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?

 
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Fear God

Luke 12:4-5, NLT

4 “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that.
5 But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear.
6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins ? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.
7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
8 “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.
9 But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.
10 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say,
12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

Introduction

June and I had the pleasure of seeing the Niagria Falls in person some twenty years ago. It is an awesome sight and I highly recommend that you save your beach money and go see the falls.  I have not had the priviledge of seeing the Grand Canyon from the ground, only by air and from 35,000 feet, it looks line a line in the sand. I have loaded us a picture and I understand that from the observation tower to the bottom of the canyon is 6,000 feet. I have been told by those who have seen it in person that it is an awesome breath taking sight.

Grand-Canyon-Skywalk-View

King David said, “Let the whole world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him.” {Psalm 33:8} 

In an infinitesimal way, the Grand Canyon is like God: by that I mean it is awesome in its presence but it must be feared. An average of 6 people die at the Canyon each year. No mere human can survive a 6,000 foot fall, not even if they land in the Colorado River below. It is an awesome breath taking sight that could rob you of speech but it must be respected.

David wisely puts these two words–Awe and fear together in relationship to God. Just as it is foolish to disrepect the danger of the Canyon, so it is exceedingly more foolish to disrespect the power of God. Abraham feared God, Job feared God and hated evil, so I too fear God.

I can only imagine what my eyes will see when His face is before me. Surrounded by His glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for Jesus, or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in His presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah or will I be able to sing at all. I can only imagine but if I had to guess, I would say His presence will leave me in stunned silence and amazement.

TODAY, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU FOR A MOMENT ABOUT FEARING GOD

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I. FIRST OF ALL: LET ME SAY, WE ARE NOT TO FEAR MEN {or women}

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety. {Proverbs 29:25}

Insecurity is really our biggest problem

  • If we crave comfort–we will fear discomfort
  • If we crave approval–we will fear criticism
  • If we crave acceptance–we will fear rejection
  • If we crave admiration for our attractiveness–we will fear getting old and fat

Let me put it another way

  • Why don’t we share our faith?
  • Why don’t we confess our sins?
  • Why don’t we put passion into our worship?

The answer to all these questions is we have a man fearing spirit and Jesus tells us not to fear man.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Today, I am going to tell you how to overcome your man fearing spirit.

ONE: Admit your fear of man–confss it.

The first step to recovery is heonesty. You cannot hope to get better unless you are willing to confess there is a problem. Some of you men are as henpecked as all get out and you will sit here today and deny you have a problem. Come on, get real!

TWO: Ask the LORD to help you begin to grow in your fear of God.

{Psalms 34:11–Come, my children, and listen to me,and I will teach you to fear the LORD} Fearing the LORD is a learning process and there has to be a starting point. That starting point could be today.

THREE: Assess your motives and goals.

What do you want most from life and who do you want to please most?

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. {John 12:42-43}

FOUR: Act today and begin small.

Don’t put this off, begin today working on your man fearing spirit. Worship is a good place to start. Sing with all your heart no matter who is sitting near you. Move to the front if that makes it easier. Don’t start with the firing squad or a martyrs heroic death. Start small and grow big. {Peter is a good example}

FIVE: Acknowlege that your fear of man is driven by your selfish desires.

As Ed Welch and Geoffrey Kirland have said, Exchange your Need for others for a passion to love others more.” In other words, stop focusing on your needs and begin to focus on the needs of others. [All five points came from the insights of Geoffrey Kirland, [http://thecripplegate.com/the-fear-of-man-how-to-destroy-it/]

Jesus said, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. Perhaps you are thinking, this doesn’t comfort me but think about this way, beyond physical death, man has no power over you. Yes, Obama could have the CIA eliminate me but that is in this world. In the next world, he has absolutely no power. I am comforted to know that ultimately, no man has power over my eternal destiny other than Jesus.

II. SECONDLY AND IN CONCLUSION: WE ARE TO FEAR GOD

Jesus said, I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear.

Man has the power to murder, to kill to execute but man has no power after death. They can kill us but that is as much as they can do. God has the power to take life and to cast us into hell. He is the One we should fear.

Let me tell you briefly how hell or gehenna got its name. It was a narrow ravine located Southwest of Jerusalem and was known first as the valley of Hinnon, meaning it belonged to someone in the family of Hinnon. Then Solomon brought in Molech and Chemosh and it became a place where the charred bodies of innocent babies were disposed. By the time of the incarnation, it was the city dump where the fire burned day and night

I have just described to you a hideous and horrible place where no one would want to go but the real hell is infinitely worse. We cannot imagine the horror of hell. It is far worse than any movie or picture you have seen. Hell was not created for you: it was created for the devil and his followers.

God does not want you to go to hell. 2 Peter 3:9 clearly states…The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

There can be no heaven without a hell, just as there can be no freedom without prisons. Lucifer destroyed any hope of that in eternity past. God is going to encarserate evil someday and confine it to this awful place called hell. I can promise you, there will be no jokes in hell, no laughter, no fun, no merriment. It will be the ultimate horror movie, worse than anyone can imagine.

So today in Christ behalf, I beg you to repent of your sins, turn from your selfish ways and interest and turned to Christ. He is our only hope. I don’t know exactly where heaven is so I cannot know the way. Some think it is beyond space, others think it could be as near as our atomosphere but I know Jesus and He is the way.

Turn from self and sin and turn to Jesus, today! Hell is for those who demand their way.