This is the sermon for Sunday, February 13th, 2011.

Malachi part 7

The call to revival.

Malachi 3:6-12 NIV – 6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.  “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’  8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.  “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’  “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.

Introduction: This is the 7th sermon in our verse by verse series into the book of Malachi.  Last time we looked at the subject, “When Words make God weary.”  In that sermon we learned that God grows weary with people who claim to follow Him, and yet always complain to the Lord, instead of praising Him.

Today we are going to look at the subject, “the call to return to God.”  This call is not to those outside of the body of believers, but those whom God has saved and redeemed.  This call is to the chosen people of God.  Another way of saying this is that this is a call to revival.

Now when we use the word “revival” that can bring up a lot of different things to mind:  A guest preacher; healing lines; revival type songs sung over, and over again; long prolonged series of services; an emotional atmosphere.

I’m not opposed to some of those things, but those things don’t necessarily mean that revival has come.  In my opinion the call to revival, is a call to repentance, or a return to God.  It doesn’t matter if it is given by some guest preacher; or the music is popping; or there is an emotional charge atmosphere.  The key to revival is the message, not the fluff that appears to be revival.

Here in Malachi, God is calling the nation of Israel to return to Him – a revival as it were.  Let’s look this morning and unpack our text as well as apply these truths to us.

The call of Revival: Repent!

Malachi 3:6-7a – 6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.

An important truth:  God does not change.

  • God called Abraham to leave His nation to follow Him.  He called Jacob and declared His love for Him over Esau.  He chose Israel as a nation over the other nations of the earth.
  • In fact, it is because that God does not change that, “the descendants of Jacob are not destroyed.”
  • God has preserved them, even though that had turn away from Him: “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them.”
  • What does this mean?  That the reason they are still a nation is because of God, not themselves.
  • Church, we need to come to this realization this morning:  God does not change!  He is the one that has sustained us; both as a church, and in each of our individual lives.  It is not our strength of character that has kept us in God, but His and His alone.

Because God does not change, He proclaims the call to return.

  • Notice what verse 7 says, “Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
  • Because God continues to love them His desire is to see them return to Him, if they do, then the chastising that He has been doing to Israel will cease as God returns to them.
  • There is a very important principle here: God disciplines and chastises those He loves, and it is a call to repentance which leads to revival.

Hebrews 12:5-7 – 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”  7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

The evidence of revival: faith accompanied by deeds.

Malachi 3:7b-8 – 7“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’  8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.  “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’  “In tithes and offerings.

  • Because the nation of Israel had turned there back on God, married idolatrous women, and become lifeless in their temple worship of Him – they were under a curse, and therefore their crops and cattle had suffered.  So instead of continuing in giving the full tithe and offerings, they began to hold it back, thereby proving they were needing to repent and be revived by God.
  • What was the purpose of the tithe?  Well, support for the temple.  Here is what verse 10 says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.”
  • If Israel truly returned to God through repentance, then it would be evidence by their actions.  And one of the actions would be the tithe and offerings.
  • Much can be said about tithing in our times.  Many people will have opinions.
  • But let me just say this.  The issue to me is not whether tithing is a biblical command to the New Testament Christian or not; the issue is supporting the church, which God proclaims His truth through.  I believe He longs for us to prove our faith in Him through our actions.  It is one thing to say we love the Lord, but quite another to live out our confession of love to Him.  And one way of living out our love of Him is through our giving to support the ministry of the local church.
  • Let me be clear, if no one gives, then the local church will not have the finances to function.
  • I want to just end this portion of the sermon with something that James says.

James 2:14-20 – 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.  20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?

Why do we need revival?  Because of the curse.

Malachi 3:9 – You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.

  • The nation of Israel was robbing God by refusing to give Him what belonged to Him.  They were in desperate need of repentance and for God to revive His work in their midst.
  • The modern day church in America is in desperate need of a true revival.  I believe we are under a curse.  Not because many don’t give, because many do, but they are not giving to God, but to fat cats in business suits with the title of Reverend in front of their name!
  • Tithing and offerings have become of way of enslaving the masses, and getting rich quick for those who receive the tithe, while many a local church suffers.
  • Church, you don’t give to a person, or a ministry, or even a church, but you give to God.  If God’s Word is preached and proclaimed, and repentance and the forgiveness of sins is offered in the name of Jesus – support what God is doing and as an act of worship given to Him.
  • Let’s not rob God today by refusing to preach the Gospel, entertaining the flock, wanting some material blessing, and refusing to give to the Lord today.  Those things I believe are evidence of the curse that we’ve been redeemed from.

Some benefits of revival.

Malachi 3:10-12 – 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.

One benefit is that we have the privilege of supporting the Lord’s work (verse 10a).

  • God asks Israel to return to Him through the giving of the tithe and offering to support the ministry of the Temple and the priests who worked within the temple.
  • By giving our tithe and offerings, we support the ministry of the local church and the ministers who are called by God to proclaim the message.

Another benefit is God opening up the heavens (verse 10b).

  • Israel stopped giving to the temple because of the drought to their crops.  God said if they gave, He would open up the heavens and bless them.
  • I’m not going to make the promise of financial blessing when you give.  But I can promise that God will bless you.  He will always bless His children that give worship unto Him.

The benefit of God’s protective hand (verse 11).

  • The pests and the drought that were devouring Israel’s crop, God would stop.
  • I can’t promise that difficult times won’t come, because Jesus declared they would.  But I can promise that the fruit we sow into the Kingdom of God moth or rust cannot corrupt and thieves cannot break in and steal.

Matthew 6:19-20 ESV – 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Finally, the benefit of the Gospel proclaimed (verse 12).

  • The pagan nations will see God reviving the nation of Israel and they will proclaim His glory.
  • When we give to a church that preaches and proclaims the Gospel to both the lost and found, we will see the benefit of God’s name being praised as His Word goes forth.

Conclusion: As we conclude this morning, I hope you have heard the call to revival.  God longs to revive His work amongst us.  Let’s live out the faith we proclaim and support the local ministry of our church.

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