Sermon December 8, 2019 – The King is Coming

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 Malachi 4:1-6

We all love warm sunny days, and we know that the sun provides what we need to sustain life on the planet. We are so dependent on the sun for life, but the Bible speaks of another giver of life, another source of light.

In Malachi 3, we see God addressing two groups of people; those that merely go through the routine of religion and those who truly fear the Lord. We see those who fear the Lord crying out to God for justice because they see that the arrogant and the wicked are being allowed to prosper. And we see the same happening all around us in the 21st century.

In Malachi 4 verses 1 and 3 we see that a day is coming when the Lord will bring judgment on all the wicked who have rejected Him. In the Bible, whenever we read the term “the day”, we are aware this is speaking of when Jesus returns and everyone who has ever lived is judged. The arrogant, wicked and all who do not worship Jesus as Lord will be punished for eternity.

When the apostle Peter preached his sermon in Jerusalem in Acts 2, he spoke about “the day” in verses 20 and 21.

The first century church lived for that day, they spoke primarily about the resurrection of Jesus and his imminent return. The early church lived daily with an expectation of Jesus coming again. If they had that expectation, how much more should we. We must live with a preparedness, we must be about His business, working for the Kingdom of God and not building kingdoms that will soon be burnt up and the ashes scattered.

In verse 2, God addresses those who fear His name, “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall”. Malachi 4:2

I love the sunrise, it is a powerful reminder that God is watching over His creation. But this sunrise that Malachi speaks about is the ending of a period of time, the ending of the reign of darkness in the world, a new day of righteousness when Jesus will come and restore all things.

The picture that Malachi paints of calves leaping in joy, would have been a familiar sight to the Israelites. During the dark cold months of winter, the young animals would be kept in stalls for protection and warmth, but after the winter as these calves were released and they would jump and leap for joy, running into the pastures. This is a picture of the joy that the followers of Jesus will experience when he comes again.

In Malachi 4:4, God reminds the children of Israel that the Law was not a set of rules to be followed out of routine or tradition, rather the Law was given to bring them into relationship with God.

You cannot separate God’s word from a relationship with God, in that case it simply becomes an academic pursuit. God gave us His word to point us to Christ and the way to salvation through him. Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:17-18 that all of God’s word is relevant for us today until he comes again. The Bible contains many prophesies that will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again, and that is what these last few verses of Malachi speak about.

God’s word is our daily bread, inspired by the Holy Spirit. We need to be a people who meditate and live by the light of God’s word daily.

Verse 5 speaks about the prophet Elijah who will come before Jesus comes again to bring judgment on the whole earth. In Matthew 17, we read about the time when Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain and there they saw Jesus with Elijah and Moses. The appearance of Jesus was transfigured, and his face shone like the sun.

Interestingly, if we read Revelation 11, we read about two witnesses who will prophecy and do mighty works on the earth before Jesus comes again. If you read the account in Revelation 11, you will see that the signs and wonders the two witnesses do are the same kinds of miraculous signs that God allowed Moses and Elijah to do when they lived on the earth.  

This forerunner will have an important role to play, in verse 6 we read, “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Malachi 4:6

This prophet would turn the hearts of the people back to the faith of their fathers. Reminding the people of the Faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is a revival! A time of great repentance. God says, repent and listen to the prophet or I will come and destroy the land.

The same applies to us, repent while you still can, turn away from your sins, turn to Jesus as Lord of your life and you will avoid the punishment that is coming for all who reject Jesus.

The Old Testament ends with a call to repent and a warning in the same way the New Testament closes with a call to repentance in Revelation 22:12-13.

The rays of the sun take about 8 minutes to reach us. If the sun was to stop shinning, life on earth would come to an end. That day is coming as we read in Joel 2:31-32. In verse 2 of Malachi 4 we read, “for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.”  The Hebrew word for wings here is “כָּנָף” “kanaph”, which could mean wings of a bird or the hem of a garment. In Matthew 9, when Jesus was walking through the crowd and a woman who had suffered from bleeding for 12 years, reached out and in faith simply touched the hem (Kanaph) of Jesus’ garment. She was instantly healed. God did this miracle to point to a time when Jesus would come again with healing in his wings for the whole earth. Jesus is the sun of righteousness, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the light of the world.

Has the light of Jesus shone in your life?

