Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Wearying God

Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? – Malachi 2.17

‘God is tired of your words.’ That’s what Malachi said to the people. ‘Why is He tired of our words?’ ‘Because you have swallowed the line that evil and good don’t make any difference to God.’

The faith of Judah had collapsed. They no longer really believed God. Their religion acted like you could just do whatever you want and God would do nothing about.

These people we taking advantage of God and His patience. God is being slow to anger – and everything thinks that it means He is not going to judge. When that happens we can lose the motivation to do right.

The issue, like so often is motivation. If I am only doing good because I don’t want God to ‘get me’ than I am doing it all wrong. My motivation to do right ought to be because of who He is and because it is right.

I hope we don’t serve God just because there is evil out there that we don’t see Him dealing with. God is working and He will work. I need to trust Him enough to believe that and keep on serving and stop wearying Him with our behaviour. 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Polluted bread

Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. – Malachi 1.7-8

Another big problem here at the end of the Old Testament is what the Lord called ‘polluted bread.’ The idea is that the people were not offering their best on the altar. It was their second best or worse. It was the kind of offering they would not even offer the governor, but they were trying to offer it to God.

Not giving God our best goes way back to Cain and Able. We read that while Cain brought some of his crops for an offering Able brought the best, the first-fruits of his livestock.

The Law warned against offering improper offerings. God deserves and expects the best. What really drives the point home is that they would take things they wouldn’t think of offering the government officials and offering them to God.

How does this apply to us today? I think there is an obvious application. Do we give God our best? Do we give Him the best of our resources? Do we give God the best of our time? Where is he on our priority list? Can we pay for the cinema or a nice date and not give to God’s work? Can we make it work on time at 8.00 and not make it to church on time at 11.00? Do we have time for the rugby, but not for Bible study? Are we ready to talk about politics but not about the Lord?

We need see what we are giving God. Or is it nothing better than polluted bread.? 

Monday, 15 January 2018

How have you loved me?

I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,  - Malachi 1.2

Malachi was the last prophet we hear from before the coming of John the Baptist. As we leave the Old Testament we see that Israel is still in bad shape. She still has sin she needs to deal with. She is still not right with God. Malachi is a litany of the problems that needed to be dealt with.

At the very start God says ‘I have loved you.’ Fair enough. But what do the people say? ‘How have You loved us?’

What a terrible thing to say, isn’t it? God says ‘I love you’ and His people say ‘how?’

When you put it in black and white it seems so clear. But I think there is a way that a lot of us do the same thing in our everyday lives and actions. We know that God is love. We know He loves us. We know that He is good. He tells us that He loves us and that we should trust Him in every situation.

But then, what happens when that is put to the test. Do we act like He loves us or do we panic and despair? I say God loves me, but do I practice it? If He loves me and He is good and He cares and He is all powerful isn’t He able to deal with whatever I face?

Of course He is. It is a slap in the face of God when I doubt His love by not trusting Him to care for me. 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

By my Spirit

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. – Zechariah 4.6

This verse is in the same context as the passage we saw yesterday about despising small things. It reminds us that God can use the little things just like the big things. He is not bound by our abilities because He does not work by our might or our power. He works by something that is not bound by any human limitations.

‘By my Spirit’ says the Lord. ‘By His Spirit’ is the key any success we will have. ‘By His Spirit’ is the way to get thing done. ‘By His Spirit’ is the key to any victory.

It can be discouraging to face the world we face today. In places like Ireland our numbers are few and our powers are limited. It is a cold dark land. But it is not our strength or ability. The Lord can save by many or by few because He works through His almighty Spirit. 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Small things

Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. – Haggai 2.3-5

For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.  – Zechariah 4.10

This is a sad scene. Everyone got together and got the work done and the Temple was built. The young men were overjoyed and elated that the Temple was built. How exciting!

But there was a damper on their fervour. While the young men we excited about the Temple the old men, many of whom could remember Solomon’s Temple, despised it. ‘In my day the Temple was huge and opulent. This Temple is nothing in comparison. What are you so excited about it.’ There were tears of joy among the young and tears of sorrow among the older men.’ And no one could tell the difference.

The point here is made by Zechariah later in his prophecy. He told the older men not to despise the day of small things. This wasn’t the old Temple. It wasn’t going to be. What we see happening in the church today isn’t the same thing the church saw in the day of great revivals. Especially here we function in the world of ‘small things’ in the eyes of the world.

We need to be careful to honour God just as much in the small things as in the big things. The little things and the big things are only in our eyes. That comes from looking at the externals. We never know how God is working in the unseen.

The Temple that had just been built was going to be the Temple where Jesus would minister. It was small in man’s eyes but big in God’s eyes. Many of us minister in small ways and small churches and small ministries. Don’t despise them. God is not limited by size as long as we are faithful. God is with us in the small things. 

Friday, 12 January 2018

They came and they worked and...

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD. Then spake Haggai the LORD'S messenger in the LORD'S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD. And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, - Haggai 1.12-14

Go called them to work. The message was clear – ‘you are stuck in your lethargy until you do something about doing God’s work.’

So then everyone responded. The government officials came. The religious leaders came. Indeed, all the people came.  Their spirits were stirred and they came and did the work.

The great blessing here is what happened when they did come. When they all come ready to get started God gave them the greatest promise possible – ‘I am with you’ God said.

This is something we read all the time. We read it so much in fact that it can seem to be hold hat. When we decide to do what God wants us to do we can be assured that God is going to be with us.  We may not always sense that God is with us. Sometimes we may feel all alone, but His word tells is today that He is with us always.

Do I have the faith to move forward serving Him when I feel like I am struggling alone?

God’s promise is as real today as it was when Haggai spoke of God’s abiding. Help me Lord to depend on Your presence. The help me get to work. 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Build the house

Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. – Haggai 1.8-10

Go up to the mountain, bring wood, and build the house; and I will be glorified. God’s answer to the dilemma was to just get to work. God told them that blessings were being withheld from them was because they were totally neglecting His work.  Their focus was all on them and not on God. Their hearts and minds were on earthly things, not heavenly. The looked at the seen, not the unseen. They walked by sight, not faith.

But God has the solution – just get back at it. Get up and get back to work. I think we all go through times when we get down and discouraged and we might even pull back from God and focus on us. Once we get there it can be hard to get back on track, but the longer we go the harder it is to get back at the work.

All of us have jobs we need to do but have been putting off. Sometimes there are things we just don’t want to do. Sometimes it is just laziness or lethargy. Either way there is only one solution – get to work.