Malachi's Challenge: An Expression of Love
Many of you have been going through a difficult
struggle. It's taxing your patience and you're looking for answers. You're wondering if Go has forgotten you. He hasn't. He's watching intently the struggles you're going through - He's watching
to see if you will react out of fear and push Him away to do your own thing or if you will be one who holds on to Him with all your might and see it through.
An Expression of Love
Our giving is a
personal thing between God and us. It's personal because of our relationship with Him. Our offerings and sacrifices should be given as an expression of our love for God. We don't give to be seen by people as one who
fulfills the "technical" requirements of giving, but it's an act of our love and devotion toward Him.
In Malachi 1:6-14, many of the Israelites were fulfilling only the mere requirements of the law by
giving their crippled stock to God. They wanted to be seen giving their sacrifices, but God knew their animals were not what they said they were. So even though others may have seen them, as always, keeping the
requirements of the law, God saw deeper into their hearts. He knew they did not really love Him, if they did, they would have given Him their absolute best.
Our love for God should produce a strong desire in us to
give to Him. When you love someone you want to give them gifts - you want to give them things you know they desire from you.
Well, God desires that you trust Him and put Him first in your life. He wants to know that you trust Him to take care of every aspect of your life. He wants to love you and bless you, but He wants to be loved in return by you. Your obedience to God shows your love and trust for Him. "If you love me, you will obey me" (John 14:21).
God's Promise of Blessings
If you give only so others see you or if you give with a bad attitude, it will hurt God and it won't be a blessing to Him. He wants us to want to obey Him because we love Him,
not because we feel we have to. He wants our gifts and obedience to be an expression of our love for Him. It's not our money He wants. He doesn't need our money. He wants our love - He wants our friendship.
That's why He created us.
God created us to have a relationship with us. He wants that relationship to seep into and enhance every area of our heart and life. When it does, our lives will be blessed, even in
seasons of trial and drought. We will be safe, blessed and favored.
He wants you to give everything to Him so He can bless it and give it back to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over! He says, "I
will open the windows of heaven for YOU. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in!" (see Malachi 3:10 NLT).
God wants to bless you! He says in Malachi 3:10, "Try Me!
Put me to the test." He wants you to put Him to the test, because He wants you blessed. He says, "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple." If you do, He will bless
your socks off! "Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe..."(Malachi 3:11). He wants to show the world that living
for Him is the way to live. "Then all the nations will call you blessed!" (Malachi 3:12 NLT).
Guard Your Thoughts - Guard Your Heart - Guard Your Tongue
God shares His heart with us in Malachi
3:14. It hurts Him when we lose faith in Him as the Israelites did when they said things like, "What's the use of serving Him? What have we gained by obeying his commands?" (Malachi 3:13-15). He is listening
to what we say about Him.
God looks for opportunities to bless our lives. However, we stop Him from releasing His blessings by speaking negatively, our words can show a lack of trust in Him. It's during the
times when we begin to question God's faithfulness toward us that we need to hold on to Him with even greater endurance and effort, because He is working to make a difference in our circumstances. We must stand up to the enemy and defiantly contradict his lies against God's faithfulness to us.
For a season, it may seem the wicked are prospering and we are in need. But it's during those times that we must say, "Lord, even if you don't bless me, I will still trust You and honor You because I love You. I don't give to You just to get, but I give because You mean more to me than anything else in the world. I just want to be a blessing to YOU!" He knows our hearts and it's our heart-attitude He's after.
Triumph Over Lack
Years ago, we went through at time of severe testing - the hardest financial test we'd ever had. When my husband and I were first married, we were very blessed by his family and were able to
buy our first house and we paid for it in a year's time. For the first ten years of our marriage, we had gained even greater financial strength. But three kids later and after a few unfortunately financial investments,
we were left with almost nothing. It was very tough to say the least.
We moved into a very small two-bedroom farmhouse owned by a relative. It hadn't been lived in (by humans anyway) for several years, but we
painted and cleaned it up and made it our home.
Though we cleaned it up, it still had challenges to try our patience. The farmyard was taken over by cat-size rats. My son, Cole, was a bitty guy at the time and he
would walk out the back door and rats would literally run in front of him. As we began to poison them, we'd find them dead in our yard.
Inside the house was quite a "challenge" as well. The house was
old and overrun with mice. They seemed to be everywhere - in the walls, floors, etc. I've always loved to lay on the floor late at night and pray. In this house, however, I was surprised more than once with these little
critters as I did. We also had centipedes living with us, and stinky black worms crawling all over our kitchen and bath, coming up through pipes. It was cold in the winter and stinkin' hot in the summer.
living there, we had some of our possessions stored in the outdoor buildings. One of the buildings was taken out by a tornado along with our belongings. The neighbor kids, taking anything of minor value, ransacked another.
