Three Things Which Do Not Change

6 “I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.
7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’

INTRODUCTION

We live in a changing world; everything around us is in a state of change. Chloe keeps asking Big Mama when she is going to get young again. Chloe Bug does not understand the law of thermodynamics, that everything is winding down. I have less energy now than I did 50 years ago. The truth is, I have less than I did 50 days ago. Modern technology is changing so rapidly that folks like me can’t keep up. I never dreamed I would own a smart phone and now we have a smart car. It talks to you. I was on my way to Birmingham Saturday and a warning light began flashing on the dash and a voice said, “Driver is tired or distracted, please pull over for a rest.” It will not allow you to tailgate. It breaks automtically if you get too close to the vehicle in front of you. Everything is changing so fast that I cannot keep up. Sometimes I feel like an 8 track player in a smart phone world. It is a comfort to know that somethings do not change.

Tonight, I want to talk to you about three things that do not change.

I. YAHWEH IS IMMUTABLE “I am the LORD, I do not change.” [v.6]

A great number of people living today in these United States believe in moral relativism and the evolution of morality. Their rationale, if I understand correctly, is that we know more today than ever before. Thus this greater knowledge has somehow advanced morality so that things we once viewed as being sinful and wrong or no longer sinful or wrong. The hot topic of course is homosexuality. 

As Christians, we reject this godless thinking and it is godless. God is the supreme law giver, morality emanates from HIM. He told Malachi in no uncertain terms, I AM Yahweh and I do not change.”


Actually everything is in a state of change. We call it the law of thermodynamics. Everything is winding down. Einstein believed the only constant in the universe is the speed of light. I am comforted by the fact that in this ever changing world, there is one thing that never changes… GOD DOES NOT CHANGE. He is immutable. This is cause for celebration. Hebrews 13:8…“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”


Balaam said in Numbers 23:19… God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? Balak was trying to get Balaam to curse the Israelites but Balaam told him, how can I curse someone the LORD has blessed. Balaam understood that he could not change God’s will or purpose.


Actually, God’s immutable nature is captured in His name Yahweh. It is the Hebrew verb for being. God’s personal name is a verb and it contains every tense imaginable. We see past, present and future but God lives in the eternal present. He sees past, present and future at the same time. Therefore, He is never surprized or shocked.


Nor does God change in nature or essense. God is a loving God. He is merciful and gracious and quick to forgive. He is perfect in all of His attributes. We cannot make God more loving. Nothing we do will make Him more holy. He is perfectly holy, competely holy. Our beloved immutable God needs no enhancement, no improving and no updating. He is totally intergrated. He has it all together. He is faithful. He keeps every promise.

THUS

You sons of Jacob are not destroyed. Malachi is reminding the Jews that they should be thankful that God does not change His mind, purpose or essense. Here is the POINT…these sorry Jews deserved to be destroyed. They were ungrateful. They were covenant breakers. They were rebels from the beginning. They had not lived up to their side of the covenant and yet they are blaming God. God would have been just to have whipped them from the face of the earth. The verb Malachi uses means to finish, to completely consume, to utterly destroy, to anniliate. Except for the grace and mercy of God, the Jews would have been anniliated.

The Jews of Malachi day are complaining when they should having been praising God for His marvelous grace. What a bunch of ungrateful jerks. Do they remind you of anyone you know?]

It is very important that we see ourselves in this story. You and I are the ungrateful Jews. The covenant breakers, the self-willed rebels. We are as guilty as these Jews and except for God’s grace, we would be burning in hell. We like to think we have earned our good fortune but nothing is further from the truth. We have been saved by God’s grace. Our salvation has nothing to do with our performance: it is all grace and God gets all the glory.

II. MAN HAS NOT CHANGED…Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. [V.7]

It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith is God’s way of relating to us but there are some areas where no faith is required, not for me. I do not believe that man is a sinner, I know he is a sinner. We are born with a self-centered tendency and we want what we want when we want it.

I think Isaiah describes it best in Isaiah 53:6...All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Our rebellion stems from the fact that we want our way. This is not just a problem in the world, it is a huge problem in the church. O the damage that is done by carnal members fighting to get their way. The self-centered tendency which leads to rebellion is the essense of sin and we find it in little children.

The scripture makes it clear, there are no exceptions…All we like sheep…All have sinned and come short of the glory of God…There is none righteous, no, not even one. The first step to recovery is to acknowledge the problem. The first step to salvation is to acknowledge that you are a sinner. It is not hard to get a sinner to Jesus, the difficult part is to get a human to admit their are a sinner. Once a person sees their sin, undoneness, they have no problem seeing the need for a Savior.

