May 22, 2012

Today you should read: Malachi 4

We wrap up our Jumpstart series of the Minor Prophets today.

The past few months have presented a story about the Israelites with a common theme: Israel’s sin and need of repentance. Maybe an even greater theme has been God’s gracefulness, faithfulness, and constant pursuit of His people. The Israelite’s were often so dumb, dense, and dim-witted in their approach and response to God.

Oh, wait, I am often the same way. Therefore, I am very thankful for God’s gracefulness, faithfulness, and pursuit of me.

The book of Malachi concludes with the common themes listed above. Verse 4:1 tells what will happen to those who do not repent. They will experience the judgment of God when Christ returns. It’s a gloomy forecast for those who refuse to follow Christ.

Verse 4:2-3 gives a positive outlook for those that fear God and follow Him. They will experience healing and happiness. Verse 2 says they will “skip about like calves from a stall.” In other words, those who fear God will be loving life.

I know this isn’t the most in depth “blow your mind” commentary you’ll ever read about Malachi 4, but here are the 2 main things I see as I read this chapter. :

1) Following Christ results in fulfillment and good times, particularly on judgment day.

2) Not following Christ results in huge let downs, particularly on judgment day.

Wow! I know I just blew your mind!

OK, that is a simple assessment of part of Malachi 4, but, it poses an opportunity for some deep personal introspection. Let me pose a few questions to ponder:

Do I know beyond a shadow of a doubt where I stand before God?

If Jesus were to return today, would I be like the chaff or like a skipping calf?

Am I quick to repent of my sin? Do I take my sin as seriously as God does?

Do my friends, neighbors, and co-workers believe that I fear God?

Am I currently pursuing things that will let me down, or am I pursuing Jesus?

Honestly, if a book were written about my life so far, it wouldn’t look much different than the roller coaster history of Israel as presented by the Minor Prophets. May the remaining chapters of my story look much different.

What would the story of your life look like if someone were writing a book about you? What will the remaining chapters say about you?

Posted by: Rich Duffield


May 21, 2012

Today you should read: Malachi 3

Before reading this post, set aside a few minutes to read.

Seriously; stop.

Pick up your Bible.

Turn to Malachi, and  s  l  o  w  l  y  read today’s chapter.

(If we are honest, many times we plunge right into the Jumpstart post and start reading instead of actually reading the assigned chapter!)

The book of Malachi is a wake-up call!

We should be careful to note what is going in the book of Malachi: the moral principles of the Old Testament still hold true today because, “I the LORD do not change,” (Mal 3:6). God’s character does not adapt to culture. God’s character does not change. Therefore, Malachi’s words are just as fresh to us today as when they were first delivered to the people of Israel long ago.

In chapters one and two a stern rebuke is given to the priests for their polluted offerings. Now, in chapter three, a turning point occurs: not only are the priests judged but also the people themselves are being rebuked.

Our pastoral staff – Tim, Todd, Robbie, Sam and Chad will each be judged very strictly on how they cared for the flock of God (James 3:1, Acts 20:26-28). However, you will also be judged. Notice Malachi 3:5:

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment.”

This is no joke. Jesus is serious when he says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak…” (Matthew 12:36).

Why is Malachi speaking so much about all this judgment?

In short,

1. The priests are judged for polluted offerings.

2. The people are judged for polluted living.

The filthy lives of the people were evidenced by adultery, lying, and oppressive treatment of employees, widows, orphans, and strangers (v5).  In other words, they lived exactly opposite of the 2nd greatest commandment:

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:31)

Here in Malachi we see firsthand that our lives are intimately connected with our worship; this duo is inseparable.   It is impossible to separate right worship with right living (1 Sam 15:22, Rom 12:1).

Let us pray:

Dear Father in Heaven, help us to be a people who rightly fear you. Help us match our living with your Holy Scriptures.  Show us Lord what verses we need to pay attention to today, that we might re-script our lives to obey the Word.  May we learn that what we do outside of Church is no less important than what we do inside your Church.  Lord, we pray for Center Point to be a church filled with people who are ready for the day that you draw near in judgment.  Thank you for a Savior. Knowing you, Jesus, is our only hope for a sure standing on the day that you expose the deeds of all mankind. We love you Lord, and we thank you for what you are teaching us through the book of Malachi. In the name of your Son, we pray, Amen.

Posted by: Guest post from Taylor Wehrle, College Ministry Intern

May 19, 2012

Today you should read: Malachi 2

Marital faithfulness and answered prayer…

We’re almost completely finished with the prophetic books!!  Have you enjoyed them?!  It can seem like the same story over and over in every book!  But I guess God did that for a reason…

Here, in the second chapter of Malachi, this is what’s happening:

1.  Israel has been freed to go back to their own land after a long time of enduring God’s discipline through being captives in the land of the Babylonians.

2.  Israel, even though they have repented of their major idolatry, are still are not zealous for the Lord.  They are lukewarm in their faith.  They have a “diluted” religion.

3.  Israel still didn’t trust God, because even though they were free to go back to the promised land, they had become one of the weakest and poorest nations in the world.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

One way that Israel was lukewarm in their faith was by being unfaithful in their marriage relationships.  You see, Israel was making compromises in their worship.  They still offered sacrifices to God, but they were willing to “fudge” in their walk with God and their worship if it was more comfortable for them.
How about you?  Are you willing to compromise in certain areas of your life when it is more comfortable to do so?
One of the areas they fudged in was marriage.  They intermarried with pagan nations and they divorced regularly.  And look what happened…

“Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure.  You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows,” (verses 13-14).

The people were bringing sacrifices!!!  With tears!!!  With weeping!!!  With groaning!!!  With deep desire and really “sorrowful” hearts!  BUT…the Lord didn’t accept them.  They could shed a bucket of tears, but the Lord would still pay no attention to their prayers.  Why?  It was because of their unfaithfulness in marriage.  Look at the verse above, it couldn’t be clearer.
1 Peter 3:7 says that you need to treat your wives as you ought or your prayers will be hindered.  This is the same concept.  You can cry out with tears and weeping and groaning, but if you are unfaithful to your wife in any way, you might as well save your breath as you pray.
We see here that marriage is a covenant.  It’s not merely a contract.  It is a three-way relationship with the Lord as the witness.  Are you being faithful to that covenant?  The Lord is watching.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

May 18, 2012

Today you should read: Malachi 1

When I read this chapter I think about Matthew 15:8:

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

The people of Israel were giving lip service to God. They were praising and speaking of God with their mouth but when it came time to offer Him what He was due, they held back and gave Him lesser things. God required His people to offer Him the best of what they had but they gave Him the lesser things. God required animals for sacrifice that were perfect and without blemish but they gave Him the sick, blind, blemished animals instead. This displeased God and He told them that He would not accept their offerings.

So what about us? What are we offering God? Do we give God the first fruits of our life? Do we give God the best of our time? Energy? Money? Possessions? Heart?

Most of us, more often than not, do what we want to with our time and our money and then, if there is any left, we give God a small, “blemished” portion. We forget that all that we have comes from Him and that all that we are is because of Him. Many of us live our lives, spend our money and use our stuff how we want to Monday through Saturday and then we pretend it is all for God on Sunday, but God knows that we are just giving Him “blemished” leftovers.

So what do you need to do to change that?

What do you need to give up so that you can give God the best of you?

Or maybe you need to add something to your life to give God your best.

Whatever it may be, I encourage you to start today to give God your best and not just “blemished” leftovers.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd