Monday, October 28, 2019

Calvary Weekly Bible Readings 10/21-11/2

Weekly Bible Readings
Sunday 10/27 Luke 2-3
Monday 10/28 Luke 4:1-6:26
Tuesday 10/29 Luke 6:27-8:25
Wednesday 10/30 Luke 8:26-10:16
Thursday 10/31 Luke 10:17-12:12
Friday 11/1 Luke 12:13-14:11
Saturday 11/2 Luke 14:12-16:31

Minor Prophets Major Messages #4 Malachi 3:13-18: God’s Message of Remembrance

Minor Prophets Major Messages #4 Malachi 3:13-18:
God’s Message of Remembrance

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A man asked a  question of God. “God long is a million year to you?” Well that is just like a minute to you. “Will how much is a million dollars to you? That would be like a penny. “Then God could I have a penny?” Of course, just give me a minute.”

This passage is a bit like that above story to me. It is beyond me. I believe it but I can't comprhend it. There is just too much of the love of God displayed here for me to take it all in. I'm grasping for a million but can only touch a penny.

Broken Relationship - Malachi 3:13-15

Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.

Israel Was Broken

Israel relationship with God was broken. They were a nation that in spite of the history, the patriarchs, the time in Egypt, the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, the glories of David and Solomon’s kingdoms they had put God on a shelf. Reaching for Him like a jar of ointment in times of trouble but neglecting Him in times of prosperity and peace.
At this time in their history the nation had returned from an exile that should have led to their extinction as a people. After being deported in mass from their homeland and forced to live for decades in a pagan land, they should have lost their identity, lost their heritage and lost their faith. Yet God through leaders like Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Mordecai and Esther kept their identity and faith intact and then leaders like Ezra, Nehemiah and Zerubbabel had brought them home, rebuilt the Temple and the wall around Jerusalem.

One of the most undeniable proofs about the existence of God is the existence of God’s people the Jews. No other nationality has been so persecuted, so dispersed, so hated and yet there they still are. God’s people holding to their identity as Israel. This was happened because God would not let them go and when they had drifted from Him and backslid from the law, He would send prophets like Malachi to call them back and heal that broken relationship.

We see that broken relationship spelled out for us in the series of questions that Malachi writes as God and Israel have open discussion about what has happened between the nation and their God.
God deals with Israel’s broken relationship through questions and answers in the first three chapter of the book. These questions, are given in by Israel in response to God dialogue with and  accusations against His people.

In Malachi 1:2  I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us?  God states His love for them, but they respond by asking, “How have you loved us?”

In 1:6-2:9. God accuses them of dishonoring His name and polluting His sacrifices. In response they ask How have we defiled you?

In 2:17-3:6. God tells them they that weary him with their words and the ask, “How have we done that?

In 3:7-12, God says “Return to me” and we see the broken relationship so clearly when the people respond by ignorantly asking, “How should we do that?”

Finally in 3:13-4:3 we come to the final accusation and question. God says your words have been stout, hard against me and people respond with “What exactly did we say against you?” Like a friend or a loved one caught in a lie or gossip and instead of admitting it and asking for forgiveness they look for a loophole, a technicality to somehow claim we are not really to blame, maybe its all in your imagination. This dialogue is a symptom sheet, a running diagnosis of what is broken between God and His nation, Israel.

Our Broken Relationships

In this book we see an application of our own broken relationship with God. Our relationship as a nation, as churches, and as individuals.

God tells us He loves us and instead of responding to that love we challenge Him to prove it. We ignore the greatest gift of love ever given, the sacrifice of God’s own son, Jesus Christ and instead selfishly seek money, health, or some other instant gratification and proof of God’s love. A proof that shows we don’t know what love really is.

As Christians who should truly carry the name of Christ as our identity, we dishonor God and defile His name by telling the world that sin is no longer sin and that the God of the Old Testament was not the God of the New. We, even more than Israel, weary God with our shameful words.

When God tells us to return to Him, we ask, How? As though we really had never abounded His law, His Word and His House.

