Malachi 1-4, Stop Dishonoring God

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Here in the book of Malachi, God has a quite strong message for his people through the Prophet Malachi to the Nation of Israel. It was a very strong message as we consider these things for us today as well. It is still a very strong message that God has for us. And I pray that it is not a discouragement to you, but as I read these things, I feel the strength of the message, the seriousness and and solemnity of this message. And I'm challenged to. Make sure that I live my life in a way that honors God and so I pray that you are. Challenged in the same way, but here is the message that Malachi brings forth that I'm sharing with you this. Morning stop dishonoring God. There is a need for this declaration. There is a need for this call. There is a need for this correction because there are those who are the people of God but who live their lives in a way that dishonors God and is actually disrespectful to the name of God. And offensive to God, and God sometimes needs to bring some serious reminders to us to bring us back into alignment with. Again, to bring us back into right fellowship and and to correct our minds and our hearts, there are times where the people of God get. Delusions in their minds. Where we live out these ideas of fanciful and fancy in our minds, but but they're not the reality. There there there's the idea that we're God's people. There's the idea that we are pleasing God, and yet what is actually happening in our lives is exactly the opposite, and we're deceived and confused about our relationship with the Lord. About our witness on behalf of the Lord. And that was the condition of the people of Israel at this time. Malachi comes on the scene at the very end of the Old Testament time. He's the last of the prophets there in the Old Testament, not just the last book in the Bible, but chronologically he is, after all, of the other prophets. The children of Israel have experienced the United Kingdom. The split between the northern and southern kingdoms. They've experienced the Ministry of Ministries of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel. They've they've experienced the Babylonian captivity and come back from captivity and rebuilt the temple and rebuilt Jerusalem with. Ezra and Nehemiah. They, they've experienced that the great work of God and bringing them back into the land and establishing them in the land. But after some time passes. Coming back into the land reinstating the the worship of the Lord at the temple. After some time passes, there is the need for God to send Malachi onto the scene. This is about 400 years before the birth of Jesus and Malachi comes on the scene and we gather from. The message that he gives that the people of God at this time are hard hearted. They're deceived. They're far from God, but they don't know it. And so God gives this kind of bold clear. Strong message through. Malachi to shake his people awake a little bit. To kind of shock them and and help them to understand this is the reality of where you are, and it's completely different. From what you're imagining and what you are thinking. And so this morning. I would suggest that we can find lots of parallels to the people of Israel at that time and that day and the people of God today collectively, generally speaking. It's not a shock to say that the church. Needs this message from Malachi. And the church needs to be encouraged and exhorted. To stop dishonoring God. Well, we're going to walk through a few things. We're not going to be able to cover everything here in Malachi, there's so much here, man, it was powerful as I was reading it the past couple of days, just really hit strong and and I pray that you had that opportunity. If not, it's a short book. So later on you can read it over again and check it out and see what God speaks to you through it. But I'm going to walk you through four points to help us stop dishonoring God. Four things to help us move forward and what God has for us in this year point. #1 looking at Malachi chapter one. Stop dishonoring God by questioning his. Stop questioning the love of God in your life. Verse one and two here of Malachi. Chapter one says this is the message that the Lord gave to Israel through the Prophet Malachi. I have always loved you, says the Lord. But you retort really. How have you loved us? And the Lord replies, this is how I showed my love for you. I loved your ancestor Jacob. The Lord, as he brings forth this. Strong message through Malachi. I think it's important to note and interesting that First things first he wants to establish in their minds and hearts the the reminder of his love for them. In this book where he really challenges them and comes against the people of God quite strongly. God says, OK, I'm about to unleash some some pretty hard things on you. And so you first need to be reminded that I really do love you and and as he's reminding them of their love, he is of of course also addressing in their hearts. This suspicion of the love of God that they have this doubts about the love of God, that the people of God at this time are questioning the love of God. And so God anticipates he knows how the people are going to respond when he says I have always loved you. He knows the heart of the people, says, really. How is it that you've loved us? I mean, look at our lives and look at how bad things are going. Look at how difficult things are. Look at how many challenges we've experienced. How can you say that you love us? God, that was the hearts of the people, but God says no. I have always. Loved you. But the people were questioning God's loves, doubting God's love. Mocking a little bit the idea that someone would say I have always loved you, says the Lord. They're retorting against that they're mocking against, that they're they're hard hearted to that idea and say there's no