The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. “I have loved you,” says the Lord. Malachi 1:1-2
The Bible is a Book of books, or a library of books. It was written over many centuries by a multitude of authors yet tells a unified story from beginning to end. There are “bookends” at the beginning and end of each testament in the Bible. Genesis begins the Old Testament, and Malachi concludes it.
The opening words of Malachi remind Israel that God’s love for them remained true. “In the beginning God” began the story majestically in Genesis, but it ended in confusion in Malachi. As God began a final message to Israel through the prophet Malachi, He spoke with words of hope: “I have loved you.” And He spoke of the coming of one in the spirit of Elijah who would ignite a spark of repentance in the nation (Malachi 4:5). But it would be after four hundred years of silence from God that new hope would be realized by the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
God’s message to Israel is a message to us: “I have loved you.” In spite of our failures and faults, God will continue His story of salvation in us (Philippians 1:6).
History…is a story written by the finger of God.C. S. Lewis
Malachi chapter 1: 1-5 (The Lord’s Love for Israel)
Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you.Mark 5:19
“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” Those unforgettable lines spoken by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz reveal a story-telling device found in an overwhelming number of our most enduring stories from the likes of Star Wars to The Lion King. It’s known as “the hero’s journey.” In brief: an ordinary person is living an ordinary life when an extraordinary adventure is presented. The character leaves home and travels to a different world where tests and trials await, as well as mentors and villains. If she or he passes the tests and proves heroic, then the final stage is returning home with stories to tell and wisdom gained. The last piece is crucial.
The story of the demon-possessed man closely parallels the hero’s journey. It’s interesting that in last scene the man begged Jesus to let him “go with him” (Mark 5:18). Yet Jesus told him: “Go home to your own people” (v. 19). It was important in this man’s journey to return home to the people who knew him best and to tell them his amazing story.
God calls each of us in different ways and to different scenarios. But for some of us, it can be crucial for our faith journey to go home and tell our story to those who know us best. For some of us, the call is “there’s no place like home.”
If you look up the word touch in a concordance, you’ll discover that many instances involve Jesus. Throughout the Gospels, people were healed of sickness, infirmities, and disabilities when the Lord touched them. But His touch reached beyond the physical to their spiritual needs.
Today, we frequently see the word touch in the context of scandal, impropriety, or immorality. Yet ministry requires hands that reach out to help and serve while we also verbally proclaim the good news of Christ. We touch lives not just by telling others about Jesus but also by showing them genuine love and compassion.
Our hearts, mouths, and hands should be operating together to accomplish the world-changing mission of the church. When we join together as a body of believers, we affect lives through the power of prayer, the ministry of the Word, discipleship, and fellowship. All are required as the church calls the lost to salvation and equips believers for the work of service.
Jesus touched lives, and as His followers, we must do likewise. How might God touch a heart through you today?
“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4)
Patience, or endurance, is part of the development that produces the experience that brings hope and assurance to those who are the twice-born (Romans 5:3-5). Patience is a discipline—a “work” that is necessary for our growth. Although such discipline never seems pleasant at the time, it is administered by our loving heavenly Father, who focuses His work on our spiritual maturity (Hebrews 12:5-8).
Our text contains several key aspects that promise victory through the process of learning patience. Wisdom is granted liberally as we ask for it during the testings that produce the “perfect work” (James 1:4) of patience. As those who love the Lord endure the testings that will surely come, the endurance practiced will produce a “crown of life” (James 1:12) as an eternal testimony to our patience.
Psalm 37 outlines the principles for gaining patience during this life. First, “trust in the LORD” (Psalm 37:3) and follow His leading in everything you do (Proverbs 3:5-10).
Second, delight in the Lord—get excited about Him (Psalm 37:4). That trait is amplified often in Psalm 119 (vv. 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 174). Then, commit your way to the Lord (Psalm 37:5), becoming like a branch attached to the vine (John 15:4-7).
Finally, rest in the Lord (Psalm 37:7) and wait on Him (Psalm 37:34). That doesn’t mean just “hang around.” It means to be a fully prepared servant, waiting for his master’s orders to implement. The “profitable” servant (Luke 17:10) learns what his master wants and stands ready to respond to the needs of the Kingdom.
Patience is never obtained through bored indifference. HMM III
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. —Galatians 6:10
The church of Jesus Christ, His believing body on earth, recognizes that “our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). The believing Christian agrees that he or she is a migrant and a pilgrim.
To these believers, God has imparted His own nature. They have a distinct sense of belonging to one another while they live—almost as exiles—in an unfriendly world. These earthly citizens of heaven speak a common language—that of their constitution, which is the Bible, the Word of God. They love to sing the songs of Zion, for they are loyal to the same Lord and King. Thus the Christians come together where the life of the assembly is the life of Christ.
This is the Bible pattern. God the Father is there. Christ the Son is present. The Holy Spirit indwells each member….The spirit within us can experience and taste the glories of God in a blessed fellowship now. Such is the joyful purpose of the Church! JAF118
Next to God Himself we need each other most….[S]hould we for a moment lose sight of the Shepherd we only have to go where His flock is to find Him again. BAM114
He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever … the Spirit of truth.—John 14:16-17
One of the lessons Jesus gave His disciples when preparing them to receive the Holy Spirit was that the Spirit’s coming would not be a temporary visitation—He would abide in them forever. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit provided temporary supplies of power to individual people for certain tasks. When these purposes were accomplished, He returned to heaven. The disciples were no doubt aware of this aspect of the Spirit’s ministry, but now Jesus gives them the breathtaking news that the Holy Spirit’s coming would be permanent: “He will abide in you and be with you forever.” What a revelation this must have been to the disciples! The occasional would give place to the permanent; the special would give way to the general. Jesus was saying, in effect, that the Holy Spirit would not come and go—a kind of “hide-and-seek” experience—but He would move within the inner recesses of their beings and abide with them forever.
This is probably one of the most important truths we can grasp from the Scripture, for there are many Christians who think of the possession of the Holy Spirit as tentative and momentary. However, that would defeat the very point and purpose of redemption, for as someone said: “The Holy Spirit is the applied point of redemption.” His coming into our lives must be permanent, or our redemption (at least its application) will be temporary. The Holy Ghost becomes a Holy Guest! And, thank God, a permanent guest!
Blessed Holy Spirit, I am so grateful that You are willing to take up a permanent abode within my heart. With You abiding in me, I want for nothing and am equipped for every task. I am so thankful. Amen.
An examination of the fruits of the Spirit can be intimidating. Working all nine of these traits into your life seems impossible, and indeed it is. But the moment you became a Christian, the Holy Spirit began a divine work to produce Christ’s character in you. Regardless of who you are, the Spirit works from the same model, Jesus Christ. The Spirit looks to Christ in order to find the blueprint for your character. The Spirit will immediately begin helping you experience and practice the same love that Jesus had when He laid down His life for His friends. The same joy He experienced will now fill you. The identical peace that guarded the heart of Jesus, even as He was being beaten and mocked, will be the peace that the Spirit works to instill in you. The patience Jesus had for His most unteachable disciple will be the patience that the Spirit now develops in you. The kindness Jesus showed toward children and sinners will soften your heart toward others. There will be a goodness about you that is only explainable by the presence of the Spirit of God. The Spirit will build the same faithfulness into you that led Jesus to be entirely obedient to His Father. The Spirit will teach you self-control so that you will have strength to do what is right and to resist temptation.
All of this is as natural as the growth of fruit on a tree. You do not have to orchestrate it on your own. It automatically begins the moment you become a believer. How quickly it happens depends upon how completely you yield yourself to the Holy Spirit’s activity.