Always on time

Did you know that the Lord is speaking? (Malachi 2:3) When God speaks to us He is always on time. If you are anything like me, I’ve wondered, Lord, I don’t mean to but in on your business, but it is getting pretty late. I mean that in the last few days, I have had a balloon from mid-December, as I went to remind God daily, are you going to do anything. And that ballon today follows me around the house. It’s a roady, having been to my office and the kitchen, and at night April locks it away in the closet. If you’ve ever wondered, God is seldom early, never late, but always on time. 

When Malachi steps on the stand to proclaim the word of the Lord, he does so as a post-exilic prophet. Punishment has already been levied, grace given, the wall rebuilt, and the people have returned to live life in the promise of God. Malachi lived and prophesied from 450-400 BC. Malachi 2:3~Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. (ESV) Umm, yeah, about that, I think that is a hard pass for me. 

When Isaiah, Obadiah, Amos, and Micah prophesy they do so as pre-exilic prophets saying that the nation’s leadership is corrupt. Thus, God imprisoned both nations: Israel falls in 722 BC, and later Judah will fall in 586 BC. The message of the prophet was that the road the nation was traveling was taking them to a place they truly did not want to go. Ever been there? I bet many of you have a few T-shirts that you would love to exchange. Just Wednesday I told a story of how fortunate April and I were when our van’s transmission failed. After service, I was told a story of a newly purchased van taken on vacation that had two transmissions put in it, in two different states on the same two-week trip. 

It is easy to make bad decisions and we have all made them. That is why it’s so vital that we pay attention to the message that godly leaders share with us. They have been praying and the Lord has been speaking so that we can avoid the pitfalls of our world. God wants us to learn from our mistakes and especially from the mistakes of others. Do you learn from your own mistakes? Remember the words of ~Otto von Bismarck~ Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others. We must learn to listen to the Lord who is speaking into our lives. Sometimes with words, and even more often through circumstances and the lives, we share with others.

Today, what is the Lord speaking to you? If you are not sure if He is, I assure you the Lord speaks to us all. Perhaps you need to learn how to listen and tune your ears to hear His grace. Why not begin your prayer time with confession, to remove anything that may hinder you from hearing and then practice the spiritual discipline of solitude as you let the silence wash over you and bring the voice of the Lord into clear focus. You don’t need a choir, or even a friend for this, all you need is to be still and let the creator of all things speak to you. Then simply respond.

True Love

Our heavenly Father is calling us to live a life of integrity (Malachi 2:1-2) But what is integrity? Integrity is doing what is right even when nobody is looking. Enter Malachi with a message. Malachi 2:1~And now, O priests, this command is for you. (ESV) Before you sigh and say thank God I’m not from the tribe of Levi and a descendant of Aaron, that is precisely what you are in Christ. 1 Peter 2:9~But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)

Listen to Jesus’ final instructions to the disciples on Ascension Thursday. Acts 1:8~But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (NIV) In Christ, we are called to be priests who witness or teach or instruct others, a la the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20. Go make disciples He said. When we stop making disciples we are stagnant and begin to fail. This lack of Biblical leadership has swept our nation and we are in jeopardy. 

Malachi 2:2~If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. (ESV) As priests who serve under the High Priest of Jesus Christ, we are to be about our Father’s business, just as Jesus was. (Hebrew 4:14-16) We are called to live a life of Integrity. Being blessed by God requires that we live up to His standard and not our own. Many think blessing comes because Jesus is Lord, however, Jesus is Lord whether or not you and I or our world recognize that fact. 

As a believer in Jesus, it is time we take the scriptures to heart and lived them out in righteousness. Is there an area in your life where your integrity is in question? If so, I want you to take a few moments and ask the Lord to help you take stock of where you are and to provide you with the answers for making this area a strength. This is called seeking His wisdom, the application of knowledge. Don’t worry if you need help because James reminds us in James 1:5~If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (NIV) God is our ever-present resource and help. You are going to really grow spiritually, and God is going to help.

The hope of your calling

The word prophet comes from the Hebrew word (נָבִיא nāḇî’) literally it means mouthpiece, thus the prophet of God is the mouthpiece of God. A person called by God, given a message of hope and judgment that they are married to, and speaks to a person or group of people, thus saith the Lord. Their aim is God’s justice. A two-sided coin with the reward of righteousness on one side and the punishment for sin on the other. We live in a world that prefers gray to black and white.

So, if I ask, is it wrong to desire something that is sinful? I bet I get two types of responses. Response #1: the Lawyer. Now I can desire this and just not act on it and avoid the sin, correct? Response #2: How bad a sin is it? Not that I am confessing just merely wanting to know is it like cheating on a diet or something really dark like what those people do? The real truth is that our world has only two choices. The way of God and the way of the devil and the world he has built. Deuteronomy 30:19~Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life so that you and your descendants might live! (NLT)

Just two choices, God and anything else. Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5, Deuteronomy 4:24) who will consume everything that stands in His way. When we want to make a decision that goes against God and His way of righteousness we experience pushback. This is the work of the Holy Spirit who weighs in on our conscience and says, here is evidence, leading us in the way of truth. (John 14:26) Keep in mind that it was Jesus who told us in His sermon on the mount that our intent had already caused us to sin. (Matthew 5:28) This really is about life and death like the prophet Ole Mo said. 

The church today, like the church in many eras of old faces a leadership crisis. When leaders fail to lead and people are left to wander like lost sheep, bad things happen. Therefore, God sends a prophet, His own specially chosen mouthpiece to proclaim that change is needed. Our nation needs leaders who love the Lord and walk in His righteousness. We need leaders who are sincere in their faith place in Jesus Christ. If we have any hope of averting God’s judgment, because of our sinful ways, then we need people who will make a stand for righteousness and follow after God. Here is the problem. 

James 1:14-15~But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (ESV) God is a just God, that is why Jesus came to give us His righteousness that we might live as Christ would live. Philippians 1:21~For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. (NLT) Today, there are still only two choices for us. My hope and prayer for you is that you have chosen life in Jesus Christ. He is the only begotten Son of God who can set us free from the passions of this life that attempt to constrain us and force us into the mold of our world. 

Paul tells the people of Rome in Romans 12:1~Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (NIV) Let today be the day when you say enough is enough and stand up for Christ. I want you to know that God is calling you to be a righteous leader in a world that needs to know that Jesus Christ came to save them. To whom will you share this good news?