way. Look at how awful things are. It's not so different today. There are many who would question this idea. To say God loves you. There are many today who would have that same response really. How is it that God has loved? Me because I don't see it. I look at my bank account. I don't see how God loves me. I look at my family situation. I don't see how God loves me. I don't. I look at my career. I don't see evidence of God loving me. I mean I'm looking and I, I just. I think that's just nonsense. There's this no what. Do you mean God loves me? There are those who. Would have that heart just like the people of. Israel in Malachi's day. Questioning God's love now. This idea of understanding the love of God and accepting the reality of the love of God, you you can think about it this way, think about the past, the present and the future. And when you're evaluating the love of God and the statement that God loves you, you you need to factor in all three. The past, the present. And the future. Now the people of Malachi's Day were only thinking about the present. They're looking at the difficulties that they're facing. They're looking at the hurts and the heartache they're looking at the challenges they're looking at the affliction that they're experiencing, and they're saying what do you? Mean God loves. Us look how hard my life is. Look how. Bad things are going. Look who's in charge. Look at these events that have happened. And the Lord here. Is going to defend his statement, but. But as he does, he doesn't deal so much with the present. And it's a challenge for. Us thinking about the love of God. The presence is not the primary place to look. The challenges that we face and the difficulties that we experience. Those are not the indicators of whether or not. God loves us. And even the good times that we experience right now in the present in the moment. Those are not the ultimate indicators of God's love for us. Many times the trouble that we face is self-inflicted. Although we don't really want to consider that the people of Israel didn't want to consider that, but as we go on in the book of Malachi, you're going. You're going to see they have disregarded God disobeyed God, and so much of what they're facing and the trouble that they're experiencing is self-inflicted. They've done this to themselves. In their disregard of God. So they've neglected God. They've run away from God. They've done whatever they wanted and ignored God, and then allowed the consequences of that. To say I don't think God loves me. Look at how. Bad my life is. But the reality? Is they brought their life situation upon themselves? Now that's not always the case with trouble. We also experienced trouble in this life. Just because we live in a fallen world and God's promise has never been, you will always be sheltered from all troubles and afflictions. In fact, God's promise really to his people is generally the opposite of that in this life you will have tribulation. Jesus promised that John chapter 16. In acts Chapter 14 Paul and Barnabas, as they were going back to encourage some of the churches that they planted. It tells us that they would go to these churches that they had planted and encourage them to continue in the faith, reminding them that they must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. You can't look at the present and use that as a determination to, say, see God doesn't love me. Well, for those who are right on with the Lord and the best of the best in fellowship with the Lord, they're going to experience hardships. That's part of the path to the Kingdom of God. It's part of the path in our walk with God. And when we're not walking with the Lord, well, there's a lot of hardships and and difficulties and hurt that we bring upon ourselves. Because, well, the instruction God has given to us is for our good, and so when we disregard instruction that is for our good. The experience the bad that comes from it. It's not a surprise. And it's not an indication of the love that God has for us. So God says, look, don't be so consumed by your present circumstances when evaluating my love and and evaluating this statement, the Lord has always loved you. Where does God direct them? In verse two, he says. Think about the past. I have loved your ancestor, Jacob. Don't look so much at the right now at the present at the the difficulties you're facing right now. Think back, look back, remember how? I selected and I chose Jacob. Now he's going to contrast with that that with Jacob's brother Esau in verse three, he says, but I rejected his brother Esau and devastated his Hill Country. I turned esau's inheritance into a desert for jackals. A whole discussion that we could go into here that I'm going to just kind of lightly walk around. God says Jacob, I have loved. But Esau I have hated. There's some doctrinal things to wrestle with there and to consider. But without getting distracted on that, although it's something that you can dive into and explore, there's some meats there that God could speak to you through God. 