Sound Of Silence 

Malachi 4:4
“Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.”

The book of Malachi brings the Old Testament to a close. For a period of 1,100 years God at various times and in diverse manners spoke to His people through the prophets. That time had now concluded and for the next 400 years heaven was silent. It was not until the angel appeared to Zechariah and Elizabeth, that this silence was broken. Knowing that this time was coming, God exhorted the people to think back upon His written Word.

Our walk with God is sometimes like that. We are confused regarding a decision we are trying to make. We pray, fast, and seek counsel from others, but we seem to be met with silence from above. When this silence lingers, it can often lead to discouragement and even to doubt. I think it is important to keep in mind, that God allows those times in our lives so we will learn to cling to His Word. Times of silence are designed to cause us to exalt His promises and rest upon them. God exalts His Word above His own name, and desires that we learn to do the same. The most powerful and most trustworthy things in all of life, are the promises found tucked away in the pages of your Bible. Sadly, many of those pages remain unturned, and we are left discouraged when we should be filled with hope, help, direction and strength. If you are facing a silent season in your life, be sure to follow the advice of Malachi, and reflect upon the promises of God.

Pastor Jim

 

A Happy Marriage 

Malachi 2:15
“But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? and why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.”

Malachi has a lot to say about marriage. He warns the people of the danger of marrying badly, by choosing an ungodly spouse. He refers to marriage as both, “The Lord’s holy institution which He loves,” and as a “Covenant.” He exhorts husbands to think of their wife as a companion, and to be careful not to deal treacherously with the wife of their youth. And he declares that God hates divorce because of the impact it has upon the children.

There are many reasons why we should treat our spouse and our marriages with the upmost care.

1. A happy wife makes for a happy life. Paul put it like this, Ephesians 5:28 “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.”

Love is a very interest thing. It is not an emotion, but something that affects all the emotions. It is something that can be stirred up or neglected, so as to become almost dormant. Solomon warned young men not to stir up love before its time (Song of Solomon 8:4) and Jesus warned about a time when peoples love would grow cold (Matthew 24:12). Since love can ebb and flow, it is important to make installments of love in our marriages. We need to realize, we will fall in love with the things into which we invest love. Years ago, I turned a closet into bookshelves. It was not the fanciest nor the most artistic piece of furniture in the house, but I loved it because of all the hours I had spent making it. If your marriage has grown cold, it is time to make some love investments into your spouse.

2. Your witness depends upon it. God designed marriage as a way to testify of His love for the world. Ephesians 5:32-33 “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

When God wanted to illustrate the relationship He wants to have with us, He compared it to the most loving and intimate human relationship we could ever experience. I often think of this verse when I see the face of a groom, as his bride makes her way down the aisle. The sheer joy he is expressing gives us a glimpse into the the way God feels about mankind. Our marriages were designed by God to show the continued love God has for us. It is to illustrate His daily care, His nurturing hand, and His ability to forgive and love, even through difficult times.

3. It’s for the family. Marriage was designed by God as a greenhouse, where godly offspring are to be grown. Malachi 2:15, “But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? and why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.”

The healthiest environment for children to be reared is one where both mom and dad love the Lord and each other. It has often puzzled me when I hear adults claim they have ended their marriage for the sake of the children, because almost every adult whose parents divorced when they were children, speaks of how devastated they were by that event. In some cases, people who have had substance abuse issues, trace the start of their problem back to the time when their parents split up. I understand it is not healthy for children to be in an environment where their parents are constantly fighting, but I also understand that difficulties in marriage, are not the reason to end a marriage. They should be the catalyst causing us to work on our marriages.

If your love for your spouse has grown cold, or if it feels like their love for you has waned, perhaps it is time to make some investments into your marriage. Think back to how you expressed love to the wife of your youth. Reflect upon the ways you put her needs above your own, and showed her how much she mattered to you.

It will be worth the investment.

Pastor Jim

 

Unnecessary Assistance 

Hosea 12:3-4
“He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in his strength he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, and there He spoke to us”

The story of Jacob is a very common one. Although few of us shared the womb with our brothers, and fewer still came out holding onto someone else’s foot, many of us struggle with trusting our lives into the hands of God. That was Jacob’s problem. His life was marked with great and precious promises, but he failed to see how these promises could ever be fulfilled, so he sought to assist God in bringing them to completion. This led to a life filled with stress, deceit and unnecessary difficulty. It was not long before this man, who had been promised so much,  lost almost everything. It was not until Jacob finally surrendered himself to God and His ways, that he began to experience the fulfillment of the promises that had been given to Him.