I had to have a root canal a couple of weeks back. I had talked Ashley into patching me up last January. She said emphatically, “Bro. Jack get this tooth fixed before it gets infected.” I heard what she said but I thought to myself, “I’ll get it fixed when it goes to hurting.” Five months later, it abscessed. I go for the root canal and they cannot deaden the tooth due to the abscess. I was on antibiotics for an extra week and then they tried the second time but this time they gave me so much medication that my jaw stayed numb for 7 hours. He is had to convince a man to go to the doctor when he is not hurting but once the pain sets in and he is convinced in his mind that he is sick, he will go gladly.

Likewise, not sinner is coming to Jesus until he sees the damage his sin is doing. Righteous people are not drawn to Jesus.

I do need a show of hands. I don’t need surveys. I have the word of God and 68 years of experience and I tell you by the authority of God’s word, you are a sinner; you have always been a sinner. I don’t need faith to believe it–I see it everyday in myself and others.

There is no such thing as “Moral Evolution.” Man is not getting better, he is still as depraved as ever. This is why morality had to be revealed to us by a holy God. We are law givers or law makers, we by nature are law breakers. What was wrong in the garden is wrong today. Homoseuality was wrong in the Old Testament and it is wrong today. God made the law and He does not change.

III. THE NEED AND NATURE OF REPENTANCE HAS NOT CHANGED…Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. [v.8] 

We have sinned. Like the prodigal, we have rebelled against a good and benelovent Father. The Father is waiting, watching but we have to repent, we have to return. The Father has done all that is possible to make it easy for us but we have to return before He will restore. This is the way it works. Don’t wait for God to send someone after you, come to your senses and return before it is too late.

The Jews said, “How can we return, we have never gone away.” How can we repent, we haven’t done anything.”

I can deal with sinners, with honest people but I cannot help those who refuse to acknowledge their sin.

Forty years or so ago, I had a woman to ask me to marry her and her boy friend. She had been married six times and all of them ended in divorce: this was her last shot because the limit in Alabama was seven at the time. I was a friend of her boyfriend. He was a good man as men go; a hard worker and very generous. I had been in the ministry just long enough to realize that do weddings was not always pleasant. I had already had two or three bad experiences. I told her on the phone, that I would consider doing the ceremony but not until I had talked with them.

I arrived at her house and began the questioning. I didn’t like some of her answers. When I was through asking questions, I said, I will do the ceremony under one condition: both of you must acknowlege you failure in your prior marriages. I will marry you if you are repentant: otherwise, I want no part in the affair. She bristled up immediately, she said, “I will not because my marriages did not fail because of me.” I said, “You’ve been married and divorced six times and yet you take no responsibility in any of the failures?” She said, “No, I do not.” I said, “I am very sorry but you will have to get someone else to perform the ceremony.”

I have seen her attitude in the Baptist church. I don’t know how some folks got it but obviously they did not repent. If you aren’t repentant, chances are you have never repented.

Don’t be like these stubborn and proud Jews…admit you are a sinner. Don’t be like the woman with 6 husbands. You must humble yourself and come to Christ. It is God’s way. There is no salvation without repentance and there is no repentance without you turning from you sinful and selfish ways. 

This is the law of repentance…It has never changed and will not change.

 
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The KING ‘Is’ Coming

Scripture: Malachi 3:1-5

1 “Look! I am sending My messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
2“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.
3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD .
4 Then once more the LORD will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past.
5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

INTRODUCTION

If you recall last weeks message, we mentioned the five prophecies that the Jews were hanging their hat on…

  • They would return to the homeland
  • The temple would be rebuilt
  • The LORD Himself would visit the Temple
  • Israel would have a time of prosperity and peace
  • Israel would have prominence in the world

Two of the five prophecies had been fulfilled: [1] The Jews were freed from captivity to return home and [2] the Temple had been rebuilt BUT…

  • Where was the glory? “I will fill this place with glory.”
  • Where was the LORD?
  • Where was the prosperity?
  • Where was the prominence?

In response to the Jews question in Malachi 2:17, “Where is the God of Justice?” Malachi said, “He is coming, the LORD you seek is coming. He will show up suddenly at His Temple. The Messenger and Mediator to the covenant that you eagerly seek is coming.” 

Malachi goes on to say in verse 2…”He is coming but you will not like it when He gets here. Who will be able to stand and face Him when He comes? He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. He’ll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they’re fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.

