The LORD: Generous & Unchanging
November 23, 2014 Series: The Old Testament
Passage: Malachi 3:6-12, 16-18
Like the work of Haggai and Zechariah, Malachi prophesied after the exile of the Jews to Babylon. A generation of exiles have returned and re-settled in the land. While apparently the evil and unbelieving nations around them seemed to prosper they grew lax in their own faithfulness. Malachi, writing only a short time after Zechariah, called the people to repentance with respect to the priesthood, which had become corrupt; worship, which had become routine; divorce, which was widespread; social justice, which was being ignored; and tithing, which was neglected. This was also the last prophetic word from the LORD until the arrival of John the Baptist over 400 years later…
Read the sermon passage, Malachi 3:6-12, 16-18.
WHY DON’T WE TRUST THE LORD?
The LORD is steadfast in His bond with His people, yet we turn aside. If God says to you, “Return to Me,” what does that imply that you’ve done? Because the tithe was a biblical mark that God owns us, and it was the means by which God’s priests (the Levites) lived, and it was a provision for the poor (they could always receive food at the Temple) what did not tithing result in? Where else in Scripture can you think of where God acts like someone’s mistreatment is mistreatment of Him?
So if God absolutely does not need anything we have, why does He call us to a lifestyle of giving? How have you been blind to our own sin? To God’s ways of shaping you? How have you lived hardened in selfish concern and unwilling to give? Confess your greed and unbelief to Jesus. Agree with Him in His charges of robbery and ask Him to forgive you and change you.
WHAT TRUE GENEROSITY IS
How is faithful giving (tithe) an act of love, honor and loyalty? So in vv. 10-11, what do you think of God’s offer? How does it expose your unbelief?
In v. 17, the LORD says that He treasures and spares those who trust Him “as a man spares his son.” How has this been fulfilled for us in Jesus? How can you now see significance that Jesus was executed between 2 thieves? If He is our representative, how does this fit with this passage? In Romans, Ephesians and Galatians it says that believers have been taken into God’s own family as His sons! How does that fit with v. 17? Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. If Jesus has completely absorbed all our debt, and fully vested us with His assets & status, how would that change your life?
A HOLY PEOPLE – MARKED OFF BY GENEROSITY
So if you really believed that God has treated you this way in Christ, what would change? In Malachi 3:16 it says that the faithful encouraged one another. How has someone’s encouragement helped you to pursue obedience when you knew that obedience would be hard?
Who’s the most generous person you know? What do they do? As a protection, who in your life knows and has any say in what you do financially? How can a relationship, or someone’s vision for ministry help motivate you to give freely? What is your next move spiritually? How do you need to return to Jesus?
YOU CAN PRAY WITH US…
- Worship the LORD for His surpassing value and generosity! Praise Him, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for how He has given us all that we have and even myriad ways beyond what we can see or even understand.
- How have you lived hardened in selfish concern and unwilling to give? Confess your greed and unbelief to Jesus. Agree with Him in His charges of robbery and ask Him to forgive you and change you.
- Give thanks to Jesus for His work to take our place as a thief on the Cross and to give us His rights as a son – as an heir and owner. Thank Him for absorbing all our debt and for fully vesting us with His assets and status!
- Who is the most generous person you know? What do they do? Pray for them, asking the Lord to sustain them in their willingness to share, and pray that the Lord would help you to learn from them.
- Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. Ask the Holy Spirit to work into you a real confidence in the Father’s sufficiency and a cheerfully generous heart. Pray that His extravagant generosity to you in Christ would fuel your love for others.