Sermon December 01, 2019 – It’s a Heart Issue

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Malachi 3:13-18

What are you afraid of? Ultimately, fear is a matter of perspective.  Fear can hinder us from being all that God calls us to be. Fear of the unknown is a lack of faith, a lack of belief that God is able to provide or care for His children.  

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and he would constantly teach his followers to not be afraid.

In Luke’s gospel, when the angel Gabriel visited Mary to pronounce the birth of Jesus, he said, “do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God”.

But as we read the Bible, we see many references to the fear of the Lord. Should we be afraid of God or not?

True believers should never be afraid of God, but we should always have a reverence and respect for the all-holy, all-powerful God who spoke the universe into existence.

The fear of the Lord is healthy reverence, but the children of God should never live in a cowering fear of God. He is our loving heavenly Father.

Unhealthy fear in our relationship with our heavenly Father leads to legalism. But a healthy fear leads to a heart response to the will of God (See Proverbs 16:6).

During the time of Malachi, the people didn’t have a healthy fear of God, they were operating out of legalism and as we read in chapter 1, they even despised God.

Malachi 3:13 to 18 can be divided into two groups of people; in verses 13-15, God addresses those who are far from Him, going through the motions of being followers of God, but actually they are not serving Him at all. They have a form of religion without a relationship.

These people were living in legalism and simply following a set of rules, but they were tired of going through the motions (See Malachi 3:14). Essentially the people were asking the question “why are we doing this?” At the same time they were also asking, “what’s in it for me?”.

People who serve God out of legalism are serving with the intention of getting something from God. The have a mentality of reciprocity, a “what’s in it for me” attitude.

Before we criticize this group of people, we must come to terms with the fact that we all have a form of this reasoning in us.

Some may say that we are not under the law, that was before Jesus died for our sins on the cross and paid our debt once and for all. In response to this argument, we have two ways of thinking in our churches today, License and legalism.

License says, we have been saved by grace through Jesus Christ and therefore we can live as we please. God promises us forgiveness and we claim the promise of 1 John 1:9, and live however we want. However, the Apostle Paul addresses this in Romans 6:1-2.

As followers of Jesus, we will never be perfect this side of heaven, but we also know that there is joy and blessing in doing what God instructs us to do. Walking in holiness and purity leads to peace and blessing.

Legalism is the opposite way of thinking. People build fences, a man-made set of rules in order to prevent even the temptation to sin.  

The real answer is found in neither license nor legalism. We must not make the mistake of thinking that guarding ourselves and our children from sin is wrong, but it does become a problem when we miss the real reason for the rules and the law. Ultimately it is a heart issue, it all boils down to a healthy relationship with our heavenly Father.

Legalism says, you must give to the church, you must read your bible and pray every day.  legalism says, you must go to church and you must give to the poor.

But relationship changes our worldview. Relationship leads us to want to give, and we get to read our Bibles allowing the word of GOD to speak to us. We get to go to church, to fellowship with other believers. We have the joy of blessing others because of what God has blessed us with.

But then in verse 16, God speaks to another group, this group of people differs from the first primarily in their attitude towards God.

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name.” (Malachi 3:16)

This group of people had a healthy fear and respect for God (Proverbs 3:7).

When we have a healthy fear of the Lord, we have a respect and a reverence for the almighty God that will keep us from doing anything that is contrary to His perfect will.

Verse 16 also gives a promise that God notices them and listens to them. God knows your heart and He listens to those who come to Him with the right posture, with humility and reverence.

The verse continues and says that a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed Him name.  The Bible clearly teaches us that God records everything. Every decision we make in life is recorded, both good and bad. If we really understood this, it would change the way we view the simple decisions we make every day.

As we come to verse 17, we see an amazing promise, “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.”

God looks at His people as His treasured possession. The Hebrew word used here is one to describe a collection of jewels. We are viewed by God as his treasured possession (See 1 Peter 2:9).

God goes on to say that “because you are my treasured jewel, I will keep you, I will save you from the coming judgement.” This is not because of what we have done, but all because God is true to His promises, and it is God’s nature to be faithful.

The chapter ends with a summary statement of these two groups.  The righteous who serve God out of relationship, and the wicked who do not. Do you know who you are?

Do you know that you are God’s treasured possession, bought with the precious blood of Jesus? Read and Meditate on Psalm 34:8-9.