Relationships

Scripture Text: Malachi 2:10-16

10 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?
11 Judah has been unfaithful, and a detestable thing has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem. The men of Judah have defiled the LORD ’s beloved sanctuary by marrying women who worship idols.
12 May the LORD cut off from the nation of Israel every last man who has done this and yet brings an offering to the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
13 Here is 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.
14 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.
15 Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.
16 “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty, ” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”

INTRODUCTION

The post-exilic Jews were having a difficult time of things and their attitude had grown sour. Instead of blaming themselves for their predicament, they blamed God and this irresponsibility turned into a bad attitude.


The thing about a bad attitude is that it permeates everything in life. It is hard to isolate a bad attitude. One bad attitude can have a determental effect on an entire family or a congregation for that matter. Right now, our country is suffering from a small minority of people who have a bad attitude.


We have already seen in our study in Malachi, that a bad attitude affects worship, it also affects our ministry {Priestly} and witness. Today, we will talk about how it affects RELATIONSHIPS. A bad attitude can destroy a marriage or a friendship.


Due to the time it takes me to do a three point sermon, I don’t do many these days but this message has four points so I will hurry along.

I. THE PROBLEM

The problem was lust. The Jewish men, including the priest were divorcing the wives of their youth [the mother of their children] and marrying younger women. They were not just marrying younger women, they were marrying pagan women who worshipped idols. The Apostle Paul gives us clear teaching on this matter:

14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?
15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil ? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?
16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?
This is not just a problem with older men looking for a younger wives: this is a major problem for young people who have never been married. My mother taught me three basic rules:
  1. Never date someone you would not marry.
  2. Never date an unbeliever.
  3. Never date someone you would be ashamed to be seen in public with.

Walter K. Ayers was a country boy from Arkansas. His dad abandoned him and his sister when he was nine and his mom had a stroke when he was 19. Before her stroke, she worked 16 hours a day trying to provide for the two children. Walter did what he pleased. This means he went to school rarely and he failed consistently. He finally dropped out completely in the 8th grade. He got into trouble again and again and was on the verge of being sent to prison at age 19. Due to his mother and the high school football coach, Walter was given one last chance. A part of his probation was to return to school which was a bit of a problem since Walter was 19 and in the 8th grade. Walter thought to himself, I will do good if to stay out of trouble for two weeks but a couple of positive things happened. First, some teachers took an interest in Walter and went out of their way to help him and then a new girl moved into town. He fell for her hook, line and sinker. There was one problem, she was a devoted Christian and Walter hated church: he thought it was for sissies and old folks. The only way she would date Walter was at church. He didn’t like that so he laid down the law, “It either church or me.” She told him quickly, “It will be church.” Then she said “Buy Walter.” Long story short, through his relationship with this uncompromising girl and her pastor who was an all state running back in high school, Walter came to know Jesus. Four years later he answered the call to preach and became a Southern Baptist Evangelist. You can hear his testimony as he preached at First Baptist Dallas with Dr. Wally Amos Crisswold doing the introduction.

Young people: don’t compromise on this issue. Hold to your convictions. Don’t date anyone who is not a believer in Jesus Christ.

Solomon is considered by most to be wise, some say the wisest but Solomon disobeyed God’s direct order by marrying foreign women who were pagans. I Kings 11 gives us the details.


1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites.

2The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway.


Solomon’s rebellion and poor choice marked the beginning of the end for the Kingdom of David.

II. THE PROMISE

Malachi said, 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.

Vows are more than a promise. We make promises to each other but vows are made to God. It is one thing to promise to be faithful in sickness and health, poverty or wealth, the good times that brighten you ways and the dark times that saddened your days. But the vow you made was for better or worse and you made it directly to God, not your wife. We all have our better side but we also have that worse side. The key to an enduring relationship is not love, it is commitment. You could translate that into love for Jesus but there comes a time in every marriage where you have to make a decision: Am I to look out for my own personal interest and pursue my happiness or am I to be faithful to my vows?

I don’t think there is a close second, the most frightened I have ever been was during our wedding. I was shaking so bad when June and I kneeled on a little iron alter, that I thought it was going to come a part. Wedding vows are a commitment to God and a vow is sacred, it is a big deal. Those who take a vow to God lightly will suffer the consequences. It is or should be one of the most sacred moments of your life. I make those I marry repeat vows. They are important. They are holy and sacred, something you should never forget.