I want to say three things to you tonight in regards to our text:

I. GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES

Whatever we find in scripture by way of prophecy has either been fulfilled or will be fulfilled. Lets look at one example:

Haggai 2:6-9

6 “For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land.

7 I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

9 The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”


You can see for yourself that Jesus has already fulfilled most of these prophecies.

  • He filled the Temple with Glory
  • The glory of Christ {the Temple} is greater than the glory of Solomon’s Temple
  • Jesus has already given us peace with God and someday He will establish peace on earth.

But you and I have the advantage, we are looking back through the lens of history. This prophecy in Malachi 3 was not fulfilled for 400 years, that is 20 generations. I never knew any of my great grand parents so three generations is as far as I can span. Thus 400 years is a long time to us but not to God. My point is: if God says it, it is history, it is going to happen.

One other example: Jeremiah 29:10…This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.

Guess how long the Jews were held captive in Babylon? Seventy years to the day. This is an amazing prophecy.

II. GOD GOES BY HIS OWN CALENDAR

The problem with a promise is that we humans expect immediately fulfillment and that is not how it works. In Genesis 3:15, we have the first Messianic prophecy…

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

The Messiah would come from the woman’s seed but biologically, the woman does not carry the seed, the male does. So this prophecy of an offspring from the woman giving victory over the serpent is also a prophecy of the virgin birth. Incredible! How in the world could this be done? Well 4,000 years later, God did it: a virgin gave birth to a son and they called His name Emanuel, God with us. If God says it, it is so. You might say it is so simply because He said so.

Eve got excited every time she got pregnant thinking, this may be the one. This Messianic expectation was strong among the Hebrews, then the Israelites and eventually the Jews.

III. GOD DOES EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY MORE THAN WE HAVE IMAGINED

Ironically, when Christ did appear, His presence went unnoticed by the entire Jewish religious establishment. All those years of waiting and then they missed it. This is why Malachi warns them about His coming. He coming but will you be able to endure it when He does? He could have said, “Will you recognize Him when He comes?”

God is not a predictable God. He rarely does the same thing twice. He is the God of wondrous variety and He is full of surprises. Jesus was nothing like what the Jews expected. The last thing in the world they were looking for was a suffering servant or a man of sorrows. Malachi’s prophecy is right on but they didn’t interpret him accurately. 

Malachi used two metaphors to describe the coming Messiah: He will be like a REFINER and like a FULLER. In other words, an intense heat and a powerful detergent. Both the refiner and fuller work to purify and cleanse the product; they just do it in different ways.

The refiner works via the process of heat. The ore goes into the melting pot and the heat is intensified until the ore melts into a liquid. At this point the alloys separate from the pure product {Gold or Silver}and the impurities come to the surface. Once this happens the refiner skims them off and throws them away.

None of us like the heat. We do not enjoy trials. We have been going through a bit of one this week but God has a purpose in it. I know there have been things in my life that I saw no harm in until the Refiner turned up the heat. Under this intense heat, the impure motives came to the surface. I saw them clearly for what they were. I would have never seen them otherwise.

In relationship to verse 3b, we are all Levites, we are all God’s servants. Christ has obliterated the distinction between those who can offer sacrifice and those who cannot. He has made us a kingdom of priest and we can present our own offerings but they will never be acceptable until we give them for the right reasons. Christ purifies our motives to the point that we offer praise for the right reason. We sing for the right reason. We give for the right reason. We do deeds of kindness for the right reason.

But for those who do not fear the LORD [verse 5], there is judgment…


“At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear Me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

Fathers Day 2017

SCRIPTURE: 2 Chronicles 29:1-2, NLT

1 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became the king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.
2 He did what was pleasing in the LORD ’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done.

INTRODUCTION

If you do a study of the kings, you will notices something rather strange. There are no good kings back to back with one exception–Asa was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat and that is as close as we come to having two good kings in a row. Even more amazing: Hezekiah and Josiah, the best two morally [David was the greatest but not necessarily the best] had evil fathers. Actually the best two had the worse two fathers. Hezekiah’s father was Ahaz, a vile man who was dedicated to the worship of Baal. He had his sons and daughters sacrificed the Molech and eventually closed the door of the Temple, outlawing Yahweh worship.

