Will you frolic?

Indeed, the day is coming, burning like a furnace, when all the arrogant and everyone who commits wickedness will become stubble. The coming day will consume them,” says the Lord of Hosts, “not leaving them root or branches. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall” (Malachi 4:1-2).

When I think about what it means to “playfully jump,” I cannot help but think about our yellow labrador puppy, Lottie. She is really good at frolicking.

Will you frolic (“playfully jump“) like those described in Malachi 4:2, or will you face eternal judgment in horror like those described in verse 1?

The answer to that question is determined by your standing before our almighty God. The reality is that we all deserve eternal judgment because of our sin. If you have a right relationship with God, though, then you can frolic now and more importantly for eternity because of the hope, peace, and joy only He gives.

To understand how to have a right relationship with God, would you consider watching a video and/or reading more HERE?

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be finishing our Greatness of God sermon series through Malachi, preaching through the last six verses and discussing “Our Great God of Promise.” Do you believe God’s promises? What is your response?

Please remember that every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Jesus. Therefore, the “Amen” is also spoken through Him by us for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 1:20).

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Investment Is Evidence

Have you ever made a sizeable investment in something and then never cared how your investment performed? Unless you are so wealthy that you cannot keep track of all your investments, surely the answer is no.

When we invest in something, whether it be with our time, money, or other resources, we tend to care about that investment. We want the investment to be fruitful and worthwhile.

The Bible talks a lot about money and resources, perhaps because of the dangers of letting our money and resources control us. If you flip that around, though, and let the One who made you and knows what is best for you control your money and resources, life is so much better.

He is already in control. Why not trust Him? He is already Lord. Why not surrender to Him?

Investment is evidence of your faith, particularly when it comes to two areas…

1. Evidence of Commitment

An investment is evidence of commitment. You commit yourself to that in which you invest, particularly if you care about the results. If you spend a lot of time and money fixing up a car, for example, then you surely try to protect that car. You are committed to taking care of it. If not before the time and money, certainly after the time and money are invested.

We have an old car with over 272,000 miles on it, and we have invested very little in that car. Yes, we are very thankful to have the car, as it was inexpensive, runs well, and gets good gas mileage. Furthermore, we own the car and owe nothing for it. When that car eventually quits, though, any sorrow I feel will not be for the car itself. Why? Well, because I have very little invested in that car. I will only be sorry to have to find another to replace it.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Notice your heart “will be” where your treasure is. So, if you spend a lot of time and money restoring a car, your heart will follow. You will care more about that car.

Jesus was (and is) urging us to invest ourselves in His kingdom. Even if we struggle to have the right desires and motives, the more we invest in His kingdom, the more our hearts will follow our investment.

If you are truly committed to God and His Word, your investment of time and money in God’s kingdom will be evidence of that commitment. But, if you are struggling to remain committed, invest. Give of your time, money, and resources for the sake of the gospel, and watch your heart follow, just as Jesus promised.

Investment is evidence of commitment. Are you not as committed as Jesus called you to be? Invest more. Give more of yourself.

2. Evidence of Affection

An investment is also evidence of affection. As you grow in your commitment to something, you naturally grow in your affection for it. Commitment causes caring. And, again, caring comes with investment.

Do I have any affection for our old car? Not really. I only care what it can do for me. That is why we keep it. That is its only value.

What if I spent dozens of hours and thousands of dollars restoring that same car, though? Well, then I am sure I would have some affection for it. I would not simply care about what the car can do for me. I would care about the car itself. And, my investment in that car would be proof of my affection for it.

Are you invested?

God, above all else, desires and deserves our commitment and affection. How much are you investing in your relationship with God? How much time do you spend seeking to grow closer to Him and serve His church? How much money do you invest in the advancement of His gospel? How much sacrifice do you make for the sake of His name and His glory?

Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching about our “Great God of Blessing” (Greatness of God series) from Malachi 3:6-12. People who believe in God all want to experience His blessings, but how often do we settle for so much less than what God has in store for us by investing more in the world than we do in our relationship with Him?

Of course, there is no hope for a growing investment, growing commitment, and growing affection, apart from the reconciliation with God that only comes in and through a relationship with His Son.

If you recognize the right investment is lacking in your life, cry out to Him for help. Trust Him to change you and make you His own. And, as you trust Him to grow your commitment and affection, invest. Invest in your relationship with God. Invest in your involvement with your local church. Invest in your partnership with the mission of the gospel. Invest.

Stop Complaining

My dad used to say to people who complained, “Cry me a river. Build me a bridge. And, get over it!” While that might not be the most sympathetic and compassionate statement, it is probably something we all need to hear more often than we would like to admit.

An even better statement in response to one’s whining and complaining is found in Philippians 2:14-15 – “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.”