I married a young couple once against my better judgment. I tried my best to talk them out of it right up until the last moment. The marriage lasted longer than I though, almost seven years. I went to talk with the young man and begged him to reconsider {he had found a new love}. I reminded him of the vow he made, he told me, “I don’t remember making a vow.” I said, “You made it and now you are breaking it.”

III. THE PITFALL

15 Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.

16 “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty, ” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”


I use the NLT. Joe David uses the NIV and I have been tempted to switch myself but the NLT has such of way of making things clear. Twice you see the phrase, “guard your heart.”


The NIV reads, “guard yourself in your spirit.” The NASB reads, “take heed in your spirit.” But the NLT is so clear, so simple: the biggest pitfall in the martial relationship is the unguarded heart.

The most dangerous thing you can do is take your spouse for granted; to take your marriage for granted and let down your guard. The moment you begin to think that your marriage is invincible, you are in trouble. Most couples get married, settle down, start raising children and in the process, they quit dating, romancing each other. I heard one man put it this way: “My wife is like an old hound, laying on the front porch, you couldn’t run her off if you tried.”  I cringed when I heard him say these words. Eros {Romantic love} is very conditional. It is a fire but it will go out if it is not nurtured. You have to stir the embers, fan the flame and put a stick of wood on from time to time. Once you reach a state of indifference, you let down your guard and you make it possible for someone else other than your mate to get into your heart. Despite what some say, “Intimacy” is the number one problem and the lack thereof is the leading cause of divorce.

When we take our spouse and marriage for granted, we cease to meet needs and unmet needs lead to loneliness and loneliness looks for company. Extra marital affairs begin with this desire to fulfill unmet needs and they usually begin with talking, sharing and listening. In time, an emotional bond is formed which often times leads to a sexual relationship which becomes very destructive to all persons involved.

If you are struggling with unmet needs–guard your heart. Open only to Jesus. Get involved with Jesus in an intimate relationship. Share your loneliness with Jesus. He may not be all you want but He is all you need If you open your heart to a friend of the opposite sex, you are going to get emotionally involved and then you are going to hurt any way you go. There is no easy way out of an extra marital affair. GUARD YOUR HEART.

IV. ONE LAST THING: THE PAIN

16 “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty, ” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”

Verse 16 is one of the most difficult passages to translate in the bible and scholars are divided. The NLT, NASB, AV all… The LORD says, “I hate divorce.” but the NIV reads…

  • NIV–“The man who hates and divorces his wife does violence to the one he should protect,” says the LORD Almighty.
  • ESV–“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts.”
  • Holman–“If he hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD God of Israel, “he covers his garment with injustice,” says the LORD of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.

The debate is over the “Object.” What is the object of the hate? Is it divorce or the wife. I am a proponent of using multiple translation. Unfortunately, many pastors are too insecure to do so. It doesn’t matter how you translate the verse: there is a powerful message…

  • “The man who hates and divorces his wife does violence to the one he should protect,”
  • “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her covers his garment with violence.”
  • “If he hates and divorces his wife, he covers his garment with injustice,” says the LORD of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously.

You tell me which translation does not communicate a truth. Divorce is violent and treacherous. Only two kinds of people will deny this truth: those who have never experienced divorce and those who are living in denial.

CONCLUSION

  1. Watch your attitude

  2. Guard your heart

  3. Practice love by doing loving things

  4. Don’t exhalt your needs above the needs of your spouse and children

 

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Irresponsible Priest

Scripture Text: Malachi 2:1-9, NLT

1 Listen, you priests—this command is for you!
2 Listen to Me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning to heart.
3 I will punish your descendants and splatter your faces with the manure from your festival sacrifices, and I will throw you on the manure pile.
4 Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites can continue,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered Me and stood in awe of My name.
6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from Me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with Me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin.
7 “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
8 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 Heaven’s Armies.
9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.”

INTRODUCTION

Chapter two of Malachi is an indictment against irresponsible priest: they were not doing their job. They were not living up to their call. They were accursed in the Mosaic sense. Note Malachi’s words in verse 2….

Listen to Me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning to heart.

The curse Malachi is referring to is in Deuteronomy 28…

15 “But if you refuse to listen to the LORD your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you:
16 Your towns and your fields will be cursed.
17 Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be cursed.
18 Your children and your crops will be cursed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be cursed.
19 Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be cursed.
20“The LORD himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me.