Josiah succeeded his father Amon who was so bad that he was assassinated by his own cabinet after serving less than two years. So you could say, Josiah followed his grand father Manasseh who has always held the distinction as being the worse of all of Judah kings. Manasseh was a cruel man, prone to violence and he filled the streets of Jerusalem with the blood of the innocent. He had the prophet Isaiah sawn into: put him in a hollow log and then sawed him into.

So the question I pose this morning is: How did these two good kings come from such sorry father’s. It doesn’t make sense until you study the habits of ancient Eastern kings.

  1. First of all, these kings had harems. They did not have one wife, they had wives. King David had 8 listed in scripture but everyone believes there were more. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son had 18 wives and 60 concubines. Rehoboam’s son Abijah had fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. If my math is right, that is 38 children. Fathers, it stands to reason, if you have 38 children, you are not going to be able to spend a lot of time with each individually.
  2. The mother and the children lived in a separate dwelling. The children we either in the harem or in school until of course they were grown.
  3. So, the mothers had more time with the children than the fathers. Why did two of the sorriest kings produce two of the best? The answer is, they had good mothers and the fathers spent so little time with their sons, the mother’s influence was dominant. For example: Abijah, Hezekiah’s mom was the daughter of a priest and no doubt, she is the one who instilled Yahweh faith in Hezekiah.

I know what you are thinking…“Here he goes again, lambasting fathers on father’s day.” Guys, I am going to ask you to do me a favor, bear with me, hear me out before you jump to conclusions. My purpose today is not to demean the roll of the father but to show you how important it is for men to be good fathers. Judah had five good kings and the best two were probably raised godly mothers but how many good kings would Judah have had if the good kings had mentored their sons? You think about that question for a moment. How many good kings would we have if the good ones had spent time with their sons and mentored them? It would be more than two. So my point today is…women are great at raising children but how much better would it be if we men did our part.

So Fathers, in a few brief moments, I want to challenge you and encourage you.

I. FATHERS, YOU ARE NOT JUST IMPORTANT, YOU ARE VITAL

 Let me share with you some facts about the fatherless…

  • About 40 percent of children in the western world will go to sleep in homes tonight in which their fathers do not live.
  • Before they reach the age of eighteen, more than half of our nation’s children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhoods living apart from their fathers.
  • Never before in this country have so many children been voluntarily abandoned by their fathers.
  • Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation. 

There are two kinds of absent fathers: [1] Those who are absent physically [2] Those who are present but emotionally unavailable.

I don’t know how credible these statistics are but they are worth mentioning…Children with absent fathers are…

  1. Five times more likely to commit suicide 
  2. They have higher rates of depression and anxiety.
  3. They are thirty-two times more likely to be incarcerated
  4. Five times more likely to drop out of school
  5. More likely to encounter relationship problems themselves
  6. Substance abuse is substantially more likely
  7. Behavioural problems more likely

Men, the women can give the children nurture but you and I, the father’s give them their identity. You recognize me today as a Bailey. My mother gave me birth but my father gave me my identity and that is an important piece of the puzzle. I’ve always known who I was, I am Eugene Bailey’s Son, I am Joe David Bailey’s grandson and Joe Bailey’s great-grandson. I am a Bailey.

Look, I am not a child pschologist nor the son of one, but I know that a child’s identity is very important to them. Every child wants to know who their father is and every child wants to know their father.

ALL I AM SAYING IS: FATHER’S YOU ARE IMPORTANT

II. FATHERS, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT BUT YOU NEED TO BE PRESENT

If you followed the last presidential election, you heard the name Ben Carson. Ben grew up in the inner city of Detroit. His fathers abandoned, he, his brother and mother when he was 8 years old. During the campaign, Ben talks a lot about his mom but he never mentions his father. My question is WHY? I would suppose that the main reason Carson didn’t mention his father was because he didn’t really know him. He left them when Ben was eight years old. Basically, Ben grew up without a father. There is no doubt that he suffered due to the absence of his father.

Ben Carson had an absent father, Ronald Wilson Reagan has an emotionally unavailable father. His father was a drunk who couldn’t keep a job. He wasn’t absent physically but he was emotionally. I don’t know which is worse, the absent father or the emotionally unavailable father.

Men we are the PROVIDERS, PROTECTOR and the PRIEST of the home. The one thing that is required in all three is time. We do pretty good at providing but there is more to it than providing. We are also the Priest, the spiritual leader, the intercessor, the instructor. I always found my responsibilities to nurture my children spiritually was the most difficult part of being a father and I didn’t do a very good job.