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching about our “Great God of Judgment” from Malachi 2:17 – 3:6, and as has been clear in this series through Malachi, God is worthy and deserving of our worship, not our complaining. Furthermore, our complaining is a sin against Him.

So, stop whining and complaining!

About what?” you ask.

About anything. You name it – we like to complain about it. Let us stop it!

Here are two reasons I want to encourage you (and myself) to stop whining and complaining.

1. COMPLAINING BRINGS JUDGMENT

Just like the Israelites in Malachi’s time opened the door for God’s judgment through their rebellion and hypocritical complaining, so do we when we sin against God. And, complaining is sin.

We are not told to do some things without complaining or arguing – comfortable things, enjoyable things, or easy things. “Do everything without complaining and arguing…” Philippians 2 put no qualifiers on that statement. “Everything.” No exceptions.

“You have wearied the Lord with your words.

Yet you ask, “How have we wearied Him?”

When you say, “Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”

Malachi 2:17

That statement at the end of Malachi 2 could be addressing us, could it not? But God is here. God will judge sin. You and I and every other person on this planet deserve His judgment, and yet in His mercy and grace, He offers a way out. Stop complaining because complaining brings judgment.

2. COMPLAINING FORGETS GOD

Often when we are tempted to complain or talk about complaining, we might say something like, “There is always someone who has it worse.” While that is true, though, that is not the reason we need to stop complaining.

What if you could not find someone who had it worse? What if your situation was like that of Job’s, and you lost everything? Would it be okay to complain then? No.

Our reason for being grateful and not complaining is not because someone else has it worse, but rather because God is the best. And, complaining forgets God. Complaining closes our eyes and our hearts to God’s provision, God’s kindness, God’s goodness, God’s mercy, God’s justice, and God’s faithfulness.

Right before that challenge by Paul in Philippians 2, he explained the selfless sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord (Philippians 2:5-11). He, Jesus Christ, is our reason for gratitude. He is the reason we should and can do everything without complaining and arguing.

After all, Jesus made a way for us to be right with God now and for eternity. Stop complaining because, in Christ, you have everything you need and so much more. Jesus is that way out from God’s eternal judgment. He is the Only Way. Stop complaining and turn to Jesus.

Until Death Do Us Part

Marriage was created by God to be a sacred covenant between a man, a woman and God. The institution of marriage has been cheapened and disgraced, though. Not only has this been the case in our time and in our society, but it has been the case for thousands of years.

You also do this: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears as you weep and groan, because He no longer pays any attention to the offering nor accepts it favorably from you. Yet you ask, “Why?” The Lord is testifying against you on behalf of the wife you married when you were young, to whom you have become unfaithful even though she is your companion and wife by law. No one who has even a small portion of the Spirit in him does this. What did our ancestor do when seeking a child from God? Be attentive, then, to your own spirit, for one should not be disloyal to the wife he took in his youth. “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and the one who is guilty of violence,” says the Lord who rules over all. “Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful” (Malachi 2:13-16).

Cultures have been impacted, and societies have crumbled as the biblical practice of marriage in those societies crumbled. For example, study the downfall of the Roman Empire. One day, perhaps, people might look back and say the same thing about the United States of America. I hope not, but time will tell.

THE COMMITMENT OF MARRIAGE

Biblical marriage is a covenant, and a covenant is a commitment. Many of us said, “…until death do us part,” when we were married because we believe divorce is not an option. We realize there will be ups and downs, but we are committed to do whatever we can to sustain our marriage.

Of course, I am not implying that divorce is an unforgivable sin, as the Bible does not teach that. God hates all sin, including divorce, but He also provides a means of restoration. If you have experienced a divorce and had any fault in the failure of your marriage, there is forgiveness in Christ. Turn to Him.

Not only did God clearly explain the commitment of marriage in Malachi and in other places in the Old Testament, beginning in Genesis 2, but Jesus further explained the commitment Himself.

But from the beginning of creation he made them male and femaleFor this reason a man will leave his father and mother, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” In the house once again, the disciples asked him about this. 11 So he told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her” (Mark 10:6-11).

THE CHRIST OVER MARRIAGE

In biblical marriage, we see a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see God’s relationship with His church in and through His One and Only Son. We see a covenant that cannot and will not be broken as long as life continues.

Marriage is to point us to Jesus and His relationship with those who know Him. Jesus will never leave or forsake His church, and those who are His true followers and thus part of His true church will likewise never leave Him. Check out Ephesians 5:21-33 for a great description of how this is the case.

Jesus often said things like, “The person who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

And, this is why there is a lifelong commitment in marriage – because of the Christ over marriage. He created marriage. He is to be at the center of marriages. He sustains marriages. Genuine followers of Christ endure to the end. Christ-centered marriages also endure to the end – “until death do us part.”