's point here is look from the beginning a long time ago I began to work, I selected Jacob and I poured out my love on you by choosing him by appointing him. By working in his life to establish the nation of Israel from from the beginning of the nation, my hand has been involved and I've been demonstrating and expressing my love. Back through Jacob, you can go back through Abraham. You can see that demonstration of the love of God, the choice and selection of God. The outpouring of the goodness and blessing of God upon his people. For us today, as we consider this, of course there's a similar past that we can look to not looking back to Jacob, but looking back to Jesus. Paul tells us in Romans chapter 5. That God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. When we were. Utterly helpless just at the right time, Christ came to die on our behalf. It's the ultimate and final demonstration of God's love for us. And so to evaluate the question or the statement, I have always loved you, says the Lord. You don't look at your present circumstances. You look back to the cross and remember, no matter what I face today, and if God never did any good thing for me after that. He's already demonstrated his love for me. There's no further demonstration of love that is necessary because God has already provided for the greatest need and done the greatest work. He showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. But of course we look at you. Know the gauges on the fuel tank and we say I'm on empty. God doesn't love me. We look at the bank account we look at, you know the other people getting ahead and getting promotions or getting raises. We look at the things happening around us and what other people got under the Christmas tree and we we see those things and we go. God doesn't love me. But that's not where God calls our attention to demonstrate his love, he calls our attention back to the cross once and for all. He demonstrated his love. Everything else after that is also part of the expression of God's love towards us. But it requires faith to see it. So that God can say all work together all things together for good. To those who love me and are the called. According to my purpose that. That you love me, you walk with me. All of these things that you would call troubles and afflictions and bad things in your life right now. Trust me and I'll. Make those good things. But you're not gonna see it right now. That's why Paul said, hey, we don't keep our eyes fixed on. What is seen? Cause that's temporary we keep our eyes fixed on what is unseen because that's eternal. And that's how we keep ourselves in that place of understanding, knowing and recognizing that God has always loved us. And so to grasp hold of God's love, we look to the past, not the present. And we look to the future. And verse four and five. He goes on to talk about Esau's future, the land of Edom, and again, he's contrasting Jacob and Esau. Contrasting the future that is promised to Esau to Edom. That is radically different where the people of Esau, the people of Edom will want to try to rebuild. They experienced a similar destruction to Israel and the Babylonian captivity and such. And the people of Edom were determined. We're going to come back. And we're going to rebuild, but. God said, no, you're not. But to the people of Israel he. Says yes I. Will rebuild there is a future and a glory there and he tells the people of Israel in verse 5. When you see the destruction for yourselves, you will say, truly, the Lord's greatness reaches far beyond Israel's border. You guys will see it, God says to the nation, cause the nation will persist. The nation will continue. God says I have a future for you. So look to the future as evidence of my love. Look to the past as evidence of my love, the. Present is murky. You're not gonna see clearly that's not the place to look for the evidence of God's love. Look to the cross. Look to what God has promised that eternity. With the Lord that everlasting life. Stop dishonoring God. By questioning his love. And there are believers today who need to hear that exhortation. There is a woe is me mentality. There is doubts about. God's perspective on you because of the things that you're facing and the things that you're going through. And the little bit say look, you're you're looking at the wrong things. This isn't the measurement right. Right now, the present the present time. That's not the measurement. Of how much I love you? Look to the cross. Look back to the past and understand I've been working in your life from long. Before you existed. Demonstrating my love for you. Look to the future and look at what I've promised to you. But I can't see that. I can't feel that right now. And once again, we're reminded. The children of. God walk by faith and not by sight. Trust God. He's declared his love. He's demonstrated his love stop questioning God when when you question God. Now when you are saying how can you say God loves me, how can God say that he loves me? Look at my life right now. It is a an expression of unbelief. I know this is a little bit hard. I know this is quite challenging but this. Is the reality. God has demonstrated his love at the cross. Romans 5/8 He loves you. He has promised eternity he has promised glory. Trust God. And when you are allowing yourself to go down the path of the woe is me questioning whether or not God loves you. It's dishonoring to God because. You are declaring your unbelief. I can't see it, so I don't believe it. I can't see it so I don't know if it's true. But God has said it, God has demonstrated it. He has declared it. So trust him. And stop dishonoring him. By questioning his love, well moving on still in Malachi chapter one. But we get point #2 here and that is stop dishonoring God with worthless gifts. Here God is going to challenge his people about their offerings and sacrifices to him looking again at verse six and seven, it says, the Lord of heavens armies. Says to the. Priest, a son, honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name. But you ask. How have we ever shown contempt for your name? You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. Then you ask how have we defiled the sacrifices? You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. Here we see that God's people really don't understand the position that they're in and what they have been declaring by their behavior. If you asked them at this time before Malachi is on the scene and preaching this thing, they they would have said, we honor the Lord and God. Is our master and he must be pleased with us because we are serving him diligently. They they were. Completely ignorant and blind to how far away from God they actually were. God says he looks. At reality and