And just like Israel we speak hard words against our Creator, we accuse him of the worst sins when a hurricane or an earthquake strikes. We accuse Him of not being a loving God because there is death, violence, or sickness in the world. We shake our fist at Him and say it is not fair, it is not right, it is not good.

In spite of that brokenness, that willful separation or even outright rebellion, God continues to reach out to us today as He did with Israel, never giving up and proving His love over and over again.
Illustration: Robert Ingersoll and the five-minute challenge

When Robert Ingersoll, a famous atheist who lived in the mid 1800's, was lecturing, he once took out his watch and declared, “I will give God five minutes to strike me dead for the things I have said.” The minutes ticked off as he held the watch and waited. In about four-and-a-half minutes, some women began fainting, but nothing happened. When the five minutes were up, Ingersoll put the watch into his pocket.

When that incident reached the ears of a certain preacher, Joseph Parker, he asked, “And did the gentleman think he could exhaust the patience of the Eternal God in five minutes?”

Our relationship with our Creator, our heavenly Father is in so many ways easily broken. And yet God tells us as he told Malachi, not all are broken for there are some that are faithful, loving and obedient. A remnant in the days of Malachi and I believe a remnant today, that he speaks of in vs. 16-18

Book of Remembrance – Malachi 3:16-18

Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

God’s Jewels

To me these verses are some of the most beautiful in all the Old Testament. In them we hear the tenderness and care of God. God tells questioning, challenging, disobedient Israel, there are some among you who don’t walk in stubbornness against Me but they walk with and honor me.
In the midst of God’s dialogue with Israel and their challenging God with their excuses and questions, there is a response from a different group of people within Israel, a remnant

Look at the way God describes this faithful remnant.
They that feared the Lord. Fear is the way the Bible often describes the proper worship of God. It means we hold God in awe and worship Him as the Almighty, the Creator and sustainer of all things.: This “fear” is based upon the knowledge of God, the experience of His love and our reverence and honor toward Him. It is fear in that we also know He is the judge of sin and will act against it, but it is dread but understanding and thankfulness.

They spake often to one another:  This means the remnant shared a love for God and because of this wanted to be with one another and talk about the God they loved. They came together not to complain or challenge God but to encourage one another in the love of their God.

Notice also the Reward God describes for this faithful remnant.

The Lord hearkened and heard: God himself noticed and listened to this group of friends.
A book of remembrance was written before Him for them:  God saw to it that a special book of memorial was written in His presence to mark these precious ones and their love for Him.  It was written, “for them” that is on their behalf to give them not just a reward but also God’s help and power to remain faithful even in the midst of opposition.
Then God says, “They shall be mine in that day when I make up my jewels” The reward for the faithful is to be His jewels. The One they held close to their hearts, will now hold them close to His own heart, like jewels upon a necklace, God shows them off in a place of honor.

God’s Reward

I have tried a couple of times to preach from this passage but to be honest with you, I gave up. I gave up because of this passage. No matter what I wrote, no matter what illustration or poems I selected nothing could come close to saying as much as simple reading this verse.
The LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.

I am overwhelmed by that verse. I truly am. I see in it the tenderness and love that only a father could have for his own. I hear in it the voice of hope saying, “Be faithful, I have not forgotten you.” I feel in it the wonder of the God of eternity taking time to hear and then reward those who stay loyal in their love. “They shall be mine, in the day when I make up my jewels.”

Nor should you think this is a reward for just the Old Testament saints. For we read of a very similar gift in other places in scripture.

To the church at Ephesus Paul writes in Ephesians 1:15-18 15  Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16  Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

Did you catch that? Paul says, “the glory of His inheritance is in the saints.” In other words, just like God told Malachi, we are his treasure. A missionary once remarked on this verse, “We are God’s trophies of grace.”

In the book of Revelation Jesus tells John to tell the church of the reard he has for the overcomers. Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Another of God’s jewels our new name written in a white stone. A reward for those who are faithful and overcome.

Can you imagine being part of that treasure, one of the jewels of God, a trophy to grace on God’s mantel place in Heaven? Its not imagination that will place us there, it is faithfulness in the face of opposition. It is being an overcomer when faced with the obstacles and pitfalls of this world. It does not require great deeds but it does require faith, loyalty and trust. If we hold on to Jesus Christ and refuse to let this world take away that relationship, then one day He will hold us out before this world as His precious jewels.

