How do you proclaim to others that they need to turn to God? (Malachi 2:6-7) When the prophet spoke of rebuke and judgment he was admonishing leaders who had become ungodly. This then emphasized the need to be in a right relationship of fidelity with God. This is a positional discussion that is taking place, where God says sin has dislocated us from God, therefore, his spiritual flow in our lives has been thwarted. Have you ever dislocated something? I have done it to a number of my fingers, making them crooked. When we dislocate a joint, we force the bone from its normal position. This painful injury temporarily deforms and immobilizes your joint. It will be unsteady and swell and as time advances we will be unable to move it. Some dislocations left untreated will cause strain or tears in the surrounding muscles, nerves, and tendons. Left untreated some will cause blood loss and even death to the tissue.

Our world is dislocated. God created it and every person in it to have a functioning role. These are the good things he has planned for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) This is why having good godly leadership is so very important for the people of our world, for us, and for those not yet believers. When we walk in the way of righteousness, we provide a practical example of Jesus to people around us and we function correctly as righteous priests of God, on behalf of Jesus Christ. 

Malachi 2:6-7~True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. (ESV) God wants His priest to do the work of the ministry by living lives of integrity, listening to Him, and sharing His message of hope by proclaiming the truth. Paul writes we are to be examples to our world. 1 Corinthians 11:1~ Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (NIV) Do you find those words difficult, feeling unworthy? Of course, we all do. 

That typically means we have a healthy fear of God in our lives. Whew, that takes a load off, doesn’t it? When we possess a healthy fear of God that is at work in us, we hear the Lord reminding us to be a righteous believer who walks out our faith daily in a sin-cursed and fallen world. Again, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:16~Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (NIV) As you head out into the wide world about you today, live a life worthy of your calling in Christ. Be praying for our leaders and leading others to Jesus. Be a great example of Jesus Christ wherever you go.

Knowing Fear

Today, we discuss how we are called by God to own the message. (Malachi 2:4-5) By the time Malachi prophesies the exile has already happened. And even though it is after the exile has finished and the people were rehabilitated, they still struggled. When we think of the exile, I want us to think in terms of rehabilitation. God gave His people a sentence that was supposed to reeducate and rehabilitate them. However, the people will again turn to corrupt practices. Why? Well, our flesh will always desire to rise up, unless we are walking closely with God. Even then our flesh fights to live. 

In Romans 7, Paul has a discussion with himself telling us that even he, the great Apostle Paul, author of half of the New Testament, struggled. 2 Corinthians 11:23- 24~Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers…bandits, my fellow Jews..false believers. (ESV) 

Paul how did you survive all of this and not just go absolutely insane?   2 Corinthians 10:5~We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. (NLT) We live in a world that is constantly bombarding us with messages. Digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day. We need to be reminded that a lot of the war we are engaged in takes place between our ears. That means we need our minds to be right.

So, listen to the message of God and own it. Malachi 2:4-5~So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared (יָרֵא yārē’) me. He stood in awe of my name. (ESV) Do you have reverential awe for the name of God? Does it make you stand up when you hear it abused? The Lord’s name is holy (Exodus 20:7)

Those who studied with us Wednesday may remember that there are two types of fear. One is based on the complete submission, reverence, and awe of who God is, as Malachi has shared. This is a good kind of fear, and then there is a bad kind of fear. Think of fear like cholesterol, where there is a good and bad type. Bad fear is when the Evil One plants thoughts of fear that paralyze us and keeps us from doing God’s will. While good fear is what causes us to live in the way God commands.

Do you walk in the way of God or are you in God’s way? We are to be bearing His message to the world, demonstrating with our lives His calling, as we answering that call with integrity. So how are you doing with your life? Remember we are not to be comparing ourselves with each other, but rather with Jesus. Today, ask the Lord what is in your life that needs to be massaged to truly live the message. Keep in mind that change begins with a step, just as every journey begins with a step. Let today be the first of many steps to living the life Christ has for you.

The Meaningless & Mundane—The Almighty Dollar—Ecclesiastes 5:10-6:12…Handout

What do you really know about money? Is it cloth or paper? Does it have silk or metal? Is it’s length over, under, or at 6 inches? Another money angle reveals few things that cause a relationship to sour like money. Take personal debt. The average American has $________in personal debt. A recently published study revealed___% of Gen Xers &___% of Boomers divorced over money. Not knowing how to handle money can cause issues. Sure Jesus talks about money in___ of His 39 parables, usually as part of a bigger story, the Kingdom of God, with faith and hell rounding out the top 3. The Almighty Dollar: Problems, Purpose, and Pain.

1) Money_______(5:10-17) There are at least__problems with money. Problem #1—Always_____. No matter what we may start with it our appetite always desire more. Is that true for you? Yes / No. Ecclesiastes 5:10~He who loves money will not be satisfied…(ESV) Problem #2—More In—More____. Ecclesiastes 5:11~When goods increase, they increase who eat them…(ESV) When we get a raise, do we also increase our savings and giving? Yes / No. Problem #3–Getting More, Sleeping_____. Sometimes the more we get, the less we sleep. Why? Worry / Anxiety / Stress. Circle the which affects you. Ecclesiastes 5:12~Sweet is the sleep of a laborer…(ESV) Problem #4—Have More,  _____More. Problem #5—Got More,______More Not only will we leave everything behind, but Soly says we do this all of our days eating in darkness in much vexation, sickness, and anger. (16-17) 

2) Money’s________ (5:18-20) The Bible teaches God wants us to have money, but remember He gave it. Ecclesiastes 5:19~Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil…(ESV) Do you enjoy your work? Yes / No. Everything we have is a gift from God. Our family, friends, the community of faith, even our dogs, but we cannot truly and fully enjoy anything if we are not thankful to the Giver. Do you thank God for all He has done and continues to do in your life? Yes / No.

3) Money Pains (6:1-12) In chapter 6 Soly reveals the consequences of violating God’s principles and purpose for money. Here are____kinds of pain associated with money. Pain #1—Money Without________. When rich & famous people die, often someone they don’t even know ends up enjoying their wealth. (Ecc. 6:1-2) Soly says that even a wealth of kids, will not satisfy. A person can live a long life but still not find satisfaction in life. Even though he/she may live forever, Soly says they cannot enjoy their prosperity. Why?____________ unless we recognize that all our blessings are a gift from God, money will only pain us. Pain #2–Success Without __________. Ecclesiastes 6:7~All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied. (ESV) Do any of you want anything? Yes / No. Ever been waiting for it to come and disappointed when it got here? Yes / No. The real trick is wanting what we have. Pain #3—Prosperity Without__________. Solomon says instead of trying to get God to change all of the good plans and good works He has for our lives, why not live in the purpose He created for us individually. Jeremiah 29:11.