The word Moses uses in Deuteronomy 28 for curse is kel·ä·lä’ and it comes from the root word kä·lal’ which is a very interesting word. It means to treat lightly, to trifle, to water down, to lightly esteem, to treat something holy as common. The priest were taking worship too lightly, they were taking their responsibilities too lightly, they were trifling with holy things and in so doing, they were dishonoring God’s name.

Dr. Page Kelly, whom Joe David knows personally, wrote the Broadman Laymen Commentary on Malachi: Dr. Kelly says: “Humanity’s highest duty is to hallow God’s name.” Needless to say, these levitical priest were not treating God’s name with reverence and respect.

I imagine someone in the congregation today is asking this question–“What does the irresponsible Levitical priest have to do with me, I am not a priest.” My answer would be, yes you are. If you are saved and under the blood–Jesus Christ has made you a priest….

I Peter 2:9

 But you are not like that, for 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 the darkness into his wonderful light.


Jesus has changed everything. The Levitical priesthood is history, passe, they don’t exist anymore but Jesus transformed the Levitical Priest into Royal Priest. Every believer is a priest but we do not go back to Levi, we go back to Christ our High Priest. We do not serve a patriarch, we serve the King of kings, thus we are Royal Priest.

The GOOD NEWS is– Jesus made us priest and we have all the privileges of a priest. Actually we have much more than the Levitical Priest: we can approach the throne of grace any time day or night. BUT the BAD NEWS is–we also have all the responsibilities of a priest. About now, you are thinking, “Oh no, I thought he was going to be preaching to himself.”


In verses 8-9, Malachi levels five complaints against the priest. Let’s look at those and then draw some parallels.

8 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 Heaven’s Armies.
9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.”
  1. They had strayed from the path. The ESV reads, “You have turned aside from the way.” [The way being God’s way] When we turn aside from His way, we turn to our way.
  2. They had become a stumbling block–They caused man to stumble into sin.
  3. They had corrupted the Levitical Covenant by violating it. They were not living up to their call.
  4. They had not obeyed the LORD.
  5. They were showing favoritism.

One other thing before we get to the heart of the message….What are the inherent responsibilities of the priest? They are listed in verses 5-7…

5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered Me and stood in awe of My name.
6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from Me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with Me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin.
7 “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
  1. They were to convey life and peace.
  2. They were to reverence and stand in awe of God’s name.
  3. They were to pass on God’s instructions.
  4. They were to live lives of integrity [no lying or cheating]
  5. They were to walk with the LORD.
  6. They were to embrace right and turn away from sin.
  7. They were to turn others from sin.
  8. They were to preserve the knowledge of God before the people.
  9. They were to be people you could go to for help and instruction.
  10. They were to be God’s messengers.

I am going to simplify things for you: our basic responsibility as PRIEST are two-fold: [1] We stand before God in behalf of men [2] We stand before men in behalf of God. The first responsibility has to do with prayer and worship and the second involves our witness and ministry.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, let me ask you some questions:

  1. Are you walking daily with the LORD. Are you on His path or your path?
  2. Are you faithful in your ministry to HIM. {standing before him in prayer}
  3. Have you become a stumbling block. People are watching you and me. Who do we need to apologize to today? {Because we’ve been a bad example}
  4. Are we living up to the responsibility of our calling, or are we shirking our responsibilities as a PRIEST?
  5. Are we obedient? Will you be willing to OBEY God during the next five minutes?
  6. Are we loving our neighbor as we love our self… we cannot be instruments of life and peace unless we love each other and treat each other fairly.

    I close with a story to illustrate the point:

In the book, “A Promise Kept”, is the story of Robertson McQuilkin, a former missionary and seminary president who gave up his post because his wife Muriel had Alzheimer’s disease. He dedicated himself full-time for as long as the Lord deemed necessary to take care of his wife. He wrote of traveling with his her:

Once our flight was delayed in Atlanta and we had to wait a couple of hours. Now that’s a challenge. Every few minutes we’d take a fast-paced walk down the terminal in earnest search of what? Muriel had always been a speed walker. I had to jog to keep up with her.