I have two primary goals for all my children and grandchildren: To love Jesus with all their heart and to love their neighbor as they love themselves. They don’t have to make a lot of money to please me; they don’t have to win any awards. They don’t have to be the best at anything. My hearts desire and prayer to God is that they love Jesus.

I will not lie, my goals have changed over the years. I one time, I dreamed of my son being a professional athlete and I admit that I was disappointed when he decided not to play college basketball. Sad to say, I was even disappointed when he told me the LORD was calling him to preach. But I was wrong on both counts and there is nothing he can do to make me prouder than his love for Jesus.

You have heard me tell the story about the young seminary graduate that had a sermon intitled “Ten Ways To Raise Children.” Then he had children and before they all got in school, he changed his sermon to “Ten Suggestions For Raising Children.” And then his children became teenagers and he changed the sermon again, “Ten Things Not To Do Raising Children.

Fatherhood is much harder than it looks but here are some suggestions:

  1. Pray for your children. You are their priest and they need your prayers.
  2. Build relationships. The fact that you are biologically linked doesn’t insure a relationship. You build a relationship by spending time with your children and you start when they are young. If you wait till they get to be teenagers, you are in trouble. Relationship building takes time and energy.
  3. Repair fractured relationships. Fathers: you are the one to initiate reconciliation for broken relationships. For Pete’s sake, don’t blame your children. You are the father. Take responsibility and work for a fix.
  4. Don’t act like a tough guy all the time. Be real, be gentle and convey your love verbally. Don’t give me that “My kids know I love them.” Are you sure they know. How many times have you told them. A dozen times, twice, once, never. I don’t care how well you provide or how much you give your children, they will doubt your love if you don’t reassure them. There may come a time when they will figure it out for themselves but you will probably been gone by the time they do.
  5. Be an Example: if you want them to be good to their mother, then you be good to their mother. If you want them to love Jesus, then you love Jesus. If you want them to put Christ’s Kingdom first, then you put it first.

The Invisible God

Scripture: Malachi 2:17

17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the LORD ’s sight, and he is pleased with them. You have wearied him by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

 INTRODUCTION

I like the GWT version of verse 17, I think it puts everything in perspective…You have tried the patience of the LORD with your words. But you ask, “How have we tried his patience?” When you say, “Everyone who does evil is considered good by the LORD. He is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”

This brings up an age-old argument: Can God’s patience be exhausted? Does God get tired of our constant complaining? Before we attempt to answer these questions, let’s establish some fundamental things that we do know about God.
  1. God is not Apathetic. He is im·pas·si·ble in the sense that our emotions do not rule Him nor change His essential nature but at the same time, He does feel our pain. At Laarus tomb, Jesus wept with Mary and Martha. Isaiah said of Jesus, “He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with our grief.” The word acquainted means to know or learn by experience. Impassibility means to be incapable of suffering or feeling pain. Jesus laid this myth to rest. God does feel our pain but don’t ask me to explain, I can’t explain it and yet I believe it. This is what I call the paradox of faith.
  2. So we can say with confidence, God is not Apathetic but neither is He pathetic or at the mercy of man’s emotions. In other words, our emotions do not rule Him. We are sinners in the hand of an angry God, not the other way around…God in the hands of angry sinners. We are at His mercy.

So the same paradox exist when it comes to God’s patience. God can not run out of patience because He is infinite and there is no end to His resources. Surly you do not believe that God is limited in any capacitySo in one sense, the answer is no, God doesn’t run out of patience. In other words, our constant complaining will never transform God into an impatient God. But when we flip the coin to the other side, God does have an allotted degree of patience for each one of us. In this sense, His patience can be exhausted as it was with Sodom and Gomorrah and the children of Israel in the wilderness

This fact makes it unwise to presume on God’s patience or mercy. God did grow weary of the Israelites incessant complaining and He sentenced them to 40 years of futility in the wilderness. So, there is a line that can be crossed and once it is crossed, there is nothing but judgment.

In today’s text, the Israelites are making the same mistake that their forefathers made in the Wilderness, they are trying God’s patience, which is never wise.

The situation reminds me of a story told by Bill Patterson. It is the story of Robert Shelton. Robert Shelton lost his job but only after he had exhausted the patience of his employer. Robert had been warned repeatedly about being late for work and about his lack of productivity when he was at work. His boss even enrolled Robert in a program to improve his job performance but Robert made no attempt to learn from the training. He continued to do what he had always done until the day he was called into the office and handed a pink slip. Robert went ballistic. He was outraged. He began a tirade of complaints beginning with his supervisor whom Robert said, “Had been unclear on instructions.” Then Robert lashed out t his co-workers, accusing them of conspiring against him. Then he made excuses…his assigned task was beyond his abilities and training. Robert blamed everyone except the guilty party, Robert.