says you've shown contempt for my name. But verse six tells us the people are saying what? That's crazy talk. I mean, how have we ever shown contempt? We have never Lord shown contempt for your name. And God says, yeah. You're just not thinking clearly. You're just not understanding. And looking at this with the right perspective. Because the way that you're approaching the offerings. Is an expression of contempt. He says in verse 7 you've shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices. And again, the people. Are questioning Are you sure come? On when have we ever offered defiled sacrifices? And so God gives some specific examples in verse eight, when you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn't that wrong? Isn't it wrong to? Offer animals that are crippled in diseased. See, the people were thinking. I'm giving this animal to the Lord. I'm offering it as a sacrifice. God should be. Grateful that he's getting anything, because oh, it's really hard to offer any kind of sacrifice right now. Times are tough. It's so tight right now, and you know, it's really challenging and I can't give. The best of my flocks and herds, even though that's what God required and declared in the word. I can't give that. That's too expensive. That's too costly. I can't afford that. God should just be grateful that he's getting any sacrifice from me at all. That that's the idea here that. Is being expressed. We're they're still offering sacrifices and you know God should be pleased with. That we haven't given up. We haven't stopped coming to Temple. We haven't stopped, you know, offering sacrifices and offerings to the Lord. So so God should be pleased with whatever I choose to give to the Lord. And God says no. God required the best. The first of all the flocks and herds the best. No spot, no blemish. He says when you bring an offering to me, you don't bring me the leftovers. You don't bring me the lame and the blind. You don't bring me what nobody else wants and like nobody else wants it so might as well give it to the Lord. Don't bring me that stuff God says. You bring me the best of the flocks, you bring me. The best. Of the herds, God is so serious about this. Check out verse 10. He says how I wish one of you would shut the temple doors. So that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered. I am not pleased with you, says the Lord of Heavens armies, and I will not accept your offerings. I mean that is a clear statement. You don't get more clear than that. Can you? Imagine God, looking at you face to face and saying I am not pleased with you. Of course we can imagine that. Because there's countless times where we know we've failed. And we imagine that God saying I'm not pleased with you, there's countless times where we are forgiven. Because we have believed in Jesus Christ and asked for forgiveness and yet the enemy wants to continue to keep us in that place of guilt and departure from God. And so he puts in our minds and wants us to feel like God is saying I am not pleased with you. But that's not the truth. Even though we fail and fall short by grace by faith in Jesus Christ, he is pleased with us. But what's most shocking is when we are so impressed with ourselves and our sacrifices, and we think God should be pleased with us because. Look at what I'm giving. And then for God to look at us and say I am not pleased with you that. Would be quite a surprise. And that's what's happening here. They're convinced. God should be pleased with us. Look at what we're doing. Look at what we're sacrificing. Look at what we're giving, but God says this is worthless stuff. You're sacrificing to me. This is not a real sacrifice that God says. I feel so strongly about this. I wish one of the priests would shut the temple doors. Prevent people from coming to offer these worthless sacrifices. It's shameful, the offerings that are being brought. I am not pleased with you, God says. In contrast, verse 11, he says, look around at the other nations. He says my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night all around the world they offer sweet incense and pure offerings. In honor of my name for my name is great. Among the nations, says the Lord of heavens armies. People who are not the people of God do a better job sometimes at honoring the name of God. And so God says, look around and and understand how far apart you are from reality. You are thinking I should be so pleased with you. But the reality is, you dishonor my name. And the offerings that you bring. Verse 12, he says, but you dishonor my name with your actions by bringing contemptible food. You are saying it's all right to defile the Lord's table. It's OK, no big deal. It's not that big of a deal to offer these kinds of sacrifices. Verse 13, he says. You say it is hard to serve the Lord, and you turn up your noses at my commands, says the Lord of Heavens armies. Think of it. Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings. Should I accept from you such offerings? As these ask, the Lord. God is saying this is shocking. You should be shocked by this. Notice he quotes. The people a lot all throughout this book. He's quoting the people and and he's demonstrating. This is where you think you are. But you are so far away and you don't understand it. You're so delusional in your idea of your relationship with God. It's completely false what you have. In your mind. You don't have the walk with God. The relationship with God. That you think you have. In fact, people who are. Not my people, do a. Better job at honoring my name. Than you do people of God. Strong statement to the Nation of Israel. But again, as we consider these things strong statement. To many of God's people today. Who are in a similar place? We can, in our hearts and minds, become deluded, become delusional. And think of ourselves as. Being so great and God is just so pleased and God should be so grateful at what we have to give and what we've been doing for him. But we need to understand and recognize the potential. We can be fully convinced. That God is pleased with us. And what we're giving unto him? And completely missed the reality being far away from God. And dishonoring to God stop dishonoring God with worthless gifts. We don't have the sacrificial system today that. The people of Israel had in Malachi's day. There's a different set of sacrifices that we are called to bring to the Lord. And really it starts. With our own selves. Romans chapter 12. Verse one and two Paul tells us. Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you. To give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice, the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way. To worship him. Notice what Paul says there. I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Why, because of all he has done for you again, he goes back to the past and says, look at God's demonstration of love at the cross. Look what God has done for you. Look what God has promised for you. The only reasonable response when you understand how God has demonstrated his love is for you to give yourself as a living and holy sacrifice. But but it's the kind that he will find acceptable, not not the kind that you desire to give, or that you find acceptable. Give God the kind of sacrifice your life. That he finds acceptable. That's the only way. To truly worship him. And so Paul goes on to say don't copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. God told the people of Israel I'm not pleased with you, Paul said, hey guys, it's important that you learn to give yourself as a living sacrifice. So that you can understand what is good and pleasing and perfect in God's sight. There is the need for us to be encouraged and exhorted. To not copy the world's behavior, but to let God transform us. The offerings that we give to God are not sacrificial animals. The offerings that we give to God are ourselves. Our actions, our behavior, our time, our energy, our praise. Our resources. We are called to give ourselves to God, holy and completely. Stop dishonoring God with worthless. How do we do that? How do we offer God worthless gifts? When we are conformed to the world and behave like the world and use the world's tactics and ideas and philosophies. We dishonor God. When we give God our leftovers, Lord, if I have time after, you know. This TV show is over if I have time then I'll give time to you. If I if I have time after I pursue all my hobbies and do the things that I wanna do, then I'll give time to you. If I have enough energy after staying up all night, you know, partying for New Year's Eve, then you know maybe I'll serve you in the morning Lord, if if I have enough energy, if I wake up in time, if I if I feel like praising. You then I'll praise you if I have enough leftover after you know. I spend the money the way that I want to spend the money. Then I might think about giving some money to you. If there's leftovers, God. You're gonna be so grateful. Look, I I I I got some money leftover and so I'm gonna give it to you aren't you happy God, you got some leftovers? It it's dishonorable. I mean, you could think about some easy illustrations, right? It's one thing if I invite you over to dinner, and I say, hey, we're having leftovers, you want to come and you know what you're getting into right then, then that's OK. But but if I say oh, man, you're going to be so happy with this dinner. I'm preparing for you. Would you come over and and enjoy a good meal with us and you show up? And then it's like crackers and cheese that are leftover from Thanksgiving. You know, like. That's not honoring somebody that's not good hospitality. That that is not showing honor to anyone but. But sometimes we give God our leftovers. If I have enough time, if I have enough energy, if I have enough money. If I have enough leftover. If I feel like it then. Well then maybe I'll give it to the Lord and God. You should be happy with that and pleased with that because. At least you're getting something I could give you nothing at all. And God says, that is. Disrespectful and dishonorable and other people who do not know me nearly as well as you do do a better job honoring my name all around the world. Verse 14 he says curse, it is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock, but then sacrifices a defective 1 to the Lord. For I am a great king, says the Lord of heavens. Armies and my name is feared among the nations. I'm a great king, God says. And you're a cheat. If you promise to God more. And then change your mind and. Give him less. You're a cheat if you promise to God more, and then because you don't feel like it because you don't have enough leftovers. You give God less. We say I gave my life to Jesus, but then it turns out you know, actually Lord, I gave you an hour and a half on Sundays and maybe 15. Minutes a day. The rest of the week. That's the leftover. There's a little bit of space actually this week. I don't have that 15 minutes because there's some extra stuff going on. So so sorry Lord, no 15 minutes this week, but but I'm going to definitely try to make it, and maybe I'll try to make it till Wednesday to kind of make up for those lost 15 minutes. And won't you be so pleased I show up on a Wednesday Lord? I mean like who you're going to be? Just ecstatic, right? There's going to be angels singing in heaven because I showed up on Wednesday. Listen, stop dishonoring God with your worthless gifts. Go back and fulfill the commitments that you made to God. Now there's a logical approach that people could take in that they look at. This animal was going to die anyways. What does it matter if it's blind? I mean it's just going to be there for a moment and then put to death and put on the altar like it makes sense. Use the stronger. When you use the one that's worth more for economical