An attractive woman executive type sat across from us, working diligently on her computer. Once when we returned from an excursion she said something without looking up from her papers. Since no one else was nearby I assumed she had spoken to me, or at least mumbled in protest for our constant activity. “Pardon?” I asked. “Oh,” she said, “I was just asking myself, ‘Will I ever find a man to love me like that?'”

McQuilkin turned to the woman and said, “Oh yes, you can find a man like that. You can find a man like that, because I’ve found a man like that. The only reason I love my wife the way you see me loving her is because the man Jesus first loved me. The only resources I have to draw upon to love my wife the way I do are the resources He gives me. Mirrored in my relationship here with my wife you can see the faithful love of God for me.”


We share life and peace in our love and ministry to others: it is the strongest aspect of our witness. May God help us to be responsible priest who share life and peace with others.

The Bottom Line

Scripture Text: Malachi 1:6-11, NLT

6 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “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?’
7 “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.
8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
9 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should He show you any favor at all?” asks the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
10 “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 Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.

11 But 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 Heaven’s Armies.


INTRODUCTION

A little background is necessary for understanding the message tonight. Malachi was speaking to the post-exilic Jews. These are the Jews who spent 70 years in Babylon and now they have been back in the home land for about 80 years. When they returned, they expected some hard times. The infrastructure of the country had been destroyed. The land was occupied by several ethnic groups and none of them like Jews. Plus they are forced to pay high taxes to Persia and their is oppression going on within the Jewish community. The rich Jews were taking advantage of the poor. 


I had someone say to me a few weeks back, “One thing about it, the Jews look out for each other.” I gently corrected him: nothing could be further from the truth. The Jews are notorious for taking advantage of each other. Read the book of Nehemiah if you want proof or do a study of the Temple activity during the time of Christ. It was a corrupt money making scheme that profited wealthy Jews like Annas and Caiaphas. There have always been poor Jews. Even today, there are poor Jews, many of them in Eastern Europe and there are middle class Jews. It is a small minority who are extremely rich and when I say extreme, I mean extreme. This very small group of Jews control the gold in the world today. They owe all nine banks in the Federal Reserve system.


So what we have is a group of Jews who are disillusioned and disappointed. They thought things would improve with time but they were actually getting worse. They were focused on their circumstances {which we are prone to do} and they were blaming God. The fact that they blamed God for their circumstances lead them to have a “Bad Attitude.”


It is hard, if not impossible to isolate a bad attitude. It affects everything we do and say. It permeates our entire life. It affects relationships. A bad attitude can destroy a marriage, a family or a church. We will save that discussion for a later date: tonight we want to talk about how their BAD ATTITUDE affected their worship.


You cannot have a bad attitude and good worship. Our attitude has everything to do with our worship. Before God accepts an offering, He examines the heart. Motive is everything.


That is my sermon tonight: a bad attitude destroys worship but we are going to do two more things {LORD willing} before we go: [1] Look at the example in Malachi and [2] Tell you a life story that illustrates the same problem.


How do we know the Jews had a bad attitude? We look at their offerings. You can tell everything you need to know about a person by looking at what they give to God.

7 “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.
8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
9 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should He show you any favor at all?” asks the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

10 “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 Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.


As you can see, the Jews were bringing God contemptible offerings. They were bringing blind, cripple and diseased animals. With the diseased animals came a defiled or unclean sacrificial meal which was a part of their worship.


Years ago, some 25 years or so, back when most of our furniture was early attic, it came out of someone’s attic, a man called me and invited me to his home, a new home. He said he knew that I had mentioned using used furniture and he had some if I wanted it. I assumed it was stuff in good condition. I admit that most of our furniture at that time was used. We either bought it second hand or someone gave it to us. But it wasn’t ratty, you could see the springs in the couch. When I got to his house, he was gone, {how convenient} so one of his daughters took me to the garage and showed me the furniture. I was shocked. You could see the springs in the couch. Everything there was a piece of junk and ready for the dump. I was embarrassed because his daughter must have noticed the shock on my face and I lost it. I said, “You tell your dad, he can get someone else to dispose of his junk, I am not interested.” There is a long story behind this story but I’ll save it for another day. My question is: would you offer junk to your preacher? Would you want to insult the man who had feed you spiritually. I baptized his wife and two of his daughters. I visited his parents and grandparents up until their death.