Lord willing, I will be preaching through Malachi 2:10-16 Sunday morning, talking about our “Great God of Expectations”(The Greatness of God sermon series). Just as God expects His followers to endure in their faithfulness to Him, He expects His followers’ marriages to endure in faithfulness to one another (and to Him).

In order to truly know and sincerely desire God’s expectations for us – His expectations for us as individuals, His expectations for us as a church, and His expectations for our marriages – we must have a relationship with Him. This is the important truth of the gospel.

Do you know the Christ who is over marriage (and who is over all things)? Only then can you know and desire the commitment in marriage (and the lasting commitment to God).

Religiously Worthless

Did you know you can be religious and yet not worship God? And no, I am not referring to false religions that ascribe the worship of false gods. I am talking about people who profess to know and follow the one true God but who are not sincerely worshiping Him.

As I will be preaching about Sunday morning, Lord willing, God addressed this very issue with the Israelites in Malachi’s time. They claimed to trust and follow God, but their supposed worship was worthless. They were religious yet worthless because they were not ascribing to God the worth He is due.

Rather than giving God their best, as the Mosaic Law required and as God clearly deserves, they were giving God their leftovers. They were going through the religious motions, making their religion worthless.

VALUE WORTH

If something has great worth, would it not be foolish if we did not value it? Value worth, or you are a fool. This is why we put money in banks, in safes, and in our pockets. We do not set it in buckets in our front yards and then claim that we value that money. Rather, we invest it because we value financial stability and security.

We do not buy a brand new vehicle and park it in the driveway if we have a garage. Well, some people do, while keeping junk in their garage, and that tells me that they probably do not value their vehicle like they probably should. Value worth, or you really do not believe it to be worthy of value.

We do not stick our hands in a fire because we value our hands and our health. When people do not take care of themselves physically, they are proving they do not value their health like they should. Perhaps their health is of less worth to them than the pleasure of overeating or being lazy or submitting to a harmful addiction.

The list goes on and on. Value worth, or you will regret it. And, of course, there is no one of greater worth than God Himself. Do your values point to that truth? Do you value God? Does your daily life tell others that He is worthy.

RELIGION DESPISED

Going through the religious motions is despised by God. Do not do it. Do not give in to the temptation to do “just enough” to look good or appear to be right with God. He knows our hearts, and He knows when we are simply going through the motions.

As is made clear in Malachi 1:6-14, God demands and deserves our best. Giving Him anything less is not acceptable. He is worthy, so do not toss Him your leftovers.

Bring it to your governor! Would he be pleased with you or show you favor?” (Malachi 1:8).

Imagine if you had someone important, like the governor, over for dinner one evening. You know he is coming, and not only is he the governor, he is also someone you claim is a good friend. As you sit down at the table together, you get out some leftover macaroni and cheese from the fridge and set it in front of him, while you begin cutting into a fresh, juicy steak for yourself. Does that show any sort of love for your friend? Does it imply that you value your governor? Are your efforts to be commended? Of course not!

Sure, that example sounds ridiculous, but so is any insincere religious effort we offer God. If we claim to know and follow and value God and yet give Him nothing more than our leftover time, money, efforts and devotion, then we are even more despicable than someone who gives leftover mac-n-cheese to a “dear friend” while eating a steak.

If we claim to love God and yet only think about Him or seek Him on a Sunday, then our so-called love is a lie.

If we claim to be Christ-followers but Christ’s church is no more important to us than sleeping in or getting some extra work done, then we not Christ-followers at all.

Religion that is half-hearted is despised. Do not believe the devil’s lie otherwise.

CHRIST SATISFIED

The truth is that none of us can ever be religiously devout enough to honor and please God. He is holy and perfect, and we are not. Our efforts will always fall short, as we are sinful people in need of a Savior.

For that reason, and because God loves us and desires a relationship with us, He sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus lived a perfect life of devotion to God. He satisfied the Law and did everything you and I cannot. His sacrifice on the cross in our place satisfied God’s requirement of justice and punishment for our sins.

And, on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. He defeated sin and death for everyone who calls on His name. If you desire to be right with God, do not turn to religion. Turn to Jesus. Only He can satisfy you because only He has satisfied God.

Only after turning from sin and surrendering your life to Jesus will you sincerely long to please God with a life of worship. Only then will you begin to despise going through the religious motions like God despises it, but instead honor Him with genuine religious devotion.

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Don’t Ask Dumb Questions

Have you ever asked God, like the Israelites did in Malachi’s time, “How have you loved us?” (Malachi 1:2). Even if you have not verbally spoken those words to God, surely you have at least thought them. We all have our moments of weakness, discouragement, selfishness, and foolishness. And, in those moments, we tend to lose sight of the big picture, if not lose sight of the truth itself.

