underestimate the power of the Church and it’s influences on society. It is the agent that Christ established to represent Him to a dying world. Placing Himself as head and members as His body we have the great responsibility to uphold righteousness. Judgement will start at the Household of God:
Read: Ezekiel 8th chapter – What did God expose about the temple? How did He feel about it? What did He say He would do about it?
God is not pleased when we, His children, are acting in disobedience. While in the inner most workings of the church, the average man may not see what transpires, never forget that God does. Our actions may be our own, but God knows, the influence it has on those around us and we will be accountable. Relate this to your own home, when your children are acting out against what you stand for, what you have taught and provided for, are you please? Whenever my children left the house, I would say to them “remember you are a Carey”. This indicated that their behavior not only represented themselves but our entire family. Their actions not only affected them, but had repercussion on our entire family. Then how much more a Holy God. What we do not only affects us, but creates a ripple effect on the Church as well as the community. Vs. 5 – He will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, the adulterers, those who swear falsely, those who oppress the wage earner, the widow, the orphan, those who turn aside the alien and those who do not fear God. Did you notice that God is going to judge the church before he even judge sinners? Those we consider fowl, and unfit. In fact, because the Lord do not change they were not Vs. 6 – already consumed. God was faithful to the promises He made to Abraham and Jacob therefore He had been patient with the people. Even now, God is not slack on his promises, it is the will of God that we all shall be saved, but He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever (Psalms 103:9)
Vs. 7 – God bids us to return to Him, and He will return to us, says the Lord of host. If you have become mundane in serving God return, if your passion for God has dulled, return, if you have found yourself in the throes of sin, return. He promises to draw near to us as we return to Him. So, to answer the question how do we return to God, recognize and agree with God that we are sinners, out of a contrite heart ask God for forgiveness, accept His plan for salvation through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and grow in grace by allowing yourself to be taught. What do we gain when we return to Him?
Read the following scriptures and discover what God will do in your life:
John 16:23 _________________________________________________________
Ephesians 3: 20______________________________________________________
Your fine one_______________________________________________________
Have You Have Robbed God Vs. 8 – 15
Have you robbed God? How you ask, Vs. 8- In tithes and offerings. Often, when the book of Malachi is mention Christians associate the book with giving. While the book does discuss giving, it is more than just about money, it’s about our full relationship with Christ. But, let’s talk about giving, “Money and possessions are the second most referenced topic in the Bible – money is mentioned more than 800 times – and the message is clear: Nowhere in Scripture is debt viewed in a positive way.” Giving is a Significant part of worship, if it is mentioned over 800 times in the bible, then there is a message that God wants us to embrace.
God’s house is similar to your house; it takes finances to operate. The mortgage, electric, water are just the basic expenses of managing a household. We all know the full extent of what is required to live. The same for the House of God. Who then bares the responsibility? Vs. 10 – Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house. Those whom God has called to the body bare that responsibility. The Lord adds to the church, (Acts 2:47), for the purpose of edifying the body. Edifying is educating, improving, enlightening, enriching all words that imply “building up” of the church, which requires finances. We are commanded to bring the whole tithe; this removes any discussion of how much to give. They tried to trap Jesus with the question of taxes, His instructions were to render unto Caesar what belongs to him and unto God what belongs to God (Luke 20:22-25). The Tithe and offerings belong to God. The word Tithe means ten percent.
Giving under Grace, we have all heard the term, what does it mean. Romans 6:14 “…you are not under law but under grace”. These words, we are told, imply a release from obligations. What does it mean, then, to live “not under the law but under grace”? It doesn’t mean that we serve God less, but rather that we serve with a new attitude and motive. “Grace” speaks of the generous love of God in his gift of the Savior. Those under grace have accepted, as a gift, the forgiveness and rescue made and offered in Christ. No longer do they seek to “earn” God’s approval by an upright life and acts of service. The life “under Grace” is thus a life of gratitude and love. These become the governing principles as we “work out” the implications of what God “works in” us. Just as grace speaks to us of generosity of God, so the response of grateful love is seen in generosity. This is not to say that we gain God’s favor on our own merits, and we can never repay God with generosity, but it also does not mean we are set hold back giving.
Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 – Describe the Principal of Grace that Paul is speaking of:
Grace has set us free to greater heights of generosity. We are not to give under compulsion, but willing, cheerful and bountiful giving. Giving under Grace put simply is “In light of God’s abundant blessings toward us, his surpassing grace toward us and above all, His inexpressible gift of His son Jesus Christ, should compel us to respond bountifully”.
The Lord encourages us to Vs. 10 – test me now in this says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Remember when your parents told you to do something and you acted like you might not adhere to the command. Their next response was “try me” if you want to. That statement gave every indication that they had full authority to enforce the demanded action. The Lord has challenged us to “try Him”, prove Him, the KJV of the bible says “If I will not” – giving assurance that He not only has the authority and means to fulfill his promise but a legacy to back it up. The cattle on a thousand hills belong to the Lord, everything is His and he promise to be a blessing to us. Matthew 6:25-34 is one of my most favorite scriptures. It confirms that we are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then God will add ALL other things us. Too often, we want to pursue the blessings without the righteousness.
Vs. 11- Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes, says the Lord of hosts. God’s promise is to take care of us. To provide for us, to enlarge us. When we become obedient and trust God for our existence we will cease worrying about “how we are going to make it”. The Lord God will remove those things that eat away at your income, that destroy what you have built up, that tear down what He has meant for good in your life. Too often we think we have prospered on our own, but it has been the hand of the Lord that has stayed events that would have caused devastation in our lives. I remember the days I drove around in a car that needed servicing but I did not have the funds to do it. Every day I got in that car I prayed. I look back on those times and realize, it was God rebuking the devourer, with two daughters in college, he knew it was not the time to buy a new one, but he kept that old one running and I praised him every day. All of us can look back on portions of our younger lives that are a blur. We would be hard pressed to recall much of what happened or where the money went that we made or how we made it through. Those are the years the locust ate up; He even promises to give us back the years the locust ate up.
Vs. 12 – All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land. There is a distinctive difference in God’s people. We are blessed and it reflects in everything we do. Not that we do not have the same challenges as others, it’s in how we handle those challenges. My most favorite scriptures are Deuteronomy 28 – It informs us that if we hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments, the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth. Diligently, that means purposefully, carefully, attentively, thoroughly, these words mean with great effort. We cannot just be causal about the Lord. He wants us to love Him with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul. If we do that according to Deuteronomy we will receive blessings that shall overtake thee. Visualize that, visualize blessings, all good things, running you down and leaping all over you. God has been so faithful in my life. Doing this study, I have reflected on the most difficult times in my life. I rehashed the overwhelming expenses caring for disabled family members, the consuming responsibilities, the mind-boggling decisions that had to be made and I fully recognize, it could not have been me. It had to be the Lord Jesus Christ every step of the way, even when I did not feel His presence, He had to be there. His goodness was overtaking me so that I was not consumed.
Read Deuteronomy 28: 1-14 take a moment, visualize these blessings, think of how wonderful that would be, to live so intertwined with the Lord that this would be your life.
There is a flip side to serving God. We can be casual toward God, just as the Israelite had become. Vs. 13-15 describe the arrogance of the people. Your words have been arrogant against Me, says the Lord. Yet you say, what have we spoken against you? You have said, it is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of Hosts? When we have become the center of our own universe and life revolves around us, we measure the presence of God based on our own experiences. If our experiences are not mountain top experiences, we don’t see the value in serving God passionately. We make the same arrogant claims, “it doesn’t take all of that”, “You don’t have go to church to know God”, “there’s no difference in what the world is doing then what they are doing in the church”. Yet, we expect His blessings. Every day we live in the goodness of the Lord, it not only takes all that, the song says I surrender ALL.
Now finish reading Deuteronomy 28:15-68, – you get the picture, it’s a dangerous place to be on the outside of God.