The Jews of Malachi’s day were a lot like Robert…they blamed everyone except themselves. The truth is, they brought much of their suffering upon themselves. They were their own worst enemy but would not confess it and for such people there is no help.

The Jewish Problem

  1. Oppression from foreign domination

  2. Surrounded by hostile neighbors

  3. Injustice and exploitation {Economic}

  4. Skepticism and indifference {Spiritual}

Three Areas Where We Have To Be Careful of Exhausting God’s Patience

I. NUMBER ONE IS ATTITUDE

Irresponsible people believe that bad circumstances validate a bad attitude but nothing could be further from the truth. God expects each of us to have a good attitude no matter what our circumstances. Joseph had a good attitude in bad circumstances and so did Daniel and Nehemiah. How would you like to be a slave? Those three handled in pretty well, did they not.

Circumstances on this earth are never going to be ideal. I am a fan of the Jesse Stone murder mysteries. Jesse Stone is the police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. Actually Paridise, Massachusetts is is fictional. It does not exist. The definition of Paradise is an ideal place of extreme beauty, delight, or happiness where everything goes beyond expectation. We are not going to find that here on earth. We must do the best we can in less than ideal circumstances. As Erma Boombeck was fond of saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonaid.”

The Jews had a bad attitude not because circumstances were bad but because their thinking was bad. They had some stinking thinking. They were blaming God. They accused Him of being partial to the wicked. Their complaint was that He was not holy, that He was lacking in moral judgment. When our attitude is bad, it is the result of bad thinking or theology.

God is holy, moral and good. He is not the enemy. When we reach the point where we accuse Him of being the problem, we have a problem.

II. THE SECOND PROBLEM IS OUR TONGUE

Complainers are vocal by necessity. People who complain are outspoken. Do you remember the Israelites in the wilderness–they murmured and complained constantly. They grumbled in their tents…

Exodus 16:2…I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’”

Number 14:27…“How long must I put up with this wicked community and its complaints about me? Yes, I have heard the complaints the Israelites are making against Me.”

What was the result of their complaining in Numbers 14….The Lord told Moses to tell them...”I am going to do just as you have suggested, you will die in the wilderness.” Be careful what you say, the LORD is listening.

III. THE THIRD PROBLEM IS THEIR SIGHT OR INSIGHT

They have not acknowledged what God has already done. They refuse to see His goodness and mercy. They were released from Babylon by a miracle of grace. They did not gain their independence via a war, it was given to them and yet they could not see God’s goodness.

God had made the Jews some precious promises through the prophets.

  1. They would return to the homeland and the temple be rebuilt
  2. The LORD Himself would visit the Temple
  3. Israel would have a time of prosperity and peace
  4. Israel would have promonence in the world

The first promise had been fulfilled but they were waiting impatiently on the others. Malachi’s word to them in chapter 3 is…God is going to keep His promises, He will come to His Temple but when He does, you will not recognize Him and they didn’t. So we are talking about spiritual blindness, a sight problem.

Conclusion

“Where is the God of justice?” The Jews were asking. Sounds exactly like their forefathers who is Exodus 17:7 said, “Is the LORD among us or not.” The Israelites craved a God they could see, they wanted a visible manifestation. Yahweh cannot be seen. We don’t have a lens or scope big enough to see Him. He is the invisible God. I think it was Josie who asked about this a few days ago. Christ is the image of the invisible God. [Colossians 1:15]  Paul said to Timothy, Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.

We are not to question God’s presence merely because we do not feel it, sense it, or see it. Jeremiah 23:23-24…. “I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place only. No one can hide where I cannot see them. Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth?” You don’t have to feel His presence, or sense His presence–you simply have to believe the truth–He is present. It is impossible for Him not to be present.

Growing up in church, I never go to go out to the bathroom during a service. Once the service started, we were planted. If we moved, there were consequences. One Sunday night mother had a headache and so she stayed behind, the rest of us went on the church. My daddy slept soundly once the preacher got started and since mother was not there, I seized the opportunity to go out during a service. I eased out and daddy never opened his eyes so I head for the foyer. Our building had those saloon doors that open both ways and I hit them almost on a run, but there sitting behind them was mother. I did a quick 360. She was there all the time but I didn’t know it.

Bottom line: Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” It is a simple matter of faith–do you believe what Jesus said?