Part of Jacob’s problem was that he was surrounded by others who did not know how to trust the Lord either. His parents knew the promises that had been given to their son, yet Isaac resisted them, and Rebekah pushed Jacob toward working them out in the arm of the flesh, instead of waiting on the timing of God. Sometimes, walking with Christ, and enjoying the blessed life He intends for us, is as simple as surrounding ourselves with the right people. If we develop friendships with those who also love God and want to please Him, we will be nudged in the right direction when our own faith begins to falter. Had Jacob’s mom not encouraged him to dress up in sheep skin he may not have needed to flee from his brother and could have been saved from years of hardship and anguish.

God has a plan for each of us. This plan is wrapped up in our trusting His word and walking with Christ. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to stop trying to get the promise, and instead, just sit at the feet of the Promiser and enjoy the blessing of being in a relationship with God.

Pastor Jim

 

Bands Of Love 

Hosea 11:4
“I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.”

God uses many different means to get man’s attention. Paul spoke of His kindness leading us to repentance and Jude wrote about saving some with fear of what is ahead, if they fail to come to Christ. Here, Hosea refers to the gentle love of God drawing Israel to Himself. Clearly, God desires all men everywhere to be saved. I wonder what we would discover if we looked at our lives through the lens of God? How many ways has He expressed His lovingkindness to us, as a means of drawing us to Himself?

Israel was hand selected by God, given great and precious promises, and then watched as the miraculous hand of God fulfilled these promises for them. They were redeemed from Egypt, protected in the wilderness, given the land and blessed with the very presence of God in their midst. The same is true of us. We were hand selected by God; Scripture speaks of us being chosen from before the foundations of the earth. We were redeemed by he precious blood of Christ and brought into a relationship with God, where He lives within us and reveals Himself to us. Daily, as we walk with Him, he drives things out of our lives that are harmful to us, and replaces them with things that glorify Him.

Sadly, Israel lost sight of the loving hand of God, and was drawn into the worship of other things. They soon drifted from God, and instead of being the recipients of His gentle love, they began to experience His chastisement. Instead of experiencing blessing, they felt the discipline of God, and soon lost the land of promise, and became slaves to their sin.

Don’t allow sin to draw you away from the blessing of living under the gentle love of God. Whatever temptation you are facing, it is not worth losing the living water that flows out of being in sweet communion with Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Solid Gold

Malachi 3:3
“He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1273.jpgSince ancient times, precious metals have been purified using intense heat. The process involved a craftsman stirring a crucible filled with molten gold. Flames, reaching an excess of one thousand degrees, would liquify the gold and send the impurities to the top. The craftsman would then skim off the impurities, thus purifying the gold. The tradition remains largely untouched today, with the exception of a few advancements for safety and precision. For smaller amounts of gold, a second method of refining is often used today,  involing the use of strong chemicals to dissolve the impurities. The purified gold becomes a powder when dried, then it is heated into useable gold. Whatever the process, it is clear, for purity to take place, intense heat is involved.

It is important to remember, as a believer, you and I are in a purifying process. The Lord is seeking to make us more holy and thus more useful for the kingdom. This process almost always includes heating things up around us. We may find the normal activities of life become overwhelming, as the Lord seeks to draw our attention to Himself. We may also find life being filled with added pressures, which serve the purpose of leading us to Christ, to become more like Him.

Whatever you are facing as this year comes to a close, keep in mind, it is the desire of God to purify you. He is a Master Craftsman who can use the experiences of life to form us into the image of Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

The Lord’s Cow

Malachi 1:8
“And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?
Says the Lord of hosts.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1266.jpgYears ago, I heard a story of a farmer whose cow, after a long and arduous labor, gave birth to twins. He ran into the farmhouse to give the news to his wife, who reminded him of the goodness of God and encouraged him to give one of the calves to the Lord. He agreed immediately, but took some time to make the decision as to which calf would be his and which one would belong to the Lord. After a few weeks, one of the young cows fell ill and the faithful farmer spent the night caring for it. Early the next morning the farmer entered the house and was met by his wife who asked what happened. With a voice filled with sorrow he responded, “The Lord’s calf died.”

When it comes to giving, we often follow the example of the farmer. We pass on to the Lord what we no longer need. The church I first attended had a ministry to Mexico and would collect items to be taken down and given to the needy. Before the items were delivered, it was always necessary to go through the boxes and bags and filter out the “dead cows.” It was astonishing how often boxes would be filled with torn clothing or single shoes. It is almost as though, it was easier for some people to drop stuff at the church, than to take it to the dump, where it belonged. We have all heard the phrase, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Perhaps we should learn a similar phrase, “one man’s junk is sometimes junk.”

When it comes to giving to the Lord, we should’nt just give what we do not want or need. We should give our best. I have been blessed over the years, to see so many people at our church give of their time, talents and treasures, to further the Kingdom of God. Remember you cannot take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. One of the greatest ways to store up treasures in heaven, is to invest in the work of the Lord.

Pastor Jim