things and use the one that's not worth anything anyways to put on the altar and kill that. That makes economical sense to kill the inferior animal. But God says I don't care about economical sense. That's not what's the priority. The priority is that's dishonorable to me. When I've asked for your best. And you give me the leftovers. Pastor Warren Rearsby says we despise the Lord's name. When we offer him less. Than our best. They offered defective sacrifices, animals that they would never give. As gifts. To their friends. Things that you would never give as gifts to your friends. Would you give to the Lord with the idea, the expectation? God, you should be so pleased because I'm giving you something. Ohh, that's dishonorable. Stop dishonoring God with your worthless gifts. Give God your best, the best of your time. The best of your energy, the best of your strength, the best of your love, the best of your passion. Give God the best. Present yourself as a living sacrifice. To him, well, moving on to Chapter 2 for point #3, stop dishonoring God with broken covenants. Here God is going to walk through a few different covenants and we're just going to kind of hit the highlights here. We can't get into all of these different covenants, but here's what God is saying. There's three covenants that he's going to highlight as being broken. The first covenant was the covenant between God and the Levites, the Levites, and the priests who were. Called by God to serve him by serving the people at the temple. The second covenant is the covenant between God and Israel, and then the Third Covenant is the covenant that was taking place between God and spouse in the marriage covenant, and so he walks through all of these covenants in chapter two, walking them through saying, look you've broken this one. The priests and the Levites. They were called to serve God and to be instruments for instruction in the word of the Lord and, and instead, you've led people astray. You made a covenant with God as the people of Israel to love God to worship him together, to walk with him, and you've broken that covenant and brought in other gods and married others who are worshipping false gods and and incorporated their worship into your own. You you have broken that covenant. And then the marriage covenant. You've broken as well, and you've mistreated your spouse. Abuse neglect. Broken covenants. God says all of these. Are in serious disrepair for the nation of Israel for us today, as we consider this. I would rephrase it this way. These are three covenants that we have with the Lord as well. We have the Covenant of Service. We have the Covenant of Fellowship and we. Have the Covenant of Marriage. The Covenant of Service. Jumping into verse one and two here. The Lord says, listen you priests, this command is for you. Listen to me and make up your minds to honor my name, says the Lord of heavens armies, or I will bring a terrible curse against you, and I will curse even the blessings you received. Indeed, I have already cursed them because you have not taken my warning to heart. Here God address the priest and he's going to mention the the covenant with the priests and with the Levites. Here in these verses. Now we can look at this today and say, OK, well I'm not a Levite. And I'm not. A priest so I can kind of skip over this one, right? Not so fast. Peter tells us in first Peter Chapter 2. You are his holy priest. There's something that we need to understand when you receive Jesus. When you believe in Jesus, it's not just a personal thing. I get out of Hell free card and that's it. You also when you sign up to follow Jesus and be a disciple of Jesus, you make a covenant with the Lord to serve him. As his representative. And whether you like it or not, this is part. Of believing in Jesus. This is part of walking with him. You are his holy priest. Peter goes on in first Peter Chapter 2 very interesting chapter in correspondence with Malachi Chapter 2 here. Maybe you should read it later on. But he says you are a chosen people, you are royal priests, a holy Nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God. For he called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. It's it's linked together. The work that God has done in your life has put you in this position where you can show others the goodness of God. And he goes on to elaborate that point. First Peter Chapter 2, verse 11 and 12. He says look, I warn you, as temporary residents to keep away from worldly desires. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving, unbelieving neighbors. Then, even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. That you represent God before all. Of your neighbors. Before all of your coworkers, before all. The other people around you. You represent God, Peter says, as his priest. You call yourself a Christian. That means you attach the name of Christ to yourself and you say I represent Christ and everybody says Ohh great, because we've been really wondering what Christ says about this issue that we're facing. We've been really wanting to see how Christ would handle an unfair workplace practice. Hey, we've been anxious to see how Christ will handle sticky political situations, and so they look at you as the priest. You're the Christian and you represent God. Verse 8 here of Malachi Chapter 2. But you priests? Have left God's paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant. I made with the Levites says. The Lord of heavens armies. There is a responsibility that every believer has. To represent God in his instructions in his word and what he says in his character and his attitude and his behavior and verse. Seven, he says, the words of a priest lips should preserve the knowledge of God and people should go to him for instruction. For the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heavens armies. This is your role in the world. You are a messenger