Illustration: Taste and See

     At the University of Chicago Divinity School each year they have what is called "Baptist Day." It is a day when all the Baptists in the area are invited to the school because they want the Baptist dollars to keep coming in.

     On this day each one is to bring a lunch to be eaten outdoors in a grassy picnic area. Every "Baptist Day" the school would invite one of the greatest minds to lecture in the theological education center.

     One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich. Dr. Tillich spoke for two and one-half hours proving that the resurrection of Jesus was false.

     He quoted scholar after scholar and book after book. He concluded that since there was no such thing as the historical resurrection the religious tradition of the church was groundless, emotional mumbo-jumbo, because it was based on a relationship with a risen Jesus, who, in fact, never rose from the dead in any literal sense. He then asked if there were any questions.

     After about 30 seconds, an old, dark skinned preacher with a head of short-cropped, woolly white hair stood up in the back of the auditorium.

     "Docta Tillich, I got one question", he said as all eyes turned toward him. He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple and began eating it.

     "Docta Tillich ... CRUNCH, MUNCH My question is a simple question, CRUNCH, MUNCH...Now, I ain't never read them books you read...CRUNCH, MUNCH...and I can't recite the Scriptures in the original Greek CRUNCH,MUNCH ...I don't know nothin' about Niebuhr and Heidegger" ...CRUNCH, MUNCH...He finished the apple. "All I wanna know is: This apple I just ate, ------was it bitter or sweet?"

     Dr. Tillich paused for a moment and answered in exemplary scholarly fashion: "I cannot possibly answer that question, for I haven't tasted your apple."

     The white-haired preacher dropped the core of his apple into his crumpled paper bag, looked up at Dr. Tillich and said calmly, "Neither have you tasted my Jesus."

     The 1,000 plus in attendance could not contain themselves. The auditorium erupted with applause and cheers. Dr. Tillich thanked his audience and promptly left the platform.
The old preacher in that story was someone who refused to let the supposed scholarship of Paul Tillich take away his faith. He was on overcomer who knew who he had believed and one day, he and the others of the faithful remnants of every generation will be in God’s book of remembrance and part of the jewels He will select to show the world what faith and love really is.


There is one final part of this message that God give to Malachi in verse 18

Blessings Return – Malachi 3:18

Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

Israel’s Return

God says then shall you return. The time of “then: is when God spares and shows his jewels. At that point, whether it be during the time of Israel’s return back to Jerusalem, or when He delivers his nation from the anti-Christ during the tribulation. When he spares his faithful remnant, then the those who denied Him, ignored Him, challenged Him will return to the truth, the discernment of what really was right and wrong. Between the false and true servants of God.

Our Return

I think it is still true today, that one of the best proofs of God’s existence and His love is the nation of Israel still being in existence in spite of all the power of evil to destroy them, eradicate them from the face of the earth. If the world would look, not at the goodness of Israel, but simple at the existence of these impossible survivors, they would see the hand of God and know He is real. Nothing else could explain their still being here today.

I also think that one of the best proofs of those same truths about God today, is God’s love through Jesus Christ spares us today. We are sinners, guilty of not believing in God. Guilty of dishonoring God. Guilty of breaking the law of God. And yet God spares us by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, when we put our faith in Him, repent and accept the gift of grace. It shouldn’t be that way, but what a wonderful proof of God and His love.

I was once listening to a missionary who worked in the prison system here in Texas. He said that Texas had thrown the doors open for them to come in an work with the prisoners. It wasn’t because they were Christians but because when the sat down and looked at the recidivism rate of prisoners, the rate of prisoners that return to prison after being released, when they looked at their overall recidivism rate was over 60%. 60 percent of the prisoners released would be back. But the missionary said, that those who had were in Bible studies and began attending worship service in the prison had only a 30% recidivism rate.