Would you give your pastor a shoddy, worthless gift, something you would not have in your house. Malachi ask the Jews if they would give their sick animals to their governor?Of course not! My question is why?

The answer is obvious: they had more respect for their governor than they did for God. The bad attitude comes from a lack of respect and without deep reverential respect, there is no worship. This is why the LORD says in verse 10…“How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered!


But I want you to look at the next line, this is the BOTTOM LINE…10 “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 Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.

Folks, if our worship is displeasing to God, we have failed and failed miserably. There is no use in our congregating and going through the motions if our aim, our goal is not to PLEASE HIM. Once again, it all boils down to respect or lack thereof.


I got a job in the 7th grade. I didn’t find the job, the job found me. A man in our church hired me to ride a 4 row planter. My job was to pull the markers and watch all the seed hoppers, to make sure the seed was dropping properly. It was a dusty job but I loved it. My employer was a big man in more ways than one. I guess he was about 6’1″ or so and weighted about 230. He was the Tax Assessor at the time and we didn’t see him much. I worked with his dad and his two sons. The oldest son was our supervisor. I worked for him throughout my school years and loved every minute. Not one time did I ever talk back to him or even speak in a disrespectful tone. The only bad thing about this story is that it reveals my sin. Mr. James was a respected man in the community: everyone thought highly of him and that included me. I don’t know what it was about him, but I wanted to please him. When he talked, I listened. When he gave a command, I obeyed.


What’s strange about the story is such behavior was out of character for me. I didn’t listen to my dad. When he gave me a command, I argued. What’s worse, he allowed me to argue. It brings me emotional pain to be honest with you and it has taken years for me to be honest with myself. The difference was in the matter of respect: I had great respect for Mr. James and very little for my own daddy. I am not saying this is a good thing, I am just saying this is the way it was. You might say I feared Mr. James but not daddy. It was not a cringing fear. I was never afraid that Mr. James would hurt me or abuse me but never the less, I didn’t take any chances. I didn’t want to give him a reason to take a limb to me. I wanted to please him. I worked hard to please him.


THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE

Our bad attitude, our pitiful and self-centered worship all stems from a lack of respect. We do not fear God. Our greatest aim is not to please HIM and it should be. Give me a penny for your thoughts: what were you thinking when you walked in here tonight? Did any thought of pleasing God cross your mind?

 

Dealing With A Tragic Death

Scripture: Job 1:18-22

18 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home.
19 Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
20 Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.
21 He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD !”
22 In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

INTRODUCTION

Death, in and of itself, is hard to deal with. I try never to make light of death. It marks the end of our life here on earth and it constitutes a separation. My parents are no longer in this world of death and sin: they have moved to the world beyond. I miss them and the longer I live the more I miss them. 


As difficult as it is to deal with sickness, cancer and prolonged illness, I think tragedy is harder to cope with. First of all, tragedy strikes with no warning. Our love ones are suddenly snatched away from us and usually the tragedy that took their lives is unexplainable. It is impossible for us to make sense of tragedy.

A few months ago, I couldn’t not have told you I know how you feel but last August 15, I had beautiful niece get killed in a tragic automobile accident in Ardmore, TN. The worse thing about the whole affair is that it made no sense. She was a good kid but she was riding with a boy who was showing off: She begged him to stop and let her out but he refused and then he hit a tree: she was killed instantly and he barely got a scratch. I was very upset. I am still upset. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t think of Kaley who was only 16 years old.


Job understood that LIFE is a GIFT. It is God who gives us life and breath. Everything we have is a gift from Him. He satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. “His purpose was for the nations to seek after HIM and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us.

For in Him we live and move and exist. Job understood this, life is a gift from God, the LORD gives….


But Job also said, …The LORD takes away. We don’t know why some die tragically, or young but far beyond our ability to comprehend, there is a plan, a purpose and although life here ceases, life itself does not. John Newton’s last words were: “I am still in the land of the dying, but I am going to the land of the living.” God is not the God of the dead but of the living. He who dwells in eternity knows no death. God is not surrounded by death: everything in His presence is alive. He simply takes life from the clay body, from the mortal and puts it in the immortal.


The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the LORD. The one thing we know for sure is, “We are not in control.” There is someone above us, someone far greater than we ourselves. He is the Eternal One, Yahweh is His name. He is the self-existent, eternal, unchanging God. The same yesterday, today and forever and He deserves our worship.