THERE ARE STUPID QUESTIONS

We have all heard people say that there are no stupid questions, but that is not true. There are stupid questions – questions of foolishness. “God, how have you loved us?” is an example of a stupid question. In fact, is there a more foolish question than this?

Stupid questions are questions that, by intention, fail to recognize and/or remember Truth and rather attempt to justify our own shortcomings. Israel, for example, was an ungrateful people in Malachi’s time, often failing to remember God’s amazing love for them and instead, complaining about their circumstances. They forgot what God delivered them from, and they were instead focused on always wanting more.

Their question was filled with foolishness, much like a child who might ask his mother after not getting what he wants, “Don’t you love me?” Stupid question, whether we want to use such descriptives or not.

GOD’S LOVE IS UNDENIABLE

We would run out of time – run out of physical life – trying name all the ways God has proven His love for us. I will not even try to accomplish such a huge task. Instead, I want to briefly talk about one such proof – Vacation Bible School (VBS).

Our church had our annual VBS a couple weeks ago, and there are few pictures of God’s great love that are clearer than VBS. There are several reasons why VBS is so special, but I will stick to three… three reasons VBS is a great example of God’s undeniable love.

1. VOLUNTEERS SERVING

VBS is impossible without volunteers, and our church had more than 40 volunteers who served this year. Wow! Many of these volunteers showed up to our church facilities after a full day of work to then work for three more hours at VBS. And, let us be clear – VBS is work! VBS is hard work. VBS is exhausting and often overwhelming, but VBS is worth it. That is why so many volunteers serve.

God loves us and loves our children through volunteers who sacrifice their time, their energy, their resources, and even, at times, their happiness for the sake of serving others during VBS. God loves us through His church, and His church does amazing things during VBS.

2. CHILDREN RESPONDING

Children are a blessing from the Lord, even when they do not behave like blessings from the Lord. Oh, what a joy it is, though, when children respond to the gospel message during VBS (or any time)! If we know and follow Jesus, surely we must agree with the Apostle John: “I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).

That joy is true of our biological children and our spiritual children – those with whom we have the privilege of discipling and encouraging in “the truth.” What a great picture of God’s love when children respond to Him.

In their response, God’s undeniable love is clear for their sake – that they get to know and follow God. In their response, God’s undeniable love is clear for our sake – that we get to be a part of their journey. And, in their response, God’s undeniable love is clear for His sake – that He loves people enough to draw them to Himself.

Praise the Lord! God loves us by loving our children and opening their hearts to the truth about Jesus.

3. JESUS SAVING

None of this would matter – VBS, volunteers serving, or children responding – if not for the ultimate picture of God’s love: Jesus saving (saving people from sin and eternal death). We have VBS because Jesus saves. We prioritize VBS because Jesus saves. We exist as a church only because Jesus saves. Volunteers serve but not in vain because Jesus saves. And, children would have no reason to respond if not for the truth that Jesus saves.

How has God loved us?

God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8) If you have yet to experience this love, would you surrender your life to Jesus today?

Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be starting a new sermon series – The Greatness of God – through the book of Malachi. And, as is the point of this post, I will be talking about our “Great God of Love” (Malachi 1:1-5). Do you realize and rejoice in God’s great love for you?

VBS Children Performing One of the VBS Songs during Our Sunday Morning Service on July 28th

Faith Requires Truth

Despite what some might claim, “blind faith” is not what Christianity requires. Sure, no one can see God on this side of eternity. We did not see the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. So, in regards to seeing, there is indeed a blind aspect to our faith because there are some things we just will not see in this life. Still, Christian faith is not blind.

THERE ARE THINGS TO SEE

Namely, we can see and experience Truth – biblical Truth. In fact, if an understanding and belief in this Truth are missing, real Christian faith is impossible. While you can claim to have faith apart from eternal Truth, that kind of faith will not last. Rather, it will crumble when your temporary security crumbles.

Faith that endures requires Truth, the Truth of God’s Word. After all, what is your faith actually in, if not in eternal Truth? And, how can you see and experience eternal Truth apart from the perfect Word of God?

JESUS IS THE TRUTH

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The way we see and experience Truth is by seeing and experiencing Jesus. The way we see and experience Jesus is through the Word of God.

For this reason, I am shocked and saddened to hear of so many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ and yet do not seek Him through His Word each day. If you want to see Jesus, learn about Jesus and know Jesus, seek Him through His Word and call on His name in faith and humility. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it” (Acts 4:12).

TRUTH HAS PROOF

Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching through 2 John and talking about the proof of Christian faith that comes from the Truth of Christian faith. Going through this short letter, I will talk about three things Christian Truth promotes “because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us forever” (2 John 2).

That message will be available Sunday afternoon, along with previous messages from this series, HERE. Do you know and follow Jesus? If so, there will be ongoing proof in your life from the Truth ruling your life. If not, will you seek Him and surrender to Him today?

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