But for those who remembered the Lord Vs. 16 -18 they spoke to one another and the Lord gave attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before Him. They will be Mine said the Lord I will prepare them and their sons and they will be distinguished. God’s attention is always toward His people. Psalms 34:15 says The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. He hears us and if he hears us He will answer. Psalms 56:8 says You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in your book? Even in our destress He does not leave us, he captures every tear, and every experience is designed to bring us closer to the cross. Chapter 3 of Malachi ends with God distinguishing the one who served Him from the ones who did not. Just like in Malachi days not everyone will serve the highest God, each of us most search ourselves and bring everything about us under the subjection of the Holy Spirit.
I do not want to leave the third chapter of Malachi without emphasizing giving. Giving is a part of worship. I remind you that David said “I would not come before the Lord unless it cost me something”. I want to share with you how God has worked in my own life when it comes to giving to the church. Initially I did not recognize God’s hand in what was happening, but soon He enlightened me to a truth.
It was Ephesians 3:20 – Read it:
I was tithing, but I seemed to be led to always give at least $20.00 above my tithes. Sometimes I did more, but never less than $20.00 more. Why, I cannot explain why, I just know it was always in my spirit to do it. After some time, I noticed that my salary increased through promotions or/and bonuses to what I was giving, including the additional. That meant I had to up my tithes plus the additional. Again, after a while my salary matched my new giving. This went on and on for a few years, are you getting the picture?
Ephesians says He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. What the Spirit revealed to me that God was blessing me according to Ephesians 3:20, it was according to my faith that he was blessing me. When I demonstrated through my giving that I had faith enough in God to bring the whole tithe and offering to His House, He would provide everything else I needed. Guess what I did, I embraced that truth, I increased my faith; the power that works in me, and through faith I increased my giving. God has been faithful to provide beyond all that I ask or think. As I drew near to God(faith), He drew near to me. As I was faithful in giving, He increased my salary to match my giving. Hebrews says it is impossible to please God except by faith. Do not try this as a formula, (A+B=C), this only works by faith. As your faith increase, demonstrate it by obeying the Word of God. He will increase you. Start with your tithe, bring the whole tithe as God has instructed you to do. Test God, try Him, as you grow in power(faith), increase your giving under Grace, but get started, stop robbing God. I feel so blessed to be able to contribute to the work of God. That means I have a job, I have an income, I am provided for. Many are not and do not have these things. Bring your tithes and offerings out of gratitude.
Do you have a testimony that you would like to share? Write it here as a reminder for yourself and share if you feel lead by the Lord.
The Final Admonition
MALACHI CHAPTER 4
The Final Admonition
Malachi ends with a final warning that a day is coming where the wicked will burn up but the righteous will be saved. This day could be the end time where Revelation speaks of not water consuming the earth, but fire. These would be the final words to the Nation before the coming of Christ. Remember, the people had returned, rebuilt the temple with great expectation to prosper. But, prosperity had not come as hoped, they were faced with drought, famine and blighted crops. The response to their condition was to serve God with indifference and dishonor.
Malachi like other profits was called as a messenger to sound the warning that the Lord God was not pleased. That warning is very relevant today. The Lord God is our alpha and omega, the great creator of all things and reigns as the Lord of our lives. He is not diminished because of our circumstances; in fact, He is even more exulted.
Vs. 1 – For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff and the day that is coming will set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts. This may be referring to Revelation 8:7 – at the sounding of the first trumpet hail and fire mixed with blood consumed a third of the earth. So, what must we do to escape such a fate? Vs. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. Vs. 3 – You will tread down the wicked for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing, says the Lord. Only the righteous can stand before a Holy God. The Lord God does not waver, he is the same yesterday, today and for evermore. Our relationship with Him must be sure, pure and of the utmost importance. Daily He is refining us, removing everything that is not like Him so we can live and serve in His presence and that we might rise with Him on that day which He is preparing.