On Christmas day, our septic system backed up into our basement, which was filled with more of our belongings. We thought maybe we would have to live there for only a few months. But those months slowly turned into
years and we often felt forgotten by God.
None of these trials mattered as much as our lack of food. My husband was without work for seven months after moving there, so money was practically non-existent. It was
difficult, but we survive and through that time I saw God's faithfulness in many ways. We never ate well, but we did eat. Sometimes we thought we'd run out of food only to have someone show up at our door with a
dozen eggs. Sometimes we'd suddenly find money in a drawer, or a jar of jelly would miraculously appeared.
One time, I was cleaning out a closet and came across a curtain I'd bought months before. I
remembered it cost about $15 when I bought it, so I thought, "Man! That would be $15 to buy groceries! We could eat!" We had church that night, so on our way there, we stopped off at the store and I returned the
curtain. And yep, I got my FIFTEEN DOLLARS!! I couldn't buy groceries yet though, because we had to get to church. The groceries would have to wait.
Needless to say, I walked into church feeling a bit of relief
from our plight with my "wad" of cash. However, God had different plans for me that night. Worship was awesome and God touched me as always. Steadily, I felt Him speak to my heart. I knew what He wanted, but I
pretended not to hear at first. "Oh man, God! You've got to be kidding me," I thought. Yep! He wanted me to give Him my curtain money. Oh, I didn't want to do it. I just wanted to cry.
But I love
Him and I know He loves me. I trust Him to take care of me, and to know what's best for me. So, I plucked myself up and decided to give the money, but not the entire $15. I thought I would give just $14. It made me feel
better just to keep even the single dollar in my hand. But God spoke these words to my heart and I'll never forget them. He said, "Are you going to miss my blessing just for one dollar?" I cried when I heard
Him say that. He was trying me, that's for sure, but it was for my good and He had a greater purpose.
Needless to say, when the offering went around I put $15 in, not $14. Eventually, after many such trials and
tests, God blessed us with our own home again with not a mouse nor rat in sight. Wow! God is able!
Heaven is Watching
Of course, we still have trials now. I don't have mice in my house, but my laptop
was recently run over by a semi-truck. Yep a semi! But honestly, how many people can say their laptop was run over by a semi, right? I wanted to cry. As a writer, my laptop is like my baby. I'd taken such good care of
it, until, of course, the semi incident.
God hears what we say in those moments when we want to scream. When stuff like that happens, I just sort of stand in awe and feel as if all heaven is watching me to see what
I'll say in that moment. It is as if somehow in that moment they all realize that God can seriously bless me depending on my reaction to the trial I'm faced with. My victory is secured by what I say at that moment
and heaven watches to see what I will release with my mouth.
In Malachi 3:16, they spoke to each other about God. "Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said.
In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name." (NLT)
God's listens to what we say and blesses us
accordingly. When you're at home alone talking to your spouse, what do you say about God? When you're with your parents or siblings or friends, how do you speak about the One you love? He's listening to you.
When you don't see Him working in your life, what do you say? Do you say, "God's not working on my behalf"? Or do you say, "I may not see Him working, but I know He's working for my good! He's always come through for me. I can trust Him. He never fails!" When you want to give up, do you say, "I can't take this anymore!" Hell loves to hear that. Or do you say, "I CAN do all things through Christ!"
When God hears you expressing your trust in Him like that, He will want to fulfill the words you spoke about Him. And when you truly mean those words, He wants to prove them even more. He will never fail you. You can trust Him.
God says, "Try Me!" on these things. It's His challenge to us. He's not playing games.
He wants to bless you. It's His joy to bless you. He watches, not just to test you, but because He loves watching you mature in the choices you make. You are His child and you mean so much to Him. He sees everything. He hasn't forgotten you. You are in His every thought. In Malachi 3:17, He calls those who trust in Him, His own "special treasure." That's you.
He knows when you are hurting - He feels your pain. He sees your need and wants to bless you. Try Him. Give Him your best. Give Him your heart. Give Him control. Put Him first in your life and He will bless you for it. He sees what you're going through and He's stockpiling blessings for you right now, anxiously waiting to unleash them on you.
God is waiting for the moment you will try Him so He can open the windows of heaven for you and drown you in His goodness.
He's waiting.... waiting for you to give, to bless, to love, to forgive....
Scriptures taken from the NLT.