This morning’s reading starts in Malachi 3 and has two very interesting titles: “The Master You’ve Been Looking For” and “The Difference Between Serving God and Not Serving Him“. The reading speaks to the coming of John who will prepare the way for when Jesus comes. It then references how when Jesus comes, to take away the sin of the world. To clean up things. To point people in the right direction. Now where are you in regards to God? Are you following Him? Is He your God? Do you know what it takes to return to God? Here’s what He says in His Word:
“You ask, ‘But how do we return?’
8-11“Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day.
“You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’
“The tithe and the offering—that’s how! And now you’re under a curse—the whole lot of you—because you’re robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams. For my part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers.” The Message of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. — Malachi 3:8-11
Not only does He share what needs to be done, He also provides the one time in the Bible where we are asked to test God in this. Are you putting God first? or are you just giving Him the leftovers? Are you giving Him your best? or just what you have left or don’t value? Trying bringing Him your best first. 100% is His, however, to show that we trust Him and to show how much He loves us, a tithe or 10% or a tenth is what we are to give back to Him and then live with 90% that is blessed. Would you rather have 100% that is yours or 90% that is blessed and is yours? This is where the challenge is given, the gauntlet is put down: “Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.” In another translation, we read it this way: “10Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12“Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Imagine doing the right thing the right way and being called blessed because God’s delight is shining on you. Imagine 90% that is worth more because of God’s blessing than 100% that you have to handle all on your own. It’s an interesting lesson to learn. It’s an interesting thing to do and test God with to see the difference. I know every so often at church when our pastor teaches on tithe, he goes to the grocery store and buys 10 of various fruits and vegetables. He takes 1 and puts it on the table that represents God’s 10% and he then piles up the rest on the table that represents ours. It’s an incredible visual and gets the point home.
Ever questioned why anyone would serve God? Ever thought what’s the point? Ever talked down to people who are serving God? Ever asked what do you get out of serving God? Ever asked what do you get out of it or what difference does it make? Or how about thinking that those who aren’t following God have a better life? more fun? are lucky?
When God goes into action, will you be found in the book of life? Will you get special treatment? Will you risk finding out what the difference is by seeing others get special treatment and you won’t?
17-18God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, “They’re mine, all mine. They’ll get special treatment when I go into action. I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honors them. Once more you’ll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing and one who doesn’t, between serving God and not serving him.” — Malachi 3:17-18
Jesus is coming back. We might know the day and the time, however, we know He is coming back. People look at the signs and forecast the weather, look at what is going on all around us that point to the fact that He is coming back. Be it what we read in Matthew:
4-8Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming.
Be it what we read in Mark:
5-8Jesus began, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When you hear of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history, and no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. But these things are nothing compared to what’s coming. 9-10“And watch out! They’re going to drag you into court. And then it will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You’re placed there as sentinels to truth. The Message has to be preached all across the world. 11“When they bring you, betrayed, into court, don’t worry about what you’ll say. When the time comes, say what’s on your heart—the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you.12-13“It’s going to be brother killing brother, father killing child, children killing parents. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me. “Stay with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.
Look at what is taking place right now in the world. Listen to the news about what the threats are and what the possible wars could be. Consider the lawsuits and bills that are taking place around us and what they are all pointing to. Is it worth it some may ask, and the answer is yes. Remember how Jesus closes as we read in Mark “Stay with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.”.
This morning’s reading speaks of the return this way:
1-3“Count on it: The day is coming, raging like a forest fire. All the arrogant people who do evil things will be burned up like stove wood, burned to a crisp, nothing left but scorched earth and ash— a black day. But for you, sunrise! The sun of righteousness will dawn on those who honor my name, healing radiating from its wings. You will be bursting with energy, like colts frisky and frolicking. And you’ll tromp on the wicked. They’ll be nothing but ashes under your feet on that Day.” God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so. — Malachi 4:1-3
It’s not too late, this morning’s reading speaks to what we need to do. We also see it in the writings of John the Baptist and the disciples. John speaks:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ”
37Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?” 38-39Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.” 40He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!” 41-42That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
5-6“But also look ahead: I’m sending Elijah the prophet to clear the way for the Big Day of God—the decisive Judgment Day! He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I’ll come and put the land under a curse.” — Malachi 4:5-6
So today, I lift up this choice to you. Choose life! We all get a choice and some wait it out and never get to choose, others choose early and know when they get called home, they are saved. What does it take to be saved you may ask?
5For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. 6But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). 7And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” 8In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 9If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” — Romans 10:5-13