Read Romans 8:18- What is the reassurance in this scripture:?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Vs. 4 – Remember the law of Moses my servant, even the statues and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Malachi reminded the nation of what God told them from the beginning. He still expected them to live in relationship with Him as their God and cohesively as a people. We are often looking for a new thing. With every generation, someone comes up with a new religious concept. We are told there are many ways to God, just a difference in how to get there. The Bible does not present this. The Word of God states that there is one God and one way to commune with this God, His son Jesus Christ. John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. As I am completing this study Donald Trump has just won President. To many, me included, this causes great concern and in some corners of the world fear. I had to remind myself of some trues from the Word of God.
Read these truths and list God’s sovereign power.
It does not matter what is happening around us, the center of our being is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember the Word of God that was offered to you through Grace which is salvation unto your soul.
Vs. 5-6 – Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse. Again, this may refer to Revelation 11 – the two witnesses. Some scholars indicate that the Jews did not accept Jesus as Messiah; they were looking for Elijah. Matthew 16:13-14 Jesus asked His disciples who do people say that the son of man is? They responded some say John the Baptist, and others Elijah, but still others Jeremiah or one of the Prophets. The Jews missed the Messiah looking for their own expectation of the coming. His coming did not happen how they though it should, and they missed it.
Jesus continued in Matthew 16:15-19 with a more important question that is still relevant today “But who do you say that I am”. Will our response be like Peter’s, you are the Christ, the son of the living God? Or will we be like the Jews, miss Him because he does not fit our own expectation of Savior. It is less significant what the world says about Jesus, than what you believe to the be the absolute truth. Each of us must answer that question. Based on our response is how we will serve. We can put our trust in “man” and get caught up in what’s going on around us or we can be firm in our faith and realize our hope and trust is in nothing less than Jesus Christ and His righteousness. Go back to verse 2 of this chapter, it is a reminder that for those who fear His name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. Remember, Malachi is writing to a nation who is slighting God. This verse recognizes that in midst of that evil, there were some who did fear the Lord, and for those they will skip about like calves from the stall. Our existence is not dependent upon the President or what others are doing, we are to hold fast to our faith in Christ.
We know that Jesus was pleased with Peter’s response, He blessed Peter and told him flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. Are you getting it? Politics, social media, friends, jobs and all the trappings of life is not the answer and will not suffice when the gates of hell seek to overpower us. What the world says about our faith or our Lord Jesus Christ, is not important. What is important is who do you say He is. Jesus promised Peter, the gates of Hell will not overpower him and he gave him the keys of the kingdom and told him whatever he binds on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever he loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Peter’s faith in God allowed God to reveal to him that Christ was the Son of God, it pleased Christ. It is by our faith that we are saved and by our faith that we will grow in Christ.
The book of Malachi is associated with money conversations in church. We focus so much on Malachi 3:10 that we miss the call to return to Christ and the warning of His return on that great and terrible day. We miss that giving is a byproduct of our relationship with Christ. When I use, the word giving, I refer to giving of ourselves, our time, our finances, our service, our ministries and our lives. A growing, passionate relationship with Christ will yield a fruitful existence. We tend to skip the fact that judgement is going to start in the house of the Lord with us, who are called by His name. The Church is God’s Ambassador to the Nation. We are losing our flavor because we have become complacent. The call is to return to God, hold fast to His teachings and Honor Him with our sacrifices. Our worship, our praise, our testimonies, our witness and yes, our giving. Be not dismayed or frightened about current events. Just like in Malachi days the outlook may not look promising, but God still reminds us that He is Lord and He expects sincere worship. Remember that the blight we are experiencing in America has been of our own making. As a nation, we have shifted farther and farther away from the things of God. But even in the midst of all that we are experiencing, God cares for His own. He promised that those who fear Him will not perish but they will tread on the wicket. Keep the faith, draw near to the Lord and Honor Him with your sacrifices.
It is my sincere hope that this study has been a blessing to you.
Reflection: Has God spoken to you through this study? Do you need to recommit your life and draw nearer to the Lord? What will you do about it?
- Holy Bible, New American Standard, 1960, Zondervan Publishing House
- The Layman’s Bible encyclopedia, 1964, Lakeside Press
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