I once had a man in my church, I baptized him and his daughter on the same day, this man was a convicted drug dealer and murderer. He had killed a man in a drug deal gone wrong and been sent to prison. When I knew him as a member of my church he was one of the most faithful, loving men I ever had as a pastor. Never missed a service and would do anything that was needed at the church.
What changed him and what changed those others so they could escape a return to prison? They were spared by the grace of God and all the world should stand up in wonder and praise because only God can change a person so completely and finally as that. Never underestimate what God can do through grace. And never underestimate the power of others seeing what God can do through you and your own experience of grace.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Apocalypse: # 3 Revelation Chapter 1 The Vision of Christ

Revelation Bible Study Lesson 2 Revelation Ch 1
The Vision of Christ

Christ Reveals Himself To Us

   1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2  Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
(The Book of Revelation is the revelation, the revealing of Jesus Christ. It is not about revealing the future but it is about revealing the One who knows and directs the future. The Bible is His Story not just history and Revelation is about the coming King the future is merely the setting. )


   3 ¶  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
(We must ask ourselves how this statement was true in John's day and still true in ours. How can the time be at hand? The answer is not in the passing of years but in the passing of events. After the resurrection of Jesus and  His return all events have been fulfilled. The stop watch of God's prophecy, stopped at his death and resurrection can be restarted at anytime. It is as if we were all poised waiting only for God to say it is time, but all events foretold in Daniel 9 that preceded the final week are finished.)

Christ Gives Himself to Us

4  John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.

Notice the Titles given to Jesus:

from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; (Eternity)
Jesus Christ, (Salvation of God, Messiah)
the faithful witness,
the first begotten of the dead, (the first of the resurrection)
the prince of the kings of the earth (the foremost, the ruler of all the kings of the earth)

John’s Prayer and Testimony of Christ 5b-7

5b  Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Christ's Testimony of Himself

8  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
(Here Jesus in no uncertain terms lays claim to His true nature as God the Son, eternal and omnipotent, very God of very God.)

Christ Commissions Us

    9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11  Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
John identifies himself, the location, the time and even the fact that he was worshipping on the Lord's Day which was Sunday the day Jesus was resurrected from the tomb. All of this shows that John wanted to establish the veracity of his vision.

John’s commission, “write what you see and publish it”, can be applied to us. What you see, what you know is true, remember and tell others.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Christ Stands With Us

12  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

(Candles didn't exist in John's day we would better see them as oil lamps.)

1) Why is Jesus in the midst of the lampstands?
Jesus stands in the midst of the lamp stands, symbolizing His stand with us, His churches.

2) What does his appearance suggest to you?
His garment and hair are white which represents sinlessness and purity in the Bible.
His eyes life flame, his feet like brass just taken from the furnace, a sword coming from his mouth all suggest terrible, judgment and wrath.
His countenance like the sun shining in its strength suggests glory, righteousness and power.

3)What are the seven stars and why are they in his hands?
The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches which are represented by the seven lamp stands.

4) What is the significance of the number seven?)
Seven throughout scripture represents completeness, maturity, perfection, examples 7 days in week, 70 weeks.

5) Who or what are the angels of the seven churches?
The word angel in the original Bible language of Greek simply means "messenger" and so you must draw a conclusion about their exact identity. Does each church have an heavenly messenger in its midst or is Jesus talking about holding the pastors of those churches in his hands? Personally, I believe it is pastors, but many others think heavenly angels and the Bible certainly has references to angels being in churches.

Christ Consoles and Inspires Us 17-20

17  And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19  Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Applying John’s Vision Today

He still reveals Himself to us
He continues to give Himself to us
 He daily bears witness of Himself to Us
He reminds us that He has commissioned us
He will always stand with us
He consoles and inspires us when we need Him most


Perhaps we as God’s people for this day and this age need what John needed as he struggled, alone and deserted on the barren island. We still need to see Jesus.
Jesus, risen and coming again.
Jesus, white in sinless perfection and purity.
Jesus, flaming in judgment against sin.
Jesus ,bright as the sun its strength, showing His glory and overcoming the deepest darkness.

Don’t skip the first chapter of Revelation, it may be the most needed chapter in the entire book for us right now, in our darkness and pain.