of the Lord of heavens armies. The Lord of hosts. You are a messenger of God. You made a covenant of service that's part of the deal. You can't say, Lord, I want to believe in you and receive forgiveness from sin and then just live. However, I want to and I don't have to do anything for you. I mean, you could try to say that, but that's not the deal. You believe in Jesus Christ. You receive him, you commit to a covenant of service. God, I will serve you. I will represent you. My life is yours. I will speak your words. I will demonstrate your heart. I will be your minister. To the world around me. Stop dishonoring God with broken covenants and be. The kind of priest, the kind of messenger, the kind of servant. That God has called you to be the covenant of fellowship. Here in verses 10 through 12. He talks about the nation of Israel, making that covenant with God. But notice it says in verse 10 let me just read. This it says, are we not all children of the same father? Are we not all created by the same God? Then why do we betray each other, violating the covenant of our ancestors? There's a. There's an important point. Here that sometimes we forget we can be very caught up in our self focus and self fulfillment and. Just consumed with ourselves. Here's part of the reality of being a child of God when we violate. The Covenant of God. We betray each. Other, not only is there implicit in the. Salvation that we have. The forgiveness in Christ. The discipleship of, or the the fellowship. As disciples that that we are servants of the Lord and we represent him. But there is also this covenant to each other and there is a responsibility that we have to one another not to just not directly hurt each other. But my responsibility to you is that I'm going to be pursuing the Lord with all my heart. And I'm not gonna disobey God and I'm not gonna rebel against God. I'm not gonna wander away from God. I'm not gonna run away from God because that's part of my responsibility to you. And that's not just because I'm up here as a pastor, no, no, that's our responsibility to each other. We betray each other when we violate the covenant. When we disregard the word of God, God has designed us as a body. The body of Christ United together intertwined together. That's why in. The Book of Hebrews there's that exhortation over and over and over again. They warn each other. Watch out for each other, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, that that there is this responsibility to look out for one another, to take care of one another. In first Corinthians Chapter 5 that the apostle Paul tells the church listen, there's that person that's involved in sin. And a little yeast leavens the whole lump. You gotta get that out. You gotta deal. With that sin. But but back up for a second. A little yeast. Spreads through the whole batch of dough. This this is part of the reality. That my covenant with the Lord involves a covenant with the. Body of Christ with. You, his people, and when there's leaven in my life, it impacts and affects the whole body. And that's true of you as well, and you say, but I don't get up and teach, and I don't get up and speak and nobody. Even knows my name. That doesn't matter. You are part of the body of Christ. You have an. Impact on the body of Christ. And your pursuit of God, or lack of a. Pursuit of God. Impacts everybody else that God has attached to you within the body. We have a responsibility to each other to be wholly to pursue the Lord to love the Lord. Well, the final part of the chapter deals with. The Covenant of Marriage. Verse 13 here's another thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, weeping, and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn't accept them with pleasure. You cry out. Why doesn't the Lord accept my worship? I'll tell you why. Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Your unfaithfulness to your spouse. Directly impacts your approach to the altar. And he says, look, you're covering the altar with tears, weeping and groaning. Why isn't God listen to me and God says, I'll tell you why. Because you are not faithful to your spouse. And he said, well, I'm not married. You you still have a responsibility to your spouse. Well, God doesn't called me to have a spouse. OK, well that's a different thing we'll do with that later, but. Married or unmarried, before or during that there is a responsibility. Faithfulness to our spouse. And so God. Goes on in the next couple of verses a couple of times to say guard your heart you. Have a responsibility to guard your heart. To maintain that covenant to make. Sure that you do not. Those wedding vows. Breaking our Covenant of marriage, breaking our Covenant of service, breaking our Covenant of fellowship with one another. All of these are ways that we dishonor God and God says you need to stop that. You're wondering why your prayers unanswered. You're wondering why things are so hard and difficult and challenging. You're wondering why it feels like you're disconnected from the Lord. Stop breaking the covenants. Come back to write fellowship with me. Well, finally point #4 looking at Malachi Chapter three and four. Finally, we changed the verb, not not stop anymore. And now it's start start returning to the fear of the Lord. In the first few verses here of Chapter 3. He announces the messenger that's coming. Foreshadowing John the Baptist foreshadowing Elijah in the end time scenario again, great depth here. Lots of things not going to get into it. Verse six, though he says for I am the Lord, I do not change, therefore you are not consumed those sons of Jacob. Yeah, from the days of your fathers you've gone away from my ordinances and have not kept them. Return to me and I will return to you. Says the Lord of host. But you said, in what way shall we return? Here the Lord says look for a long time for many years as a history you have been unfaithful