Oct 18, 2020 | Lee Becknell

When a nation is confronted by God there will always be some who will respond to the Lord’s rebuke.

    Did you hear about the older gentleman who had serious hearing problems for over 10 years. He finally went to the doctor and was fitted for a set of hearing aids that enabled him to hear perfectly. On his follow-up visit a month later, the doctor said, “Your hearing is now at 100%. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.” To which the man replied, “Oh, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to conversations. I’ve changed my will three times!”

    Title: “When a nation is confronted by God there will always be some who will respond to the Lord’s rebuke.”

    Theme: “As we come to our passage today, it’s helpful to think of God as eavesdropping on some conversations. He’s listening in as two groups of people are talking. The first group is speaking against Him. The other speaks in awe of Him. The question this morning, is what group are you in?”

    * This morning, I would like to share with you the following lessons.

    1. Because the wicked don’t suffer in this life many refuse to serve the Lord.

    Malachi 3:13-15, “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”

    * We all wrestle with the difficult age-old questions, “Why do the wicked prosper?” and “Why do the righteous suffer?”

    * Many of the Jewish people in Malachi’s day were struggling with this problem. They were under the thumb of the Medo-Persian Empire, which was godless and yet prosperous. They grumbled, “If He is the God of justice, why do we see all of this injustice in the world?”

    * When evil prevails, we must not challenge, but trust in and obey the God who sends His Messiah to judge the earth.

    Matthew 5:44-45, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust

    * The King James Version uses the phrase, “You have been stout against me.” As God eavesdrops, notice that He doesn’t say that the people are saying strong words to Him, but rather against Him.

    * The form of the verb “said” means “to speak to one another in conversation.” They were talking to each other about their complaints against God. And yet, when they’re confronted with this, they’re quick to deny that they’ve done anything wrong.

    * Have you ever noticed how easy it is to find people who will agree with our complaints? We’re attracted to those who are sympathetic to our feelings, aren’t we? When we grumble against God we want others to grumble with us.

    * The word “gain or profit” is a technical term used for a weaver cutting a piece of cloth free from the loom. As used here it has the negative connotation of someone expecting his or her “cut” or percentage, as a hit man would demand for his work. This shows a consumer mentality: What will I get out of this? What’s in it for me?

    * Whenever we grumble about our circumstances, we are impugning the character of God and exalting ourselves above Him. We’re saying, “God doesn’t really love us, or He wouldn’t let us be in this difficult place.” And, we’re saying, “I know better than God what is good for me.”

    Solomon the wises man that ever lived found the answer for this deliema. 

    Proverbs 16:4, “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

    Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

    1. Just as the wicked gather together so too will the righteous.

    Malachi 3:16-17, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.”

    * Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another” (3:16). “Then” refers to verse 15. when the wicked called the arrogant blessed. Group B had to counter the evil talk of Group A. They had to be as bold for God as Group A was bold for evil. They did it by getting together and talking.

    * We are not told specifically what they said, but they probably encouraged one another by saying, “Don’t listen to these scoffers. Don’t give up serving the Lord! He will reward all that serve Him and He will judge the wicked scoffers.”

    * Christianity is based on meeting together and worshiping God as a body of believers.  COVID 19 has disrupted this and the rulers of this world have taken advantage of the fear to keep Christians from gathering.

    Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

     The Hebrew word translated “gave attention” means to prick up the ears, as an animal does when it hears something.

    * The book of remembrance probably refers to the record book that Persian kings kept with the names and favorable deeds of those who had helped the king (Esther 6:1-2). Evidently they got the idea from God.

    * The point is, we need fellowship with like-minded believers in order to stand firm against the wrong ideas that come at us from the world, the flesh, and the devil.

    * Five benefits found in these verses: 1. God listens to us. "The LORD took notice and listened" (3:16).

    1. God remembers us. "So a book of remembrance was written… (v16)
    2. God claims us. "'They will be Mine,' says the LORD of Hosts" (3:17).
    3. God treasures us. "'A special possession on the day I am preparing'" (3:17).
    4. God spares us. "'I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him'" (3:17).
    5. Some people will see the distinction between those who do and those who don’t serve God.

    Malachi 3:18, “Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.”

    * Malachi raised the bar on service. He showed that service distinguishes the righteous from the wicked (3:18). Righteousness in God's sight is more than a profession of faith. The righteousness of true faith will prove itself in a heart of service.

    * Serving God is serious business. He commands us to serve. Isn't it interesting that we want to be called a servant, but we don't want to be treated that way? But here's the thing: servants don't have rights. They have given up their rights. Servants don't talk about fairness. They serve.

    * By the way, all the great people of the Bible were called servants. God referred to Moses as "my servant Moses" (4:4). The ultimate servant is Jesus. We should follow His example.

    Forty Balloons by Beverly LaHote Schwind;

    One Sunday, Tammy brought Mary Beth who lives next door to Sunday School. As the class closed the teacher awarded a special gift for the person who listened the best to the lesson.  Mary Beth received a beautiful red balloon. The teacher also offered a pack of gum to the first to recite the memory verse from last week. Tammy quickly raised her hand and recited the verse. In her heart Tammy wanted the red balloon. The girls sat in the back seat of the car on the way home. Tammy tried to trade the pack of gum for the balloon.  Mary Beth just held on to her red balloon and said; “No”. “I am not going to share my gum with you, “Tammy announced. She turned her face to the window. Tammy’s mother heard the conversation and reminded the girls that it was a blessing to share.  “Remember, when you share what you have, you are serving God and it blesses you.” The backseat became very quiet as Tammy held the gum in her hand and Mary Beth squeezed the string on her red balloon.  Reluctantly, and after a long pause and a disgusted look, Tammy opened her pack of gum and offered Mary Beth a piece. Gladly, she accepted it and held tightly to her red balloon as she enjoyed the gum. That afternoon Tammy and her friend were playing in the yard near the barn.  Suddenly, over the trees, high in the sky came a strange sight. Forty balloons bounced to the ground in Tammy’s yard.  She squealed with delight and ran to catch the bundle of strings. “Oh, Mom, Jesus really does bless us when we share.”  Tammy’s mom was stunned when she saw the bundle of balloons.  Was it a miracle that balloons landed in a country yard? No, the miracle was that the balloons came to a little girl who was trying to believe that sharing and serving God was a good thing, even if she did not feel it. The balloons had traveled over miles of country side, hundreds of yards, and then landed where a seven-year-old was struggling with a lesson in serving God.  Yes, Jesus would do that! Tammy and her friend sat in the yard staring at the bundle of golden balloons.  Finally, after some discussion Tammy, her friend and her mom got into the car and drove to the nursing home a few miles away.  With permission, they walked through the facility passing out golden balloons. Room by room the girls delivered the balloons to the residents until their hands were empty.  On the way home Tammy told her mom, “This was the best day of my life.”

    * If you are not serving you are not really living for God.

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