Thursday, November 4, 2010

Refiner's Fire - A Study from Malachi

A sermon developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett based on Malachi 3:1-6.

Verse 1 - I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desire—see, He is coming!

• This was a prophetic reference to John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus to come.
• It refers to the custom of the oriental kings of that time to send a messenger ahead of them before the king would come for a visit.
• The messenger’s job was two-fold.
• First, he was to remove any obstacles to the king’s coming.
• Second, he was to make sure they planned an adequate reception for the king when he arrived.
• What obstacles are in our lives that keep us from accepting Jesus as our Savior?
• If we have already accepted Jesus, what obstacles are keeping Him from being fully Lord and Master of our lives?
• What kind of reception would Jesus receive if He came to our homes today?
• What kind of reception would Jesus receive if He visited our church today?
• What kind of reception would Jesus receive if He walked down our Main Street today?

Verse 2 - But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner's fire and like cleansing lye.

• The people of Malachi’s day did not like the way God was running the world.
• They had accused God of not being just because God had allowed bad things to happen.
• They asked where God was during times of crisis. They doubted God was really there.
• Malachi reminds them that one day the Lord was going to come.
• When the Lord comes, He will set right all that is evil and wrong.
• Who will be able to stand on that day?
• After all, we have all done wrong at some point in our lives.
• We often think it is others who will be judged, but we must realize that we too will be judged one day and our own weaknesses and faults will be dealt with.
• We may not like the Lord’s coming as much as we think we will!
• When the Lord comes, it will be like a refiner’s fire. Fire in any form sounds dreadful. What does refiner’s fire mean?
• A forest fire rages out of control and destroys without concern for anyone or anything.
• An incinerator consumes whatever is put in it completely until nothing is left but dust.
• A refiner’s fire does not rage out of control or destroy what it touches.
• A refiner's fire refines. It purifies. It melts down a bar of silver or gold, separating out the impurities that lower the value.
• After the process is complete, the silver or gold is more valuable because it is more pure.
• When we go through difficult times in our lives we often think God has abandoned us, but in reality God is purifying us and making us more valuable.
• Trials produce patience and patience produces maturity and maturity produces hope. (Romans 5:3-4 and James 1:2-4)

Verse 3 - . . . He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.

• Notice that the Lord will begin the purification process with the sons of Levi.
• In the Old Testament the sons of Levi were the priests and religious leaders of the community.
• In the New Testament each born again Christian is a priest before God.
• Though this was referring to priests in Malachi’s day, now it refers to all born again Christians.
• When Christians are more pure in their faith, they are more useful to the Lord and to the community.
• Imagine a society in which we never had to worry about a priest molesting our children or a hypocrite driving our friend away from church.
• Purification may be painful but it is desperately needed in the Christian church.

Verse 4 - And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the LORD as in days of old and years gone by.

• Once the purification process is over, then the offerings that people give to the Lord please Him.
• The offerings are no longer empty and meaningless because they are given with a pure heart.
• Do we offer our time, talent and treasure to God with a pure heart? Or are we looking for what we will get out of it?
• Malachi refers to day of old.
• We often refer to the past as the “good old days.”
• One of the reasons they seem so good is that we tend to forget the bad parts and only remember the good parts.
• When we have been purified by fire, the Lord helps us heal from the past and look back on it with joy.

Verse 5 - I will come to you in judgment . . .

• Judgment is often viewed as a negative thing in our society.
• But God’s judgment is always correct because He knows the whole story.
• God is not fooled by fast talking lawyers or legal loopholes. God knows the truth and when He judges, He takes it all into account.
• Judgment can be a good thing if we have done what is right. But can we honestly say we have always done right?
• That is why we must confess our sins to God and He is gracious to forgive them (1 John 1:9).
• If we have sincerely confessed our sins and repented of those sins, then we will not be judged for them. They are gone forever!

Verse 6 - Because I, Yahweh, have not changed, you descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed.

• Malachi points out to the people that the only reason God had not already destroyed them for their sin is because God has not changed.
• God had promised to be with the people and help them and even though the people had broken their own promises, God had kept His.
• Thank God He is faithful to us when we are not faithful to Him.
• God is the God of the second chance, and the third chance and the ten thousandth chance.
• But one day, we will have our LAST chance and then all that will be left is judgment.
• If we are still alive at this moment, it means we still have a chance to turn from our sin and do right. Let us not waste this chance!

Conclusion:

• God sends people into our lives to warn us that He wants us to prepare to meet Him.
• God purifies His people through the fires of difficulty, but in the end, we are better people because of it.
• When we finally meet God, we will not be able to offer any excuses because God knows the truth.
• Therefore we should repent of our sin now and seek God’s forgiveness while we have the chance.


This post is part of a larger study of Malachi found in the book, "Malachi: Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity."

3 comments:

  1. was this the October 31st 2010 sermon

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  2. Dr. Terry W. DorsettNovember 8, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    Yes, this was the Oct 31, 2010 sermon preached at Faith Community Church in Barre, VT. I forgot to label it. Sorry.

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