to me, but because I am steadfast and I don't change because my mercies are new. Every morning, you have not been consumed. The only reason why you've been preserved and delivered up to this point. Is my grace and my mercy towards you? But God says, returned to me they're so delusional. They're so completely misunderstanding their position before God. But God hasn't given up on them. He's still sending his messenger those first few verses there and chapter 3 verses one through five. He he's still reaching out to them, sending them Malachi. He's still giving them opportunity, and his messages return. To me, not. I'm through with you. Return to me. And I will return to you. There's still opportunity, says the Lord of hosts. But the people are still hard hearted. They're saying how can we return to you? And so God gives an example verses 7 through 12. He talks about bringing in the tithes. And the offerings. And so here's where we bring the ushers forward to collect some more. Because listen, don't you want to be pleasing to God? Look the point. Here is not money. It really is not. The point is obedience. The point is obedience. Do what I've asked you to do and you will discover the blessings of God. God is saying. You can read through that and pray through that as well. Verse 13. God says your words have been harsh against me, says the Lord. Yet you say, what have we spoken against you? Verse 14 you have said it is useless to serve God what prophet is it that we? Have kept his ordinance. And have walked his mourners before the Lord of hosts, so now we call the proud bless for those who do, wickedness are raised up. They even tempt God and go free. The words against the Lord have been. Harsh, he says. Because you have decided you've determined it's useless to serve God, look. The people who are proud and wicked, they they're blessed and they get to experience good things. But here we are. Poor Disciples of Christ and it's just trouble and struggle for us. God says that is a. Harsh thing to say against me. That is not honorable. Come back now. Verse 16 says, then those who fear the Lord spoke to one another and the Lord listened and heard them so a book of remembrance was written before him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on his name. There was those who would hear and respond. To Malachi's message, who would return to the Lord and fear the Lord? And the Lord heard, and he took note. And he remembers he goes on to say I'm going to bless these people who fear me. I'm going to protect them in chapter four. He goes on to talk about the coming destruction, the coming judgment in the days ahead. But he says those who fear my name verse two of Chapter 4, the son of righteousness, shall arise with healing in his wings, and you shall go out and grow fat. Like stall fed calves. Let me prove my love to you in the future. By blessing you. When all the wicked are judged, when all the wicked are done away with, when all the wicked. Are dealt with in their wickedness. Those who fear the Lord will experience his blessings. This morning the Lord calls us. To seriously consider our hearts and minds to consider our actions and behavior. To try to. Give him opportunity to see through the delusions that we paint for ourselves and imagine. In our hearts. God says stop dishonoring me. When you question his love. You dishonor God. When you're expressing those things and those questions and those challenges to the love of God, it's one thing to have questions and to talk with God about those questions, but. To scoff and retort and say God doesn't love me, look at what's happening in my life that dishonors God and all that he has done for you. Stop dishonoring God with worthless gifts. Stop bringing your leftovers. And OK, God, I'll love you, I'll serve you. I'll have a devotional life if I have time. If there's leftovers if there is opportunity after I get to do everything that I want to do. If that's not football season or basketball season, or if you know my favorite show is not on or if. There's not opportunity at the workplace for me, if I'm able, and I feel like it then maybe. I'll be faithful in my devotional life and I'll seek you and worship you and spend time with you. You know, stop dishonoring God with your worthless gifts. And start giving him your best stop dishonoring God with your broken covenants. You you've been commissioned by the Lord to serve him, you've been connected by the Lord to others around you. And you made those vowels where you will make those vowels to that spouse that God has provided for you. Honor those confidence. God honors them, he holds you accountable to them. Come back to the fear of the Lord's return to me, God says, and I'll return to you. It's not over and hope is not lost. But you can't continue on like this. Because you sow to the flesh and you will reap destruction. Lord, I pray for each of us today that you would give us clarity, Lord, that you would remove. From our minds and our hearts, the blinders that the enemy wants to keep there Lord, as we deceive ourselves and convince ourselves. How you must be so pleased and how we are so faithful and diligent when. Potentially loud, we're not. So God, I pray. They would help us to see through those lies and the deception. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. But we need to see the truth clearly and we need. Your help to do that? And Lord, I pray for any area Lord that you show us. Of dishonour. Lord, that our hearts. Would be truly broken. Lord, that there would be real repentance. And that we would turn immediately. To live lives. That honor you and glorify you. May we? Show the world. And our families and our coworkers and our neighbors and our church members. How much you deserve. How glorious you really are. May we show? Or that you are worth it all. And may we give ourselves entirely and completely to you. I pray this in Jesus name.