Monday, December 27, 2010

The Law of Sowing and Reaping - A Study from Malachi

A sermon based on Malachi 3:13-18 and preached at Faith Community Church, Barre, VT on December 26, 2010.

Verse 13 – “Your words against Me are harsh,” says the LORD. Yet you ask: “What have we spoken against You?”
• The people in Malachi’s day claimed to be followers of God yet they often disliked how God ran the universe. They frequently complained about how God worked.
• Most of us can relate to this better than we would like to admit because if we were honest we would have to admit that we do not always like how God runs things either.
• God heard their complaints and decided to have Malachi confront them about it.
• The people quickly backpedaled and tried to pretend that they had not complained about God’s activities.
• We often do this in our own lives. We complain about what God is doing but when someone points it out, we pretend that we feel a different way than we really do.

Verse 14 - You have said: It is useless to serve God. What have we gained by keeping His requirements and walking mournfully before the LORD of Hosts?
• One of the specific complaints the people had was that it seemed to be useless to serve the Lord.
• They wanted to know what they were going to get out of serving God.
• Many of us wonder the same thing.
• The very question reveals something wrong at the heart level.
• Why do we always think we have to GET something in order for our actions to be validated?
• Being a Christian is not about “getting,” it is about giving.
• Jesus set the example when He left the glory of Heaven, came to earth and offered His life for us on the cross of Calvary.
• One of the reasons we sometimes question if our faith is doing enough for us is that we think it is all about us. But life is NOT all about us. It is praising God while serving others.

Verse 15 - So now we consider the arrogant to be fortunate. Not only do those who commit wickedness prosper, they even test God and escape.
• The people in Malachi’s day said that those who did wrong seemed to prosper more than those who did right.
• It also seemed that bad people tested God all the time and got away with it.
• Sometimes we feel this way about our own culture.

Verse 16 - At that time those who feared the LORD spoke to one another.
• Though it seemed like evil was winning, there was still a group who feared the Lord.
• That handful of people got together and “spoke” to one another.
• Like Malachi’s time, it seems that evil is winning in our culture. This is why it is so important for God’s people to get together and encourage each other.
• Instead of running right to our cars after church, we should hang around and talk to each other.
• We should invite people from church over to dinner in our homes or meet for lunch somewhere in town.
• We should be looking for ways to spend time together and encourage each other.

Verse 16 - . . . The LORD took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Yahweh and had high regard for His name.
• The Lord noticed who still believed in Him and who had banded together as a group to encourage and support each other.
• Not only did the Lord notice, but He created a book of remembrance to write their story.
• It was common in that time period for kings to keep various books of remembrance about special events or activities of special groups of people so that the people would not forget the experience.
• These books were kept in the King’s archives.
• God is the ultimate King of the universe.
• God has a number of books in His own heavenly library.
• Revelation 20:12 and Luke 10:20 says that God has a “book of life” in heaven in which the names of all believers are listed.
• Psalm 56:8 says that God has a “book of tears” which records the wanderings of David before he became the King of Israel.
• Psalm 139:16 says that God has a “book of births” which records what will happen in our lives before we are born.
• This verse in Malachi reveals that God also has a book of remembrance in heaven.
• This book contains the stories of how God’s people encouraged each other when everyone else had abandoned faith in God.

Verse 17 - "They will be Mine," says the LORD of Hosts, "a special possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.
• The Lord says that believers who stood together and encouraged each other when everyone else fell away from faith would hold a special place in His heart.
• When we go through difficult time, if we hang in there and encourage each other, the God of the universe notices us.
• But God does not just notice, He has compassion like a father has compassion for his children.
• None of us are perfect, but if we stand together in tough times, we can expect special grace from God who sees our struggles and has compassion on us.
• When we go through hard times, we need all the help and compassion from God that we can get.
• Times of trouble are the times we need to press in closer to the Lord and to other Christians, not to fall away from the Lord.

Verse 18 - So you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
• God says that though it appears that evil is winning, He is keeping track of everything in His book of remembrance.
• One day that book will be brought out and read. On that day those who have followed the Lord and encouraged each other will be honored.

Remember this important biblical truth: We reap what we sow.
• Galatians 6:7-8 - Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
• People may think they have God fooled, but God is keeping track.
• Payday comes some day!
Proverbs 22:8 - Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.
• Hosea 8:7 - They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.
• Jeremiah 12:13 - They will sow wheat but reap thorns; they will wear themselves out but gain nothing. They will bear the shame of their harvest because of the LORD’s fierce anger.”
• Hosea 10:12 - Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.
• Psalm 126:5 - Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
• The law of reaping and sowing is something that we cannot avoid.
• Sometimes we go through hard times because we are reaping the junk that we sowed a long time ago.
• But if we start sowing good stuff now, then eventually we will reap the blessings that sprout from the good seeds we are now sowing.

• Life is sometimes hard and even Christians can get discouraged.
• When Christians get discouraged, it is easy to think that our faith is not helping us much and we can become envious of those who do not follow God.
• But we must continue to cling to our faith and draw strength from fellow believers.
• When we do this, God notices and has special compassion on us in our difficulties.
• Eventually everything balances out and we reap what we sow.

• Closing Question: What are we sowing?

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

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